Rob’s running a B2B agency called IAS in Macclesfield and he loves a bit of controversy. Mostly he loves telling folk how they are ingrained in convention and that they should learn from his own way of zagging when everyone else zigs.
Here he tells Manchester how to get their collective arses in gear. Like me, he likes a short para!
AT THE HEIGHT OF A RECESSION, ROB MORRICE RECKONS THAT AGENCIES WOULD DO WELL TO ADOPT THE MANTRA – YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ACCOUNT IS YOUR OWN.
It never ceases to amaze me that Agencies ignore the basic fundaments of B2B Marketing when marketing themselves. Before I joined, IAS broke most of its own segmentation rules in its marketing efforts, particularly in its approach to timeline segmentation. And most agencies do the same.
If an agency manages to extract a client out of a relationship with another agency that the client believes is doing a good job, then it’s the exception that proves the rule.
And the rule is that the client decides when it wants to change agency.
With this as a core belief, the task is to be positively front of mind at the time when a client goes to pitch.
And – horror of horrors – this means you have to spend a lot of money targeting a lot of people a lot!
Because, with the exception of public sector contracts, it’s almost impossible to know when a pitch is going to happen.
A good New Business person can find out some stuff which might not be in the public domain by building up relationships and mining a limited number of clients, but the sheer volume of prospects agencies are targeting precludes us from employing enough New Business people to build up that type of personal relationship across the board.
This means that an agency marketing strategy is simple to describe but will expend a lot of time, effort and money to implement.
You have to meticulously gather the names, addresses and email addresses of all of your prospects and consistently build-up dialogue with them over a long period of time.
At IAS, We have a database of over 6000 UK B2B spenders and we target to communicate with them at least once a month. We use every club in the golf bag. PR, Trade Advertising, Books, D Mail, Email, Events, Networking, Sales Promotion, Sponsorship, White Papers, Blogs, Social Marketing, levering award wins and anything else we can think of.
For the first six months of this new strategy, very little happened but as we’ve persevered, the phone started to ring more and more with clients asking us to pitch. And of course people are starting to talk about us and a snowball effect ensues.
This is not a particularly politically correct way to describe it but it’s a bit like Blitzkrieg, We blanket bomb our audience so we are assured of getting to the ones who are thinking of going to pitch.
This might sound a costly way of doing it, but its not. We spend barely 3% of our revenue.
The problem however is that Advertising Agencies are a greedy bunch of bastards who allocate no real marketing budget. Hands up those who have spent money with The Drum this year.
And – I would say this of course – most are not B2B savvy so they either don’t know or ignore the basics of B2B Marketing.
Over the years a few agencies have got a bit right; but not many. My old agency SMARTS used to be good at it before Media Square re-invented it as a PR shop. (He would say that. Ed.)
My old pal Mark Gorman, had the hang of it when he was MD of 1576 and in his consultancy career at Think Hard since. For example, Mark’s is the top marketing blog in Scotland. (He said that to suck up and get his article published. Ed.)
Another Scottish marketing consultant mate of mine was complaining recently that Mark got all the best consultancy projects going and couldn’t understand why.
I had to tell him in no uncertain terms that the fact clients had heard of Mark might have something to do with it.
The point I’m making here I think is an obvious one. Clients aren’t stupid and when they hear the old wah wah which agencies spout about marketing your way out of a recession, the least they’d expect is for us to practice what we preach.
Rob’s last point is a good one and regular readers of this blog will be aware of my involvement in this very practice with 60 Watt. Here’s an example…