Business Development Challenges For Ad Agencies-Pushing Through The Intro Email Dead End

One big business development challenge for ad agencies: Pushing Through The Intro Email Dead End

We’re an outsourced ad agency business development firm that works specifically with ad agencies, marketing services firms, and PR firms to find better qualified new business opportunities and get you closer to close.

RSW/US is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, with experts in lead generation, targeted prospect list building, and content creation driving our ad agency business development programs.

More about our advertising agency new business strategy and outsourced business development programs here.

Be sure to visit our YouTube channel and Agency New Business Blog for further insights.

Download this one-pager at the bottom of this post.

As we point out in this eBook header,

New business is hard – you send hundreds of emails, and are lucky to see a response to even a fraction of those.

So we created an ebook called RSW Tune-ups, a visual guide to driving more new business in 2022.

We’ll ultimately be releasing it in full, but we’re starting by releasing individual agency new business one-pagers, designed to cover different business development challenges advertising agencies are faced with.

Download the first, Building Awareness here, the second, Targeting The Right Prospects, here, and the third, Executing An Ad Agency New Business Refresh, here.

Below a few techniques to help that first intro email stand out.

Business Development Challenges For Ad Agencies-Pushing Through The Intro Email Dead End

1. Play to Your Strengths

Choose one core strength or capability that you can speak to.

Yes, your agency may specialize in multiple areas, but choose one for the introduction email.

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?

2. Remember: Prospects are People

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

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.

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.

3. Be Mindful of Spam Filters

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.

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If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email Lee McKnight Jr., VP of Sales at RSW/US at lee@rswus.com.

Learn more about our outsourced business development programs here.

Learn more about our process here.

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Marketer’s Edge Interview With Jerry Clum: Franchise Business Common Threads

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking with Jerry Clum, CEO of Hommati, and the discussion focuses on starting a franchise business, franchise business common threads, and capturing the attention of agents and home buyers.

If your agency pursues clients in the real estate market or franchising, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Hommati provides innovative services and dynamic content such as 3D Tours, Aerial Videos, Ultra HD Photography, Video Slideshows, Augmented Reality designed to help real estate agents win more listings, sell more homes, sell them faster and often for a higher sales price. Each franchise is independently owned and operated.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Jerry talks:

  • Advice he’d give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to start a franchise business.
  • The franchise business common threads that carry through all of the businesses he’s owned and run.
  • Jerry’s predictions on the state of real estate sales.
  • What makes Hommati different from the other franchise businesses Jerry has run.
  • How a brand like Hommati captures the attention of agents and home buyers.
  • What Jerry sees as the advantages and disadvantages of in-house versus bringing in an agency.
  • Advice Jerry would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board

A little bit about Jerry:
CEO, Franchisor, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and cited expert in all areas related to franchising.

And Jerry’s got a great Zig Ziglar quote on his LinkedIn page:

“You can everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want!”

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You can also see our video series 3 Takeaways here. It’s our agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email me at lee@rswus.com. I would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

You Need A Cold, Hard Agency New Business Wake-Up Call-3 Of Them Actually

You know sometimes you need an agency new business wake-up call-a jolt, a bucket of cold water just right in your face.

I’m seeing three sales trends that are not helping anyone gain any new business. 

You need to watch this episode and share it with your team-let’s do it.

This is 3 Takeaways, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

We’re coming in hot and keeping it short-you’ll want to soak in all three of these takeaways.

We’re talking trends that agencies, and salespeople generally, need to stop embracing. 

That first trend is:

Sales messaging or copy that gets way too specific, way too fast

. . .or that gets into the weeds, and overly technical, too quickly.

Your first takeaway:

A lay-person should be able to understand any initial lead generation outreach.

Whether that’s email, phone, or social.

Sometimes that seems counter-intuitive, because you may feel like you’re not giving your prospect the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t mean dumb it down, just don’t vomit minutia all over them out of the gate.

That was a terrible visual I just put in your head, let’s move on. 

OK, the next trend is war and peace messaging.

Here’s your second agency new business wake-up call, or takeaway:

Unless you’ve already started conversations with your prospect, your first email should not be longer than three short paragraphs max.

I know many of you watching could contradict me with success you’ve had with longer emails, but it amazes me how many salespeople, how many agency new business directors, send scrolling, multi-paragraph emails on their first outreach attempt.

No one has time for it.

As I said, if you’ve started communication in some form with that prospect, you have more leeway. 

But try this experiment-

Force yourself to write no more than 3 paragraphs at two sentences each in your next round of prospecting emails.

It’s hard, and you have to cut to the chase with really important, valuable information.

But it’s a good exercise to help you get more concise, and not just in your emails, but in video calls and phone calls.

And the last trend I call subject line Russian roulette.

And here’s you third takeaway to explain:

Don’t use “Meeting Request” as your email subject line. 

Or any form of it.

It may work, if you like using hope as a strategy, but you’re most likely looking at an automatic delete.

It screams, I am a salesperson you don’t know.

64% of prospects make a decision to open emails based on subject lines.

So what do you think your prospect will do when she sees meeting request?

That’s a non-starter.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down. 

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🔔 Subscribe for more free content on how to help improve your new business program: https://bit.ly/2Mn0gXy

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email me at lee@rswus.com. I would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Julie Mann: Crazy Successful Food Innovation

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking with Julie Mann, the Chief Innovation Officer at Puris Foods, and the discussion focuses on food innovation at Puris (they’re very good at it), e-commerce, and Julie’s direct advice to agencies.

If your agency pursues plant-based foods. food ingredients, organic, or non-GMO sourced food, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A little background: PURIS cultivates a spectrum of pure, plant-based foods and ingredients from U.S.-based organic and non-GMO sources.

Their end-to-end system ensures a wholesome journey from seed to solution. PURIS™ is a family-owned company founded in 1985.

Their plant-based food system benefits every link in the chain of production with practices that nourish soil, the environment, and life on earth.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode:

  • Julie has advice for companies looking to start selling direct-to-consumer via e-commerce platforms.
  • She talks how Puris differentiates itself from the sea of other organic products on the market, and why they won the Fast Company award in 2021 for most innovative food company.
  • And what she learned from her long career at companies like Hershey that she’s been able to apply to her work at Puris.
  • Julie also describes what looks for when she’s shopping for new marketing service help.
  • And the advice Julie would give any agency trying to knock down her door and win his business.

Julie Mann, the Chief Innovation Officer at Puris Foods.

A little bit about Julie:

My first professional and personal passion is plant based eating. I am a catalyst for better human nutrition, better understanding of the impact of shifting to plant based and how we can create a better world.

A close second is my extensive training in innovation and disruptive thinking. I have led several successful teams to breakthrough innovation and fundamental change. My talent is unearthing and championing innovative insights, combined with deep R&D expertise, to deliver the optimal innovation and disruptive products to change our world.

My third, but likely most important passion is empathy, people, communication, and transparency. I build teams that realize they CAN do more TOGETHER.

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You can also see our video series 3 Takeaways here. It’s our agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email Lee McKnight Jr., VP of Sales at RSW/US at lee@rswus.com.

Learn more about our outsourced business development programs here.

Learn more about our process here.

The Proven Power of That Second Prospect Meeting-Why You Need To Nail It

Getting that second prospect meeting is about strategy, tenacity, and persistence.

Too often agencies don’t do a good job of digging around during first meetings for opportunity areas or pain points that they can capitalize on.

And too often agencies either don’t have the talents, the time, or the desire to stay with prospects and nurture them down the line.

Not doing this is nearly a sure recipe for lost opportunities to win new business.

We encourage our clients to go into initial meetings with good smart questions, listen to the prospect’s answers, and probe for issues or concerns they might have.

We also encourage clients to use examples of the work they’ve done for other clients to show the prospect how they’ve dealt with similar situations the prospect might be dealing with.

And we discourage our clients from just sharing the work in isolation, and instead, as they hear a prospect’s answers to the questions they’ve asked, suggest to the prospect that “we’ve dealt with something similar with one of our clients too” and use that as the entry point for sharing.

So instead of just telling the prospect how great the agency is, the prospect can see for themselves how smart our agency clients are based on the questions asked and the solutions they’ve delivered for other clients.

Yelling and telling and selling

We tell our agency clients to let the prospect “check the boxes” and conclude for themselves that their agency possesses the value they need, versus just “yelling and telling and selling” the prospect about their agency’s superiority.

They get that from every other agency out there.

The goal for any first meeting should be a second meeting where the agency can begin to paint the paths forward of where they can take a prospect’s business.

The Proven Power of That Second Prospect Meeting

Moving prospects to a second meeting not only will give agencies an opportunity to learn more about the prospect’s business but it will better cement a relationship and better an agency’s chance of closing business.

Back in Q3, 2020 I ran a correlation analysis looking at the # of 1st meetings and the # of 2nd meetings relative to the number of wins our clients achieved to see if there was any stronger connection between 1st meetings and wins versus 2nd meetings and wins.

While the importance of first and second meetings kind of rode side-by-side through most of 2019, it appears (maybe because of COVID or maybe just getting tougher out there), the number of second meetings set has become significantly more important in helping clients get more wins.

If There’s No Work In Hand, Should We Even Take This Prospect Meeting?

30-50% of the prospect meetings we get our agency clients turn into a proposal opportunity.

I’m kicking things off with this stat, because recently I’ve had conversations with agency prospects who’ve asked about the other 50%.

It’s not a question that comes up in every prospect conversation I have, but if it doesn’t, then I like to bring it up.

That other 50% typically constitute those meetings with a longer tail.

I’m not going to tell you that every single meeting we get for a client is a home run, but part of the reason our business development programs are set up the way they are is so our new business directors can help nurture that other 50%, where it makes sense to do so.

Not every meeting will be a work-in-hand opportunity, whether it’s set by us, or if an agency is handling new business internally.

Because you simply can’t manufacture opportunities-timing truly is everything.

But, there have been several meetings we’ve gotten for clients, where opportunities became evident that weren’t when the meeting was originally set.

In those cases, we prepared our client with the prospect’s situation, the prospect was on the list we built and which was approved by our client (one of the first steps), and there was a high level of interest in what our client could bring to the table.

But, there was no immediate work in hand.  That can happen and we communicate as much information as we can to our client in that regard.

Speaking generally about agencies, these types of meetings are often where they drop the ball.

Their first thought is, “well, if there’s no work in hand, should we even take this prospect meeting?”

Well, to be fair, sometimes the answer is no.

And depending on a lot of factors, you’re probably not jumping on a flight across the country at that point.

But otherwise, you must keep an open mind in these situations.

Going back to those clients I mentioned, they went into those meetings with an open mind, performed initial research, and prepared key questions, specific to the industry and work they had done.

Half an hour into these conversations, what started with no immediate work turned into several challenges that weren’t initially mentioned and that the prospect really hadn’t fully fleshed out or realized until our client tapped into the right line of questioning.

It’s not an easy thing, but there are those agency principals or new business directors, who have an innate talent for extracting insights from prospects.

They can sit down with that prospect and have the ability to ask really good questions about the prospect’s business, getting them laser-focused on the challenges they’re facing.

To be frank, a lot of you reading don’t have that talent, but you can still get the same result.

Three quick tips on how:

1) Prior to the meeting, study up your prospect and her/his company

Far too often, the only prep is to glance at the prospect’s website briefly.

You are busy, without a doubt, but as I like to say,

Google is your friend.

It’s just too easy to find out a fair amount of information in a short period of time.

2) Formulate 7-10 industry/client-focused questions before the prospect meeting.

Ideally you have some of these questions based on what you uncovered about the prospect and her/his company, but you won’t always be able to find something pertinent.

So base your questions on the challenges you help your current clients solve.

It’s a safe bet they’re going through the same things, and even if they aren’t, they’ll appreciate your overall expertise in their vertical.

3) Keep an open mind.

If you go in with a negative or circumspect mental attitude, you’ve already gone a long way toward assuring yourself a poor meeting.

Absolutely there are those meetings that never should have happened, and if that continues with great frequency, the overall process needs to be examined, but on average, if all the other boxes towards a right fit are checked and the prospect wants to meet with you, odds are good there’s a need there.

RSW Agency New Business Case Study Series, Pt. 1: Secure Your Audience

Agency New Business Case Study Series, Part 1: Secure Your Audience

Welcome to the first entry in our RSW/US new business case study series.

Case studies are one of the most effective tools in an agency new business program, and we field a lot of questions from clients about how to start them, build them, and use them effectively.

If these questions sound familiar to you, we recently put out an ebook that’s a great primer on some of the topics we’ll be covering in the series – I recommend giving it a download.

With that in mind, let’s jump right in.

The first component to consider is your audience: who’s actually going to be reading these case studies?

The answer, of course, is new business prospects. That’s the end of our blog, thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Still here? Good, because while the answer is much more nuanced than “prospects,” you’d be surprised how many agencies lose sight of even that fundamental principle.

Case Studies Are A Handshake, Not A Full Pitch

You’re not building these for employees that know your business, current clients that have experience with your services, or even a pitch recipient that’s moved you into the next phase of a search.

At most, you’re writing for someone you’ve given a brief elevator pitch.

More likely, the case study is going in front of someone that has no idea what your specialty is, zero clue about the work you’ve done in the past, and only a cursory guess about who you are and the agency you represent.

It seems obvious, but this is a key factor in putting case studies together: you need information to get to the reader, and you need to get it there fast.

You’ve heard this plenty of times throughout our series, but case studies are your time to shine.

Show off the success metrics that you helped a client achieve, and showcase the visuals that went along with it.

It’s an introduction to your agency – treat it that way and ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward.

Target More Than An Industry

When I say “target audience,” what comes to mind?

For many of you, it’s a sector, and that makes sense: marketers have an inherent preference toward shops with experience in their space, and the effect is felt across the table, with agencies now conditioned to emphasize their work in a given sector.

There’s nothing wrong with this kind of mindset, and we’ll touch on industry-specific language in a bit, but I encourage you to also consider factors like titles that you’re seeing in prospecting.

Speaking to a PR audience versus one in marketing, for example, results in numerous tweaks to language, imagery, and crucially, results featured. Beyond departments, look at the titles – the higher the level of prospect, for example, the more strategic the story you’re telling will need to be. Think quick win stories for lower-level prospects, and framework overhauls for the c-suite readers; yet another question you’ll need to ask about the audience you’re targeting.

While these kinds of tweaks may feel inconsequential, the cohesive message being sent is one of familiarity: we know your company’s challenges, and more importantly, we know how those challenges affect you specifically, whether that’s based on department or title.

Prove You Speak The Language…

There’s a reason that industry jargon is, well, industry jargon.

It’s a calling card that shows, even subconsciously, that you’re part of the [insert industry here] community.

It’s a powerful and easy way to earn some credibility behind your work, and demonstrate value in your knowledge of their space, all just by tossing out a few keystone words or phrases.

The primary goal of a new business case study is to allow prospects to see themselves in your clients’ shoes, and using the language they use everyday makes it that much easier to reach that goal.

…But Don’t Overdo It

While industry language is an effective method of driving engagement with case studies, going as far as pandering is decidedly…less effective.

The goal is to clue the reader into your knowledge of the space – not to jam as many technical terms as possible into the space you’re given.

In other words: demonstrate value, but keep it human.

Agencies are no stranger to audience considerations, but it’s interesting to see how many new business case studies go the “one-size-fits-all” route, sacrificing a measure of effectiveness to speak to anyone and everyone who might give it a read.

It’s understandable to cut corners in the interest of volume and efficiency, but without a focused effort on building around your audience segment, your case studies could very quickly fall under “one-size-fits-none.”

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.