These are surreal times, yet we are starting to see signs of improvement and hear the experts discuss how and when to open back up. As crass as it may sound, how can your agency take advantage of this crisis and get more clients? When America gets back to business, what will you do? You’ll do what you do best. Make the cash register ring once again for your new clients. How do you get those new clients? Do what you do best.
Businesses will be anxious to get shelves restocked, lure customers back, and recapture lost sales. That means they will need help and fast. I’ve heard lots of conversations lately about agency prospecting. Should we, or shouldn’t we? Ignore it! Agencies who shift from empathy and consolation to leadership and confidence about the way forward will get attention from desperate marketers. Right now, brands are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to reopen and recapture what they have lost. Your prospects are busy trying to figure out their best plan of action to save their job. Now is the best time to insert your agency into their conversation. Do you have the answers?
Drop everything and gather up the team (virtually) to brainstorm what the post-pandemic marketplace will be. Structure your discussions as if your best client came to you with the task of developing a plan to get their brand back open for business. Use your ideas for prospecting content. Explore what consumer attitudes and behaviors will be like and use your ideas for additional prospecting content. Envision how brands might shift or pivot to capitalize on the changes and use as thought leadership for prospecting content. Turn all these ideas into actual strategies for the top three industries you focus on and use this for prospecting content. Identify your top ten prospects and develop a speculative plan for them. You’ll use those plans too. Start sharing these ideas in your business development program as quickly as possible because the window of opportunity is short, and it is now.
What changes lie ahead
One of the top qualities marketers are looking for in an agency is a business partner. You can read more about this here. They want their agency to be knowledgeable and proactive in the overall success of the business, not just advertising. That will be true now more than ever. The best way to demonstrate this is to help them understand what the marketplace might look like post-pandemic and how it could impact their business. Asserting your thought leadership about what changes and what doesn’t in the new era will, at minimum, be of interest, and could be provocative enough to start a conversation. Use your brainstorming efforts to shape a vision of the marketplace, and include past examples, data, and any other support you can include to convey confidence and authority. Share that vision in your prospecting, posts, and comments across social media. Use your PR capabilities to secure quick hits in industry and trade pubs. Turn your POV into a webinar. Push it out in every direction as quickly as possible, so you don’t miss the window of need.
The post-pandemic consumer
As a business partner, you know the consumer better than your client does, and better than your prospects do. Demonstrate that expertise by sharing how the consumer will change when they come back from quarantine and what the implications are for brands and marketing. Use your brainstorming efforts to shape a vision of the post-pandemic consumer. Borrow from examples of past crises and any other support you can find to convey confidence and authority in your understanding. Share this in your prospecting and all the other channels you have to reach your prospects.
Healthy brand engagement
Top of mind to everyone is staying healthy and virus-free. What might that mean to the concept of brand engagement? Take advantage of the heightened awareness of health by transferring it to a new doctrine for brands. Outline standards for healthy brand engagement, both physical and virtual. Brand health will be even more critical for rapid success when we reopen for business. Demonstrate your brand knowledge and authority with a confident perspective on how brands should engage and communicate. Share this in your prospecting and all the other channels.
Create an “Open for Business” industry plan
Take your top three industry verticals and create a plan for each to guide brands on how they should restart their marketing efforts. Demonstrate your thinking, creativity, and leadership. Sure, it’s spec work but for a good reason. While you haven’t been invited to pitch, you should proactively pitch timely ideas. Share your “Open for Business” plan with all your prospects in each of the three verticals. Then share it with others outside those verticals. Include a bridge from the referenced industry to theirs that connects the way you think about getting any industry back to business.
Create an “Open for Business” brand plan
Just like the first strategy, have the team take it down to the brand level for your top ten prospect brands. Frame it with the industry plan and outline a strategy, tactics, even creative, and model outcomes. Working on both the industry and brand plans together to make it easier and faster. Again, demonstrate your industry, brand, and consumer knowledge, your creativity, and leadership. When you share both an industry and brand plan, you will convey greater credibility to those top ten prospects. Share each plan with your top ten prospects and make sure they also see your industry recommendations in posts, comments, and other social media. Time is of the essence.
The cumulative effect of these efforts will position your agency as an expert resource to lead brands back from the crisis. Be sure your tone is optimistic, confident, and urgent. Be a leader and show marketers what they need to do in the post-pandemic world. Remember, marketers will have resource and budget shortages. They have relationships to mend, staff to rehire, doors to reopen, production to restart, and so many other issues to deal with at the same time they have to restart their marketing. They need an agency that will jump in and get the process rolling fast. They need smart, sensible, and simple ideas that will jump-start their brand and business back to full speed ahead. Agencies are built for this, and the time to shine is now. They need your agency. It’s merely a matter of knowing who you are.
Good luck, and get to work!
I’ve got lots of advice on how to make your business development efforts more effective now and in the post-pandemic era. Please feel free to reach out at any time. If you like this post, sign up for my new business newsletter. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. #LetsGrow!