Thursday, August 1, 2013

Are you talking about business or trophies in your new business efforts?

In a recent article from MarketingProfs, the author offered "Nine Key Things To Look For in an Agency Partner".  The article was well-written with some good advice to clients who are in, or will soon be facing, an agency search.

One of the author's  "key things to look for" struck me as particularly valuable for agency new business directors to consider:  In the '90s, awards, trophies, and accolades were the sign of an agency's true value; now, it's all "in the numbers." 

The author went on to say that "client results and ROI are the true measure of success, and recommended that clients should look for agencies that are able to prove past clients' success through metrics and can understand, analyze, and garner insight via pinpointed data."

If more agencies understood and accepted the premise that clients need reassurance more than puffery, they would be a lot more successful in their new business efforts.

In other posts, I have spoken about the need to focus on the client's business, not your past successes because I strongly believe that clients are desperate to find help from their agency.  They are searching for more than just creative executions, they want real understanding and assistance in helping them navigate today's fragmented marketing landscape.

Here are five key things for agencies to consider when  approaching clients and prospects about new business:

  1. Clients are confused and overwhelmed by the pace of change. New media and marketing options continue to come on the scene every day, and clients need help in evaluating and determining which options make the most sense for their needs and budget constraints. 
  2. Clients are under more pressure than every before.  The 2012 Spencer Stuart CMO Tenure Study pegged the average tenure for CMO's at 43 months (versus 9.2 years for CEO's).  But some categories are much more pressure-packed.  The average tenure of a restaurant CMO is only 22 months.
  3. Clients want leadership, not partnership.   A recent New Business Study confirmed this with client quotes like "I need an agency to help me figure out how to take advantage of the new tools that are available", and "I need an agency that can help me invest in the right tools".
  4. Clients want new ideas, not better execution of old ideas.  Clients are searching for the "holy grail".  You need to give them something new to think about, if for no other reason that for them to demonstrate to their boss that they are moving the brand forward.
  5. Clients want process (it reassures them).  Clients don't want to take chances.  They can't afford to take chances because someone is looking over their shoulder questioning every decision they make.  In most of my new business projects over the last few years, I believe the client prospect made the safe decision, whether it was the best decision or not.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that clients aren't asking "How can you help us make ads or a new web site".  They are saying "How much do you know about our business in order to help us build a bridge between our brand and our customers.  They are asking a prospective agency hard-hitting, specific questions like "what metrics do you use to gauge success?  What types of listening and reporting tools do you use?

Are you still talking about your trophies?