Experience has shown that a good Business Manager in an advertising agency has a different mind-set from the majority of his established Brand Servicing colleagues. Such a mind-set is essentially entrepreneurial in nature and these persons have a knack of sniffing new business opportunities with greater enthusiasm. This attitude actually stems from the survival instinct of a keen businessperson that if new business is not feeding the system then it is not possible to survive and grow in a competitive market.
I have classified Account Managers into either Maintenance Managersor Entrepreneurial Business Manager and I have also a good percentage with combination of both the skills. A good Maintenance Manager services existing accounts well and keeps clients happy. But he can often lack the power and energy to go the extra mile to go for new businesses. An Entrepreneurial Manager not only does his job well keeping clients happy, bu
t also searches and pursues new opportunities through new challenges that appear to him from time to time.
An Entrepreneurial Manager sees a recessionary market as an opportunity. The marketer client is constantly reviewing the brand’s performance, marketing inputs& strategies including advertising. The client is always looking for innovative solutions for his brand. An Entrepreneurial Manager is able to demonstrate his interest by presenting a fresh perspective to the problem. This way he can also rise up the career ladder faster.
One of the basics of preparation for new business exploration is to make a list of prospects by category.Parameters used are to gauge the ‘satisfaction index’with the existing agency, challenges the client’s brands may be facing, person’s experience with the category. Also evaluate the client company, brands, size of business, present agency/s, number of years with existing agency, level of dissatisfaction with current agency, top managersof the client company and proposed new launches / brand extension
s.There is enough market-place data through networking, published sources, gossips, enquiries from prospects to build a robust data base for a prospect list.
At this stage one may prioritise the ‘hit list’ on the basis of the reputation / brand, size of business and its potential, satisfaction index with present agency, our past experience in the category, and contacts at the client’s office.
A few tips useful for handling new business pitches:
- New business calls should not be delegated. It is a senior management responsibility and the likelihood of success is higher if it is treated that way.Business leads can come from anyone who matters in the prospect’s company. He may not be a parallel to you in his organisation, but can be an useful catalyst.
- Make one person at client’s office the ‘ambassador’ or your spokesman. He may not be a decision maker, but can be an influencer and informer.
- In a multi-agency pitch, go for over-kill. That means not only outstanding presentationbut also ‘effects’ that leave a lasting impression. For example, when Parker, one of the world’s most reputed writing instruments company from the UK was entering India,we from McCann Erickson made a pitch among others top 5 agencies. 22 years back we at McCann were the underdogs. Our agency’s extra ‘effect’ consisted of hiring an exhibition hall for the presentation and putting up for display, a collection of vintage writing instruments made by Parker since its inception along wit
- h old posters and other items connected with the brand in that Gallery. The team from UK was very impressed. McCann won the account though McCann that time was not globally aligned with Parker.
- And this experience of ‘effects’ came to good use when we from McCann pitched on the Coca-Cola brand ( 1994 ) against the formidable rivals Lintas (No. 2 agency those days, led by the legendary Alec Padamsee). While the presentation was greatly guided by McCann’s Atlanta office, the ‘effects’ we put up wereimpressive. At Oberoi Mumbai, and with active support from the Hotel, we had made to order a giant 6fttall Coca-Cola bottle made of ice. This was specially installed by the Hotel right in front of the presentation hall at the Oberoi. The Coca-Cola International team stood in front of the ex
hibit before entering the venue, completely ‘frozen’ for a few minutes, appreciating the ice sculpture. McCann Erickson (again the underdogs in mid-nineties) won the Coca-Cola business in spite of Lintas’s size, stature and global alignment.
New business is rarely won across the table. But sustained effort at pre-selling and post-selling often does the trick. Pre-selling is when you make an impression with the client before the actual presentation and they start believing that you are someone they can co-opt as their professional partner sharing the same passion for their brand.
Post-selling includes follow by up starting with a ‘Thank you’ letter for attending the presentation preferably maybewith an interesting token memento. Continue to engage the prospect’s attention. Send him competitive information, interesting news items relevant to his company/brand and specimens of your good creative work from time to time. He may not always send you a thank you note, but you will certainly be at the top of his mind.
In today’s environment,the advertising agency profession has become far more complex and competitive. There has been a proliferation of global network agencies, local breakaway groups or leading professionals and creative hotshotsstarting their agencies or even specialised Digital Houses focussing on creative digital communication and clients have become far more demanding, result oriented and agency margins have squeezed drastically.
In such a competitive scenario, gone are the days when one could rely on a few marque clients to see the agency’s Balance Sheets through year after year. The dynamics of the game have undergone quantum change. Clients have become savvier, more result-oriented and they too are under pressure from the competitive and ever changing environment to deliver results or perish. No agency can take any client for granted today. ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’ is the new buzz phrase in the advertising agency dictionary. .
So the need to be entrepreneurial in spirit and thinking is critical for today’s generation of Advertising Business Managers. We need new businesses regularly to sustain, grow and particularly to offset any erosions that can take place without much notice. Keep your ears and eyes open for even converting ‘half chances’ in new businesses and pitches into ‘spectacular catches’. That’s the new mantra.
I have learnt this mantra the hard way by building a fairly rock solid,growth oriented mid-sized 360 agency in twenty years.
The author of this article is Tapas Gupta , Founder & MD – BEI Confluence Communication Ltd.
(This is an authored article and views expressed do not in any way represent the views of tvnews4u.com)