The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

The Ultimate Agency Growth Funnel

Can you believe we’re approaching an entirely new decade? As you begin planning for 2020 new business, remember to plan the resources required to support that growth in the new year. While those resources will be unique to your agency’s specific growth plan, it never hurts to follow a proven formula to calculate what you need. To help with this forecasting, we’ve built an Agency Growth Calculator which evaluates your objectives and realistic requirements from each of the following steps of the agency growth funnel.

Understand Your Growth Requirements

Your KPIs are a direct reflection of your overall growth requirements. While this may seem obvious, some agencies find it extremely difficult to clearly identify their metrics for success. Here are some questions to answer during your initial planning meetings to ensure you set the right metrics:

What’s your overall revenue goal?
While there are many approaches for setting your revenue goal for the year, make sure it’s nailed down and clearly communicated prior to the new year so all parties can set operational KPIs off of that plan.

How much have you grown organically?
This gives you a good idea of the outbound effort you need after organic growth.

What’s your typical churn rate (loss of clients)?
You can only put so much on top of the funnel if you’re losing all of it at the bottom. This is why it’s important to understand how much revenue is falling off each month.

How big is this goal in comparison to new business amounts you’ve produced in years past?
Knowing how much you’re planning to grow new business Y/Y is important, particularly so you can understand the resources required to achieve that growth.

What’s your overall pitch win percentage and what’s the win percentage when they are inbound warm leads vs. cold opportunities you have generated?
Be honest when answering this question; the higher pitch win percentage you have, the less outbound effort will be required. Keep in mind that warm opportunities close at a higher rate than cold opportunities.

Have you ever generated a cold pitch opportunity before?
Many agencies rely on referrals for 100% of their pitch opportunities. While those are warm and close at a higher rate, they are not reliable or sustainable. Evaluating this gives you a better understanding for how long it can take to produce cold opportunities in the future.

Define Warm New Business Opportunities

It’s important to understand the amount of new business opportunities your agency brings in. These opportunities typically come from referrals, networking, and word of mouth. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love these lead sources? They are seen by most agency principals as the most attractive type of lead as it’s free business that came directly to you.

To help generate more of these we recommend activating your core 100 network. We define this as the core network of decision-makers with budget or marketing decision power that you have a 1st-degree relationship with. By connecting with this group at least once per month, whether a simple hello or providing them with relevant thought leadership, the likelihood of getting more referral leads increases significantly.

Lastly, while warm opportunities are nice it’s important you aren’t solely relying on them. Here’s why:

  1. They are unpredictable and you never know when your next project will be coming in.
  2. You have no control of how your portfolio expands.
  3. Losing one major client could drastically impact your revenue.

Now let’s talk about how you can warm opportunities with cold prospecting for ultimate success!

Add Proactive Prospecting For New Opportunities

Since you can’t solely rely on your referral network, you must find a way to incorporate cold prospecting into your mix. Often new business directors will wonder how much outreach is enough? How many phone calls and emails will result in a qualified meeting? We recommend tracking your success rate at each touchpoint. This allows you to know if you are consistently reaching out to enough prospects in your outreach cadence. Proper measurements typically include:

  • How many people typically reply to a cold email or call?
  • Of those replies, how many of them turn into a discovery meeting/call?
  • What number of discovery meetings turn into qualified leads?
  • How many qualified leads convert to RFI/RFP opportunities? 
  • What’s the win percentage of RFI/RFPs for your agency?

If you’ve never kept track of these numbers before, you can use benchmarks.

Our clients typically see conversion rates of:

  • 12% – 15% opens to cold emails (above industry average of 5% – 7%).
  • 7% – 10% conversion on call volume to live conversations.
  • Approximately 25% of leads moving to discovery and qualifying.
  • And 60% or more qualified leads moving to an RFI or RFP.   

Agencies that are just getting started on proactive outreach can see numbers a bit lower than these. Keep in mind many agencies underestimate how many prospects they actually need in their pool and keeping steady pipeline is a full-time job in itself. Make sure you have the resources and bandwidth necessary to fuel the fire.

Estimate The Investment: Time and Money

If you’re an agency executive responsible for driving new business and running the entire agency, be aware of what that double duty is costing you.

If you’re juggling too many tasks, it’s likely you are completing projects, but not doing them exceptionally well. As an agency executive, your time is best served strategically looking at ways to grow the overall business, not just through the lens of new business. If you’re worried about the time and investment it would take to hire someone in-house, we can manage this function for you at Catapult. There’s huge potential in having someone solely focused on bringing in both cold and warm opportunities for your agency.  

 

Now that you have a better understanding the agency growth funnel, what goes into forecasting your new business goals, and the resources required to hit them, check out our Agency Growth Calculator to see how the numbers line up for your business!

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A Brand New Look For Catapult

A Brand New Look For Catapult

Big news today! After almost twenty years, we’re introducing a brand new look for Catapult with an updated brand identity. You’ll see our new branding translated throughout our client communication, social platforms, and upcoming trade show events, like the Mirren CEO Summit in November. Our new look and feel matches what we’ve become since 2001: the leading agency business development partner.

Why Change The Catapult Brand?

Catapult has grown over the years in a way that better serves our agency clients, and we felt it was time for our brand to reflect who we are today. Our services have evolved from strictly new business lead generation to end-to-end growth consulting and business development activation.. Our design goal was to recreate the look and feel, and language, of our brand to better match our tone – positive, proactive, approachable and professional – with a strong focus on results. And we wanted our brand to portray the key elements in our story: growth, the trebuchet that our name comes from, and a modern partner fully versed in the latest tech, tools and trends. Here’s a little about the meaning behind the new Catapult logo:

 

What hasn’t changed? How We Impact Your Growth.

While we love our new brand (and website – check it out at www.catapultagencygrowth.com, at the end of the day what matters to you is what we do for your agency. Our sole purpose is to create growth through strategy, demand and lead generation, and pipeline conversion for agencies of all disciplines. Here’s a quick summary of how we do it:

  • We amplify your agency’s story to the right prospects
  • We differentiate your positioning to leverage unique, ownable USPs
  • We create awareness and demand for your agency
  • We generate qualified meetings with key decision makers
  • We grow your lead pipelines so they are ripe for conversion

 

We hope you like our brand new look and feel for Catapult as we continue to best serve the agency landscape and build a sustainable pathway to growth for all our clients.

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Preempting A Review From Mirren’s Brent Hodges

Preempting A Review From Mirren's Brent Hodges

When a new decision maker arrives, when do you move to preempting a review? It can hit like a ton of bricks – the client call where you’re told that a full review has been called for your portion of their business. Even in a project-based world, your goal is to retain all current scope – and increase it. One of the key drivers client-side that influences a significant shift in scope across roster agencies is the arrival of a new senior decision-maker. This creates one of the most feared agency challenges: becoming an “incumbent,” or worse, being removed from the roster.

In this brief video with Mirren’s Brent Hodgins, he addresses the Mirren CEO Summit about the first thing to do when you find yourself in this situation. Miss this critical opportunity and your odds of retaining any of the business drops by the minute.

Learn more about the annual Mirren CEO Summit at https://www.mirrenceosummit.com/

Preempting A Review From Brent Hodgins of Mirren

It’s the moment a new client is announced.

Too many agencies, I remember being guilty of this too, wait too long. So I remember this happening, I think it was actually at TBWA, where client got fired, new client comes in, I think it was on Barnes and Noble. And we thought, “We’ll let him settle in, we’ll give him two or three weeks to settle in. He’s probably pretty busy right now.” So before we sort of even realized it, a month has gone by and we haven’t heard from the client. And we’d also kind of said to ourselves, “I’m sure he’ll call us, we’re the continuity. We can show him what we’ve been up to.”So after a month we start sending the emails, “Hey, I’m sure you’ve been really busy. Just thought we’d check in. We’d love to show you what we’ve been up to and what’s going on with all the marketing and advertising,”

And crickets. Like no reply from the client.

So a couple of days go by, and we’re like, “Did you get the email back? I didn’t get one either.” Start calling, leave a voicemail, “Hey, not sure if my email made it through. Just checking in.” No phone call back. And then all of a sudden, now five, six weeks in, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Oh my God, he doesn’t want to speak to us, like he’s not interested, something is wrong here. You know that sinking feeling sets in pretty quickly.

But the moment a new client is announced is the moment your full on pitch starts. In fact, even wind it back a bit. It’s when that previous client gets fired. Soon as that client, and now even if they’re still in the building, even if their seat is warm, start preparing your pitch.

We see anecdotally, it’s when a new client comes in, it’s typically within 90 days now. There’s a shakeup on the roster, 90 days, that something is going to happen. Forget calling on the new client to update them, it’s such a turnoff. “Hey, we’d love to come in and show you what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working really hard, got some really good stuff. You’re going to love to see what’s going on, then you’ll know what’s going on.” Again, the truth is here, if the past client was fired due to business performance issues, know that by the way, you played a role in that firing because you produced the work in coordination with that individual. So you’ve got to move quickly.

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16 Must-Know Prospecting Stats For Your Agency

Prospecting for a strong pipeline is your first hurdle in the new business process, and is never-ending and always evolving—influenced by technology, budgets, and how brands work with agencies.These 16 must-know prospecting stats for your agency will help you get ahead in today’s sales environment. Keep these stats in mind as you monitor changes in business development trends and make proactive prospecting a priority in order to keep your pipeline full. 

Here are 16 must-know prospecting stats with insights on everything from email subject lines to response time on form submissions. 

1. More than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%). If you find prospecting to be the most difficult part of new opportunities, you’re not alone.

2. 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line and nothing else.  First impressions can make or break a potential sale. Tell people right away that you’ve got something worth their time by writing effective subject lines.

3. Only 24% of sales emails are opened.

4. The average person deletes 48% of the emails they receive every day. This task takes them just five minute

5. Most prospects want to read emails at 5 and 6 a.m. Use an email scheduling tool to get in front of all the early birds to ensure you send your message at the perfect time.

6. HubSpot Research found 72% of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals. This is compared to 15% with 51 to 100 new opps and just 4% for companies with 101 to 200 new opps.

7. The average salesperson makes significantly more calls in the last month of the quarter. Gong’s data science team analyzed 15 months of data and found the average salespeople made far more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two. And the success rate of those calls were usually lower than any other month. Devote time to proactive prospecting each and every day. You should be prospecting just as much on the first day of the month or quarter as the last.

8. It takes an average of 8 cold calls to actually reach a prospect. And 55% of all salespeople follow up less than four times.

9. 45% of salespeople give up after just one follow up with a prospect.

10. Even after you have reached a prospect, it can take an average of 18 more calls to actually connect with a buyer.

11. On average, 5.4 people are involved in a purchase decision, and each person’s job function and even geography are often very diverse.

12. On the first call, 6 out of 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the first call, and more than half of prospects want to see how the product works.

13. Seven in 10 B2B buyers watch a video sometime during their buying process. Use this to your advantage by sending a customized video. Videos about product features are most popular, followed by how-tos and professional reviews.

14. 77.3% of salespeople said their company provides at least one quarter of their leads.

15. At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what your product or service.

16. Drift tested the response time of 433 companies. Only 7% responded in the first five minutes after a form submission. More than half didn’t respond within five business days.

These 16 must-know prospecting stats reflect uncomfortable truths that sales teams deal with every single day. Ready for some good news? We handle all of this for you. Catapult is the dedicated business development partner to agencies of all sizes and types. Our team of expert advisors will work alongside your internal team to implement a results-driven sales and marketing strategy that identifies and generates new revenue opportunities on a consistent basis.

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Agency Awards To Consider In Q4

agency awards to consider in Q4

Awards are the best way to get independent feedback on the quality of your work. We understand entering takes time and added resources, but the reward is worth the effort. Similar to our Q3 list, here’s a quick glance at the agency awards to consider in Q4. Winning, or just being a finalist, is a huge PR opportunity that differentiates you from your competition. Awards also help your prospects identify who is doing some of the best work and the impact they make on client success.

Your hard work and innovation needs to be recognized. These are the agency awards to consider in Q4:

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Brands are always looking for innovative outside partners, and showcasing an award you’ve won is that meeting point.  It helps validate your work and honors your team of experts. Not to mention, winning is guaranteed to enhance your credibility among clients and prospects.

Great agencies focus on their clients’ goals, and award programs provide you an opportunity to take a step back and review how others in your category are creating success stories for their clients. Make sure you are selective about the awards you enter. Your entry should accurately represent what you do best, and remember to always be honest with yourself about where you stand among the competition. And if you don’t win, make it a learning opportunity for your agency. Share with your team why you feel another agency won, and how you can elevate your entry next time. Insights and discussions around what your competition is doing will only make your team stronger.

As you plan for 2020, think about how you can start off the new year in a big way by earning a prestigious award!

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8 Tips For Closing The Sale

8 Tips for Closing The Sale

Let’s set the scene here: You’ve managed to secure a meeting with a C-level executive for a global brand, and now it’s time to deliver your presentation and make your pitch. What happens during the next hour will determine whether you have a shot at closing the account or not. With that being said, many agencies say their biggest struggle is their sales approach and that they don’t fully understand what an executive hopes to get out of a meeting until it’s too late. So let’s rethink the entire process for your agency with these 8 tips for closing the sale.

If you ask a dozen sales people for their best tips on closing, you’d probably get a dozen different responses. While many sales techniques are as different as those who are executing them, there’s still some tried and true tips everyone should use to effectively close.

Here are 8 tips for closing the sale and winning big business.

1. Earn the right.

Before you can close the deal, you must earn the right to do so. You earn it by delivering on your promises, consistently following up, and showing up for meetings on time, every time. Make it clear during every interaction with the prospect that you are well prepared and eager to serve them and increase their bottom line. Focus each touchpoint on how you can help them instead of what you can get out of them, and you will eventually earn the right to ask for the sale.

2. Make the work the focal point.

Brands primarily want to see the work an agency has produced. Your opening remarks on a call or greeting during an in-person meeting should last no more than five to ten minutes. As the agency principle, you may provide some background of the agency’s culture, but should not waste time trying to impress the prospect with your industry philosophy or views of the landscape. Just get to the good stuff. It’s what your prospects want to see. 

Find a simple way to provide your current list of key clients or accounts, so they can see if there are conflicts or similar businesses. Make sure a creative director is available to give more detail on your work.

3. Provide context and results.

Brands want to know how your agency uses creativity to solve business challenges. Don’t just show the highlights – prospects want to see your full scope of work. Case studies work best in order to clearly articulate your client success. When presenting case studies, use context, action, and results (CAR). Give a brief overview of the challenge for each campaign, and discuss the action you took, and with some key results. We also recommend including a timeline of your project or cost data to show your efficiency. Be prepared to defend your creative choices while presenting case studies in a way that reinforces your client’s trust and makes it hard for your prospect to live without you.

4. Sell more value.

In a price-sensitive market, you win the business when you can show more value than the asking price. Value is determined not by the market, but by your customer. Show them your product or service is more valuable than the price, and the sale is yours.

You can also showcase how your ideas translate across different mediums to prove your value. Share at least a handful of case studies that represent your portfolio across various categories. Don’t worry if there isn’t anything specific to the vertical your prospect competes in. Brand executives will expect to see work that goes well beyond their own category. 

 5. Prepare and plan.

If you’ve spent the time to make your prospect understand your value is greater than the price you are asking, it’s time for you to prepare and to plan for the close. Preparing includes all the information, paperwork, forms, etc. you need to move forward and making sure you’ve had the right conversations with the right people. You should also anticipate any last-minute objections your prospect might have and how you will respond to them.

6. Make them understand you’re different.

Your prospects want to know your unique capabilities. Identify what makes you different from the agency down the street — those are your superpowers. Maybe you have a specialty in a particular vertical, like experiential activations or events. Maybe you have a lot of experience with a particular target audience, have done work in a specific product category, or you’ve launched new brands with tremendous success. Look for opportunities to consistently reinforce your superpowers to prospects.

7. Under promise and over deliver.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of promising something you cannot deliver. If your product or service takes some time to fully execute, never promise you can deliver something sooner. It’s common sense, I know, but you’d be surprised what someone will guarantee when they’re under the pressure to close the sale. 

If you under promise, you’ll have ample opportunity to over deliver. Why over promise when it already takes long enough to gain trust from your buyer? And when you exceed the expectation you’ve set, your prospect will realize your agency can be an essential part of their business.

8. Ask for next steps.

After any touchpoint with your prospect, ask the customer what the next steps would be. If they are unsure, make suggestions of steps that move you closer to closing.  Keep in mind – the next step could be to finalize the deal, but often, inexperienced sales people add too many steps before trying to close.

We hope these 8 tips for closing the sale guide you during your sales cycle with the prospect you’ve always dreamed of working with. Being skilled at closing is arguably one of the most important techniques to master in sales. If your agency wants to improve your current sales process including positioning, pitching and closing, contact us today.  Whether you need to elevate your existing business development plan or don’t know where to start, Catapult can assist in creating new business opportunities that will help scale and sustain your agency’s growth.

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Four Tips to Help You Craft a Powerful Pitch For Your Agency

four tips to help you craft a powerful pitch

Your elevator pitch is the most important tool for converting strangers into clients. And guess how long you have with the average person before you lose their attention? 8 seconds. Even a goldfish can focus for longer. In fact – if you’re still reading this, I’ve kept your attention for longer than most humans! Now, that’s some perspective. So how do you sell your agency to a prospect without it falling on deaf ears? Here are four tips to help you craft a powerful pitch for your agency.  

1. Open with a hook.

Since you only have eight seconds to grab someone’s attention, you must open with a hook that’s captivating and makes them want to listen to the remaining 22 seconds. The most effective way to do this is to address your prospect’s pain points. This is crucial because as their agency partner, you want to focus on how your service increases their bottom line. 

Here’s an example: Instead of “We’re a content marketing agency for businesses” try something more powerful like “We create custom content that increases sales for our clients by 50 percent.”

2. Be different.

We can’t stress this enough. Help your prospect distinguish you from all other agencies by including a unique selling proposition (USP). This is not the same thing as your niche, but rather about the benefits you offer that other agencies in your niche don’t.

If your agency offers additional services that others don’t, make sure to highlight them in your pitch. Get creative in how you present your USP so you can effectively capture your audience’s attention longer your competitor. 

3. Get rid of the industry language.

Although certain services might be essential to your agency, don’t assume your prospect fully understands what they are, how they work, or how they benefit their business. Using too much industry language can be off-putting and cause your audience to lose focus (more than they already do). Instead of “We A/B test post-click landing pages to optimize conversion rates”, which is likely to lose someone a lot faster, simply say “We create web pages designed to increase your sales and then test those different pages to see which one generates the most revenue.”

If you find it difficult to simplify your message without your typical insider language, ask for feedback from someone who represents your ideal client. Deliver your pitch to them first, then offer alternatives without the jargon and see which captures their interest more.  

4. Use an analogy.

When you get rid of the jargon in your pitch and still feel like it doesn’t adequately describe what you do, consider using an analogy that does the explaining for you. An analogy encourages your audience to use their imagination and increases their engagement with your pitch. It may even be relatable to an experience they’ve had before.

Give real examples of recent solutions you’ve created for clients and how it impacted their business. You can do this without revealing the client – refer to category, to size of brand, or some other marker that makes it relevant to the prospect.

5. End with a question.

Don’t let the delivery of your perfect pitch be met with awkward silence. End it with a question to keep the conversation going and clarify how you can work together. And don’t ask just any vague question. Instead of asking, “How do you see us working together?” consider, “What sales goals are you still trying to reach?”

Make sure your question doesn’t assume the prospect fully understands how you can help them and can’t wait to do business with you. If they aren’t sure how to answer, it can be even more awkward than the silence of not asking at all. Your question should give them an opportunity to address one of their pain points and help you fill in the gaps where your agency brings value and increases their bottom line.

 

With all these tips considered, here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  • Your pitch is simply a quick introduction to your business.
  • Keep it around 30 seconds long.
  • Sparks interest and response throughout it. 
  • Make sure it’s clear, authoritative, and relatable.
  • Your pitch is about them, not you.
  • Highlight your value and the problems you solve for similar clients.
  • Ensure you always include the unique differentiator of your agency. 

Use these four tips to help you craft a powerful pitch for your agency that will resonate with prospects and won’t be ignored. Perfecting your pitch is the first step to growing your agency. With that being said, remember to always shift your focus away from selling yourself: instead, empathize with your prospect’s needs, respect their time, and make your it personal. These are the most effective ways to sell your agency and break through that crucial eight second mark. 

 

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4 Essentials to Sustainable Agency Growth

What does growth even mean? We find most agencies think growth is about adding more and more new clients to their portfolio. Other agencies believe growth is about long-term marketing efforts to build stronger awareness with prospective clients, and driving inbound new business. From our 15 years of experience working with agencies of every size and kind, we see two core things that successful agencies do well under the banner of “growth”. First and foremost, they focus on building success for clients with quality work and measurable impact in order to drive retention and organic growth. Second, they have a clear plan to drive new business through these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth:

1. Have a workable, proactive sales process in place.

Without a structured sales process, you may take on any opportunity thinking it’s essential for the financial health of your agency. However, the cost of the client can sometimes be more expensive than the revenue it brings in. Taking on any and every opportunity happens when your sales team doesn’t have appropriate guidelines to work with. If a proper sales process is designed to help them drive quality leads, you’ll save time and money, allowing them to work more strategically and more effectively.

We find every great sales process includes:

  • Understanding the buyer’s journey and using it as your starting point to an approach based on the needs of your prospect.  
  • Clearly defining each stage of the journey and what activities are involved.
  • Identifying the value for your agency in each phase of the process.
  • Creating a strong connection between the marketing and sales team.
  • Finding the pain points of potential clients and highlighting your solutions in solving them – this is what makes your agency hard to dismiss.

2. Define your ideal client.

Buyer personas are not a new concept, but in today’s competitive agency landscape, it’s more important than ever to understand who your ideal client is, what their needs are, and whether your agency has a “right to win” with them. An effective buyer persona answers the following: 

  • What industry do they work in?
  • What is their company size?
  • Who are the key decision makers (and influencers)?
  • Where do they look for agency partners?
  • What are their key pain points?
  • Which services do they need?
  • What kind of budget are they working with? 

These questions will help focus your efforts and generate the opportunities you want.

3. Upsell and retain clients.

Many agencies are a bit passive when it comes to expanding scope with current clients. Account teams are not natural sales people, and are (rightly) focused on billable time and the business at hand. So how can your new business team help? Create a plan for each client that helps them understand other ways you can help their business. It’s an effective sales approach that benefits the client who has already experienced the quality of what you have to offer. And think about the energy and resources you’ll save as opposed to looking for new accounts. Focus on keeping current clients happy and identify new ways your expertise can bring even more value.  

4. Hone your unique selling proposition.

To understand your current unique selling proposition, ask your existing clients where they look for a new partner and how they found you. Most importantly, why they chose your agency and the measurable impact you have on their business. Your USP should not be centered on a philosophy or theoretical outcome, but rather a quantifiable one focused on your particular expertise. This is critical to differentiating yourself to prospects, helping your agency evolve, and supporting your growth. 

 

Creating, understanding, and working these 4 essentials to sustainable agency growth will create a sustainable pathway to revenue generating opportunities. We know it seems challenging to navigate the overcrowded, undifferentiated landscape at time. But by making these key areas a priority, your agency will be on the right track to repeatable, revenue generating opportunities. 

 

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The Top Marketing and Advertising Associations to Join Right Now

As an agency owner, you’re overwhelmed. Just managing the everyday stuff – client emails, strategy sessions, vendor and freelancer partnerships, and even students who want an internship can be a challenge. We know you need help, too. Whether it’s advice from industry pros, access to more information, training, or industry news, a marketing and advertising association can be a good choice.  Here are the top marketing and advertising associations to join right now.

These associations will give you access to people who have been there before. The people who understand the complexities and processes of running a marketing firm. Networking with other executives and having open conversations about the challenges you’re facing can not only help you gain insight into better managing your business, it can also tremendously impact the success of your growth in an ever-changing landscape. 

Below, we’ve curated detailed information on the top marketing and advertising associations we think are worth your time to explore, along with their top recommended events.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA)

The ANA arms members with the skills, tools, and resources to grow their careers. With best-in-class content, events, and training, the ANA helps members build stronger brands and provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. Founded in 1910, the ANA’s membership includes more than 680 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising. 

The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA) which operate as divisions of the ANA, and the Advertising Educational Foundation which is an ANA subsidiary.

As one of the leading associations within the advertising and marketing industry, we highly recommend joining the ANA if you’re an agency executive. Their events are highly relevant to agencies and companies and most of the members are corporate marketing executives.

Save The Date

Event: 2019 ANA Masters of Marketing Week
Date(s): October 2-5
Location: Orlando, FL

Mirren

Mirren works closely with CEOs and their management teams to support agencies through consulting and training regarding best practices in new business development. Their membership gives you access to their resource center of On-Demand Learning and Advanced Webinars. Although Mirren is technically not an association, we included them because they are a household name for agencies. 

Save The Date

Event: Mirren CEO Summit
Date(s): November 7-8
Location: Chicago, IL

4A’s

Founded in 1917, the 4A’s is the national trade association representing the advertising agency business in the United States. As a management-oriented association, the 4A’s offers members the broadest possible services, expertise and information regarding the advertising agency business. Its membership produces approximately 80 percent of the total advertising volume placed by agencies nationwide. Although virtually all of the large, multinational agencies are members of the 4A’s, more than 60 percent of our membership bills less than $10 million per year.

The 4A’s is the ultimate organization for agencies of all types and sizes. They offer valuable training, conferences, and best practices in how to drive agency sales, profits and develop new business.

Save The Date

Event: 4A’s Mothers@Agencies
Date(s): August 28 – December 4
Location: Online Program

Event: Launch for Leaders
Date(s): September 18-19
Location: New York, NY

Event: 4A’s Stratfest 2019
Date(s): October 15-17
Location: New York, NY

Insights Association (IA)

The Insights Association is a founding member of Privacy for America, a coalition working with Congress to modernize data privacy protection via a bold new national paradigm. Their members are the world’s leading producers of intelligence, analytics and insights defining the needs, attitudes, and behaviors of consumers, organizations and their employees. 

IA more wide-reaching content designed for easy consumption. You’ll find videos and case studies on particular trends, as well as frequent editorials on the latest marketing news. Membership is divided into multiple levels, but the focus is primarily on research and data as opposed to more social aspects of marketing.

Save The Date

Event: CEO Summit Europe
Date(s): September 11-13
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Event: CRC 2019
Date(s): October 22-24
Location: Orlando, FL

Event: Converge
Date(s): December 10-11
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

The IAB empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media companies, brands, and technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. 

The IAB has many tools and classes for free without requiring membership or certification which is always a plus. This includes fee calculators and ad view-ability guides. Certification is divided into several different specialties and levels of expertise, allowing you to customize your training based on your position and goals.

Save The Date

Event: 2019 NewFront West
Date(s): September 11-12
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Event: Direct Brand Summit
Date(s): November 20-21
Location: New York, NY

Agency Management Institute (AMI)

Founded in 1995, AMI provides training, consulting, and original survey data on salaries and benefits for small- to mid-size agencies. But the core focus is the owner peer networks, where members meet for two days twice a year to discuss financials, business development, marketing, and staffing.

AMI wants to help agencies “increase their AGI by at least 25%, attract better clients and employees, and best of all — exceed the agency owner’s life/financial goals.”

Save The Date

Event: Build a Better Agency Summit
Date(s): May 18-20, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

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Agency Myth: Narrowing Your Focus Results in Missed Opportunities

agency focus

You hear it all the time – brands are moving more advertising and marketing functions in-house. From media buying to SEO to full service offerings, every day brings news of another brand deciding it’s better, and cheaper, to do it themselves. Brand experience is the same. As brands embrace experience-led thinking, they tend to hire internal experts who understand creative through the traditional experience lenses of activations, pop-ups and live events.

This leaves your agency with two options – either expand your offerings and cast a wider net for more opportunities or waste time going against the current. But moving out of your niche causes your agency to be spread too thin. As a result, you’ll find yourself relying on freelancers to fill in the gaps and run the risk of damaging relationships and reputations by underdelivering. We’ve also seen agencies start to create friction with clients’ internal agencies who are trying to protect their shrinking piece of the pie. Both approaches can create barriers to sustainable agency growth.

We suggest a third option for success. 

Focus. It’s not a dirty word. Go narrow, clearly identify where you excel, and make it your mission to be absolutely best in class in that area. All too often we see agencies who have a fear of focusing and differentiating themselves because they are afraid of leaving money on the table.

Brand marketers continue to turn to those who know a subject area, a target audience, a technology or tool, or a sub-discipline of marketing and advertising. They want genuine expertise over generalization.  This should resonate with you more than anything. Whether you are partnering with in-house teams or part of a multi-agent effort, in order to adapt to today’s landscape, narrowing your focus should become your new normal. While it may mean closing off certain revenue streams (in the short term), it ultimately future-proofs your agency by making you an ideal partner with valuable expertise.

But how do you narrow your agency focus? To get started, here are two things to consider.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses.

This one is trickier than most think. If may seem risky to lower the number of revenue generating avenues in front of you, especially when times get tough, but the truth is, expertise will always be valued. It is critical to assess what your agency does well, and strengthen in these areas. At the same time, be intentional about removing offerings that aren’t at the core of your business, or within the capabilities of your own team. Expertise will ultimately lead to increased trust and more honest, profitable relationships. 

Build relationships with trusted partners.

“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
-Steve Jobs

We know you don’t want to say no to a prospect or client, but it doesn’t mean you should be quick to say yes. As you eliminate your non-essential offerings, reach out to partners that are experts in that field, and cultivate new relationships with them.

If clients ask you to take on something outside your narrow focus of expertise, suggest sharing the load with a trusted partner. The benefit of this is you keep your trusted relationship with the client while also building a strong relationship with partner agencies. As a result of this, there could be reverse opportunities as those partners begin recommending your team when in similar situations. It can feel risky to ask for help, but if you’ve laid a solid foundation, you should be able to avoid a situation where you underdeliver. 

Here are the benefits of narrowing your focus and finding your true point of difference. 

Fewer competitors.

When you offer everything, you’re really competing with everyone.

A few things happen when your agency finds the importance in narrowing your focus and becoming the best at your niche. You may notice your competition is virtually eliminated. The more you focus on your niche, the less other companies will offer what you offer. Once you determine your focus, your competition will be a fraction of what was there before, and you’ll realize only a handful of agencies are doing exactly what you are. 

More partners.

When you narrow your focus, your competitors can become partners. 

After eliminating thousands of agencies that were once your competition, you’ll find you now have many potential partners. You’ll also realize there are so many companies with complementary services to a similar client. This aspect of narrowing your focus could lead to the greatest amount of growth for your agency. Coming together with other partners who specialize in different skills in the same industry can help achieve the greatest outcome for clients. 

Improvement at a faster rate.

Practice one thing for hundreds of hours instead of hundreds of things for one hour. 

Once you eliminate the other things that were dividing your attention, you’ll soon realize your can spend so much more time learning and practicing on your area of focus. You will find you can keep up with the latest methods and trends within your niche that you never had time for before. A narrow focus helps you improve at a much faster rate. 

Higher value.

The most important benefit of narrowing your focus is the increased value you can bring to your client. When you provide a specific service for a specific industry, you are better and faster at solving problems. You’ll understand the needs of your client quicker with less of a learning curve on each new project. It may seem like you are eliminating potential clients once you find your niche, but remember how valuable you’re making your agency to the clients that are right for you. Ultimately, you’re growing your pipeline and your business. 

We are all living in a world of sameness that needs more specialists.

Think of all the revenue generating opportunities you will create when you excel in your uniqueness. A tight focus on your core expertise ensures your agency is easy to buy and difficult to dismiss. That’s what true differentiation is all about. 

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Sample

“Catapult came to the rescue and saved me from what otherwise would have been a long and stressful situation. To have been provided with a business development professional with that level of experience and understanding of my business, well, I just couldn’t have received that anywhere else.”

Co-founder, Full Service Marketing Agency

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