Thought Leadership, Millennial Marketing and Ad Agency New Business

creating a niche for ad agency new business

How to humanize your agency, build a positioning of expertise and make a personal connection with your best prospects.

This is a guest article written by Jeff Fromm. Jeff is an Executive Vice President at Barkley, which is among the largest independent advertising agencies in the U.S. and the largest employee-owned agency. He is the  founder of the conference and co-author of “Marketing to Millennials.”

Jeff is charged with business development for Barkley and in the following article, shares the tactics he has used to gain a positioning of expertise and infuse new business opportunities.

Finding a Niche

I was looking for a niche for new business that was consistent within Barkley’s brand authority.

One of my partners had suggested a variety of areas from mobile marketing to big data.  Another partner suggested Gen Y marketing.

I researched these topics along with others. I found very little information on Gen Y marketing.  There was one other agency that had a focus within this space, but they hadn’t conducted any research, nor had they written any white papers or created any reports on millennial marketing.

The 80 million members of the millennial generation (born 1977 to 1995) represent 25% of the U.S. population and more than $200 billion in annual buying power.

Conducting Research

So, after much discussion, we decided to form a research partnership with Barkley and two research consulting groups, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Service Management Group (SMG), to explore Millennial consumer trends.

I wrote a detailed wish list of what I wanted to explore and the brilliant teams at BCG and SMG helped create a survey instrument that would compare 4,000 Millennials to over 1,000 older generations on a variety of key topics.

Launching a Conference

We decided to hold the world’s first Millennial Marketing conference. This is where we would release the results from our study.  A couple of months before the event, we issued a short press release about the trends research report called, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.”

Within hours of the press release, my phone started ringing from brands like Pepsi, Intel, Coke and many more, confirming the interest of major brands.

We were able to attract an amazing list of speakers:

  • Facebook – Eva Hung, Head of Direct Sales Marketing & Communications
  • Frito Lay – Rudy Wilson, Vice President of Marketing
  • MTV – Jeff Lucas, Head of Sales, Networks, Music & Entertainment Groups
  • Sony Music – Dan Pelson, Executive Vice President, Global Direct to Consumer Operations
  • Six Flags – David McKillips, Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances
  • Sonic – Danielle Vona, Chief Marketing Officer

Writing a Book

The popularity of our millennials’ research led to a book deal with Amacom Publishing that provides additional credibility and a positioning of expertise. I co-wrote the book with Christie Garton, “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever.” The book is based on our original market research. It is an enlightening look at this generation of consumers and a practical plan for earning their trust and loyalty.

Speaking Opportunities

I speak frequently about marketing to Millennials to organizations such as the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), International Franchise Association (IFA), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), as well as private corporations.

Speaking opportunities provide me with an instant association of expertise.

Here are some examples of my speaking opportunities that often put me in front of Barkley’s primary prospects:

Creating a Blog

In addition, to the research, conference and book, I have a popular blog, My blog platform is central to our social media strategy. It generates thousands of unique visitors every month from the US and abroad. My blog owns the number #1 position in organic search for “millennial marketing”.

Other social media accounts expand my reach and engagement with prospects:  Millennial Marketing Facebook page and Millennial Marketing Twitter account. My personal social media accounts Facebook, LinkedInTwitter and Google +.

The Results: 

  • Barkley has conducted some of the most extensive research ever done on millennials. In 2013, Barkley released new research focused exclusively on millennials who have become parents. Our research has been featured in Advertising Age, Adweek, CNN, Forbes, Fortune, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
  • Since our first Millennial Conference in 2011, we’ve held events in different cities every year. This year, we have planned four Share.Like.Buy events.
  • I’m invited to speak at very desirable public and private events attended by our best prospects. I get more requests than I can possibly fulfill.
  • My office receives daily requests wanting me to provide quotes, opinions and/or write articles for national publications. These requests consistently come our way without a formal PR or media relations effort.
  • Because of the development of this deep expertise, I’m frequently invited to consult with major brands.

Click here for more information regarding our Share.Like. Buy. 2014 events.

Download a copy of Barkley’s report, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation”

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

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