I hear a lot of excuses from large, medium, and small advertising agencies about why they are not running a long-term, 24-7, active business development program. These agencies often chuckle – a wary chuckle, before mentioning the cobbler’s shoe excuse.
You know what I’m talking about. The excuse is that the agency is so focused on its day-to-day clients that they neglect their own biz dev, or better expressed, their own sales program. These agencies act like the way too busy shoemaker whose children go barefoot. “Yup, I’m like really busy making shoes for my customers. Just don’t have the time to take care of the kids.”
Of course. This is insanity. Many agencies touch failure because one of their large, cash-cow clients leaves, and the agency does not have the active pipeline that will deliver the next big account. Insanity. I have never seen an agency in my long-term experience that did not eventually lose a major account.
A Recipe For Business Development
Let’s get really simple. This is what every advertising and digital and PR agency has to do. Period. Give me a shout and I can help you create and run the plan that will make these actions happen fast. As in, make those shoes for your kids.
Caveat: Is this radically new information? No. But, this is the blueprint. If you do not do this, then go barefoot.
- Have agency leadership that recognizes that they must play a major role in agency growth. When I ran business development at Saatchi & Saatchi, both Maurice and Charles dove into pitches.
- Figure out who is in charge of the day-to-day management of the business development program.
- Make sure that your advertising agency can get found by a future client that is looking for your type of agency. Just for kicks, start with a ‘blank sheet’ and try finding your agency. Do you stand out from the 4,000 marketing options that are in front of most clients? Have a get-found plan.
- Have an active friends, business associates, family referral plan. WOM does not always happen automatically or when you want it. You need to manage your WOM outreach.
- Love the clients you have and grow them. This can not be placed on automatic. Do your people know how to nurture?
- Build the agency marketing plan. A manageable plan. And, KISS.
- Have a standout positioning. Being an expert in something would be a rather good idea. Translate this into an “elevator pitch.” You could even carve up your positions and use targeted marketing to deliver multiple messages. You can be both a mobile and a pet marketing expert. Try different landing pages.
- Know exactly what clients you want and how to entice them to want you. Ask yourself, “why would that client want to get to know me?”
- Build your prospect lists. And, personas.
- Leverage Account-Based Marketing to go get their attention. This takes time. Make sure you nail a LinkedIn program and then move on.
- Create thought leadership that cannot be IGNORED. Please be unignorable.
- Build a website that is sales-oriented. And different. Drive contacts. Did I say sales-oriented?
- Use video to sell yourself, your story, your reason for being. Just for kicks, try using paper. Yes, paper.
- Have a must-follow process that includes plan elements, a marketing calendar, to-do lists, and very clear responsibilities, and a CRM system.
Treat business development like you treat your best client. Make sure y’all are wearing shoes.
Do all of this so you are a well-marketed agency that can be found 24/7.
My Shoemaker List
Look, I too have active clients that I have to focus on. However, I am wearing shoes. I have a plan. I run it. I am a one-man operation. If I can keep it up on a scheduled basis… so can you. Just saying.
WORK! – I currently have four agency clients (that’s about my monthly sweet spot). These include a digital media expert and a full-service agency that I am writing full-on 2021 business development plans for. I need to deliver one of these plans this week. I also have two specialist agencies on two continents that I do hourly consultancy for.
MARKETING! – I have a business development, read sales, program that I need to keep moving forward. Part of that is to decide if I should continue my 40 episode Advertising Stories Podcast (probably not). I am not yet convinced that the podcast has been driving my business forward. Read about my thinking here.
BOOK! #1 – My book on how to run a brilliant new business pitch, “The Levitan Pitch. Buy This Book. Win More Pitches.” remains an active element of my marketing. The book delivers future client awareness (books are proof of expertise); money (I continue to get $ from Amazon); gets me on podcasts (and in the past, invited to speak at conferences like HubSpot), and is a nice gift that I can share.
BOOK #2 – Thinking hard about this. Today I am noodling on how to use the best thinking from my 800 blog posts to build a book that everyone in advertising must read.
AWARENESS – In the past couple of weeks, I got calls from agencies that I hadn’t spoken with for a year plus. They say that they have been reading my stuff and it is now time to talk about using my services. They are circling back because I run a 24/7 awareness program.
No Bare Feet For You!
Hey, give me a shout, let’s get past the cobbler’s shoe excuse, and let’s talk about your next pair of Nikes.