The received wisdom for agency new business is, as we all know, that you should always be talking to the decision maker. The person who is responsible for appointing the marketing agency. Not the person who ‘deals with’ the marketing agency.
To this end, we have a very simple rule, which is to qualify as soon as possible by asking …
Simple really isn’t it? But let’s challenge this wisdom and consider another approach.
The decision maker (let’s call her the CMO) does indeed appoint the agency, but she probably doesn’t deal with the agency on a day-to-day basis. That’s probably handled by another person (let’s call him the Brand Manager). The Brand Manager is what we would call the end user. There may also be a specifier such as procurement but let’s leave them out of the mix for now.
If you speak to the CMO she may well say “we have an agency that we work with and are not thinking about changing anytime soon” and she may well believe this to be true. Meanwhile, the poor old Brand Manager is pulling his hair out because the agency keeps missing deadlines but the CMO is protected from this knowledge because the BM works doubly hard to make everything go to plan.
How about meeting with the BM? Call him up and say, “look, I know the ultimate decision may well lie elsewhere, but we’d love to show you what we’ve done for XXXX because they are approaching a similar market to you and using our creative they doubled sales over a three month period”. The BM may well be interested and after the meeting, the next time the incumbent agency screws up he can say to the CMO that he thinks it may be time to review and he has seen another agency he’d like to try out a project on.
Get the end user on board as your advocate.