There isn't a single person involved in marketing or advertising who can't appreciate the power of a great pitch. But sometimes it takes more than that to land the best clients. When you want to show a client what you're made of, it takes some creativity to get that message across. So how can you be irresistible to the new business you're seeking? Only the brightest minds in the agency world know the best tricks to winning a new client. That's why we called on some of our favorite agency contacts to reveal their secrets to success. Here's what they had to say.
Know when to say "no"
Adam Kleinberg, CEO, Traction
Say "no." Clients usually hire an agency because they have a problem to solve, but don't know how to solve it. Because of that, they often don't know how to ask for it to be solved. Sometimes they are prescriptive, even though they're not sure of the right prescription. Sometimes they understand their business problem, but don't understand their consumer problem. Sometimes there's an elephant in the room that will prevent you from being successful. When you see these red flags, having the confidence to say "no, that's not right" is the best thing you can do. A smart client is not looking for a "yes-man" agency -- they are looking for someone to help them be successful. More than once, I've had a frank conversation with a client that has led to them re-writing the entire brief -- and on a few occasions to award Traction their business a few months down the line without any competition at all.
Create the right mixture
Darren McColl, chief brand & marketing strategy officer, global, SapientNitro
The secret sauce to winning new business is as much about the ingredients as the recipe. You need diverse talent (not like-minded), amazing work that inspires clients (not yourself), real insight (not opinions), strategic rigor (not just a story line), and a systematic approach to how it, and the new partnership, will drive performance (not measurement). And, like any great sauce, it needs to meld together as one amazing complex flavor (not a mix of flavored ingredients).
Truly understand the client
Melina Ex, managing director, U.S. east coast, Fetch
I've been on the client side at pitches. Often, two hours have passed, and the agency is still on slide No. 48. Each team wants to show how many cool ideas they have come up with. And yet, often they fail to address the brand's real business needs. Everybody is aware that it's a competitive market out there. Making a great first impression and showing you really understand the client is key in winning their business. With that said, here are three tips on achieving that win:
Tip 1: Don't overlook the "elevator pitch." The initial idea you pitch needs to be easy to understand and easy to buy into. No matter how complex the tactics are, the pitch deck should be clean, describing the solution and providing clear measurement for success.
Tip 2: Bring an expert. Source knowledge from your agency to gain an edge on the competition. In the end, it's a people business -- bringing experts with something interesting to tell not only sparks engaging discussions, but also shows your business is empowered with true experts.
Tip 3: Align your proposition to the advertisers' goals -- the big goals. Don't get hung up on tactical details. It's quality over quantity. In the end, the client wants to see how you understand the big picture and broad objectives of the business, not just the campaign or a fragment of the business you are pitching to.
It's a marathon, not a sprint
Reid Carr, CEO, Red Door Interactive
Realize that you don't have to win it all in the first contact. Ultimately, you need to move the prospect down the marketing funnel to become a client just like you do on behalf of your clients.
I think that agencies tend to forget that their funnel is a lot like most other businesses. Create awareness, and help the prospect move through consideration into trial; prospective clients have different communication needs at each phase.
Then, most importantly, create loyalty and turn your clients into advocates because advocates truly are your best source for new business.
Be a real partner
Chris Evans, vice president of media, R&R Partners
To us, the theme of winning permeates everything that we do at R&R Partners -- whether it is victory for our clients, spotlighting the talent of our incredible team members, or even developing new business. We like to think that our decade plus relationships with clients and industry partners helps us work with new clients in exciting ways, leading to organic growth. For example, our annual Media Tailgate is an event every September where we invite our partners to celebrate with us ... note that we don't ever refer to our partners as vendors, as they are part of the R&R family. We treat our clients the same way, and we approach business development in a similar vein: winning together.
Great work attracts great clients
Jeff Rosenblum, founding partner, Questus
Do great work. That's it!