By Tim Williams, Ignition Consulting Group


From every corner of the world, agency executives are reporting the same trends in new business.  It’s more challenging than ever to get the attention of a promising new business prospect.  All of the factors that make it more difficult to get a consumer’s attention come into play in trying to get a prospect’s attention.  People simply have more ways to shut out the information and communication they don’t want.

Classic business development techniques, passed down through the ages from one successful sales person to another, simply don’t work the way they used to.  On this list of time-worn techniques are things like sales letters, mailings, articles in the business section of the newspaper, and – at the top of the list – cold calling.

Scores of agencies we know personally are actively recruiting for a new business development person, desperately hoping that the one right person with the one right set of skills will bring new success to their new business program.  It probably won’t.

No matter how you slice it, blind prospecting is not the answer

Another disturbing trend is agencies hiring outside organizations to cold call on their behalf.   Small entrepreneurial companies, often staffed with retired agency veterans, are offering to generate leads for agencies by calling lists of prospects supplied by the agency.  Some use e-mail in place of telephone calls, but their promise is the same: we’ll perform the distasteful work of culling through hundreds of prospects until we find a few that are willing to talk to you.  We have seen very few of these arrangements bare fruit, and for good reason: the business world just doesn’t work this way anymore.

Moving from push to pull

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If you accept the fact that the consumer (and the prospective client) is now in control of how, when, and where they get information, your new business strategy must migrate from “push” to “pull.” (No doubt you preach this very same principle to your clients.)

Instead of a business development person, you need a Chief Marketing Officer for the agency, or at the very least an Agency Marketing Manager.  Compared to the old-school new business-getter, this is a very different job.

Top 20 Responsibilities of the Agency Marketing Manager

  1. Develops an annual agency marketing plan with specific goals, strategies, audiences, tactics and measurement.
  2. Ensures that the agency website is constantly refreshed and updated with information, examples, case studies, biographies, etc.
  3. Collects and maintains a current digital library of the agency’s best work samples.
  4. Constantly updates and maintains both offline and online directory listings, including agency-specific directories, business directories, paid listing services, and those hosted by agency search consultancies.
  5. Identifies and coordinates online advertising opportunities on appropriate websites, blogs, etc.
  6. Orchestrates the development of proposals and new business presentations.
  7. Recommends and develops ways for the agency to share its intellectual capital with current and prospective clients, such as agency-sponsored seminars, white papers, POV pieces, etc.
  8. Working with appropriate public relations professionals, regularly identifies opportunities to publicize the agency (new clients, new people, new work, etc.).
  9. Spearheads entries in industry competitions and award shows (not just within advertising and marketing, but in client-specific industries and categories, and general business competitions).
  10. Seeks out and coordinates speaking opportunities for the CEO and other agency executives.
  11. Oversees an online search optimization program for the agency, including the identification of keywords and phrases to be used in paid search.
  12. Identifies, buys and manages URLs for landing pages that can be used by the agency.
  13. Actively monitors online mentions and reputation of the agency and responds appropriately on the agency’s behalf.
  14. Regularly reads and posts to appropriate blogs and publications.  Fosters relationships with relevant bloggers and online publishers.
  15. Authors or coordinates letters to the editor for selected offline and online publications.
  16. Builds and maintains a permission-based list of prospects and influencers and sends appropriate periodic e-mailings and mailings.
  17. Develops and maintains agency presence on Facebook, Linked In, and other appropriate social networks.
  18. Maximizes the agency’s online presence by proactively posting agency materials, videos, photos, podcasts, etc. on sites such as YouTube, iTunes, Flickr, SlideShare, Pinterest, etc.  Where possible, create agency channels on these sites, as is possible on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
  19. Creates a positive presence for the agency on websites that are influential in attracting and recruiting top talent, such as Talent Zoo,
  20. Measures and refines the agency’s online presence using analytics and monitoring tools.