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The Dangers of Agency New Business Social Media – Part 1

Posted on July 26, 2009

Social media is an important component to any successful agency new business development program.

While important, it is critical to not over-emphasize or become too reliant on social media. I spoke with an agency principal the other day who thinks so much of social media that he is going to use it as his sole means of generating opportunities. Not a great idea.

As part of our own RSW/US “re-launch” we integrated a more aggressive social initiative (e.g. twitter, facebook, blogging) into our new business development program.

We haven’t however, (nor should agencies), rely solely on social media as the means to attract new business. At RSW/US, we integrate social elements into trackable, themed email campaigns, we push out value-added mailings, we issue PR releases, we survey our agency’s prospects (and release findings), and we use calling as part of our integrated effort to attract new agencies to RSW/US. This multi-media approach helped us finish the first half, up +15%.

The integrated program we use for RSW/US is the same type of integrated approach we use for our agency client programs. We generated 155 qualified meetings for our clients in the 3rd Quarter, +55% year-over-year. Clients closed more business in the 1st Half of 2009 than during any other Half since our founding in 2005.

So don’t fall into the trap thinking that social media is the be all, end all. It’s a vital component to any new business program – but not the only component necessary to drive prospect interest.

To be continued….

Post by 

Mark Sneider is a 25 year veteran of the CPG, advertising and marketing service industry. Mark earned his MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Sneider started his career at DDB Needham, but prior to starting RSW/US, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences including the 4A's, Mirren, TAAN, Hubspot, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes.

5 responses to "The Dangers of Agency New Business Social Media – Part 1"

  1. Jeremy Dent 30/07/2009 08:27 am Reply

    No-one would ever suggest you rely totally on social media.

    However, used with other Digital PR tools like email, blogs, SEO, outreach and seeding, social media marketing is an excellent prospect-finding tool.

    It should not be confused with social media networking!

    See http://www.juicedigital.co.uk

  2. Mark Sneider 30/07/2009 15:16 pm Reply

    Totally agree Jeremy.

    I think what's happening is agencies are seeing all this talk about social media and thinking it's the be-all-end-all.

    Absolutely critical to have it – and use it in a smart way.

    By the way, like your site.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Marketing Psychic 30/07/2009 18:47 pm Reply

    Social media, SEO and all the digital new business tactics are just that…tactics. And tactics should not be confused with strategy.

    Marketing started with brands talking at consumers, which was followed by "engaging" consumers with your brand, establishing a dialogue, if you will. Whether through interactive digital means or good old "advertising that gets talked about", it beat screaming "Ring Around The Collar" for engendering customer loyalty.

    But what most agencies still don't seem to get is that the holy grail is to engage your consumers (and prospects) with each other in a meaningful, value-add relationship around your brand. Then if a customer decides to leave your brand, they're also leaving their friends. People are more reluctant to depart their social circle than their relationship with a brand alone.

    When brands can create what best might be described as a "shared brand experience" – like Apple, Harley, Red Bull, others – it's tough for the competition to pry them away.

    And the tactics to do such certainly include digital tactics such as social media and whatever other tactical buzzwords that are out there today. But don't forget promotions, events, and even "advertising that gets talked about". These offline tactics may seem quaint to some digitally driven agencies, but that's integated marketing – we must be media-agnostic in our pursuit of improving ROI and the kind of fierce loyalty that "shared brand experience" enables comes from a combination of tactics.

    Seems some things in the agency business never change…"if all you've got is a hammer then everything loooks like a nail" lives on at agencies of all kinds, and frankly is more prevalent in agencies focused on digital tactics because they had little exposure to traditional offline media tactics growing up in the business.

  4. Mark Sneider 30/07/2009 18:56 pm Reply

    Thanks for your comments.

    My point was really about agencies thinking that social/digital was the be-all-end-all for their OWN business….that the best way to connect with prospects was to just put yourself out there and hope that people find you among the sea of others doing the same thing.

    In order to engage a prospective customer, you have to be relevant, you have to show empathy and understanding…and you're right (social/digital is a tactic) and you need to be more strategic – whether it's an agency clients' reach out to a consumer or the agency's reach out to potential clients they want to bring on board.

  5. […] to integrate social media, I encourage you to start with the first in a series of our recent posts, The Dangers of Agency New Business Social Media. I’ll finish with Mack’s final […]

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