Author Archive

How to: Use a niche when your agency is full service

How to use a niche when your agency is full service

Agency Type

Full-Service Creative

Target

Consumer Goods

The Process

Many agencies that have broad skill sets find themselves in a position of trying to drive a conversation with a new prospect but lack a real specific door opener. There are so many problems that your full-service shop can solve, so where do you begin a conversation? It’s important to us a niche when your agency is full service.

Our client was facing just such a problem in that they don’t niche down on either an industry or a service. We looked at their past experience and decided consumer goods was a great place for us to start based on the current market and what they can offer in terms of insights. We also decided that the best place to start was a conversation around digital that could then branch into a more holistic strategy. Our team decided to create a “digital audit” that we would only offer to specific brands based on their size, region, and current interest level.

In order to create such a tight list of prospects, our team utilized both Winmo and Bombora to trim a list of consumer goods companies down to less than 100 companies. Once we had an initial set of right-sized companies from Winmo, Bombora was used to determine current intent by searching for those that have “digital strategy” high on their intent radar.

We also simplified our email approach with a quick note and then some bullet points on what the audit may provide. Below is a generalized version, but will give an idea on the overall structure.

Jim,

As experts in Consumer Goods, my team reviewed your site and we’d like to offer a complimentary Digital Audit. This would include:

  • Website Design + UX Flow
  • Technical SEO Review
  • Load speeds, Page Speeds
  • Analytics Review
    ….

This email was NOT the first email that we had sent this prospect, it was actually in the middle of an 11 touchpoint cadence. They had seen our name and agency brand before through our emails, so the digital audit approach allowed them to focus strictly on this one area of opportunity.

The email was received by the Global Integrated Marketing Manager, who oversees many brands across their portfolio. The response was that they did have one brand that was struggling in comparison to others and they were interested in our team doing a quick digital audit on it. This opened the door not only to a project for the brand that needed immediate help, but then a review of all the other brands under their portfolio.

The key is, if you aren’t niched down in your agency’s structure, then you at least need to niche down your prospecting efforts in terms of language. Prospects have specific needs and so we need to approach them with that same level of specificity.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

Derry B
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

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New Business Opportunities in 2021

New Business Opportunities in 2021

By now, many of you have read the original and probably seen articles referencing AdWeek’s recent survey of marketer’s plans in 2021. The headline takeaway is that “40% of brands MIGHT seek new agencies”.  It’s an exciting prospect that near half of brands are going to be looking for new partners in the new year, which definitely means opportunities for agencies to go out there and strike up conversations with brands that they want to work with.  

Take Advantage of Nearly Half of Brands Looking for New Partners

In my opinion, your opportunity to grab a new brand is much higher than the 40% they refer to.  Here’s another chart in the article I found much more interesting and telling for where brands sit regarding the evaluation of their agency partners: 

Adweek Intelligence Survey

The chart above asks “How would you rate the performance of your agency since the start of the Pandemic?”  20% of agencies performed below expectations, while 48% performed at a level defined as “What was expected”. 

Exceeding Expectations is Key to Finding New Business Opportunities in 2021

To me, as a new business person, I read the words “what was expected” and see so much opportunity.  People don’t fall in love with meeting expectations.  When was the last time you heard your boss say “you meet expectations, we are giving you a huge promotion!”  Probably never.  People fall in love with agencies (or any service/product/person) when it blows away their expectations, redefines their expectations, or it solves a problem they didn’t even realize exists.

While those brands that had their expectations met may not be actively searching for a new agency at the beginning of the year, it’s more important than ever that we are speaking to those brands about how our agency is, in fact, exceeding the expectations of our brand partners.  Business Development doesn’t only happen when someone has an RFP ready and is in search mode.  It never stops.  In a market like this, that is constantly changing, we need to consistently be talking with our prospects about their industries, their needs, and where we see opportunities.  You never know when budgets will change or a new decision-maker will step up at a brand that you are pursuing and change everything about their current agency relationships.

How to Approach Brands in the New Year

When we are approaching brands in 2021, we need to focus on our expertise in solving their problems more than ever.  While past expertise in the pre-covid market may not perfectly translate to this new world, leaning heavily on your expertise within their specific industry and a specific pain point facing your current clients will lend immediate credibility to your outreach efforts.

With only 1/3rd of the brands out there in love with their agency results, you can absolutely bet on the fact that there will be more agency movement next year than the predictions say.  It’s time to be proactive with your prospect conversations and make those prospects fall in love with you.

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How to: Find a meeting in the financial sector

How to find a meeting in a financial sector

Agency Type

Brand and Customer Experience

Target

Finance & Professional Services

The Process

New business efforts are all about being highly targeted with your data and messaging.  Very often an Account-Based Marketing approach, rather than a mass outreach effort, means that your total quantity of outreach is reduced, but your level of meetings in both interest and opportunity increases.

Jim found himself in the position of working on behalf of an agency that has specialized within the Financial sector, one that has certainly been a challenge these last few months of the Covid with, seemingly, fewer agency shifts in that industry during the pandemic.  With less movement happening and overall freeze happening, Jim needed to find not only a brand that was actively open to speak, but also who within that brand would be the right person to take interest in his client’s capabilities.

The first step of this focusing process was to take the larger finance list and run it through Bombora’s purchase intent software.  He looked for Finance companies that had surging interest and searches along with the categories of “Brand Affinity and Financial Banking”.  This reduced his overall list of prospects from hundreds to 30(ish) companies.

Once we had those main 30 companies, it was time to append marketing contacts from Winmo into those main companies and prioritize based on the job titles that we have had the most success in getting in contact with.  During the pandemic, we have seen a lot of activity with Director and VP level, who both understand the need to pull on purse strings AND are also bogged down with the day to day execution of marketing plans.

With the now smaller list, Jim has the ability to do a deeper dive into those individuals and companies and make sure that any messaging can now be tailored to each one.  The message that hit first was finding a company that was written about in Forbes, which he mentioned immediately and linked back to in his email.  He then shares a similar past client to show expertise in their field, which is always on a marketer’s mind.

(edited for privacy’s sake, but the simplicity is in tact)

I’ve been reading about ABC and your recognition in Forbes. We’ve developed fresh insights, for clients like XXX, into some new challenges their small business clients and prospects are facing in today’s environment. We’d be glad to share our presentation  where we dive into post-COVID changing beliefs, behaviors, and needs of the small to mid-sized business audience. (link was included)

Would you be free to connect on Thursday?

Those quick first sentences give his email a step above others in a few ways.  First, he’s obviously not a bot sending mass mail, because he is linking to an article that would only make sense for this person.  Second, everyone loves the extra recognition and little ego boost by acknowledging and recognizing their public accomplishments, in this case, the article in Forbes.  He has also shown expertise without having to go into a 3-page long diatribe explaining all that they do.  He uses the mention of past work to prove his expertise.

Lastly, Jim kept the messaging SIMPLE.  This was short and sweet and allowed the prospect to breathe.  That simplicity in email communication allows for a prospect to believe that an interaction and discussion may be simple as well.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

 

Jim O.
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

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How to: Create a New Business Opportunity in 11 Days

How to create a new business opportunity in 11 days

Agency Type

Creative Production Agency

Target

Food & Bev, Small-Mid Size Companies

The Process

Utilizing Winmo’s Intent Insights powered by Bombora, our team began their search by filtering companies within the Food & Bev category that were small to mid-sized businesses based on revenues and media spend ranges that were within our agency’s desired range.  Once we had that list built out of right-sized companies, we ran this list through Bombora’s purchase intent software to determine if any of these companies had recent surges around the terms “Creative” “Social” and “Production”.  There were 15-20 companies that all showed scores over 80, which tells us they are currently evaluating Creative and Social options.  

By focusing on this reduced number of smaller companies, our percentage of finding the right person within the company is massively increased.  These small to mid-sized companies have fewer marketing decision-makers, allowing us to focus more on custom messaging in a true Account-Based Marketing approach.  Smarter messaging to a focused group makes for more intelligent and interesting first meetings.

For this group, Jake created a 6 step email and phone cadence that covered 11 days, as laid out below:

These emails all have the same base structure and where they begin to diverge is in small customizations between each individual decision-maker when they hit step 2 in custom emails and the phone voicemail left.  

Voicemail is a key ingredient in that it puts a human voice to every interaction.  It’s important to separate yourself from the mass of others sending mass spam emails hoping for a bite, by ensuring that you are taking a multi-touchpoint approach with phone and email.  

In the end, the email that drives conversion to a meeting may be the simplest messaging.  Jake’s success came from email number six on day eleven with a call to action as simple as:

“What would be the downside of receiving a unique perspective for any upcoming creative work? “

The reply was as simple as

“Great timing, we are actually reviewing now…”

Agency new business (and business development) almost always hinges on timing.

Tools like Winmo’s intent data from Bombora, LinkedIn, and Salesloft can ensure that your chances of starting a conversation at the right time are higher than your competitors.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

Jake
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The tech stack you need for proper agency new business development

Every year the tech stack available for agency new business pros changes exponentially it seems.  The image above is the Martech 5000 and I think it is safe to say that navigating that thing is a nightmare!  There’s always a new CRM, data source, or automation software that is promising a shortcut to immediately generating more meetings and winning more business.  In my experience, technology doesn’t provide a shortcut, but more a roadmap of exactly where you should go.

At Catapult, we believe in intelligent, timely, and personalized communications in order to best drive the right types of conversations for new business development.  This means we don’t believe in mass blasts, but an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach.  For an ABM approach, technology and research are massively important because it means that we know more about our prospects, we can pick the right times to do outreach, and we can use the right type of language for each individual.  All this adds up to better meetings and, in turn, more wins.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the main parts of our tech stack:

Winmo – Now we here at Catapult are a little biased (Winmo is our sister company), but in our opinion, there is no better collection of information about marketing decision makers than what you get from Winmo.  The contact information is the cleanest in the industry.  They also have all the contextual information you would want around those people to understand their agency relationships, media spend habits, personalities, and more.  Most importantly though, for any business agency person, is that they have a host of alerts that will let you know when information changes that may be important to be acted upon.  Those alerts are a game-changer for ensuring that your timing is better than your competitors.

WinmoEdge – Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?  WinmoEdge is the key to finding that smoke super early in order to help you get in front of a new business opportunity before that opportunity has even had a chance to build up.  Edge’s proprietary scoring system takes a brand’s behavior and performance and translates that into a score that predicts the likelihood of going into an agency review.  Let us fill you in on a little secret though, most companies that use Edge start at the highest scoring (most likely to review) companies and then work their way down…but not us at Catapult.  We understand that new business is a long game and we want to get on the radar of those brands that are just beginning to run into issues that may call for a review.  This way, we dictate the RFP, rather than it being dictated to us.

Salesloft – Gone are the days of one size fits all mass emails.  Or at least those days SHOULD be gone.  In today’s environment, it’s all about putting the right message in front of the individual, which means the mass email campaigns of yesteryear are gone.  At Catapult, we have stopped using Marketing Automation and solely use Sales Automation with Salesloft now.  This allows us to send customized emails, to individuals, at scale.  If you’re a sole new business person and you are still trying to send prospecting emails or networking emails through your gmail alone, then you need to investigate the switch to Salesloft.  This will help you automate and manage each touchpoint in your prospecting efforts and sales funnel in a way that will make you 50x faster than trying to just use Gmail alone.  It also has the added benefit of using your email server for each send, so the likelihood of getting caught up in a spam filter because of a Marketing Automation’s bad IP address is reduced greatly.  More sends, better sends, what’s not to love?

 

 

Bombora – What if you knew when a prospect was looking for your exact service before they ever reached out?  That’s exactly what Bombora does.  They track a company’s interest level in specific services or keywords.  So if you’re a creative agency, you can track all company URLs within whatever industry you love and see which company is “surging” in interest around the keyword “Creative Agency”.  If they are reading content about creative agencies, searching creative agencies, then that’s probably a pretty good indication that you should reach out and say hello.  You don’t have to tell them you’ve been stalking their content consumption behavior, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing responses like “wow, crazy timing, I was just beginning a search…”.

Crystal – People are all different.  Obvious right?  Then why, oh why, do we see companies sending out messaging that is the same for 1,000 people?  Some people like humor in an email, some like detail, some want it to be short and sweet (me for instance).  The point is, Crystal evaluates the attitudes and personalities of each prospect and gives you suggestions on how to best approach them based on those personalities.  Throw in an emoji for Jim, but make sure you use bullet points for Jill.  It’s not perfrect, but damn if it isn’t close to perfect.  If nothing else, it gives you a great playbook for how to approach and navigate a sales or discovery call with one or more personalities.  It attaches directly to your Google Chrome or LinkedIn and gives you that info in real time.  Super powerful stuff.

Kantar – Media spend info can be grabbed from different places, but here at Catapult we have used Kantar for years.  The way that we use it is to simply have additional criteria when we are looking at what makes a good sized prospect for our agency client.  Many times it’s easiest to purely build backwards from your best performing client and find other prospects that have a similar spend track to them.  

Pathmatics – Similar to how we use Kantar, we use Pathmatics to get deeper information about digital advertising performance for any brand that we are interested in approaching.  We use it both at the beginning of the process to narrow down companies that spend more or less in certain areas, and we also use it when we are doing a deeper dive into a specific prospect.  Often this may come around a 4th or 5th touchpoint when we are looking for something that may help us stand out in our outreach efforts and pull an insight that potentially no other competitors have thought about talking to them about.  

Statsocial – Understanding the social audience of a brand can give you another quick opportunity to connect on a different level with your prospect.  Statsocial is our go-to tool to understand the audience demographics of the companies and brands that we are prospecting.  It also helps in comparing your prospect with another company.  Very often it’s good to show how a challenger brand stacks up against the leader in the space.  This isn’t information that the prospective brand doesn’t have, of course, but it does show that YOU understand their brand and their space, allowing for more trust and better conversations.

 

There are a host of other tech and research tools we use from DRTV info, online publications, and simple Google alerts, but these are the ones that we lean on the most.  Business Development is never simple, but if you want to truly do a comprehensive job of Account Based Marketing it’s our recommendation that your tech stack looks similar to the one above. 

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Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Outsourcing lead generation is a great option for many agencies. It supplements already over-taxed in-house business development leaders and allows an agency team to stay focused on its core strengths instead of trying to master a job no one at the agency wants (or, in many cases, is suited for).

But just because you’re outsourcing a job you dislike to an expert doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful.

In this webinar, new business strategist Jody Sutter will offer you a blueprint for success. She’ll show you the right foundation to have in place before you start generating leads and the formula to follow to increase the chances of turning those leads into closed business.

Key takeaways:
– Common mistakes agencies make that undermine success—and how to avoid them
– The four essential tools to have in your new business toolkit before you start
– A step-by-step framework to ensure you convert leads into new agency business—from hand-off to close

Watch This Webinar Now




* A recording will also be sent to you via email

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6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

The average agency-client relationship lasts 36 months, which means at any given moment one of your competitors is about to lose a client. But what if you were the one that is losing the client? Do you have the resources in place to make sure you can protect your agency from the inevitable turnover of clients? 

The first resource your team needs to be investing in to protect against churn is a proactive Business Development Director.  It should come as no surprise that experienced business development professionals capture a bigger slice of the new business pie than those just getting started. The tough part is identifying those directors with the right type of experience to best grow your firm.

In order to help you identify those Business Development Directors with the right type of proactive experience, we’ve listed out 6 interview questions for your next internal or outsourced partner.  Being smart with these questions can make a massive difference in the amount of growth your team experiences this year.

6 Interview Questions For Agency Business Development Directors

How much “hunting” have you done?

New business—indeed, any sale—is about experience in the field.  Isn’t it amazing how the best new business people always seem a bit lucky?  A lot of “right place at the right time”. Well it isn’t luck, it’s hours and hours of experience working through what prospects want and need so that their message is the one bubbling to the top over all the other agencies out there pursuing new business.

How comfortable are you with approaching a prospect cold?

Cold calling or cold emailing is a complicated business. Even with tools to increase your chances of setting appointments, you have to be able to handle rejection (or worse…the cold loneliness of no response) every day without letting it affect the next conversation. If you find someone that thrives on making conversations out of nothing, then you’ve found a keeper.

What role did you play in helping to win a new client?

There are many stages to a new business win. Your potential new employee may have been involved in the first outreach call, set the appointment, gave the presentation or closed the business.  It’s vital that they can recognize the value of their contribution—without over-valuing it. New business acquisition is often a team sport and we want to make sure that their expertise fits in the current team’s mix and brings value to any new business engagement.

Were you involved in face to face meetings with clients or teeing up initial conversations? What has been your involvement with client new business presentations?

While closing and prospecting are both important, they are two totally different skill sets. Many agency new business people come from a background of receiving RFPs and responding to them.  That’s a very different task than going out and creating opportunities out of nothing. If you’re moving into a more proactive new business approach, your new business person needs to reflect this move.

How do you go about building strong relationships?

Business development is all about maintaining and improving relationships. Transparency, honesty, mutual respect and shared interests are as vital in a sales engagement as they are in any other relationship, and sales professionals who excel at managing their relationships are more likely to be viewed as trustworthy by their clients.

What would clients you closed say about you?

No candidate is going to lead with a negative, but the reason you ask this question is to gauge their willingness to be candid and honest about their weaknesses.  We also want to find out what do they really value? Do they put emphasis on their ability to connect, to persuade, find a problem, or identify a solution? Their answers will open many new questions about their personal style and how they might go about helping potential prospects learn more about your agency.

Finally, if your reaction to a candidate isn’t an emphatic “yes,” it’s a “no.” If they can’t sell themselves then they certainly can’t sell your agency.  Time to keep looking!

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The 40% Rule and Why it Matters for Agency Growth

Agencies that follow the 40% rule are more successful in consistent growth over time.

The rule is simple: No more than 40% of your agency’s revenue can come from one client.

The better you understand your current revenue and forecast of new revenue, the better prepared you are for bumps along the way. It also ensures you don’t end up with a client whose loss would significantly affect the health of your agency. Trust me, I know there is nothing more rewarding than landing a large client. It allows you to grow your resources and capabilities and provides an influx of new revenue. However, leaning on that huge client without balancing their portion of your total billings can also bring future challenges.

In 2017, we hosted a webinar focused on driving agency growth and building value before the sale, and the information is just as relevant today. In the webinar we highlight how to follow the agency 40% rule and stress the importance of why you need to live by it. 

If your agency is not following the 40% rule, you have an elephant in the room.

Think about it: what happens when the business from your major client dries up? Or it could simply go away due to things entirely out of your control – your work is great, they love you, but then there is a corporate change in agency relationships. This situation is one nearly every agency faces, especially during key growth phases. I’ve worked with many who got their start by landing one big client who contributes most of the revenue and forgot about the 40% rule until things were in the danger zone.

Here’s how to ensure your agency doesn’t fall into the trap.

There are two primary strategies to help balance your revenue streams – proactive new business development and active diversification. A well-balanced agency will have solid programs in place for both. These programs will create a planned buffer of new business opportunities in a robust pipeline for new clients, and generate organic revenue growth from a diverse base of existing clients.

New Business Development

A focus on client service provides your agency the best opportunity to do work, however, by its very nature, the focus on billable hours often gets in the way of an active new business program, dedicated resources, and an overall strategy for developing new business. Agencies that find a balance between client service and self-preservation typically have a proactive new business development program.

A healthy new business development program typically includes the following three steps:

1. Clarify Your Positioning

To potential prospects, agencies often look quite similar. This isn’t surprising since most agencies market themselves based on their list of services and projects. Your positioning is ultimately about creating a unique impression of your agency in the mind of your prospects. It provides the “elevator pitch” that could lead to your next client. 

Positioning allows you to clearly define the unique niche your business will serve. Achieving simple ad agency positioning requires you to answer these essential questions. 

  • What verticals have you worked with where you’ve seen the most success?
  • In what areas does your knowledge of the customer truly make you unique? 
  • What types of proprietary tools or methodologies has your firm developed that may be unique? 

Creating intellectual capital and content is much easier with clear positioning. You’ll also find it makes building your own strategy much more effective.

2. Create Intellectual Capital

Well-deployed intellectual capital can dramatically increase awareness of your agency by leveraging the strengths of your team. The right intellectual capital involves tapping the knowledge of each team member within your organization and helps stir interest in your agency, strengthen current relationships and ultimately attract new clients.

Like knowledge, intellectual capital is gained through experience or association. It’s basically a way of sharing what you’ve learned by teaching it to others. Intellectual capital also demonstrates your expertise in a specific category and provides credibility for your agency. In its truest sense, intellectual capital helps explain why your agency exists and what is important to your team and your clients.

Minnesota-based agency, Brandpoint, leverages their intellectual capital in a big way with their Brandpoint Blog. Brandpoint’s speciality is content marketing and provide expertise from their team regarding content news, developments, best practices and emerging ideas. 

3. Develop an Inbound Marketing Methodology

Brands are bombarded by various agencies, data analytics providers, and business consultants with new solutions every single day. Despite the competition, most agencies still promote themselves with their client portfolio and awards they’ve achieved. Instead, what if you focused on providing a clear view of your agency and what you stand for? 

The best way to accomplish this is by demonstrating your knowledge and providing it to others. A dedicated inbound marketing program will allow you to create a systematic approach to reach your prospects. In addition, it can help you evaluate the most efficient content and distribution platforms.

By sharing your knowledge and educating your prospects, you are demonstrating your proficiency, creating awareness and establishing trust. Inbound marketing can be the catalyst for a consistent flow of new ideas and new potential prospects.

Diversified Revenue Streams

I know I have said it before, but diversification is key. Diversification of your revenue streams allows you to gain more fiscal predictability through more efficient income. In the book The Marketing Agency Blueprint, Paul Roetzer provides three primary options of diversified revenue streams including software development, education and publishing, and VAR programs. 

Software and product development are an alternate revenue stream for agencies who have the resources to build and market these types of products. Therefore, by generating consistent recurring revenue and licensing fees, software products provide a predictable business model to offset the ups and downs of a service business.

Developing a solid intellectual capital gives your agency the opportunity to monetize your knowledge and capabilities. Roetzer suggests online courses, webinars, digital publications or speaking engagements. All of these options are an opportunity for recurring revenue through education and publishing.

Value-added reseller (VAR) programs are those in which your agency provides services for third-party products. Your agency can earn compensation through licensing fees and referrals by providing your expertise on products and tools you are already using. Many marketing software companies offer affiliate programs including Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, ConstantContact and MailChimp.

Consider all of this the next time you’re close to landing a large new client.

If you find yourself with an elephant in the room and not following the 40% rule, it’s probably time to begin thinking about your new business development plans. Waiting on referrals will kill your new business efforts, however, putting a new business strategy in place will consistently generate new clients for your team. Once your strategy is supported by consistent implementation, your agency will be protected from the extreme highs and lows of client wins and losses. 

All of this should be an absolute priority for any agency that wants to be more stable, more predictable, and more valuable.

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5 Tips For Building Your Agency New Business Development Program

Agency new business development is at its peak of importance for several reasons. To start, clients understand the significance of marketing more than ever, and with there being over 77,500 agencies in the US alone, there is more competition today than there ever has been before.  

To stand out among the heavy competition and get your agency in front of the brands you want to work with, old business development practices need to be put away, and new ones need to be implemented. Optimizing these efforts begin with five areas to focus on.

If you are ready to take the plunge towards a predictable and sustainable pipeline of new clients, read on:

Hire a New Business Director

It may sound obvious to say that you need someone concentrating on new business, but building demand for your agency is a full-time role. It’s not OK anymore to have five entry-level employees spending 10% of their time on new biz.  At minimum, one person needs to spend 100% of their time owning the proactive outbound process and as the agency owner, you have to supply them with the tools they will need to be successful.  

When searching for this person, there are three qualities you will want to seek in your new hire:

  1. High Energy– Your agency needs someone who can sustain a high touch point outreach plan.  No one and done emails, but an intelligent multi-touch outreach program. This takes someone willing to put in the time and energy (and hear a couple “no’s” along the way).

  2. Strong Communicator– A strong communicator in any situation. This isn’t selling a subscription. There is no one size fits all for agency new business so you need someone who can change up the pitch at any given notice to fit the prospects needs and pain points.

  3. Process Driven– You want someone who will build a repeatable and scalable process over time that will allow your new business engine to be running, regardless of turnover.

Time is a leading agency growth challenge, so if taking the time to hire and onboard an additional employee is a problem for you, check out outsourced options that may be a better, more convenient fit for your agency’s needs.

Positioning Your Agency

With the increasing amount of competition, positioning your agency to be different than the competition has never been more critical. Simply saying you “can do it all” tells clients that you haven’t quite figured out your niche, and if you have, why hide it under a cloak of vagueness?

Many agencies fear that narrowing down their focus will make them seem small or may result in missed business opportunities. The reality is, highlighting the services you thrive in will position you as a leader in that space and lead you to more desirable, better fitting opportunities.

A few questions to ask yourself when building your agency’s positioning include:

  • Why does your agency exist? (less about what and how)
  • How are you different for every other firm?  
  • What are you an expert in?
  • Why do you get hired?  
  • Which brands do you have an absolute right to win?  
  • What DON’T you do?
  • What problems do you solve better than anyone else?

If you can’t answer these questions clearly, succinctly, and in an interesting way, then you aren’t quite ready to proactively reach out to new business prospects.

Know Your Audience

Regardless if you’re going to be driving new business in a vertical that you’ve been servicing for 10 years, or if this is your first foray into a new vertical…you need to know everything possible about the audience group you want to attract.

A couple of questions you may want to ask when researching your audiences include:

  • What problems are keeping them up at night?  
  • How do you solve those problems for them?  
  • What’s happening within their industry?
  • What’s your POV on their industry changes?

After answering these questions, you will want to segment your audience so that you can create messaging that appropriately fits each ideal customer’s needs. These three groups serve as a good starting point segmenting your lists:

  1. Right To Win
    Your right to win clients are those that are a perfect fit for your services. To identify them, set parameters for what a perfect client for your agency looks like. What issues do they have? Where are they? What do they specialize in? If a prospect fits all your criteria, you need to be working with them. Keep in mind a “perfect” client is hard to come by – so this list most likely will be smaller than others.

  2. Great Fit
    This will be a much larger list, probably the largest you have. These prospects have problems you can solve, but may not be a “perfect” fit. Maybe they are outside of your geographic region, have slightly lower revenue ranges, or they’re in an industry you have limited experience in. But if they reach 90-95% of your criteria and you can recognize/solve their problems, you should be highly considering approaching them.

  3. Stretch
    These are those whale clients your team dreams of working with. While chasing them isn’t where you should spend the majority of your new business time, landing one could be a game changer for morale and/or revenue. Keep these prospects in your drip campaigns to get them warm and keep your agency top of mind, but put most of your focus on those potential clients that will build a stable base of revenue in the future.  

Other ways to segment your audiences may be by industry vertical or even by job title. These are just some examples that will help you get started. Take the time to really think about who you want to work with, and more importantly, what your prospects care about. This will help you determine just how your agency should be dividing your prospecting lists.

Content That Supports Your Positioning With Your Audiences

Many business development pros give a prospect a call, send one follow-up email and move on. Why doesn’t this work? Well, on average, it takes 7-12 touchpoints to generate the first meeting. Decision makers are busy people and if you aren’t sending content that is eye-catching or relevant to them, you’ll be lucky if they even skim your emails.

The content you are sending can come in a variety of forms including:

  • Website
    Your prospects are not looking for you when they visit your website, they are searching for themselves. If your website doesn’t immediately indicate that you understand their needs, they will find someone else who’s website does.

  • Emails
    There are marketing emails and sales emails, and there is definitely a difference between the two. Marketing emails are about awareness while sales emails are about stirring up a conversation. Any content you create on your website should be able to be used as a call to action within your marketing or sales emails.

  • Blog
    Blogs, again, are not supposed to highlight your agency and it’s culture. Your blog should show that you are an expert. Share your knowledge, experience, and expertise to be a teacher. Don’t hide your knowledge from competitors, but educate your prospects on how you solve those problems for them.

  • Case Studies
    Keep these simple. Make sure your case studies are easily digestible and that they show real results. Three main things to focus on in your case studies is the problem your client had, the solution you provided, and the results you drove for your client. If it is any more than one page, you will begin to lose people’s attention so be sure to keep it simple and to the point.  Highlight the results, not the solution!

  • White Papers
    White papers are all about educating your prospects, showing that you understand their problems but remember, you are not writing a novel. It just needs to be interesting and add value to your prospects. This is an education tool, not a sales pitch- write them solely to provide extended insights and value to your audiences. On that note, write white papers for specific audiences so it really hits home with your readers. If you are writing a white paper for everyone, it will most likely resonate with no one.

  • Webinars
    Webinars are a great way to drive third-party advocacy to your audience. You are interacting with your audience in a very personalized way, that can eventually lead to a lot more word of mouth referrals, something we all want more of.  They can be key to getting social credibility and are a fantastic way to educate your audience.

At the beginning of a sales strategy, your prospects are likely not familiar with your agency, and they don’t care about your awards or your culture- they care whether or not you can solve their problems. Your content should serve to effectively answer that question to assist your sales process.

Here are some key ways to position your content in a way that will provide your audiences value while also demonstrating what your agency brings to the table:

  • Triggers
    This is arguably the most important, as a trigger is defined as the problem that is keeping your prospect up at night. Your prospects are actively seeking solutions for these problems (triggers), so you better be speaking their language. These are great for capturing the interest of your prospects when they visit your website or even through a prospecting email.

  • Wedge
    The Wedge in your content is the proprietary solution to fix a prospect’s triggers. This content provides insights on how your prospect should go about solving their problems.  The Wedge is the least important as it is about you and your agency, mention it in order to get to the proof!
  • Proof Point
    Exactly what it sounds like, proof points are content pieces that show how your agency has solved these problems before with dramatic results. This might be demonstrated through webinars, case studies or even white papers, but the point is that they are firm numbers and results that speak to your expertise and ability to solve your prospect’s problems.

It’s important to hold your team accountable for producing content that will be of interest to your prospects. A good way to do this to have a mix of both junior and senior level members of your team responsible for writing one blog per week. You can rotate the responsibility in order to prevent burn out on writing posts and also to ensure that fresh perspectives are bubbled to the top.

Invest In Technology

You are investing a lot of time and money in a new business person, strategy for the business, and content to back up that positioning…don’t forget to invest in your new business lead’s success by providing them the correct technology to actually get the job done in an efficient and effective way.  

This means they will need a Sales Automation technology CRM, a research database, and possibly a marketing automation tool.  Check out our webinar on top technology, but the point is, don’t send a hitter to the plate without a bat!

Setting up a sustainable and scalable new business development program takes strategy, dedication, and patience, but once it’s up and running, there is nothing keeping you from hitting those aggressive revenue goals you’ve set for the agency.

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Don’t Hire Someone Else’s Network For Your New Business, Utilize Your Own

Any agency owner that has gone through the task of hiring a New Business Director has surely come across the new business pro that touts their “huge” network of opportunities. They claim to have worked with everyone and can easily get your agency in the door with the brands you want just through their sheer charm and extensive array of friends and ex-colleagues.

If you want to use a network to win new business, every agency should start by actually mining their own network first. Most agencies I speak with have a huge cache of network connections that they have not even begun to take advantage of.

Stop scratching the surface of your contacts, stop depending on an outside rainmaker, and start mining away at the connections that have been sitting in front of you the whole time. Here are a few tips to get started

1. Create your Core 100 Network- Sit down and go through a list of every past client, every current client, vendors, industry colleagues, and people from school.  It only takes a few minutes to build up to 100 people that can absolutely begin making a difference in the number of referrals you receive over the coming months.  Those 100 people need to be put into a personalized communication cadence where you reach out to each person at least once a month, even if just to say “hi”. Sound like a lot? 100 people in 20 days, that’s 5 emails a day…or 15 minutes if it takes 3 minutes per email. Not a lot of time at all.

2. Don’t only track your prospects, track your clients- Set alerts in LinkedIn, Google, and Winmo for all of your current clients.  In Winmo’s database, they see one-third of their data points change every 6 months.  This means that your current client’s teams are constantly turning over, especially in the lower ranks.  Get to know those people and track them. They will eventually leave your current client and land somewhere else, and that’s a much easy intro to that new brand when they have already worked with you.

3. Have a real conversation with your network- This means you don’t just send a monthly newsletter telling everyone about what has happened at your agency.  Take the time to reach out to each contact in your Core 100 with a personalized message. It may be as simple as a “hello, how are things”, to a more involved request of an introduction to someone that they know.  The idea is though that we are producing real conversations with these contacts by talking to them, rather than talking at them.

To keep your pipeline full of qualified, referral-driven leads, continually stay top of mind with your tightest contacts that have seen and been beneficiaries of your great work.

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