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Anyone familiar with the brilliant sketch show, The Fast Show, will know used car dealer Swiss Toni. He compared everything to “making love to a beautiful woman” especially selling….cars in his case.

Although a fan of Swiss Toni, I tend to disagree with his New Business philosophy. The smooth salesman façade is thankfully rather dated and there are a lot more….well, nicer ways of developing partnerships with clients.

This blog post will discuss a few things I've learnt over the years.

I don’t like your face!

Vinnie Jones

People buy people! We strongly believe that you can offer the best solution to a client for a particular project but if there is no rapport your message will be completely diluted and may never get properly heard.

If you are in the privileged position of being invited in for a meeting with a client, or better still a pitch, listen to their requirements and understand what they are trying to achieve. 

Do not dominate proceeding with your own voice (no matter how funny and eloquent you are) and just remember that you want to build strong relationships with the people in front of you. Therefore, don’t use them as a captive audience to say how awesome your agency is!

Do your homework 

This is so obvious and so easy to do it is baffling how many times we hear horror stories from clients who tell us about agencies that have turned up for meetings in the past completely unprepared.

Now, we are not saying you should go in like the old BBC children’s TV character The Anorak.

Shouting “I know” to everything and claiming that you know the client’s business better than they do, but at the same time you need to do your research.

The Anorak

Make sure that you understand the potential client’s business as much as is possible. Understand what they do, the industry they operate in and their competitors. The potential client will appreciate your effort and you will be able to deliver far better answers and solutions. 

“Take a look at what you could have won”

Bulls Eye

The immortal lines of Jim Bowen on Bullseye as the Caravan is shown to the unlucky duo who failed to score 101 from 6 darts in Bully’s Star Prize Gamble.

This is similar to what many agencies do at pitches. They take the outstanding members of their staff to do the pitch and it’s later revealed that they will have no part in the project; “Oh no, Superstar Steve is working on far more important and bigger projects than yours!”. So in effect, showing the client what they could have had (won).

This is likely to cause frustration from the potential client as they need to meet the people they will be working with. People buy people remember!

Creative direct mail stays on desks!

We cannot emphasise enough how effective creative direct media can be. There are multiple rewards for an agency that can deliver this marketing tactic successfully.

Firstly, direct mail stays on desks, or better yet, gets passed around the office. The amount of brochures, fliers, even letters we get sent from companies is staggering. Most of these (I do keep the odd brochure) end up in the recycling bin with little, if any, attention given to them.

However, a quick scan of the office and I can see six different types of creative direct mail all from companies who we have spoken with since or intend to speak with in the future.

Another benefit of direct mail is the effect it can have on brand image. If an agency creates something that stands out for all the right reasons the recipient will instantly think favourably of the agency in question. This means that should you wish to perform a follow up call you are more likely to receive a welcoming response.

It is worth remembering that marketing can be a slow burn and the client may not have a suitable project right away. Marketing is largely focussed on repeat exposure and conditioning, associating an experience with a brand.

Creative direct mail is a great way to deliver these strategies and will stand you in good stead should the client have a project in the future.

'I played swingball with Robert DeNiro in Pwllheli'

The above is one of the many lies of Kenny Senior (shown below) from the brilliant Phoenix Nights. He lied about everything including sleeping with Bonnie Langford, appearing on Centre Court at Wimbledon and getting a price for some paint for Jackie Chan!

Stop

Our message here is don’t lie about your portfolio. Apart from it being unscrupulous, you will get caught out.

Our Marketing Manager was speaking with a friend just a few weeks ago and they told him that they had a guy from a creative agency on the phone saying he had done loads of work for O2.

Unfortunately for the guy from the agency, the friend worked in the marketing department at O2 for 10 years and on the projects the guy on the phone was describing….he had never heard of the agency!

Stay in contact

Stay in contact with your warm leads. Newsletters can be an effective way of doing this as long as you don’t make them 'salesy'!

Give your leads a good reason to open your newsletter by writing insightful articles on industry news, a marketing hot topic, the latest iPhone….think about what you would find interesting!

If you have some company news that you think people will find interesting by all means include it but all of the content should not be about your agency.

Fill up your trophy cabinet 

Industry awards are a great way of distinguishing yourselves from your peers. They give an agency instant kudos and a good starting point when meeting with a potential client or delivering a pitch.

Don’t diss your competitors!

There are lots of agencies out there and the vast majority deliver brilliant work on a regular basis. Therefore, when you are speaking with a potential client don’t start slagging off other agencies….it’s just not a cool thing to do!

We all work hard and take pride in what we do and you should have enough confidence in your own agency to have a successful business without having to stoop so low!

Robert Yardy

Published 18 December, 2012 by Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy is Marketing Manager at MMT Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter

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