The problem with wish lists and lead generation

wish listAgencies often come up with wish lists to create direct marketing campaigns.

Normally a variation on e-mail, direct mail follow-up telephone calls and so on.

The criteria for the list is usually something like BANTS (budget, authority, need, timing) job title, must be a decision maker, work in a sector we have experience in, likely budget, location maybe and any other info we can throw on top like – taking out brands that have just appointed an agency or a brand that you feel are in safe hands.

Once we have the list, say 200 brands, some then go further and divide into gold, silver and bronze, I don’t really know why, maybe based on budget?

The problem to my mind is two-fold.

A) everyone is using the same criteria
B) experienced marketers rarely buy this way. They do, but rarely.

Just because you want to work with a brand doesn’t mean they want to work with you does it? How do buyers typically decide who they want to work for.  Well, if we know from agencies that most of their work (circa 70%) comes from referral than buyers must buy from a referral 70% of the time QED. In fact if it’s not you’re doing bad work.

So it follows that when a Marketing Director for example decides with their team that they are going to change agency the most common way they select the column A agency is from a referral of some sort.

Column A wins over 70% of the time on average and the other columns share 30% between them so if there is three columns 10% each, or if column B has an advantage over C and D for some reason maybe it has 20% chance and so columns C and D share 10% each.

The lower down columns are filled with agencies who have directly contacted them in some way, phone, e-mail, direct mail pieces or God forbid the marketer searched for ‘ad agency’ on Google and choose the highest ranking one to fill a column.

Note –  I am just playing with the probabilities based on some evidence we do have, which is that agencies get 70% of their business from referrals. Like most service business do, solicitors, accountancy and so on. We never truly know the percentages, as they don’t actually exist. This is important to understand. We are speculating what happens in a buyers head,  Column A agency could be 100% and the other agencies are on a procurement ride to 2nd place-ville.

Column Thinking is a just a way of thinking about the problem of how does an agency win new clients as effectively as possible. So if a lead or RFI come out of the blue, chances are on average you’re in column C,D,E,F…Do you know what to do here? Those leads can end up being very expensive in time and money.

Recently I wrote about a column thinking lead thermometer that looks at how to evaluate the likelihood for winning work from a lead based on how the lead was received by the agency NOT your wish list criteria because they’ll always match up there, “look we have a lead, where someone has budget, need and a timing schedule.”

So how can agencies be proactive via direct marketing techniques, phone, e-mail and DM without the traditional wish list approach which creates many low down column leads but few wins.

We’ll who is it we really want to approach us regularly?  We’ll we want to be approached from people who has been referred by our client we did a good job for.  Why? Because a referral win more often than not.

Why? Because it is a transfer of trust. And that is what selling is about, trust.  The prospect will take the trust they have from the person who is referring you and put it on your shoulders.  In fact the referrer will do a better job of selling you than you can very often. Because buyers are wary of sellers.

When your client refers you says something like  “you can trust them they’re brilliant, good value not cheap admittedly, creative and fun to work with” to your prospect that is believable but when you say it as an agency to a prospect it looks like BS.

Can we make a column A list?

If you look on linked-in at one of your client’s profiles you often can see all the people they know.  Is there anyone one on there you’d like to be refereed to?  Maybe you should ask if they’d be okay introducing you in a face to face meeting?

However, in all likelihood you’d rather not bother, bit awkward and how important is new business away?

On your client’s profile you’ll notice they know 500 or so people – if you went through them you’ll probably find 30 people who not just meet some style of BANTS profile e.g. Marketing Director of a food company in the UK etc but they know someone who you know. A mutual contact.  A potential referral. You remember the ones, the one that close the most.

So couldn’t we after working out their e-mail address send them an e-mail with a quote in it from our client that they know, according to linked-in?

Hi Prospect

Yadah Radha yadah we are a great agency according to  ‘Best agency I have ever worked with because…

Worth meeting?

All the best

New Biz Developer

What happens when you get an e-mail from someone you don’t yet know who talks about someone you do know?  Intriguing? More relevant? Worth saving for later? What about if it was in a letter or a DM piece? Or all three, even?

What if you found say 30 people who you’d like to meet for each one of your clients and say you have 10 clients?  That’s a neat little data base of 300 people isn’t it, who know your clients?

This is how you can create a data base that is full of potential column A leads.  Then when they come to review you have increased your chances of being in column A and not an also ran.

So you’re going to need quotes from all your clients and permission to use them in marketing material.  You need to spend time looking through their profiles on linked in. You’re going to need a better email than the one I used as an example.  You’re going to need time guessing your prospects e-mail addresses. But you’re not going to need quite as much luck.

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