Business development has been dramatically altered. There are many people who have done this job in the past who do not know how to do it well now.
The average tenure of an agency business development director is now as low as two years. At large agencies it can be even less than a year.
New business is now much more difficult that ever. The Great Recession and the empowerment of prospects through social media moved the battle for new business primarily online. Instead of chasing new business, it is now more important to be found. Interruptive type tactics such as cold calls, email blasts and direct mail have become ineffective and inefficient.
Before hiring someone responsible for your agency’s new business efforts, in addition to understanding their traditional new business expertise, you should be explore what they really know about the following:
The battle for new business has moved online. Community development is now an indispensable in marketing your agency. Knowing how to build an online audience has become an important skill-set for those charged with agency new business.
Agencies must understand there should be a significant shift in their thinking and embrace audience building as an important initiative. Audience development is now a function that should come before business development.
Many agencies struggle with building an online community. A good number of agencies have the attitude that “if I build it, they will come” but that isn’t the case. To have success, it must be done the right way.
Here’s a crucial tip for building your online community of prospects: Stop trying to sell your agency. It’s not about touting your credentials, capabilities and case studies. You will never build an online audience without providing value to your audience.
Your skills and experience in social media has become very important. Social media provides a much more efficient way of reaching prospects than the interruptive type tactics of the past.
Prospective clients expect to have direct connections to the agency’s brand leader as its spokesman and chief. For the small to midsize agency, the owner is critical to new business. The task of the person charged with new business should provide the strategies, tactics and tools to help the agency owner to become the face of the agency.
The mix of the owner’s personal brand with a prospective client community can be powerful. With it, you will help your agency acquire more new business.
Creating and maintaining agency new business is often harder than it should be because one key ingredient is often missing. You must solve the problem of positioning. Positioning is the foundation for new business. Most agencies are fearful of it. It is the area that many agencies have not addressed because of either procrastination or more likely, their unwillingness to make the difficult business decisions.
Since 2007 I’ve prescribed creating a niche blog for agency new business and have helped create over 200 personal blogs for agency principals.
A personal blog can provide small to midsize agency owners with a perfect platform to create positioning of expertise and appeal to a very specific target audience. It’s like a fishing expedition. You fish for a specific fish with a particular bait, you fish away from the boat (the agency’s website) so you don’t scare off the fish.
Recently, a small agency won a significant national account through their niche blog, www.thestorestarters.com. Sheehy + Associates has been awarded the business of helping to launch 22 new stores for Burlington Coat Factory last year. This is what a niche blog can do for your agency.
Here are some additional examples:
Email me if you would like a copy of my Seven Steps for Fueling New Business Through Social Media. It is an outline and guide for implementing an inbound marketing program for your agency.