Agency New Business: 3 Wake-up Calls

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Lee McKnight Jr.
Lee McKnight Jr.



wake-up callIn our latest agency new business survey, we asked seven thought leaders in the agency new business space to provide questions they’d like to ask agency principals on the topics around agency new business.

Of all the responses and findings, here are three new business areas agencies should take note of:

1. Agencies aren’t being creative enough when it comes to new business.

Why do I say this? In our survey, one question Jay Baer asked was, “Does your agency make an effort to interview its future clients via blog posts or podcasts? Why or why not?”

Of the agencies we asked, 76 percent said no. One reason agencies typically give us for not having a consistent new business effort is time — or lack thereof.

Interviewing a prospect you want to work with is a great idea because 1) it takes very little time to craft smart questions (don’t pander) and offer a Skype or email interview, 2) people like to talk about themselves, and 3) it gets you noticed by that prospect.

Several comments after this question noted the difficulty in actually getting your prospect to agree and then taking the time to complete the interview. Fair enough, but I can tell you from experience that very few agencies are doing this, and it’s worth the effort to set your agency apart from competitors.

2. More agencies are using social media for new business in 2013 but still don’t know how to use it.

In our survey, Michael Gass asked, “Has your agency had success using social media to generate new business leads?”

Fifty-eight percent responded “yes,” a big jump from the same question in our “RSW/US 2012 Changes in Social & Digital Survey Report,” in which only 37 percent of agencies found social successful in generating new business leads.

But far too many comments on Michael’s question read like this one: “Continue to generate content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other sites and to merchandise our activity on our site and elsewhere, but have yet to receive ANY value in return.”

What’s the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Maybe it’s how these agencies are doing it. Are they actually following their prospects on Twitter, for example? Does the content they’re creating showcase their expertise and knowledge? And specifically to the quote above, has the “value” that’s apparently lacking been defined by the agency?

For example, what’s the time frame for success, and is it realistic? Is there a plan in place with defined parameters, such as which sectors to hit and research to perform? Are prospects using the same platforms the agency is?

No matter the channel, new business is not an overnight exercise.

3. Agencies feel good about their new business positioning. (Or, they’re delusional.)

In our thought leader survey, one question from Tim Williams was, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “Our agency has a focused positioning strategy designed to attract clients that want us for what we do best.”

Over 65 percent of agencies said they agreed.

All snark aside, it’s very positive to see over half of the agencies in our survey responding positively to the effectiveness of their positioning in attracting potential clients. However, specifically to those agencies in the 65 percent, here’s one tip: at RSW/US, we talk to a lot of agencies, and they often think their positioning is spot-on, when it definitely is not.

Still, it’s very simple to make sure it is, and that’s by having someone outside your agency, or even outside the industry, give his or her opinion. If they don’t understand how your agency is unique and what type of agency you are in 20 to 30 seconds, you’re obviously not positioning effectively.

Agencies should revisit their positioning and its effectiveness every quarter. That doesn’t mean reinvent the wheel every quarter, but revisiting your agency’s new business positioning with a fresh pair of eyes will keep your effort sharp.

Thanks to all the thought leaders who contributed questions to our survey. You can see further questions from Paul Roetzer, Tony Mikes, Tom Martin and Peter Caputa in our report.

Download the full report here.

Topics: Social Media

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