Agencies told to create a mission statement or ‘you’re going to be the agency for no-one’

(l-r): Camille Alarcon (Publisher, The Source); Nathan Hodges; Rebecca Darley; Nick Williams; Fleur Brown

(l-r): Camille Alarcon (Publisher, The Source); Nathan Hodges; Rebecca Darley; Nick Williams; Fleur Brown

Agencies which fly under the radar get “clients that fly under the radar” according to one pitch consultant, who said the average client only knows three agencies “their last one, their current one, and one other”.

Speaking this morning at The Source New Biz Breakfast session looking at how to build an agency profile Nathan Hodges, general manager for Trinity P3, said agencies need to create a proposition for the market, and stick to it.

“If you want to be the agency for everyone, you’re going to be the agency for no-one,” he warned.

Speaking on the same panel recruitment specialist Nick Williams said agencies which fly under the radar struggle to attract the best talent, adding in interviews the agencies should spend “40-50 per cent of it talking about themselves” to make sure the candidate understands their ethos, “as there is a lot of competition for the top 20 per cent of talent”.

But Rebecca Darley, the former marketing boss of Ikea, warned agencies to also be wary of word of mouth, warning: “While we read the trade press I’ll also talk to my colleagues and other marketers about agencies, who we like working with and who we don’t.”

She also warned against agencies sending “generic stuff through the mail, often with the wrong name and job title on”, saying a more targeted approach to introducing themselves to clients would get better results.

This sentiment was echoed by Williams, a former new business director for Leo Burnett, who admitted he initially found the job of cold calling prospective clients difficult.

“Then my boss told me ‘give stuff away’,” he said. “Don’t call asking for stuff, call to give them something.”

He said he creates the Williams Report, a survey of staff and what they are looking for in an employer, for this reason. “I give it to people and it gives us an opportunity to sit down with prospective clients and talk about something I know lots about and they know little about.”

In an earlier presentation Fleur Brown, director of PR agency Launch Group, gave a list of things agencies do badly when trying to PR themselves to the press, warning them to “kill motherhood statements” in press releases making “unsubstantiated claims” about the agency, and take care to nurture their personal brand through social media channels and thought leadership pieces.

However, Hodges pointed to the example of Leo Burnett CEO Todd Sampson as someone with a high media profile quipping “there’s even a TV show about his brain now”, but added: “He’s got the biggest profile in the industry, but that doesn’t seem to necessarily transfer to marketers thinking about Leo Burnett in that third agency space.”

Alex Hayes


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