Accelerating your agency beyond the crisis
By Robin Bonn, Founder of Co:definery
It’s been a challenging few months and many agencies have been hit hard. So it’s more important than ever to keep spirits up and focus on the future.
With that in mind, agency leaders should think carefully about adapting to unfamiliar conditions - not least continuing to win new-business.
Should you even be doing new-business?
This can feel like a tricky question right now. There’s a fine line between welcome help and unsavoury opportunism at the best of times. And given that many clients are under extra pressure, if even slightly badly expressed, a genuine motive can easily be misconstrued.
The stakes are high, with plenty of jeopardy. So take a moment to pause and reflect. Ask yourself if you’re truly helping; is your offer really relevant and would you welcome this approach if you were in your prospect’s shoes?
If you have the authority to help, then do it – just choose your words carefully.
Another question I’m being asked is how to run a pitch when the world’s in lockdown. If you’re lucky and demand remains, then this is a great problem to have.
Remember that the principles of mobilising, briefing and rehearsing your team haven’t changed. Your existing process, milestones and performance indicators still apply.
Of course, you’ll need to make nuanced changes. Developing your response and, in particular, discussing subjective feedback will take longer when your team isn’t face to face. It’s the same in the pitch itself - in the absence of non-verbal cues, check and double-check that your precise intention is coming across.
Accelerating out of the crisis
Looking further forward in what remains an uncertain market, how can you ramp-up revenue and profit by taking a more progressive, company-wide approach to differentiation?
Modern agency growth requires some reprogramming. And now is the perfect time to bin old-fashioned habits like conflating positioning with propositions, or assuming pitching is the best way to grow.
Adjust your focus from capabilities to client needs; match your skills, ambitions and resources to the specific audience most likely to buy.
This demands a more deliberate, business-wide connection between strategy and tactics. The smart decisions you take now will be wasted without relentless execution.
So you may need to realign your strategy, marketing and sales, plus roles, responsibilities and metrics, as well as structures, process and pricing. Also consider the drivers of change, from culture and behaviours, to mindsets and confidence, and how they’re impacted by working remotely.
And don’t forget your own headspace. Pulled in different directions at the best of times, having new worries and fears right now is natural – as is feeling unable to share them with colleagues. Perhaps you’re exhausted, but can’t allow the cracks to show? Or maybe you’re taking on too much of the burden yourself? Either way, speak to someone.
Building momentum through the recovery
Evolving your agency doesn’t have to be a big, scary step into the unknown, take it step-by-step and establish a manageable, bite-sized approach to change. So rather than boil the ocean, you can quickly prioritise the most impactful changes from the wealth of choices you face.
By creating focus amid the ongoing uncertainty, you gain the necessary conviction to proceed with a minimum of energy-sapping doubt. Effective changes can quickly be built upon and missteps immediately course-corrected. And with this focused, adaptive mindset, you’ll be best placed to prosper, whatever the future holds.