Does it seem that every time your agency achieves momentum and things begin to click, then boom! Another setback. Market corrections, Industry downturns, the 2007 recession, and now Covid. Boom! You can't catch a break. Yes, you've been through this before. Yes, it hurts. You have to circle the wagons, fight to keep the business alive, and take care of your team. It's what you've done again and again to be successful. And now, you've got this one handled.
You do what you have always done. Assess, recalibrate, and get back to work. Job one is to take care of your clients in every way you can. Help them assess, recalibrate, and reset their marketing based on how their company is handling the crisis. In the same way, you do it for your agency. Like your clients, you took a big hit. Like your clients' customers, some cut spending, others stopped, and some disappeared forever. Now it's time to get back to marketing the agency.
Everything has changed
Everyone has been wondering what life will be like when things begin to open back up. More to the point, what will marketing be like in the post-pandemic world? The good news is that things are starting to open, and you will know what that looks like very soon. The first movers look a bit chaotic, but soon others will follow. Customers are showing up in drips. As others realize life can safely get back to some degree of normal, more will follow. Consumer behavior will be very cautious. Personal spending will be very tight. The competition for fewer dollars will be intense. And over 30 million-plus consumers will languish until new jobs become available. It's no exaggeration to say this new reality will look very different in a world where everything has changed.
Nothing has changed
Despite these changes, the economy will make slow, steady progress back to growth. Once consumers feel safe again, pent up demand will be released, fueling strong growth, maybe even stronger than before. Many are saying this can't happen until there is a cure, or a vaccine, or some extreme resolution. I predict those voices will be drowned out by the masses craving for food, clothes, vacations, business meetings, events, and sports. As hard as some try to remake capitalism, I don't think it can happen. Consumers won't let it happen. Brands won't let it happen. And, agencies won't let it happen, either.
Time to restart your business development
You've got to get your agency prepared. You don't want to sit on the sidelines, waiting, and watching. Your prospects are planning their comeback as we speak. They have to get back to marketing again and seek any opportunity or a good idea to regain what has been lost. Their job depends on it. There has been a lot of turnover in marketing this past month. Some because of budget cuts. Some because of a lack of preparation. Some because leadership wants a change in anticipation of the uncertain, highly competitive road ahead.
You've got to be hunting right now for those organizational changes. We all know that a new marketing hire often results in a new plan and a new agency. Insert yourself into those conversations with confidence, leadership, and a plan to move their business forward. That could mean spec work for your best prospects or publicizing your purpose-driven ideas across social and trade channels. It most certainly means you've got to refresh your prospect list, given all the layoffs, and leadership changes. And while you are at it, you should expand your list by going deeper into your verticals and across new industries. As Gretzky said, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
You've got to be working your network like never before. Relationships are the best avenue for new business. Reach out to everyone. Find out how they are holding up in the crisis. Remind them what you do and what kinds of companies you work with. Ask for a referral. Ask if they know anyone who might benefit from your services. Ask if you can help them craft a message to share with their network. Assure them you will return the favor. And most important, stay in touch regularly.
Encourage your leadership and everyone at the agency to do the same. Some may have friends who are in a position to hire. Some may have connections that are active networkers and come across others who need your services. Ask your vendors and suppliers. Don't leave anyone out. The best new clients come from personal and professional relationships.
Yes, everything has changed. At the beginning of the year, optimism prevailed. Today there is so much uncertainty, finger-pointing, opposing views, conflicting science, and heightened concern. But hey, you thrive on chaos. You excel at turning uncertainty into action. The best way to change the circumstances we've been smothered by is to get back to business in a responsible way. Double down on your business development efforts. Be intentional and resolute as we move out of this dark cloud. Now, doesn't that feel like nothing has changed? Network more. Prospect more. Love your clients more, and you'll be back on top. Do what your agency does best. Storyboard the future and make plans to achieve it.
Good luck, and stay well!
I've got a lot of advice on how to make your business development efforts more effective and would enjoy sharing what I know. If you like this post, sign up for my new business newsletter. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. And, please feel free to reach out at any time. #LetsGrow!