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Agency Leadership

How the best agencies do it

By January 21, 2018 No Comments

“How the best agencies do it”, this is the title of one of the chapter’s from Tim William’s brilliant book “Take a stand for your brand. Building a great agency from the inside out“.

If you haven’t read this book and you are responsible for running a creative agency then it’s well worth reading.

Williams reveals how the best agencies operate

Among many other gems Williams reveals about how the best agencies operate are; ‘they make agency promotion something that happens on purpose’, ‘they have a proactive, not reactive new business programme’, ‘they make the most of their point of difference’, ‘they talk in terms of client benefits, not agency features’, ‘they have the courage to be selective’.

The book covers how to grow existing business

But for me having taught hundreds of account managers about how to grow existing business, one big one stood out. “They know that ultimately the best source of new business is from current clients”.

Most agencies know the fact that it costs five times less to get new business from a current client than a new one and yet most agencies don’t have any kind of systematic approach to doing so.

The book highlights some tips to help agencies start thinking about how they can offer more value to existing clients and hence grow the account such as selling integrated services i.e. getting several departments together to think about how to add extra value to the client’s business rather than how most agencies think about it which is to simply cross-sell the services of another department/office e.g. the ad agency cross sells its PR division’s services (global networked agencies tend to do it this way).

The questions agencies should be asking themselves

Tim Williams suggests agencies gather their account team together and consider questions like:

1. What projects or activities could we recommend to this client that they haven’t thought of?
2. Could we help in new areas – design, internet marketing etc
3. Can we help in recommending new products, new uses, or new markets?
4. Is the client doing an adequate job at point of sale? Communicating with dealers or distributors?
5. What could be done to improve the client’s basic sales literature?
6. Could we recommend a tracking study to help the client track changes in awareness and attitude?

And there are 6 more questions that you’ll have to buy the book to read… 🙂

Offering real value not just charging by the hour

I am a huge fan of Tim’s and wish I’d come across his sage advice when I was starting out in ad agency land in 1991 (gulp). Having seen him speak in London at an IPA business growth conference in 2017 I’m more inspired than ever to help him spread the message to creative agencies that we need to stop selling our hours and start positioning ourselves in terms of the value we can add to clients.

Williams has a lot of strategies to help creative agencies achieve this but in terms of business growth from existing clients he reminds us “lest we forget, doing superb work for current clients is ultimately the best new business weapon you can have. Clients have a way of finding out who the really talented agencies are and they’re the ones that get invited to the dance”.

How does your agency currently add value to and grow current client business?

How is your agency thinking about adding more value to existing clients? Do you have a set of questions to ask yourself when approaching the task of creating more value? I’d love to know how much time you spend focussing on the growth of existing clients vs pitching for new clients.