Marketing Consultant Robb High makes a living from advising agencies of all kinds how to win new business. With the recent economic cataclysm in mind, Robb has focused his latest missive on agency mailings (assuming, I guess, that many agencies will suddenly start sending blast e-mails and conducting mass mailings to drum up business).
Robb says less than one in four agencies bother to market themselves in this way. That comes as no surprise. Most agencies disdain self promotion for one of two reasons:
1) They mistakenly believe their sole purpose in life is to represent clients and to do otherwise would be somehow less than wholesome. My reaction to this? One’s agency should always be one’s most important client. Agencies are like baseball managers. We’re hired to be fired. It may be a month, a year or a decade, but we’ll be fired at some point. I’ve always believed that focusing on what’s best for one’s agency and one’s brand is the single smartest business strategy in any type of economy.
2) They don’t allocate the proper resources to agency marketing. This is another big mistake. I must admit that I’m constantly fighting a rearguard action within Peppercom, trying to make sure my agency publicity team isn’t cherry picked away for either a new account or a client crisis. It’s an ongoing battle, but agency CEOs must treat their own account as a critically important one. We assign hours, develop an annual program, assign budgets and demand accountability. And, I do my best to make sure it’s enacted.
In his note, High also talks about not doing a mailing just for the sake of mailing. He’s absolutely right. Clients and prospects couldn’t care less about new business wins or new hires. Instead, they respond to thought leadership in the form of primary research conducted by the agency, opinion pieces on topical subjects or a particularly relevant case study (I tend to shy away from the latter since they tend to be too self-serving).
So, with the sky falling and the mass media pushing one economic horror story after another, clients and prospects should steel themselves for an onslaught of virtual and snail mail from scared agency types. Most of it belongs in the circular file, but keep your eyes open. Every now and then, you’ll receive a real gem that can provide a new or different perspective on an existing program. And, that’s what separates the wheat from the chaff in an effective mailing campaign.