5 Questions to ask a creative agency at your pitch

Interviewing the brand and being interviewed as the agency are core skills for pitching.

Getting to “the close” for new business and a signature on the contract requires a clear purchase decision from a brand decision maker.  If you are pitching to a brand – prepare for these questions that they should be asking you.

When you get invited to pitch there are 2 reasons you are in the room

  1. Your track record indicates you should be good enough to do the job
  2. Your future WILL deliver an excellent job
The questions are designed to reassure the brand marketing team that you will be in their future – collaborating, partnering.

Chief Marketing Officer pitch questions to agency

So how can you tell what the future of this agency will be?  the same old, same old competent delivery of past campaigns or new and exciting incremental creativity that will accelerate your brand in front of consumers?

First question: Vision

What do you, the agency, think is the future of marketing/advertising?

You want to know whether they are aware of new technologies, brands moving to new social platforms and integrating mobile solutions into their campaigns.

Second question: New Hires

Tell us about the new team members who have joined this past year.

What are the characteristics of these people and why did they join the team?  Are they crazy future-ologists, or competent deliverers.  Will they bring new expertise to the team (see answer to question 1 above) and can you see your brand leveraging their knowledge to advantage?

Third question: Team Structure

What is your creative team structure and composition?

Listen hard to how many ‘traditional’ job titles are described.  Find out about the digital specialists – are they in a separate group who get brought in to assist or are they part of the core delivery group.  What about outsourcing production and expert tool creation – how honest is the agency about areas in which they are not expert and are buying in talent.

Fourth question: Modern Marketing Communications

Tell us about recent campaigns that were not advertising-led

How many message delivery tools have they used that were not print or TV advertising, direct mail/email or public relations.  Look for innovation and incorporation of ‘gamification’, apps, integration with social media (leading edge at the time of writing is Pinterest, G+), brand collaborations and joint ventures.

Fifth question: The Delivery Team

Who will be working on our account and why?

The individual attributes of the core account team matter.  This will help you get round the agency that pitches with one team and delivers with another.  Why does the agency pick each individual and what are their skills – you’ve got to work with these people.  Go and check them all out on Linked In and Facebook.

The Agency’s reply 6 questions

We found this post from W+K London in which they tried to give the reciprocal questions the agency should ask the client.

  1. Who are the decision makers on the pitch and on the agency’s work?
  2. What are your criteria for judging the success of your agency’s work?
  3. Is your inclination to aim high and do something extraordinary, or to settle for the ordinary and avoid the risk of failure?
  4. What made you consider us for this pitch?
  5. How many agencies are pitching and who are they?
  6. Will you pay a pitch fee?

Go forth and pitch.  But be careful!

Thanks to Edward Boches for the original inspiration for this article

Read more articles on 3 New Business Pipeline and 6 Creating Opportunities from our archive.

 

 

Selling disguised as market research

Marketing Research with Tumblr

Business development tricks of the trade:

Have you ever tried disguising new business prospecting as ‘market research’?

Finding new customers to discuss your business products and services with is difficult for many people.  Many people have a natural fear of the unknown and ‘cold calling’ strikes a death-knell in many people’s darkest fears.

Let Creative Agency Secrets show you some of the insiders tricks of the trade –

and learn to find an easy way to discuss new business without the fear and pain.

We all need Market Research

Market research is a valid business activity – without it you cannot know what the market and pricing is for your services and products.   What few people realise is that many prospective customers are happy to give their advice and opinion to you, free of charge in the name of market research.  They are frequently motivated by the hope that if your situations were reversed, you would assist them.

Asking questions about how other people view your products is very easy to do.

Email introduction for market research survey

Imagine this – an email asking for 15 minute meeting to get an opinion about a new service offering.

Dear Rebecca, we’re planning a new email list de-duplicaiton service for launch in the autumn,  As a previous customer of XYZ co, we’d value your opinion on the features and pricing of this service.  

Could you spare us 15 minutes on a conference call to give us your views?If you have time next week, I’ll send over a short briefing note explaining our plans. 

Best wishes

Could you send something like that out?  Individually and personally addressed?  You could send it using Linked In using their mass-mail feature?  Maybe add in a ‘poll’ if you want a voting response (though this is less personal).

Case study – market research for affiliate consulting services

One of our coaching clients has plans for a new environmental consultancy around carbon credits. The two partners in the business have found a service they want to sell and asked our advice about pricing.

We recommended contacting prospective customers and seeking meetings or phone conversations with them to do market research into their appetitie for this service.

Not only does this approach allow a direct conversation with a possible decision-maker; it allows you time to explain exactly what your product/service does and how the customer might benefit. They listen carefully because it’s a ‘market research’ dialogue not a sales pitch.

Nice, eh?

 

Additional thoughts

Our client is a busy lady who works in 2 businesses – building up the new one while running the existing one. We discussed how she prioritise her time. Our conclusion was that if she could specify the 3 questions needing answers from the market research, her business partner could do the calls and visits. In this way she can ‘direct’ the work but spend her time on the other, income-generating business while still progressing developments on the new venture.

See other articles about Pipeline development and Opportunity creation by searching the categories on the right.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Name checking tool for social media sites

Awesome, lovely superb…. just finding which social media sites exist today is hard but having to chase round and research available ‘names’ on each one for a new client – time consuming.
Thank heavens for the wonderful people at NameChk.com

They do the grunt for you.

Now all I need is to go register the name…. there’s a handy text download file option that gives you the URL you could get for each one.

Just don’t expect me to know what they all do!

NameCheck social media name availability

Website design brief template

So,you want to brief an agency to redesign your website.  What is the best way to write a brief so that all the areas you need designed are covered?

Helpfully, OneSourceGraphics have written out their detailed survey which sets of the principal questions to which an agency will need answers before pricing up a brief.

So you want to redesign your website

Here are the questions you should answer:

This form will answer the question of what the site’s supposed to do for your business and what the site will look like.

First Name (required)

Last Name (required)

Company (required)

Email (required)

Phone Number

Website URL: (if available)

  1. Why do you want to have a new website, or have your current site redesigned?
  2. What will happen if you don’t have a new website, or have your current site redesigned?
  3. Please describe your organization in a few sentences.
  4. What is there about you and your background that sets you apart for a special (niche) group of potential customers?
  5. What problems do your prospects have that your business solves?
  6. How can your particular work background help prospects, compared to others in your industry? What’s special about your work experience?
  7. Why do you believe site visitors should do business with you rather than with a competitor?
  8. Do you have a slogan or tagline that clearly describes what you offer in terms of benefits or features?
  9. Please describe your potential customers. Pay special attention to their income, interests, gender, age, even type of computer they use, e.g., old with dialup account or newer with broadband. If your website is a business-to-business site, what sort of companies are you hoping to attract?
  10. What is your budget for this project? (required)Very Small Project $75 – $300;Small Project $300 – $750; Medium Project $750 – $1,500;Large Project $1,500 – $3,000;Very Large Project > $3,000
  11. Who are the decision makers on this project? What is the turnaround time for making a decision?
  12. What staff will be involved? What are their roles? Is there a webmaster on your staff?
  13. What is your deadline for completing the site?
  14. Please list the names of five other sites that you like. Why are they attractive to you?
  15. Have you researched your online competition so you have an idea of what you do and don’t want on your site?
  16. What do you NOT want on your site in terms of text, content, etc.?
  17. Where is the website content coming from? Who’s responsible for updating it? Is it ready for use on your website?
  18. Do you have a logo?
  19. Are you planning to do online sales? If so, what is the product, and how many items do you want to sell online?
  20. If you’re planning to sell online, are you set up to accept credit cards?
  21. How much time will you be able to spend online, responding to inquiries that come in via your website? Once a day? Several hours a day?
  22. If you were using a search engine, what words or phrases would you use to find your site? Which of these words or phrases is most important? Second? Third?
  23. Other than what search engines will produce, what methods do you have in mind to spread the word about your website?
  24. Once your website is completed, how long do you think it will be before you begin bringing in significant business from the website?
  25. How do you plan to encourage repeat visitors and referrals?

 

 

How to write an awesome creative brief

Getting fabulous creative work from your marketing agency depends on the brand team giving the best possible brief to set up the work.  Writing down what you want from your campaign and collaborating with the agency to agree the full terms of reference for the work you are commissioning is of the utmost importance.

You may be finding a new marketing agency to work with or briefing in new campaigns for your existing agency.

Both require communication of the utmost clarity.

And so whether you are a brand who uses agencies; a brand who has an internal marketing department or an agency wanting to use best practice with your brand clients, here are two slide decks and a blog post which will help you to write the best possible creative brief.

Thanks to Dare who created this slide deck as a training event for their internal staff.

Creative Brief Workshop

View more presentations from Nick Emmel

How to write the brief

Putting pen to paper and getting the desired outcomes by describing accurately what you want to happen from the campaign is where this second slide deck is useful.It starts with a template form which requires answers to these statements and questions
  • Brand Proposition – what is it?
  • What do we want to achieve?
  • What is the one key insight?
  • What do we want  people to do?
  • How should we tell them?
  • Why would they?

In the deck the authors show good, mediocre and poor ways

How To Write A Creative Brief, by True Digital

View more presentations from True

B2B marketing briefing rules are different

Why is Business to business marketing different from business to consumer?  Well the main reason is that although a business is staffed by people (who may be consumers) the language and method of selling by one business to another is not the same.
And so we have found you a B2B example of how to write a brief. Make sure you read the comments below the post as they are also informative.

5 Tips on how to beat a video conferencing interview

Interviews are always a nervous ordeal but more often than not a well-prepared candidate will always rise above the rest of the pack and successfully take the job. That said, many candidates make the mistake of preparing for a video conference interview in the same way as a face to face interview which can leave an interviewer unimpressed. Here are my top 5 tips to help you beat a video conferencing interview:

1. Remove all distractions

If your video conferencing interview is taking place at your home then make sure you deal with any possible interruptions before the interview. If Fido has a tendency to barge into the room every now and again I am sure he wouldn’t mind playing in the garage for a while until the interview is over. Similarly, if you have kids who tend to be quite loud, it will make you and your interviewer lose concentration as well as making you look much less professional. Get hold of a babysitter or have them spend the day at your parents or friends. Whatever you do, just try to be home alone when the interview takes place.

2. Look at the camera

Just about every interview guru will tell you to make regular eye contact with your interview and a video conferencing interview is no different. This can catch out many interviewees since it is a common habit to look at the computer monitor instead of the actual camera. The camera is transmitting the picture and therefore if you don’t look at the camera it will look like you are looking away from the interviewer thus giving the impression that you are not interested in the interview. If you find this particularly difficult to do then try putting a picture behind your camera which will make it feel like you are talking to an actual person when you are looking at the camera.

3. Proper grooming

When doing a video conferencing interview it is easy to forget that you are being interviewed for a potential job offer. You may be at home but that does not mean that you can take part in the interview in your favourite carrot fit jeans with a T-shirt that has some a funny comment on it. Make sure you dress like you would if you were participating in a face to face interview as it will make you look more professional as well as making you feel more confident.

4. Set the scene

When carrying out a face to face interview, you go to the interviewer which means that the interviewer will make his decision based on you and you alone but on a video conferencing interview, the interviewer will be able to see you and your room, therefore, your room should also give a professional feel. I am not saying that you should completely redecorate but make sure all dirt has been cleaned and the room looks well organised. In addition to this, temporarily remove any posters which may embarrass you during the interview although sensible pictures and paintings can help create a more sophisticated atmosphere. This will help to give a positive first impression and will start the interview on a good note.

5. Practice makes perfect

Rehearsing your answers to popular interview questions as well as general interview techniques is essential for a successful interview but a video conferencing interview brings with it its own challenges and therefore more factors need to be added to the mix when rehearsing. You will need to get into the habit of talking out loud when nobody else is in the room so set up your own video conference system prior to the interview and ask your friend to interview you. After the interview ask your friend to give you some feedback.

Website holding page – how to use for marketing gain

Taking your website offline is rarely welcomed by the marcomms team.  sometimes you have go do it.

Brand Glue did a great job of making a strong message come through their holding page.

In fact, since I took this screen shot, the timer doesn’t seem to have ‘counted down’ any more…. wonder if it’s really a permanent thing.  Tho they have added an article below it about their newsfeed optimization service.

in any event, don’t allow a 404 redirect to show up if you can avoid it.

Plus, having a ‘timer’ on the page keeps the focus  pressure on the team building the new website.

Which’ll probably be late.

That’s life.

Good practice: A website holding page

Following on from yesterday’s post about delays publishing a new company website – take a look at this one:

What I like about it is

  1. it sets a deadline (the counter is clocking down all the time)
  2. it still says what the company does – USP – so the holding page continues to sell the brand
  3. contact details are still there
  4. there’s an invitation to subscribe to notifications about the re-launch

Does your brand demand a launch date that can’t be changed?

Website holding page for BrandGlue

What’s your agency point of difference?

Too many agencies chasing too little work.  Is a common theme when new business is hard to find.

How can you make your offering as a creative agency stand out from the crowd?  Many firms have flashy websites, wierd logos and creative directors who stand out as being, frankly, wierd.

We can’t all do these things – although many businesses continue to do them very well indeed.  This represents the outward, slim and frankly flimsy part of any business.  The external gift-wrap.

What makes a point of difference, different?

The answer has to be a strategic positioning whereby your offering is clearly stated, aligned with the real people you do business with and delivers a clear message to other businesses who may choose in future to work with you.

Take a read of the list of 243 marketing agency points of difference that Michael Gass has just published.

Two things stand out.  1.  Most of the points of difference are not actually different or unique.  2.  A few are.

This is a typical example of a not-real point of difference.

We are a full service promotional agency that has a dedicated research/planning group to capture consumer insights – many traditional agencies have this function – but its rare for a promo shop – also rare for promo shop to have media/buying and planning, full digital suite (web dev, social media, SEO), creative, research, public relations, and shopper marketing int house, but we do.  Naturally many promo agencies will claim they have all the above internally, but few do…

This statement is entirely the point of view of the respondent and has no clear facts to back it up.  And, as time passes, this POD will fade away because it’ll soon be less “rare” for other firms to ogger this range of services.

Other non-differences

  • Genuine integration across disciplines(walking the talk)
  • “Brand People Who Get What’s Next”
  • We help mid size businesses own the leadership position by working with the C level
  • we’re repositioning ourselves as quick, smart and affordable
  • We approach integration differently than others
  • We are uniquely structured to provide multiple services

Can you see that none of these are REAL differences?  here’s why

  1. too easy to copy
  2. opinion
  3. not unique
  4. catch phrases

But we really are different from other agencies

If you are able to say what is  genuinely different about your business let it be

  • a unique offering [unique means nobody else does it – it’s probably trade marked or patented]
  • a particular service
  • a particular process
  • a particular client industry
  • a particular geographic location

That’s it.

Either it’s unique or it isn’t.

Determining a particular service, industry or location is probably the easiest way to differentiate your agency – apart from the people, this can be individual and special to you.  A combination of a service plus an industry or a industry plus a location, or a service, process and industry has the possibility of being a point of difference.

All the rest is able to be copied, offered by competitors or just isn’t sufficiently different.

So what if I am not different?

If your agency is not different you have a couple of choices

  1. invent a point of difference (a particular branding applied to your creative process)
  2. compete on price
  3. compete on volume
  4. compete on your personnel (but if they go, so does the point of difference)
  5. accept that you’re part of the broad industry offering and can easily be subsituted or replaced by clients

And that’s fine – as long as you know where your business positioning lies.