Tag Archive for Generating Ideas

8 Tips That Will Make Ad Agency New Business Easier

Professional Guest post by Michael Gass, Business Development Consultant | Speaker |Author of Fuel Lines

Learn how to accelerate your agency’s positioning, inbound lead generation, network and referral business.

Since 2007, I’ve conducted over 200 new business workshops for agencies in North and South America and Europe. No matter what country, I find there are some common problems when it comes to business development that makes it harder than it needs to be.

Here are some practical tips I hope you find helpful to make new business easier:

  1. Personalize your agency.

For small to midsize agencies, the agency owner is a key component for new business. The agency owner should be the face of the agency. Why? New business isn’t built on ‘brick and mortar’, it’s built upon relationships. People want to work with other people that they know, trust and like. Using your personal social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and even Pinterest, can become effective networking tools. You can engage with dozens of prospects daily without having to rely upon interruption type tactics.

  1. Identify your best prospects.

This has been a major challenge, particularly for small to midsize agencies. This inability to clearly define their target audience has many agencies floundering when it comes to developing a lead generation pipeline and a consistent new business program. A considerable amount of time and effort is wasted chasing the wrong type of accounts. Learning when to say no is an important component to a successful new business program.

  1. Look for the decision makers, not just the companies.

To make the best use of social media marketing for agency new business, you should be mining the executives of the C-Suite, not their companies. Do the research to identify who they are, where they are online and begin to follow and engage with them personally by using your personal social media accounts.

  1. Create a differentiated positioning. 

Positioning is the foundation of any agency’s new business program. Without a differentiated position, ad agency new business is much harder than it needs to be. This is an area that the majority of agencies have not addressed because of procrastination or, more likely, their unwillingness to make the difficult business decisions. But, contrary to common belief, all agencies have pretty much the same basic capabilities, and processes. I know how difficult agency positioning can be but, I also know that a lack of positioning creates even more hardships.

Creating the right positioning is a lot like fishing. A successful fisherman fishes for a specific fish, using a specific bait. He knows where to find the fish and uses the best fishing tackle. He has also developed the expertise to land the real ly big trophies.

You can use social media to test and refine your positioning by “fishing away from the boat” and apart from your agency’s branded website. You can do this through a “niche blog” that lives offsite. It can become a gateway for new business to a much narrower target group than you have ever imagined. The narrower the focus, the faster you can build awareness and appeal to a specific target group.

  1. Shift from outbound tactics to inbound.

Inbound marketing techniques are rapidly becoming more important for agency new business. Over the past six years, I’ve seen a steady progression of agencies embracing social media as part of their new business program. This is primarily because of the way their prospective clients are now researching for their prospective agency partner. Traditional “outbound marketing” methods, such as cold calling, direct mail and email blasts, are becoming less and less effective.

My epiphany for a paradigm shift from outbound to inbound came in January of 2008. I was reading a CMO Study that stated, 80% of decision makers surveyed found their vendors, not the other way around. That stat impressed upon me the shifting importance from chasing new business to “getting found” by your target audience.

  1. Create a written marketing plan.

After you have defined your target audience and point of differentiation, you need to turn that into an executable strategy. It still amazes me that most advertising agencies do not have a written marketing plan.  I find this amazing. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you wont’ achieve what you want.

Having a plan makes new business easier and much more consistent with a plan, you have a program that only gets better with time because it is measurable . This allows you to refine and improve it.

 

  1. Hire a new business director/manager.

Someone needs to oversee your agency’s new business program. This person is like the ‘rudder of a ship’ who should keep everyone focused on new business, even when the agency is at its’ busiest. This person is responsible for executing your new business plan.  I’ve learned through experience, “if everyone” is responsible for your agency’s new business, in actuality, no one is. This doesn’t mean that others, particularly agency principals, aren’t involved in the process.

There’s an old saying that cobbler’s children have no shoes. It refers to the fact that a busy cobbler will be so busy making shoes for his customers, he has no time to make some for his own children. Agency’s are their own worst clients because the majority of their focus is servicing clients. A new business director or manager can help alleviate this problem. Their total focus should be on the agency’s business development. It isn’t a billable position, but it’s one of the most important positions within the agency.

  1. Use PR to create awareness and interest.

No other marketing tool replicates what PR can do when it comes to building trust with important audiences. PR greatly enhances your agency’s credibility. Strategic use of public relations can help small and midsized agencies level the playing field with larger competitors. Can you think of a better advantage over your competitors than being positioned by a credible third-party source as a leading expert in your field?

PR helps make your agency “discoverable” through local, regional, national or international consumer media coverage; niche industry trade publications, websites and blogs your prospects read.

If your agency is too busy to execute its own PR strategy, then hire a PR firm to do it for you. Wouldn’t it be fun to be the client for a change? It’s worth the cost to have a consistent PR effort.

 

Post by Michael Gass, Business Development Consultant | Speaker |Author of Fuel Lines

 

Have you heard of the 5 golden swimmer rules?

We recently came across a book titled “SWIM, get what you pursue” written by David Meca and Jaime Tomás.

Swim

David is 3 times world swimming champion and a long-distance swimmer in both pool and open water and his life-story is an example on how to achieve success. Jaime Tomás has more than 20 years business experience, focusing mainly in the finance sector and he is currently working in strategic consulting.

These two men have worked together to link up the swimming and corporate world. David shares 5 basic rules that he has learnt along his career and that have helped him not only survive but also succeed. The result is the book SWIM.

            Jaime Tomasdavid meca

Jaime Tomás and David Meca

What does swimming have to do with our business? Actually, it does a lot.

When organizations are in a great momentum this indicates that a “well-done“ effort has been made.  Projects may luckily start accumulating in the pipeline and we may feel a bit overwhelmed.

It is precisely in occasions like these that the 5 rules of swimmers become inspiring and encouraging.

5 rules of swimmers

1. Avoid piranhas – They only bite if you stop swimming, so do not stop moving.

2. One arm after the other – See the whole picture and move step by step.

3. Put your clothes away and swim – It is important not to carry heavy luggage to stay afloat, no fears, no prejudice or self-limitation. Carrying a heavy luggage can cause sinking.

4. Protect yourself from the sharks – Keep your associates and collaborators near you. On your way to success you will find predators that will try to get hold of your achievements. Succeed discreetly as your words can be the blood that attracts those sharks.

5. Learn to swim against the current – Difficulties must be overcome to get to the end.

swim whale

David in one of his open water swims
 

These 5 statements speak for themselves and are totally adaptable to our professional and personal lives.

It does not matter which waters you swim in, just keep on swimming!

Article posted by Vicky Perez, Corporate Communications & Business Development Manager at Comvort. She tweets at @PRVickyPerezBCN.

7 Reasons Networking Can Be a Professional Development Boot Camp

Glenn Llopis Glenn Llopis, is the President/CEO of the Glenn Llopis Group,  Founder of the Center for Innovation and Humanity and Founder of the Center for Hispanic Leadership: Institute for Talent Development. Mr Llopis is also a contributor in Forbes where he mostly writes about business leadership and workplace innnovation. In this article he points out the importance of networking. Enjoy reading this article!

How many times do you say to yourself that you need to meet more people? That your circle of influence needs to be strengthened?  That your skills and talents have yet to be discovered?  Your career requires you to network and in today’s marketplace you must be more active than ever.  But networking requires planning. An approach that is strategic and measurable; that you can learn from each time you introduce yourself to a new crowd or reacquaint yourself with an old one.    If you are strategic and view networking through an opportunity lens, it can serve as a powerful professional development boot camp experience.

Networking demands that you test your ideas, hone your ability to communicate and improve your executive presence. Networking is a full-time job and the more time you dedicate to it – the more you will learn what works for you and against you.  The more you procrastinate, the more you will find yourself disconnected from the opportunities that may potentially advance your career or allow you to meet the right people.  Procrastination will take you back a few steps and you will lose the competitive edge that comes with meeting new people, gathering knowledge, and observing others that have mastered networking.

Networking is not easy.   For some, it’s like having to take a required class in college that you had no interest in, but had to complete in order to graduate. Remember, in business and in life – success is earned from learning how to do things that you don’t like doing.

Networking requires 100% commitment.   You don’t need to be naturally outspoken to be successful in networking environments.  However, you do need to be prepared to deliver value when called upon. In other words, when it’s your turn to say something – make it count.

Networking is a responsibility and it requires active behavior.  You must be extremely engaged about what others are saying.  It’s not about you, but about how well you integrate your voice and perspectives into conversations. What matters most to those who are listening? Your audience will serve to help you connect the dots of opportunity and potentially act as an enabler for you.

The best networking takes place when you don’t know the title or influence of those you are networking with.  Most people don’t like networking because they don’t feel safe in environments where you are forced to meet new people – especially those who may serve in roles of greater influence and power.

But when you are focused on communicating with a person and not a title – it always amazes me how confident people grow.  At one conference, I remember participating in a discussion that included several highly influential senior executives.  In the group, there was a younger person who wasn’t aware of the titles that the people in the conversation held.

This person was funny, shared great stories and was highly articulate. When she asked for our business cards, she realized that one of the people in the group was a CEO of a Fortune 100 company. She quickly responded in shock and began to apologize for her opinionated and outspoken behavior.  Though she felt obligated to apologize, there was no need to do so.

When we are just ourselves, we are most natural in how we express our points of view. We are most effective at communicating and establishing a positive first impression.  Hierarchy or rank shouldn’t define your approach and style; it should only make you more aware of the types of topics or issues that should be discussed.

Networking is both an art and a science.  But in the end – networking should be fun, exciting and a rewarding approach to advancement. The more you network – with a positive outlook – the more you will learn.  And if you’re always learning, you are growing and thus developing yourself – especially your interpersonal communication skills.  Once you have become a pro at networking, you can begin to share your experiences, tips and tricks with others.

Here are 7 reasons networking can become a powerful professional development boot camp:

#1: Peer-Learning.

While in a networking environment, you can learn a tremendous amount from others. The power of observation is in full force. Think of networking as a focus group. Be aware of what works best for you and what doesn’t.  Learn how to improve by observing those around you.

#2: You Must Always Be Ready.  

Networking can’t be forced. If you try to force it, it rarely goes anywhere. Engaging in dialogue with new people requires you to be quick on your feet and ready for responses and reactions to the conversations around you.  If you are caught off guard, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.  Be active and ready for engagement.  You are either an active networker or not. There is nothing in the middle. We know what happens when people fall asleep at the wheel.

#3: Take Notes While You Network.  

Just as when you are being trained for something, retention comes from taking good notes.  Gather intelligence about yourself and others.  Think of yourself as part of a think-tank.  Be diligent and take note of what you are contributing and how you can improve.  I have learned that people take notice when you are taking notes and it opens the door for more spontaneous conversations.

#4: Ask Non-Traditional Questions.

When you are being trained, you may be asked to apply new knowledge to a situational analysis. This is a great way to apply what you have learned immediately to a real life scenario.  In networking, apply your knowledge in the form of non-traditional questions.  Get people to discover something deeper about what you know by asking them a question they wouldn’t expect. For example, at a conference I once spoke following a world renowned economist, who was presenting his views regarding economic recovery.  Before I took the stage, there was short break and we found ourselves in the green room together.  So I asked him the following question: “How can we all be so optimistic about economic recovering when we – the people in the United States – have not been taught how to survive?”  A non-traditional question led to a relationship that remains strong to this day.

#5: Put Your Personal Brand to the Test.

Networking is a discovery platform and a great way to give your personal brand more exposure.  Always be prepared to unleash your identity so that others will remember you.  Be careful that you are not overly deliberate or focused solely on self-promotion. But seize the opportunity, too. When you walk away from the conversation, those around you should know the following about your personal brand:

  • Your enduring idea.
  • What differentiates you from others.
  • The experience you leave behind.
  • Whom you serve.

#6: Continue the Conversation.

If the dialogue and exchange were worthwhile, invite those you have met to continue the conversation.  This can be done both onsite and online (or both).  To get started, send a follow-up email with a link to an article or whitepaper that supports something they were interested in.  Or you can expand upon your conversation by sending a presentation that showcases your unique point of view while supporting their ideas and ideals.

Reconnect at lunch, invite them to another networking function, or get connected online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook or another favorite social networking tool.  You can also invite them to join your LinkedIn or Facebook group.  The point is that in taking the lead to continue the conversation, you are the catalyst for opportunity. You are testing the longer term relationship that can form from the networking encounter.

#7: Hold Yourself Accountable.

And finally: Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.  Each conversation is an opportunity and only you can gauge it. Think of yourself as a project manager responsible for identifying the next steps, who is responsible for what, and defining the outcomes and desired results. Being accountable will help you to sustain the momentum that you have built up in the first six steps.

Our special thanks to Glenn Llopis for sharing his article with us.

David Airey, noted graphic designer and author

In researching color theory for an upcoming post, Frank X. Powers, President in Dudnyk (Philadelphia) discovered the intelligent and strategic design work of David Airey who recommends getting into the creative groove through mind-mapping.

David is a globally respected graphic designer and design author. He creates brand identities that enable his clients to stand out among their competitors, ultimately increasing his clients’ profits. Companies he’s worked with include the Yellow Pages (Canada), Giacom (England), Asian Development Bank (Philippines), and Berthier Associates (Japan). David has been kind enough to share his design process in an excerpt from his insightful book Logo Design Love. You can follow David on Twitter (@davidairey) or visit one of his three informative blogs: David Airey, ID, or Logo Design Love.

To be a good designer, you must be curious about life; the strongest ideas are born from the experiences we have and the knowledge we gain from them. The more we see and the more we know, the more ammunition we can stockpile for generating ideas.

I’m frequently asked how to integrate this stockpile into actual logo concepts, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in this chapter. We’ll look at the two vital steps in this process—mind-mapping and sketching—and then talk about what to include when preparing your presentation PDFs for the client.

Mind-mapping

Using mind maps helps you consider as many different design directions as possible, and at the stage when they’re most needed. It’s a relatively straightforward process of word association. You write a word that’s central to the design brief, and then branch out from it, writing other words that spring to mind. These additional words could come after some thought, or after researching the central topic. The idea is to form as large a “thought cloud” as possible, giving you a strong tool to refer to when it comes to the next stage—sketching. Mind-mapping is particularly useful in the design profession because it’s very effective for working through these important steps of the design process:

  • Collecting your thoughts
  • Generating ideas
  • Getting into a creative groove
  • Associating words with images

I’ve been using mind maps for as long as I’ve been studying design. It’s a tried and tested formula, and other designers often ask me to provide more detail on the intricacies of this practice. So let’s take a look at one or two of them.

I generated the mind map above for Meadows Renewable, a Las Vegas-based energy company that sells solar panel systems, solar water heaters, solar attic fans, and various other renewable and sustainable energy products. Notice the highlighting. If I map a word I think will adapt well to the sketching process, I usually mark it with a highlighter. This helps me focus on the stronger ideas.

Download the full chapter to learn more about David’s design process.