PROFILE AND CONTENT FOR GROWTH — ARE YOU MISSING OUT?

Everyone talks about wanting growth, but it’s difficult to achieve and there are lots of different ways to get there. Winning new clients is tougher than ever so you need to be clear on your ambition and objectives, and identify the best opportunities to win more business in the most profitable way — whether that’s new clients, sectors or geographies. Having a strong market positioning will provide a distinctive platform to drive opportunities, relationships and reputation. And whilst you’re growing as a business you need to be aware of the operational implications and the impact on talent.

Most of all you need good ways to stand out, be visible and be interesting to potential clients. Even then, there are too many choices and many agencies fail to make the right decisions. But with some planning and smart thinking you can attract interest and stay ‘front of mind’ with prospective clients.

WHERE TO FOCUS WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH CHOICE?

Most agencies seeking to build reputation and grow will focus on a number of areas: lead generation, profile/PR, events, awards and owned media, but it’s not always easy deciding where to spend your time, energy and budget.

With so much choice, agencies frequently fixate on the wrong things. Sometimes it’s lead generation, persevering with outdated methods of business development. Other times, agencies try to do a bit of everything and have no real impact. This leads to lots of activity, but little client engagement and limited visibility in a crowded market place. Crucially, these inefficiencies hit the bottom-line.

Stakeholders are frequently left disappointed for a range of reasons, but these disappointments can usually be traced back to lack of clarity around goals, and lack of time, budget and resource. There’s always a constant pressure to come up with new ideas and envy about why others achieve more — all of which leave the agency low in morale with a lack of confidence.

It takes time to generate quality ideas for content and profile activities. Many agencies don’t have a huge budget for year-round business development and marketing pushes, which is why you need to be clever and creative with your time, talent and approach.

CONTENT: THE VITAL ELEMENT THAT MANY AGENCIES MISS OUT

The driving force for business development and marketing performance is quality content. It’s an integral part of the programme but it’s not easy to crack — it takes time and effort to come up with clear campaignable ideas — that will work.

The main objective of any content is to make target clients see you as an interesting business, one that they want to find out more about and eventually meet with. But in a competitive market, where agencies are competing for share of voice, you need something interesting to say to get share of mind. We’re not just talking news and case studies — but compelling content that demonstrates that you think and deliver differently to your competitors. Whether it’s proprietary research, thought leadership or trends commentary, your content must show that you not only understand client challenges, but that you can help to solve them.

Business development has changed. It’s not about meetings for meetings’ sake, nor is it telling everything you know about a certain subject. Instead, it’s about building and maintaining relationships, playing the long game and using content to engage. It’s vital that you choose subjects to make you attractive: provocative, original, well-thought through, outward- not inward-looking. Capitalise on your achievements and talent, and always link back to your positioning and offer. It’s not easy to develop great content, but without it your chance of growth is limited.

PR: THE VALUE AND ROLE IN GROWTH

The role of PR is often misunderstood in the marketing mix. It’s about building your profile as a business and making you front of mind. It’s what others say about you rather than what you say about yourself, so it has a valuable role in any agency’s success. But it’s not easy and it takes time to get right. The PR landscape has become more challenging, with fewer media outlets and more agencies competing for share of voice.

Investing in PR is a big decision, made harder because agencies often don’t understand what they are buying and the value it brings. It requires people with the right skillset, who understand the changing media landscape and who have experience of working with the press.

Whether in-house or outsourced, PR works best as part of an ongoing programme rather than a series of tactical campaigns. It’s a two way street and requires constant dialogue. Build relationships with the media, offer high quality content that’s tailored, timely and relevant to the outlet’s audience. You can’t assume that the press will automatically be interested in your business, so start with news in a handful of trade and sector titles, and earn the right to an opinion.

MEASUREMENT: WHAT SORT OF PERFORMANCE SHOULD YOU BE AIMING FOR?

There are a lot of ways to measure effectiveness but you’ll need goals and tools agreed at the start. Marketing automation tools and PR quality scores can evaluate impact and value. Ongoing analysis will allow you to learn and evolve your approach as you create more content and push it out across your channels and comms.

But the real measure is whether it feels like it’s working: are you having more interesting conversations? Are you being talked about within the marketplace? Is there increased morale and pride in the workplace? All a good indication that it is working.

Many clients struggle the most with the role of content and profile, but done well, and with the right people and processes, these are the things that will bring the biggest value and rewards, adding to the growth of your business.