Posts Tagged ‘agency new business strategy’

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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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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