How do I charge clients for doing social media work?

This question is a great one and was prompted by a reader enquiry (thanks Kate).  Many agencies seeking to integrate social channels into their campaigns want to know whether they can charge their clients for the work.

Our view is that this should be a chargeable service that you can provide.

First check a couple of things

  1. Does the client have a PR agency?  (they may be better suited to doing the work)
  2. Is there anyone on the client side team who is already an active social media user? (Could you train them up)

And so here are a few things to think about when considering your proposal and pricing

  1. Social media coverage is often time intensive and so a per hour fee may make it look expensive, consider a retainer or success fee combined with per hour billing
  2. Learn how to use as many ‘time saving’ applications as possible (Google alerts, Tweetdeck, TweetLater) so you can cover several client social media brand accounts simultaneously
  3. Offer a strict time-limited service so staff don’t over-do the time spent on social media.  Set up alarms so they know when to stop work.
  4. Transfer your skills into the client organisation as ‘training’ – you can charge more for this
  5. Ensure you set the strategy for social media execution and specify this work separately and charge appropriately

Any other advice you can offer?

6 Create Opportunities icon

Other resources

Five things to ask a social media agency before working with them (FreshNetworks)

Social Media Group has a template RFP for brands looking for a social media service partner (Social Media Group)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Top 10 must-read Business Development Blogs

If you are in business development, it’s important to stay connected to the buzz in the marketplace.  One of the hard things is to find a single place to gather all your news sources.  Biz dev can be written about in marketing magazines,  books, industry magazines, online in blogs and forums.  It’s a disparate subject and isn’t easy to collate for easy consumption.

I find two main sources helpful – Twitter and RSS feeds.  If you aren’t using a feed reader, it is really useful because it gathers all your RSS sources into one place.  Consider trying out Google Reader or Feedly.

Today I publish the ones I read most often

  1. Fuel Lines
  2. B2B Lead Generation
  3. Social Media B2B
  4. Creative Brief
  5. RSW
  6. Alchemis New Business
  7. Blowin’ in the Tradewind
  8. Digital Body Language
  9. BL Ochman’s Blog
  10. Web Liquid

I should add that the last couple are more about internet marketing but they often give me great ideas for campaigns and articles to write for CreativeAgencySecrets.

Any more biz dev blogs I should be reading?  Send over your suggestions.

The Top 6 most popular articles of all time

How to make inbound enquiries work for you

One of the nicest things about getting your biz dev working well is when inbound enquiries start to come to the business.

I am working with Websters , a niche chartered accountancy practice specialising in service charge accounting.  They have worked hard on a new website and blog as well as some collateral and internal management structures to support business development.

Websters aren't yet ready for the big formal launch event for the site and while it's broadly complete, we are continuing to use it and improve some of the features.  

And so I am surprised and delighted to find that people are signing up to receive their newsletter, the RSS feed and printed brochureware about the business.

Setting up the fields

When I set up the fields for the enquiry form  I originally thought that a simple Name, Email, Company name and country would suffice. 

But I was surprised by the number of folk who want to receive information about the Websters company.

This leaves them with a choice – send electronic information or print.  But for print we need a postal address.  This gave me an idea….

Rather than change the form to include postal address information, why not just research them online and phone them up. This is good becausse

  1. you can find out if they are a real person
  2. you can ask them if they prefer print or emailed information (customer chooses)
  3. you can do a bit of"digging research" into their organisation for your database
  4. you can ask them straight out if they want to have a credentials presentation or chemistry meeting
  5. you can make a fair assessment of whether they are a prospect and at what stage of the pipeline.

Hooray – i know what we'll do – a targeted phone calling session.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tone of voice in newsletter writing

This week I got a couple of newsletters from organisations – both happen to be agencies one is in PR and the other is an integrated retail specialist.

HAve a read of these opening statements

Well here we are, more than halfway through the year that was sent to challenge the retail, travel and leisure sectors to their limits. And, you know what? Despite all the economic hurdles we continue to deliver great results for our clients.
In addition, we bring you news of a few new clients, expansion of our digital offering and a couple of weddings. Read on, it'll put a smile on your face!

 

compared to

Rebecca, tell me how you feel about this scenario.

You take, say, 3 or 4 months to thoroughly research a topic. You become a ninja, the world's foremost authority.

You lock yourself in your basement for another 4 months to write a comprehensive ebook. A thing of beauty. The definitive guide. A masterpiece.

And then something unexpected happens when you launch…

*Nothing.*

Will this happen to you? Click below and let me know:

and this one

Priority check-in for First Class Web Design, Fast Track SEO, Web video lounge, self service CMS.  click here
For all other websites please join the back of the Very Very Long Queue.

I bet you can guess which one I chose to read and which ones hit my delete bin.

If you are interested in tone of voice advice, check out Ben Afia of Afia.tv who is a former client.

Social media learning curve

From Jock McNeish over at Thinking Pharma.   Made me smile

 Social Media Learning Curve

Shout! With Johnny Vulkan, MD Anomaly

 Anomaly home page

What are your most recent pitch wins? [wrong first question!]
We don't tend to put ourselves onto pitches
The reason is that we are a different sort of agency.  We formed around a group of nomads from the creative industries – ad, design, tech media.  The agency is 4.5 years old
We set up because we became aware that the traditional agency model conspires not to help clients.  Ad men always see advertising as the solution; PR men see PR.  Anomaly brings the focus of creative minds on the real business issues not just a 30 second ad spot.
We prototyped the business model within TBWA\Chiat\Day  before I left but realised that to make it happen we needed to be independent.


So what IS different about the Anomaly model?

We found the creative thinkers and set out to provide the right answer.  When that's your approach you have a very different conversation with clients – it's their business that you are focusing on.  We sometimes send them away or refer onto other agencies, or tell them where we can do stuff well and collaborate with others who can do stuff better than us.
We assemble the focus of the team around what is needed.  if it's nebulous it's whoever ‘gets it’ or ‘feels it’ the most.  This makes work enjoyable, anarchic and labour intensive.

Another difference is that unlike an agency model there is a process which builds a solution – the answer can be anything and so you have to build the process.  It may be different every time.
We are big fans of starting when it's hard.  It makes you work harder and think smarter.

So, an obvious question – how are you going to grow?
Scale isn't what we want to do.  We don't want to create a command and control network.   

Is your charging model different as well?
Our version of fees is % equity as well as cash and so we own parts of client companies.  Every deal is different.  We never charge for time – it rewards the wrong behaviours.  And so we don’t keep timesheets.
Read more

Writing Proposals – avoiding common pitfalls

Every advisory business has to write proposals at some point in order to persuade clients to buy from them. Proposal writing is both an art and a science. It’s easy to follow a simple formula for the headings, sub headings and how the argument to persuade the prospect to buy from you. But this is often spoiled by poor use of English. Additionally, the ‘art’ part of the written document is to include subtle sales messages to reinforce the view that you are the best possible supplier for this job.

I have just finished working with a client on how they can improve some aspects of their proposal writing: Here is a list of general points relating to proposal documents that you may find useful.

1. Avoid jargon and catch phrases. E.g. “something this business must turn around”…. literally this means nothing because a business can’t turn round. And “From the ground up”. And “We have been through the current website”. Have you? Or do you mean “We have reviewed the current website”? Check what you are writing isn’t ludicrous when taken literally. (A classic from a chartered surveyor client “The client cannot move premises because they are locked into their current office.” What he meant was that they had a lease commitment that they could not break which acted like a lock-in! But it made me laugh.

2. Americanisms are unnecessary in the UK. [I particularly hate their ability to turn nouns into verbs e.g. to schedule a date – urgh!]. Microsoft defaults to American English. Change your set-up. And beware Powerpoint’s spell checker. In early versions it was not possible to turn on a UK English dictionary. Rationalize, reorganize, utilize are all words that are frequently used. BUT, if the client is American, it may be appropriate to customize the document to their language expectations. Labor and Harbor are other common words.

3.  Phrases such as “We would…” and “We can….” sound conditional.  It is rather better if you want to appear like a larger business to say “My Company will”, “My Company recommends….”. Treat the company as a SINGULAR not a plural entity. Imagine there is a man called My Company as you proof read text and that you are describing what he does. Similarly the client is also singular. “Shell wants a campaign” not “Shell want a campaign”.

4. A word on apostrophes. These are for possessive nouns (Rebecca’s book) and not for plurals (user’s, PDF’s). Beware using when talking about decades: 30s and 40s these do not have apostrophes. An easy check is to write the number out as a word – thirties has no apostrophe and so the numeral won’t either.

5. Short sentences have greater impact.

6. Capital letters for proper nouns. E.g. the Government (but better still, specify which country’s Government)

7. Try to avoid words like ‘etc’ and ‘and so on’. Either complete the list of things you are using as an exemplar or finish off the sentence properly. E.g. “We will visit the marketing department, sales team, admin support desk, Chairman’s office etc” and replace it with “ we will visit the marketing department, sales team, admin support desk and all the other departments who will use the website.” Or just write out the full list of departments you will visit.

8. Positive sounding language. This is a personal sales tip that I’ve used time and again. Write the proposal as if the client has already agreed to work with you. Replace “we would do…..” to “we will….” and it all sounds so much more confident.

9. ‘Name drop’ your clients’ names into the text to prove your experience.

10. Create a “Reasons for working with My Company” section. Set out clearly what you can offer that will give the prospective client reassurance and confidence in order to buy from you.

11. And a thought on a possible additional section entitled “How we judge success” or “How you will know that the job has been successful”. I find that most clients who buy in expert services are doing so because they are less expert than you in your area of specialism. This means that they may be less able to judge the importance of your listed suggestions. Therefore making it easy for them to understand a new concept and what it does and how they can justify buying it in an un-patronising way is a particular knack that the best proposals do well.

12. Making a strong point and emphasising possible pitfalls is also important because it demonstrates your expertise. Take the sentence “It is also important to maintain standards such as usability and accessibility which can be corrupted as a website grows”. Do you think the pitfall of those standards slipping is better presented in this re-working? “It is also important to maintain standards such as usability and accessibility because these risk becoming corrupted as a website grows.”

And, to end, I suggest you take two proposals your company wrote a year ago and re-read them carefully.  How well did you do?

(Did you spot my spelling in point 2 about Americanisms?)

Golden Questions

A “Golden Question” is one in which the answer tells you more than the question itself would imply.

Useful for research, discovery and us biz dev types who need to quickly assess new prospects and whether they will buy from us.

I learnt about it from Don Peppers who integrated it into his CRM method (Identify:Differentiate:Interact and learn: Customise).  His classic was to find out whether a customer had a high propensity to buy premium brand pet food.  The question was “Do you buy your pet a christmas present?”.  Neat, isn’t it?  Those who do, are more likely to lavish spend on their animals than those who don’t.  Simple.
And so how have I used it with my clients?  They are mainly working in B2B areas and so the question set needs revising depending on your particular positioning and needs.

#1 Digital Agency selling high end technology back-end services

Julian wanted to be able to find out whether a prospect wanted a simple web site or one with higher functionality.  Working with him, I developed two questions to help him quickly filter people:

Question 1: What was the date of your first website?

Question 2: How many times since then have you re-launched or substantially revised it?

Why does this work? With the first quesiton, he can tell if your company is an early adopter or late arrival for the new web technologies.   And with the second, he can assess your likely sophistication as a web user for marketing.  Each time you re-launch a website the functionality is improved. Relaunching every 2 years means you are more likley to be interested in moving to leading edge features.

So, how does your company stack up against his questions?

#2 Agency working with start-up web businesses

These lads want to be able to find out how far down the road you are to getting your website functional.  THey also need to find out the degree of technological sophistication of the person they are talking to.  Pitching yourself too “techy” and you’ll quickly lose the interest of a punter but being too simplistic has the same effect.  Similarly their services vary depending on the stage of the business and how close to launch the start-up business is.

Question 1: Have you got your requirements document written?

Question 2: Are you happy with your user numbers?

The first establishes business stage and sophistication and the second devines the success of the marketing support put into an already functioning site.

Now what golden questions are right for your business?  Can you use them to shorten your prospecting time frame and more quickly find prospects who have the potential to become customers?