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.
Steve is a Digital Marketing Manager for RSW/US. When not out on a run, he’s responsible for optimizing client positioning through relevant content, impactful email marketing, and an understanding of the trends shaping the agency landscape.