Ad Agency Prospects are Looking for Expertise 

ad agency new business

Agencies fail to realize the importance prospects place on having a knowledge of their industry and a positioning of expertise.

Small to midsize agencies continue to promote themselves as full service, even though it’s rare for an agency to have a full service client. They use “full service” to broaden their appeal to most prospects. But these old adages are true, “a jack of all trades is master of none” and “when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to none.” 

Isn’t it time to drop the “full service” way of thinking for new business?

According to the Association of National Advertisers, Fortune 500 companies have an average of 17 agency relationships. They have abandoned the full service model. Prospective clients don’t believe that a single agency can do it all. It’s incomprehensible for them to think that one agency can provide all of the resources they need to reach their marketing objectives.

This paradigm shift isn’t a detriment. It’s a great advantage to the smaller agencies. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you can win bigger accounts beyond your local market if you will specialize.

What prospects are looking for is expertise.

Industry expertise is more than credentials, capabilities and case studies. The commonality among experts is that experts write. This makes content marketing a tremendous tool in establishing a positioning of expertise quickly. You’re not “selling” your expertise, you’re demonstrating it. Your content becomes the fuel that builds relationships and trust.

It isn’t just about building your agency’s brand but also your personal brand.

Owners of agencies should focus on their personal brand. The brick and mortar isn’t as important as the person who owns the agency. This is especially true of small to midsize firms.

There isn’t a more effective way to build your brand than by becoming a thought leader to a specific target audience. Growing your personal brand is made much easier through social media when it’s fueled by your content marketing.

There are many situations where your personal brand is as essential, or even more so, than your agency’s brand.

“People trust brands that have people they can trust.”

Take a look at personal branding from a prospective client’s perspective:

  • We’re a highly relational industry and the face behind the agency helps to create a more personal brand impression.
  • Staff relationships are usually deeply rooted in the person behind the brand.
  • For smaller agencies like The Buntin Group or even global agencies such as Ogilvythe name/person behind their agency is part of their value proposition.
  • A prospect is buying into the expertise of the agency owner as well as the owners values, vision and promise.

Speaking at events provides instant credibility and immediate new business opportunities.

Public speaking is an excellent tactic for business development, particularly for small to midsize agency owners. Having the opportunity to speak in front of a highly targeted, interested group of prospects is the most effective form of lead generation.

Public speaking is an essential component to my business development program.

I have been the keynote speaker for more than 100 events in the U.S., Canada and in the UK, speaking on topics related to leadership, business development, and social media. I’ve been hired as a keynote, conference speaker for numerous organizations including: The 4A’s, AAF, ASM, BMA, ICA Canada, Magnet Global Network, PRSA, Taan, The Network One (London) and the Worldwide Partners. These events are attended by my best prospective clients.

An example, I spoke at Mirren’s annual new business conference several years ago. In the session was Tracy Wong, Chairman, Executive Creative Director and founding partner of WONGDOODY. Tracy was included in the 4A’s top 100 People Who Make Advertising Great. Following my session, I received this personal note from Tracy,

“… of all the great stuff at Mirren, I got the MOST out of your session. Inspirational, frightening, reasoned, brilliant, simple. All in one hour. It’s an odd sensation to feel thoroughly energized yet want to beat yourself silly with a stick at the same time.”

In the same session was another agency owner,  Brad Ball. He is the former CMO of McDonalds, past president of marketing for Warner Brother’s Pictures and former head of entertainment for NASCAR. Brad is a partner at the Moroch agency headquartered in Dallas, Texas.  This speaking engagement led to my consulting with Moroch and provided the opportunity to work directly with Brad for almost two years.

It’s far easier to generate leads when you’ve developed a positioning of expertise than pursuing prospects as the salesperson.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

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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