Pitch Specialisation, Show Integration for Agency New Business

I was running an advertising pitch for a large University a year or so back and the brief was very specific – they wanted an advertising agency to run an advertising campaign. The pitches were taking place at RSW’s office over one day. At the end of the day I had a de-briefing with the marketing director who was the client making the decision.

She said that although one of the agencies had really grabbed her attention, she would find it very difficult to use them because they had pitched themselves as an integrated agency and had provided an integrated solution; I said, “Well, what’s wrong with that! Surely that’s a good solution!” She went on to explain …

She had been tasked with finding an ADVERTISING agency. There were other people within the organisation who were responsible for the other disciplines; there was an online marketing manager, a DM manager and a PR manager. All these people had their own agencies and were very protective. If she chose the integrated agency, it would cause just too many political problems for her. So she discounted them. Shame really.

So, what COULD that agency have done? Here’s my view.

When asked to answer an advertising brief, pitch an advertising solution that would take up the budget you have been told to work to. Then, show them examples of how that big idea could work across other disciplines “if you decided to get your other agencies to follow our suggestions, or indeed, were to ask us to take the idea further”.

This way you are not encroaching onto any areas you have not been asked to explore but are showing your integrated thinking.

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Ockham’s Razor for Agency New Business

ockhams-razorWhen you have two competing systems that make the same predictions, Ockham’s Razor (also the Principle of Parsimony or the Law of Succinctness) tells us that the system that contains all of what is required to deliver the objective and none of what is not required will be the better solution.

In code writing this means the software engineer who solves the problem with the fewest lines of code has produced the best software.

In agency new business we at RSW believe it means doing everything that is necessary to achieve the objective set and agreed whilst leaving out those things that are NOT necessary.

And most importantly, achieving the objective in the best possible way.

The agency’s objective is usually to win a new client. In order to achieve this they probably need to submit three proposals or partake in three pitches (if they pitch!). In order to achieve THIS, they will need to meet with “X” number of prospects. THAT is our objective.

In order to achieve this objective whist making sure that the agency’s objective is also met means keeping a very keen eye on quality.

And the best way to make sure the quality of the meetings is up to scratch is to know when to approach prospects so that you are not a) strong arming prospects into meeting for the sake of hitting target or b) looking for a needle in a haystack.

That is why the algorithm we have developed that pinpoints companies who are 80% likely to be reviewing their agency within the next 100 days gives our clients the best possible chance of achieving their objective. Without fuss.

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Too Busy to Talk?


This was brought to my attention the other day and it made me smile.

How often have you, as an agency new business person, felt like this poor chap. There you are, with a really great offering and yet no-one will even give you the time of day. Why is that?

Well, the usual reason is one of the following:

  1. Your timing sucks
  2. Your proposition isn’t different enough
  3. You are simply employing the wrong outreach techniques for that particular person

So let’s look at these three key reason why prospects refuse to engage.

  1. If your timing is wrong why is that and what can you do to improve it? Well, the main reason people start looking around for a new agency is because they have just taken on a new role. In fact 70% of marketing directors say that reviewing the incumbent agency is the first thing they do in a new position. And it’s not JUST marketing directors either. Every decision maker does the same thing. So you can either keep your eye on the press or do as RSW has done and develop a way to get this information before anyone else does.
  2. If your proposition isn’t up to scratch then get some help with it. Too many agencies just don’t put enough effort into it or concentrate on the chemical factors rather than the hygiene factors, which is an easy mistake to make.
  3. Every person responds to a different outreach tool and there are many at your disposal. Telephone, email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook even. The key thing is to not have a “method”, but to have an “armoury” and to assess each individual as just that and choose your weapon carefully. Choose the wrong one and you may well blow the opportunity.

Good hunting!

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The best iPad Pitch

One of the best pitches I ever saw was done by a man who was great at speed drawing. He had a flipchart and a bunch of pens and off he went, drew the entire presentation as he was going along, adding in things he came up with on the spot and things that were suggested by those watching.

At then end he gave the marketing director the flipchart, great fun, very stimulating. But if you can’t do this or want something a bit more hi-tech, then take a look at this!

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A Well Written Letter

imagesNothing to do with agency new business, but a good example of business development at its very best.

I was dropping my son off at school this morning as he was off on a bushcraft course – three days camping by the sea in Dorset, canoeing, rock climbing, survival etc. Sounds great fun! I got talking to the headmaster about the company that was running the course and how he had found them.

He told me that several years ago they had written to him; a hand written, two page letter, describing what they did and how they thought they’d be the perfect fit for the school. They had done their research and knew the ethos of the school. They referred to this and how they could fit in because of their own ethos.

He was so impressed that they had gone to so much trouble he called them and the rest is history.

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Would you really ask that?

datingWhen agencies, speaking to clients on the telephone for the very first time start asking them questions like “are you reviewing your agency arrangements? or “are you happy with your agency?” or even “what are the issues you need addressing?” before having fixed the meeting date, they are making a big mistake.

Think of it like this. What you’re doing on this phone call is asking them for a date.

When asking a member of the opposite sex for a date, you want to find out whether they are …

1) Interested in you

2) Are the same persuasion as you sexually

Before asking someone for a date I NEVER used to ask them if they were in an unhappy relationship and considering an alternative ‘provider’. Did YOU? No, of course not.

So take it slowly. Ask them a simple question, the answer to which tells you if they are the decision maker and whether they have a budget.

As soon as you know the answer to both these is YES and the client is one you REALLY want to work with, arrange a date.

At that first date is the time for more in depth interrogation. Or, in the dating scenario, ‘wooing’. Wooing that may takes months of careful and thoughtful attention but never stalking, until maybe their current partner fails in some way and they turn to you for help.

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Just Look Me in the Eye Already

The Workplace Perils of Staring at Our Phones and Elsewhere; The Ideal Gaze Lasts 7 to 10 Seconds

You’re having a conversation with someone and suddenly his eyes drop to his smartphone or drift over your shoulder toward someone else.

It feels like this is happening more than ever—in meetings, at the dinner table, even at intimate cocktail parties—and there are signs that the decline of eye contact is a growing problem.

Adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time in an average conversation, says the communications-analytics company Quantified Impressions. But the Austin, Texas, company says people should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time to create a sense of emotional connection, according to its analysis of 3,000 people speaking to individuals and groups.


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“Just one more thing …”

columboI just finished a training session about the Columbo moment …

Firstly, understand this. When speaking to a prospect and trying to get them to agree to meet with you, there is a battle of wills going on. In my opinion, if the person is the decision maker and they already use an agency like yours – they are worth meeting.

They, conversely, are busy and may not necessarily be reviewing so are wary of committing time.

If you start asking them qualification questions like “are you reviewing” or “are you happy with your incumbent” they will jump on these as a way to put you off meeting them. So don’t ask them. YET.

Get a meeting in the diary and the, just before you say goodbye …

“Just one more thing …  help me tailor the meeting towards your specific needs, could you tell me a little bit about what you are looking to achieve over the next six months or so?”

As the battle is already over you will get loads more information than had you asked before getting the date.

“Well, as you’re coming in anyway why don’t I send you the brief we gave to our agency a couple of months ago. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what YOU would do if it had been you.”

Now THAT’S an opportunity.

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Why do Agencies Concentrate so Much on Trying to be Different?

iveIn my role as advisor to brands on how to find agencies and agencies on how to find new clients, one thing has been nagging at me for a while now. Why is it that so many agencies spend so long trying to make themselves appear unique?

Think about it for a minute. If you’re a marketing director with £5m to spend are you really looking for a unique agency to give it too? I doubt it very much.

Clients are not looking for an agency that is completely different from the one they already have – they just want one that is BETTER than the one they already have.

So, when sitting down to write your agency proposition, stop trying so hard to make it different and concentrate on what it is about you that by its very nature proovesw that you are BETTER than the competition, not simply different from them.

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A Lesson For Us All

I have been having enormous problems with the service provided by one of our partners. The firm I really like, been using them for years. Know the directors well and really respect them. But the service went dramatically down hill after we had moved office due to our new location. It got so bad that I had no alternative but to find a new solution.

So I signed up with a new service provider who offered an alternative solution to the one provided by our existing partner.

I then told our existing supplier who only THEN told me that they could provide that solution as well! So lessons learned for me.

  1. Ask your existing partner if they have an alternative solution before switching suppliers if you are happy with them but not the service.

Lessons for my parter.

  1. Make sure your clients are aware of your full service offering
  2. If a service isn’t working, don’t keep on trying desperately to make it work, offer an alternative if you have one.


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