Adding swagger to your new business development efforts

ad agency new business development strategy football playAgency new business sourcers, unite! Today’s post is about swagger. It has been inspired by characters like Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad. (No spoilers, please. yours truly is in the middle of season four.) Or Jack Sparrow. Heck, even maybe people like Hilary Clinton or Mark Cuban. Yes, there is some douchebaggery when one thinks of swagger. Even the characters mentioned above, while charming, have some negative qualities.

And yet, the word captures some positive traits that are absolutely relevant and necessary in agency new business development. Things like confidence or higher self-worth. And yes, even a little bit of good natured, charismatic theater. So, here are two quick thoughts on how to get a touch of professional swagger in your agency and in your new business efforts.

Say no more often

I know, I know. We all have mortgages. But nothing builds confidence like saying no. Your agency is not right for every pitch that comes your way. Say no. And save your resources for a better fit and better chance at winning.

Or at least negotiate better pitch terms that can help both client and agency. Like more prospective client access, for instance. After all, you can’t do your best work if you don’t get to know the client. And from the prospect’s perspective – which is how you position this to your audience – they get to know more about the agency: how you think, how you work, and how to feels to work with you.

While that’s great and all, you need leads. Which brings us to our next point…

Build a plan

Lots of thinking around how to do that on this blog. Or better yet, hire me to coach you or craft a plan. The simple point here is that by relying too much on your transom, waiting for the phone to ring for pitches that might not be a good fit…you can develop a plan that builds agency awareness and relationships with professionals outside the agency.

The output of a plan? Better-fitting leads for your agency. When you read, “professionals outside the agency” this includes, of course, prospects. But don’t forget the other people that can refer business to you: existing and past clients, suppliers, business partners, and friends of the agency.

These are just two thought-starters. Should you feel that as a professional service provider that “swagger” is a bit beneath you… that’s completely understandable. Your mileage will and should vary.

But I do think there’s an interesting intersection between being billable and having some confidence. And exploring that intersection can make growing your agency and winning new business a bit easier. Fun, too!

###

Pitch Predictor: Big Lots

Big Lots just announced a new Chief Customer Officer, whose responsibilities include advertising and marketing. Andy Stein comes to the brand from K-Mart, where he helped create the “Ship My Pants” work that came from DFCB.

There are over 1,500 Big Lots stores across the country. Two things struck yours truly about the press release announcing the hire. They personified their typical shopper. And they also went into a bit more detail around their challenges.

###

Pitch Predictor: Morgan Stanley

new business development ad agency spyglass announcement pitchHello there, financial services agency expert. Did you see that the WSJ announced a new CMO at Morgan Stanley?

This seasoned agency pro, Susan Smith Ellis, held the CEO position at Red. And prior to that, headed up the Omnicom stand-alone that ran Bank of America. Find out more here.

Happy pitching.

###

How to keep top of mind with new business prospects

So, there you are. The new business hunter. Looking for ways to stay on your prospect’s proverbial radar screen. Sure, you could send over a copy of your agency’s most recent thought leadership. What? You don’t have anything like that? You have yet to jump on the agency expertise positioning bandwagon? Uh, OK…

So here’s another thought. And it’s something ANYONE can do.

Send them a relationship valentine

This little phrase is something yours truly has coined to capture a thought, resource, or well, just about anything you send a prospect to maintain and strengthen your relationship. It’s ye olde practice of clipping out a trade magazine article and sending it over to your client contacts with a quick little point of view. Nothing too fancy or particularly earth shattering. Just something that demonstrates, “I am thinking of you and thought you might find this useful.”

Nowadays, of course, what you send could be a helpful link. Or maybe, if there’s no passalong value, consider snail-mail.

Here are some common forms a relationship valentine could take:

  • Competitive information
  • Category intel
  • Consumer understanding
  • Business book / or synopsis
  • Blog post
  • (And, of course, your agency’s intellectual property)

Here are perhaps a few more interesting or creative ones:

  • Career advice
  • A connection to an associate
  • Financial or entertainment how-to
  • Think networking

Typically, these little bits are completely focused on your prospect. Not you or your company.

Do your homework to find the right relationship valentine

You can get a sense for what to send based on your understanding of the prospect’s business challenges and/or what they’re like as human beings. You can find that information by doing some homework. A company’s website and Google is a great place to start for brand/company challenges. And social media can be terrific for understanding your prospect’s personality. Be sensitive to acknowledging information that might be a bit too personal. You’re trying to build and maintain trust and a relationship. Not stalk.

Anywho, hope this gets you thinking of smart, personal ways to demonstrate some prospect love. Happy relationship building!

###

Pitch Predictor: Sprint

Have you noticed the changes taking place at Sprint? Check them out here. This particular story is not clear on what they are doing in marketing. But does mention they are losing their Chief Marketing Officer, who plans to retire in March of 2014.

This company has been accelerating change since new owners this past summer.

###