Holding down any job these days isn’t easy and holding down one that relies on you to bring in new revenue and develop existing accounts is well, harder still.
Here at Blood, Sweat and Beers we thought it was about time to shine the light on the industry and ask these unsung heroes that work tirelessly to uncover those ideal clients, knock on doors befitting of the managing directors taste, and ultimately build a trusted relationship that brings home the bacon…
"Just what is it like to be a Business Developer?"
We’d like your help to answer that very question through our #stateofplay survey and over the coming weeks, via twitter, we’ll be approaching a cross selection of people working in positions who have a responsibility for business development as part of their role.
Look out for our tweets and please, give generously.
And remember business development is for the agency life, not just for those 3 months when the phone hasn’t rung.
The IPA today launched their 2012 Q3 Bellwether report and found that marketing budgets were being revised down in Q3 of 2012, to the greatest extent since the end of 2009. Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed reported a decrease in marketing budget, compared with less than a fifth (18%) reporting an increase. You can read more on the report here
So does this mean it’s time to pack up the new business strategy, batten down the hatches and hope for the best? Far from it, it just reinforces the principles we believe in at Blood, Sweat and Beers.
1) Have a clear proposition - marketing departments are unlikely to invest in something they don’t understand. What do you do, and why should your target be interested? Too many agencies fail to answer these fundamental questions. Remember, focus on benefits, not just features. Being ‘a digital agency’ isn’t a proposition.
2) Plan ahead - chasing sales this quarter is a short term strategy that is only likely to end badly. More agencies than ever, chasing fewer marketing departments with less money to spend is pretty challenging, and our research tends to suggest around 6 months of courting is required before a client will reward you with a brief. So be realistic, and plan for the year ahead not just the next 3 months.
3) Develop the tools that help sell your proposition - no matter how good your proposition, cold calling alone won’t win the battle. Develop a suite of collateral that shows the benefits of your proposition, your previous experience, your ROI. Remember the content marketing mnemonic COPE - create once, publish everywhere. Too often content marketing strategies fall down because you try to create too much content. Create long form content, and then amend for particular channels.
Ok yes I know this is a blog and yes #BSB is centred online, BUUUUUT in a perfect world meeting face to face is THE best way to make a solid connection and build a relationship. I attended a networking event recently, a good one honest, and the amount of people chatting through work face to face was brilliant.
Social media is amazing there are no boundaries, but don’t forget how powerful going for a coffee and a doughnut with someone is.
Business Development is all about relationships, the next time you decide to get in touch with a new client go meet them for a lunch, drink or even a walk.
People buy people so put yourself in the shop window.
I came across this -
interesting article via Karla Morales (@KarlaHuntFarm) yesterday - and I have to say some of it struck a real chord.
The short term, quick fix requirements of many agencies I speak to who are looking for new business support is staggering.
Not too long ago, Creative Director’s in lacklustre agencies would be apaplectic at the suggestion that their work was ‘magic dust’ - give it to a ‘creative’ to bring it to life. Now I feel that new business people are treated with the same disdain.
There really is no point bringing in a new business person at the point at which you’ve realised your next quarter’s figures are looking poor. Chances are, the reason your stream of incoming enquiries has dried up is because there’s enourmous amounts of work to be done around your positioning, marketing and internal resources and processes to maximise every new business opportunity that comes along.
So hiring a new business person, giving them no tools other than a phone and an outdated .ppt deck and expecting them to turn that into a healthy pipeline in three months is only ever going to end one way. In bitter disappointment, for everyone involved.
- Post by Nick
So, I won’t beat around the bush on this one. The guys that attend Blood Sweat and Beers will definitely be aware that this is a question batted around by frustrated BD people when talking to business owners looking to make money.
To paint a picture, you own a business, you have been established for 15 years and income has always increased for you year after year without fail.
But this year, it didn’t. This year you made a loss and the panic starts to set in.
Through the sweat dripping down your forehead you start racking your brains for how you solve this situation whilst looking at your employees through your office window frantically beavering around doing exactly what they should be.
"Business Development Person!! I’ll employ one of those!! That’ll solve the problem!!"
It’ll help without a doubt and yes maybe that Boiler Room style ‘extraordinaire’ will come in and not only bring their little black book full of ‘Yes Men’ but most importantly they will bring a strategy and a fresh pair of eyes.
Uh oh… the ‘S’ word.
That’s right, strategy, a BD person may bring a short term money fix but a really good one will make you go - “hang on, why am I losing money in the first place?”
A BD person is an asset worth paying for but be prepared to think differently and work together as a partnership if you want to make the next 15 years the most profitable the business has ever had.
Rant over for now.
- Post by Paul
Having been fortunate to spend some time at a friend’s small but very wonderful digital agency in Liverpool recently I was very impressed with how he had created an identity for himself by being different. Now my friends always been a bit quirky in both dress sense and mannerisms and the same can be said for his football team! But what he lacks in fashion he makes up for in his knowledge of his passion, creativity.
I’ve been privy to hear him talk with clients and friends on subjects ranging from Social Media to Search Engine Optimism on a level that is both intelligent and engaging. His tone of voice and language cuts through to add value. Its no wonder he’s created quite a niche name for himself within digital markets in Liverpool.
Business Development in its most purist form, I just hope I can help him do the same for his brand!
- Post by Mike
In a world where on average we are exposed to over a 1000 brands a day it maybe is worth taking a note from the same school of the best advertisers on the planet.
Pick your target, give them what they want.
It’s tempting to tweet, post on Flickr, create a facebook group and maybe top that off with an e-mail campaign to generate new business but if it’s not right and out of line with your strategy sometimes, it can do more harm than good.
Identify your target market and focus your efforts on making sure to you tell them what they want to hear.
- Post by Paul
"We get sporadic work all the time" my friend said, "the problem is, agencies act like your best mate when a job is running and then when it’s finished you never hear back from them".
"That’s odd" I said, "have you ever got in touch and asked why?"
He just stared at me with the same expression that Christian Bale used before he grabbed Heath Ledger across the table in Batman. He did put it in his diary to do first thing Monday morning though.
This surely has to be a staple cycle for anyone wanting to build awareness of their work in client relationships? Ask if your previous work was good enough, ask why you haven’t been called back, was the client happy with the end result? Without a debrief from the agency (which they probably wouldn’t do unless you ask because they are busy) how would you know if your work was up to scratch?
Build a long term relationship through communication, ask questions and don’t use the ‘F’ word (Feature Dumping) the more you know about what the client wants the more of ‘that’ you can give them.
- Post by Paul
It became very apparent recently listening to a tale of BD from a friend of mine that digging a hole for yourself professionally is a scary and easily created situation with horrendous consequences.
You see it every week on the BBC’s Apprentice, in response to Sir Alan’s question of ‘why should I not fire you?’ the response is - “Lord Sugar, there is nothing you ask of me that I can’t do and I can turn anything you throw at me into a success”. Sir Alan’s response is - “Well, you failed this task”.
Sometimes recognising your weaknesses can be your strongest asset.
We believe over here at BSB that if there is a situation that arises where you feel out of your depth in any way address it early, resolve it and build on the development of your knowledge. Clients will respect the fact that you may have to turn around sometimes and say “I don’t have an answer to that one right now, I’ll check and I will make sure that I come back to you by…”
- Post by Paul