Advertising Agency Sales Meeting Insanity

Yikes: Sales Meeting Insanity

This is a shoutout to RSW/US’s Lee McNight and his mind-blowingly sad video about advertising agency sales: 3 Takeaways Ep16 – 3 Reasons Why Initial Agency New Business Meetings Go Nowhere

I watched this video on my mobile phone in the dark at 6 AM in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico while I waited in a long line to fill up my gas tank (we are experiencing a fuel shortage due to an anti-corruption effort by Mexico’s new President.)

I thought that the fuel shortage and associated stress was a bummer until I watched Lee’s video. Bummer might not be the right word for how some agencies run their business development program. Insanity is a better descriptor.

Other than Lee’s points about how some agencies do not know how to run a sales meeting, I am most perplexed that an agency that does any one of these three points is still in business. As an ex-major league agency business development director and growth-obsessed agency owner, I cannot believe that by the time an agency leader is invited to a sales meeting that she or he has not prepared for the meeting. At this point, I suggest that you buy my book: “The Levitan Pitch. Buy This Book. Win More Pitches.”  250 pages on how to win new business.

Back to Lee.

The 3 Reasons Why Initial Agency New Business Meetings Go Nowhere…

“You didn’t do your homework.”

Read More »

Would You Buy Your Advertising Agency?

If You Put Your Advertising Agency Up For Sale… Would You Buy It?

I could turn the important question, “Would you buy your advertising agency?” into a long blog post. But, good news, I won’t. I’ll get to the point.

I just finished listening to Kara Swisher interview Khosla Ventures’ partner Keith Rabois – On The Future Of Innovation In Silicon Valley on Recode Decode.

Wowzer… is this guy smart and opinionated. Please listen to this interview. I also follow him on Twitter – @rabois.

This is his investment criteria. If you applied it to the sale of your agency, would you buy you?

What is anomalous? (As in, deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected.).

What “secret” is the company predicated on? What could this be?

Could this be one of the most important companies on the planet?

What is the accumulating advantage?

Can the founder attract the talent requisite to achieve the vision?

Why do we have a comparative advantage?

These are really tough questions. Especially if you think that advertising, PR and design agencies can’t generate meaningful differentiation. But, they can.

Are you working on that?

Will you ever sell your advertising agency?

I sold mine. It took a very strategic effort to build value a year plus ahead of that sale. If you want to sell your agency, even a couple of years from now, you need to build it for a sale.

Ask the big question… “Would you buy your agency?” If the answer is no. Well, its time to rethink your offer.

I have written more about selling an agency: Will you ever sell your advertising agency?


Bullshit And Your Advertising Agency

Bullshit As Advertising Agency Branding

An Isreali, New Yorker, and a Mexican walk into a bar. No, this isn’t the beginning of a joke. It is a blog post about advertising agency bullshit and branding. I just happened to eat with this group last night and we talked about the definition of truth.

I have been thinking a lot about bullshit lately… I suspect like many Americans.

As a guy that grew up in New York, I think that I have both a pretty good bullshit meter and a practiced tolerance for B.S. However, I am now wondering just what the real meaning of bullshit is. Given the amount of fibbing (I am being kind) that comes out of Washington every day, I suspect that our bullshit goalposts have shifted. And, as you might suspect, I am wondering what this shift means for advertising agency marketing.

A Bullshit Definition

Here is what Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of bullshit 

1: informal, usually vulgar: to talk foolishly, boastfully, or idly

2: informalusually vulgarto engage in a discursive discussion

3: informalusually vulgarto talk nonsense to especially with the intention of deceiving or misleading

And, just for the hell of it, a definition of a lie:

Definition of lie 

1to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive

2to create a false or misleading impression

Being Remarkable

I talk a lot to my advertising agency marketing clients about how they can become remarkable – or, just perceived as being remarkable. This means positioning the agency and its communications messaging to stand out from the pack. To give an ADHD-type client prospect the information they need to make a decision to make contact. Quickly.

Clearly, one way to do this is to make sure that any of your early contacts, via your website, social media or account based marketing, understand that you are great. A path, that channels the boxer Muhamid Ali, would be to say, “I am the greatest”. It worked for Ali. But, could you support this statement in the way that he did? He was a kick-ass competitor, are you?

I imagine that most advertising agencies can find the words to help them stand out. In most cases, this simply means having being “remarkable” be a serious objective. There is an art to this. In their heyday, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising told their clients that “Nothing is impossible”. A bold statement, an attitude, that got prospects thinking hard about having that initial conversation.

Is Your Advertising Agency Remarkable?

So, what can you say that drives interest and sells in your remarkableness — but isn’t total bullshit?



Apple or British Airways?

Does Apple Know Its Advertising History?

Is Apple’s derivative “Color Flood” Parkour TV ad OK? 

It might be if it was actually better strategically or creatively than Saatchi’s famous 1989 face TV commercial for British Airways.

I see things like this look-alike ad and I wonder if the director knows ad history… Or?

Regardless, look at the Apple ad and then the Face commercial. It was produced at the height of Saatchi’s excellence and fame. I opened every new business pitch with it.

After you look at the ads, check out some advertising history from Revolvy.

How To Grow With Linkedin

Get Heavy With Linkedin

I am looking at Linkedin over the past couple of days and I see a very smart Australian sales/ marketing buddy posting with heavy frequency on LinkedIn. I am like: “What’s Up?”

Here is our quick but valuable discussion.

(SHHH… the secret is Reach & Frequency)


Damn. You are cranking out content on Linkedin. Does it work?

Mystery Marketer:

Yes, it does

Was posting three times a day and got little traction

Then increased to six times a day and got more traction.

Now 12 times a day and 24 hours a day and getting a lot of traction.

Big insight is most people on average only check LinkedIn once every 17 days and for no more than 30 minutes.

Therefore while you and I may sit on it every day the audience I want could be coming online at any time so I always have to be there.

12 times a day and 364 days a year (I take Christmas Day off)

And, no piece of content is shared more than three times. 2/3 of the content shared is relevant content from the industry and 1/3 is our own content.


Thanks for the info. Agree… action begets leads, interest. Heavy, active marketers can get lost in the thought that their audience is as enthralled with marketing platforms (i.e. Linkedin) as they are.
In my head, it always comes down to the old idea of reach and frequency. This worked for P&G, why not your advertising agency?
And, the idea of running an active business development program fits in with yesterday’s post.

More Linkedin To Come

There are lots of articles about how to use Linkedin but not too many on how to use it to specifically grow your advertising agency. I am going to write more on this subject — and use my own experiences as examples.