Show And Tell Works

I Use Show And Tell To Massage Brains

OK, what the hell does Show and Tell mean?

One of the sections of the customized marketing & sales plan that I write for my clients includes a look at a range of agencies based on their positioning and sales proposition. I call these agencies Benchmark Agencies and by pointing them out, I deliver real-world teachable moments. These show and tell examples help agency leader brains to digest my main points. Plus, ad agencies love looking at other ad agencies.


Here is the lead-in to the show and tell section from one of my agency recommendation documents…


Benchmark Agencies

I view these agencies as being worthy of benchmarking based on Agency X’s (as in my agency client) business development objectives. In my estimation, these agencies have broken out from the competitive pack.

They deliver messaging that is: well targeted, succinct and competitive.

 Because of this, they help clients to quickly recognize their expertise and value. A clear enunciation of value is critical at the early stages of a hoped-for relationship. This helps them stand out and then break out.

For the sake of clarity, I’ve put these benchmark agencies into three buckets: ‘what we do’, ‘how we do it’ and ‘who we do it for’ to illustrate the strength of their individual positioning strategy.

Show and tell works because I frame my recommendations in the real world. The benchmark agencies are proof that smart, crystal clear, focused agency positions, plus supporting marketing programs, work harder than trying to be everything to any client that raises their hand. I know you know this.


But, my biggest point is that a focused positioning, actually a distinctive + competitive sales proposition, will get both more client hands and the right client hands to rise up and contact you.

Give me a shout and I’ll share a couple of my favorite benchmark agencies with you.

3D Ad Agency New Business Marketing

Ad Agency Marketing Is Holistic, Interconnected and 3D.

Brilliant ad agency marketing leads to searches that lead to your agency.  Today these searches are much more 3D and, often,  chaotic than you think.

Let’s imagine that you are the Marketing Director of Estee Lauder and you’ve just decided you need an ad agency to revitalize your women’s magazine program. Yes, magazines like Vogue still live. Before you go out and find an agency search consultant, you pull out your laptop and do a bit of research. You will use one or more of a combination of search tactics like getting referrals from like-minded marketing experts, you’ll review agencies that are current award winners, you’ll read ADWEEK and AdAge lists and on. You might even Google, “best women’s advertising agencies.” Believe me, having once been the CEO of two ad agency client companies, finding the right marketing partner isn’t easy.

Whatever the Marketing Director has done to get to a short list, her next stop is the agency’s website. I’ve written lots about how to build sales-oriented agency websites. However, I want to get a step beyond the website. It is a step I use whenever an ad agency client prospect contacts me. I take a look at their “about” / people page and then go to LinkedIn to get a bit more up close and personal about the agency’s key players. If I am interested, I’ll also check out the leader or employee’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Here’s a duh… personal branding is critical these days. And, since an ad agency is made of its moving parts, in this case, its people, why wouldn’t Ms. Lauder check out the people’s brands and stories too. By the way, people chemistry is a key element in agency selection.

Best Practices:  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Personal Brands.

I often see a total lack of consistency between the way an ad agency projects its image and the images that its people project.

Look, I get it. We are all individuals. But, there is a team benefit to being consistent – in key areas.

I think that agencies should have a set of best practices and agency-related branding guidelines for their key player’s personal branding with respect to their company’s branding. While we have all read about how to set up a killer social media profile, for example, chances are very good that some key players have simply not optimized their profile. This means, they simply do not look good to the outside world, including you, hopefully, next new client.

While an employee owns their own brand (and, of course, might actually be using their LinkedIn page to find their next job), each employee should at least sound and look like they work at your agency. Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • All related LinkedIn, etc. sites should have the latest agency branding (graphics and other branding devices.)
  • There needs to be some consistency in how the employee describes the agency.
  • It would be nice if the employee had one or more client Recommendations.
  • The profiles should be complete. I am not going to get into the art of personal branding. But, someone at the agency needs to do a review of the key people.
  • Last point, no you should not be the personal branding police. But, you do need to control your agency brand. Review your group’s personal brands and make sure that each person is aware of how you want your company represented.

Holistic Marketing.

In today’s marketing world, everything matters. Everything you do brands the agency. How you answer your phone, your agency email signatures, your position on Google, your relationship with the search community, your blog posts, all of your magnet sites including The Creative Ham. You know what I’m talkin about.

And…. how you look in your employee’s world. It all adds up.

If you want, give me a shout and I’ll use our Corleone moment to help you do a quick review.

How Do Clients Find Your Advertising Agency?

How Do Clients Find Your Advertising Agency?

Let’s start with some defining and extremely important questions that you should be asking at least twice a year. OK, every month. In this case, I am aiming these questions at your advertising agency website.

  • How do potential clients find you? What was the path?
  • When they found your website, what did they look at?
  • What percentage of your visitors contacted you?
  • What percentage made some other actions like signing up for a newsletter or downloading a white paper?
  • Are you happy? Are the right clients making contact? Need to make adjustments? What’s your success metric?

Let’s break these down a bit.

How do potential clients find you?

First, let’s get referrals out of the way. Advertising agency business development research has indicated that referrals can account for over 80% of agency new client inquiries. While I love referrals and have written about the importance of having a documented active referral strategy, there is no question that referrals have become the default new business attractor because most agencies are not doing a stellar in or outbound sales job. Referrals then must drive the majority of leads. Not that there is anything wrong with referrals. They work. But, they can be a bit random.

The easiest way to determine how prospects found you is to ask them. Of course, many people will have forgotten their first intro to your world. They simply forgot or they used multiple ways in including a search, your LinkedIn page, that conference you spoke at, your tennis buddy, etc. But always ask this question – quickly before you get lost in sales speak.

Second, in respect to your website, use your Google or WordPress analytics to see where they came from. On Wednesday, 30 April, my individual visitors came to me via Google 116; direct 47 (where a user probably entered the URL); LinkedIn 5 and Bing 1 and other 9.

These numbers suggest that my content-oriented inbound sales strategy is working. Most people find me on Google because I have dedicated the past five years to writing over six hundred blog posts on the specific subject of advertising agency new business.

What did they look at? Did you help them get to the good stuff? Do you have a funneling plan?

Using Google and WordPress analytics, I know exactly what people are looking at on this website. Obviously, since my blog is so focused on one subject, my visitors are looking at my posts about ad agency business development. I mix this up occasionally by promoting edgier posts, like Gary Vaynerchuck Is Full Of Shit. But, the bottom line is that I am slavish to one subject. Frankly, most agencies have some trouble with being this focused and keyword conscious. It would also help if they had a focused positioning. Here are some thoughts on that rather important goal.

The typical advertising and communications agency website has a defining Home Page; an About page; Our Work; News or a Blog and a contact page. Is there a flow you want the visitor to take? A place you want them to end up? Are you funneling them towards an action? If they get lost or bail, are you tracking your exit pages?

If you are a B2B marketer, and that folks, is what an ad agency business development program is, you need to funnel the visitor to your contact page. Or, at least, have them ask for something like that brilliant white paper on a subject that supports your agency positioning and sales proposition. I build my mailing list via an offer of this paper: “22 Ways To Run A Highly Profitable Agency”. I admit that it comes to you via an ugly home page pop up. But, again, hey, it works.

What percentage contacted you and what’s your success metric?

Do the basic math. How well do you convert your visitors into sales prospects? Frankly, when I look at the number of visitors I get every day, I could get worried that I am not converting as many as I should. However, here is what I know:

First, I give a lot of information and insights away for free. Many agencies tell me that they often get all they can eat just by reading my stuff. This drives good vibes.

Second, I know that my sales cycle takes a long time. Many of my clients tell me that they have been reading my stuff for over a year. It takes most advertising agencies a long time to admit that they need business development advice.

Third, I am meeting my personal sales goals. Sure, I could dial up my website. But, it works. I am a lone ranger consultant. Given your agency’s overhead, you should be way focused on delivering a website experience that drives a high volume of the right leads.

What is your success metric? Without a metric, you will never know that your website is working.

So, give me a shout. Maybe its time for you to get some outside expert advice.


Tom Peters And Your Search For Excellence

Listen To Tom Peters

Way back in 1982, I read Tom Peters and Robert Waterman’s “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies.” While this may sound a bit over-the-top silly – it changed my perspective on business.

From the Book’s Amazon blurb:

The “Greatest Business Book of All Time” (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence, has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.Based on a study of forty-three of America’s best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management — action-stimulating, people-oriented, profit-maximizing practices — that made these organizations successful.


This book has formed the backbone of my business goals for over 30 years. I view the never-ending search for excellence plus the power of studying smart successful business leaders, a critical element of my personal success. I recommend that you take the 6.3 hours per week you spend on useless Trump news and read this seminal book. But wait… there’s more…

Much More Tom Peters

Peters has written 17 books. (17!) His latest book, The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last” was published this month. It is now on my iPad. Perfect airplane reading during my next flight.

I was made aware of the book via Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels Of Separation podcast (his 312th podcast!) “Tom Peter’s Is Back and Demands Excellence.” Listen to it. Peters is thoughtful; totally relates to today’s business environment, issues and opportunities (including ones that impact your agency); and entertains like crazy. Go for the information but stay for the energy. You’ll leave totally stoked.

By the way, how cool is your agency’s bathroom? Listen to the podcast and you’ll know what I mean.

What About Your Agency’s Excellence?

One of the points that Peters points out is that it is often the small (ish) things that create excellence, brand excellence, distinction excellence, customer love excellence. He points us to Vernon Hill, the founder of Commerce Bank and now CEO of the U.K.’s Metro Bank. Both are highly competitive and growing “small” banks at a time when most banks are trying to shed staff and branches. Hill’s banks have bathrooms in the lobby (sounds crazy, huh); very long 7-day hours and they love dogs. Compare that to your last visit to Bank of America or HSBC. Peters’ point is that customer service breeds love and incremental sales. I know you know this. But, do you practice it? From Metro’s website (as in, their promise):

Changing the way Britain banks — “We’ve built a different kind of high street bank. A bank with stores that are open when it suits you, 7 days a week. A bank where you can walk in without an appointment and walk out with a working account, debit card and all. A bank that tells you exactly what you’re getting, in language that actually makes sense. A bank that puts you first.”

So, agency people, what is excellent about your agency? LOL – I already know that you work 7 days a week.

Every large and small agency says they are service oriented. Every. So, how do you deliver service that is different / better? Some very general thoughts…

  • Do you have a standard, scheduled client/agency status review? In a simple format? It should be scheduled. Get the issues out front early. And, promote all the good you’ve done. Client’s have very short attention spans (except for past shit-storms).
  • Do you have a clearly stated client – agency – work process? A process that explains everyone’s roles. A process you share? If so, reshare it.
  • Does your CEO or President call the client? Ever?
  • Ever rebate the client for something? I know this may sound absurd. But.
  • Do you send your client highly relevant/useful insights? Here’s a good, easy to implement and surprising idea: do a flash, overnight online survey about something that’s on the client’s mind using Google’s inexpensive Google Surveys.
  • You probably have an agency newsletter. Is it smart/great? Opinionated? Um, different? Impossible to ignore? I am going to admit something. I need to redo my email newsletter. My 2,000+ subscribers are not seeing my best look. But, I am 1 busy guy. I can get away with this because my content is wonderful. You are an agency, you can’t get away with anything in 2018.
  • Do you train your agency staff, especially account managers? If so (a good old 1980’s idea right?), then let your clients know that you are proactive. Ever done a seminar for your clients? Example: “The Good, Bad and Ugly of Online Influencers”. Just sayin.
  • Have you found a way to make your case histories “interesting”?
  • If you are a small agency, do the right things to get and keep the larger accounts. Don’t take my word for it: “How Small Advertising Agencies Can Win Big Clients.”
  • How does your agency answer the phone? Especially when your automated answering system accepts the call? Go get Kat Cressida.
  • Ask yourself what you do in a pitch meeting that is actually stand-out? An interview with Tony Mikes in my book on pitching points out how an agency stood out from the pack by using 1970-like foam core boards – not PPT. Read the book, win more pitches. A link to it is on top of my homepage.
  • Do you have a cool/memorable bathroom? Believe me, this would be more interesting than most overblown agency reception areas.


Now for a crazy bit. Peters has one of the most engaging presentation styles I’ve seen. Yes, he gives good presentation (watch some on his website). But, it’s his PowerPoint slide design that has blown my mind. An overstatement? Well, maybe. But, it sure is nutso compared to the 100’s of boring advertising agency presentation slides I’ve seen over the years.

Go here to see what I’m talking about. I’ve put one below. It breaks all of our PPT rules. He even LOVES what we all know are the bad habits.

But, when a guy this good presents, these in-your-face slides help to get attention and deliver the info.

Pitch Consultants Advice For Advertising Agencies

 Advice For Advertising Agencies That Want to Win

A chunk of my book on how to win more advertising agency pitches included interviews with industry playas. These folks were agency owners, 4A’s execs, search and pitch consultants, procurement decision makers and legal experts. Many readers found these interviews to be invaluable in helping to craft pitches that did not make any of the big mistakes that lead to coming in “second.” By the way, have you ever noticed that all of the not-chosen come in “second”?

More advice. I just came across the 4A’s “One Piece of Advice” for Agencies. Agency Search Consultants Advice for Agencies. (January 2018.) Since this advice is, in many cases similar to the advice in my book (and includes some of the same interviewees), I am forwarding the long PDF to you as continuing confirmation that some agencies do things right and, according to the consultants, many are still getting it wrong.

A link to the full document is below. There is so much truth here that I’ve highlighted one major point from each consultant’s advice.

 Agency Search Consultants Advice for Agencies

“One Piece of Advice” for Agencies January 2018

4A’s asked industry leading agency search consultants to provide “One Piece of Advice” that the association could share with members as they begin thinking about their 2018 new business plans.

The 4A’s consultant request noted, “Based on your knowledge of client marketer needs/wants and industry dynamics, what is the one thing that you would recommend that an agency either do or not do that can help the effectiveness of their new business efforts? We welcome your advice in any area of the agency search and selection process (prospecting, RFI/RFP submissions, creds, chemistry, presentations, etc.)”

Opportunity Assessment

Joanne Davis Consulting: “It’s not about you; it’s never been about you; it’s never going to be about you. It’s about the client.”

Do you really need to hear this again? It is always about the client and her goals, opportunities and issues.

Mercer Island Group: “Something the consultants understand better than most agencies is that you can’t offer a prospect relevant value until you have identified the prospect’s true business needs. The basic idea of the elevator speech is inherently flawed — as are most agency pitches; if you’re talking about things the prospect has no interest in, they will stop listening.”

Why do you think that pitch consulatants keep saying… that it is always about the client’s goals and issues?

Drexler/Fajen & Partners: “Agencies could spend more time really understanding as much as possible about the prospect’s business and their people and be prepared to demonstrate that in a natural way.”

Study big time: the client, its industry and the macro and micro business opportunities.

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