Face it. There is a lot of competition in today’s advertising agency space. Our business has a very low cost of entry, and every time someone is laid off, or a client likes the AE better than the agency, or a media rep tires of the grind, or a creative person feels they have had enough of the BS… they spin off and you have a new agency to contend with.
There are nearly 20,000 businesses listed in SIC code category 7311 (advertising agencies). That doesn’t include all of the graphic design, public relations, interactive, direct marketing and media buying firms also competing for the same clients. Then there are the vendors and media groups who actively bypass agencies to work directly with your clients and prospects.
I’ve said this many times: there is SO much media out there—so many choices of tactics and strategies. Clients NEED a guide to help them navigate the tricky new marketing waters. Agencies are the natural partners to fill this need.
To gain advantage or maybe even just to survive, you have to do a lot of new business, and a lot of shameless self-promotion for your agency.
There are three things that make up a typical marketing effort for an agency.
A Refreshed Brand Image
Making your agency interesting to prospects is mandatory today. Many agencies are like the shoemaker’s children: they go unshod. Agencies get so busy doing powerful work for their clients, they forget to provide for their own needs. This cannot hold. In the future, your agency will have to invest whatever time it takes to refresh your brand into an entity that piques the interest of prospects.
A Robust Self-Marketing Effort
The direct contact process, where an agency contacts a prospect and asks for a meeting to show capabilities, may be a thing of the past. Cold calling, once an important part of many new business efforts, is increasingly difficult to do. Clients are in hiding. They receive too many random calls from agencies… and all of those competitors I mentioned. You have to “warm up” the room. The more you promote your agency—using press releases, content marketing, blogging, social media, speaking engagements, panel participation, tours of your space, awards, agency white papers, original agency research you can share with a prospect, e-zines, regular mailings, advertising, billboards, etc.—the “warmer” your agency becomes. Prospects hear about you, your work, your people and your processes. The result is the prospect either calls you OR... they take your prospecting call and set up a meeting.
YOU MUST BE BOLD, HOWEVER. Agency self-promotion, like agency branding, generally lacks that essential interest factor. Make sure your self-marketing is interesting to prospects. The bolder you are, the more contacts you make. Prospects want to know that their agency can succeed in doing the same for them. You might as well start with your agency.
An Aggressive Sales Effort
When your agency is interesting and warm, you can start making those proactive calls to prospects. Your calling percentage will go way up, and as we all know, scheduling more meetings greatly improves your chance of winning new business.
Make this year the year of BOLD!
Business is waiting for you. Go out and knock it dead.