Agencies today are facing a strategic inflection point in how they develop and retain business. Your arch-rival can court your biggest client without you ever knowing about it. Clients today are actively consulting the Internet, subscribing to blogs and email newsletters in an effort to stay ahead of the rapid pace of change. They are self-educating via these tools and in doing so, they are inviting your competitor to educate them and build a virtual relationship with them.
If you’ve deployed a proper digital business-development strategy, this isn’t likely to be an issue for your agency and these wandering prospects could be your next client. Let’s face it -There are over 10,000 agencies in the world, (actually, research suggests that there are more than 17,000 agencies in the UK alone – Ed.) and Google makes it easy to discover and research every one of them. Clients love this because it enables the secret search – the one their current agency partner won’t find out about until it’s too late.
So you have to make a decision as an agency. You can stick your head in the sand and ignore this stark new reality or embrace the idea of getting known for knowledge to attract those self-educating prospects to your agency so you can add them to your client list.
Believe it or not, it is possible to painlessly prospect for new business while you sleep, but you’re going to need to commit to changing how you manage your digital presence and in some cases, you’ll need to craft one.
First you’ll need to commit to answering clients’ questions via blog posts on your website. That’s right, you need to give away a bit of knowledge and insight for free. And not the easy stuff; you have to make it a point to educate your readers or let your more enlightened competitors do that for you.
Second, you’re going to need to build a funnel optimized website. Like a wayfinder system, a funnel optimized site helps your prospect find the next most important piece of content on your website. It’s imperative that you get these prospective clients to do more than just read a single article. You need them to move through your site, sending buying signals at each and every click. While it may be hard for your creative teams to stomach, in agency website design, form must follow function. You’re website is a tool not an ad.
And third, you’re going to have to commit to building a data-based, in-bound marketing program designed to turn that invisible buyer into a very visible client. Using Google Analytics isn’t enough. You have to invest in tracking software that will help you develop dossiers on each visitor to your website and know what they want to talk about before you ever get on the phone.
You have a choice to make – continue to moan and groan about the cost of participating in RFP-based new-business pitches, or position yourself to adapt to clients’ changing habits, so you can more effectively compete for new business.
I’ll even give you an easy first step. Go find out what you spent last year on pitches and dedicate 25% of that to taking the steps above. Dedicate yourself to giving the system a year to generate results. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
Tom is a no nonsense, straight-talking 20-year veteran of the ad business, keynote speaker and the founder of Converse Digital who favours stiff drinks, good debates and helping agencies leverage digital strategies to painlessly prospect for new business. His first book, The Invisible Sale, is now available for pre-sale at TheInvisibleSale.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TomMartin, circle him on Google+ or contact him at http://ConverseDigital.com.
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