Tuesday, 5 April 2011

New Business: Charmingly Persuasive Bulldog

If I was asked 2 days ago to outline the role of new business within a media or advertising agency I probably would have blagged my way through a very brief description which would have said “it's just about trying to win new clients for the agency”.

However having spent the last two days on an IPA New Business course I am confident and more knowledgeable about what hides under the umbrella that is ‘New Business’.
One thing that has been embedded in my mind is the attention to detail and its significance. Whether this be in the initial prospect email, the chemistry meeting or the actual pitch; if you miss something or make the smallest of mistakes it will be the first thing the client notices and the one thing that will deter them from considering your agency!

The line-up of speakers on the course represented a breadth of notable talent and represented key new business figures including: 4 Marketing Directors of various advertising agencies, the Director of Client Account Team at the COI, CEO of the AAR (Client-Agency Relationship Consultancy) and our very own Business Development Director, Cormac Loughran from MEC.

When thinking about trying to win New Business we were asked to consider the process we would follow if we were spending £56 million on building our dream house. Where would we begin our research? What do we want to know? How do we want to be treated? What factors are going to sway your decision? etc.
A pitch could be won within the first two minutes but equally it could be lost. First impressions are crucial as the ultimate deciding factor for a client is the people and team they are going to be working with. The success of New Business is reliant upon relationships whether with the trade press who write about your agency, the intermediaries between you and the client, the chemistry between members of the client account team, and finally the relationship between your client team and the client themselves.
The pitch process is like dating, no date is ever the same so you can't apply the same formula, however before giving the client any piece of work or information be sure that it is relevant and ask yourself is it useful, interesting and entertaining?

Our learning on the course was assessed by a chemistry meeting with the actual MD of Heineken so it was challenging and daunting to say the least. In teams we worked into the night to generate the content and strategy for our meeting and put together a 15 minute presentation only being allowed to use the medium of voice and a flip chart! The following morning we held our chemistry meeting in front of all the course attendees and presented our initial view of the prospective business and how we were going to create initial standout in a cluttered market. Our idea was to completely defy the trend of the market and create standout by creating silence and we proposed a strategy based around long-term gain vs short-term presence. To top off the last two days I was over the moon when our team got crowned as the winner!

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