Q2 is Over, But 2021 is Only Getting Started

Q2 is Over, But 2021 Is Only Getting Started

It’s been six months. Six months of a slow, methodical, pragmatism by the market to get back to some sort of normal. Slow employment and rising inflation have caused the recovery to go a bit slower than hoped, but the advertising world has been coming back faster than the individuals spending dollars. Brands recognize the recovery, feel it, and the smart ones have been investing heavily to get in front of it.

A Well-Rounded Outbound and Inbound Strategy is More Important Than Ever

Agencies have felt the brand investment this year as inbound RFP requests soar. Good news right? More RFPs, more projects, more retainers, things are starting to get back to better than normal. Yes, in this instance, more is good, BUT we can be better than the old “normal”.

The old “normal” for growth, for many agencies, was dependent on those inbound efforts and waiting for word of mouth to eventually work its way over to you. The old “normal” also had many agencies wasting thousands of dollars on pitches that they knew were longshots at best and cannon fodder at worst. This is why when inbound is high, it is more important than ever to be well-rounded with an outbound and inbound strategy. You need to know which RFPs to turn down and which companies to pursue with your outbound strategy, which all revolves around your Right to Win category.

What’s Your Right to Win?

Right to Win is defined as the prospects/brands that best fit your prospective client profile of a perfect client. Whether it is focused on an industry, size company, regionally located, etc. They are a brand that essentially should have been a client yesterday because there is no other firm more qualified or set up to work with them to achieve their marketing goals.

Here’s how using Right to Win can get your 2021 really booming in the 2nd half of the year:

1.  Right to Win clients close faster 

This is because they are brands you are familiar with, you understand their business at an intimate level, and the brand most likely recognizes that expertise because of your team’s language, pitch, and website focus. Faster deals mean more growth and profitability.

2. Pitch when you are the front runner

Pitching is far from an exact (or even fair) science. It is a costly and timely process that can pull your team’s focus to a project that, potentially, you never had a chance to win in the first place. Unfortunately, you do not know that until the end of the pitch, so let’s be sure we are only pitching those that we know are the front runners, or in the case of proactive outbound pitching, are the only ones pitching.

3. The right clients maximize all areas of your business

The inbound are low hanging fruit and the revenue feels like it’s just right there, only we know from decades of experience that taking a client because they generate revenue, rather than them being our strategic best fit can have many unintended consequences on profitability, churn levels, and employee engagement. Right to Win clients are set up to maximize profit, reduce churn, and increase employee engagement…don’t settle for revenue, aim to maximize everywhere.

Brands Are Hungry For an Expert to Help Them Stand Out

The rest of this year is going to be full of people on vacations (finally) and brands looking for help to get back out there and in front of their competition. Now more than ever, they want to hear from an expert that understands them and can help them stand out in a meaningful way. It’s time for your agency to focus on that expertise and drive those Right to Win clients right into your agency’s open arms.

 

 

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6 Ways Video Meetings Have Improved Client Relationships

6 Ways Video Meetings Have Improved Client Relationships

It’s been over a year since we all began the trial and error of remote working and virtual meetings, no matter the industry. Although the pandemic brought challenges and adversities, there is one thing we, at Catapult, all agree on – video meetings have drastically changed the business development process and improved client relationships. Whether it’s between us and our agency partners or our agency partners and their own clients, video meetings work to build trust, accelerate the sales process, and create a personal touch in even your most typical every day interactions.

Video conferencing is here to stay. According to a recent report from Transparency Marketing Research, “the video conferencing market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% between 2020 and 2027.” Even when we emerge from COVID and things start to “get back to normal” (whatever that looks like!), video meetings will be a significant part of how we work, how business is done, and how we communicate and interact.

I sat down with our two Vice Presidents of Client Success, Bonnie Buie and Robin Ernstes, to chat through examples of how video meetings have transformed our agency relationships.

Here are 6 ways video meetings have improved client relationships:

1. We are building a genuine rapport with our clients quicker than ever before.

We have gained deeper connections with our clients as we meet over video calls in their living rooms while their children or pets are in the background. It’s strange to think that while physical human interaction is so limited right now we actually feel closer to each of our clients than before the pandemic because we all truly know one another better.

2. Video calls have made meetings, in general, feel more human.

Before the shift in video, most people read emotions into an email that wasn’t actually present or heard a tone in a voice that wasn’t intended. Things no longer get lost in tone given that we can read body language throughout all meetings.  It also helps your prospects remember you, as you’ll no longer be just another email in their inbox but now a face to a real person that they have spent time with.

3. Face-to-face meetings have improved the overall understanding of one another and allows everyone to communicate more clearly.

Because up to 93% of communication uses nonverbal cues, it makes sense that video conferences improve communication and understanding.  Timing of when to speak, and more importantly when not to speak, is easily read through video, where a conference call can have people interrupting regularly.

4. The sales process is more efficient.

There is no more wasted time coordinating travel and schedules around meeting in person. We’ve used all of the extra hours saved from not traveling to connect with more potential leads to fill our agencies’ pipelines. That means more phone calls talking to prospects about new business, and less phone calls figuring out how to match calendars with travel plans.

5. Video conferencing allows for flexible pitching.

More effective communication means that we can be flexible in our sales approach as we take notice when a prospect leans in or becomes disengaged.

6. Screen sharing eliminates whether or not your prospect has seen your assets.

Instead of attaching presentations and other collateral in emails and hoping a prospect opens them, it is now easier than ever to simply share these things over a screen share during a video call. Long gone are the days of them having to download a screensharing software.

Sales is all about building strong client relationships.

Video conferencing is going to continue to be key in building a solid foundation of future client relationships. And with the lower costs, increased efficiencies, and more productive meetings, your agency can increase capacity, close deals faster, and generate more revenue.

 

 

 

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Better Predict Your Future New Business Success

Better Predict Your Future New Business Success

2020 has taught us many things, but one of the biggest learnings has been around most of our agencies’ need to better understand and predict where their future new business will come from. Last March, just about all of us received phone calls from our clients cutting our budgets in half or changing our scope of works (for the worse).  This meant a renewed interest in our new business efforts and trying desperately to fill a funnel with clients that could make up those gaps created by reduced scopes.  

Understand Your Baseline Metrics

The trouble for many agencies is they never established any sort of baseline understanding of their new business process.  Without a baseline understanding of the metrics that get you from a cold call to a signed service agreement, how do you know which levers to pull to make new business happen?

Lag Measures

Many agencies I review find themselves looking and evaluating new business through Lag Measures.  Lag measures indicate the current or past state of the business.  These are measures like revenue, net profit, or annual contract value.  The problem with looking at these numbers to predict future success is that they are all in the rearview mirror of your new business journey and don’t really predict what is going to happen next.  It’s important to know these values to evaluate where you’ve been, but predicting where you’re going is our aim here. I think we can all agree that our April 2019 revenue numbers didn’t exactly properly predict our April 2020 revenue numbers.  For most, your ACV reduced in 2020 vs previous years, so how do we estimate how many new clients we should or will be winning?

Lead Measures

When creating a repeatable new business process, we need to be focusing on Lead measures.  Lead measures are those that predict future results.  In terms of new business development, this means looking at actions and events that most agencies aren’t typically used to tracking.  Marketing Qualified Leads, Needs Analysis Calls, Number of Pitches are just a few lead measures that can better predict exactly what may be coming in the future months.  

Below is an example of a potential sales funnel.  If you understand the metrics and percentage chances to move from one level of the funnel to the next, then you can better predict and (importantly) ramp up your new business efforts when you hit the hard times or the times of needed new revenue growth.

 

If you don’t have a baseline already of the numbers above to move from level to level in your funnel, take a small sample of the last three months and begin to track this every month moving forward.  Even an imperfect funnel will give you a better idea and the ability to more accurately predict exactly what is coming down the line in the future.  

Better Predictions Means Faster Growth

Better predictions of your new business mean you are able to grow faster, more profitably, and provide an overall better service by being staffed properly at all times for your new clients.

If you need help figuring out your funnel and which metrics you should be tracking in your lead stages, give us a call.  At Catapult, we use these every day to ensure we are growing our own and our agencies’ new business efforts in the most efficient way possible.

 

 

 

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Featured Author Post: Operationalizing Your Agency’s New Business Strategy

Operationalizing Your Agency's New Business Strategy

By Jody Sutter

New business is one of those responsibilities that should be fully integrated into your daily schedule—some days in a more active and focused way, other days more passively and opportunistically.

But for a lot of agency leaders, it’s not.

New business is an activity for times when the pipeline dries up. Or it’s what you do when you’re in a competitive pitch. When it’s not a daily habit, consistent action is hard to sustain—because it means starting over again and again and again…

You’ll reach points when you conclude you can’t go on like this any longer. You’ll pause, gather your team, and brainstorm ideas for a better business development strategy. 

There’s satisfaction in developing new ideas. It’s inherently optimistic and creative! You remove yourself from the daily grind and whisk your team off to an inspirational spot to think big strategic thoughts and reshape your agency’s destiny. And I encourage this! In fact, I conduct these kinds of workshops. They’re energizing and I get satisfaction from watching an agency team walk away excited about the plans they’re going to implement.

What I don’t enjoy is watching them neglect those plans as soon as the daily grind takes over again.

Good Habits are Helped by Strong Frameworks

Acting on new ideas requires us to form new productive habits, which is a challenge in and of itself. I’m not an expert on how humans form habits, but I can speak from personal and professional experience that good habits around business development are aided by strong frameworks.

I created such a framework a few years ago after I’d had an epiphany: if money, time, and resources were no object, an agency would do it all—blogs, Instagram Lives, webinars, proprietary research, PR, prospecting outreach… Anything that you didn’t like to do or have time to do, you’d hire someone else for or you’d outsource it. 

But time and money is always an issue. And agency leaders are rarely going to do stuff they don’t like to do. 

What I realized was that to make a business development strategy stick, it must be based on tactics that are right for that agency.

This inspired me to create the New Business Ecosystem™ framework.  

A New Business Ecosystem includes anything your agency uses to support business development, from a pricing proposal to a website to social media strategy. Like a natural ecosystem, it promotes growth when the interconnected parts are suitable for the environment. 

When I’m building a New Business Ecosystem with my clients, we look at all they’re doing and all the tools they’re using and we assess their utility against goals, resources, and strategic positioning. We ask:

  • Are the tools and activities right for the culture and environment?
  • Do they encourage and nurture growth?
  • Do they support the agency’s goals?
  • Are there too many tactics to easily sustain?
  • Do they all interact in a healthy way? 

Usually, the outcome of this exercise results in a sort of kanban board for new business. From there we can create a plan and define the activities required to get to the goals

Filling the Void between What You Want and How to Get There 

This plan helps fill in the void between stating a goal, such as increasing revenue by 25%, and taking the right steps to achieve it.

A New Business Ecosystem offers you not only a bird’s-eye view of the activities that are most likely to get you closer to your goals, but a roadmap for what you must be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. 

When you know exactly what actions to take, and those actions nudge you out of your comfort zone, you start to see progress. You can apply this to any goal you have in life, whether it’s to retire at age 50, learn how to juggle, or grow your agency’s total revenue by 25%.

Your New Business Ecosystem will be custom to your agency, but here’s my advice on the actions you should take on an annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis.

Annually 

Your New Business Ecosystem is essentially your new business plan and you should evaluate it annually. Look for opportunities to systematize and scale what you’re already doing if it’s producing good results. And explore what can be added or taken out of your ecosystem to keep it at an optimal level of health.

Here are four areas to consider:

  1. Recommit to your core tactics. Analyze the core business-generating activities you’ve chosen based on your new business strengths. (Here’s a quick and fun quiz you can take to find out your new business strengths profile.) Are they working? Do they need improvement or optimization? Can they be delegated to others or are they still dependent on your involvement?
  2. Add complementary tactics. If you’ve got the core activities running on autopilot, consider adding complementary activities that support them. For example, if you’ve got momentum behind a speaker strategy and it’s starting to generate leads consistently, complementary activities might include nurturing those leads with a webinar series, getting a better CRM tool in place to manage those leads, or adding functionality to your agency’s website to better engage leads.
  3. Assess the health of intellectual property. Review IP workhorses like case studies, team bios, and credentials documents to see if they need updates. These don’t change frequently, they do require care and attention if they are going to work effectively. Be proactive instead of being forced to make last-minute and hasty updates to fulfill an immediate need. 
  4. Review and recalibrate new business policies and procedures. Are they still working smoothly? Do they help you make the right decisions about what new business to pursue?

Quarterly 

I’ve become a big fan of quarterly working sprints to accomplish goals (I think they can be so effective I’ve re-engineered most of my programs to include them).

Quarterly sprints can be a great way to tackle both necessary projects, like a website redesign, that easily get pushed aside by daily emergencies and distractions as well as “always improving” projects—projects that push you into new areas and have a positive effect on your new business operations over time. These are often the complementary activities I mentioned in bullet #2 above—initiatives you’ve been wanting to start but never seem to have the bandwidth for.

For your first foray into quarterly sprints, choose one or two goals and make them manageable. Outline a plan for what must get done on a daily, weekly or ongoing basis and use that plan to assign yourself and your team weekly actions that, if taken, will lead you to successful completion. 

This approach works because it deconstructs big, amorphous statements like, “we’ll improve how our agency generates leads” which can be hard for teams to convert into action, into a tactical road map that everyone understands and follows. Seeing progress being made instills a priceless sense of satisfaction.

Daily, weekly, and monthly

I lump these together because they’re all related to frequent and consistent action required to keep your new business ecosystem humming.

Plus, they tend to vary by goal, individual, and agency.  For example, if your core activity is outbound sales, your activities will include things like daily list-building and sales calls. If your activity is content marketing, your weekly and monthly activities will be related to keeping the content engine running: writing, shooting, editing, formatting, distribution, and promotion.

And, of course, always include:

  • A regularly scheduled new business status meeting. Many agencies have these weekly (a few neglect to have them at all, which astounds me). I like a biweekly cadence, which frees up time on the schedule and allows you a wider perspective to see progress over time.
  • Pipeline report updates and distribution. I’m all for a wider distribution of the pipeline report, especially if you expect most people at your agency to be involved in new business. Consider having a modified report that omits sensitive financial information that you can share with your larger team. I bet you’ll find they feel more invested and willing to participate.

And, finally, document ongoing activities that won’t be going away any time soon in an operations manual so that you can grow and scale them as your agency grows.

I was recently a guest on Marcel Petitpas’s The Agency Profit podcast and Marcel and I talked in-depth about how to operationalize a new business strategy, including many of the points I make here (if you want to take a listen, click this link). He asked me how an agency owner can stay accountable to goals and objectives when it’s so easy to get pulled off track by client needs.

My answer: lean on your New Business Ecosystem. 

Having a plan and supporting structure in place makes it much easier to regain the momentum you’ve lost. It eliminates that common and demotivating feeling of “starting from scratch”. 

Because the fact is you will get derailed (I haven’t figured out how to crack that case yet but when I do, you’ll all be the first to know)—you just want to minimize its impact by going back to the actions that are right for you. 

About The Author:

Jody Sutter

Jody Sutter, is the owner of The Sutter Company, a business development consultancy that specializes in working with leadership at small ad agencies who are underperforming when it comes to winning new business and would like to win the right clients consistently but also make the process less chaotic and exhausting for their teams. To learn more about how she can help your agency, schedule a free 45-minute consultation here. For more information about The Sutter Company’s programs for optimizing new business at small agencies, go to www.thesuttercompany.com.

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Why Your Biz Dev Team Needs Those Updated Assets

Why Your Biz Dev Team Needs Those Updated Assets

Is your agency completely overwhelmed with an insanely busy month? One where your team has two pitches coming up, and the agency’s biggest client wants a new campaign in 4 weeks? Not to mention the 6-year client that’s seen steady growth, but the account is in review, and the brand lead is your sister-in-law’s mother. You think the review is a slam dunk, but you are still a little nervous about it. Then the biz dev team walks in and has a request. He needs assets, case studies, landing pages, and revisions to the website that were created when the agency was looking to be acquired which is now most certainly not geared for business development.  That’s a frustrating ask from Biz Dev when you’re this busy, but please…

But don’t be mad at your biz dev team.

It’s easy to shove business development needs to the back burner with everything else on your plate. You think, “Why can’t they continue to use the case studies they have? Sure they’re a little “dated”, but they’re in the category.” Instead of looking at it from their angle, or from your own concern over more work, think through the lens of a prospect… 

A prospect has 40 agencies a week all claiming to be experts in their space and can help grow their business. And all of them say they understand the prospect’s audience and are passionate (or nimble, collaborative, creative, agile, innovative – whatever the overused word might be). The 2-year-old case study you sent them shows big numbers, but 2 years is ancient history in their business. This has also never been more true than now in the time of COVID. A prospect’s problem looks different today than it did two years ago. Does your team understand it? Has your agency solved it before? Prove it. Because they have 39 other business development people claiming their agency is the perfect one for them.  

So how do you handle an insanely busy month?

We know reviews are stressful. They take time and energy, which means that creating more new biz tools for your team can seem like an extra burden. Remember though, as you are defending your agency against a shortlist of other agencies with a client who has experienced successful growth with you over the last 6 years, your business development team is tasked with getting your agency an introduction into a brand that doesn’t know you at all and is up against 40 other agencies who are all “perfect” for their business. Both are unique challenges, but in order to continue to get into pitch situations, that new biz team of yours needs to continuously beat 39 other competitors, day in and day out.  They can’t go into battle with old weapons, or in their case, old case studies.  No matter how busy you get, it’s important to always allocate the right resources to continued growth for your agency, even when you feel overwhelmed with current clients.

So, don’t get mad at business development when they tell you they need that updated case study (or a landing page, or a GIF…), because they are doing the job that very few want. Think of them through the words of Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men”:

You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. My existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” 

And as you get busy with those assets, it might also be a good idea to be extra nice to your sister-in-law.

 

 

 

 

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What Business Development Director Persona Does Your Agency Need?

Personas of a Business Development Director

In the past, we’ve talked about what qualities you should look for in a Business Development Director for your agency, but now we want to break down the different personas of Biz Dev people that will cross your path on your hiring journey.  Throughout our experience, there are really three main types of people that are drawn to business development – The Storyteller, The Hunter, and The Builder.  

Each of these new biz types can appear similar in an interview if you are asking stock questions, but when put to work, they operate completely differently.  Your agency may be ready to thrive with a Hunter or stagnate with a Builder.  Being able to identify which you need is vital to ensuring your growth in 2021.  Let’s break down each of these business development personas.

What business development director persona is best for your agency?

The Storyteller

  • Pros:
    • Ready to create a true differentiator for your agency
    • Able to look at your value prop and understand how it is different from your competition, and more importantly, how interesting it is for your prospects
    • Often great in pitches and late stage funnel activities due to their ability to connect and build rapport
  • Cons:
    • As a late stage funnel manager, most likely not desperate to start conversations cold
    • Proactive top funnel outreach is often ignored for the comfort of working known relationships with current and potential prospects
    • Typically not as comfortable with hearing “no”

When to hire (and not hire) a Storyteller?

If you find yourself with a full tech stack, all the data you need, and someone that can help own some of the top of the funnel proactive outreach, a Storyteller is going to provide a ton of benefit to your team by handling those 2nd and 3rd phone calls, managing the pitch process, and helping continue to define and tweak your value proposition.  What they aren’t going to do is the constant touchpoints needed to make a new conversation happen, or build a sophisticated tech stack that creates a more efficient and repeatable process.

The Hunter

  • Pros:
    • High energy and high activity, you know these folks are working every day to make conversations happen with the prospects you want/need
    • Understand that proactive new business is sales, and that means it takes time, energy, numerous touchpoints, and the willingness to hear “no” often in order to get the next meeting
    • Do not get discouraged by an objection or rejection as it is all part of the hunt
  • Cons:
    • As an early stage funnel operator, the high energy that they operate under may not translate to highly organized thoughtful pitches, and as such balls can get dropped in later stages
    • Living for the hunt can often mean being highly focused on what’s working, and may not always translate to flexibility in trying new approaches
    • High energy also doesn’t typically lend itself well to create complex new systems within CRMs and automation tools

When to hire (and not hire) a Hunter?

If you find yourself with a well thought out, differentiated value proposition, and you have a full tech stack and data that is ready for a sales rep, then drop this person in and watch them go!  BUT, if you don’t have an organized process or you have a sub-par story to tell at the moment, then you will have someone out there putting a ton of energy into conversations with them constantly going nowhere.  The agency needs to properly channel this energy through organized easy processes and a clear story.

The Builder

  • Pros:
    • Great at organizing a tech stack of CRM, marketing or sales automation, and data in order to compliment any new business efforts
    • Constantly digging up research that can be beneficial to any new business effort at either the top or the bottom of the funnel
    • Understands attribution, which allows them to better follow which approaches are working best and where
  • Cons:
    • These folks are analysts and thinkers, which is a positive, EXCEPT that eventually we have to stop analyzing and start communicating
    • Often outreach does not happen, because we are looking for a perfect silver bullet for each individual prospect which in turn causes paralysis
    • This is not a top of funnel warrior and as such, each opportunity that does get uncovered will be that much more important because there will be fewer in the pipeline

When to hire (and not hire) a Builder?

If you find yourself at the beginning of your new business journey and you feel like you have a hunter/storyteller already that can generate the conversations you need, but you have no back end system put in place, then get yourself a builder.  Sometimes these people already exist within your organization in Account Management or Marketing, so take an extra look in house.  Don’t hire them if you are looking for pure top of funnel activities as their energy will not be properly directed at hunting those new prospects you are aiming for.

 

Now, these are over-generalizations of people and certainly, people exist in the world that inhabits two or even all three of these new business types.  The problem is that they can be hard to identify in the wild, and some may misrepresent themselves (knowingly or unknowingly).  So as an agency owner, take your time thinking through exactly where your firm is at in your new business process.  If you have everything covered, but just need those calls made – get yourself a Hunter.  If you don’t have a great value prop identified and need to reposition your agency – think about a new Storyteller.  If you want better attribution and to create a scalable and repeatable new business process – look harder at that Builder persona.

There is a reason that we here at Catapult are built-in pods of 3-5 people per client.  We want to maximize the skills of each individual in order to help drive new business at each stage in your funnel process.  If you want help identifying the persona you need next, or to hire a ready made team, get in touch!

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6 Conferences Your Agency Should Attend in 2021

6 Conferences Your Agency Should Attend in 2021

By now, our “new normal” feels a little less weird and a lot less chaotic than it did in March 2020. But there are still so many unknowns for the foreseeable future. One thing we know for sure is that the agency conferences and events we look forward to every year will be virtual or with limited attendance and COVID safe guidelines. And now, more than ever, it is important for us to attend. The world is still writing a playbook on how to deal with a pandemic, so connecting with your peers, even if it feels different, in the agency world is crucial for learning from each other and growing our businesses as we all continue to pivot and adapt.

Here are 6 conferences your agency should attend in 2021:

1. 4A’s Decisions 2021January 25th – 26th

Details: In this all-virtual program, 4A’s Decisions 2021 will explore what’s new and unprecedented today, and what’s coming tomorrow. Discuss, debate, and collaborate on real solutions. Trade innovative, transformational ideas you can use immediately. Now more than ever, planning for a thriving future depends on all of us. Join us online for Decisions 2021 so we can unleash our power to change our organizations, our industry, and our world.

2. AdvertisingWeek Power Up Festival  – January 26th

Details: After the year that was 2020, we could all do with pressing the reset button. Power Up is a one-day festival bringing you the skills, ideas, and inspiration you need to energize yourself for 2021 and perform at your best.

Across our three themed channels, we’ll bring you a day-long program of inspiring presentations and practical workshops to help you perform productively, be well in body and mind, and create a renewed sense of wellbeing and purpose for 2021.

3. Digiday Media Buying SummitMarch 10th-12th

Details: It’s been a tough run for media agencies, between the novel coronavirus forcing employees to flee offices and ongoing social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, the last year has been tumultuous. Not to mention, they’ve been transformed by transparency concerns even as brands have begun to examine contracts more closely, and brand safety has been front and center as the online and platform environment gets murkier by the minute. New types of companies are transforming how brands are launched and marketed on various platforms, and the rise of new players in retail media has meant more complications. There’s also increased competition — across platforms, within agencies and with the rise of new in-house media buying teams.

At the Digiday Media Buying Summit LIVE, we’ll explore how agencies are changing the way they operate as remote working has become the new norm, as social platforms tumble and as regulations and client requests get stronger. From the ins and outs of brand safety to new technologies to working across platforms, join us for a look at the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2021.

4. SXSW OnlineMarch 16th-20th

Details: Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, we expect that the City of Austin will continue its restrictions on large gatherings through March 2021, so it will not be possible for SXSW to stage a large, in-person event within our usual footprint.

The focus now is on SXSW Online 2021, and we look forward to bringing you the many aspects of our event that make it unique while connecting with our attendees in new and meaningful ways.

Register today to take advantage of the unique opportunities this event has to offer, including keynotes, Conference sessions, Music Festival showcases, Film Festival screenings, world-class networking, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW, all in a digital setting.

5. Mirren LiveMay 19th-20th

Details: Mirren Live is an event entirely focused on rebuilding for growth, and it’s back in May to address agency revenue growth with a focus on new revenue streams, innovation, new business, and organic growth.

6. ANA Masters of Marketing ConferenceOct 5-8, 2021

Details: ANA Masters of Marketing Conference will focus on promotion marketing, relationship marketing, retailer marketing, experiential marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing.

 

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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 the 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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Sample

“Catapult came to the rescue and saved me from what otherwise would have been a long and stressful situation. To have been provided with a business development professional with that level of experience and understanding of my business, well, I just couldn’t have received that anywhere else.”

Co-founder, Full Service Marketing Agency

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