The Reality: Your advertising, public relations, or digital agency gets most of your new clients via participation in RFPs — you spend your time showing prospective clients that you’re interested versus spending your time becoming interesting. Heck, even the late, great Prince sang about your biz dev troubles and how to fix them.
The Problems this causes are many, but a few of the big ones include:
The Opportunity: Position your agency as THE TOPICAL EXPERT or at least one of those experts. That way, when a potential client or CMO is seeking information to solve a problem (and they ARE searching the Internet for knowledge) within your area of expertise, they find you or your content and begin an invisible conversation with your agency. A conversation that might just turn into a client if you play your content marketing cards right.
AMI Research reveals CMOs are actively seeking new agencies versus new agencies finding those CMOS
The Plan: Stop being interested and, instead, become interesting. Become known for knowledge — the kind of knowledge that creates a category of ONE, as in the one advertising, public relations, or digital agency that can help that CMO with their most significant sales & marketing challenge.
There is no silver bullet here. You’re not just going to start writing a newsletter or publishing content on your website, and presto, instant “guru” status achieved. Sorry, it’s not that easy, BUT it’s not impossible either. We’ve developed an entire online new business development sales training course based on the principles I first taught in my book, The Invisible Sale.
But if you’re not quite ready to take that leap, let’s spend a few minutes talking in higher level, broad strokes about the specific steps your agency needs to take if you want to become known for knowledge.
First, niche down to a genuinely targetable prospective client type. Ask yourself a few key questions to help you determine the best and most realistic target audience for your agency. For instance:
Second, filter your new business target database against this new niche audience. What? Don’t you have a CRM or Business Development Database? That’s ok, get one. That’s right; this won’t work if you’re using a spreadsheet to manage it all. If you’re not sure which agency business development CRM tool is right for you, here is the one we use at Converse.
Your goal is twofold. First, it will help you understand how target-rich your current database is for driving new business development from this new niche target you’ve defined. And second, by tagging the folks in your database, you’re setting the table to employ a Behavioral Segmentation program to tease out invisible buying signals to aid you in creating your agency’s business development strategy.
Third, retag your existing website content to uncover knowledge gaps and content creation opportunities to serve this new niche audience better. The primary goal of this step is finding content, which, when synthesized into a Cornerstone Content page, improves your SEO and serves as the basis for creating a downloadable Lead Magnet.
The secondary goal of this step is to uncover critical knowledge gaps and unanswered sales prospect questions to build future content around. Be prepared to find you have a lot of these gaps. It’s not a sign of failure, just part, and parcel to niching down against this new, more tightly defined prospective client audience.
Fourth, find your audience’s Propinquity Points and determine how best to ensure your agency’s knowledge shows up there regularly. If you hope to create the all-important Propinquity required to generate and convert conversations with prospective agency clients, you'll need this.
Likely these Propinquity Points will include both online — social media groups, content hubs, and online chats — and more traditional offline locations such as trade shows, conferences, and networking groups/events.
And fifth and finally, get started. Don’t let perfection get in the way of publishing. Now don’t create CRAP, oh, actually, you do need to do that — make CRAP lots of CRAP — but you can read more about that on this page.
The point is, too often, agencies worry too much about perfection. I get it; we’re perfectionists at heart. But the good news is that your digital content is never finished. You can always come back later and upgrade it, enhance it, or perfect it. And no one will ever be the wiser.
As I said earlier, to truly become known for knowledge, you’ll have to develop a plan and diligently work the program for at least 9-12 months before you can expect to see the initial results of your agency’s new business development program.
The Bottom Line:
To truly kick the RFP to the curb, you need to go beyond becoming known for knowledge and develop a genuinely Painless Prospecting program that reliably and consistently delivers new agency clients to your website’s front form. In that case, you’ll need guidance from someone who’s done that before. Someone who can help you build out a step-by-step action plan, source and integrate the technology and hold you accountable for the execution of your new business development program.
But you’re in luck — we do that sort of thing — click here to set up an exploratory Zoom call with me.