If you’re selling for an ad agency or other marketing related service provider, you might first wonder “who can I try to get some business from?” The answer to that is this: nearly every type of business needs some kind of marketing or advertising services. But what ad services do they need and how do I figure out what to recommend to them?

The best way to determine what marketing path a company should take is by creating a Marketing Plan and you could consider trying to sell one to just about any potential client you come across.  MANY small to medium sized business don’t want to spend the money to create a plan, but that’s only because economic pressures are strong and/or they don’t understand the enormous value and benefits of having one. A Marketing Plan is a critical element to any successful business and can range in cost from $1000 to $100,000 or more depending on the size and intricacy of the company and their budget.

In order to sell a marketing plan to a company (or any advertising project, for that matter), it’s good to know what it would do, what it’s benefits are and where else a potential client might acquire a business plan (if not from you and/or your company).  A Marketing Plan basically analyses what the client does or sells, who their target market is, who their competitors are (and what their competitors’ marketing looks like) and what marketing and advertising tactics they should implement over some period of time.

Generally speaking, the goal of a marketing plan is to help a company reach and sell more potential clients via advertising, PR & other types of advertising tactics. There are a multitude of reasons that a company would want to hire a pro to write a marketing plan for them; one of the primary reasons would be because of the writer’s experience (I could write a book on just that subject).  If you go to “sell” a business plan to a customer, sooner or later you’ll hear someone say they’re thinking of using a software program that would guide them through the business plan writing process.  You can imagine how helpful those plans are (not) and it doesn’t take a sales genius to “exam” the pros & cons of a computer generated business plan in order to use them in your sales pitch.  Without an experienced human to write a plan, the client will miss out on the experienced based recommendations for specific tactics….i.e., the details on exactly what marketing projects they need to implement.  A “computer” generated plan can’t provide them with those kind of specifics and a Marketing Plan without Advertising Tactics is basically useless….that’s something no computer program can spit out. Also, logic will tell you that in order to determine what ad tactics a company should implement, that the experience that comes from someone who has managed & implemented a multitude of ad tactics would be essential and would provide critical value that could never been gained from a software program.

So if you’ve suggested that your new client may want to buy is a marketing plan and that idea goes over like a lead balloon, we can jump over that option and create a list of other suggested marketing tactics (with options & prices) that they could consider on an “a la carte” basis (hopefully this list would be based on some my input & experience – or some marketing expert’s input – at the very least). Also, I hope for your sake, the ad agency or marketing company you’re selling for HAS a strategic marketing pro who can help you create this list of potential tactics or ad projects that you could propose to any potential client. The fact of the matter is this….business plan or not, whoever’s creating that list of “potential projects” still has to have some experience to know what types of projects would be good for each type of client.  You can guess that there are some foundational projects that most customers will need (logos, brand identity, business packages, websites, etc.) and some that will work only for certain types of clients (direct mail, ads, brochures, etc.).  When you have that initial sales call with your potential client don’t feel like you need to start making recommendations.  You might try to get a feel for what the client has done in the past or ask them if they have a brand (look and feel) or if they need a new one.  So many times client’s have limped along with a logo that their niece made or a website that their daughter threw together and if that’s the case you have to tread carefully.  I try not to criticize someone’s existing marketing materials and remind them that they might want to consider refreshing their look and feel or creating a new one now that they have the input and help of a staff of professionals.

That first appointment should just be to:

  1. Listen to what the client THINKS they want and find out what they want us to quote for them.
  2. Ask them about their business – what they do,  where they’re located, do they have more than one office?  How long have them been in business, etc.
  3. Ask them how they sell their products or services (via in house sales people or reps? Or some other way?)
  4. Ask them who their target market is and be sure and ask them if they could duplicate any one or two customers who would that be?  (and what do those clients look like?  what business are they in? etc.)
  5. Find out what advertising & marketing they’ve done before and get samples of existing ad materials whenever possible.
  6. Tell them about us and what we do and tell them about our award winning work (Don’t forget to tell them that we’re print brokers too.)
  7. Make sure you get the name of the people who are the decision makers and who would be our contact if we should get the job.
  8. Just remember that the majority of the talking needs to be done by them.  Everyone likes to hear their own voices so let them talk as much as they want to….be friendly and let them know that you really care about their business success.

Once you’ve gather up all this information I’ll help you to think through what they might need and what you should consider suggesting to them in your next sales pitch.  If appropriate I will do a written quote that you can take back to them and review with them.

Please feel free to email me any questions you have, when you find yourself SELLING advertising services!  I’m more than happy to help you.  emily.andros@ybs.us