Posts Tagged ‘agency growth’

Get more out of your case studies

Get more out of your case studies

Case studies are useful guides to educate and influence your prospective new clients. While there seems to be a general consensus on the case study structure most prospects expect to see, there are real issues in how firms are presenting them. These issues can cause one of two things to happen:

  1. The case study is not read at all
  2. The case study is not convincing or impactful

Here are a few tips to get your case studies read and help your agency new business efforts:

Focus on the problem, not the solution

Human nature is wanting to talk about yourself (in this case your agency) and all the great things you did to provide an amazing solution for your client. The problem of course is that human nature from your prospect’s side is that they care about themselves, and prospects don’t identify with your solution, they identify with the problem. Help them identify that you understand their problems better than anyone else by focusing the majority of your case study on recognizing and outlining the problem they face from a brand and market perspective.

Shorten your case study

Early buying stage prospects are short on time and attention span. Help get directly to the part where they have identified their similar problem and are intrigued by an amazing result quickly. This means you need to have a graphic of your results (ie, 205% ROI) at the very beginning of your case study, and you need to give either a brief or dive right into a short description of the problem at the outset. Also, you don’t need to go through every detail of a campaign in the solution, just highlight those largest areas of impact and save some words for either your pitch or break them down in breakout areas (see below).

Make multiple versions of the same case study

Landing page, 1 sheeter, Deep Dive, Breakout Page. When you are in the new business process, a case study may have different uses. Create a landing page to use for gathering interest during a drip campaign with the goal being a lead conversion. Use a 1 sheeter as a teaser or interest driver for someone that you are in early-stage conversations with. A Deep Dive deck or page is where you can get a bit more long-winded and is useful once you have talked to a prospect about a past project and they are now interested in those solutions.

Lastly, use a Breakout Page as a mini-case study for an individual action that you took in a larger campaign to highlight that particular part of the case study’s effectiveness. If you can match up the proper version of the case study with where someone is in the buying journey you are more likely to generate a positive response.

After a year and a half of the market going through radical changes, the way you present your case studies at each stage of the new business cycle is incredibly important. Don’t forget that some of your case studies may also have prematurely aged because of the pandemic forcing massive changes to the market. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that you have to toss an old case study, just find ways to focus on specific aspects you believe can be used across verticals by focusing on the specific problems.

Case studies are important for any agency’s new business effort, don’t let yours get ignored. The work you have done is no doubt amazing. Let’s make sure people actually see it.

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Win More Podcast

Win More Podcast

Recently we had the opportunity to join team Winmo on their Win More Podcast to talk everything agency, or at least as much as you can cover in 40 minutes.  Throughout our conversation we talked about:

  • Challenges facing agencies pre and post pandemic
    • Generating agency new business in a sea of sameness
    • Finding your Right to Win clients
    • Keeping your employees passionate about your new clients
  • Diversity & Inclusion
    • How this is more than a trend and why agencies have been and need to continue to focus on this in order to better serve their clients, employees, and consumers
  • The rise of RFPs
    • They’re baaaack…what to do, and how to avoid falling in the same old RFP trap
  • Campaigns that we like right now
    • From the socially aware and more serious campaigns like Absolut’s #mixresponsibly to the slightly less serious Dr Rick from Progressive teaching millennials to sit down without making a sound
  • Case Studies in the new reality
    • What do you do with your case studies in your new business efforts after those case studies have prematurely aged because a little pandemic changed your prospect’s entire market?
  • Hot to continue to grow
    • Omnichannel outreach includes outbound biz dev, inbound efforts, SEO, PR, Paid Media…which should you use?

We have a lot more to come on these different topics around agency new business, but hopefully this great conversation with John Zaldonis at the Win More Podcast will get things started!  

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Your agency has a sales culture and it may be holding you back

Your agency has a sales culture and it may be holding you back

Every day there are more and more articles posted about the importance of your overall corporate culture.  Like this one from CEOWorld.  Agencies, in particular, tend to put an emphasis on ensuring their attitudes and beliefs are front and center on their websites in order to show their overall corporate culture.  What many of them fail to realize is there’s a secondary culture that may be holding them back, and it has to do with the way that they bring on new clients. Your sales culture is different from your corporate culture. It specifically revolves around the people, processes, and approach that you take to bring on new clients.

Corporate culture vs. sales culture

While your overall corporate culture certainly impacts this subculture, your sales culture does have a life all its own.  Now many agencies would say “we don’t do sales, so that doesn’t apply to us.”  False.  You do bring on new clients, whether they come through WOM, referrals, or outbound sales, so any interaction you have with a new client is what makes up your sales (or business development) culture.

The way you speak, interact with, present, and deliver proposals to prospective clients is massively important to ensure they are not only impressed with your work, but feel connected to your culture in a positive way.  Many agencies spend so much time ensuring culture is felt internally that they miss the ways culture is reflected externally by those in charge of new business. 

Three things that can hold back your new business and negatively impact the way your culture is viewed

1. You are too attached to the sale. 

A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears can go into a great client pitch. And while that’s important, you should care about winning business that you are passionate about!  BUT, there is a tipping point where prospects can feel you are invested in only the win and closing their business.  In the sales world, we call it commission breath.  People know when they are being sold to make the seller money vs when they are being sold to actually help solve a problem.  The best way to show a client you care about their needs is to simply be willing to walk away if it’s not a true fit.  Tell them that upfront.  Let them know you aren’t a perfect fit for everyone.  Scarcity is value.  The more you pull back from people and let them decide, the more those same people will push forward to hear more about you and your business.

2. Your sales process isn’t a process at all.

We started this off by talking about how many agencies believe they “don’t make sales”, and that tends to show up during the overall courting process.  This means mistakes are routinely made when it comes time to have a needs analysis call or the proper follow-up after a first or second call. It also happens when a proposal deck should be submitted or how to push for those final pitches and closes.  A well-structured approach that feels organized and on time is easily recognizable from a prospect. It also gives them comfort that this is not new to you and your team.  You’ve been here before and will give them confidence that you can be a trusted partner.

3. You don’t understand what your prospects are trying to achieve.

Certainly, you know they want a new website, I mean they told you that.  What you may have missed is helping them diagnose the real problem. The problem that is keeping them from achieving their larger goals that they may believe a new website will fix.  A great new business process will properly uncover those buried problems. It also helps your ability to pitch the work and your prospects better understand exactly what they need.  Prospects need to realize you are not just a service. You are a true expert ready to have a higher-level conversation that uncovers their needs. Only then will be positioned above others when choosing who is getting their work.

 

Keep focusing on your total culture. But don’t ignore that the way you view, prioritize, and organize your new business efforts is a culture unto itself and it is on the front line every day.  For your prospects, your actions speak louder than words on a website.

 

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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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It All Starts With The Target List: Steps To Efficient Proactive Prospecting

When embarking on a proactive prospecting program, there are some core steps that can’t be skipped over on the road to success. And the foundation is developing a solid, well researched target list.  Below are the steps we recommend to clients to set that foundation.

1. Focus On A Vertical

Catapult programs are designed around core verticals or segments. Most often we build out lists with our agency clients by selecting target verticals they are best suited for, where they have subject matter expertise and case studies to provide credibility to prospects. A narrow focus enables you to curate and create outbound messaging to all companies within each selected vertical with a high level of relevance, leading to stronger engagement faster than a general message across verticals typically does.

2. Identify Your Right-To-Win Brands

…and research them well. For each vertical selected, the company list can be narrowed by such criteria as revenue, media spend and location. By targeting the companies that you can build credibility with, you’re able to laser-focus sales efforts around their unique needs. Don’t just rely on lists pulled from your criteria. Review top business rankings lists within specific verticals we are targeting to ensure we have all relevant companies included on the lists for our agency clients.

When researching each company to determine if it fits note challenges the company and/or industry is facing. These insights are later converted into talking points for email and phone outreach. 

3. Uncover Key Decision Makers

When the list is narrowed down to the top companies in a vertical, find the key decision makers within each based on job function and rank. Who the right contacts are will vary depending on your agency’s services. For example, a social media agency surely will want to connect with a social media director. However a branding agency likely would not.

Focus on C-suite, VP and director-level marketing professionals; depending on your agency, you may also want to target manager-level contacts. What’s important is that you’re only targeting decision-makers or influencers. Pro Tip: try to find at least 5 – 7 contacts per company/brand. Experience tells us that there is rarely just one decision maker, and it’s not always the obvious one that will respond and champion engagement with your agency.

It’s also helpful to scour the web for financial statements, press releases and trade articles for mentions of other relevant contacts at the company.

And, once you’ve completed the list, make sure to import it to a CRM database so you can effectively track your outreach. A few that our clients have used Salesforce, Pipedrive, and Hubspot to name a few.

4. Dig Deeper for 1:one or 1:few personalization

Uncovering information on your contact list through LinkedIn helps confirm the employee is still with the company and remains in the appropriate role. LinkedIn is also useful for mining additional contacts in the company – you may find additional relevant prospects you have not found previously.

During this process make sure to take notes of mutual contacts, past employers, links to presentations, schools attended or other points of connection that you can use in your outreach to that contact. You will need the email address information for these contacts found outside of the database. Try looking at the email naming conventions of the other contacts in the company; 90 percent of the time the naming convention will hold for the missing emails. If all else fails, there are a number of online tools available to help find alternative email address suggestions like Clearbit, Hunter.io, or RocketReach.

At this point, you may be asking yourself how to do all this with the resources you have.

At Catapult, we’ve heard, and done, it all to try to crack the code on list building. Calling the company’s main line, filling out a web form, or hoping you have a mutual connection in your core network are not efficient or effective ways to connect with senior decision makers.

And getting the decision maker information is not an easy task. All too often, agencies rely on new business people or account people to track down prospect contact information on their own. If the contact data is even found, it’s often inaccurate and incomplete. This process eats up your team’s time and takes them away from more important business activities.  

To solve this dilemma, many agencies subscribe to database services that provide accurate, direct contact information on prospects. And they supplement this data with their own due diligence to gain information that is relevant, current and provides insights for smarter prospecting messages.

There are a number of database providers available online, such as Winmo, our sister company, which offers vetted and current prospect contact information for relevant to ad agencies, marketing firms and creative agencies. A sophisticated database and intelligence service provides much more than contact information. It also can offer company financial data, existing agency relationships and recent news articles to help you better identify your best prospects.

When selecting a database provider, look for one that employs teams of researchers to validate and refresh the data on a regular basis, at least every 3-6 months. It’s also important that company specializes in advertising and marketing contacts so the prospects align with your target audience. 

 

Your prospect data list is the most important part in agency new business outreach. If you don’t have a relevant and accurate list of prospects and an efficient way to get this data, even the best messaging will fall on deaf ears. Using the steps outlined above, supported by a database platform for efficiency and speed, makes this scalable so business development folks can spend more time on outreach, engagement and conversion to new business…and less time trying to track down contact information!

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The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

Can you believe we’re approaching an entirely new decade? As you begin planning for 2020 new business, remember to plan the resources required to support that growth in the new year. While those resources will be unique to your agency’s specific growth plan, it never hurts to follow a proven formula to calculate what you need. To help with this forecasting, we’ve built an Agency Growth Calculator which evaluates your objectives and realistic requirements from each of the following steps of the agency growth funnel.

Understand Your Growth Requirements

Your KPIs are a direct reflection of your overall growth requirements. While this may seem obvious, some agencies find it extremely difficult to clearly identify their metrics for success. Here are some questions to answer during your initial planning meetings to ensure you set the right metrics:

What’s your overall revenue goal?
While there are many approaches for setting your revenue goal for the year, make sure it’s nailed down and clearly communicated prior to the new year so all parties can set operational KPIs off of that plan.

How much have you grown organically?
This gives you a good idea of the outbound effort you need after organic growth.

What’s your typical churn rate (loss of clients)?
You can only put so much on top of the funnel if you’re losing all of it at the bottom. This is why it’s important to understand how much revenue is falling off each month.

How big is this goal in comparison to new business amounts you’ve produced in years past?
Knowing how much you’re planning to grow new business Y/Y is important, particularly so you can understand the resources required to achieve that growth.

What’s your overall pitch win percentage and what’s the win percentage when they are inbound warm leads vs. cold opportunities you have generated?
Be honest when answering this question; the higher pitch win percentage you have, the less outbound effort will be required. Keep in mind that warm opportunities close at a higher rate than cold opportunities.

Have you ever generated a cold pitch opportunity before?
Many agencies rely on referrals for 100% of their pitch opportunities. While those are warm and close at a higher rate, they are not reliable or sustainable. Evaluating this gives you a better understanding for how long it can take to produce cold opportunities in the future.

Define Warm New Business Opportunities

It’s important to understand the amount of new business opportunities your agency brings in. These opportunities typically come from referrals, networking, and word of mouth. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love these lead sources? They are seen by most agency principals as the most attractive type of lead as it’s free business that came directly to you.

To help generate more of these we recommend activating your core 100 network. We define this as the core network of decision-makers with budget or marketing decision power that you have a 1st-degree relationship with. By connecting with this group at least once per month, whether a simple hello or providing them with relevant thought leadership, the likelihood of getting more referral leads increases significantly.

Lastly, while warm opportunities are nice it’s important you aren’t solely relying on them. Here’s why:

  1. They are unpredictable and you never know when your next project will be coming in.
  2. You have no control of how your portfolio expands.
  3. Losing one major client could drastically impact your revenue.

Now let’s talk about how you can warm opportunities with cold prospecting for ultimate success!

Add Proactive Prospecting For New Opportunities

Since you can’t solely rely on your referral network, you must find a way to incorporate cold prospecting into your mix. Often new business directors will wonder how much outreach is enough? How many phone calls and emails will result in a qualified meeting? We recommend tracking your success rate at each touchpoint. This allows you to know if you are consistently reaching out to enough prospects in your outreach cadence. Proper measurements typically include:

  • How many people typically reply to a cold email or call?
  • Of those replies, how many of them turn into a discovery meeting/call?
  • What number of discovery meetings turn into qualified leads?
  • How many qualified leads convert to RFI/RFP opportunities? 
  • What’s the win percentage of RFI/RFPs for your agency?

If you’ve never kept track of these numbers before, you can use benchmarks.

Our clients typically see conversion rates of:

  • 12% – 15% opens to cold emails (above industry average of 5% – 7%).
  • 7% – 10% conversion on call volume to live conversations.
  • Approximately 25% of leads moving to discovery and qualifying.
  • And 60% or more qualified leads moving to an RFI or RFP.   

Agencies that are just getting started on proactive outreach can see numbers a bit lower than these. Keep in mind many agencies underestimate how many prospects they actually need in their pool and keeping steady pipeline is a full-time job in itself. Make sure you have the resources and bandwidth necessary to fuel the fire.

Estimate The Investment: Time and Money

If you’re an agency executive responsible for driving new business and running the entire agency, be aware of what that double duty is costing you.

If you’re juggling too many tasks, it’s likely you are completing projects, but not doing them exceptionally well. As an agency executive, your time is best served strategically looking at ways to grow the overall business, not just through the lens of new business. If you’re worried about the time and investment it would take to hire someone in-house, we can manage this function for you at Catapult. There’s huge potential in having someone solely focused on bringing in both cold and warm opportunities for your agency.  

 

Now that you have a better understanding the agency growth funnel, what goes into forecasting your new business goals, and the resources required to hit them, check out our Agency Growth Calculator to see how the numbers line up for your business!

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4 Essentials to Sustainable Agency Growth

What does growth even mean? We find most agencies think growth is about adding more and more new clients to their portfolio. Other agencies believe growth is about long-term marketing efforts to build stronger awareness with prospective clients, and driving inbound new business. From our 15 years of experience working with agencies of every size and kind, we see two core things that successful agencies do well under the banner of “growth”. First and foremost, they focus on building success for clients with quality work and measurable impact in order to drive retention and organic growth. Second, they have a clear plan to drive new business through these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth:

1. Have a workable, proactive sales process in place.

Without a structured sales process, you may take on any opportunity thinking it’s essential for the financial health of your agency. However, the cost of the client can sometimes be more expensive than the revenue it brings in. Taking on any and every opportunity happens when your sales team doesn’t have appropriate guidelines to work with. If a proper sales process is designed to help them drive quality leads, you’ll save time and money, allowing them to work more strategically and more effectively.

We find every great sales process includes:

  • Understanding the buyer’s journey and using it as your starting point to an approach based on the needs of your prospect.  
  • Clearly defining each stage of the journey and what activities are involved.
  • Identifying the value for your agency in each phase of the process.
  • Creating a strong connection between the marketing and sales team.
  • Finding the pain points of potential clients and highlighting your solutions in solving them – this is what makes your agency hard to dismiss.

2. Define your ideal client.

Buyer personas are not a new concept, but in today’s competitive agency landscape, it’s more important than ever to understand who your ideal client is, what their needs are, and whether your agency has a “right to win” with them. An effective buyer persona answers the following: 

  • What industry do they work in?
  • What is their company size?
  • Who are the key decision makers (and influencers)?
  • Where do they look for agency partners?
  • What are their key pain points?
  • Which services do they need?
  • What kind of budget are they working with? 

These questions will help focus your efforts and generate the opportunities you want.

3. Upsell and retain clients.

Many agencies are a bit passive when it comes to expanding scope with current clients. Account teams are not natural sales people, and are (rightly) focused on billable time and the business at hand. So how can your new business team help? Create a plan for each client that helps them understand other ways you can help their business. It’s an effective sales approach that benefits the client who has already experienced the quality of what you have to offer. And think about the energy and resources you’ll save as opposed to looking for new accounts. Focus on keeping current clients happy and identify new ways your expertise can bring even more value.  

4. Refine your unique selling proposition.

To understand your current unique selling proposition, ask your existing clients where they look for a new partner and how they found you. Most importantly, why they chose your agency and the measurable impact you have on their business. Your USP should not be centered on a philosophy or theoretical outcome, but rather a quantifiable one focused on your particular expertise. This is critical to differentiating yourself to prospects, helping your agency evolve, and supporting your growth. 

 

Creating, understanding, and working these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth will create a sustainable pathway to revenue generating opportunities. We know it seems challenging to navigate the overcrowded, undifferentiated landscape at time. But by making these key areas a priority, your agency will be on the right track to repeatable, revenue generating opportunities. 

 

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The Top Marketing and Advertising Associations to Join Right Now

As an agency owner, you’re overwhelmed. Just managing the everyday stuff – client emails, strategy sessions, vendor and freelancer partnerships, and even students who want an internship can be a challenge. We know you need help, too. Whether it’s advice from industry pros, access to more information, training, or industry news, a marketing and advertising association can be a good choice.  Here are the top marketing and advertising associations to join right now.

These associations will give you access to people who have been there before. The people who understand the complexities and processes of running a marketing firm. Networking with other executives and having open conversations about the challenges you’re facing can not only help you gain insight into better managing your business, it can also tremendously impact the success of your growth in an ever-changing landscape. 

Below, we’ve curated detailed information on the top marketing and advertising associations we think are worth your time to explore, along with their top recommended events.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA)

The ANA arms members with the skills, tools, and resources to grow their careers. With best-in-class content, events, and training, the ANA helps members build stronger brands and provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. Founded in 1910, the ANA’s membership includes more than 680 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising. 

The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA) which operate as divisions of the ANA, and the Advertising Educational Foundation which is an ANA subsidiary.

As one of the leading associations within the advertising and marketing industry, we highly recommend joining the ANA if you’re an agency executive. Their events are highly relevant to agencies and companies and most of the members are corporate marketing executives.

Save The Date

Event: 2019 ANA Masters of Marketing Week
Date(s): October 2-5
Location: Orlando, FL

Mirren

Mirren works closely with CEOs and their management teams to support agencies through consulting and training regarding best practices in new business development. Their membership gives you access to their resource center of On-Demand Learning and Advanced Webinars. Although Mirren is technically not an association, we included them because they are a household name for agencies. 

Save The Date

Event: Mirren CEO Summit
Date(s): November 7-8
Location: Chicago, IL

4A’s

Founded in 1917, the 4A’s is the national trade association representing the advertising agency business in the United States. As a management-oriented association, the 4A’s offers members the broadest possible services, expertise and information regarding the advertising agency business. Its membership produces approximately 80 percent of the total advertising volume placed by agencies nationwide. Although virtually all of the large, multinational agencies are members of the 4A’s, more than 60 percent of our membership bills less than $10 million per year.

The 4A’s is the ultimate organization for agencies of all types and sizes. They offer valuable training, conferences, and best practices in how to drive agency sales, profits and develop new business.

Save The Date

Event: 4A’s Mothers@Agencies
Date(s): August 28 – December 4
Location: Online Program

Event: Launch for Leaders
Date(s): September 18-19
Location: New York, NY

Event: 4A’s Stratfest 2019
Date(s): October 15-17
Location: New York, NY

Insights Association (IA)

The Insights Association is a founding member of Privacy for America, a coalition working with Congress to modernize data privacy protection via a bold new national paradigm. Their members are the world’s leading producers of intelligence, analytics and insights defining the needs, attitudes, and behaviors of consumers, organizations and their employees. 

IA more wide-reaching content designed for easy consumption. You’ll find videos and case studies on particular trends, as well as frequent editorials on the latest marketing news. Membership is divided into multiple levels, but the focus is primarily on research and data as opposed to more social aspects of marketing.

Save The Date

Event: CEO Summit Europe
Date(s): September 11-13
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Event: CRC 2019
Date(s): October 22-24
Location: Orlando, FL

Event: Converge
Date(s): December 10-11
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

The IAB empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media companies, brands, and technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. 

The IAB has many tools and classes for free without requiring membership or certification which is always a plus. This includes fee calculators and ad view-ability guides. Certification is divided into several different specialties and levels of expertise, allowing you to customize your training based on your position and goals.

Save The Date

Event: 2019 NewFront West
Date(s): September 11-12
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Event: Direct Brand Summit
Date(s): November 20-21
Location: New York, NY

Agency Management Institute (AMI)

Founded in 1995, AMI provides training, consulting, and original survey data on salaries and benefits for small- to mid-size agencies. But the core focus is the owner peer networks, where members meet for two days twice a year to discuss financials, business development, marketing, and staffing.

AMI wants to help agencies “increase their AGI by at least 25%, attract better clients and employees, and best of all — exceed the agency owner’s life/financial goals.”

Save The Date

Event: Build a Better Agency Summit
Date(s): May 18-20, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

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Agency Myth: Narrowing Your Focus Results in Missed Opportunities

agency focus

You hear it all the time – brands are moving more advertising and marketing functions in-house. From media buying to SEO to full service offerings, every day brings news of another brand deciding it’s better, and cheaper, to do it themselves. Brand experience is the same. As brands embrace experience-led thinking, they tend to hire internal experts who understand creative through the traditional experience lenses of activations, pop-ups and live events.

This leaves your agency with two options – either expand your offerings and cast a wider net for more opportunities or waste time going against the current. But moving out of your niche causes your agency to be spread too thin. As a result, you’ll find yourself relying on freelancers to fill in the gaps and run the risk of damaging relationships and reputations by underdelivering. We’ve also seen agencies start to create friction with clients’ internal agencies who are trying to protect their shrinking piece of the pie. Both approaches can create barriers to sustainable agency growth.

We suggest a third option for success. 

Focus. It’s not a dirty word. Go narrow, clearly identify where you excel, and make it your mission to be absolutely best in class in that area. All too often we see agencies who have a fear of focusing and differentiating themselves because they are afraid of leaving money on the table.

Brand marketers continue to turn to those who know a subject area, a target audience, a technology or tool, or a sub-discipline of marketing and advertising. They want genuine expertise over generalization.  This should resonate with you more than anything. Whether you are partnering with in-house teams or part of a multi-agent effort, in order to adapt to today’s landscape, narrowing your focus should become your new normal. While it may mean closing off certain revenue streams (in the short term), it ultimately future-proofs your agency by making you an ideal partner with valuable expertise.

But how do you narrow your agency focus? To get started, here are two things to consider.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

This one is trickier than most think. If may seem risky to lower the number of revenue generating avenues in front of you, especially when times get tough, but the truth is, expertise will always be valued. It is critical to assess what your agency does well, and strengthen in these areas. At the same time, be intentional about removing offerings that aren’t at the core of your business, or within the capabilities of your own team. Expertise will ultimately lead to increased trust and more honest, profitable relationships. 

Build relationships with trusted partners.

“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
-Steve Jobs

We know you don’t want to say no to a prospect or client, but it doesn’t mean you should be quick to say yes. As you eliminate your non-essential offerings, reach out to partners that are experts in that field, and cultivate new relationships with them.

If clients ask you to take on something outside your narrow focus of expertise, suggest sharing the load with a trusted partner. The benefit of this is you keep your trusted relationship with the client while also building a strong relationship with partner agencies. As a result of this, there could be reverse opportunities as those partners begin recommending your team when in similar situations. It can feel risky to ask for help, but if you’ve laid a solid foundation, you should be able to avoid a situation where you underdeliver. 

Here are the benefits of narrowing your focus and finding your true point of difference. 

Fewer competitors.

When you offer everything, you’re really competing with everyone.

A few things happen when your agency finds the importance in narrowing your focus and becoming the best at your niche. You may notice your competition is virtually eliminated. The more you focus on your niche, the less other companies will offer what you offer. Once you determine your focus, your competition will be a fraction of what was there before, and you’ll realize only a handful of agencies are doing exactly what you are. 

More partners.

When you narrow your focus, your competitors can become partners. 

After eliminating thousands of agencies that were once your competition, you’ll find you now have many potential partners. You’ll also realize there are so many companies with complementary services to a similar client. This aspect of narrowing your focus could lead to the greatest amount of growth for your agency. Coming together with other partners who specialize in different skills in the same industry can help achieve the greatest outcome for clients. 

Improvement at a faster rate.

Practice one thing for hundreds of hours instead of hundreds of things for one hour. 

Once you eliminate the other things that were dividing your attention, you’ll soon realize your can spend so much more time learning and practicing on your area of focus. You will find you can keep up with the latest methods and trends within your niche that you never had time for before. A narrow focus helps you improve at a much faster rate. 

Higher value.

The most important benefit of narrowing your focus is the increased value you can bring to your client. When you provide a specific service for a specific industry, you are better and faster at solving problems. You’ll understand the needs of your client quicker with less of a learning curve on each new project. It may seem like you are eliminating potential clients once you find your niche, but remember how valuable you’re making your agency to the clients that are right for you. Ultimately, you’re growing your pipeline and your business. 

We are all living in a world of sameness that needs more specialists.

Think of all the revenue generating opportunities you will create when you excel in your uniqueness. A tight focus on your core expertise ensures your agency is easy to buy and difficult to dismiss. That’s what true differentiation is all about. 

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Setting your pace – Lead or Lag?

If new business is a race, would you say it’s better to spend your time looking forward or backward? Do you run with your head turned backward watching mile markers get further away? Or do you watch those mile markers in front of you get closer? I would highly suggest not looking backward whenever you are running, and the same goes for your new business planning.

As any agency approaches this process of planning, it’s important to note there are two different types of measurements that can change not only how you evaluate the race that is your new business program, but also predict your future success. Those two are Lag Measures and Lead Measures. Let’s break them down.

  1. Lag Measures – These are backward looking measurements of a result that has already happened.
  2. Lead Measures – These are forward-looking measurements that are predicting a result that will happen.

In 2018 your agency needs to be looking at Lead Measures and how they can help you forecast revenue, new clients, and staffing needs. Too often, I see agencies looking at only lag measures to determine how they are doing with new business. They look back at measures like number of leads created or revenue generated and then try to determine what will happen in the future based off of those results. Closing a new client in August has no bearing on September’s chances of closing a piece of new business, so why do we forecast this way?

The best example I have seen of an agency using lead measures was based on two factors. First, my agency measured the number of “engaged conversations” that they have each month. An engaged conversation was defined as one where they determine money, authority, and need from a prospect. They knew that if they had five of those calls a month, that would lead to enough pitches to hit their new business goals. The second measurement was based on lead score. Any great new business program will have a marketing automation built into it and that will include lead scoring capabilities. This lead scoring mechanism gave my agency the ability to judge just how effective their sales and nurture campaigns were and allowed them to prioritize prospects to go after. They set a score level of 25 points as the definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). The goal was to create 15 MQLs a month, because if they got 15 MQLS, then they could have at least 5 Engaged Conversations. See how each of these begin to predict one another?


As your agency begins to set your new business goals for the year, take a look at all of the different ways that you measure the success of your program. Take those measurements and put them either in a Lag or a Lead bucket. The majority of those will probably fall into that Lag bucket, and it’s fine to track those, but we want to start prioritizing the tracking of those Lead measurements. If you can find two dependable Lead measures, then you have not only simplified what you need to report, but you can also begin to set realistic goals for 2018 that will actually drive you to more new business wins!

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