As a co-owner of a new business agency it will come as no surprise that I am a great advocate of the effectiveness of cold calling/appointment setting, particularly in this current climate where there is a lot of interest from prospects in more innovative and/or cost effective ways of helping them solve their problems.
When I say cold calling I mean intelligent, well targeted approaches to prospective clients who meet all the agreed quality criteria of profile, budget, size, location etc rather than the ‘let’s hope some of it sticks’ scattergun approach.
In fact, a significant percentage of the calls we make are to cultivate existing contacts so are follow up calls rather than cold calls.
However, that’s only part of the picture and as an owner or partner of a creative/strategic/digital//communications/research agency you should never knowingly delegate new business entirely, either to an in-house person or to a specialist business development agency like Alchemis.
The most successful new business campaigns in our 25 years experience are those where the whole agency embraces the concept and practice of ongoing business development, from using your own personal contacts to keeping your eyes open for appropriate brands and companies for your agency to approach.
Here is a list of the ten activities that should form part of your longer term strategy (in no particular order) even if you only have the time or money to do only some of them now or at any given time in the future.
- Cold calling (always use an expert, don’t expect your creative team for example to either have the time or the inclination to do this!)
- Always make time to treat all incoming enquiries with respect; a £5k brochure today could lead to a £250k account in 2 years time
- Cultivate and proactively develop your referral base; find out where your current clients are going when they move and don’t be scared to contact them in their new role – they used you once for good reason and if you don’t ask…..
- Make a wish list of brands/companies you would love to work with; be realistic and also think about why they would like to work with you
- PR – this doesn’t need to be through a PR agency, if you’ve got something to say, make your own noise, pick up the phone and speak to that journalist at The Grocer or whoever
- If you’re an agency of a certain size or have a specialism, then the marriage brokers such as the AAR, Haystack or Oystercatchers can play an important role in recommending you to clients who register their briefs with them
- Maximise the business networking sites such as LinkedIn; you would be surprised how small this world is and a referral or a personal contact can go a long way
- Make sure your website is SEO friendly and that it reflects the core pillars of your offer; it’s not good if we’ve talked about some great work you’ve done to prospects on the phone if those case studies aren’t reflected on your website
- Maximise your relationship and therefore the referral power of your business partners; we’ve had several referrals over the years from our IT support partner for example
- Don’t forget your existing clients and always try to develop more business from them. Be careful that you’re not ‘put in a box’ and always treat all meetings with current clients as an opportunity to talk about other potential work
In summary, new business should be part of the fabric of your agency, it’s your lifeblood and frankly, it’s also very exciting when you win a new client!!