I help agencies improve their business development and acquire new clients and better clients. Typically, agencies get to a point where their lead sources dry up, inquiries disappear, RFPs stop coming, and people sit idle. We all know that feeling. Regardless of how you get there, things need to change and fast. When agencies get busy – multiple pitches, multiple wins, existing clients spend more – all business development activity is often put on the back burner or snuffed out completely. No time to prospect, update the website, create new case studies, or showcase recent work. After all, there are only so many hours in the day. The agency's needs are the first to get pushed to the bottom of the list. These are the classic cycles of agency life, and each dictates a different new business strategy.
When times are bad, there is a renewed focus on business development activities. When times are good, the agency becomes consumed by client needs and doesn't want to talk to me or their new business team. Even in peak times, you must continue your prospecting activities, or you'll pay the price in the future –no leads, no pipeline, no new clients, again. I posted this earlier, seven things you can control in business development. No matter how you run business development; a dedicated person, a team, shared among leadership, outsourced, implementing these seven mandates will keep your program running no matter what comes your way. The number one mandate – keep prospecting.
Keep prospecting no matter what
When the agency is busy, you should do a simple reminder activity to stay on your prospects' radar. When a need comes up, you will not be forgotten. The easiest way is a newsletter-like tactic. This is where your creativity comes into play. Call it what you like. Develop a 'reminder' content strategy and create a template that is easy to execute, essentially copy-and-paste. Use a marketing automation tool like my Ad Agency Prospecting Platform to make it easy and automatic.
Create it so that anyone in the agency can execute when everyone else gets slammed. It shouldn't be overtly promotional, preferably a simple way to share a couple of things that remind your prospects what you do and who you are. It might include a 'What's New' at the agency article; new client, new employee, new campaign. It should consist of one or two case studies or past work. Maybe a quick thought about the market, or something smart that you pull from a recent pitch deck. Share it with your entire prospect list once a month and get back to work.
Of course, there are numerous ways to complicate things and risk the likelihood it will derail after the first or second issue. Keep it simple, so it's easy to repeat month after month while you work your way through the busy cycle. I've seen agencies create the most beautiful newsletter template that is impossible for anyone but the senior developer to update, and the senior designer to replace creative elements. The second one never made it out because those are the two people most likely to be the busiest during crunch time.
The more you do ahead of time to 'preprogram' months of newsletter content, the easier it will be to execute. With the right format, updating fresh content along with whatever might become available for the next issue takes minimal effort, especially if you use a marketing automation platform. Populating a template and putting it into automation takes minutes. Once you have a simple template properly designed, the task of finding or creating new content is less burdensome. You'll know what you need, how to format it, and click; you are done. Set and forget.
Better yet, if you make a newsletter part of your year-round business development activity, you will always have air cover to nurture prospects who aren't ready for a new agency. A 'What's New' message rather than something more promotional or a call to action, will keep more prospects engaged. While they are touched monthly, you can spend more time on those prospects who are ready by preparing value-oriented category and service-specific messaging. The combination of nurture and Ninja will keep your pipeline flowing today and tomorrow.
I'm too busy to do a newsletter
I've talked to many agencies about their newsletter tactics and hear lots of excuses.
It takes too much time – That's why you intentionally design it simple and easy, so it won't. Keep it short by including only three things. Even one thing is better than nothing.
I don't have anything to put in it – Case studies, client campaigns, new work, insights from old pitch decks, commentary on an AdAge article, new hires, and the list goes on. Trust me; you have the content, more than you need.
I don't know what to say – Build a simple matrix. The column headings are the 3 – 5 primary benefits of your agency. The rows are the months. Populate it with content you already have that supports the column headings. See how many squares you can fill with existing materials. The few empty squares indicate what content you need to create or repurpose from other existing stuff like blog posts, presentations, recent RFPs, etc.
There isn't any spare time to produce content – You don't have to create groundbreaking content. Writing a short commentary on a current event, share industry articles that complement what you do, or pull insights from a recent presentation to fill the holes that are left.
No one ever subscribes – So what? Send it anyway. It's reminder media. And, just might hit at that critical time when agency decisions come up. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
Nobody ever reads my newsletter – Isn't that the same challenge you solve for your clients? What if they told you no one ever reads their ad? You'd fix that or be fired. Own the problem and use your creativity to solve it. If it's informational, not sales-speak, with your great work, it won't go unnoticed.
A newsletter is also a great way to keep your current clients, partners, even staff informed about the agency. Stay top of mind when they think about new problems they need to solve. Creating it in the right way with the right tone can be just as useful for all audiences. If you can't create a newsletter program for your agency, I can. Let's talk.
When you are too busy to prospect or lose your business development lead, don't lose touch with your future clients. Keep a simple newsletter going out to stay top of mind because you never know when a need that fits your agency comes about. If you like this post, click the thumbs up and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. And, please share your new business advice, successes, and failures. #LetsGrow!