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How to make sure your agency is in a client’s shopping cart

How to make sure your agency is in a client’s shopping cart

By Claire Weekes, senior reporter, UTalkMarketing

Digital media may play a significant role for creative agencies when it comes to impressing their current clients, but when it comes to using it to drum up new business there appears a telling lack of knowledge.

This point was illustrated to us here at UTalkMarketing no more so that last week, when we hosted a breakfast seminar for the new business heads of some of the UK’s top creative ad agencies.  When we asked for a show of hands amongst those who had a solid SEO in place, only five in a room of 30-odd ventured an arm in the air.

Is this lack of knowledge surprising? Well yes and no. From the new business heads we spoke to at the event, many told us that time, or lack of it, contributes a major factor when it comes to finding the time to promote one’s own agency via the web, and via the lies of Facebook or Twitter.  In a cut throat world of prospecting and pitching, is there really time to be worrying about status updates, likes and tweets?

Well yes, there is. And not just because agencies should be investing time in making sure their own presences on the inter-web and on social media sites is active and enticing. Brand managers are online right now, seeking out creative partners – and you need to make sure that you’re in the same space that they are to get noticed in the first place.

In 2009, indulged in what is thought to have been the world’s first ‘Twitch’. The online car insurance broker’s  PR manager, Kelly Davies, tweeted the following:, “Looking at PR agencies – may invite to pitch via Twitter. A Twitch?”. Within less than an hour it had had responses from some of the most high profile PR agencies, including Firefly Communications, and Hotwire’s 33 Digital.

Imagine that a client you have had your eye on for ages tweets a similar request, and whilst your rivals are following them and get that message, you don’t. Already, you’re on the back foot.

“New business increasingly finds you online, especially in the social game,” says Hayden Allen-Vercoe, head of new business at social media marketing agency Orbital Media. “Not finding time for digital marketing is a poor excuse – we believe digital business development should play at least 50% in a new business director’s day.

“As a society, thanks to the rise of social media, we are preferring a pull strategy over a push one, and by concentrating at least 50% of time on a well-rounded digital strategy you are planting seeds that are likely to grow and be seen by far more people, and which will retain more permanency online”.

But finding the time does remain a crucial issue – as Larissa Dantes, new business and marketing manager at M2M puts it, “just managing [social media activity] on a daily basis could really be a person’s full time job, never mind all the other aspects that fill a new business manager’s day”.

So what small steps can you take to ensure you’re getting seen on the internet scene? Here are our six top tips on how you can use digital techniques to win business for your agency:

Understand how clients seek you out

Our own research of more than 130 client-side marketers shows that online is the primary research tool when considering an agency. Thirty-eight per cent of senior brand managers are browsing marketing related websites to see the work that you’ve done for others, while another 33% are checking out your work on your website. Thirty one per cent use Google as a first port of call.

Awards lists, meanwhile, are of little importance – client side marketers say these are too hard to find and access.

Create a great website

‘Great’ does not necessarily mean ‘wonderfully creative’ in this case – a trap that a lot of creative agencies do fall into. Clients want to be able to find a contact email and address quickly and easily. Websites that kick off with a 30 second, jazzy flash-style intro turn a lot of visitors off. Save showing off your work for a specific section of your website – such as a case studies section. Clients like to browse at their leisure – not necessarily have every digitally creative trick up your sleeve flung at them at once.

Ensure people can find your website

Sounds basic – but as already mentioned there is a knowledge gap suffered by new business directors when it comes to SEO strategy. Beyond having a bread and butter SEO and PPC strategy, there are lots of simple things can ensure you appear high up in search listings on Google – such as avoiding flash (Google doesn’t like it and finds it harder to index your content). Try and get links to specific pages on your site from the trade press too when giving out stories – inbound links help to build your page rank.

‘Follow’ your prospects

As illustrated by’s ‘twitch’, Twitter can be a great resource for finding out information about potential clients. But don’t just focus on what they are churning out. Looking at what consumers are saying about a brand on Twitter can be equally valuable. Say your target is Mercedes Benz. By searching out any conversations involving Mercedez Benz, you might uncover a recent customer problem or an ad that didn’t go down so well. Using Twitter and other social search tools to get up to date information about the issues the client faces will prove invaluable during a pitch.

Manage prospecting information

Using Google Alerts and RSS feeds is another great way to keep on top of that your prospects are up to. New business teams are constantly scouring the trade press. You can make this process quicker, more efficient and ensure that you catalogue information for later reference by setting up feeds – Google’s RSS reader is easy to set up and use if you’ve never used an RSS reader before. Evernote too is a useful tool for collating and cataloguing information on clients from all over the internet – the downloadable software lets you ‘clip’ and organise web pages from any site.

Join the cloud

During a pitch, document sharing and version control can be painful tasks – with several people working on several documents all at once in order to meet the deadline and get the job done. Using cloud-based applications to manage the pitch process can ease this pain somewhat – Google docs, for example, lets more than one person work on a document at the same time – so as a team you can power through that PowerPoint presentation in no time.

We've given you the tips - now go and win that pitch!

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