A recent post and loose talk about what it means to be an ad agency partner got me thinking about a related topic – authenticity and how important it is in new business.
Said another way, it’s crucial to be yourself. UK-based new biz professional Sarah Cheal made an excellent point the other day in an email exchange – social media is paving the way to increased authenticity and transparency.
Yours truly totally agrees. It is becoming the new normal in the business.
What does authenticity mean?
Authenticity means…treating all alike. A fantastic agency I once worked with, what was Hadrian’s Wall, (then, Zig), was run by a couple of very smart, genuine and nice people. As I was learning about them, I made a point of speaking with their suppliers.
One of them said this better than I ever could – “I know they treat me the same way they treat their employees and clients.”
Wow. What a huge compliment! As a result, you can imagine the lengths this supplier would go to provide terrific service for agency clients.
Authenticity can mean a whole bunch of other things. Many of which can be chunked into inspirational bullet points. But are you really here for that kind of soapbox talk, or are you more interested in how being yourself can be used in new business?
I suspect the latter. Some real world stuff could be helpful. So…
Go face-to-face. Did you just get invited to a pitch? Instead of picking up the phone to ask some questions, see the prospect in person. Or at least make the offer. This delivers at least three benefits: it demonstrates your interest/passion; gives you the chance to learn a bit more; and helps differentiate you.
Get your clients involved earlier. Who better to tell your prospect what it’s really like to work with you? This could mean more than simply listing references on a form. If the opportunity is truly important enough, special calls could be placed.
You might also consider asking them for a letter of recommendation inviting readers to call for additional details. You can then use the letters when necessary.
Increase depth and breadth of prospect contact. Typically, what happens in a pitch is that between pitch events (meetings), maybe one or two agency people will be speaking with the prospect. Is this the way you treat manage clients?
Back in the day, big clients with big agencies had layers of people that were interacting with each other. There were multiple, interconnected dotted communication lines between the parties.
While this thought might not apply to a given situation, and assumes you don’t have total loose cannons working on the pitch (and the business), would this be a good tactic in your next pitch?
There’s another one that comes to mind this morning – avoid the dreaded bait and switch – but that’s a topic for another day. Thanks for reading. And, as always, Thunderclap welcomes your comments!