Many times when a brand releases a Request For Proposal (RFP) to the public, they already know who will win their business. Brands come up with an RFP after conversations are already started around problems they’re experiencing internally, and have talked to agencies about that problem. These initial conversations are much less formal than a pitch but can lead to the RFP process. So how can you get on the brand’s shortlist before an RFP is released?
It takes months of build-up to get in front of the RFP process, but with a proactive and consistent approach, you can save resources and turn out a higher win rate for your RFPs.
In this webinar, Catapult and Winmo share strategies and tactics to beat the RFP process.
The following questions are discussed:
Which RFPs do I have a right to win? What can I do to get in front of brands before the RFP goes to bid? Is there a way to win the bid before the RFP is out?
These questions are answered during the recording, but you can submit your questions through the chat and the Catapult team will be able to respond in real-time.
A discovery call is the first of many conversations and can be defined as a time to uncover where they are in their buying journey. Before guiding the conversation toward services or capabilities, you need to first meet them where they are.
On a successful discovery call, the prospect asks 8-10 questions on average. With about 30 minutes scheduled, what do you do with the rest of the time to make sure the call is successful?
A great discovery call will allow the prospect to do most of the talking, provide you with insights needed to navigate the deal further down your pipeline, and open the conversation up for those opportunities. In the end, you want the prospect to ask for a follow-up conversation.
In this webinar, Catapult shares best practices on not just knowing when the call was successful for you and the prospect, but how to keep the conversation going long after the call has ended.
Join this webinar to learn:
What is the difference between meetings with inbound vs outbound leads? How do I prepare the team before meeting with a prospect? How can I use Winmo to prepare for these calls?
These questions are answered during the recording, but you can submit your questions through the chat and the Catapult team will be able to respond in real-time.
The answer in many cases is simple: be more selective. Easier said than done, right? To be more selective, you first need to clearly define who you want to work with. This means being very strict about who you absolutely do not want to work with.
Prioritize your pitchable brands by:
Choosing those within your agency’s Right to Win.*
Ensuring there is a passion for the brand (vertical, consumer type, etc).
Knowing which services and scopes are actually profitable.
Finding scopes that matches your expertise.
*What do I mean by Right to Win? If you can say that there is a “right to win” then you can prove it through case studies and past work examples. When you show prospects this, they will want to work with you just as much as you want to work with them.
Stay Out of the Waiting-On-The-RFP Game
If an RFP comes across your desk that doesn’t fit within these parameters, leave it alone. I know it’s hard to turn away from a potential payday, especially when a feeling of uncertainty surrounds your new business pipeline, but you can be risking profitability or employee churn by putting your teams on projects they aren’t passionate about. Once you have set these parameters, do not stray! Agency new business is a lot like dating. If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it, so stay out of the waiting-on-the-RFP game and get into the proactive biz dev game.
Just like in your personal life, being proactive vs. reactive will always lead to better results. Get out there and start hunting for new prospects that fit your agency’s Right to Win. Utilize email, social, and resurgence of in-person events to connect with those brands that you are most passionate about and focus on planting the right seeds of growth with them.
They may not be a quick fix for cash that some of these ill-fitting RFPs may inject, but what they will do is set your team up for long-term business development success. Happy employees lead to happy clients, and eventually more rewarding work for your agency.
So there you have it. A few tips to avoid pitch burnout and set your agency up for new business success. Agency new business is a process, but if you’re strategic about it, the right clients will partner with you when you need them most.
We’re rounding out 2022 new business trends with a focus on Experimental Budgets. Those elusive and magical dollars are set aside to try new things and open new channels for brands.
We know that marketers’ budgets for testing are continually increasing, but now more than ever is a time when these budgets are no longer afterthoughts. The Pandemic’s disruption colliding with a huge diversification of media and an acceleration of new consumer behaviors means that marketers are having to try new things and look for new creative avenues and media channels to put their budgets. They are doing this too with full knowledge that a large portion of these budgets may not get them a Return on Investment (ROI) immediately.
Skip the Procurement Approval Process
The ROI conversation is a big one because when you are in a testing mindset, as these brands are, you are willing to look at ROI differently in order to evaluate a campaign more holistically. Rather than just “did sales increase?”, marketers are exploring how else these campaigns may affect the brand image/recognition as a whole. This open-mindedness opens new opportunities for an agency to get their foot in the door.
We have seen this play out over the past 12 months in a number of ways. Recently, one of Catapult’s clients was speaking with a direct-to-consumer mattress company about their 2022 growth goals. They had already set their performance marketing budgets for the year, but what they set aside was $150k/month to try new channels. Because they already have these dollars budgeted, the marketers themselves can sign off on new partners without having to go through the typical CMO/procurement approval process, saving a massive amount of time and energy for our agencies. While $80k may not be a huge initial project, that is a monthly budget, so the calculus is that the program you are running is going to be fantastic and you are going to be able to continue all year – totaling closer to an overall $1 million client.
What the Data Tells Us
If these budgets are easier to get signoff, how do we know they are out there happening at an increased rate? We looked at the data. In 2021, we looked at the number of new agency relationships added to the Winmo database vs agency relationships ended in the database. You would expect these to be close to a 1:1 ratio if you assume these are retainer relationships, one agency wins a new piece of business, and as such another loses. 1 new win, 1 new loss. What we actually saw though was that new relationships happened at double the pace of ending relationships. Essentially, brands are hiring more agencies for projects and experimental work at an increasingly fast pace.
Further evidence to this was looking at our select group of over 50 agencies within the Catapult group and we found that 72% of our agencies’ new work started last year was in the form of an initial project, not a retainer. There are certainly retainers out there to be had and won (and increasing RFPs back that up), but the quicker decisions being made by marketers right now in mass are those with a project background.
We aren’t saying that you only consider project work moving forward. What we are saying is that when you go into an initial fact-finding call with a new brand, be aware of these experimental budgets and keep it in the back of your mind as they talk about opportunities that do or do not exist currently. While they may not be out there searching for a new Agency of Record, we are sure they are looking to find a new way to break through to different audiences and there is money to be spent.
We can’t get enough of the fruits and vegetables in Aldi’s holiday ads. The retail chain takes a fun holiday spin on their core message promoting better-for-you options in order to reach health-oriented consumers. We love this year’s edition with a banana and a fun spin on the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge. McCann WorldGroup gave us this campaign, and it all started with the iconic A Christmas Carrot ad and Kevin the Carrot.
What we’ve known about Aldi during the past two years is that it’s digital ad spend increased, and that trend has continued in 2021 and into the holiday season, according to Winmo Sales Predictions. Learn more with Winmo.
If we learned anything as a collective group this year, it’s that empathy is the glue that keeps us together. The sentiment of this ad hits on emotion and feeling of belonging we’ve all craved during the holiday frenzy.
The agency Lucky Generals zeroed in on this emotion and communicated the value of kindness over materialism perfectly, showing us that there is a genuine place for this brand in our lives.
The brand worked with 72andsunny to make a big marketing push for the holiday season, according to Winmo Sales Predictions. The message behind the advert reminds people that connecting with your friends and family is what makes the holidays so meaningful.
The Home Depot named BBDO as its creative AOR just this year, and within months released the brand’s holiday campaign. The ad features real retail associates from Alaska and showcases just how far their customer support will go to keep a customer happy…in this case by keeping Santa’s identity a secret. We love that they’ve kept this lighthearted and close to the brand’s mission.
The Winmo research team reported earlier this year that The Home Depot selected OMD as its media AOR as well. Winmo is predicting that with these two new agency relationships the brand will be increasing their media spend in the New Year. Learn more with Winmo.
Another beautifully crafted ad that shows how kids can build and rebuild whatever they want using their imagination with Lego products. The ad was created by Lego’s in-house agency and is another stunning spot for the brand’s Rebuild the World campaign, originally launched in 2019.
BBDO New York created a loveable character named Tiptoe who we met during the Thanksgiving Day parade. They’ve brought Tiptoe back for the holiday season, this time in an advert where the reindeer realizes her dream of joining Santa’s Sleigh Team. It’s cute, it’s inspirational, need we say more?
Ok this one deserves a spot on our list because, well to put it simply, nostalgia. Or NUTstalgia as the ad cleverly puts it. The new work awarded to VaynerMedia after an acquisition by Hormel positions Planters, or what is more notably recognized as Mr. Peanut, as “A Nut Above”, the tagline introduced earlier this year. We’re loving the throwback.
Another classic holiday favorite, the story of Scrooge, has been spun by the agency adam&eveNYC to share the joys of working out with a Peloton. Ahead of the New Year / New Me resolutions, this ad is sure to inspire those looking to boost their workout routine. And it really does look like fun, even for a Scrooge.
I know, I know, not a serious advert, but the SNL skit was hilariously good and we couldn’t help but add it here. It really did make us smile. The family of brands HomeGoods, TJX, and Marshall’s tends to target women of most ages, and the skit so perfectly hits on the holiday dynamics between mothers and daughters.
Saatchi & Saatchi put together a spot that shares a heartwarming story of togetherness and community with Toyota at the center. The agency has been leading the campaign for the new 2022 Tundra, which is prominently featured in the advert.
Lastly, we picked this cute advert from Wegman’s. It’s another advert that really shows the reason for the season, being together. The agency Optic Sky brought this one to life and shows us how Wegman’s brings people together during the holidays.
The message is clear this year, brands want to find a place in your life where you can make genuine connections with other people. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed putting this list together, and hope it brings you happiness this holiday season!
The past two years forced many agencies to take a hard look internally at their business development efforts. When the Pandemic began, paused agreements and decreasing scope were standard across huge swaths of most client bases, and new client acquisition needed to happen quickly. That increased need has caused many medium-to-large-sized agencies to take on a true “sales machine” mentality. No longer sitting back and saying “if you build it they will come”, these shops are competing by saying “we will bring it to you”.
With this shift in mentality, expect to see more competition than ever from other agencies this year. Outbound activity will be at an all-time high from all of your competitors.
This “bring it to you” approach of new business is especially important as you begin to realize the timing of how brands buy. In the past, the generally accepted timing of agency tenure was somewhere around three years. Every three years a brand would be out hunting for a new creative or media AOR. If we make that assumption to be true, that would mean that 33% of brands in a given year are shopping. Not too hard to find 1 out of 3, right?
Well, the assumptions made about agency tenure are deceiving. Catapult evaluated over 2,500 relationships that were tracked in Winmo and we found that the actual average tenure of a brand/agency relationship is 5.9 years! Almost double what the assumed tenure is.
Total Addressable Market and Competition
The more growth-aggressive agencies are building a sophisticated sales machine to get in front of these brands. They understand that in order to capture the 17% of brands shopping for an agency, you need to spend time educating and interacting with a higher percentage of the Total Addressable Market. You can’t ignore the other 83% that aren’t in a position to buy today, because they may be in position tomorrow. We certainly can’t force them to have a need or to go into an RFP, but we can proactively find ways to stay in front of them and lay the foundation through value-added content and conversations. It’s recognizing though that new opportunity conversations don’t always have to end with a budget and a win, sometimes the win is just in making the connection with your prospect by showing value in a unique and meaningful way.
The “sales machines” that are being built to capture business both have an eye on the 17% and the 83% discussed, but it’s not easy. In order to do that, you need both 1:1 human outreach for the 17% using both data and insights, while also spending time educating the other 83% through content, PR, SEO, and SEM methods. Neither of these paths work truly alone in a vacuum, and a more holistic approach is what is needed to ensure that you are able to compete with all the increased activity from your competitors. If you begin to slack in any one area of this approach, it will have a negative cascading effect on your entire new business process.
Finding the Right Opportunities
Below is an example of a tech stack and outreach flow that our team utilizes to go after the 17% of buyers that are looking today. This takes time, organization, and accountability to consistently use the data at hand in a very structured process in order to produce the types of meetings that we know will result in revenue. The key here though is the process. The clearer and more structured your process is in the beginning, the easier it will be to customize, adjust, and scale as you learn which prospects are falling into the 17% and which are in the 83%.
With so much disruption happening, agency opportunities are at an all-time high and it’s going to be a highly competitive year ahead. Is your sales machine running at full speed?
Success in the new year hinges on our ability to understand and predict the current and future market conditions around our business. For agencies, the last year and a half have brought near-constant change and amplified some of our most difficult challenges. Notably, new business development is the challenge many face right now in order to rebuild their revenue streams.
For years, business development has been an exercise in waiting for word-of-mouth and referrals to work for your agency. The hope is that if you do good work, it will be recognized by others, and they will then in turn reward you with more work. While this does happen, in an environment like the one we have in 2021 and 2022, waiting on others just is not going to cut it. In order to proactively build back our revenue, we need to understand what trends are affecting our business and how to take advantage of them for our own gain. We see three major new business trends happening now, and the first is all about people movement.
The Great Resignation
We Are Rosie recently did a study and over 63% of their survey participants said that they plan to make a job change before the end of this year. This is probably of no shock to anyone running a business right now, as we have all felt the sting of employee churn in one way or another. Whether it is an employee leaving your agency or a valued client contact leaving a brand you work with, employee movement has been near an all-time high.
What is key about this is understanding that this movement, while disruptive to almost every area of your business, is also a massive opportunity.
Disruption is good for new business
The biggest indicator of a brand about to go through an agency review are CMO shifts. Change. Disruption. You know what follows a CMO shift in those reviews? VP, Director, Brand Manager shifts. All of those people moving around signals changes within brands and each new person that steps in to fill the open roles left by the leaving employee brings their own new preferences for partners. Each (no matter how small) employee disruption within a brand brings a new opportunity to network, learn, and eventually partner to solve that brand’s most pressing challenges.
With disruption comes opportunities to proactively drive the type of word of mouth and referrals that your teams need and want to increase your overall revenue. The key here is to be proactive in driving those referrals and not waiting around like in years past. That proactivity comes from creating a simple networking process in place for all of your key executives. If there is no process, then we know it will not get done. Networking almost always takes a back seat to things like client work and new pitches, so if you are not committed to dedicating time and energy to this practice, then it will surely be a short-lived fad within your firm.
Core Network Activation (as we like to call it) is as simple as:
Dedicate 15 minutes every morning to your networking outreach.
Create an immovable calendar block, so that culturally you commit to doing this every day.
Within that 15 minutes, the plan is to do 3 points of outreach, 5 minutes each.
Each outreach will be a simple, direct message simply to stay visible in a time of isolation.
Comment on their brand’s latest news, check in on that vendor you always work with, if you have known them for years – ask about their family
Be proactive in your referral request:
“Who do you think would be interesting for me to know?”
“You know our best clients are similar to you, who comes to mind that you think I should talk to?”
At Catapult, Core Network Activation is something that we do every day for ourselves and our clients, and it is key to kicking up dust on conversations that may have gone dark or reigniting a spark that died down when life got in the way of a client we were trying to work with. The key here is that with all of the movement and disruption that The Great Resignation is bringing to brands (and agencies alike) your new business plan has to be one that takes advantage of that disruption. Not every proactive new business outreach has to be a cold one. There are plenty of warm opportunities out there if you take the time and energy to cultivate them.
When planning for the new year, the common perception is that most companies begin planning their new year goals sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday and will not firm up their final plans until the end of the year…at best. In fact, with the hustle of closing out a year, most will not begin goal and execution planning of their new year until January when that new year begins. Instantly putting themselves behind the eight ball.
Here’s what we are seeing from brands planning right now
Our team did a recent survey of 50 meetings held in the month of September with brands interested in their agency’s services. What we found was that 30% of the meetings were strictly focused on solving 2022 needs. Four months before the new year these brands are already identifying their growth needs and evaluating partners to help them solve those challenges.
This same survey showed that the remaining 60% of meetings were a combination of solving year-end and 2022 needs, with just 10% of the meetings focused on affecting this current year. Most of that 10% were smaller digital projects to fix an immediate issue with a current vendor that was not performing well. Although 60% of meetings were talking about “combined” this year and next, the majority of those were “hopeful” that they could affect this year, with the focus being on effecting next year.
Don’t miss out on Q1 revenue for the new year
Understanding ahead of time what your prospects are looking to affect and when they need to affect it is massively important to how you approach your prospecting efforts and language. It also means that your goals for your new business plan need to be adjusted properly. The work you do in late Q3 and Q4 to drive new business growth is revenue that won’t be seen until Q1 of the next year. If you, like many agencies we have seen, wait until after the holidays to start your new business approaches, you will miss out on all of the Q1 revenue because those decisions are being made now.
The holiday season can be a powerful time to make meetings and opportunities happen specifically because so many agencies are slowing down their new business efforts. We have always felt that when your competition slows, you should accelerate, and if you want to be leading in 2022 you better be accelerating your efforts now in Q4. Q4 conversations equal Q1 dollars.
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:
The case study is not read at all
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.