A great deal has been written recently about the status of marketing with mass media fragmentation, CMO confusion and lack of agency leadership. It’s a brand new world for the industry and the companies that move forward with focus and conviction will win.
The 4A’s New Business Activities and Resources Survey Report for February 2012 was recently released and it included some fundamental insights to find that next big client. Since I spend my days leading business development for a digital marketing agency, I’ve highlighted a few of the data points that are critical to #winning.
TAKES SOME MONEY TO MAKE LOTS OF MONEY.
Reported as % of gross income, the aggregate investment in new business income was comparable across all agency size groups and agency service types. While that’s not all that interesting, what it does outline is that agencies of all sizes (note: they are segmented in 4 groups by # of ppl) spend on average between 1.5%-2.5% on new business (non-billable) expenses. It’s most interesting to look at <100 subset since many of those agencies operate on close to a cash accounting basis which means it takes discipline in deal sheets, time management and profit margin on existing work to not deplete the resources required to compete. Many agencies don’t allocate and reserve resources for new business other than ‘what can we afford this month’ which lacks the discipline, foresight and planning required to target new clients and communicate to them in a relevant way.
Speaking, here are the venues to do just that.
HUNT. THEN HARVEST.
It should come as no surprise that the methods used for different sizes of agencies vary widely based on their offerings. However, the perfect storm for every agency is highlighted in this chart and detailed below. The plan is the science. The pitch is the art. More on that next.
- Client Networking and Industry Events: Select an agency position. Craft a POV. Target verticals/categories/clients and then go find them in their natural environments. There are lots of nouveau shows (SXSW, All Things D, etc) and the old, crowded ones (CES) but one thing is certain: you must activate them with a strategy to make introductions. Good biz dev people know how.
- Website: Show the work. Show the work. Show the work. Rinse & repeat. Every agency has tons of experience, A+ leadership with fancy titles and long histories of client work and a new ‘next generation’ model. Prove it by showing the work with results.
- Direct Marketing: Consultants and/or potential clients – deliver consistent updates to the different segments with a combination of thought leadership, PR and recent work/client wins. Newsletters, personalized emails, press releases, awards – all of it matters and should be communicated to the masses. The key is consistency to enable the 3 phases of ‘know, like, trust’.
SAY SOMETHING (NOT JUST ANYTHING).
Crafting the agency growth strategy + value proposition and then delivering that message is serious stuff. Brand Ambassadorship is not to be taken lightly and it’s clear based on this data that smaller agencies rely mostly on executive leadership to handle that responsibility. Larger agencies have the manpower and resources to staff the department and chase big budget RFPs.
My philosophy on creative agency new business is that it’s best done by someone who both works with current clients and also has the time to plan and chase that next client (see above). The reason why is that its very difficult to sell work and POV when the business dev people don’t know the story behind the work. The art of the pitch isn’t in credentials and client rosters. It’s in telling stories about clients and work that begin with challenges and end with insights and results. It’s very difficult to do if Mr./s is always setting up that next meeting. Collaborate and share responsibilities as a senior team with clear accountability on revenue goals for both existing and new clients.