What techniques should agencies use to appeal to brands?

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Often seen as a dark art – and certainly with its (unfair) amount of negative press – the skill of reaching out to brands to drum up some shiny, prime new leads has never felt more relevant to agencies looking to grow in an increasingly competitive landscape.

But where to start? While language, tone, time of day, length and the case studies you share are all important factors, a recent study undertaken by The Future Factory, with senior figures in the brand world exploring how agencies can influence brand's purchasing decisions, reveals that prior research of the brand and a point-of-view are the most important places to start.

In addition to making it feel a less ‘cold’ approach, having a valid business reason is crucial to making a strong, knowledgeable first impression in the opening 30 seconds when a marketing director picks up the phone. Indeed, 64% of decision-makers who took part in the interviews highlighted that an understanding of their business and a point-of-view are paramount to communicate if agencies want to be in with a chance of being considered to pitch.

So, in order to get the most from your new business approaches and feel the zing of success, you have to do your research. But what does good research look like?

Interviews

Bingo! Reading interviews with senior contacts at a brand on your hit list are the best thing you can use. They may be talking about their plans for the brand, what they look for in agency partners etc.

LinkedIn

Sounds like an obvious one, but look for any common ground, such as the previous companies they’ve worked at and connections in common.

New product launches

What activity will they be doing to support this?

Awards

Panelists and judges at awards are there for a reason; they want to keep up to date with the industry. If one of your dream clients was a judge but you can’t make it to awards themselves, drop them a casual email, introduce yourself and see if they fancy a brew and your take challenges in their category.

Senior appointments

Trade press regularly report senior appointments. If someone has moved into a new role, it’s likely they’ll be looking to shake things up. Perhaps hold off until month two or three when they’ve learnt everyone’s names and how they take their tea.

Social media

A bit of light stalking can give you a good indication of someone’s personality. Do they hashtag to high heaven? Do they only communicate through emojis? Do they often ‘poke’ on Facebook? All useful insights.

Brands reviewing

Take this kind of news with a pinch of salt. It’s likely the process will be well under way, if not decided, but as long as you acknowledge this when you reach out it’s worth a chat.

New business wins

Keep an eye on who’s won what with whom, when and where. Subscribe to our Wins of the Week newsletter and make a note to get in touch six months down the line to see how it’s going.

Bear in mind:

  • If your research draws nothing particularly recent, don’t use it. Leading with something that isn’t recent will confuse the sell and make you seem out of touch.
  • Don’t agonise over it – if you can’t find anything in the trade press, it can be really helpful to chat to your team about why they think a brand could be a good fit for your agency and form your argument that way.
  • Keep abreast of industry events in the sector you’re targeting, such as London Fashion Week and Mobile World Congress, as you’re unlikely to catch someone at a good time, if at all, during these periods. It can be a great conversation-starter for when they’re back in the office though, so make a note to say hello then.

Emily Denham is senior account manager at The Future Factory.

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