The Insights Blog

Tombras, Figliulo, Goodby & other agency stars on What Matters to Agency Prospects

Tombras, Figliulo, Goodby & other agency stars on What Matters to Agency Prospects

By Steve Boehler with input from an all-star team of agency execs

Ever wonder what is on prospects’ minds?

This is a question we often hear from agencies of all sizes.

Over the years we have enjoyed countless discussions with agency leaders on this specific topic. What matters to the senior executives that rely on their agencies to help drive success?

In a recent workshop, an agency exec asked this question again. In reviewing our notes from over the years, some of what we heard follows… and a clear theme emerges.

Here is how these agency stars answered the question.

Jeff Goodby, GS&P

The ability to talk business with the client is the thing that separates the great creatives from the ones that are just okay. It’s always the biggest thing.

Robin Koval, Truth Initiative (previously Kaplan Thaler Group)
Why is that CMO in the room? If you’re really thinking about why that potential client is sitting in your office, maybe their job is on the line, right? Or their businesses might be at death’s door, or maybe there is some other problem that the CMO has that could determine if they even keep their job. Maybe her agency has been failing and that makes her look like a failure, or she wants to position herself for a better job. If you want to win the business you need to know what does this client actually want?
Matt Weiss, Huge
They want you as a partner in their business, helping to drive growth. The bottom line is alignment with their KPIs to drive their business growth, and to help their marketing departments have a bigger impact on their business.
Mark Figliulo, FIG Agency
We all know about the horrible CMO turnover rate and the problem goes back to data. CMOs don’t have very good measurement tools to backup their arguments so they don’t come off as serious. Any CMO out there is saying that they need some way of saying that they are making decisions with some process backed by measurement. And that’s how they are going to add value to their company, how they are going to grow the company and it’s how they are going to get credit from the company and therefore bigger budgets and everything else. The onus is on CMOs and their agencies to come up with a more holistic way of measuring what we do.
Dooley Tombras, The Tombras Agency
It’s a huge responsibility when a client entrusts their business with me and my agency, because they’re hiring us to do a business outcome. Their jobs are on the line, the people in their marketing departments’ jobs are on the line. I want my clients to succeed and make bigger bonuses and raises, and help them get case studies to go get better jobs. Because I’m so passionate about all of this and I know how it all works, I’m passionate about the results, and you’ve got to be relentless about it to get good business results. You can’t be casually interested in the data and the metrics to get good business results.
Mark Astone, Catalyst Marketing
They want to hear how we’re going to solve their issues, their business issues.
Keitha Oliver, Pepper Advertising, Trinidad & Tobego
I think what makes the difference is really understanding what the business issues are: the reason why the client is running the pitch. It’s not just about creative, a pretty ad, it’s a problem that they’re trying to solve. I found that when we delve deeper into identifying what are those business needs and what are the solutions that they’re really after, we’ve been able to use our experience to demonstrate why we may be the best candidates for the job.
Matt Weiss, Huge
The C-suite has changed dramatically. I think the CMO has probably gone through the most dramatic change of any position in the company. The chief marketing officer is so much more accountable now to end sales, and as a result they have moved closer to the chief executive officer in terms of being responsible for actual output. And it’s also made it dangerous for a CMO because they’re more accountable. I think the CMO is probably one of the most difficult jobs that you could have.
Dennis Ramdeen, Pepper Advertising, Trinidad & Tobego
It’s listening, and then showing that you have either the experience from your past or a solution for right now that you’re putting in front of them that says you understand the challenges.
Nicole Mahoney, Break the Ice
In one of our recent wins the client loved the insight that we brought to her and the way we captured her market. We won a different account recently because the client said we understood his business and what his needs were. He appreciated our deep understanding of the industry and what he was trying to accomplish. He said to me that they finally felt like they were heard and they felt like they weren’t being sold. They really felt like we understood them.
So – what is on prospects’ minds? Their business. Of course, there are important related implications of their business success such as career advancement and personal success. But the universal truth is that what is on their mind is their business. They don’t hire agencies because they like agency services. They hire agencies to help their business succeed.
Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, 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.