How to Win One Good Account a Year: THIRD TAKE

3. Develop a POV on their business, their customers, their communications, their internal culture.

This is the rubber that needs to meet the road. Once again, It’s funny how everyone at the agency has an opinion until you really need a good one. I often hear speakers at New Business conferences and seminars talk about POV’s. Consultants, clients, new biz gurus frequently pepper this into their presentations.  You know, the requisite powerpoint slide that mentions POV and it’s relative importance to the new business process. But, I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about how to develop one. We know a point of view can germinate from insights gleaned from basic research. But, many of these appear superficial to the savvy marketer. If, as Auden said, it is the duty of the writer to make language “new”, then it is the duty of the agency to gather and refine unexpected insights.

Bogusky is speaking about the power of the unexpected, and how it will save our industry next month. I’m interested in hearing his take. Mine is this, clients respect agencies that tell them what they DON’T know. We’ll dive deeper into this in the Fifth Take, but the worst meeting in the world starts with an agency asking the prospect, “Tell us about your business”. I know, they think they are being such good listeners by making the meeting ‘about the client’s business”, and not spending 55 minutes on their creds and awards, but that question is so last decade (what do we call it — the “Zeroes”?). It only amplifies the fact that you haven’t done your homework. and makes the subsequent slides appear contradictory when you break out that online poll, or Snippets video. Today’s best meetings start with, “Here’s what we know about your business” and naturally transition into “here’s what we think about your business” and then convert into “here is something you can do” and finish with here’s how we would do it”. Then close like a motherfucker.

An informed, credible opinion is what differentiates agencies in the eyes of client prospects. Matchy-matchy category experience is not enough. Great creative is not enough. A credible opinion is hard to establish in an hour. It takes months of intelligent, respectful outreach to establish true credibility in the eyes of prospective clients. It takes the discipline to stay with the binders, and add topical, relevant content — research that is gleanable for unexpected insights. I’ve worked with agencies where much of the senior staff believes clients should pay for such thinking up front. They’re right, usually. But we’re talking about your Top 5 prospects. You’ve got to give them a taste. And then be prepared to close on the idea with an actionable plan.
What makes a client a client? I often ask these kinds of questions. I like to play Columbo, with the rumpled raincoat and the cigar. Well, the biggest difference I’ve noticed between agency people and clients is that most clients have advanced degrees while most agency folks don’t (no knock on the Portfolio schools, and I’m aware VCU Adcenter is changing that somewhat). So, what’s the real difference between a Bachelor’s Degree and an Advanced Degree (another Columbo question)? Answer: A THESIS! This is the way clients are trained to think — in terms of theses.
So approach your POV exercises with your Monday morning new business council as a professor would with their grad students. Try to get the teams to formulate their POV’s by using a thesis guideline. What IS a thesis, Columbo?


What is a thesis?

A thesis statement declares what you believe and what you intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between thoughtful research and a simple retelling of facts.

A good tentative thesis will help you focus your search for information. But don’t rush! You must do a lot of background reading before you know enough about a subject to identify key or essential questions. You may not know how you stand on an issue until you have examined the evidence. You will likely begin your research with a working, preliminary or tentative thesis which you will continue to refine until you are certain of where the evidence leads.

Remember, your prospect will be looking for your thesis. Make it clear, strong, and easy to find.

  • It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis is provocative; it takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present. (An UNEXPECTED insight is most likely to come from a controversial or debatable thesis).
  • It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned (or sought).
  • It is specific and focused. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing “everything about …” Instead of music, think “American jazz in the 1930s” and your thesis about it.
  • It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. !
  • It provides the prospect with a map to guide him/her through your work.
  • It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments
  • It avoids vague language (like “it seems”).
  • It must first pass the So what? or Who cares? test (and “but everyone knows that“)
With a good thesis and an unexpected insight, you can address any one (or all) of the 4 key POV client issues:

1. Their business model and brand
2. Their customers
3. Their communications.
4. Their internal culture.
Next:  Fourth Take: Creating an outreach program that is consistent, non-threatening, polite and professional.

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