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Agency New Business Trends for 2018

It’s time to innovate – Agency New Business Trends That Should Dominate 2018

Many agencies are reticent to invest in or try more advanced techniques for their sales and business development programs. Its a real shame as the industry should be leading the way in innovation, and innovation in my humble opinion starts at home, with agencies differentiating themselves to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

If you just look at how advanced marketing technology companies operate in their sales efforts (and let’s face it they are the targeting the same clients as agencies), then its no surprise that spend on marketing technology is increasing rapidly (18% of marketing budgets in the UK go on Martech according to a recent WARC report).

I hope 2018 is the year that creative and media agencies stand up and start investing in taking a much more modern approach to their own sales and marketing initiatives.

Here are some of the key agency new business trends that Martech will be adopting or have already, that agencies should be seriously considering:

1) Account-based marketing

With a relatively small number of players controlling a large amount of UK marketing spend, ABM is the perfect option for agencies who want to win big.

Traditionally, agencies have been good at creating ‘gold lists’, but the execution of converting them into paying clients has been poor. Focusing on cold calling, email or DM  will, 99.9% of the time, hit a brick wall due to two factors – the lack of value the approach creates and the short-term nature of agency new business “do you want a meeting or do you have brief?” “No” “OK I’ll move on until I find someone that says yes”.

Agencies should take a leaf out Martech and other b2b sectors’ book and identify the businesses and decision makers that will make the biggest differences to their business in one, two or three years time (it’s a long game).

Create buyer personas which group decision makers by issues, objectives and personality and then create content that will appeal to them and positions you as a problem solver. Then its a case of getting eyeballs using a range of outbound “hey thought this might interest you” and organic and non-organic digital tactics.

We’re launching a white-paper on the how’s and why’s of account-based marketing soon. Sign up here to be the first to read it:


2) Thought leadership

If you aren’t putting a lot of thought and effort into this, then you really should. Having opinions and offering advice on the issues that affect your clients is the best way of differentiating your agency and earning the right to consult. You can deliver it in a range of blogs, white papers, videos, webinars, events, print or smoke signals but it has to be of a high standard and relatively frequent.

3) Social selling

LinkedIn is the most significant new business database in the world. All of your senior, new biz and client facing team should have consistent profiles and should be connecting with clients, contacts and connections. Share all relevant thought leadership on it and use it to make approaches. Sponsor content to build your profile and database.

4) Search

If you care to glance at Google’s keyword database (we do a lot), on average, 70,000 people in the UK every month research agencies on Google. These searches are people looking for a specific type of agency or specific types of agencies in specific places, e.g. “social media agency” or “social media agency Nottingham”. You need to appear for these, ideally at the top or close to the top. Both organically, in local business searches and paid. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands more searches where marketers or entrepreneurs are looking for advice (this is what you create your content about), e.g. ‘social media strategy’.

5) Automation tools

There are loads of automation tools that can help you gain insight into your buyer behaviour and your scale sales and marketing efforts. Resources are almost always an issue when it comes to agency businesses development and marketing. So carefully select a few tools that suit your set up and correctly deploy them.

While none of these trends are new, it’s time agencies started to apply the same principles of digital transformation that have been adopted more widely in b2b sales and marketing.