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Is your agency ready to grow? Test yourself with the agency biz dev readiness checklist

Is your agency ready to grow? Test yourself with the agency biz dev readiness checklist


Is your agency ready to grow this year?

Doing great work and delighting your clients is essential. That great work creates referrals, references and in some cases even acclaim. But to grow you’ll need more than your great work. There are thousands of agencies in the US for clients to consider.

How can your agency be ready to grow in such a fragmented marketplace? There are basics that, if covered well, help agencies accelerate their growth. You can gauge your agency’s readiness with the following checklist.

The Agency Biz Dev Readiness Checklist
Want to enjoy more than your fair share of growth? Use this checklist to gauge how ready you are to grow. If you come up short, give us a call or drop us an email – we’ll be happy to discuss your readiness.
  1. A “ready” agency is well positioned:

    The agency has a clear frame of reference (what kind of agency are you?).

    The agency has a compelling position that is creatively and memorably presented.

  2. A “ready” agency has a prospect friendly website: Prospect friendly websites help visitors find the information they need. The frame of reference and positioning are on the home page. Capabilities are clear. Current and past client experience is highlighted. Case studies and bios are compelling. Key data like headcount is covered.

  3. A “ready” agency is staffed for business development: Staff per your ambitions! Business development is time consuming, challenging and sophisticated work.

  4. A “ready” agency has bullet-proof processes to address opportunities at every part of the funnel: Do you have filters? Inbound processes? Pitch processes? A well-tuned biz dev machine is ready to hit the ground running the moment an opportunity appears.

  5. A “ready” agency has a plan to get on prospects’ radar. Clients don’t follow the agency industry as closely as agency execs. It takes thoughtful, purposeful effort to be on their radar. The best way to get on prospects’ radar is to be unavoidable. Here’s how:

    Awards & Work that Gets Noticed: Awards are important because clients don’t pay attention to the industry until they have to – and then they start searching. You need to be findable. Awards increase the odds that you are found and provide additional third-party credibility.

    The Lists: Most agency niches have lists, like lists of top agencies in a field or city or “best lists”.

    Press Coverage: Trade coverage helps your “findability”, builds your reputation and can introduce agencies to prospects. Consider hiring a PR pro that specializes in agencies.

    Content: Most agency content is not terribly helpful and doesn’t advance their reputation. A successful content program highlights the agency’s deep expertise and helps the agency stand out.

    Conferences, Presentations, Workshops & Webinars: For some agencies these tactics can be incredibly strategic; for others, a waste of time and investment. A sound agency marketing plan carefully manages its marketing mix for maximum effectiveness.

    Get on prospects’ radar. Be unavoidable.

  6. A “ready” agency has done their homework regarding Search Consultants: The Search Consultant community is not a viable channel for all agencies. For agencies that want to (and can) compete for larger opportunities, Search Consultants are a vital channel. But we are not homogenous! We are similar and yet very different at the same time. Do your homework! There are only about 30 US-centric Search Consultants and less than ten of us do most of the searches. It’s easy to figure us out. What kinds of clients do they serve in scale or industry or agency type? Do they require or encourage you to pay to be included in their database (do not do this!)? Do they charge you to be in a review (and certainly don’t do this!).

    Doing your research in advance of outreach will prepare you well for any interactions you end up having and you’ll make a better first impression.

  7. A “ready” agency builds and enjoys long lasting relationships. How do you create lasting personal relationships? Everyone is busy. Treat your network with the same respect that you expect and you’ll do well. In essence:
If your agency diligently addressed the readiness steps, you’ll be ready to tackle growth opportunities.
Bonus: From Readiness to Growth
Once opportunities arise, and you decide to compete, it’s time to win.

Go all-in. These opportunities are few and far between for many agencies, so make the most of it:
– Make sure you understand the client’s business challenge
– Learn about their industry, competitors and brand
– Do focused research to add to your knowledge and drive even better solutions recommendations
– Do whatever is necessary to develop a compelling strategy and show how it might come alive in differentiating ideas and tactics
– Streamline that work into a focused, concise presentation
– Learn how to turn the presentation into an interactive discussion

Be Gracious. Only one agency will win. Losing a review is a tough pill to swallow after putting in so much effort! But… be gracious in defeat. Leave everyone with a favorable impression of your agency.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.