After the extremely challenging conditions of 2020, there seems to be a lot more for marketers to smile about moving forward, as the UK economy is set to grow at its fastest rate for 70 years.
Whilst the caveat to this is that we will only be back to pre-pandemic levels, the speed of the bounce back along with revised predictions for job losses has far exceeded even the most optimistic assumptions since we were plunged into the Covid crisis.
We saw the economy fall off a cliff just over a year ago, with marketing budgets either being pulled, postponed or re-aligned to different channels as companies attempted to get to grips with an unprecedented situation.
Likewise, consumers may have re-aligned their own spending during lockdown. Holidays were difficult (to say the least), going out for meals and drinks was restricted for months at a time, but this led to money being spent in other areas. Home improvements and consumer tech spring to mind. And, at the start of the pandemic at least, toilet paper was as sought after as Bitcoin!
It also led to a significant proportion of people saving money as they exercised caution in case of further difficulties. As confidence in the economic situation grows, those consumers are likely to start spending it.
So what does this mean for agencies?
Inevitably it means new accounts will be won by many. Those who have been proactive in maintaining their new business pipelines throughout the pandemic are likely to benefit most as they will already be in dialogue with the marketing decision makers who want to capitalise on this consumer spending boom.
Pent-up demand in some sectors is almost fit to burst. Up and down the country, it seems people are sitting outside pubs in unseasonably cold weather and often having to book well in advance just for the privilege of doing that. As the UK vaccine roll out continues at pace, consumers are desperate to get back to “normality” – or at least shape “the new normal” to their aspirations – and that is welcome relief for businesses and brands.
Last year there was a period from late August to mid-October when we saw interest and activity spike due to pent-up demand. This was despite the fact a second wave was widely predicted and there was no sign of a vaccine at that point. Whilst that turned out to be a bit of a false dawn, due to the huge increase in cases which eventually put the country back into lockdown, it demonstrates that agencies need to have their finger on the pulse to take advantage of increased demand without delay. With the vaccine situation in the UK as it is now, brand marketers will be far more confident that any third wave will not have the same crippling impact as the first two.
We may well see an increased churn of accounts moving between agencies. Some agencies will have great new case studies that can demonstrate how they increased their clients’ revenues during lockdown. Other agencies will have diversified or developed new offers in digital marketing channels that snowballed at breakneck speed as brands looked for new ways to sell to their customers. We also know from our own conversations with business owners that a number of agencies utilised lockdown to refresh their value proposition and/or case studies. It would therefore be safe to assume that this was happening industry-wide.
Whatever marketing discipline your agency falls under, there are some keys steps to take right now to ensure you have the best chance of winning new business:
- Contact Management: Is your CRM system sufficient to make sure that none of your current prospects are falling through the cracks? Regardless of the platform you are using, your business development team will still need the motivation and tenacity to maintain a constant intelligent dialogue with them so you are front of mind and in a position to offer solutions as soon as the need arises.
- Strategy: Is your proposition fine-tuned and are you targeting the right people with the right offer? Nearly all agencies will claim to have a USP, but in reality (and certainly from a buyer’s perspective) this may not be the case. You need to ensure that your offer stands above your competitors and that you can demonstrate a tangible benefit to entice the decision maker when you pitch for their business.
- Data: Do you have a sufficient volume of data and is the information accurate enough to enable you to run an effective lead generation campaign? It can be tough targeting new people and brands with so many marketing decision makers working from home, but there are various tools you can utilise to help you contact those hard-to-reach people.
Alternatively, you could enlist the help of a reputable new business agency to help with these matters. Providing you have carried out your due diligence, a decent new business agency should have the ability to put you in front of marketing decision makers and budget holders relatively quickly. Whether working alongside your existing business development team or as a stand-alone resource, their focus will be to ensure you have an ongoing flow of opportunities from companies and brands in your market sector. Effectively, they will be separating the wheat from the chaff so you can concentrate on the finer details of the client acquisition process.
Whichever route you go down, here’s to hoping that 2021 sees a new business bonanza in the agency world!