In the first ten weeks of 2017, over 30% of the UK’s top spending brands have indicated that they will be kicking-off agency reviews before the summer*.
The hesitancy and inertia we witnessed in the first half of 2016 is now a distant memory, and marketing budget holders across all major sectors are making changes to their rosters to address the many macro-economic challenges and opportunities ahead.
While agencies affected by imminent reviews are unlikely to greet this news with enthusiasm, those responsible for winning business do not have the luxury of brooding. It’s more important than ever to be out there speaking to the people who buy your services – nurturing existing contacts and establishing new ones – to ensure you are front of mind as plans are being made.
But I’m not simply advocating doubling-down on current prospecting efforts. Far from it. Enthusiasm and a network of friendly contacts will only get you so far, and given the pace of change in the economic landscape, will not necessarily take you in the right direction for your agency. In order to stay on course in terms of revenue, profit and growth targets, some key adjustments to your business development strategy and resources may very well be necessary.
You may for instance wish to investigate other avenues to compensate for sectors where demand is weakening, or the marketplace is too crowded for your specific services and expertise. At Rainmaker, we constantly monitor changes in the market and focus the outreach we deliver for our clients accordingly. Two quick examples:
We’ve observed an increase of 21% in the number of brands in the sector reviewing agency support. Marketers are seeking agencies that can bring experience from the tech and retail sectors, an opportunity we’ve been quick to convert into meetings and shortlist slots for our clients.
The number of brands reviewing may be up 53% but fashion houses are not typically the most profitable clients for agencies, with surprisingly thrifty budgets and short deadlines. Having said this, CMOs in the sector know they need to deepen brand loyalty, attract new audiences and refine (or in some cases redefine) their identities in anticipation for price rises and consumer spending dips.
With an entrepreneurial mind-set there are always new opportunities to consider, but what if you’re determined to stick to targeting sectors and brands you’re already familiar with? Well, if you also want to maintain a steady flow of new business opportunities and revenue, adjustments may still need to be made. For instance, are you confident that your current positioning and offer is cutting-through and connecting as effectively as it could?
Take the FMCG sector, where there are consistently more reviews and larger budgets than most. Marketers are also on the receiving end of the highest volume of approaches and attention from agencies. And yet, despite greater scrutiny of budgets sector-wide, and fierce competition for face-time with these brand-side marketers, by carefully adjusting communications and targeting, we are able to deliver a dependable supply of opportunities across our client base.
Even if your sole responsibility is business development, finding the time and headspace to objectively review and re-calibrate your outreach programme, messaging and targeting can be tricky. But, with so many brands refreshing their rosters over the next few months, careful adjustments may be the best way to ensure your agency stays on course.
*Source: The Pearlfinders Index
Gareth Dixon is MD of Rainmaker Consulting, the UK's most influential and effective business development consultancy. Rainmaker’s unique insight-led methodology and entrepreneurial approach empowers its clients to take control of their new business strategy.