For agency new business, you need to look at social media as a saviour not a nemesis; an asset rather than a liability; a time saver rather than a time killer.
Having spent most of my advertising career in new business development I can tell you that social media marketing is the most efficient new business tool that I have ever used.
Here are 5 ways social media marketing makes agency new business easier:
1. Social media marketing allows agencies to easily define and adopt a differentiating new business strategy
The FOUNDATION of an ad agency’s new business program is its positioning.
When you have the right positioning, it’s like fishing for a specific fish, using a particular bait. You know where the fish are, what bait is most appealing to them, the right equipment to use and you have developed the expertise to catch the real trophies.
Small to midsize agencies have been reluctant to name what they stand for. Social media marketing allows agencies to adopt a narrower niche and a more differentiating strategy than they would be comfortable in doing through their website.
“We just landed a significant project with Coca-Cola purely through our sustainable marketing niche. The best compliment we could receive was when they said our price was waaay more than the next bid, but given our background in green marketing and sustainability, that it was worth the extra investment. Finally, a value over price purchase. Love it” – Park Howell, president of Park & CO
“Just thought I would let you know. We are participating in a pitch tomorrow for another national account. This opportunity is 100% related to our agency’s new positioning through our blog, She-conomy: A guy’s guide to marketing to women” – Stephanie Holland, president, Holland + Holland Advertising
Holland + Holland advertising, through their blog, She-conomy, has now been invited to 3 national pitches as a result of their differentiating positioning. Nothing like this had ever happened before in their 25 year history. They even had trouble with local press coverage of their anniversary. But through social media, they have been recognized by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and NPR radio.
Stephanie had never been comfortable stepping out with this positioning prior to social media. She was like other agency principals who felt that they would be missing opportunities.
Here are a couple of other examples:
- The Littlefield ad agency, Tulsa, OK, is carving out a niche through their The One Thing blog: The casino marketers guide to understanding gamers, written by the agency’s new business director, Kelly Fiddner.
- MAX Advertising, Atlanta, GA, has created The Matte Pad, Marketing know how for the legal profession, written by its CEO, Tom Matte.
The way these agencies are using social media as a differentiating tool doesn’t impact the way the have obtained new business in the past. It doesn’t impede the networking and referral business that is generated offline. MAX advertising will still obtain new business outside of legal marketing and even though Littlefield is focused on casino marketers, it doesn’t impact winning a sizable local bank as a new client.
Why would a prospective client, outside of your market, want to work with your agency? Why would they pass over hundreds of other agencies to work with yours? Through a differentiating social media marketing strategy you can give them a reason.
2. Social media marketing provides an easy system to create intellectual capital and share your area of expertise
Social media marketing is effectively driven by content development and curation. This in turn provides a customized continuing education program for your professional enrichment, keeping you ahead of the learning curve and positioning as a thought leader.
An added plus, social media marketing pays for you to go back to school! What you do for professional enrichment will also provide your FUEL for new business.
3. Social media marketing lessens dependency upon new business tactics that rely on interruption tactics
I’m a cold caller from way back and have had much success with it in the past. But times are changing rapidly. Cold calling isn’t what it use to be and it isn’t an efficient or effective method for agency new business. You make dozens of calls to find the right prospect and the right time but you still have to go through the “dating process”.
Social media marketing has the potential for building prospective client relationships much faster than cold calling.
Can you imagine a prospective client picking up the phone and initiating a call for the first meeting with your agency? It doesn’t happen very often. That’s not the norm. The vast majority of the time, small to midsize agencies, PR firms and digital shops are chasing after new business opportunities.
Having steadily grown my consultancy over the past 4 years, I have yet to make an initial call for any new business. I strategically built awareness and appeal through my social media networks.
Prospective clients call and those initial conversations are much further down-the-road. They talk to me as if they know me, because they do know me. I’ve built a relationship with them online through the use of social media and when they make that call, they are usually ready to do business. You skip the dating process and move straight to the altar.
Why? People want to work with other people that they KNOW, TRUST and LIKE. Social media is an efficient and effective communication channel that allows relationships to be built much faster than they could be offline.
For instance, to have a physical, initial meeting here in my home town of Birmingham, Alabama would take much longer and is less efficient than the way I generate new business opportunities online through my social media networks.
I can be building a relationship with an agency in Costa Mesa, California while simultaneously I’m doing the same with an agency in Portland, Maine and Miami, Florida. I am doing this while I’m networking internationally through a network of agencies in South Africa and a couple of agencies in London.
All of this networking is taking place from my home office located above my garage in Alabaster, Alabama or from where ever I happen to be.
4. Social media marketing allows agencies to broaden their market
Small to midsize ad agencies can affordably build a national awareness.
Prior to using social media for new business, The Russo Group in Lafayette, LA, 94% of their new business came from within their market. Since implementing social media, 94% of their new business has been generated outside their market and has extended their business in over 9 different states.
The growth clients well outside of their market of Lafayette had never happened before. Social media marketing made the difference.
Not long ago I received this message from a midsize agency located outside of Cleveland, Ohio:
“Kudos to all! Our social program is generating leads and business from around the world. Earlier this year got a client out of Australia and currently talking to a company in Japan that follows me on twitter” – John Sonnhalter, CEO, SONNHALTER
This agency has a very narrow niche, manufacturers who target professional tradesmen, plumbers, electricians, contractors. They’ve been able to play to their strengths because social media marketing broadens their business opportunities.
5. Social media marketing helps create consistent new business practices
You can keep your prospective pipeline full even when your agency is at its busiest. Once you develop your social media marketing strategy and get it in place, it will take little effort to keep it working on your behalf.
We previously owned a houseboat that was docked at a marina in Nashville, TN. I often would make the 250 mile drive to spend time on the boat. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the culture around the docks at Black Jack Cove Marina. My new business pipeline didn’t suffer when I spent weeks there. Often I would be sitting on the back of the boat watching the sun set while cranking out another blog post and engaging with new business prospects hundreds of miles away.
I can easily create, maintain and grow new prospective client relations through my social media network. It is similar to how I would network offline but much more efficient. It is like networking on steroids.
Additional articles that may be of interest:
- The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing for Ad Agency New Business
- 7 Key Digital Trends for 2011 for Ad Agency New Business
- Big Ad Agencies Now Requiring the Development of Digital Skills
- 16 of the Top Quotes from Fast Company’s The Future of Advertising
- 10 Prime Time Benefits of Blogging for New Business