What to do When a New Business Prospect Falls Asleep in Your Presentation

A common job interview question is: “What’s the most challenging workplace situation you’ve faced, and how did you handle it?”

That’s an easy one for me. I remember the situation very well and have never had anything like it happen since.

The president of the agency that brought me to Nashville and I were on a trip to South Carolina for a new business opportunity with a business-to-business manufacturing company that needed public relations assistance.

We happened to be traveling on a day when a hurricane was hitting the East Coast, and while it wasn’t threatening our area, we were getting a lot of rain and strong wind, which made for a pretty exciting ride in the small plane that was taking us from Atlanta to an airport in the Carolinas.

When we arrived at the manufacturer’s headquarters, we were ushered into a small conference room where the president and I sat across the table from the company’s CEO and a couple of other executives, one of whom was the plant manager.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, we dimmed the lights for our power-point presentation, and the president began giving an overview of our agency’s capabilities and clients in his deep Southern drawl.

After about 15 or 20 minutes of this, he turned the presentation over to me while raising the lights, saying, “And now Don is going to tell you about some of our business-to-business clients.”

As I pivoted in my chair from facing the wall where the presentation was projected to look directly at the three men, I noticed something peculiar.

The guy across the table to my left—the plant manager—was sound asleep.

He was having a nice rest, making that sort of heavy breathing/whistling sound when he exhaled.

Although he was sitting upright in his chair, he looked very comfortable in his slightly slumped over position. In fact, I think he had entered the Rapid Eye Movement phase of his nap because he was really out.

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Well, this was awkward.

I was supposed to be making a presentation to a guy who was sound asleep.

We had flown from Nashville around the edge of a hurricane for this meeting, and now one of the three people I was presenting to was in dreamland.

I didn’t know what to do.

What I wanted to do was reach across the table and start shaking him, saying, “Wake up, you sluggard! You’re ruining my presentation and making me look bad in front of my boss!” (Who, I note in my defense, was the one that actually put the guy to sleep before I said a word.)

But of course I couldn’t do that because this was a prospective client. I had to be nice. And polite. And flexible.

The CEO, who was sitting next to him, and the other man to my right were staring at me with a frozen look of anguish.

On the positive side, I clearly had their undivided attention. But it became equally clear that they weren’t going to bail me out by waking him up.

I glanced out of the corner of my eye and caught a priceless expression on the face of our agency’s president. I was hoping for some non-verbal guidance, but he was no help at all.

His eyes were wide and he gave me a look that said, “I don’t have a clue what to do, you’re on your own.”

All four of us in the room knew that the fifth guy was out cold, but no one would acknowledge it.

So, in this surreal environment, I started talking through my portion of the presentation to the men who were still awake.

But it wasn’t quite that simple because every so often the guy who was asleep would roll his head and make sort of a snorting sound with his mouth half open.

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I was sure I was going to break out laughing at any moment and lose the business.

But through all this, nobody said a word. I somehow maintained my composure and the other two men kept their eyes riveted on me the entire time. The whole thing was a little unnerving, but I managed to get through it.

Just as I was finishing up, the sleeper awoke. He looked a little startled and tried to act nonchalant, like he’d been with us the entire time.

The men thanked us for coming, and then the well-rested plant manager gave us a tour before we packed up and headed back on our return flight.

The cherry on the sundae was after all that, we didn’t get the business; the company chose another agency out of Atlanta.

It wasn’t my best presentation, nor was it a winning presentation, but it’s the one I remember most.

photo credit: Museum of Photographic Arts Collections Nicolaas Henneman Asleep, Lacock or Reading, England via photopin (license)

photo credit: Rob Hurson via photopin (license)

 

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5 Tips for Creating an Effective Ad Agency Video for New Business

This guest post is by Senior Content Developer Helen Clark. She has been an avid blogger for 10 years, with special interests in videography and creative editing. Helen has contributed articles and blogs to top videography and editing-related sites. She can be reached at hc061685@gmail.com.

Helen 1

The initial wave of marketing is of immense importance for a new business. In order to keep the business running, it is necessary that you have new projects coming in, and that won’t be possible unless you put yourself on the map.

However, a potential problem with making your first video ad might be funding. When a business is young, there are usually no significant funds that can be directed this way. This is why you should learn about what makes a video effective, so you can cost-effectively achieve the desired effect.

Make First Seconds Really Count

The first few seconds will either make your viewers interested in what you have to say or drive them from your brand. An average viewer won’t waste much time watching a video of an unfamiliar brand, so be sure to make the beginning of your video effective by turning to controversy or humor, for example.

Accent the Highlights of Your Brand

Brand Branding Advertising Trademark Marketing Concept

In order to attract a bigger audience, you need to focus on strengthening your brand name. A video like this needs to emphasize what your brand stands for and what your business is about. Therefore, make sure to clarify this and have in mind that your logo needs to be incorporated as well.

Keep Your Video Brief

As previously mentioned, an average viewer won’t be very enthusiastic to watch a couple of minutes of an advertising video. You should set an upper limit – your video shouldn’t be longer than thirty seconds. So, no matter what kind of marketing method you’re trying to apply, keeping it brief needs to be your priority.

Mind the Language

Not only does the length of your video need to be short, but you should also make sure that what you have to say is to the point. Every word you plan on incorporating in your video needs to be clear so that there is no room for misunderstandings – after all, you only have up to thirty seconds to say what you want.

You need to be very careful when it comes to your choice of vocabulary. Most new businesses sound pretentious in their first ads, and this is because of one reason – they use complicated words for the purpose of proving themselves and their expertise. So, the language you use needs to be transparently simple, because you have bigger chances of landing customers if you show your office as a down-to-earth team made up of attentive professionals.

Wrap Up Your Video Advertisement

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Perhaps filming the actual footage may not be a problem — even amateur videos have their charm. However, you must not allow your agency to be perceived as amateurish. The success of your first ads, and the future of you agency in this case, will depend on your video-editing skills.

If this is not something you have experience with, my suggestion is not to lose any time or effort trying to edit your video by yourself. As a businessperson, I’m sure you’re aware of how important packaging is — which is why you should go with someone who provides professional video editing services like the Video Caddy company. 

This definitely isn’t a risk you should take.

With all of this in mind, I think you’re ready to make your first ad. Make sure to develop a concept first and come up with a strategy so that you don’t waste any time on this project. After all — you have an agency to develop.

 

 

 

Ad Agencies: Are You Calling Prospects or Are They Calling You?

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Not long ago, I answered my cell phone to hear the exciting news that I could have a free new home security system.

Now, as annoying as these telemarketing calls are to me, I have a certain amount of empathy with the callers because shortly after graduating from college, I was making similar calls on behalf of a direct marketing company. Telemarketers can get a lot of abuse, so I always try to be polite and let them talk through their script so they can at least get credit for completing a call.

I also know you can have a lot of fun with these calls if you get telemarketers off their scripts.

As I listened to this enthusiastic young lady talk, I lost track of how many times she used the word “free.” Finally, she reached the end of her script.

“I just have one question to see if you qualify—are you a homeowner?”

Notice that she didn’t ask if I already had a home security system, and if so, was I satisfied with it.

“I have question for you,” I replied, slightly irritated at having my intelligence insulted like this. “How does your company make money if everything is free?”

After a moment of stunned silence, she said she didn’t hear what I said, so I repeated myself.

“Are you a homeowner?” she asked, completely ignoring my question.

“I’ll answer your question after you answer mine—how does your company make money if everything is free?”

“Are you a homeowner?”

Our conversation ended shortly after her that.

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“Are you a homeowner?”

Now I realize that telemarketers typically are not trained to engage in “off script” discussions. They may have a section in their scripts where it gives instructions about what to say if the prospect asks X or says Y, but if you ask them anything not included in the script, they usually are lost—like this poor lady.

I’ll bet you’ve gotten calls like this yourself, so I have a question for you:

Would a call like this make you more or less likely to do business with the company?

Now envision a scenario where you don’t own a home security system, and several houses in your neighborhood have recently been broken into by criminals. You are suddenly aware of a new problem and interested in a solution that will protect you and your family, so you begin to think about purchasing a security system.

Would you trust a security company that told you its services were free and wouldn’t answer a simple question? I know I wouldn’t.

Like a lot of people, I would begin talking with friends and neighbors about home security systems, and start doing research on the Internet.

Now suppose I come across Sam’s Safe & Secure Inc. Several of the people I talked with mentioned Sam’s as being honest, dependable and reasonably priced, with great customer service, so I already have a favorable impression of the company.

I start my research by going to Sam’s website and find lots of impressive testimonials; community awards for being a good citizen; sponsorships of local school bands and athletic teams; helpful and easy-to-understand videos about home security; and blog posts about everything from how to choose a security system that’s right for you to tips for forming a neighborhood watch to ways you can help keep kids safe while using the Internet.

When I leave the website and use a search engine to find home security systems in my area, Sam’s dominates the listings.

  • Customer reviews are very good—4 ½ out of 5 stars, with lots of favorable comments.
  • Next up: a community calendar that includes a listing of places where Sam’s does free seminars about ways to keep your home secure.
  • Then I see a news story where Sam’s CEO was interviewed about simple steps homeowners can take to make their houses more secure and less likely to be burglarized. The CEO didn’t say a word about his home security system; rather, he used the publicity to educate (and in the process gain awareness and credibility) without make a sales pitch for his product.
  • The next hit comes from someone blogging about how Sam’s has partnered with the local police to do free home safety checks for the poor and elderly, with discounts on home security systems for those who can’t afford to pay the full price. On that post I read a comment from a reader who has a Sam’s security system, where he shares about how well the system worked when someone tried to break into his home.

My findings indicate that Sam’s Safe & Secure has a great reputation, and the company knows all about security. Chances are, I’ll call Sam’s to discuss the next step for my home.

What a contrast: A company I’ve never heard of interrupting my day with a sales-driven telemarketing call about a product that doesn’t interest me vs. a company I call because I have a need and am interested in the product it offers. I’ve heard good things about the company from others I know and trust, and I like what I see online, so I don’t need anyone to sell me anything; I’m already sold.

The same principal applies to ad agency PR for new business: It’s far better to be discovered by prospects and have them approach you, and the best way for that to happen is to have a good reputation and a robust online presence.

If your agency cold calls a prospect, there’s a good chance the call will go to voicemail. If you send a sales email at a time when the prospect isn’t looking for what you offer—and therefore is not interested—it probably will be deleted and your email address maybe blocked. If you send direct mail, odds are it will end up in the trash.

And even if you manage to get through to a prospect, is this really an effective way to present yourself and position your agency? I don’t think so.

The buying process has changed, and trying to sell services through aggressive cold calling makes an agency look desperate and out of touch. A more effective approach is to use public relations to complement your new business initiatives and build your agency’s brand.

A consistent PR effort will enable you to more effectively generate awareness among the decision makers you want to reach, when they are ready for what you have to offer.

Best of all, when a prospect asks you a direct question, you’ll be able to answer it clearly and confidently, rather than replying, “Are you a decision maker?”

photo credit 1: Chris Pirillo Should I Take the Call or Not? via photopin (license)

photo credit 2: aqua.mech Call center operator via photopin (license)

 

Ad Agency PR: A Key Driver of New Business

One of the most effective ways to build your agency’s your brand and attract new business is through a targeted public relations initiative that includes a heavy dose of publicity. That’s because publicity enables objective secondary sources—the news media and bloggers—to tell your story and build your brand for you.

It also gives your brand something no other marketing tool can replicate: credibility. Although you lack control of the content, that’s precisely why such coverage is so much more credible than an advertisement.

When it comes to cost, PR is an inexpensive way to generate awareness quickly among important audiences—including decision makers you may otherwise not be able to reach—which can ultimately drive sales.

In the past, PR coverage came primarily from traditional media outlets—such as print, radio and TV—but today the Internet offers ways to not only spread media coverage, but to supplement it through social media. It also enables you to go directly to your audiences, which has enormous benefits not the least of which is building brand ambassadors.

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Ad agencies that use publicity strategically have a competitive advantage, especially when it comes to new business development, because it gives them a consistent presence in the marketplace.

Rather than reactively trying to create coverage out of things that are not genuinely newsworthy, a strategic, proactive approach promotes your agency in a way that is compelling to prospects and distinguishes your agency from competitors.

There also are a number of creative ways to expand the reach and benefits of media coverage to aid new business development not only by reaching new customers, but also helping you retain current ones.

The key to successful ad agency PR is to have a strategy in place that compliments your new business development initiatives with a clear focus, target and purpose.

photo credit: timailius via photopin cc

Nashville Conference Will Focus on New Drivers of Agency Business Development

Photo of Nashville Convention CenterIf you’re looking for growth strategies for your agency, be sure to check out the Fuel Lines New Business Conference 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, October 8-9.

The conference is designed for agency principals and their management, new business and senior account management teams. Attendees will learn from new business thought leaders with a laser focus on the new drivers of business development.

“New business has been a problem historically for agencies. It’s made worse with the paradigm shift in business development. The primary battle for new business has moved online. It’s now more important to be FOUND than to CHASE new business,” noted Michael Gass, founder and president of Fuel Lines Business Development.

And that, in a nutshell, is why this conference is so important: It will help you make your agency more easily discovered by key influencers and decision makers.

I’ll be leading the October 8 breakout session titled “How to Craft an Agency PR Plan That Drives New Business.” In my guest post on the Fuel Lines blog, I discuss what I believe is the key to using PR to drive agency leads and three planning steps to help maximize PR for new business.

The conference has early registration discounts and is limited to the first 200 registrants. Super early registration ends June 15. Visit here for more information or to register.

15 Questions Ad Agencies Should Ask Before Engaging PR Services

Conference room photo

For many small- to medium-sized ad agencies, public relations can be a mystery.

Ad agency principals are experts when it comes to strategy, branding, creative and messaging, but dealing with reporters can be intimidating if one doesn’t fully understand how public relations works and the “magic” used to generate publicity and goodwill for clients or an agency.

It’s not unusual for ad agencies or their clients to say they want to use PR because “no one knows us outside out of (city, region, industry).” They want to increase awareness.

If I were to ask why they want to gain awareness, they may very well look at me and say, “Well duh, we want more people to know about us so that we’ll grow and make more money.”

Fair enough. But if I ask how PR is integrated into their new business plan, more likely than not I’ll get blank stares.

Yet increasingly, decision makers are finding vendors rather than the other way around, which make PR more important than ever for new business success.

Instead of chasing new business through cold calls, which has very limited effectiveness these days, agencies need to use PR strategically to help them be discovered by decision makers.

Here are 15 questions to help your agency get started on the road to PR success.

These questions are designed to assist you in assessing your situation, your highest priorities and needs, and what you really want to accomplish through public relations.

Once you and your team have thought through and answered these questions, you will be much better prepared to have a productive conversation with a PR person or PR agency:

  1. What is the desired result from PR (e.g. increase awareness, change perception, be positioned as an expert in a particular niche, generate new business or something else)?
  2.  How would you rate your agency’s PR capabilities on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best and 1 the worst?
  3. How would you rate your agency’s new business focus on a scale from 1-10, where 10 is perfectly targeted and 1 is we’re all over the map?
  4. Are you looking for PR help with your agency, to offer it as a service to clients, or both?
  5. What is the primary way you use or would like to use PR in your agency: Agency promotion, new business development, provide as a service to clients or enhance integrated marketing communications capabilities?
  6. How effective were your past PR efforts (assuming you had some)?
  7. What PR opportunities can you identify that have not been maximized?
  8. How would you describe your agency’s positioning/branding?
  9. How would you define your target audience for new business?
  10. How should PR integrate into your new business strategy?
  11. How does social media fit with your new business strategy and PR?
  12. Where would you like to obtain publicity (i.e. target publications, bloggers, radio/TV programs)?
  13. What speaking events would you like to be invited to participate in, and how can PR help with that?
  14. How will you define PR success?
  15. How will you measure that success?

photo credit: timailius via photopin cc


Ad Agencies: Are You Winning Awards or Market Share?

Image of a trophyA number of years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a project with Coca-Cola Bottlers. One evening I went to dinner with the Coke representative for this project, and the subject of Pepsi’s advertising came up. At the time Pepsi was known for churning out some very creative and entertaining TV ads, and it had been successful in generating a lot of buzz.

Acknowledging his competitor’s advertising success, the Coke rep smiled and said, “Pepsi wins awards, and we win market share.”

Touché. He had put his finger on a problem that too often plagues agencies, whether they are focused on advertising, public relations, promotions, direct marketing, digital or some combination of them.

Agencies like to tout their awards, but at the end of the day if you aren’t helping your clients sell more of their products or services, or enhancing their reputations and goodwill, how much good are you really doing them?

Although I specialize in public relations, at one time or another in my career I’ve been involved in nearly every aspect of marketing—and I’ve been fortunate to have been part of some very talented teams that have won professional awards.

Creativity is important, but the most meaningful awards are those that can
be tied to achieving specific results and objectives.

In fairness, it’s important to recognize that agencies often lack control over a variety of factors that can affect a client’s sales. And it’s certainly possible for agencies to win awards and market share for their clients, so it doesn’t have to be one or the other. But too often I’ve seen agencies fall into the “Pepsi syndrome” of focusing more on the awards they’ve won than on how they have helped clients meet their business objectives.

When it comes to ad agency new business, PR should be playing a critical role in your overall strategy. If your agency’s PR efforts are winning awards but not helping you achieve new business success, it’s time to reevaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it.

photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc