Posts Tagged ‘agency new business’

agency awards to consider in Q4

Agency Awards To Consider In Q4

Awards are the best way to get independent feedback on the quality of your work. We understand entering takes time and added resources, but the reward is worth the effort. Similar to our Q3 list, here’s a quick glance at the agency awards to consider in Q4. Winning, or just being a finalist, is a huge PR opportunity that differentiates you from your competition. Awards also help your prospects identify who is doing some of the best work and the impact they make on client success.

Your hard work and innovation needs to be recognized. These are the agency awards to consider in Q4:

Award Sponsor Category Application DeadlineEntry Fee
MarCom AwardsAssociation of Marketing Communication ProfessionalsPrint media
Strategic communications
Digital media
Video/audio
October 17th$95 per entry
$175 per campaign or plan
Agency of the Year AwardsCampaignVariousEarly Bird - October 10th
Standard - October 24th
Early Bird $550
Standard $625
Effie AwardsEffieVariousFirst Deadline - October 15th
Second Deadline - October 22nd
Third Deadline - November 5th
Final Deadline - November 12th
First Deadline $975
Second Deadline $1,425
Third Deadline $2,225
Final Deadline $2,625
Creative Media AwardsMediaPostMedia creativity and innovationEarly Bird - October 18th
Standard - November 22nd
Early Bird $295
Standard $350
SIA AwardsService Industry AssociationService industry categories:
Entertainment
Financial
Retail
Professional
Travel/transportation
Education
Healthcare
Other
Early Bird Deadline - October 25th
Entry Deadline - November 15th
Late Entry Deadline - December 13th
Early Bird Deadline $40 per entry, $65 per campaign
Entry Deadline $50 per entry, $75 per campaign
Late Entry Deadline $60 per entry, $85 per campaign
AME AwardsNew York FestivalsConsumer products and servicesDecember 15th$845

Brands are always looking for innovative outside partners, and showcasing an award you’ve won is that meeting point.  It helps validate your work and honors your team of experts. Not to mention, winning is guaranteed to enhance your credibility among clients and prospects.

Great agencies focus on their clients’ goals, and award programs provide you an opportunity to take a step back and review how others in your category are creating success stories for their clients. Make sure you are selective about the awards you enter. Your entry should accurately represent what you do best, and remember to always be honest with yourself about where you stand among the competition. And if you don’t win, make it a learning opportunity for your agency. Share with your team why you feel another agency won, and how you can elevate your entry next time. Insights and discussions around what your competition is doing will only make your team stronger.

As you plan for 2020, think about how you can start off the new year in a big way by earning a prestigious award!

8 Tips for Closing The Sale

8 Tips For Closing The Sale

Let’s set the scene here: You’ve managed to secure a meeting with a C-level executive for a global brand, and now it’s time to deliver your presentation and make your pitch. What happens during the next hour will determine whether you have a shot at closing the account or not. With that being said, many agencies say their biggest struggle is their sales approach and that they don’t fully understand what an executive hopes to get out of a meeting until it’s too late. So let’s rethink the entire process for your agency with these 8 tips for closing the sale.

If you ask a dozen sales people for their best tips on closing, you’d probably get a dozen different responses. While many sales techniques are as different as those who are executing them, there’s still some tried and true tips everyone should use to effectively close.

Here are 8 tips for closing the sale and winning big business.

1. Earn the right.

Before you can close the deal, you must earn the right to do so. You earn it by delivering on your promises, consistently following up, and showing up for meetings on time, every time. Make it clear during every interaction with the prospect that you are well prepared and eager to serve them and increase their bottom line. Focus each touchpoint on how you can help them instead of what you can get out of them, and you will eventually earn the right to ask for the sale.

2. Make the work the focal point.

Brands primarily want to see the work an agency has produced. Your opening remarks on a call or greeting during an in-person meeting should last no more than five to ten minutes. As the agency principle, you may provide some background of the agency’s culture, but should not waste time trying to impress the prospect with your industry philosophy or views of the landscape. Just get to the good stuff. It’s what your prospects want to see. 

Find a simple way to provide your current list of key clients or accounts, so they can see if there are conflicts or similar businesses. Make sure a creative director is available to give more detail on your work.

3. Provide context and results.

Brands want to know how your agency uses creativity to solve business challenges. Don’t just show the highlights – prospects want to see your full scope of work. Case studies work best in order to clearly articulate your client success. When presenting case studies, use context, action, and results (CAR). Give a brief overview of the challenge for each campaign, and discuss the action you took, and with some key results. We also recommend including a timeline of your project or cost data to show your efficiency. Be prepared to defend your creative choices while presenting case studies in a way that reinforces your client’s trust and makes it hard for your prospect to live without you.

4. Sell more value.

In a price-sensitive market, you win the business when you can show more value than the asking price. Value is determined not by the market, but by your customer. Show them your product or service is more valuable than the price, and the sale is yours.

You can also showcase how your ideas translate across different mediums to prove your value. Share at least a handful of case studies that represent your portfolio across various categories. Don’t worry if there isn’t anything specific to the vertical your prospect competes in. Brand executives will expect to see work that goes well beyond their own category. 

 5. Prepare and plan.

If you’ve spent the time to make your prospect understand your value is greater than the price you are asking, it’s time for you to prepare and to plan for the close. Preparing includes all the information, paperwork, forms, etc. you need to move forward and making sure you’ve had the right conversations with the right people. You should also anticipate any last-minute objections your prospect might have and how you will respond to them.

6. Make them understand you’re different.

Your prospects want to know your unique capabilities. Identify what makes you different from the agency down the street — those are your superpowers. Maybe you have a specialty in a particular vertical, like experiential activations or events. Maybe you have a lot of experience with a particular target audience, have done work in a specific product category, or you’ve launched new brands with tremendous success. Look for opportunities to consistently reinforce your superpowers to prospects.

7. Under promise and over deliver.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of promising something you cannot deliver. If your product or service takes some time to fully execute, never promise you can deliver something sooner. It’s common sense, I know, but you’d be surprised what someone will guarantee when they’re under the pressure to close the sale. 

If you under promise, you’ll have ample opportunity to over deliver. Why over promise when it already takes long enough to gain trust from your buyer? And when you exceed the expectation you’ve set, your prospect will realize your agency can be an essential part of their business.

8. Ask for next steps.

After any touchpoint with your prospect, ask the customer what the next steps would be. If they are unsure, make suggestions of steps that move you closer to closing.  Keep in mind – the next step could be to finalize the deal, but often, inexperienced sales people add too many steps before trying to close.

We hope these 8 tips for closing the sale guide you during your sales cycle with the prospect you’ve always dreamed of working with. Being skilled at closing is arguably one of the most important techniques to master in sales. If your agency wants to improve your current sales process including positioning, pitching and closing, contact us today.  Whether you need to elevate your existing business development plan or don’t know where to start, Catapult can assist in creating new business opportunities that will help scale and sustain your agency’s growth.

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

The CMO Sweet Spot for Agency New Business

As the business development lead at your agency, you may already have a solid understanding that the CMO has more turnover than any other c-level position. What you may not know, however, is why and how it directly affects your prospecting efforts.

In December 2018, our sister company, Winmo, released the annual CMO Lifecycle Tenure Analysis report and it’s full of new business opportunities that you can bank on. The report analyzed over 2,400 CMO tenures across a variety of industries and also by gender.

So before you kick off the new year by pounding the phone with cold calls and shooting out emails to every CMO in the US, here are a few items that will help you build a strategic plan and reach CMOs more efficiently:

Who’s Coming In, Who’s On Their Way Out

When a CEO hires a CMO, they expect a complete brand transformation…and fast. We’ve found that CMOs typically rotate up or out of their positions around the 43 month mark. Six to 18 months later is usually when the new CMO will shake up their AOR. What does this mean for you? Start paying attention to this ‘new biz sweetspot.’ Not only do you have a possible win with the incoming CMO, but potentially with the outgoing CMO…if you know where he/she lands.

Not Every Industry Is Created Equal

According to Winmo’s report, more traditional industries such as financial services, education, associations, and travel average longer tenures. Other sectors such as consumer goods, digital business providers, restaurants and retail, however, show higher turnover rates. When prospecting, prioritize those top turnover categories to fuel your prospecting lists with new potential opportunities.

Prioritize Your Right To Win Categories

After analyzing the tenure report take a look and see if there are particular industries in which you specialize. These right to win clients will be low hanging fruit for prospecting. If you are experts in retail and consumer goods, prioritize your prospecting and spend time crafting your messaging to appeal to the CMOs and decision makers in those spaces. Your credible portfolio in these spaces will make them much more inclined to have the initial conversation.

Unfortunately, no crystal ball can tell you exactly when to contact a CMO, but this Winmo report is pretty close!  Keep an eye on those brands you’ve been hoping to work with and use this resource to your full advantage! If it’s creeping up on their 3 year anniversary, get your messaging ready. Tailor your outreach strategy by prioritizing your right to win categories. Now you’re ready to go out there and win over those dream clients! Happy prospecting!

On-Demand Webinar: What Drives Value in the New World of Marcoms M&A

As an agency executive, you need to know what is happening in the industry from an M&A perspective and how it can affect your agency. Luckily, Catapult has an amazing partner in Charles Fallon from SI Partners who provides first-hand industry insights throughout this on-demand webinar.

Regardless of whether you are looking to sell your agency now, 10 years from now, or simply attract a growth partner, Charles will walk you through this complex world step by step.

We will cover specific topics like:
  • Understanding the new buyers in our market
  • Looking at the acquirer landscape as a whole and how it’s changed since last year
  • Attracting a growth partner
  • Becoming a more attractive agency before selling
  • Getting the most value out of your agency

 

Does Your Agency’s Thought Leadership Pass this Test?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content marketing and thought leadership continue to be hot buzzwords. But, the market is flooded with blogs, white papers and infographics. Is any of this leading to new business for agencies?

It’s impossible to keep up with all of the webinar invitations, trend reports and industry news. With so much content out there today, yours needs to do more than simply demonstrate that you’re “smart.”

Consider this maxim: Your thought leadership should be so valuable to your dream client, that they’d pay for it. If it’s not, it shouldn’t be out there.

The only difference between $1 and $100 is the message on the paper.

To capture and hold the attention of your dream clients, your content needs to share new insights from your agency’s unique point of view. Agencies with this content strategy are dramatically more likely to breakthrough, get meetings and win more new business.

Standing Out in a Content Crowd

The overuse of thought leadership as a marketing tool has created a real challenge for driving agency new business. Today, everyone is publishing and distributing content.

With such a strong belief in the need for content, agencies are falling into a trap. They’re regurgitating material that was already done … and often done well … by a competitor. What’s needed to stand out among thousands of agencies is to be a true thought leader, not a thought follower.

For agency new business, the challenge is figuring out how to stand out from among thousands of agencies.

Here is a scenario playing out among agency principals today:

We’re great at what we do, but we’re struggling to get that message in front of our dream clients.

Our emails and calls are going unanswered. Our website traffic hasn’t moved. We need more meetings, and we need them fast.

We’re producing thought leadership, but it’s not resulting in meetings or new business. We thought content marketing would lead to more inbound leads, but it’s merely been a few nibbles from unqualified prospects.

Why are we spending all this time and money on the creation and distribution of thought leadership if we’re not getting any results? It’s frustrating. It isn’t worth it unless we start getting a better return.

If we don’t start winning business, we might not make payroll, may need to downsize the staff or, even worse, close the agency. At a minimum, the outcome could be embarrassing. At worse, it could be a disaster.

Thought Leadership or Thought Follower?

Playing it safe does nothing to differentiate or create a meaningful competitive advantage.

The data backs it up. According to Forrester Research, 82 percent of buyers have viewed at least five pieces of content from a winning vendor. Among buyers, 74 percent select the sales rep that demonstrated insight and brought value.

Look at it from the buyer’s perspective. There’s lots of content written by experienced, smart and insightful experts. There’s a lot less time to consume it and react to it. Reading content that’s not truly insightful is underwhelming and feels like time wasted.

It’s no longer good enough to just have content. The successful agency’s thought leadership must provide new insight from a unique point of view.

That POV needs to be through a brand-driven lens through which all communications – particularly content – is delivered. The POV must reinforce the agency’s story in the marketplace and through its thought leadership. An agency’s content strategy has to align with its brand strategy. It needs to provide a roadmap for creating thought leadership that others are not providing.

Sharing new insights from your agency’s point of view is what differentiates between thought leadership and thought followship.

Avoiding the ‘Me Too’

New business is essential for economic viability of agencies. For professional services firms, thought leadership is one of the most powerful approaches to new business.

Yet content often fails to deliver. Why?

  • A lack of understanding about the intended audience
  • Failure to distribute content to the desired audience
  • Content lacks value via new insight from a unique POV.

Content that reproduces from another thought leader means the agency is saying “me too” instead of “me first.” It hinders an agency’s ability to differentiate or be seen as an authority.

That said, there is a place for calculated re-purposing, but only if it offers new interpretations, better insights and stronger solutions.

A Case Study

While working at Catapult, a client believed it was doing everything right. Experts within the agency were writing industry-specific content regularly. The website was robust. There was a targeted list of prospects, a CRM, marketing automation and people, including me, picking up the phone and sending emails.

But the thought leadership was not moving the needle. The few responses often were, “Thanks for sharing, no questions,” “Not interested” or “Appreciate you sending, but we’re already doing much of this.”

It became clear the content wasn’t adding enough value to their dream clients. The thought leadership was not sharing new insights from the agency’s POV.

While the agency had experts and a unique POV, in the haste to produce quantity, the content lost quality and value.

After some soul searching the agency started producing less content, but going deeper and sharing new insights from a point of differentiation.

Almost immediately, the dynamics changed. Dream clients were eager to meet and new business was soon thereafter won.

Are You Really a Thought Leader?

Evaluate your content to decide whether it’s thought leadership. Does it meet the following?

Trait #1: It provides true insight.

Your content should add to what’s in the public domain. It needs to enrich an understanding and influence behavior. Does your content help people see things differently, provide new solutions, or find new opportunities?

Trait #2: It reframes.

Thought leadership gives the audience something to think about. It helps readers learn, seek information, and challenge accepted presumptions. It embraces new approaches. It shows your agency’s unique point of view.

Trait #3: It’s credible.

Thought leadership content needs validation. There needs to be evidence about how it was discovered, who discovered it and whether it’s been independently verified. Insights today can have short lifespans, so you need to confirm that the insights remain relevant.

Trait #4: It’s forward-looking.

Thought leadership must look forward. Good thought leadership does more than inform. It frames an idea, provides foresight and is bold. That notion can be risky because it means taking a stand and pronouncing that stand. But that’s the difference between leading and following.

What Happens Next

If your agency takes a bold approach to thought leadership, you’ll see results. You’ll feel back in control. Confident. It will lead to more meetings. And the dynamics of your meetings will change. Instead of selling, you’ll be teaching. You’ll be viewed as the expert that you are. You’ll close more business with your dream clients.

Does your marketing content pass the test? Before you publish your next thought leadership, honestly ask yourself, if you didn’t already have this information, would you have paid for it?

It’s Okay To Be Different: Positioning Your Agency to Stand Out from Competitors

It’s OK to be different.  When it comes to your agency’s new business program, differentiated positioning is the foundation.

Given the near-demise of the Agency of Record concept, differentiation has never been more critical. Today, clients work with a network of agencies they can draw on, assigning work on a project-by-project basis that plays to strengths. Singular relationships (and the retainers agencies long enjoyed) are practically extinct.

One of the first things I’m usually asked when I first speak with prospects is, “What makes you different from my current agencies?”

If you can’t articulate concisely and clearly what you do, for whom you do it and how, your agency new business program is dead in the water.

 

Standing Out in the Crowd

Today, you really need to stand out. According to Ibis World, there are more than 66,000 advertising agencies in the United States. Most of these agencies look and sound the same. Their pitches also look and sound the same:

  • Full service
  • Collaborative
  • Wide range of experience
  • Committed to our clients
  • Customize our services
  • Results driven
  • Our clients are our partners

If you see phrases like “wide range” or “full service” in a brand statement, it’s usually a sign the agency has been unable or unwilling to name what it stands for.

Economists would call the market for agencies “perfectly competitive,” with low barriers to entry and products and services that are all too easy to copy.

Too many agencies are fearful that a narrow focus feels small. Consequently, they are unwilling to plant a stake in the ground that says: “This is what we stand for” because they fear missing out on business.

Firms compensate by saying their work is better than that at other firms, and that that’s what makes them different.But simply being better isn’t different. Only different is different.

 

Positioning Creates Value for Potential Clients

Your firm exists to create value for clients. Positioning is how you articulate that value to clients. Brands sell themselves based on the perceived value, not the costs. But the ever-popular refrain, “We’re creative” is not a credible statement for value-creation.

Positioning is the way to approach prospecting strategy. That means focusing your firm not on a wide approach but on specific markets where you can create uncontested value. Think of this space as the “blue ocean” where no one else is sailing. With today’s multi-agency model, clients want best-of-breed agencies. Think of it this way. If your child was experiencing an irregular heartbeat, would you feel better taking them to a general practitioner or would you seek out a cardiac specialist?

Today’s most interesting and powerful brands are at the edges because they’re doing different things and doing them differently. It may feel like common sense to play in the middle, but it’s actually the least desirable place to be. Safe doesn’t cut it.

 

Placing the Value Proposition

Your value proposition for agency new business should sit at the crossroads of relevance and differentiation.

Your work needs to be highly relevant to your dream client to meet a need, whether it’s a certain audience, a platform, a style, a technology, or an approach. You can then establish your position within that nuanced space and show how your agency is different than all the others.

For your agency to be profitable, you need to position yourself not just for where the profits are, but for where the profits will be. Your value proposition will produce the most profit when you select a place on the value chain where the offerings are still scarce and underdeveloped.

For an agency used to being a generalist, this isn’t always easy. Positioning means deciding not only what business you’re in, but what business you’re not in.

If you’re still skeptical about the value of positioning, consider the impact it makes in three critical areas:

  • Sales Advantage. By choosing when and where to compete, you gain a real advantage in those sectors. You’ll win more often.
  • Price Premium. Positioned as a true expert in certain spaces means you can charge more for the privilege of working with you.
  • Control. Positioning gives the agency more ability to guide the engagement. Clients are buying the expertise as much as if not more than the service.

Finding the Position

What differentiates an agency from the competition?

Not personality. Not process. Not price.

Expertise.

It is expertise and expertise alone that will set an agency apart in a meaningful way. Expertise allows the agency to interact with clients and prospects from a position of power and knowledge.

How do you determine that expertise? Begin by asking yourself these questions. The answers to these questions will help create a position statement that should concisely articulate the following:

What do we do?

  • What are we selling?
  • Where are we excellent?
  • What are our outcomes?
  • Where are we best in class?

Who do we it for?

  • Audience types
  • Clients
  • Industries
  • Who is our ideal client?

How do we do it?

  • Attitudes
  • Philosophies or point of view

Why do we it?

  • Purpose (Ask if your purpose transcends money.)
  • What motivates us

It’s important at this stage to focus on substance first and style later. Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about “how to say it.”

 

Showing Results

Services that can command the absolute highest prices are those that the client could never duplicate, no matter how much time and money is thrown at the issue. That’s where differentiation is powerful.

With a clear strategy that makes it obvious that you stand for something, not everything, you’ll stop chasing business and start having business chase you.

You’ll find staff more energized with a more resonant articulation of what makes the agency unique. Their pitches and presentations will be more compelling, delivered with more confidence and conviction.

By playing to these strengths, you’ll see a stronger win ratio. This differentiation will also help align your sales and marketing in a unified approach to themes, messaging and consistency.

 

Where to Start

Before you begin taking the steps outlined here, it is wise to take step back … way back … and take a good hard look at your current positioning. Ask yourself the following:

  • Does your value proposition feel authentic?
  • Does it make your agency innately and intensely appealing?
  • Does it have strong barriers to entry?
  • Is it hard to find an exact substitute?
  • Does it result in fewer competitors?
  • Can you charge higher prices?
  • Does it make your sales cycle shorter and less expensive?
  • Have you created a new category?

If you answer yes to all those questions, congratulations. My bet is the answer to most is no. That’s the litmus test that a new approach to positioning that emphasizes differentiation is the right path to take. That differentiation will make all the difference. And it’s okay.

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!

(Webinar) Social Media Isn’t Working for Ad Agency New Business

If your agency’s social media participation isn’t developing new business leads, it’s important to know WHY and WHAT to do about it.

In order to help improve your social media presence, Michael Gass of Fuel Lines walks you through a seven step blueprint for using social media for new business as well as tools, tactics, and tips to get a return on your investment.

This webinar will take you through the following:

  • Why most agencies aren’t having success with social media for new business.
  • A seven step blueprint for using social media for new business.
  • Tools, tactics, and tips to get the most return on your daily time investment.
  • Examples of what a successful new business program looks like.

Social Media Isn’t Working for Ad Agency New Business from Catapult New Business on Vimeo.

How groupthink just killed your agency new business goals

Two minds are better than one.  At least that’s how the old saying goes.  But what happens when those two minds (or three or four) get caught up in a groupthink cluster?  While the idea of working together to gain consensus around important growth driving topics (like new business positioning) might sound like a great idea, it’s important to steer clear of the potential dead end road groupthink can take you.

So why is consensus so dangerous, especially for agency new business?

Similar past, similar future

Many times agency executive groups that are setting out to develop unique positioning come from places of similar past experiences.  Most of our agency VPs and C Level execs started somewhere outside of new business.  Perhaps they started within Account Management or creative, and as such, they have very little experience within the new business world.  This then shapes our opinion of how new business is done, how it should be done, and what works and doesn’t work.  Often, they have faced new business failure in the past when they tried something new, and because we all are hesitant of repeating a mistake, we agree to steer away from that “new” again.

The problem with steering away from the “new” is that an agency can wind up repeating their mistakes again and again, because they never truly change.  True change comes from a holistic look at how you approach new business, not just purchasing one piece of new technology or a new website design.  While those pieces are important and can affect some of our experience and results, they won’t fully change your new business for the better.

Let’s look at a real life example:  ABC Agency’s executives have decided that their positioning is great… “we solve problems that can’t be solved”.  Because they all have the same experiences in the agency world, nobody stops to ask questions like:

  • Is this really interesting for new business?
  • Is this positioning true of what we have done in the past and want to go in the future?
  • Does this even make sense!?

So if your agency new business positioning discussion seems to be running uncomfortably smoothly with nobody challenging one another, think about applying some of these ideas:

  • Invite someone outside of your exec team to the positioning meeting. Maybe even invite someone from outside the agency to get an outsider’s feelings on your positioning.
  • If you’re the leader of the meeting, listen to other people’s ideas before expressing any of your own opinions. Leadership opinion can sway opposition opinion and accelerate groupthink.
  • Challenge any assumption that has 100% approval. You may find it is a solid assumption, but challenging it can also be a great way to identify a blind spot.

Those few steps can help ensure that your new business efforts won’t get self-sabotaged with groupthink consensus.  Having that outside perspective and the openness to challenge assumptions can ensure that your agency stands out among your competition.