Coronavirus Advertising

Lead generation: What we’ve learned so far during the covid-19 pandemic

By Alex Sibille, Managing Director & Co-Founder

The Future Factory


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 31, 2020 | 6 min read

Many agencies will be desperately wanting to focus on new business currently, but they will be feeling very unsure over how to proceed, and whether proceeding at all is even acceptable.

Future Factory provide hope to businesses that business can continue almost as usual.

Future Factory provide hope to companies that business can continue almost as usual.

Working with 40 agencies on their lead generation, here are the questions we’ve been asked and the answers based on our experiences over the last two weeks.

Should we wait until all of this ends to start engaging in new business conversations?

Our stats, so far, tell us no.

New business conversations are happening every day. And are being well received.

Of the 40 agencies we work with, so far only a couple have stopped working with us since the crisis really took hold in the UK.

In March, three new agencies started working with us.

It seems those agencies who are able to, are putting increased focus on new business activities as quickly as they can.

Equally, the crisis doesn’t appear to have killed off marketeers’ desire to meet new agencies. Our team has so far seen no reduction in the conversations and introductions they are facilitating for the agencies we represent.

The intermediary Creativebrief has also seen all but two of their planned agency review processes continuing, and three new brands have kick-off processes in the last week.

Surely no one is at the other end of the phone?

The first day after Boris gave the announcement that we should all be working from home, I announced to The Future Factory team that we should all be focusing our outreach on emails, and pause any work on the phones. The team was quick to ask for clarification – what about contacts that they were already in touch with and whose mobile numbers they had, could they call them? Of course! And what about if switchboards are happy to forward your call to someone’s mobile. Yes, sure!

10 days later, 40% of the video meetings we had arranged have been secured and organised over phone calls instead.

Businesses and brands want and need commerce to continue. If you phone switchboard numbers, many are still staffed and will transfer you to the mobile of the person you’re trying to reach.

There’s so much hardship and uncertainty for so many people, I just don’t know how to talk about my agency?

This is good practice for life, but without a doubt applies now: Start by asking questions.

This is not the time to talk through your polished agency proposition, or reel off case studies.

What are clients’ challenges now? These have likely changed from two weeks ago. This might be a brief as yet unanswered by their incumbent.

Governments, consumers and marketeers alike are looking for expert guidance. If you start by asking questions, you’ll identify if you are that expert who might be able to help.

If you aim to offer support and build a relationship first and foremost, then new business might follow.

It goes without saying that you should approach conversations sensitively, with empathy and kindness. Think of your prospects as your neighbour rather than a sales opportunity. Proceeding as if there is no sale to be had is a good approach.

What can I hope to achieve from a video call with a new business prospect?

I wouldn’t be expecting to pick up new work immediately, but every new relationship started now and every conversation had now, adds to a pipeline your agency can focus on converting this year.

There will be a hell of a lot of lost revenue to be made up – by agencies and brands. The last thing you want is to be slow out of the gates when those gates re-open.

I feel like we’re at a disadvantage pitching for new business over video rather than face to face.

True, it’s harder to make that human connection, but equally, our current way of working is really levelling the playing field.

The view from your office and the size of your board room are no longer influencing factors in appointing an agency. All of your competitors are sitting in identical offices to yours.

What you say is now the no one thing that clients are paying attention to.

Give me hope this is all going to be ok?

Baby, there are briefs going to agencies as we speak.

That aside, there are lovely people, all feeling a bit more human and humble, looking for guidance, someone to talk to, and some no strings attached advice. That’s how you build a new business pipeline. Share the love and the money will follow.

What now?

We goddamn want to see 100% of you creative businesses alive and kicking on the other side of this, so on Friday 3 April at 9.30am we’re running a free online workshop.

In the one hour Google Hangout, we’ll share some of our top tips for winning new business using nothing more than the humble email. Send us an email if you’d like to sign up.

Alex Sibille, director and co-founder at The Future Factory.

Director & Co-Founder
Coronavirus Advertising

Content by The Drum Network member:

The Future Factory

With a mix of lead generation, board level consultancy and coaching, we help to make the future more predictable for agency Owners, Founder and Directors.


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