How can a small agency make noise nationally? What’s the single most important thing in a new business pitch?
As EVP of Agency Development at Catapult New Business – the division of List Partners Inc. that’s generated over $1 billion in revenue for agency clients, Matt knows a thing or two about agency growth, and our WinmoTalkers put his wisdom to the test.
Here’s a sneak peek at the chatter emerging from our agency growth-themed AMA:
Q: Any recommendations for making noise nationally when based in a small market?
MC: Wanna make noise? Don't be silent. Produce and show off the content that you create. BUT do it in a way that makes you unique. If you are the expert in building travel company websites that target millennials, then I (as a prospect) don't care what city you are located in because I know that you are the best at solving my specific problem. I've seen agencies make the mistake of wanting to expand their regional reach so they start trying to appeal to everyone. Trying to please everyone is a sure fire way of pleasing no one. So own a niche, create content continuously around it, and don't be quiet.
Q: What is the single most important thing in a new business pitch?
MC: While there's a lot of important aspects, I typically fall back on making sure that only your best presenters are in the room. That doesn't always mean that the agency principals have to be there. I've seen some awful speaking principals that are incredibly creative, but they get into a pitch or boardroom and are just not good communicators. So make sure your A team of communicators are the ones there giving the pitch, because people buy from people they like.
Q: For brands that have changed agencies (advertising, PR and/or marketing) this year, are most changing the type of agency they're working with? Meaning going from a big corporate shop to a boutique firm or visa versa?
MC: Big shop or boutique? Boutique or Big shop? We haven’t seen people expressly shunning one or the other. What we do see regularly, especially in long struggling consumer facing industries, is that brands are more open to trying out project relationships. Cost savings and expertise in particular areas are my main guess as to why we see this, but like any other trend it’s not consistent across the board. Look at Macy’s as an example, their former CMO did away with the AOR model, but their new one just hired a new creative AOR. What is interesting, and noted from my WinmoEdge colleagues, is the rise of consultants and their taking of working that was previously handled by traditional shops. AdAge recently wrote an interesting article on this - http://adage.com/article/news/consultancies-rising/308845/. My advice: Don’t get caught up worrying about big shop or boutique…worry more about the personality of the brand, the marketing executives, and specifically the problems that you see them dealing with everyday. Your ability to speak to and SOLVE those problems can help any agency get ahead in a pitch situation.
Q: What's the biggest mistake you see agencies make during strategic planning when it comes to new business?
MC: Wow, awesome question. Where to begin? So many mistakes, so little time. I guess if there were one issue I see pop up time and again, that gets in the way of all other new business content, it would be the mistake of not taking the time to truly build out a UNIQUE positioning statement. Many times we roll with these old positioning statements that feel just like everybody else and it commoditizes what we do at our agency. If you can't create that unique position, how can you create interesting content in the form of blogs, emails, whitepapers, etc? My advice: have your whole team give input on your unique positioning, and even ask someone from outside of the agency to give their feedback. If you can lock that down, all of your other tasks will become much easier. Also, kudos to you for taking the time to actually go through a deep strategic planning. As a casual outline to think about for proactive new business for the upcoming year, here are some areas to think through: Goals, Transparency, Positioning, Audience, Content, Networking, Execution & Technology
Q: Do you suggest differing strategies for prospecting agencies versus brands and what are they?
MC: Here's the cool part with prospecting agencies...more often than not, agency folks open emails. We typically see email engagement rates much higher when working cold outreach to agencies than we do with brand direct campaigns. I think this is mostly because it's less of a "salesy" approach and more of a partner approach. If I were looking for agency partners, I would certainly be more aggressive with explaining quickly the problem you solve for agencies like theirs and then request that meeting. Sure, you can utilize some longer tail content, but with agencies as prospects I've been more aggressive in driving to an initial meeting with success. I utilize social as an approach liberally as well.
Q: What are your top picks for agency new business apps? Email, marketing automation, CRM…
MC: New business apps? Easy stuff! Get yourself a marketing automation platform - SharpSpring or Hubspot. Period. Both actually have built in CRMs, so two birds, one stone. SharpSpring is much better from a pricing and agency partner standpoint, but Hubspot is king of Marketing Automation for a reason. It's a great program. If you are using Gmail, highly recommend Cirrus insight for one off email tracking, open, clicks, scheduled emails. For one off cold email prospecting, a tool like Salesloft Cadence is incredibly for making sure you are not only sending that first email, but scheduling emails 2 and 3. You can hit bulk messages, but customize each. Brilliant tool. Also, I like Crystalknows.com. Email plug in that lets you learn more about your contact's personality and how you should communicate with them.
That’s just a snapshot of the questions being answered in our WinmoTalk user community this week.
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