Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who is responsible for new business at your agency?

If you didn't answer everyone, you are missing an important opportunity for growth.

One of the first things I tell my agency clients is that everyone in the company should be responsible for new business,  Not just the New Business Director.  Not just the President or Chief Executive.  Everyone.

But unfortunately, most companies don't take advantage of an obvious and relatively easy way to make sure you are always prospecting for new business.

When you are at a party and someone asks you about your company, a senior manager can probably come up with a relatively good description of not only what you do but why that is important.  Some people call it an "elevator pitch", some call it their "company mission or vision".  Most experienced, senior executives with the company could handle the question with ease.

But what about your junior people?  How would they answer the question "what do you do for a living" if asked by an outsider?  Can they describe your company's unique selling proposition in a short, coherent sentence?

In my experience, most junior employees would fail to take advantage of an opportunity to promote your company if asked that question because too many companies (a) don't have a written "elevator pitch" about their company, and (b) haven't shared what they believe is their corporate USP at every level of the company, and (c) haven't taken the time to promote the valuable role every employee can (and should) take in marketing the company.

 A simple question about your company can be a great opportunity to gain awareness and potential customers, but not everyone understands the role they can play in helping the company with the right answer.

I was reminded of the importance of being able to quickly state something about your company on two occasions last week.  At a recent committee meeting, we introduced ourselves to each other and I was struck by the dramatic difference in the way people described their company.  Some had a very succinct statement of the unique way in which their company approached the market, but others, mostly younger, had only a generic description of their company's business category.

At a networking social last week, the host invited attendees to come up to the microphone to introduce themselves and what they did for a living.  Several of the marketing directors/ company owners confidently introduced themselves and stated something important about their company, but others fumbled the ball.  I was particularly struck by one gentleman who very meekly said that "I guess you could say that my company ..."

What a missed opportunity!   Fortunately, there is an easy solution -- develop a short, 25-30 word statement that describes these three points: who you are, what you offer, and why that is a benefit to your customers.  It doesn't matter if you call it an elevator pitch, a mission statement or simply a company credo.  The important thing is that every employee, not just the owner or marketing director, should be armed (and encouraged) to sell the company at every opportunity.

At my agency in Virginia, I gave everyone in the company a hat with the phrase "insights and solutions" stitched into the back of the cap as a reminder to everyone of our company mission.

A written statement about your company that is shared with everyone in the company can be a great way to ensure that all staff members can contribute to the company's business development efforts.

Draft a statement, then call in key managers (or all employees, depending on the size of your company) and give everyone a chance to react, respond and truly understand the importance of having a concise, accurate statement about the company.  Be sure to seek their opinion and listen to their suggestions for edits.  By having others involved in drafting and approving the statement, they will develop an emotional equity in the result.

When developing your "elevator pitch" or "company mission statement" follow the K.I.S.S. principle"

1.  Keep it short.  Studies are varied on the average adult attention span, but all agree that is is short and getting shorter every day.  So be sure your statement has just enough information so that after only hearing a sentence or two, someone knows what you do.
2. Keep it simple.  Avoid industry or technical jargon that your listener may or may not understand. This can especially challenging for a technology company, but should also be considered regardless of your industry.   I remember my first trip to the furniture market in High Point, NC when I was just learning that market.  In a casual conversation at the airport, I asked the man standing next to me at baggage claim what his company did and he said they manufactured cocktail tables.  When I asked what a cocktail table was, he looked at me like I was crazy.  Apparently, the furniture industry didn't use the term coffee table (and many still don't), so make sure you avoid company or even category jargon that your listener may or may not understand.
3.  Keep it sales-oriented.  Find the benefit that is most relevant and compelling and make sure you keep that thought front and center. 

You should also stress to everyone in your company that you never know when a new business opportunity will arise or have the potential to develop. Being armed with a quick statement about your company can be especially helpful when meeting someone in a non-business setting - at a social event, at church, waiting in a ticket line for the new summer blockbuster movie.

Even if you don't think the person asking the question is a new business prospect, they may have a friend, relative or former college roommate who is. So everyone in the company needs to be prepared to give a consistent and accurate description of your company's USP.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Have you "mobilized" your clients?

Or for that matter, have you "mobilized" your own brand by optimizing your site for mobile viewing?

I continue to be dumbfounded by the number of agencies that have not optimized their site for mobile.  And I wonder if they are also missing that opportunity to lead their client by helping them to understand and appreciate its value to their business?

InMobi released a new study this week that examined the media consumption and shopping behaviors of 9,600 U.S. consumers across PC’s, smartphones and tablets.  We all know that mobile is growing - just take a look at your own personal use. So it shouldn't come as a shock that the rapid growth of tablets and expanded use of all types of mobile devices is impacting how U.S. consumers shop and consume media.

After all, tablets are now owned by 11% of the total U.S. population (29.5 million U.S. users) and I'm betting by almost all of an ad agencies staff.  But this study reminded me that consumers are spending more time on mobile connected devices, with time spent on smartphones and tablets playing a significant role in purchasing decisions.  Some of the more important findings are shown below.

Mobile devices are cannibalizing other forms of entertainment consumption as users are spendiing more time each day accessing media content.
According to the study, over 60% of tablet owners spend at least 30 minutes each day, and 29% report that they have reduced reading books in print after owning a tablet.  Another 29% report they have reduced surfing the internet via their PC or laptop and 48% agree that the design and readability of a tablet make it easier to access media content than on a PC or laptop.

Tablet users report they are shopping less in brick and mortar stores since purchasing a tablet.
Almost one in four respondents (22%) say they are shopping less in physical stores and more than half (55%) make purchases on their device in an average month.  The survey also demonstrates the impact of their lifestyle on shopping, as tablet users prefer that device at home, but prefer smartphones while on the go.

Mobile devices are impacting every stage of the purchasing decision, from evaluation to post-purchase.
Tablets are affecting all stages of the buying process, from awareness to browsing to the buying and even post-purchase social media stages. The study reports that transient shopping is help by the smartphone, while tablet use peaks at home in the evening for larger purchases that require greater consideration.  Among respondents that reported this use of connected devices, 55% say they first learn about the product on their tablet, while 53% actively evaluate and 58% follow through with purchasing those goods on their tablet.

Wake up agencies!  Clients need leadership, and this is a chance to demonstrate your value beyond a vendor of ads, or whatever.  If you have clients that want to optimize their selling opportunity, then now is the time to "mobilize" them.  If you wait until tomorrow, someone else may have already shown them the error of their ways.

And while you are at it, maybe you should  re-examine your own brand.