New opportunities are opening up to the Ad Industry. While working with over 600 agencies, I have identified tactics used by successful agencies that get them new business and keeps existing clients loyal. Here are nine secrets that I have successfully implemented in agencies with whom I have worked.
- Make it easy to start doing business with your agency. Develop a New Client Orientation program. The first work a new client should receive is an Orientation Manual. This manual should contain:
- Contact information for all touch points in the agency—including the name of the receptionist if you have one.
- Samples of your Creative Brief, Estimate, Call Report, Invoices, and any other communications you will share with the client. This gives them the opportunity to be familiar with how they will use the information you are providing.
- Sample schedules for the types of jobs your agency will be working on for that client with ideal timelines. This will allow the client to know up front what it takes to complete jobs.
- A blank Agency Evaluation Form and an Account Service Evaluation Form. This allows your client to reflect on their interactions and satisfaction with your agency. It also gives you an opportunity to find ways to improve how you are working with the client.
- Make it easy to continue doing business with your agency. If the relationship works, the details do not matter. If the relationship does not work, the details will not help.
- Know the client. Know the history of their company. Know the people who work there. Know their culture.
- Ask questions. Every communication with the client should have at least one question in it. Dig deep for answers.
- Complete work on time—or better yet—early.
- Manage client expectations. Do not allow a client to expect work to be completed at a specific time when you know you will not be able to meet the deadline.
- Know your clients’ clients. Conduct informal interviews with the people who are buying your clients’ products (or those who are buying the competitors products).
- Don’t make it difficult for a prospect to find you. Predominately display how prospects can contact you. Put all of your information including phone numbers, email addresses of key personnel and links to your social sites on your website. Sure you might be contacted by companies that want you to do business with them, but you are more likely to be contacted by companies that want to do business with you.
- Be different. The majority of the 600+ agencies I have worked with over the years have stated that they were different from other agencies. Sure they all have their unique culture and personality, but in reality, most agencies look just like any other. Everyone wants to be a “Strategic Partner” with their clients. Be noticeable. Stand out in the crowd. Do not be another “Strategic Partner” but be a Business Guide. Instead of building cool websites, offer website development that achieves greater market share for your client. Do not just change the words you use to describe yourself, change the way that you do business.
- Be the same. Follow the three C’s—Consistency in Client Contacts. Often, when I ask Account Teams for a copy of their Estimates, Client Call Reports, or Creative Briefs that they share with their clients, I always get the same response —“Which one of us?” Or I end up getting various versions from each one of them. It seems that each Account person is working as an entrepreneur in their own silo.
It appears that while Ad Agency’s boast their branding capabilities and expertise; some have not seemed to figure out that branding of the agency does not just mean using the same logo or the same font. Branding is more than a look for your company. Branding is your agency’s character. I’m not saying that each person has to squelch their own personality. I am saying that if one Account person sends out any communication to their client, it should be the same as any other Account person would send. Likewise, any contacts with vendors should also be consistent across the entire agency.
- Be ahead of the curve. We all want to work with companies that continually work to evolve and improve themselves. You would not continue to work with a CPA that did not stay abreast of the latest tax laws. Client’s need to get advice from companies that stay tuned into the latest technology, consumer behavior, economic trends and their impact, and theories of designs. Persuade your employees to find ways to expand their knowledge and skill bases. This may mean enrolling in a formal course, attending a seminar or webinar, and/or reading articles and books.
- Stand up and defend your recommendations. Today’s client needs an agency that will provide push back. They need someone to help them continue to strengthen and improve their business. They need to be encouraged to go beyond the status quo. Continuing to do the same things in today’s business environment is professional suicide. Standing by letting your client dictate the direction their Advertising efforts function is being an accomplice to the suicide. Provide the client with solid recommendation, the facts to back it, and the expected results of the recommendation.
- Avoid myopic management. Look beyond each job your agency does for a client and strive for the long term. If you think about your business in the here and now, you will not have a future. Do business today with the vision of how that will affect your business tomorrow. Too often, I see agencies taking jobs that they know will not be successful. Or worse, they accept jobs that hinder their time and efforts towards work that improves the agency’s success.
- Don’t be a “Do as I say, not as I do” agency. If you recommend to your client to have an active blog, then you should have an active blog. A recent survey showed that 34% of Advertising Agencies do not have a blog. Another showed that just less than half of the US Ad Agencies use Social Networking as a New Business Development tool. Yet, every agency should be recommending these venues to their clients and realizing revenues from them for their own business. If using blogs and social media are ways for your clients to increase their business, it will do the same for your agency. In short, be an example for your clients.
These nine steps will help your agency gain new business while simultaneously helping you to keep your existing clients happy and loyal.