New business asset inventory
For most, the start of a new year is a time to reflect and plan to win through whatever the coming year may bring. With that in mind, I’m going to overview the three things you should do to set your agency up for new business success this year.
Addressing these areas now will save you time, improve your effectiveness, and help you run a more efficient new business program that yields better results. These activities will reap dividends for your agency throughout the year if done correctly.
1. Reassess agency positioning
In any year, we would recommend that agencies revisit their positioning to ensure it is still accurate and effective based on internal agency changes and external market conditions. 2020 subjected agencies to a greater degree of change, making it critical for them to re-evaluate their positioning now.
For most agencies, this means leaning into or out of certain areas based on changing circumstances and making evolutionary tweaks for accuracy, clarity, and relevance.
For example, perhaps employee turnover has weakened some agency capabilities and strengthened others. Maybe the pandemic has made it more practical to focus on clients in certain industries rather than others. Perhaps your clients’ needs have evolved, affecting how you provide services and the challenges you solve. The language used to explain these things in the current environment may have also changed. Certainly, the competitive landscape is changing, as are many clients’ budgets and expectations.
With that in mind, what are your agency’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats going into 2021? What is your purpose? What is your story? What does your agency do better than competitors? Who does it help, and how?
Agency positioning is not timeless. Even if your agency’s positioning was perfect when introduced, the world changes fast, creating gaps in relevance and accuracy. Instead of looking at your agency’s positioning with the assumption that it’s still good, try approaching it with the understanding that it needs work and challenge yourself to identify the opportunities for improvement.
Here are some examples of questions to consider when re-evaluating your agency’s positioning and how it is expressed through your agency’s new business assets (which I’ll address next):
- Have you lost or gained team members? Are those changes reflected on your website? Is team members’ contact information current?
- Has your agency been left with a skill/talent deficit in a particular area? If so, can you (or should you) replace that skill/talent? Has your agency gained new capabilities? Does that change anything about how it should present itself?
- Has your agency refined its values, purpose, or culture? Do the written descriptions of your agency still accurately reflect what it is right now?
- Is the language used on your website still appropriate in the current context?
- Are there services and capabilities listed on your website that your agency has not performed in over a year? Does it still make sense for them to be listed?
- What industries has your agency worked in over the past two to three years and does that list differ from what is represented on your website?
- Has your physical location or working environment evolved? Is that appropriately addressed on your website, making your status clear to potential clients and search consultants?
- What new problems have you been solving for clients? Are they still looking for the same things? Have their priorities evolved? What new questions are they asking? How has the way that they talk about their goals and challenges changed?
- How have your processes, client relationships, and work product changed in the past year? Do you need to change the way you talk about these things? And, are your written new business assets keeping up with these evolutions?
2. New business asset inventory
Once you’ve spent some time workshopping your agency positioning, look at all the places where it is expressed. Check out your agency’s entire digital footprint: its website, social media profiles, directory listings, etc. Is the branding current? Is the positioning consistent and up-to-date?
Take a step back and look at your agency’s website as if you are seeing it for the first time. Does it draw the shortest and clearest line between your agency and its prospective clients? Does it speak their language, answer their questions, and show them how you help clients just like them? Think about UX: can prospects easily find what they are looking for? Do visitors understand what they are looking at? Take a critical eye to your work: for creative and case studies, are the context and results clear?
Next, look at your decks, emails, case studies, and other new business-supporting assets. Review them for typos, branding and design issues, and for length and relevance.
With all of your content assets, keep your audience top of mind and think about how they will receive your content. Will it make sense to them? What questions might they have? Will it seem as if any other agency could have come up with it? Does your agency’s content align perfectly with your positioning? Does it speak to your prospects’ challenges and demonstrate how your agency can solve them?
Curate what you show people about your agency. Archive content that should no longer be in circulation; update other content, and identify content gaps. Retire work, case studies, and other content that is dated, no longer relevant, or doesn’t reflect the best your agency has to offer prospective clients now.
Based on your new business strategy (which I’ll address below) and target industries, what new case studies do you need to create? Where do you need to push for client testimonials? What topics are most important for your team to create new thought leadership content on?
As you map new business assets against your new business strategy, think critically about what you have to show that is relevant to the prospect’s industry and demonstrates business value, or is genuinely helpful. Once you get strict about applying those criteria, it eliminates a lot of agency content. Entry-level content and inconclusive case studies are not compelling enough to generate new business interest and can only hurt your efforts by wasting prospects’ time.
3. Update your new business strategy
Considering the work and assets you have to show and your updated agency positioning, re-evaluate where your agency’s best new business opportunities are going into 2021. Which of your agency’s services are most valuable and in-demand? Which types of clients in what industries are most likely to need your services?
Use this information to create a plan. Be careful that it is one that you can follow on a consistent basis. Depending on the size of your agency and your new business team, you might not be able to do more than a few tasks. Make sure you commit to something you can do on a weekly basis.
Reaching out to a targeted list of potential prospects, share helpful, educational, and insightful content as well as proof of results to make them aware of your agency. Create an outreach strategy that briefly explains why your agency is relevant to them in 2021 and let them know that you are an available resource. Try to learn about their needs and how you might help them.
Time spent on these three activities is an investment in your new business program’s success throughout the coming year. Skipping these foundational steps to pursue new business with outdated positioning and ineffective assets is counterproductive and reflects poorly on your agency.
These elements will “make or break” your new business program. You don’t want to “make due” with dated assets while moving ahead with prospecting activities. As tempting as it is to push these updates off until a later date, that later date often doesn’t come. The best time to tackle a project like this is right now, at the start of a new year.
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