This article, End of Summer. Start of a More Effective Agency New Business Program, is the final post of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

This post is from RSW Owner/President, Mark Sneider.

Hard to believe it is the end of the Summer and our Summer Campaign is coming to an end.

I hope you enjoyed all the great perspective from our outstanding team of New Business Directors, List Development Managers, and Marketing Communication Managers at RSW/US.

And hope you liked the “campy” map mailer we sent you.

Those marketers on the map really are marketers we helped our agency clients win.

Didn’t get one?  Let lee@rswus.com know.

Like all of the other content we push out weekly, our goal with the Summer Campaign was to provide you with recommendations and ideas that can help you build a better new business program for your agency without having to hire an outsourced agency new business firm like ours.

In addition to providing you with an on-going stream of good and thoughtful content, one other way we help agencies like yours is to work one-on-one with your firm.

I just completed another consulting assignment for a small marketing agency in Louisville to do just that: help them put a plan in place to accelerate their own new business efforts.

Only recently did I start doing this type of work.

I figured 16 years of managing outsourced agency new business programs and helping agencies find and win new business gives me a bit of permission to seek out firms that are interested in helping themselves by seeking outside perspective and counsel.

Like many of my assignments, my charge with this firm was to try and help them organize an effective inside new business development program.

While they were very pleased with the recommendations and ideas I presented to them, the challenge they now face is executing against the plan.

Fortunately for them, I’ll keep myself present to help them in the coming months to guide their efforts.

And fortunately for them, they seem ready to execute against the plan.

This agency is like a lot of our agency clients at RSW/US when we first walk into an outsourced relationship with them.

They have little-to-no content or collateral.

They have a very limited outbound effort because most of their new business comes in via referrals and networking.

They are more reactive in how they deal with RFPs and proposal requests.

And they spend too much time talking about themselves and not enough time focusing on their prospects.

Unlike many other firms, this Louisville firm had at least laid down a foundation of thinking relative to how they’d like to build an internal program and the specific things they’d like to implement.

While there were many good ideas baked into the plan they created, there were two glaring issues that were sure to get in their way of success:

  1. The plan was unattainable. Too many tactics. Too unrealistic given their resources.

You can’t go from doing nothing to doing everything overnight, or even over the course of a year.

So, I recommended they focus on the basics…the elements that would allow them to maintain some consistency of outreach and consistency of creating good content and collateral to attract the prospects they’re interested in meeting with.

Trying to do it all would become discouraging because nothing would get done well.

  1. They were going to manage new business via a team approach, without a single individual leading the charge.

You can’t manage new business by committee.

I’ve seen it done before and it doesn’t end well.

It slows things down and makes it difficult to gain any real positive momentum in a new business program.

Just like most agencies, this agency needed one key individual that could organize, orchestrate, and lead the effort.

Others could participate, but their involvement needed to be kept to a minimum.

Fortunately, this agency had one individual that I identified that (I believed) could fulfill that role.

I’m confident this agency will meet with success.

They are seemingly committed to bettering their program and share a passion for building a well-oiled new business machine.

So hopefully things will end well for this agency, just like this summer is ending well for us and hopefully for you.

It’s time to take stock of your new business plan and start thinking about what you should be doing to ready yourself most effectively for 2022.

Here’s to your success!

Thanks for following our Summer Campaign:  The Road to New Business over the past couple of months!

You’ll see it resurface in February when we host another Virtual Conference.  More to come on that later.

And finally, if you need any help, feel free to give me a call (513-293-6785), or drop me a line (mark@rswus.com).

Happy to connect.

Have a great Q4!

Referrals Are Fantastic But Can't Be The Sole Source Of Your Business Development Pipeline

This article, Referrals Are Fantastic But Can’t Be The Sole Source Of Your Business Development Pipeline, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

This post is from our VP of Sales, Lee McKnight Jr.

It’s no surprise that agencies typically rank referrals so highly as a lead generator.

You do great work and referrals (can) follow.

It’s a lot easier than an ongoing new business program, right?

New business is hard — hard to maintain, hire for, and keep up consistently.

And, let’s be honest, agencies typically aren’t very adept at it.

So referrals become the default new business option, which is not a bad thing.

If your agency doesn’t have a process in place to drive referrals, you need to implement that — yesterday.

Having said that, you simply cannot rely on referrals alone to build and grow your agency.

I know there are agencies that will contradict me on this saying, “It’s working for us.”

I say that’s fantastic, and you’re doing that part of it right — but you rely on them at your peril.

There are several reasons why:

1) Referrals aren’t necessarily the right type of client.

For several reasons this could be true (wrong fit, too small, no budget), and you could find your team spending time on the wrong types of work.

2) Referrals are not a consistent and scalable source of new business.

Just as your agency experiences certain lulls given the nature of your clients’ businesses, referrals function in the same way.

3) If you’re a small- to mid-sized agency, larger agencies are going after what they didn’t use to.

It’s a trend that’s gained momentum, which means those referrals you’re relying on have a better chance of slowing, or drying up altogether.

4) Agencies continue to get more aggressive when it comes to new business.

In our own survey reports, 86% of respondents say they’re getting more aggressive in their outbound and inbound activity.

To be fair, I take this one with a grain of salt, as agencies, bless them, tend to come out of the new business gate like gangbusters and lose steam rather quickly.

Not a knock at all, but it tends to be true.

However, it’s all about balance and scale.

Clients have to come first, of course. But you need a blend of referrals, outbound, and inbound that you can manage.

There’s a reason insurance exists — if you’re crushing it on the referral front, look at the outbound/inbound component as your insurance policy; it’s not the easiest part, but it’s absolutely necessary to your success.

And your business development pipeline will thank you for it.

 

Taking Your Ad Agency New Business Content For A Tune-Up

This article, Taking Your Ad Agency New Business Content For A Tune-Up, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

This post is from our VP of Marketing Communications & List Operations, Miguel Trejo.

A thought occurred to me last night as I was driving home from improv practice and fretting over this blog post.

Doing improvisational comedy and creating content for new business are not too far removed from each other.

Generating something from nothing is the essence of the creative act, whether you’re putting on a show or writing a case study.

Something we encounter occasionally with new agency clients is a lack of thought leadership and updated new business content.

Though agencies are great at creating content for others, they often don’t do the same for themselves.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of simply not having enough time in the day…taking care of current clients being priority #1.

Creating new business content, a vital component of acquiring new clients, gets relegated to the “important but not urgent” list.

However, other times the notion of creating something from nothing is just too daunting.

So how do you get started creating agency new business content if your agency doesn’t have a thought leadership culture in place or has taken a hiatus from it?

One of the core lessons of improv comedy is that you never really start with nothing.

While you may not have a script, you do have a head full of experiences, a unique perspective on countless topics, and a scene partner sharing the stage with you.

I’ve never encountered an agency client that didn’t possess those same tools in one shape or another.

Look To Yourself And Let Your Work Be Your Guide

Whether you’re beefing up your case study portfolio, writing a blog post, or brainstorming a video idea, you really need to start with your own experiences: your work with previous clients and the resulting expertise.

It’s easy to start doubting yourself after spending time on the internet perusing content released by other agencies.

However, if you’ve taken the time to carefully select your prospecting targets and hone your messaging, your experiences are exactly what prospects want to learn about.

When it comes to case studies:

  • Results and metrics are powerful but they don’t tell the whole story of the work.
  • Show your prospects that you understand their industry. This may involve using the right industry terminology, but describing industry pain points is more important. If the prospect sees their problems mirrored in the case study, they’ll want to keep reading.
  • Consider including a client testimonial. Nothing sells you better than a client singing your praises.
  • Develop a full arc to your client’s success story. What was your client’s situation before they entered into a relationship with your agency? How did your unique approach address their challenge? How was the client’s business changed by their relationship with your agency?

When it comes to writing blog content:

  • View your client work as the engine that feeds you ideas. Any given project can be parsed any number of ways, creating numerous blog topics. For example, let’s say you helped a regional sporting goods company modernize the ecommerce functionality of their website. You have a full hopper of potential angles: the challenge of ensuring that the design of the ecommerce component matches the company’s goals, how the particular ecommerce concerns of a regional player differ from that of national business, what sporting goods consumers are looking for from an ecommerce experience, or how to maintain the brand equity of a regional brand while pushing forward with digital innovation – just to name a few. The point is that if you’re targeting regional retailers, because that’s where your experience lies, talk about what you know.
  • View blogging as the most flattering Q&A session imaginable. Cover the topics your agency excels at. What makes your approach unique? What has proven to be the difference in the experience you provide for your clients?
  • You don’t always have to seem all-knowing. Sometimes simply pointing out a problem is an indication that you understand the challenges your reader is facing.

Have An Opinion

Of course, at times you will want to comment on the hot topic of the day.

A national news item captures everyone’s attention or some big player in your industry is making moves you can’t ignore.

There are many reasons you should go for it and jump into the conversation.

  • It allows you to capitalize on the moment. Nowadays, buzz doesn’t last long but it can give your SEO a shot in the arm and get you more views.
  • It saves you time. Rather than relying entirely on yourself, you can let the news item itself do some of the heavy lifting. Locate a 3rd party article to include in your post and let it act as a jumping off point.
  • It lets you showcase your viewpoint. Two of the ways to attract attention to thought leadership is to be an authority on a subject or to have a provocative opinion. Say the words “I disagree” and already you’ll have heads turning in your direction. Of course, you have to then back up that opinion with a well thought out argument.
  • It allows you to highlight your expertise. Even if you’re borrowing a hot topic’s juice, filtering the topic through the lens of your experiences will allow you to show off your unique approach.

However, unless you’re planning on building a content creation machine that churns out posts on a weekly basis, let these articles be a spice and not the main course of your thought leadership.

These types of news items don’t age well and you’re far better served by creating less frequent but more evergreen content that you can repurpose down the line.

Don’t Go It Alone

While there is a certain mystique that surrounds solitary creators, holed up in a secluded cabin wrestling with the empty page, why make this content creation thing more difficult than it needs to be?

Here are reasons to always create with a buddy or two:

  • A culture of thought leadership is a strategic advantage for any company, but especially an agency, and you can’t really have a culture of one. This process forces your agency to continually reflect on what it is and what it wants to be. A single agency principal might drive through leadership for some agencies, but it is better for the senior leadership as a whole to participate. Getting a wide range of voices to contribute to your content production helps to paint a more complete picture of what your agency has to offer.
  • It gets you the right voice for the right job. Maybe you’re the person at your agency tasked with creating case studies, but are you really the go-to source? Good case studies feature rock-solid results, but great case studies revel in the details. Leverage the team that worked on the project to get the real story.
  • More hands help to lighten the load. A blog post every week is attainable but still a lot of work. That same load distributed across 3-4 people is far more manageable.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of groupthink. Negative connotation aside, sometimes creators have to get out of their own heads. If contributors ever find themselves struggling for inspiration, get them all in the same room together and start spitballing. Better yet, invite an outsider to join and ask questions. You’ll walk away with a dozen new topics.

Creation Is Harder Than It Looks But Also A Whole Lot Simpler

If you remember these three principles, you’ll always have a way of reorienting your efforts if your content creation loses its way.

If you make these principles a habit and absorb them into your agency culture, to outsiders it’ll seem like you’re pulling off a magic trick with your content creation.

You don’t have to admit that the secret is craft and a hell of a lot of hard work.

Your Prospects Are Ridiculously Busy-Why You Shouldn't Fear Follow up

This article, Your Prospects Are Ridiculously Busy-Why You Shouldn’t Fear Follow-up, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

 This post is from one of our New Business Directors, Kerry Moss.

 It’s a common challenge for anyone pursuing new business: You had a great first meeting with a prospect, but the next steps are unclear. How often should you follow up?

The answer is more than you think.

Too often, we fear that our follow-up outreach will be perceived as too aggressive or as pestering the prospect.

In reality, thoughtful persistent follow-up is often necessary to secure a second meeting, and your prospect will appreciate your diligence.

The numbers don’t lie.

80% of all sales involve at least 5 follow-ups after the first meeting, according to a study by Brevet.

Yet 44% of sales professionals give up after just one attempt.

The people you wish to do business with are often very busy.

Don’t assume they are merely ignoring your outreach.

Lack of response doesn’t mean they have lost interest.

It all boils down to timing.

In order to effectively nurture a prospect, it is incumbent on you to stay top-of-mind and demonstrate value.

Successful business development professionals follow up with prospects early and often after a productive first meeting.

In most cases, the prospect will tell you if they have decided that you are not a good fit, or they’ve decided to go in another direction.

If your follow-up calls and emails are going unanswered, you’re likely still in the running to win some business.

This is the time for you to show the prospect what you can bring to the table.

So how do you demonstrate value?

Your follow-up needs to do more than just asking for another meeting.

Our experience in business development suggests that these three approaches are the best way to secure a second meeting, and to position yourself to win the business:

  1. Remind them why they took the first meeting with you

    As mentioned above, the prospects you are pursuing are busy people. If they took even 30 minutes of their time to meet with you, they have a need or they saw some sort of value in talking to you. Your primary goal in that first meeting should be to determine why they decided to take the meeting. Maybe they are struggling to find a partner who understands their business. Perhaps their current agency is underperforming. Or maybe they are interested in implementing a strategy that aligns with your specific strengths. In any case, your follow-up should help to reestablish their original motivation for speaking to you in the first place.

  2. Provide information and/or insights on something discussed in the first meeting

    Your introductory meetings should always serve as a way to learn about the prospect and his/her business. After that first meeting, you should have some sense of the prospect’s pain-points and you should have some understanding of their past strategies. As you prepare to follow-up with the prospect, find ways to offer valuable perspective around something you learned in that first meeting. Find a 3rd party news item or blog post relevant to your initial discussion. Show the prospect that you understand what they told you and demonstrate your resourcefulness.

  3. Share your experience solving problems similar to the challenges the prospect is facing

    Your follow-up should include examples of work you’ve done for clients in the same (or similar) industry as the prospect. This helps to alleviate any potential concerns the prospect may have about your ability to understand his/her business. When possible, the work examples should demonstrate ways in which you’ve solved the same (or similar) challenges the prospect is facing. Your goal is to establish credibility, provide value, and show the prospect that you are eager to help them achieve his/her goals.

Don’t fear the follow-up.

Remember that your prospects are busy, and you must stay top-of-mind.

Follow-up with your prospects frequently and with intention.

Show them that you listened during the first meeting and demonstrate the ways in which you can provide value.

Remember that a lack of response does not mean they’ve lost interest.

Understand that the period after the first meeting is your opportunity to separate yourself from the competition. If you wish to secure a second meeting, do the work to make it worth the prospect’s time.

Listen More, Talk Less: Directing Traffic In a Prospect Meeting

This article, Listen More, Talk Less: Directing Traffic In a Prospect Meeting, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

This post is from RSW New Business Director, Liz Lindley.

Something I’ve noticed over my nearly 7 years as a New Business Manager at RSW/US, is that few agency principals instinctively know how to navigate the second hurdle to winning new business:

The introductory prospect meeting

In fact, some of them fail miserably at it!

While mastering the introductory meeting isn’t rocket science, many agency principals fall into the same trap.

Here is the scenario you may find yourself in as an agency principal:

You have championed the first hurdle – scheduling a meeting with your dream client – and you’re excited about the possibility of working together. You enter the introductory meeting excited to share your industry experience, hundreds of slides, case studies, client stories and capabilities. You share your story and it’s a good one! You know you did a fantastic job presenting your agency’s capabilities in the best light. So, why didn’t the relationship move forward to a second meeting and ultimately a win?

Most failures are caused by one simple reason:

You talked too much about YOU.

That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with you and your agency.

The reason the prospect didn’t walk away from the introduction with an understanding of your value is because you didn’t listen to their challenges or understand their priorities.

Without these insights, you are not capable of telling a relevant story based on the marketers’ needs only your assumptions and accolades.

New resources take a lot to onboard, and competition is fierce.

Agencies must show they are playing at a much higher level to be invited to the table, and it starts with how you manage the first meeting.

Let your competitors fire up their slide decks and use up all their time listing their capabilities and case studies that may not apply, while you follow a simple agenda and land a second meeting.

Your Simple Prospect Meeting Agenda

  • A little about yourself
  • A lot about the prospect
  • Next time, include client stories, work samples and fresh thinking

By asking smart questions and doing a little research before the call, your prospect will walk away with the mindset: I like them. They’re smart, understand my business and I want to learn more.

Many agency principals believe that the introductory meeting will be their “one chance to tell prospects how great we are.”

This fear keeps them from planning ahead.

Your goal in the first meeting should be to schedule a second meeting because every touchpoint builds on the previous one.

This strategic, multi-touch follow-up strengthens the relationship.

If you dump everything into their lap at one time during the initial call, it’s tough for prospects to distinguish your value and continue the conversation.

And frankly, that approach is assumptive and boring. (Cue the glassy-eyed marketer)

A Little About Yourself

During the first 5 minutes, share the agenda, a quick personal intro and state WHY the meeting is happening.

Share your strongest differentiator.

What’s your superpower?

Prospects want to walk away with a better understanding of your value, not only what you do.

The biggest pain point for prospects is when an agency cannot articulate their USP.

A Lot About The Prospect

Prior to the meeting: write down questions, research the company and industry.

During the meeting: take notes, show off that you did your homework while avoiding the machine gun approach of asking questions by using phrases like: ‘tell me’, ‘explain’, ‘can you help me understand’, ‘fill me in’, and pull from your client experience.

For example:

  • One of the challenges we helped (CLIENT NAME) overcome was X, how has this affected you?
  • I read about your recent acquisition, enabling you to enter new markets, how does that affect your plans?
  • Although everything we do is customized, CLIENT NAME had an issue with X and our approach included ABC. It proved to be highly effective. What role does ABC play in your strategy?
    • What has worked and what hasn’t?
    • What do the regional managers say they need from you?
    • What is your vision for this new initiative?

Next time client stories, work samples and fresh thinking.  

Wrap up the call by suggesting getting together in the next couple of weeks. Have your calendar ready!

 John, thanks for your time, really appreciate your insights and comments, I certainly understand (RESTATE CHALLENGE(s)) and would like to share our expertise and how we can perhaps help you.  Why don’t we get together again in few weeks to dive a little deeper and talk additional insights from our work, especially a campaign we developed for CLIENT X.   Possibly you would like to include some of your team from channel marketing.   – I have my calendar, is the second week of May good? “

That second step is where the magic happens.

Listening is key.

Not only to hear what marketers are saying but to enhance your ability to understand their situation and communicate how your agency can help.

Ultimately, it makes the experience of meeting with you more enjoyable and a valuable use of time.

So, before you fire up the slide deck, take time to listen first.

Destination RSW 2021 Summer Campaign Giveaway

Our “Destination/RSW” Ad Agency New Business campaign is underway with a blog series, videos, an actual road map agencies will get in the mail-and we’re also doing a prize giveaway.

Tune in to some of our social media channels over the next few weeks for your chance to win prizes like:

  1. 50% off registration to our 2022 RSW Virtual Conference
  2. a trial sample of contacts from RSW/List,
  3. and even a month of free services from RSW/US.

A lucky few might even win a new Destination/RSW pint glasses to help keep you cool this summer.

This is how it works: Each week, we’ll give out a code word on one of our social media channels.

Simply email that word to me, lee@rswus.com with the subject line “Destination: RSW”, and you’re eligible to win!

Here’s a schedule where you can see the elusive code word.

August 17th: “3 Takeaways” YouTube Video (RSW/US Channel)

August 25th: RSW/US Instagram Account (@rswus)

September 1st: Lee McKnight, Jr. LinkedIn Page

September 8th: RSW/US Facebook Page (Facebook.com/RSWUS)

September 15th: RSW/US Twitter Account

Pushing Through The Prospecting Intro Email Dead End

This article, Pushing Through The Intro Email Dead End, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

 This post is from RSW New Business Directors, Brandon Buttrey.

Too often agencies will send hundreds of introduction e-mails – hoping something will stick with someone – but they never really take a critical look at the content of their e-mail.

I’ve seen MANY introduction e-mails and they’re typically too long, too full, and too impersonal.

For example:

I want to introduce you to XYZ Agency, a full-service marketing communications firm specializing in helping B2C and B2B brands drive growth. XYZ Agency has expertise in working with companies like yours. This knowledge base allows us to hit the ground running and quickly grow awareness to help increase sales. Our results are fast, reliable, and above all measurable – so you always know you’re making the most of your marketing budget.

We offer a wide range of capabilities to create the most expansive customer experience possible. These capabilities include strategic planning, creative design, advertising, media, PR, social media, email marketing, website & app development, and video production.

We have supported clients such as Brand X, Non-profit Y, and B2B Z…to name only a few. Visit our work page to view those case studies and more. [Link to XYZ Agency Work Page].

Like drinking from a firehose. Yes, your agency offers more than can be put into one e-mail – – however, you need to fight the urge to say it all at once.

I have three guidelines that can get agencies on the road to better introductory emails:

1) Play to your strengths

As you’re crafting your Introduction E-mail, choose one core strength or capability that you can speak to.

Choose something the prospect can actually digest.

Yes, your agency may specialize in multiple areas, but choose one for the Introduction E-mail.

A good way to help you identify your core strength is to think back to your current list of clients and ask yourself (and your team), what do our clients love about our agency?

Showcase that strength in a short and personal note… this will give it more power.

2) Taking it personally

Another key to success with introduction e-mails is the Subject Line.

No one is going to read your email if they don’t open it first and a broad or sales-y subject line isn’t inviting.

I will often see subject lines like: “Can I get 15 min of your time?”, or “Let our agency help you!”.

A good way to help you identify if the subject line is personal – – ask yourself if it sounds robotic or human.

Lean FAR away from robotic.

Remember… you’re reaching out to an actual person.

If YOU would open and read your email based on the subject line, chances are they will, too.

Here are a few examples of Subject Lines that may work for you: ‘Would love to connect!’, ‘Mailing this to your office’ (if you’re mailing a brochure/intro package), ‘We’re big fans of {Company Name}’.

3) Don’t reach for the SPAM

Also, resist the urge to fill this first e-mail with links, PDF’s, or any other attachments… adding these will typically put your introduction e-mail into the prospect’s SPAM folder.

Nowadays, firewalls are relentless-until you’ve begun communicating with the prospect.

Having links, PDFs, or attachments is a sure-fire way to get your e-mail booted to SPAM. Keep them text-only initially, then you can send Case Studies and other content once you’ve begun that relationship.

The key here is to slow down…take your time…focus your Introduction e-mail on one or two key strengths that you offer, keep it personal – without the links or attachments, and tighten-up your Subject Line.

Then, as you build the relationship with the prospect, you can explain more of your agency’s offerings and dive deeper.

Remember, prospects get so many e-mails throughout the day-yours needs to be short, digestible, and personal!

Making Your Way Out Of The Ad Agency New Business Wilderness

This article is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

This post, Making Your Way Out Of The Ad Agency New Business Wilderness, is from Digital Marketing Manager, Steve Taggart.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

When I was younger, I was a huge fan of survival reality shows.

Survivorman? Sign me up. Man vs. Wild? You know it. Survivor? My refined tastes as an 8-year-old found it a bit campy, but sure.

On a summer road trip, though, there are few things more frightening than the thought of being lost in the wilderness: fending for yourself, armed with only the most basic necessities, and worst of all, no one having any idea that you’re even out there.

I know, heavy stuff for an agency new business blog, but bear with me.

Again and again, we see agencies struggle to break through with prospects: trying to fend for themselves with no help on the new business front, armed with only the referrals they get from existing clients, and worst of all, prospects having no idea that their agency is even out there – despite being a potentially perfect fit.

In other words, too many agencies are lost in the agency new business wilderness.

Building awareness from the ground up isn’t an easy task, but it can be done.

Here’s a few tips on how we’ve seen agencies find their way out of the woods through positioning, case studies, solid outreach, or (ideally) a mix of all three.

Positioning: Why “Hard-Working” Just Won’t Cut It

All marketing agencies do the same thing.

Unfair? Maybe, but that’s exactly how a new prospect views your offering.

We’ve talked about that line in the past, and it continues to be a valuable prompt to position your agency beyond staples like “hard-working” and “easy to work with”.

And when looking for a starting point in building awareness for your agency, positioning is everything.

Especially for small- to mid-size agencies, much of your work will originate from brands already supported by a larger AOR.

In other words, brands are looking to fill a specific need, and they’re looking for an agency uniquely equipped to do it.

For this reason, the days of “full-service” messaging are on the decline, and distinct positioning is a key piece of making your way to closing on a new piece of business.

Maybe it’s industry expertise or a capability you specialize in.

Whatever your unique selling proposition is, lean into it and make it the central theme at the core of your messaging.

As you create content, this positioning builds on itself, and might just be the key to your next big project win.

Case Studies: Getting Credit For The Things You’ve Already Done

 Once you’ve nailed down that positioning, it becomes imperative to consider what you’re putting out, and ensure that each piece is delivering value to the prospect.

Case studies demonstrating your previous work are an excellent first touchpoint – offering immediate credibility through the clients you’ve worked with, the challenges you’ve helped overcome, and the results you’ve driven.

When looking to drive some initial buzz around your agency, there’s no better place to start.

The good news is this: you’ve likely already done the legwork on these by virtue of your work with clients.

The key now is to get credit for those success stories.

When it comes to sharing these stories, the crucial point is to connect your prospect to the story being told.

I’ll never turn down an opportunity to plug our fantastic ebook on driving new business with better case studies, and a few great success stories with known brands go a long way in getting your name out there and in front of decision-makers.

Outreach: Connecting Prospects to Your Message

The final piece in finding your way out of the wilderness and into the minds of prospects isn’t a complex one, but sometimes proves to be the most difficult: getting your positioning and case studies into the hands of your prospects.

Even the best positioning needs the prospecting essentials: effective communication, a recognition of the prospect’s challenges, and polite persistence to keep your agency top of mind for when the timing is right.

If there’s one thing the mid-2000s golden age of wilderness shows taught me, it’s that survival, even in the new business world, is much easier when you have company (or, you know, a team of producers).

Building awareness for your agency isn’t a one-person job – it’s a team effort getting out of the ad agency new business wilderness.

But, when done right, you’ll find yourself back on the road to winning new business in no time.

Avoiding Wrong Turns In Your Prospect Targeting

This article, Avoiding Wrong Turns In Your Prospect Targeting, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

This post, Avoiding Wrong Turns In Your Prospect Targeting, is from our Director Of List Operations, Ellen Jung.

All the prospecting in the world can’t help if you aren’t in the room with right-fit prospects.

If you’re consistently finding yourself speaking to prospects that just don’t gel with your expertise, it’s time to take a fresh look at the verticals, projects, and titles that you want to be riding with as clients.

Knowing Yourself

The first step is to ask yourself is, “Who are you as an agency?”

As you plot your course, you need to think about a few questions:

  1. Are you specialized for one or more industries?
  2. Does your work relate across multiple sectors?
  3. Do you take a different approach than other agencies?
  4. Are you a veteran in your industry?

One RSW client saw consistent success because they were experts in the higher education space and we were able to tailor their lists to focus on the schools that made sense for their work.

Past (Work) is Prologue

Once you have nailed down who you are, you can narrow down the pool of potential target companies to those that would most benefit from your unique strengths and capabilities.

Take stock of where the bulk of your experience lies to determine which industries to focus on; make sure that you’re able to draw a connection from work you’ve done to the companies you’re reaching out to.

Beyond this matching of capabilities, you should also think about the size of company that makes sense for the work you do.

Using your current clients and past work is a good place to start. Remember that while larger brands are harder to break through, there are often opportunities to crack the door open with smaller project opportunities.

Location, Location, Location

You also need to consider the location of your potential new clients.

Do you want to stay close to home?  Or does your work travel easily to anywhere in our beautiful nation?

We often suggest starting close to home and moving out from there.

This strategy allows you to offer in-person collaboration to clients who prefer a local agency.

Remember that when you target companies in large cities across the country, you are also competing with the local agencies in those metro areas.

That being said, while many brands still see value in the traditional “agency down the street,” the surge of work-from-home solutions due to COVID-19 has created a much more open market for agencies across the country.

What’s in a Title?

The final, and perhaps most underappreciated step in prospect targeting, is selecting the prospects you want to reach out to within your target companies.

Titles are a good guidepost, but be mindful about the roles and levels of responsibility behind them.

Do you need to target the CMO for a discussion about brand development/strategy, or does it make more sense to talk to a Marketing Director about project work?

Ensuring that your outreach is focused on the right titles will increase the chance of having a meaningful conversation that may lead to a working relationship.

If you’re finding a scattershot, one-size-fits-all approach to your prospect list isn’t getting the job done for your agency, you’re not alone.

You need to drill down and find the best fit for you.  If you’ve inadvertently taken a detour along the way, it’s a good time to reassess your course and destination to move that much closer toward your next new business win.

This article, Refreshing Your Outdated Agency New Business Roadmap, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business. We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

This article, Refreshing Your Outdated Agency New Business Roadmap, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

Following up on our first post, The Ad Agency New Business Roundabout, we’re talking about refreshing your confusing/outdated new business process, or for the purposes of our series, your outdated agency new business roadmap. 

Understanding that an actual map is somewhat anachronistic, feel free to insert GPS instead. 

If you’re using that old Garmin from the 2000s, or you somehow never updated your Google Maps or Waze app, you’d generally be in trouble, right? 

Directionally, at least. 

If you don’t update your new business process, your agency could ultimately be in similar trouble. 

For anyone on navigation duty these days, there’s no word more daunting than “rerouting”.  

Don’t let your new business roadmap fall prey to the same lack of direction – take the time to establish an informed, modern process, and use it to keep the pedal on the gas toward your next piece of work. 

 Don’t fall back on an outdated plan – your methods need to change with the market, and a new strategy is a great first step. 

So-you know you need a roadmap/new business refresh.   

Here are 4 steps you should start with to make sure you’re moving in the right direction: 

 1) Examine Your Current Positioning 

Think of your positioning as the fuel that gets your vehicle moving. 

Without fuel, you get nowhere, and with ineffective positioning, your new business program goes nowhere. 

(We featured more on positioning in this episode of 3 Takeaways: 3 Takeaways Ep33 – The Ad Agency Positioning Delusion?)

Your current agency positioning may be on the right track, but to make sure, start by sharing it with members of the team who aren’t typically involved in new business, and with someone completely outside the agency. 

Does it make sense, in 3 sentences or less (to start.) 

Essentially does it concisely explain- 

-Who you are,  

-What you do, and, 

-Who you do it for? 

 2) Start Small 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen agencies bite off way more than they can chew. 

Intentions are good, but they start off tackling way too much at a pace that can’t be sustained. 

Start off by nailing down 20-30 ideal companies to go after.  

And plan to post a thought leadership-driven blog post every 2 weeks. (Or on LinkedIn if you don’t have a blog). 

Prospect against those 20-30 for a month, planning on an hour each day or 2 every other day. 

As you prospect, plan on sending a link to that post you wrote that falls, ideally, within the vertical you’re pursuing. 

See where you are after that first month and adjust. Do more if you can. 

(This should be of help : A Simple 3-Step Plan For Agency New Business) 

3) Technology Is Your Friend, But Don’t Let It Overwhelm You 

In keeping with #2 above, all the ongoing new tech is glamorous and cool, but what do you really need? 

You really need a CRM and email platform that tracks opens and clicks. That’s what you really need for a solid agency new business roadmap. 

Once you have those two things, you can start to research, add other platforms/software. 

Don’t get buried with all kinds of tech you’ll never use.

 4) Zig When They Zag 

 If you’re on the highway, you don’t want to go the same way everyone else is going if there’s a better route less traveled. 

You know your competition is most likely prospecting with emails and on LinkedIn. 

They are probably not picking up the phone to reach out to prospects. 

They are probably not using any form of direct mail. 

They are probably not creating a lot of content. But that’s one you can actually check on, right? 

The first two you probably don’t know for a fact, but people generally don’t like to prospect via phone, for example. 

Email and LinkedIn are great prospecting tools, but relying on them solely will not get you to your brand new client destination. 

Mix up your platforms and use each of them in concert with each other.

That way, you’re not hitting your prospects too often with any one platform, and you have a better chance of actually breaking through, while still following your new business roadmap.