There are three agency new business hunting strategies that we will be looking at in this post. This is not to say that these are the only ones and we are also not necessarily saying that any one is better than an another or for that matter that an agency can only adopt one strategy. It is perfectly acceptable for an agency to have different strategies running at the same time or indeed to switch from one to another depending upon specific needs at certain times; some strategies get quicker results than others and if cash needs generating quickly then smaller clients that are easier to win may need a different strategy.
- Lion – The lion is the king of the jungle and hunts big game; bison, buffalo, elephant. The lion may take days or even weeks patiently seeking and then following his prey; watching, learning, waiting. For the right time. The right place. To strike, swiftly and efficiently; the lion will keep hold and slowly but surely his prey will succumb to his vice-like grip and his hunger will be sated for weeks maybe even months.
If your agency is large, mature and has a very strong cash position then this may well be your preferred hunting strategy – the clients you seek will be hard to get and may take a long time to win, but once won will sustain you for a long time.
To succeed using this strategy the agency new business person should target 20-25 companies at a time, all of whom are perfect fit top level clients and should attempt to make contact with as many stakeholders within the marketing team as possible with a view to building awareness. Meetings will be few but most will be valuable.
- Cheetah – the cheetah knows her strengths and weaknesses; she cannot compete with the lion for the big game, but she is faster than he and her prey, smaller antelope, wildebeest, impala, gazelle and springbock, whilst maybe not being sufficient to sustain a lion, are easier to catch (for her, given her speed) more widespread and much easier to find. She is even fond of the odd hare or even a small bird if she finds one!
If your agency is not so large and needs quicker wins and can service smaller accounts and still make a reasonable profit from them, this should be the strategy to adopt; don’t be TOO picky at the outset; just go hunting and see what you find; who knows, one day it could be a hare, the next a nice good size antelope!
The key to making the cheetah strategy a success is to have a large ‘heard’ to hunt within. Build a database of every company within every category you have a good story to tell in of the size you feel appropriate (rule of thumb, B2C companies spend 10% of turnover on marketing, B2B 8%). Look for about 300-500 companies and get as many meetings as possible as long as they are with the MAN. One in three meetings should result in an opportunity to submit a proposal, one other being a good long term opportunity and one a waste of time.
- Hyena – although good hunters in their won right, for the purpose of this article we will concentrate on the most famed aspect of the hyena, its reputation as being a wonderful scavenger and prayer on the weak and vulnerable. The hyena will wander the grasslands, savannas and desserts watching for signs that prey may be weak or a lion or cheetah may have made a kill. They will then either go in for the kill or wait until the big cats have had their fill before picking over the leftovers.
The hyena strategy can also be known or referred to as ‘ambulance chasing’ and is by far the most used strategy in the US where there are so many clients the very thought of being more pro-active can be daunting for a non-niche agency. Get your data sources right and this can be quite effective – the problem is of course, that if you subscribe to the usual sources who proudly boast of having 1,000s of agencies as subscribers then you are one of hundreds following up the same leads with the same insights.
To make a success of the hyena strategy takes a very special skills and should not be undertaken by anyone with fewer than ten years experience of having worked with clients so as to show empathy and to spot the opportunities BEFORE anyone else.
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