New Business Is Not Voodoo


New biz guru

Dick Roth

I don’t know this gentleman, but I have come across a short article by him which has irritated me.

Why? Because I wish I had written it.

The chap who wrote it is Dick Roth, and I hope he won’t mind me reproducing it in full. If you work in a marketing agency, or in any company which is pitching for business, read Dick’s fifteen admonishments below. They will save you from a lot of pain.

“1. Don’t climb Mount Everest because it’s there. Target the right accounts. Targeting inappropriate accounts is, at best, a waste of time. It most often results in a very bad fit that makes everyone unhappy. Look at what you’ve been able to accomplish in the past and consult your business plan.
2. Never assume the prospect knows the ad business (or any other). Some prospects do, some don’t. Don’t use jargon and overly complicated language. Provide definitions.
3. Learn all you can about the prospect’s business. Do your homework! Do it before you win the account and keep doing it for as long as you work on the account.
4. Never underestimate a client. Listen. Learn. Show respect. Nothing will ruin you faster than being condescending. If you don’t think the client is very smart or you don’t like the client, you shouldn’t be their agency.
5. Don’t blow the first meeting. There are many ways to blow the first meeting. Here are simple steps that, amazingly, agencies don’t keep in mind.

  • Listen before you talk
  • Don’t patronise
  • Respect your prospects industry or business
  • Don’t be late
  • Be organised

6. Connect your ideas to your client’s needs. Very few agencies are really good at this.  Every case  history you present, every example you cite, must be client-centric and relevant.

7. Have a process. Formalise it. It may be very similar to other processes out there, but have one. Know it and show its value. The client has to believe that you have a process in order to believe that you can do it for them.

8. Take a chance. Show original thinking. Bring an insight that the client doesn’t have. But, take care not to offend or stretch too far beyond what their brand and culture will tolerate.

9. Demonstrate. Don’t tell. Give studies and examples. Show the prospect have you have solved similar business problems in the past.

10. Be passionate. Don’t be passive. Many good agencies coma across as if they don’t really care. Clients see that. Show your enthusiasm, your heart. Please don’t be flat.

11. Tell the client exactly what you will do. You must build confidence and trust by talking about  the steps you will undertake on their behalf. They have to believe you can deliver.

12. Never be afraid to discuss tough issues. Show that you recognise and understand the issues. Show that you are willing to do the homework to discover the issues, and to create ideas to address them.

13. Never be shy about discussing compensation. Qualify the prospect against your business plan. It is a mistake to get too far along in the process and then discover that they spend too little to be a good fit for you. Determine whether they can afford you and that you can afford them.

14. Never save your best for the next meeting. There may not be a next meeting. Give them the absolute best thinking as early as you can. Be bold and don’t hesitate to do spec creative.

15. Never be afraid to ask for the order. Sincerity with a little zeal beats the canned approach on this one. You may want to handle this off-line between senior executives from both sides.”

Dick concludes by saying, “And, Oh yes…never underestimate the consultant!”

Hmm. That would be me.