What Makes People

A recent article in Marketing Week about post-pitch follow up made me think about why agencies win pitches, even though they might not necessarily have “performed” the best on the day. Paul Arnold has written a great summary of ‘Click – The Magic of Instant Connections’ by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman which describes just this phenomenon. In a nutshell, the book states that we are not drawn to people by rational assessment, but emotional factors. People who connect better tend to be more successful, have more friends and work in teams that are more productive. In a world where building the quality of relationships is critical, how can one improve one’s ability to build rapport? 5 accelerators are identified in the book: Vulnerability, Proximity, Resonance, Similarity, and Safety. 1. The power of “vulnerability”Revealing our inner fears, weaknesses, builds trust because we are putting ourselves at emotional, psychological or even physical risk (metaphorically exposing our neck to them). It’s when we start to talk about how we ‘feel’ about something that we really start to engage at a deeper level with other people. 2. The power of “proximity”The physically closer people are, the emotionally closer they are likely to become –…

Happy St Lubbock’s Day?

Did you know these 3 facts about the Bank Holiday weekend? British Bank Holidays have been recognised as public holidays since 1871 when Liberal politician and banker St John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act. The English people were so thankful that some called the first Bank Holidays St Lubbock’s Days for a while. In 1971, the Whitsun Bank Holiday (Whit Monday) was formally replaced by a fixed spring holiday on the last Monday in May. All very interesting but all we probably really care about is that we get an extra day off! In fact, with lots of children then on school half-term holidays, many of us will extend this bank holiday and enjoy a few days off, hopefully relaxing and enjoying some long overdue sunshine. It has been a long and hard winter in the UK and Spring has been a bit slow to start, perhaps mirroring the economic climate. So, it will be a welcome chance for all of us to recharge our batteries and have some time for ourselves. But, then what? For those who recently came on our Just Focus and Do It course, perhaps it will be a chance to put our action-plans into…

3 ways agencies can succeed in social

Most marketing agencies have a social media profile or two. And most are active (although I found a few that are not so chatty!). The big question though is whether there is any point to social when it comes to agencies.   Does social actually help with pitches, increase leads and RFP requests; or is it really all about company culture? Is social part of the business development mix. Given that studies show that almost 70% of a business purchase decision is made online before prospects talk to you, I would suggest that social has a bigger part to play than as a showcase for company culture. We know it generates leads. We know it supports pitches and RFPs.  We track our social media all the way through. So we know it works. So how can agencies succeed with their own social profiles? 1.     Cobble your own shoes It sounds obvious, but agencies need to know their audience in social. It is what we advise clients, but as always, cobbling one’s own shoes is often the last thing a shoemaker wants to do. So we spray our social posts out and hope that a prospect might engage. First off, you…

Pitch Like Pigs

We know we win the pitches we commit to. An intention to win is simply not enough. Pitching should be all or nothing. All in or fold. One pitch at 100% rather than two pitches at 50%. Clients want to know you want their business more than the other competing agencies. Saying it doesn’t cut it. You have to mean it. And that starts with you and your pitch team committing to winning it. Everyone wants to win but what does commitment look like? You may have heard the story before. A pig and a chicken were walking by a church where a gala charity event was taking place. Getting caught up in the spirit, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each make a contribution. “Great idea!” the chicken cried. “Let’s offer them ham and eggs?” “Not so fast,” said the pig testily. “For you, that’s a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.” So pitching is like ham & eggs, chickens are involved but the pigs are committed. That’s why we all need to pitch like pigs One smart agency we know ensures everyone is committed to winning by using a ‘triage’ system. The senior pitch leaders,…

Two Ears One Mouth Selling

What kind of personality do you think would be ideal for New Business? Would they have the kind of characteristics that you would associate with our classic stereotype of top salespeople – someone who is ebullient, larger-than-life, gregarious and talkative – just like Jerry Lundegaard in the Coen brothers’ 1996 film classic, Fargo? In fact, evidence compiled from interviewing thousands of top business-to-business salespeople would suggest that modesty, conscientiousness, achievement orientation, curiosity, lack of self-consciousness, lack of discouragement and most surprisingly lack of gregariousness were the most common personality traits for successful salespeople. (Harvard Business Review Blog, Steve W. Martin, 2011) Indeed, newer models of sales and New Business would suggest that a more consultative approach to the client is best: using the power of listening and questioning to take the prospective client on a journey from just being aware of us as an agency, to believing in what we say and ultimately to a position of trusting us. By adding value and understanding our prospects better, we are ultimately moving away from the classic model of cold-calling and typical closed, transaction based selling techniques. Susan Cain, in her recent book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That…

New Business Challenges

We recently presented at the AAR Masterclass on “Making New Business Everyone’s Business”. We took a straw poll on everyone that attended as to what was their biggest challenge in New Business in 2013. We had some interesting results: Having clear briefs on pitches Being selective in pitches Prioritising time Sharing new business internally – instilling a new business culture – support from wider team Problems with conflicting clients Level of detail required with ppqs Standing out from the crowd Lack of internal resource Converting from long list to short list   We would be interested in opening this up to the wider New Business community to see how you would rank these in terms of importance to you. You can take part in this survey here. We’d also love to hear any other issues/feedback and you can always email one of the team.

I’m as busy as a dog with fleas!

Nicholas Bates book “How to be Brilliant” is, unsurprisingly, simply brilliant.  A simple concept and design, but on reading the first page it immediately gives you a boost and you realise that being brilliant and achieving your goals is all about your own attitude. New Business people today have certainly hit a tipping point of being frantically busy. Whenever you ask people how they are don’t you always hear “busy, hectic, crazy.. it’s just mad”? But are we getting any more done then we used to and are we getting the important things done? Marketing budgets are more closely observed than ever and there are more agencies hungry for the prize with less headcount, but there is still £29.5bn being spent on marketing.  It may not be easy, but a large number of companies are achieving strong growth and success. Productivity of employees must be a worry to management teams. There are so many potential distractions with email overload, Facebook and Twitter feeds to read, Linkedin messages to post, unnecessary meetings to go to…  Social media is a vital tool to build profile, reputation and prospects but has to be used in a focused way. We can waste not just…

Learn to Manage Your Compass Time™

  For the New Business people amongst you, I have no doubt you use the words ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ especially when you are in the midst of a pitch and probably writing your lists of what needs to be done on a daily basis, if not hourly! There never seems to be quite enough time to get everything done in quite the way that you want. Sound familiar? But have you ever considered there are really two types of time? Firstly, time which is important and urgent – this is clock time – driven by the hours in the day and by external factors like the constant writing and replying to emails, or a call from a prospective client saying they need to bring the pitch date forward. With time, there are only ever 24hrs in a day, 186 hours in a week – this is set, cannot be expanded or rolled over. Simply having good time management does not ensure the quality of our output. The other type of time is important but non-urgent… this is compass time ™. In this time you take control; you do the actions you want to and you choose your direction. In clock…

Have the fundamentals of New Business fundamentally changed?

Has New Business changed over the years, or are the fundamentals still the same? Are the techniques we apply to marketing communication agencies unique to our sector, or is therea set way to do it that works for all businesses?   YES To win new business the fundamentals are the same for all and haven’t really changed. You need energy, tenacity, resilience, insight and empathy! We should teach children that tosucceed in life you need two things: A strong work ethic and empathy for others. You need to listen, and genuinely care about the individuals you are trying to win business from andcare about their business challenges. Of course you need a pipeline of new opportunities, you need to convert, you need to retain and youneed to grow existing clients. To succeed at that, you need to establish good working relationships with your clients. And forrelationships to genuinely flourish, we would argue that the need to listen, care and understand isgreater than ever. So, the foundations for New Business are arguably still the same. However, it is the adaptation fordifferent companies, and the adaptation to different market conditions that make a difference…. NO It’s a more competitive market. There are…

A great pitch leader is a bit like a successful Prime Minister

They earn respect from the masses: You don’t have to vote for your pitch leader but if you did, one who earned the respect of the team would win hands down. Pitch teams inevitably expect members to give their all so a popular leader who can keep morale high, motivate and inspire will make the team more successful in all areas of the pitch. They can take tough (sometimes unpopular) decisions: “Are we likely to be working this weekend?” The question asked in dread on most pitch teams. The truth is if you’re asking the question, you probably already know the answer. A good pitch leader can make the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions in the interest of the pitch – not just about how long and hard a team has to work, but whether the creative work is right, who will be in the pitch itself, whether you spend £15,000 on research and everything in between. They are expert in their field, but able to grasp new areas quickly: Whilst typical pitch leaders have years of expertise working on client business, it’s rare that they have encountered the very same challenge on the same brand. Indeed, often the pitch…

jfdi: Post Pitch Analysis is your friend!

With more than 17,000 marketing agencies in the UK market alone, clients really are spoilt for choice. Thankfully we’re not all competing for the same piece of the pie but now more than ever agencies have to evaluate where they rank amongst the competition. When it comes to pitching this is particularly difficult to assess, since we never get to see our competitors in action (oh, for that glimpse). So how do we get a view on whether we’re the best in the business, or hopelessly lagging behind the competition? As professionals we’re always looking to improve – whether this is improving the creative product itself, our individual professional development, the agency-client relationship or the work of the teams we manage. But the thought of analysing how we faired on a recent pitch (win or lose) and addressing the areas for improvement fills us with dread. Why is this? Surely we want to win more often? Putting yourself forward for a pitch requires courage. From an individual’s point of view a pitch is so much more than a business opportunity: It’s an added commitment in an already busy job; it comes with high exposure and a rare opportunity to demonstrate…

jfdi: Only the Paranoid Survive

New Business can be divided into three areas: A Qualified Pipeline, Pitching to Win, Organic Growth. For a qualified pipeline, a number of things need to be in place first. The Business Strategy and Positioning of the agency needs to be agreed by management. Marketing materials must then clearly articulate this. In addition, this must be clearly communicated to all internally, from the top down. Lastly, there needs to be a New Business & Marketing Strategy that is written down, well implemented and committed to at all levels Even with these in place, an agency should never rest on its laurels when it comes to its pipeline – it always needs work. We can always qualify harder, and scrutinise the value and quality of each opportunity. With your qualified pipeline in place, you now have to turn the opportunities into wins. The industry average conversion rate is 35%. However, jfdi® has seen that those agencies with a higher conversion rate are the more paranoid ones, and those with a lower than average conversion rate seem to think “it is just life” and often blame it on factors out of their control.  The best want to keep getting better, are restless,…

New Business: Rabbit in the Headlights

So you are in charge of New Business & Marketing and sometimes you just don’t know where to start. Does this sound familiar…..? “I need to start with the website because if our products are not clearly articulated how will we win new business? But we can‘t get the website sorted until we have all those case histories, and we are just waiting on those final results figures. And, how can we complete the website without a clear proposition, which I am struggling to get out of the partners – struggling to even get them in a room together for more than an hour? I need to get some PR, but surely that involves building a relationship with journalists first, which won’t happen overnight.  I can’t at the first meeting ask them to place a piece for us. And how do I swop information with them, without betraying confidences?  Help!……  What about Social Media?  Someone in the agency is good at tweeting, but the message doesn’t tie in with our blogs. And our last blog post was 3 weeks ago.  What about the consultants – which one should I invest my money with? We should host a round table, cracking…

jfdi: Making Networking Contemporary

Studies show that over 40% of adults feel nervous about meeting new people. One survey showed that around 75% of people feel uncomfortable at business and social events. It is not surprising then that networking is up there as one of the most hated things we have to do in New Business, along with cold calling and public speaking.  It can feel uncomfortable and there is something about it that even feels a little slimy. Perhaps we need to reframe our view of networking? If we see it as calculated and wanting something for nothing then it is hideous, as it is intrinsically against human nature to ask for something out of the blue.  However in Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” (arguably one of the best business books ever written) he talks about the Law of Reciprocity. Simply stated, Covey was saying that when someone gives you something, you feel an obligation to give back. Using the metaphor of a financial bank account, Covey described the process as an “emotional bank account” and the corresponding credit-withdrawal process in all relationships at work. Just like a financial bank account, you must make deposits before you can make…

New Business: If not now, when?

It took me a little while to catch up but I have now been truly swept up by Olympics fever and the successes of Team GB. The tipping point for me was watching Nick Skelton – a man of 54, with a broken body (back injuries and a hip replacement) and Peter Charles, 52, also plagued by career-threatening injuries, leading the show jumping team to victory. Skelton was competing at his sixth Olympics and was quoted afterwards as saying “I’ve been to a lot of Games and made a lot of mistakes but I’ve finally got there”.  Everyone has had their heroes in these Games and the Channel 4 trailer for the Paralympics shows better than anything why we should be in awe. But what is it that makes these athletes successful? More than anything, they have the driving force and determination to succeed. We have heard about the setbacks, personal sacrifices and support from coaches and families – sometimes great personal sacrifices have been made. In addition, there appears to be some sort of inner force that has kept these athletes going, as they accepted defeats and failures as yet more reason to carry on and pursue their ultimate…

Is Inbound Marketing the future of New Business?

jfdi® believes that inbound marketing is the future of agency New Business lead generation. It is based on earning the attention of prospects by making your agency easy to get found online and then engaging prospects with high-value content. As traditional “push” forms of marketing, such as cold calling and email have become less effective, inbound marketing offers a better way for agencies to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise to prospective clients whilst measurably nurturing them through their buying decision process. So where do you start? A good place to begin is your blog. You need relevant and interesting content that also has gravitas so that prospects are drawn to your agency and want to download your blog, link to it, have conversations about it and share the content with others via social media networks. This should be your “hub”. Therefore you need to think about your prospective audience and what they want to talk about and hear about. You also need to examine where they can be found online and how they interact with their networks. In an ideal world, you should aim to write around 300-500 words and try to do this a minimum of twice a week.…

Leadership may come from the top, but it has to be a skill of everyone on a pitch-winning team

So, you’re pitching. You’ve analysed your chances of winning, you know you want it, you’ve jumped expertly through the required hoops and you’ve made it onto the final pitch list. Congratulations! Now, for that final, crucial hurdle: winning… Pitch-winning teams have at least one thing in common: leadership. This doesn’t mean one person making all the decisions or taking all the responsibility. It means a team of people who understand their roles, lead their individual teams, take responsibility for their decisions and have the discipline and drive it takes to win. Pitch teams that demonstrate strong leadership skills exude it in all their behaviour as individuals and as a team, both internally and externally. They commit fully to the pitch – everything else comes second. They are brave and confident in their work and ability, unafraid to push for better. They are strong communicators, motivate and empower their juniors and support their peers. They are decisive and take responsibility for those decisions. They do not give up. They go above and beyond in delivering, both for their team and for the client. These skills are applied at every stage of the pitch, from the first client contact to the post-pitch…

Client Relationships – The Most Valuable Asset of All

Every day we build relationship equity with our clients. For the Client Team it’s the most important part of their job. If we build equity, we build value. If we build value, we can get a return on it. Typically that return is the form of additional business. Winning new business from existing clients is always going to be more profitable growth than winning new business from new clients. Moreover you’re 5x more likely to win from your existing clients. Even so, there are many reasons why Client Teams often fail to realise these relatively ‘easy-win’ revenue opportunities.   One common reason is that we can all be a bit “English” about New Business, thinking that selling is a dirty word and we don’t want to rock the boat – head down and just deliver the project.  It is actually both professional and expected in some cases, to ask a client for more business. One thing you can be sure of is that if you’re not asking for it, then another agency will be. In our experience, Client Teams already have a good working knowledge of where more business can be extracted from their clients. However, if this isn’t written…

New Business – is it really everyone’s business?

jfdi has met with several agencies recently that share a similar problem: they have one individual tasked with generating new business opportunities. Regardless of the size or stature of the agency, this is some responsibility, especially given the current market. Whilst pitching takes a huge amount of effort and time from everyone (not to mention the cost), an opportunity to win a new client also inspires and motivates teams, builds relationships and, if the agency wins, improves morale, confidence and in turn, future success. This is a big ask from just one or two individuals. Another trend we’ve noticed is agencies handing the task of new business to a senior client service employee who understands client related issues. If this same client service person has little or no recent new business experience, then their task just got even more difficult. Effective new business isn’t rocket science. If anything it’s an art. But it does require a lot of effort. An agency definitely needs someone to lead New Business, to have an eye on the long game, to be the first port of call for potential clients and generally keep the marketing wheels in motion. But the responsibility for generating real…