6 Conferences Your Agency Should Attend in 2021

6 Conferences Your Agency Should Attend in 2021

By now, our “new normal” feels a little less weird and a lot less chaotic than it did in March 2020. But there are still so many unknowns for the foreseeable future. One thing we know for sure is that the agency conferences and events we look forward to every year will be virtual or with limited attendance and COVID safe guidelines. And now, more than ever, it is important for us to attend. The world is still writing a playbook on how to deal with a pandemic, so connecting with your peers, even if it feels different, in the agency world is crucial for learning from each other and growing our businesses as we all continue to pivot and adapt.

Here are 6 conferences your agency should attend in 2021:

1. 4A’s Decisions 2021January 25th – 26th

Details: In this all-virtual program, 4A’s Decisions 2021 will explore what’s new and unprecedented today, and what’s coming tomorrow. Discuss, debate, and collaborate on real solutions. Trade innovative, transformational ideas you can use immediately. Now more than ever, planning for a thriving future depends on all of us. Join us online for Decisions 2021 so we can unleash our power to change our organizations, our industry, and our world.

2. AdvertisingWeek Power Up Festival  – January 26th

Details: After the year that was 2020, we could all do with pressing the reset button. Power Up is a one-day festival bringing you the skills, ideas, and inspiration you need to energize yourself for 2021 and perform at your best.

Across our three themed channels, we’ll bring you a day-long program of inspiring presentations and practical workshops to help you perform productively, be well in body and mind, and create a renewed sense of wellbeing and purpose for 2021.

3. Digiday Media Buying SummitMarch 10th-12th

Details: It’s been a tough run for media agencies, between the novel coronavirus forcing employees to flee offices and ongoing social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, the last year has been tumultuous. Not to mention, they’ve been transformed by transparency concerns even as brands have begun to examine contracts more closely, and brand safety has been front and center as the online and platform environment gets murkier by the minute. New types of companies are transforming how brands are launched and marketed on various platforms, and the rise of new players in retail media has meant more complications. There’s also increased competition — across platforms, within agencies and with the rise of new in-house media buying teams.

At the Digiday Media Buying Summit LIVE, we’ll explore how agencies are changing the way they operate as remote working has become the new norm, as social platforms tumble and as regulations and client requests get stronger. From the ins and outs of brand safety to new technologies to working across platforms, join us for a look at the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2021.

4. SXSW OnlineMarch 16th-20th

Details: Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, we expect that the City of Austin will continue its restrictions on large gatherings through March 2021, so it will not be possible for SXSW to stage a large, in-person event within our usual footprint.

The focus now is on SXSW Online 2021, and we look forward to bringing you the many aspects of our event that make it unique while connecting with our attendees in new and meaningful ways.

Register today to take advantage of the unique opportunities this event has to offer, including keynotes, Conference sessions, Music Festival showcases, Film Festival screenings, world-class networking, and the unexpected discoveries that are always a part of SXSW, all in a digital setting.

5. Mirren LiveMay 19th-20th

Details: Mirren Live is an event entirely focused on rebuilding for growth, and it’s back in May to address agency revenue growth with a focus on new revenue streams, innovation, new business, and organic growth.

6. ANA Masters of Marketing ConferenceOct 5-8, 2021

Details: ANA Masters of Marketing Conference will focus on promotion marketing, relationship marketing, retailer marketing, experiential marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing.

 

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How to: Use a niche when your agency is full service

How to use a niche when your agency is full service

Agency Type

Full-Service Creative

Target

Consumer Goods

The Process

Many agencies that have broad skill sets find themselves in a position of trying to drive a conversation with a new prospect but lacking a real specific door opener. There are so many problems that your full-service shop can solve, so where do you begin a conversation? It’s important to us a niche when your agency is full service.

Our client was facing just such a problem in that they don’t niche down on either an industry or a service. We looked at their past experience and decided consumer goods was a great place for us to start based on the current market and what they can offer in terms of insights. We also decided that the best place to start was a conversation around digital that could then branch into a more holistic strategy. Our team decided to create a “digital audit” that we would only offer to specific brands based on their size, region, and current interest level.

In order to create such a tight list of prospects, our team utilized both Winmo and Bombora to trim a list of consumer goods companies down to less than 100 companies. Once we had an initial set of right-sized companies from Winmo, Bombora was used to determine current intent by searching for those that have “digital strategy” high on their intent radar.

We also simplified our email approach with a quick note and then some bullet points on what the audit may provide. Below is a generalized version, but will give an idea on the overall structure.

Jim,

As experts in Consumer Goods, my team reviewed your site and we’d like to offer a complimentary Digital Audit. This would include:

  • Website Design + UX Flow
  • Technical SEO Review
  • Load speeds, Page Speeds
  • Analytics Review
    ….

This email was NOT the first email that we had sent this prospect, it was actually in the middle of an 11 touchpoint cadence. They had seen our name and agency brand before through our emails, so the digital audit approach allowed them to focus strictly on this one area of opportunity.

The email was received by the Global Integrated Marketing Manager, who oversees many brands across their portfolio. The response was that they did have one brand that was struggling in comparison to others and they were interested in our team doing a quick digital audit on it. This opened the door not only to a project for the brand that needed immediate help, but then a review of all the other brands under their portfolio.

The key is, if you aren’t niched down in your agency’s structure, then you at least need to niche down your prospecting efforts in terms of language. Prospects have specific needs and so we need to approach them with that same level of specificity.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

Derry B
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

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New Business Opportunities in 2021

New Business Opportunities in 2021

By now, many of you have read the original and probably seen articles referencing AdWeek’s recent survey of marketer’s plans in 2021. The headline takeaway is that “40% of brands MIGHT seek new agencies”.  It’s an exciting prospect that near half of brands are going to be looking for new partners in the new year, which definitely means opportunities for agencies to go out there and strike up conversations with brands that they want to work with.  

Take Advantage of Nearly Half of Brands Looking for New Partners

In my opinion, your opportunity to grab a new brand is much higher than the 40% they refer to.  Here’s another chart in the article I found much more interesting and telling for where brands sit regarding the evaluation of their agency partners: 

Adweek Intelligence Survey

The chart above asks “How would you rate the performance of your agency since the start of the Pandemic?”  20% of agencies performed below expectations, while 48% performed at a level defined as “What was expected”. 

Exceeding Expectations is Key to Finding New Business Opportunities in 2021

To me, as a new business person, I read the words “what was expected” and see so much opportunity.  People don’t fall in love with meeting expectations.  When was the last time you heard your boss say “you meet expectations, we are giving you a huge promotion!”  Probably never.  People fall in love with agencies (or any service/product/person) when it blows away their expectations, redefines their expectations, or it solves a problem they didn’t even realize exists.

While those brands that had their expectations met may not be actively searching for a new agency at the beginning of the year, it’s more important than ever that we are speaking to those brands about how our agency is, in fact, exceeding the expectations of our brand partners.  Business Development doesn’t only happen when someone has an RFP ready and is in search mode.  It never stops.  In a market like this, that is constantly changing, we need to consistently be talking with our prospects about their industries, their needs, and where we see opportunities.  You never know when budgets will change or a new decision-maker will step up at a brand that you are pursuing and change everything about their current agency relationships.

How to Approach Brands in the New Year

When we are approaching brands in 2021, we need to focus on our expertise in solving their problems more than ever.  While past expertise in the pre-covid market may not perfectly translate to this new world, leaning heavily on your expertise within their specific industry and a specific pain point facing your current clients will lend immediate credibility to your outreach efforts.

With only 1/3rd of the brands out there in love with their agency results, you can absolutely bet on the fact that there will be more agency movement next year than the predictions say.  It’s time to be proactive with your prospect conversations and make those prospects fall in love with you.

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How to: Find a meeting in the financial sector

How to find a meeting in a financial sector

Agency Type

Brand and Customer Experience

Target

Finance & Professional Services

The Process

New business efforts are all about being highly targeted with your data and messaging.  Very often an Account-Based Marketing approach, rather than a mass outreach effort, means that your total quantity of outreach is reduced, but your level of meetings in both interest and opportunity increases.

Jim found himself in the position of working on behalf of an agency that has specialized within the Financial sector, one that has certainly been a challenge these last few months of the Covid with, seemingly, fewer agency shifts in that industry during the pandemic.  With less movement happening and overall freeze happening, Jim needed to find not only a brand that was actively open to speak, but also who within that brand would be the right person to take interest in his client’s capabilities.

The first step of this focusing process was to take the larger finance list and run it through Bombora’s purchase intent software.  He looked for Finance companies that had surging interest and searches along with the categories of “Brand Affinity and Financial Banking”.  This reduced his overall list of prospects from hundreds to 30(ish) companies.

Once we had those main 30 companies, it was time to append marketing contacts from Winmo into those main companies and prioritize based on the job titles that we have had the most success in getting in contact with.  During the pandemic, we have seen a lot of activity with Director and VP level, who both understand the need to pull on purse strings AND are also bogged down with the day to day execution of marketing plans.

With the now smaller list, Jim has the ability to do a deeper dive into those individuals and companies and make sure that any messaging can now be tailored to each one.  The message that hit first was finding a company that was written about in Forbes, which he mentioned immediately and linked back to in his email.  He then shares a similar past client to show expertise in their field, which is always on a marketer’s mind.

(edited for privacy’s sake, but the simplicity is in tact)

I’ve been reading about ABC and your recognition in Forbes. We’ve developed fresh insights, for clients like XXX, into some new challenges their small business clients and prospects are facing in today’s environment. We’d be glad to share our presentation  where we dive into post-COVID changing beliefs, behaviors, and needs of the small to mid-sized business audience. (link was included)

Would you be free to connect on Thursday?

Those quick first sentences give his email a step above others in a few ways.  First, he’s obviously not a bot sending mass mail, because he is linking to an article that would only make sense for this person.  Second, everyone loves the extra recognition and little ego boost by acknowledging and recognizing their public accomplishments, in this case, the article in Forbes.  He has also shown expertise without having to go into a 3-page long diatribe explaining all that they do.  He uses the mention of past work to prove his expertise.

Lastly, Jim kept the messaging SIMPLE.  This was short and sweet and allowed the prospect to breathe.  That simplicity in email communication allows for a prospect to believe that an interaction and discussion may be simple as well.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

 

Jim O.
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

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Now is the Time to Redesign Your Org Structure

Now is the Time to Redesign Your Org Structure

Growth-focused agencies should always be looking for new ways to improve their performance, but even more so now in our current economic and competitive climate — especially if your agency has had to reduce or furlough staff. Now, more than ever, agencies that have moved away from traditional hierarchical org structures have been able to adapt better and faster than others.

If you haven’t adjusted your org structure for our current reality, this is an area that can produce significant performance gains on many fronts — beyond what you may think is possible. But if you’re looking for best practices, you’re missing the opportunity in front of you. Your agency’s structure should generate a differentiating edge, and you won’t gain an advantage by copying what others have done. It’s time to break from legacy thinking and push toward new ways of reconfiguring your agency.

In this webinar, Brian Kessman, Principal Consultant of Lodestar Agency Consulting, speaks with our President, Matt Chollet, about why your agency’s org structure may be holding you back. Gain a new perspective, guidance, and next steps for redesigning your org structure to unleash your agency’s full potential. 

Key takeaways:

  • How structure can lift (or limit) creative services
  • How to tell good structure from bad structure
  • The benefits of moving away from “Project-Teams” to form “Creative-Product Teams”
  • How to uncover your agency’s “Value Architecture” as the foundation for optimal structure
  • How to create outcome-driven roles for accountability and entrepreneurial thinking
  • How to distribute authority for smarter, faster decision-making and action
  • How to assess your current structure and uncover new opportunities to improve your performance

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Top Tips for New Business Prospecting During the Holidays

Top Tips for New Business Prospecting During the Hollidays

The holiday season can be a tough time for new business pros as they try and navigate prospects’ holiday time off, end of year meetings, and planning cycles for the new year.  While there are certainly hurdles for prospecting during this time of year, at Catapult we’ve seen some serious new business opportunities created for our agencies purely because we continued to push for conversations when all of our competitors began to slow down. The key is that you keep your approach flexible with some creative ideas and language. Here’s some tips for new business prospecting straight from our experts at Catapult.

Top tips for new business prospecting during the holidays:

Actionable change takes time

With any big structural change, results can take time to show up, especially in the digital realm. Having those conversations with brands right now means they could see results within Q1, so our job as new business professionals is getting marketers to be thinking that far ahead and evaluating how we can help move that Q1 needle for them.

Don’t forget the phone

We’ve found our phone outreach to be more successful during the holidays. Execs are prone to answer the phone more often during the holiday “slow down” when there are fewer meetings on their books. Less meetings typically mean people are in better moods and more willing to take a chance on a cold conversation with someone new.

Set meetings for January

Calendars are likely more open at the beginning of the year, and prospects may appreciate you not asking to speak right then during the holidays. Our experts at Catapult have found success with reaching out in November and December to schedule a meeting for January. While typically we don’t want to schedule that far out, this is the one time of year where we may employ a delay tactic in order to ensure the prospect has time to commit to a real conversation.

Try weekend mornings

Mornings during the weekend and fringe holiday days, like the Friday after Thanksgiving, tend to be very productive for prospecting. Top executives and decision-makers are rarely away from their computers and it’s a way to reach people while many of your competitors take time off. Prospects also tend to have less crowded inboxes during the weekend. Just ensure that if you are going with this method that you are sending 1:1 ABM emails and not mass spam messaging (for that matter, don’t ever send spam messaging!).

Hone in on un-spent budgets

Don’t be afraid to send those “last-minute budget emails” to see if there is budget left in year-end that needs to be used. Encourage them to invest with you now and implement into their 2021 strategic plan. 

Be mindful of the season

This shouldn’t have to be said, but please remember that it’s not all about Christmas for everyone. Being understanding in your language to all of the major holidays and the fact that some people don’t celebrate any of them can ensure that you don’t land yourself in an awkward situation.  

Take advantage of New Year’s resolutions

It’s the biggest time of the year for gyms, weight loss programs, diet fads, healthy bars, drinks, vitamins, etc. and marketing efforts for those brands is crucial right now. Brands are looking to make serious shifts in how they market themselves as it relates to New Year’s resolutions given the COVID environment. In the same way that people make New Year’s resolutions, brands do too.  There’s always something they want to change in the new year, it’s up to you to find it!

Call the right people

C-level, EVP, and SVP executives are most likely working on the days most people take off. With their colleagues on PTO, there may be a great possibility of those prospects picking up a cold phone call or answering an interesting email.

Try handwritten notes

Handwritten notes to top prospects explaining your capabilities can help break through the emails and voicemails that haven’t caught their attention. This one may be tough given the current work from home status of many companies, but we are seeing some folks working back in their offices a couple of days a week. 

Keep it fresh

Continue to add new contacts to your pipeline and refresh the ones you have. With the current changes from COVID, a lot of your old connections have left or moved companies.  Regardless of COVID, we always see some of the biggest shifts in people around this time of year.

Be brief

Keep your messaging short and sweet. Break through the thousands of other sales and promotional emails with brief messaging, human tone, and well-crafted subject lines. And don’t forget to address a pain point. No one wants to read an email all about yourself and what you do.  This stands for post-holiday as well, but it’s even more important now when your prospects are being inundated with graphic heavy, self promotion from your competitors.

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How to: Create a New Business Opportunity in 11 Days

How to create a new business opportunity in 11 days

Agency Type

Creative Production Agency

Target

Food & Bev, Small-Mid Size Companies

The Process

Utilizing Winmo’s Intent Insights powered by Bombora, our team began their search by filtering companies within the Food & Bev category that were small to mid-sized businesses based on revenues and media spend ranges that were within our agency’s desired range.  Once we had that list built out of right-sized companies, we ran this list through Bombora’s purchase intent software to determine if any of these companies had recent surges around the terms “Creative” “Social” and “Production”.  There were 15-20 companies that all showed scores over 80, which tells us they are currently evaluating Creative and Social options.  

By focusing on this reduced number of smaller companies, our percentage of finding the right person within the company is massively increased.  These small to mid-sized companies have fewer marketing decision-makers, allowing us to focus more on custom messaging in a true Account-Based Marketing approach.  Smarter messaging to a focused group makes for more intelligent and interesting first meetings.

For this group, Jake created a 6 step email and phone cadence that covered 11 days, as laid out below:

These emails all have the same base structure and where they begin to diverge is in small customizations between each individual decision-maker when they hit step 2 in custom emails and the phone voicemail left.  

Voicemail is a key ingredient in that it puts a human voice to every interaction.  It’s important to separate yourself from the mass of others sending mass spam emails hoping for a bite, by ensuring that you are taking a multi-touchpoint approach with phone and email.  

In the end, the email that drives conversion to a meeting may be the simplest messaging.  Jake’s success came from email number six on day eleven with a call to action as simple as:

“What would be the downside of receiving a unique perspective for any upcoming creative work? “

The reply was as simple as

“Great timing, we are actually reviewing now…”

Agency new business (and business development) almost always hinges on timing.

Tools like Winmo’s intent data from Bombora, LinkedIn, and Salesloft can ensure that your chances of starting a conversation at the right time are higher than your competitors.

This success for our agency partner was made possible by:

 

Jake
Business Development Director at Catapult

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The tech stack you need for proper agency new business development

Every year the tech stack available for agency new business pros changes exponentially it seems.  The image above is the Martech 5000 and I think it is safe to say that navigating that thing is a nightmare!  There’s always a new CRM, data source, or automation software that is promising a shortcut to immediately generating more meetings and winning more business.  In my experience, technology doesn’t provide a shortcut, but more a roadmap of exactly where you should go.

At Catapult, we believe in intelligent, timely, and personalized communications in order to best drive the right types of conversations for new business development.  This means we don’t believe in mass blasts, but an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach.  For an ABM approach, technology and research are massively important because it means that we know more about our prospects, we can pick the right times to do outreach, and we can use the right type of language for each individual.  All this adds up to better meetings and, in turn, more wins.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the main parts of our tech stack:

Winmo – Now we here at Catapult are a little biased (Winmo is our sister company), but in our opinion, there is no better collection of information about marketing decision makers than what you get from Winmo.  The contact information is the cleanest in the industry.  They also have all the contextual information you would want around those people to understand their agency relationships, media spend habits, personalities, and more.  Most importantly though, for any business agency person, is that they have a host of alerts that will let you know when information changes that may be important to be acted upon.  Those alerts are a game-changer for ensuring that your timing is better than your competitors.

WinmoEdge – Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?  WinmoEdge is the key to finding that smoke super early in order to help you get in front of a new business opportunity before that opportunity has even had a chance to build up.  Edge’s proprietary scoring system takes a brand’s behavior and performance and translates that into a score that predicts the likelihood of going into an agency review.  Let us fill you in on a little secret though, most companies that use Edge start at the highest scoring (most likely to review) companies and then work their way down…but not us at Catapult.  We understand that new business is a long game and we want to get on the radar of those brands that are just beginning to run into issues that may call for a review.  This way, we dictate the RFP, rather than it being dictated to us.

Salesloft – Gone are the days of one size fits all mass emails.  Or at least those days SHOULD be gone.  In today’s environment, it’s all about putting the right message in front of the individual, which means the mass email campaigns of yesteryear are gone.  At Catapult, we have stopped using Marketing Automation and solely use Sales Automation with Salesloft now.  This allows us to send customized emails, to individuals, at scale.  If you’re a sole new business person and you are still trying to send prospecting emails or networking emails through your gmail alone, then you need to investigate the switch to Salesloft.  This will help you automate and manage each touchpoint in your prospecting efforts and sales funnel in a way that will make you 50x faster than trying to just use Gmail alone.  It also has the added benefit of using your email server for each send, so the likelihood of getting caught up in a spam filter because of a Marketing Automation’s bad IP address is reduced greatly.  More sends, better sends, what’s not to love?

 

 

Bombora – What if you knew when a prospect was looking for your exact service before they ever reached out?  That’s exactly what Bombora does.  They track a company’s interest level in specific services or keywords.  So if you’re a creative agency, you can track all company URLs within whatever industry you love and see which company is “surging” in interest around the keyword “Creative Agency”.  If they are reading content about creative agencies, searching creative agencies, then that’s probably a pretty good indication that you should reach out and say hello.  You don’t have to tell them you’ve been stalking their content consumption behavior, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing responses like “wow, crazy timing, I was just beginning a search…”.

Crystal – People are all different.  Obvious right?  Then why, oh why, do we see companies sending out messaging that is the same for 1,000 people?  Some people like humor in an email, some like detail, some want it to be short and sweet (me for instance).  The point is, Crystal evaluates the attitudes and personalities of each prospect and gives you suggestions on how to best approach them based on those personalities.  Throw in an emoji for Jim, but make sure you use bullet points for Jill.  It’s not perfrect, but damn if it isn’t close to perfect.  If nothing else, it gives you a great playbook for how to approach and navigate a sales or discovery call with one or more personalities.  It attaches directly to your Google Chrome or LinkedIn and gives you that info in real time.  Super powerful stuff.

Kantar – Media spend info can be grabbed from different places, but here at Catapult we have used Kantar for years.  The way that we use it is to simply have additional criteria when we are looking at what makes a good sized prospect for our agency client.  Many times it’s easiest to purely build backwards from your best performing client and find other prospects that have a similar spend track to them.  

Pathmatics – Similar to how we use Kantar, we use Pathmatics to get deeper information about digital advertising performance for any brand that we are interested in approaching.  We use it both at the beginning of the process to narrow down companies that spend more or less in certain areas, and we also use it when we are doing a deeper dive into a specific prospect.  Often this may come around a 4th or 5th touchpoint when we are looking for something that may help us stand out in our outreach efforts and pull an insight that potentially no other competitors have thought about talking to them about.  

Statsocial – Understanding the social audience of a brand can give you another quick opportunity to connect on a different level with your prospect.  Statsocial is our go-to tool to understand the audience demographics of the companies and brands that we are prospecting.  It also helps in comparing your prospect with another company.  Very often it’s good to show how a challenger brand stacks up against the leader in the space.  This isn’t information that the prospective brand doesn’t have, of course, but it does show that YOU understand their brand and their space, allowing for more trust and better conversations.

 

There are a host of other tech and research tools we use from DRTV info, online publications, and simple Google alerts, but these are the ones that we lean on the most.  Business Development is never simple, but if you want to truly do a comprehensive job of Account Based Marketing it’s our recommendation that your tech stack looks similar to the one above. 

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Is Your Agency Ready to Outsource Lead Generation?

Outsourcing lead generation is a great option for many agencies. It supplements already over-taxed in-house business development leaders and allows an agency team to stay focused on its core strengths instead of trying to master a job no one at the agency wants (or, in many cases, is suited for).

But just because you’re outsourcing a job you dislike to an expert doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful.

In this webinar, new business strategist Jody Sutter will offer you a blueprint for success. She’ll show you the right foundation to have in place before you start generating leads and the formula to follow to increase the chances of turning those leads into closed business.

Key takeaways:
– Common mistakes agencies make that undermine success—and how to avoid them
– The four essential tools to have in your new business toolkit before you start
– A step-by-step framework to ensure you convert leads into new agency business—from hand-off to close

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How to Accelerate Your Agency’s Lead Generation During a Market Shift

How to Accelerate Your Agency's Lead Generation During a Market Shift

Given the market shift the last 12 weeks, everyone’s asking themselves, “How do we get incremental new revenue coming into the agency given our new uncertain environment?” The key to accelerating your agency’s lead generation is through proactive prospecting. It’s understandable that clients won’t be increasing total spend until they feel somewhat confident again. However, what is already happening as people have come out of the initial shock of the downturn, is they are starting to reallocate and optimize budgets. Identifying and predicting these shifting budgets before they happen is the goal of an agency new business person right now.

During budget shifts and rebuilding of brands, our goal needs to be reaching out with the right message, to the right prospect, at the right time. You can no longer put one message out in front of the masses and hope it works.  All your outreach must be tailored to the specific individual and brand.

In order to find success during this time, you will have to drop your old, tired concept of sales. Rather, embrace sales as the idea of lead generation and lead conversion. Sales is not a dirty word, particularly if you approach it from the perspective of helping your prospects. It’s not about selling the great new services or strategic tools you have – that would mean you’re selling your features rather than your benefits and not leading with the prospect’s needs or helpful insights. Sales, now more than ever, is about being active and leaning in.

What can your agency do to accelerate your lead generation during a market shift?

  1. Identify shifting budgets.
  2. Predict where those new budgets will fall.
  3. Most importantly, retire your old view of sales to an Account-Based Marketing approach.

Imagine if you could accelerate your pipeline and shorten your sales cycles. Or what if you were able to focus on just those high-value prospects and the ones that are already predisposed to your agency. Think less waste on leads that are ultimately just going to fall flat. ABM is more strategic and more efficient while being hyper-focused and hyper-personalized in sales and marketing to a smaller number of better prospects. The ABM approach allows you to target only your most qualified prospects much harder with personalized messaging and content. 

In our opinion, ABM is more focused and faster while consuming fewer resources. For agencies at Catapult, this is the approach we use for the majority of our proactive prospecting efforts. One way you can think of Account-Based Marketing is the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. Most likely, if you did an analysis of your prospecting list you will find that a small percentage of prospects were actually worth all the effort you put against your proactive efforts.  With ABM, you can ensure you are leveraging your limited resources and applying them to a smaller number of better prospects that are more likely to work with your agency.

80/20 ABM approach

When it comes to ABM, qualification is key. We often see qualifications at most agencies happening too late in the pipeline. This means agencies are doing a ton of work trying to get in the door only to find out the prospect isn’t really a good fit for the agency overall. So how do you start qualifying prospects much earlier in your process? Hone in on prospects with an urgent need that your agency has a right to win and can credibly fulfill. Most agencies can’t be everything to everyone, so you want to be pre-qualifying your leads much earlier in the process and targeting them with more personalized content. We find that most agencies are spreading themselves too thin across too many unqualified prospects with generic messaging and then finding themselves in an uphill battle during the pitch process. 

Here’s how you can start shifting from the typical agency prospecting method to an Account-Based Marketing approach and get better results.

1. Start all your outreach plans with the accounts, not the offer. Who needs help that your agency can successfully support?

2. Then think through the insight against those accounts. What is their specific urgent need based on the research and insights you have into their brands?

3. After you have your insights, start curating your sales content. How can we help them?

Keep in mind, you aren’t creating content with the intent of just making them a client, but rather how can you provide value through your sales and marketing messaging. This actually marries a little bit of inbound marketing with ABM and can be very powerful.

4. Once you have curated your content, now you start thinking about channels. How should you best communicate this content in a way that the prospect can take your insights and learn from them, regardless if they are ready to have a discussion with you?

Consider if social, email, or phone is the right way to deliver your value-added message based on the insights you are providing.  Each communication channel provides value in their own unique ways.

This approach is more powerful than the typical agency prospecting. Gone are the days where you tell a prospect why you’re a great agency because you’re really creative, you’re nimble, have a great culture and you’re a “one-stop-shop”. Blending in with the other tens of thousands of marketing services firms during your prospecting efforts is a huge mistake. There is also a notion that you have to start a relationship with a prospect and after a while, they will become a client. That is not the case anymore. Relationships play a role in new business, but they are not the defining factor that will close the deal anymore. Yes, relationships will help get you in the door quicker, but they won’t necessarily help convert the business. 

ABM is also far more methodical. Ideally, you will have multiple categories, but you will be targeting them one at a time with segmented messaging. Then you confirm the organizations within the target category, and then the individual people. You really want to infiltrate the organization you are targeting. The biggest shift will be reaching out from one to many to now one to one. 

Once you have your highly targeted group of individuals you are then identifying the urgent need, developing your sales call-to-action and messaging strategy, then curating your content for the “hook” to open the door for your lead generation and conversion process. At the same time, you have articulated and optimized your pipeline and will monitor which messaging, which insight, which needs, which prospects you’re having more success with. And then you must optimize on an ongoing basis with ABM technology.

As far as ABM technologies, here are a few software platforms we recommend. Make sure you confirm the tools you need to be the most effective and keep it simple by sticking to the basics. Keep in mind most of these technologies are used throughout our partnerships with agencies.

In short, here are the 8 steps needed to shift your prospecting program:

  1. Identify high-value prospects: Leads with an urgent need that your agency can credibly fill from a category, company, and individual level.
  2. Identify urgent needs: Identify the most urgent category needs that your agency can support. Think of what is holding organizations back the most, what are their biggest constraints and opportunities that you can help them capitalize on?
  3. Sales CTA: Based on the need, what is your messaging strategy?
  4. Sales and marketing content: This is directed by your sales strategy and you’re creating insight0rich content that you are distributing through very specific channels to surround the individuals on your highly targeted pipeline.
  5. Lead generation: Once you start pushing your content you are now trying to generate a response from an individual.
  6. Lead conversion: You nurture each active lead with the goal of confirming an opportunity to work with them.
  7. Pipeline optimization: Based on your funnel, you are evaluating the performance. 
  8. ABM technology: Implement marketing technologies to increase the scale and effectiveness of your program. 

 

Being more targeted and more specific against more qualified leads will increase your lead generation and lead conversion. Right now prospects are not going to increase total spend, but they are reallocating and optimizing during this time. We encourage you to make the shift in your prospecting efforts, get organized, and start your ABM outreach to get the most effective results.

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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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