A Fresh Look at How to Market Your Ad Agency for New Business

Marketing Your Ad Agency for New Business

Stop selling your services, that’s not what prospects are buying.

Agency business development programs are often sales focused. They’re built around outbound, interruptive sales tactics that are designed to start engagements with prospective clients. The prospects have little, if any, awareness of the agency or how they’re different from their competitors.

Success in “selling the agency” is proving to be extremely difficult. And when business development isn’t successful, they think the sensible thing to do is to step-up outbound sales. Which means even more cold-calling or other interruptive type tactics.

There is a big difference in sales and marketing: Sales is where you call the prospect. Marketing is where the prospect calls you.

Differentiation from competitors is the foundation of all successful marketing. But, it’s not easy to find key differences between advertising agencies. Contrary to their own mindless self-perception, all agencies have pretty much the same basic capabilities and processes. They all claim to be different at what they do, but they are all essentially the same.

Small to midsize agency owners have themselves to blame. Not having a point of differentiation makes marketing your agency incredibly hard. It forces you to have an over reliance on trying to sell your services. You shouldn’t be in the position of having to sell your services because that’s not what prospects are buying.

There are two things that prospects want to buy:

  1. Prospects buy a solution to a problem. Prospects buy your service only because they believe it will solve their problems and give them positive results. If they don’t know what problems you solve and the results you’ll deliver, it’s not likely they’ll buy your service.
  2. Prospects buy YOU. After identifying the problem they want solved, prospects make a decision on who they will choose to solve it for them. Don’t focus on selling your services. Instead, provide communications and conversations where the focus is on your understanding of their problems .

What are prospects looking for?

Ad agencies still try to lead with being a full-service agency to attract new business but, marketers don’t find their claim to be credible.

According to research from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), ‘Fortune 500 companies have an average of 17 agency relationships. None of them have an actual ‘Agency of Record.’

Like it or not, prospects are demanding expertise. They’re seeking specialists. They’re looking for specialized agencies that have a proven track record of success to help them with their marketing challenges.

This can be a good thing for the small to midsize agency owner. Prospects will seek out providers, well beyond their market. They’re willing to pay a premium for expertise. The reward can be great. But, you must be willing to name your area of expertise to market your agency on that distinguishable difference.

Agencies that have an appealing point of differentiation to a specific target audience have:

  • Fewer competitors
  • A more focused new business program with less waste of time and energy
  • A much larger geographical market
  • The potential to earn greater premiums
  • More respect and better control of client relationships
  • Reliable new business opportunities with qualified prospects

Highly successful agencies will have their point differentiation established. They aren’t reliant on having to sell the agency. Prospects will just pick up the phone.

Email me at michael@michaelgass.com if you’d like a copy of my guide, Seven Steps for Fueling New Business Through Social Media.

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photo credit: yooperann Car Town via photopin (license)

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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