How to Find a New Business Agency

It is important to keep a good stream of customers and clients. It is very easy to get complacent when you have enough clients – but if one of those clients disappeared would your business feel the effect? Or worse would it crumble?? Working with a New Business Agency can help you win clients and grow your business. There is no denying that new business / lead generation can be time consuming, hard work and expensive but overall it can be worthwhile and cost effective.

Many Creative and Marketing Agencies work with New Business Agencies; it is an effective way to get your work in front of companies you want to work with. I wrote this article after to speaking to the Directors of Creative Agencies and other Business Development Managers. This article is for small Creative and Marketing Agencies new to new business and looking to work with a New Business Agency for the first time.

I think it fair to say in the world of new business you do get what you pay for. You can get a telesales person to call thousands of companies and pay a minimal fee, or you can choose an agency that approach new business intelligently. The second will be costly but can you afford not to?

New Business Agencies specialise in finding you clients in order to grow your business. Although agencies work in different ways, the long and short of it is that, they will phone companies on your behalf with the view of setting up a meeting between you and the potential client. Sounds simple enough, but the new business process is more than simply cold calling.

Before you jump in at the deep end there are a few factors to bear in mind when choosing a New Business Agency. They are all different and will all have diverse ideas about the way new business should be conducted. Here are a few questions to ask your new business agency before you work with them?

Question 1 -Results or Numbers?

If a New Business Agency promises to target 500 companies a week and guarantees you five meetings, be aware. This can be a potential time waster for some agencies. If a New Business Manager is pressured to get you in front of x amount of clients, they will. Whether the meeting is worthwhile or not, is not their problem they just have to reach their targets.

If the person handling your new business account is a really good sales person with a hard sales technique they may be able to force a potential client to have a meeting with you whether they have work, or you are suitable. These are good sales people, but they may not be producing qualified leads.

For example, if you are a design agency who specialises in content managed websites for small businesses, you do not want to end up at a meeting to rebrand Kellogs. Yes, this would be a fantastic opportunity, but in competition with top branding agencies do you stand a chance? If you only work for big brands similarly you may not want to show up to a meeting to discuss a £300 website.

A good New Business Manager should be keen and results driven but also able to evaluate a qualified lead. By giving too many targets you are ultimately pushing them into a corner to produce meetings. You do not want to attend any old meeting. A perfect meeting is a potential client who is looking for an agency for a particular project or looking to change their roster of agencies. A good meeting is also a simple credentials meeting with one of your wish list companies, who you plan to impress with solid ideas.

Rather than an agency driven by numbers, consider an agency driven by results. Unfortunately, but realistically, new business is not always about getting work now. It is about creating a pipeline and raising your profile. If your Account Handler has a good conversation with a Decision Maker about a suitable project which will be commissioned later that year, this is better than a credentials meeting. You can then keep in regular contact with the decision maker until that project comes up. By the time you have the meeting you will be talking about a particular project rather than running through a portfolio.

Look at the pipeline as much as the amount of meetings.

Question 2 – How Targeted is their New Business Approach?
Are you trying to reach as many companies as possible to offer your services to? For some businesses this may work but I doubt if this works for many. A New Business Agency which suggests a highly targeted approach will more than likely receive better results. For example a design agency looking to build up a client list does not want to target ‘any’ business with “we do design” it really is not going to stand out, and it simply becomes a game of chance.

A web design agency who mainly works with restaurants producing content managed websites could contact other restaurants with a similar offer. However, you don’t need to limit yourself to restaurants, always look to expand your market but do it with careful consideration. If you work with restaurants you could then aim at hotels, pubs, bars and clubs. Of course, you can always expand your market but showing a potential client experience in your field is going to be beneficial. (My next article will go further into this subject).

Look at the size of the business – if you have only ever worked with SMEs build this up gently don’t suddenly aim for Coke. Look at the location of businesses, do you have the time and money to travel from London to Glasgow for a meeting or do you need to stay local. A good New Business Agency will create a database tailored to your business capabilities. In order to tailor a database it is advisable to initially work with your New Business Agency, they should be able to give advice to you. But you need to know which direction you are heading with your business, and where you sit, and would like to sit in the market place.

Although this may sound as if I am stating the obvious, a few of the new business managers I spoke to told me stories of how their clients took little interest in the strategy and simply left to them to get meetings with no direction. These clients then refused to leave London to attend meetings and refused any project under £5000 (although they had never completed a project for this much money).

Question 3 – How do they find the Decision Maker?
When your New Business Agency is going to send your information to the company, how are they going to find the right person? There is plenty of information available on the internet these days on Marketing Directors of companies. Although it would be wonderful to gain a meeting with someone so high up in the company how likely is this?

The Marketing Director of Nike is not generally going to interview agencies for a microsite. In most cases it would be a waste of time and money trying to reach them on the phone to set up a meeting. Aim lower. Nike is a huge corporation and it will take patience and careful research to find the person in charge of commissioning microsites and it won’t be the Marketing Director.

Especially in recent years more and more new roles are appearing in companies, new media managers, advertising managers, mobile managers, interactive managers, account directors, creative directors – who are you looking to work with? Aim for less companies as research can be time consuming, but ensure your representative is talking to the right person. Letters simply addressed to the Marketing Director are hard to follow up with a phone call. Find out how and who your New Business Manager will be trying to contact.

Question 4 – Who else is the agency working with?

It is great to work with an agency that has skills in selling what you are offering, even better to get a New Business Manager with these exact skills. But if your New Business Manager is working with three Mobile Marketing Agencies is your account being kept separate? What is your agencies ethics of sharing potential clients?

Your new business account should be, if at all possible, separate to any other companies. You do not want to paying for someone else’s new business. It can be all too easy for a New Business Manager to find details of a company looking to rebrand all their marketing collateral… and keep two design agencies happy.

Question 5 – Who is your Account Handler?

Always ask to meet the person handling your account. It is your business, and they are representing you, be sure you like the way they come across. Your New Business Manager should not really read from a script and should be confident and knowledgeable enough to hold an in-depth conversation. If you are a New Media Agency does your New Business Manager know their augmented reality from their rfId barcodes, and how far can they carry on with this conversation?

In order to find common ground with a potential client it is good to know about their business before having a conversation with them. This means your New Business Manager has to be knowledgeable about the sectors they are targeting.

New Business Mangers should be versatile. They should be good researchers, communicators and able to pick up information quickly. Providing a New Business Manager has had experience in marketing or creative agencies they will understand the processes and jargon and can generally adapt to other industries that have specialist interests. Someone on the other hand, who has no background in design, marketing or creative industries in general will probably find it harder to learn everything from scratch and find out about niche markets.

If your New Business Manager has built a relationship with a Decision Maker it could be an idea to take them along to the meeting as a part of your company. Does your New Business Agency allow this? In an ideal world your Account Handler should feel they are a part of your team.

It is important for you to go to meetings prepared and know what is expected from you at the meeting. It is down to you to give your New Business Manager all the information they need. You know your market and it never does any harm to keep them updated with your knowledge of industry events. When you launch a new project let your New Business Manager know, keep them involved.

Question 6 – How do you prepare to work with an New Business Agency?

Be prepared to be involved. Most New Business Managers spoken to for this article said, “The closer they have worked with clients the more likely they are to achieve results.” Do not expect a New Business Agency to start work and come back to you a week later with lots of new work – it rarely happens like that. If your New Business Agency is starting conversations with the right people make sure you have the supporting materials. Many potential clients will ask for an email with links to your projects, PDFs, show reels or brochures – it is down to you to provide these. When attending the meetings, that you have essentially paid a lot of money to get, make sure you are prepared for the presentation. Your New Business Agency can only take you so far. Remember that if you run your business you should really be the best person to undertake your new business as you know your business inside out, your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. If you cannot get yourself a £500,000 contract don’t expect a new business agency to. Be realistic

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Online Business Opportunities From Home

It’s almost 2012, and we are no longer limited to work behind the brick walls of some hideous company, and we are not forced to listen to our annoying boss’ voice shouting to us. Nowadays, you can get rid of all that using your computer, internet connection and your valuable time. There are many online business opportunities from home, and your earning potential depends on no one but you. I’m going to share with you what are some of the most honest, ethical and promising online opportunities.

Sell digital products

The most common products that are bought everyday are “PDF” guides. Start writing step by step guides of what you know, and sell them in online stores. Be creative; my recommendation is to use free keyword research tools online, and find out what people are searching to buy online. After choosing your niche, start creating your product. It’s always best to keep away from products that are too competitive; remember that big companies are already consolidated, and your potential buyers will rather buy from them and not from you.

Freelancing

There are many online business opportunities from home for freelancers. It’s all about offering your services for someone who needs them. Freelancers offer their services for low prices, and you can find them in several sites on the internet. You can find whatever service you want to hire for as little as $5; I know that it doesn’t sound so appealing, but it depends on the service you are trying to sell; remember that your knowledge has a value. So it’s time to monetize that value.

Blogging

You can totally transform your personal blog into a business website. Sign up for as many affiliate programs as you can, and build multiple streams of income. After building your affiliate system, it’s time to create valuable content; review other products, and be a leader for those who visit your blog.

Pay-per-click

It´s one of the easiest online business opportunities from home because you don´t need any experience or technical skills. Pay-per-click websites will pay you up to $0.02 per click, and for standard users there are 5 ads in average per day. How can you use Pay-per-click programs to build a real successful income from home? The key to success are referrals. If you don´t like promoting or marketing, most programs offer their users referrals for rent; It´s a great way to start to generate some income from scratch.

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Comprehensive SEO Guide To Promote Small Businesses

In today’s cutthroat business environment, it is surely not an easy task for website managers and search engine optimization executives to keep a website on a high. However, there are some easy ways by which the performance of websites can be optimized without putting a burden on the budget.

A website is as successful as its unique selling proposition (USP) and content. In other words, online businesses need to ensure that your website has unique, relevant, and appealing content that allows existing and potential customers to make smart and informed decisions. Moreover, the website should be optimized according to search engine algorithms and expectations of site visitors.

In addition to that, a profit-oriented online business should communicate the significance and advantages of its products and services in clear and easy ways so that potential buyers find it easy to make purchase decisions. Also, website managers should always prefer focusing on getting attention from credible websites (such as directories, social media and Web 2.0 sites) rather than one-off back links from non-performing websites.

They should also ensure that the website is not characterized by low visit times on website or page(s) or high bounce rate on website or page(s). It is also recommended that site managers should focus on promoting the website and the unique selling proposition of its products and services through a wide range of options, including videos, PDFs, infographics, charts, and graphs and always ensure that they are ethically promoted to all interested customers.

Furthermore, online businesses should create goodwill, trust, and authority by actively participating on online forums and social media websites. This is helpful to gather customer feedback and have a clear idea about what customer appreciates or wants, and how they rate and buy products, etc. This online participation can also prove useful to provide assistance and tips to existing and potential customers while helping them buy easily and quickly. It can also be used for solving problems, knowing about complaints and providing solutions, and encouraging people to join online communities or receive newsletters. Customers should also be politely requested to leave their favorable comments, reviews, and feedback on Google+, website testimonial pages, and local directories.

It is also recommended that website managers, search engine optimization executives, and entrepreneurs should regularly update and nourish the website to keep it interesting. Always remember the fact that your business survives on providing qualitative information to customers, selling quality products, and offering excellent after-sales services.

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Ethical Bribes – 10 Most Effective Client Attraction Device Giveaways

One of the quickest ways to build your email marketing list is by creating an ethical bribe, or what I refer to as a client attraction device. This free giveaway serves to entice visitors to your site to sign up for your email list because they want to access your solution to their problem proffered in your email list opt-in box.

What are the two most important characteristics of an effective client attraction device? It must provide the solution to at least one of the problems of your target market and utilize the keywords that your target market might use when seeking this type of solution. Secondly, your offering must have a high enough perceived value that your visitors would be willing to pay for it.

I routinely opt into many lists just to get the client attraction device. More times than not, the giveaway is simply a long reiteration of a problem, with the solution being available for purchase on the web site. This is the WRONG way to introduce yourself to prospects. Don’t be afraid to share some solutions with your prospects — it’s part of developing the Like, Know and Trust factor with them. If you are truly an expert in your field, the info you share for free is only the tip of the iceberg of the variety of solutions you can provide to your prospects.

What is the easiest way to create your own client attraction device? Here are 10 ideas that you can use to package your information into a valuable ethical bribe for your web site:

1. Audio of a presentation. Hold a teleclass on a particular topic and record it, or simply record a presentation with audio recording software on your computer. An audience isn’t necessary for a good recording — it is quality content that is the key.

2. Interview of an expert. Request to interview a noted expert in your target market. Ask the expert questions, or pull questions from a pre-assigned list you’ve been given. Record the interview and have it transcribed to create a two-part giveaway.

3. Special report or ebook. A special report is simply a short PDF report that runs between 2-5 pages. You can create this pretty easily by writing an article that’s 1500-2000 words. Typically an eBook is longer than a special report, combining several articles, or topics, to make a more complete overview of a topic. Format it to be easily read and add a bio page and and upsell page and your report is complete.

4. Checklist. A checklist is a 1-2 page PDF file that walks someone through a to-do checklist to complete a task. To create a checklist, simple outline the steps required to complete a particular task and insert a checkmark box in front of each so that the user can print out the list and mark off the steps as they are completed.

5. Video. Using video to promote your business is one of the hottest Internet marketing strategies today. You can create an info video that is a training or tutorial video made by using video screen capture software, or record yourself answering questions or presenting a topic with an inexpensive video camera. Upload it to your site or to one of the video hosting sites, and you’ve got a new client attraction device to give away.

6. Software. For as little as $50, you can hire a programmer to create a simple piece of software to help your prospects automate a task or solve a problem. Another option is to buy a license for some inexpensive software that you can then distribute as you wish.

7. Rolodex (Resources) list. Once you have developed a relationship with your prospects, invariably you will get asked to make recommendations for vendors to perform certain tasks. Because this list is valuable in that you have already gone through a number of services to find just the right provider and are thus saving your prospects hundreds of dollars and hours of time, create a list of these providers in a PDF document.

8. Templates. Templates are another time-saving device that prevents your prospects from having to reinvent the wheel. Package together templates you regular use, like templates for telephone followup calls, emails, email newsletters, to-do list, budgets, etc. Anything that will let your prospect use as a model for developing her own version will be greatly appreciated.

9. Worksheet/workbook. Sometimes information is better delivered in a format where the prospect can jot down ideas, answer questions, or brainstorm. A PDF worksheet or workbook is the ideal format for that to happen. Create a document with a series of questions and space to answer the questions, along with a bit of introductory text to set up the question, and you’ve created a useful workbook.

10. Ecourse. An ecourse is a series of emails that deliver information over a specific course of time via email. Your ecourse can last as short as 3 days or as long as 52 weeks. Once you pick a topic, simply determine the number of points that you want to make as you discuss the topic, and then create an email that thoroughly explains each point. Put the emails together in a sequence in your email marketing program and you have an ecourse.

If you simply request visitors to opt into your ezine list or your blog list, you’re not maximizing the work that your web site can do for you. Add a client attraction device to your opt-n box and watch your list grow!

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Information Is Key to the Success of Any Business

It is believed that the success of a business depends on possessing some information which is not available to others.

In this age of information technologies, a lot of tools are made available in order to greatly improve the quality of collected data and enable competitive intelligence analysts to better do their work.

The origin of competitive intelligence dates back to the times when people began to get used to analytical thinking. Competition in the old days was not built around industrial corporations but in the field of more practical things and decisions. It is not by chance that, for most people, the term ‘intelligence’ is associated with military affairs. It was during fighting and tension in the relationship between parties and countries, when the importance of intelligence becomes increasingly vital.

As a particular area, competitive intelligence emerged in the twentieth century, when the company Xerox faced with competition from Japanese manufacturers. The Japanese entered the U.S. market with retail prices below the cost of Xerox. Then the U.S. company, which had a Japanese subsidiary, established a working procedure called benchmarking today. The concept was followed by other large American companies. After several years, competitive intelligence was spread in Europe and then worldwide. That period could be considered as a final stage of introducing competitive intelligence as a separate area.

In the literature it is common to separate competitive intelligence and business intelligence or industrial espionage by referring to the differences in methods. Unlike business intelligence, in competitive intelligence data are collected within the legal framework and business ethics. Such a division is indeed not very strict in practice. In the end, these ‘black’ and ‘white’ techniques can be used by the same companies depending on their tasks and priorities.

To resume, we can distinguish four types of competitive intelligence.

Provide information support to enable leaders to take sound strategic and tactical decisions;
Identify, foresee and prevent potential threats to a business;
Identify opportunities for business;
Perform industrial counterintelligence, prevent competitors’ intelligence activities and provide analytical assistance to the security services of a company.

These goals are broken down into specific tasks many of which are performed via the Internet. Basically, it it is about collecting information and the ‘invisible web’ concept.

The term ‘invisible web’ (the terms ‘deep web’ or ‘hidden web’ are used as well) refer to the web pages which, for one reason or another, are not indexed by search engines. In other words, that is an Internet area which is hidden from strangers with limited access. Many Internet users sincerely believe that everything can be found on the web. In fact, no search engine can find everything because not everybody wants it.

The Invisible Web is not only files hidden by the file Robots.txt but also texts in a format (.pdf,.doc), flash sites, audio and video files without any description, password-protected pages, multiple pages with no incoming or outgoing links etc.

According to experts, the invisible web is bigger than the traditional one by 400-500 times, and the search engines index roughly a quarter of all the web content. Of course, search engines try to index it, refine your search for the same pdf, doc, create dedicated search databases such as Google Book Search, Google Code Search, etc. Nevertheless, to effectively search data, specialists use special-profile resources and services.

In addition to searching and monitoring information, online intelligence is related to the study of sites (technical analysis, the content study), monitoring the presence and activities of people on the Internet (the customer’s employees or competitors). Due to the rapid growth of social media, today there are many opportunities for intelligence representatives to get information about any individual.

Of course, to effectively use the methods of competitive intelligence is not enough to gather a set of services and tools to monitor the Web. Moreover, this work relates to the initial level and is clearly insufficient to convert competitive intelligence activities in the financial terms. After all, sound using the collected data can not only provide the necessary picture of a business customer but also make sure a tender is won, investment risks and prospects are assessed, new trends and technologies are identified, the necessary information about a company or a person is obtained.

This competitive intelligence analytics, the work of professionals. The work of an analyst follows a simple procedure, collection of information, assessment, classification, processing, and making conclusions. But this procedure is not only time-consuming but also a special way of thinking allowing for formulating the right decisions and recommendations. Only in that case the work of an Internet expert will be a tool and not a toy.

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Issues of Sustainability – In Business

Corporate responsibility (CR) is becoming an increasingly critical matter of concern for large companies across the globe, as the unscrupulous are lambasted in the Press media and sued into oblivion. Business ethics, environment, society and employment are considered now integral parts of the quadruple-bottom-line in operating successfully i.e. sustainably in the modern business world.

A key precept of establishing sound CR practices is how an organisation defines and provides for its Key Material Sustainability Issues (KMSI).

Firstly, let’s define “materiality.” At its most basic, it is “the state or quality of being material.”[1] Another more specific source says, “An issue or concern is material if it could influence the decisions, actions and behaviour of stakeholders or the organization.”[2] Materiality hence relates to tangibility. When issues have high materiality they’re meaningful to the sustainability of the organisation.

Furthermore, issues are ‘material’ to an organisation if they’re both appreciably relevant (what matters) and significant (how much it matters) as normally defined by account of all stakeholders and the business itself. Materiality is measured by the stakeholder’s: 1) impact on sustainability, and 2) influence on the industry.

Fundamentally, a business must know what its stakeholders care about i.e. know what is material for them, and put this together with the strategic impact of individual stakeholders on that business or business area i.e. their impact and influence.

This information (the KMSIs) provides a business with direction or rules with which to guide and govern judgments, decision making and action. Underpinning and further directing this detailed corporate knowledge are Sustainability or Business Principles. These are broad business values, for example, “We create and sustain a working environment where people are challenged to do their best.” This would be a fitting Business Principle supporting the ‘employment’ branch of the quadruple-bottom-line.

In sum, sustainability is achieved through stakeholder involvement and the embracing of the Principle of Inclusivity. Supporting this principle of inclusivity (i.e. breadth) are three others: Materiality (i.e. realness), Completeness (i.e. accuracy) and Responsiveness (performance based on reality).[3]

At the end of the day, business needs to endeavour to do whatever it can to protect its future interests; the only way a company can do its best to guarantee its future, or provide for its sustainability, is to heed all stakeholders’ input and weigh it with opportunities, and against the perceived threats, to its business. This is sustainability.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Post Script: I don’t normally tackle such issues as this, preferring to handle ‘softer’ issues such as those on relationships. In part two of this series I will focus on Issues of Sustainability – in Relationships.

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