I misnamed this 2013 blog post. “13 Free Big Data Tools For Advertising Agency New Business.” It should have been named “You are driving marketing directors and potential future clients insane. Here is how to do outbound (ABM) marketing that grabs attention.” Y’all have to get past sending so much ignorable advertising agency new business development messaging.
Talk with any CMO or marketing director or company owner and they will tell you that they receive buckets of incoming business development messages and content from advertising and digital agencies – every week.
The barrage of often ignorable incoming includes these delivery systems:
- Phone calls.
- LinkedIn outreach…. “wanna be my friend?”
- Google ads.
- Facebook ads.
- Instagram things.
- Bound books of the agency’s work (usually way too “it’s all about me.”)
- Boxes of the agency’s work (usually way too “it’s all about me.”)
- Cool agency newspaper-like printed pieces. I actually like this angle.
- News about the agency (“Hi, we just won the Widget account.”)
- Emails that point the client to blog posts about you guessed it, pressing issues like “Why Content Marketing Is Important.”
- Dedicated micro-sites. Actually, not bad if done right.
- Landing pages.
- Live lobsters. Yes, I know of an agency that sent lobsters. Yes, the agency is based in Maine.
- Exciting agency award news (“Wow, we just won the Sheboygan Ad Fed Annual Badger Award”) and on, and on.
Getting the word out is good. But, as I have softly indicated, much of this is all about the agency and not about the client or her needs. Sorry, folks. This type of random outreach, outreach not backed up by doing some brand and human research on those needs, ain’t going to cut it. And, know what? You know that. So, why are you doing it? Oh, you say you’re not? Sorry, I know you are because CMO’s tell me that you are.
Talk to those cranky CMO’s and they will tell you that random does not work but when an agency does a good job of actually digging into their business, category, or consumer mindsets to unearth some valuable (stress value here) insights, the client will actually pay attention and even smile. These insights work for you when they are relevant to the client’s business and personal needs. You are now helping the client do their job and helping them get ahead in their career. These are two benefits that will get you past meaningless message clutter to being able to make a personal connection.
So, let’s think about how to deliver relevance and value.
Thinking Like An Account Planner
I’ve been a closet Account Planner for years. I love the planning, research, insights, and strategy side of advertising. And, I was lucky to have worked at Saatchi London when Account Planners ruled. It helped that the agency made a lot of money (great Planners are expensive), that the English are more cerebral than Americans and that they drink more. Oh, they also sound smart.
We would roll in the Planners at the start of major meetings to dazzle the client with their insights into the client’s business, competitors, and consumers. It set up the great creative because the great creative was based on sound strategic thinking, which was based on those thought-provoking insights.
You can grab a bit of this strategic planning magic for your agency and its business development program too. Remember, clients want to get ahead. And… Good news, for the most part, getting the data to create your dazzling insights is free.
Start With Your Advertising Agency New Business Objectives
Your objective, and it doesn’t matter if you are a multinational or a local agency, is to get a very busy person to pay attention to you. I call this being unignorable. To do this, you will show prospective clients that you have spent the time and energy to study their brands and categories (if you have prior category experience so much the better); have used strategic tools that they may not know exist and that you have unearthed a set of insights that are so valuable that they MUST meet with you to learn more.
If your insights are actually insightful, potentially surprising and business building, then you should be able to use your sales prowess to get the meeting. You are offering something special that can’t be — sorry, have to say this again — ignored.
A Bit Unignorable Citrus.
My Portland agency Citrus worked hard on the insights front and delivered our targeted insights to our list of top key prospects via (yes we used the prevailing set of tools) micro-sites; customized white papers; in monthly emails and in books, postcards and letters (yup, paper works.). One of these books was a serious effort that targeted the healthcare market and ultimately delivered two major category account wins. Our “Gather Project: Social Media Snapshot Healthcare” study (you can see it below on SlideShare – and yes, the title was a bit clunky) leveraged free data and inexpensive interns to help us create a must-read healthcare data-rich document.
Our research graded the major players – competitors – in the healthcare market on their social media prowess at a time when social media was becoming a part of every marketing discussion.
Our insights helped us look like category and social marketing experts, delivered valuable insights, pit brand against brand to break way through the clutter of the usual agency incoming.
For example, when we compared Kaiser Permanente’s social media numbers to Providence Health and Services, these hug companies paid big attention. This work actually won us the Providence five-state account.
What Unignorable Big Data and Insights Can You Deliver?
Every CMO, marketing, and sales department will have its own pain points and information requirements. Tailor your insights to match the client’s issues. Importantly, make sure that you are not simply parroting what the client’s industry discusses every day. Your insights better be insightful. What do I mean by “insights”? Insights offer…
- The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.
- The act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things or of perceiving in an intuitive manner.
- A penetrating and often sudden understanding, as of a complex situation or problem.
Here are some data-to-insights thought starters that can be customized by client and category.
- Compare competitor website or social media stats including demographics, page views, unique visitors, seasonality, top keywords, etc.
- Isolate competitive search (i.e. interest) trends, seasonality from weeks to years, geography, search ranking, keywords, device usage, and demographics.
- Find geographic market opportunities.
- Track brand sentiment on Twitter and across blogs.
- Make a category-related case for mobile or social or native or Clubhouse or radio or experiential advertising.
- Compare and contrast competitive brand positions and advertising approaches to find competitive messaging opportunities.
The Big Data Insights Tool Kit
In my early days of Account Planner worship, I was fortunate to work at a very large agency that had a research department and library. Today we all have access to an enormous research library – the Internet. Here are some tools and a look at how they might help you win the national Whole Foods account.
1. Plain Old Search
There isn’t much I can add to what you know about search. However, there is one trick that might help save time. I add “PDF” to my search phrases to help me find more valuable documents faster. In the case of searching for information on the travel category, I quickly get to some major industry studies by Deloitte and McKinsey by searching on “travel industry growth PDF”. This advertising agency new business growth accelerator info took me five seconds.
2. Google Search Trends
Google Trends tracks search interest in specific topics over time. You can search on multiple terms to makes comparisons. Need some insights into how Whole Foods should be talking about baby food?
2. Google Keyword Tool
Ah, the SEO experts Holy Grail. The Google Keyword Tool helps us research the terms used in SEO. It also delivers relative interest in competitors, device usage and shows what other terms searchers are searching for related to the brand. Note the number of searches for Whole Foods yet Safeway’s sales are double. It’s clear that Whole Foods is a higher-interest grocer – at least when it comes to Internet search. Also, check out Ubersuggest.
3. Facebook Analytics
Go to a Facebook page, click on Fans and Ta-Da… Facebook gives you most popular city, weeks and age groups. It’s not super detailed but it can provide good data for comparing competitor’s social media activity.
4. SEM Rush (and Quantcast)
5. Twitter Analytics
Hootsuite wants to help you nail Twitter.
6. Consumer Barometer
Consumer Barometer uses Google search data to help understand how consumers use search in their purchase process. As you can see, and it isn’t that surprising, consumers do not use the Internet for offline food purchases or before going to the supermarket. Categories like electronics demonstrate high search and Internet-related research.
I keep a file of marketing graphs from eMarketer. The good news is that eMarketer sends me these in daily emails.
8. Creative Search
I occasionally need to find examples of advertising or digital campaigns to make a point. Two of my favorites tools are – yes the obvious, Campaign, ADWEEK and Ad Age… and Ads Of The World which filters advertising by media, region, country and industry.
9. Just Sounding Smart: PEW Internet and Harvard Business Review
If I am seeking information on industry trends, demographics and the brightest minds on marketing, I use the Pew Internet and The Harvard Business Review.
10. Google Trends.
Ah, Google Trends. Here is an interesting trends graph. What do you call your agency?
11. OK, One More Really Important New Business Data Tool
Just in case your data-driven new business program actually gets you that cherished client, I offer a Mad Men cocktail guide. I am not sure how I’ve gotten this far in my career without consuming this valuable data.
12 & 13 &. Lots of Advertising Agency New Business Resources.
More ideas right here – Big Advertising Agency Resources List.
The Last Point About Insights…
I hope that I’ve stimulated you to think hard about how to deliver value to prospective clients. And, how you can do this quickly.
Importantly, how to become unignorable. I’ve got more ideas rattling around my brain. To tap them, just take me up on my Corleone offer for 15 minutes of outstanding business development insights. Agencies from around the world have made this call.