I’ve been pondering the roll of business development in agencies for some time now. Traditionally the role of business development or sales (either in the agency world or in general) has been to convince someone that they needed a specific service or product, though they may or may not actually need it. This worked well for a long time, where the better you could articulate some wonderful product the better you’d sell. I think this is where we get the perception of the guy with slicked back hair saying “What’s it gunna take to get you to buy this today, for you I’ll make a good good deal!” In the end, the role of business development has been taken by people that are generally perceived as soulless and only care about closing a deal. The money became more important than the reason why we sell.
I say this because agencies tend to have a really poor understanding of business development. The process goes like this: We get in contact with a client one way or another, they say they want a new service, we ask them how much they want to spend, then we quote a price that is double their budget because it will fit “best practices.”
People who are charged with agency business development are in need of a bit of a Renaissance. I’d argue the role of business development is not to simply “sell” a service to clients, but rather three separate parts: 1. Deeply understand their prospect’s business 2. Deeply understand their client’s business issues 3. Objectively determine if their agency’s services can alleviate their business issues with adequate ROI. If we follow this framework with the above example, we’d need to understand why the prospect needs a new website before we start rattling off pricing. Is the website outdated? Does it not convert visitors well? How much money is the prospect losing by having an inadequate website? If we rebuild your website, will it actually solve the problems you are facing?
Thus, the role of business development transforms from a “sales” role to one of a chief problem solver. Our job as business development professionals is to speak both our clients and agency’s language to communicate if there is adequate value for both organizations to form a partnership. I believe adopting a perspective that we as agencies are in existence to “solve our client’s business issues through the use of marketing services” from the first conversations sets the right tone early, and ultimately allows agencies and their clients to prosper.
In mid-April I had the opportunity to attend the Mirren New Business Conference in New York City. The show was packed and I received a ton of interesting information, but a few things really stood out to me:
1. Most agencies, specifically traditional, do not even slightly understand digital. What this means for us is that fortune favors the brave, and we have an incredible opportunity to give any client that needs digital services a leg up. After this conference and seeing the level of digital knowledge of these agencies, I don’t think there is a client in the world that is out of our reach (specific to the services we provide).
2. Agencies aren’t as valuable as we think, sometimes. Most traditional shops are being squeezed by procurement, seeing their margins diminish. I believe this is because agencies don’t understand that they are only as important as the results they produce, and results from both traditional and digital shops have been called into question. Justification is demanded for every penny of spend which, lucky for us, fits right in our wheel house.
3. There is a disconnect between what advertisers want and what agencies want to give. Agencies are convinced that their “ideas” have intrinsic value. To me, this is complete bullocks. Ideas are only valuable when they solve a defined and important business issue. It appears we need to embrace the mantra that “we will do anything for our clients/prospects success” including giving away ideas, methods of execution, etc. I believe this deep focus will really change the way in which we sell.
4. The days of being creative for creative’s sake are over. This mimics the point above, which states that advertisers would rather have a mildly creative idea with great results than a great creative idea with mild results. Results create value, end of story. While this isn’t an issue we face, this is an issue many agencies are facing in their pitch process.
5. A consultative sales approach is the best tool we have to win business. This is the most important point of this soap box speech. I know it is crazy to think, but our ability to win business is more contingent on finding our clients’ real problems and offering actual solutions rather than proclaiming a superior process and team. Clients don’t really understand how we are any different by what we say in our pitch, as most agencies claim to the be the best, brightest and almost god-like. Saying that we are client focused means nothing if we don’t take the time to focus on our clients’ needs, wants, desires etc. in the sales process. I am convinced (and we have seen the results) that a client-focused sales process focused on the strongest level of qualification and delivering the exact solution to the clients’ issues will both shorten our sales cycle and dramatically increase our win rate.
So I’m not gonna do what you all think I’m gonna do, which is just FLIP OUT! But I want to know, Who’s Coming With Me?! Who’s coming with me besides Flipper here? Who’s coming with me?
To say that the internet and my physical health have a special relationship would be an understatement. Being that it is World Health Day and I work on the internet all day every day, I thought I’d spend a moment reflecting on how important this band of cables buried in the ocean has been to my personal wellness.
As we look back into the dawn of time (or about when Facebook launched), it is clear the internet is really, really good for two things. First, it has a lot of information on a lot of different topics. Second, it helps people who would never have the opportunity to connect find each other for love, friendship or business relationships.
In these two ways the internet has made a tremendous impact on my health. My wife and I are health nuts, subscribing to a strict diet and copious amounts of exercise. Without both the volume of information on healthy living and the community of people who believe as we do, our lifestyle would be nearly impossible. There is just about every piece of information the human race knows about health on the internet. What an irony that there is unlimited information on health and wellness at a time when the human race is at it’s all time un-healthiest. To anyone asking the question of where to start with health, I’d recommend combining Google.com with the term “Wellness.”
So, on World Health Day, I salute you Mr. Intenet. I’ve learned, shared, read, tweeted, searched and blogged about the simplicity of good foods, the joy of a long slow run and even ways to avoid the diseases that plague the human race.
And to that my dear friend Mr. Internet, I raise my shot of wheatgrass tomato puree.
The four most awesome Hootsuite updates
The Twitterverse no doubt woke up to great joy as the holidays have appeared to come early. Hootsuite, one of the best free social media management tools, has again raised the bar in their offering by releasing a killer update, all in HTML5. Here are what I view as the top four updates, and how they can be used.
- Blue Steel and Magnum- Way to go with class and choose two of the Derek Zoolander’s mind-alteration, hip gyrating looks. Points simply for being that cool. But, beware Hootsuite, “it’s not easy being really really good looking.”
- Google Analytics Integration- With literally a few clicks, users can port their Google Analytics data into Hootsuite, and even overlay tweets to try and match up site side with social media activity. Without going on a rant but still slightly ranting, I’m convinced this is the direction of social media measurement. Because of the inherent difficulty in tracking tweets, this type of measurement can at least directionally prove increased site traffic. This has always been the next evolution in social media analytics, really good call on this one as well.
- Drag and drop upload- Really cool feature allowing users to simply drag any type of file into the message box for easy posting. Furthermore, it automatically generates a shortened link, giving you the ability to access robust stats on clicks and effectiveness.
- GeoSearch- Maybe one of the coolest features to come out (except Blue Steel and Magnum), users can now search for tweets based on their location. Wanna only see Tweets in Denver? Or maybe you want to monitor sentiment across different locations? No problemo.
All in all, Mr. Owl you are my friend, and I appreciate all you’ve done.
Let me start out by saying two things: 1. Yes, I know, the title is lame, you’re just going to have to live with it; and 2. Most of what I’m out to write is pure speculation, As we all know, this industry can and does change very quickly.
Now that we are clear, Google Buzz. Though it is by no way Google’s first attempt at a social media platform, it is by far their most ambitious. A snapshot of Google Buzz would be something like this: Twitter + Gmail + Foursquare + Google Reader. Buzz is not original in any way, bringing no new features to the table.
I’ve read a million blogs on Buzz, and honestly I’m not seeing it as the game-changer that has been predicted. But, alas, it’s Google and I should never doubt our overlords. Here are three ways it could have real impact on the industry:
- Overnight Adoption – If you have Gmail, well friend, you now have Buzz. When Google launched Buzz they gave every Gmail user a Buzz account. To take it one step further, most people were also connected with every single person they interacted with via Gmail or Google Chat. This, of course, is a perfect transition into my next point.
- Privacy Concerns - Google will now connect the digital world with the real world. Your Buzzed actions will be indexed and correlated with your digital self. It’s hard to over exaggerate the impact this may have on our world should Google Buzz gain user engagement. Did you search for a specific product and happen to be close to a shop that sells it? Google can tell you. Have you just broken up with that crazy ex and they happen to be at the bar where you made plans? Google can tell you that. Big. Brother.
- Keeps Map Listings Honest – One specific feature of Buzz is that it’s baked-in location-based Buzzing. Similar to Foursquare, users can Buzz from specific points on the map, review businesses and leave their experiences behind. Google will rank users in your social sphere, potentially placing their Buzzes high on map and organic listings. Not only will this have an impact on SEM but will also make map listings much more relevant to the user.
We’ll continue to follow Buzz and Buzz about what is the buzz.
Shame on me, sorry for that.