In this inaugural post, we have 10 Agency New Business Questions for Jeff Fromm at Barkley in Kansas City, MO.
Jeff is Executive Vice President & Coauthor of “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever,” and the lead editor of the blog, www.millennialmarketing.com.
In addition to his marketing degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Jeff has more than 25 years of brand marketing experience.
On behalf of Barkley, he spearheaded the Millennials research partnership with The Boston Consulting Group and Service Management Group.
Jeff is also the founder of Share.Like.Buy, a Millennial Insights & Marketing Conference in Kansas City, MO on Sept 25 and 26 this year-open to all agencies.
I first saw Jeff Fromm speak at the 2013 Mirren New Business Conference and throughout his presentation, the one thing he consistently stressed was the team effort it takes at Barkley to truly make their new business efforts successful.
Thanks to Jeff for being the “guinea pig” in the first of our ongoing posts and ideally his responses infuse new ideas into your own new business program.
1. How long have you been leading/involved in the new business strategy at Barkley?
January 2010 til now
2. Was your background in agency new business prior to joining Barkley?
I sold my five-person marketing strategy firm to a St Louis ad agency in January 2008 and took an active role in business development. Then I left in January 2010 to re-join Barkley. I’m part of the boomerang club at Barkley and very pleased to be back.
3. How is new business structured at your agency, in regards to a solo or team configuration and staff numbers dedicated to new business?
We have over 325 partners at Barkley and all of them support new business by providing exceptional client service and creative work. From time to time, some of them directly work on new business based on the size of the pitch and requirements.
We have three partners, including myself, dedicated to helping with writing RFP responses, managing the pitch process and creating interest in the Barkley brand on an ongoing basis.
4. In terms of strategy, how have you found success-through a specific niche/specialty or a more horizontal approach based on service specialty, and why?
On a proactive basis we use both a focus on two verticals where we have “historic” expertise and success plus a deep pool of Millennial Consumer and Marketing Trends that we leverage to create demand for Barkley across a broader range of verticals.
5. Which do you find more successful for your program: inbound, outbound or a blend of both, and why?
BE THE HUNTED NOT THE HUNTER.
It is skewed inbound with selective and focused outbound efforts.
Between millennialmarketing.com (one of our blogs), the multiple research reports and articles published on Millennials starting with “American Millennials: Deciphering The Enigma Generation,” sharelikebuy.com (our two-day trends conference), “Marketing to Millennials: Reach The Largest & Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever” (Barkley’s book) and speaking at 50+ high-profile events a year, we create interest in our expertise.
6. Which channel do you find most successful in winning new business: social, direct mail, phone, email/email campaigns or referrals? Feel free to pick more than one, and why?
Client referral is always best.
Former clients that land at a new job is also great because they know us.
Behind referral is when prospects are interested in our work (creative and or thought leadership) and then engage us to talk further. When they “hunt us” due to an interest we know they are serious.
7. Which social media platform is most effective for you in terms of new business, and why?
We are widely searched on Millennial and Marketing related topics in addition to our core verticals. You will have no trouble finding us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook and more.
8. If you could point to one main indicator of success, what would it be?
Quality of lead flow related to prospect interest in our thinking and work product.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to a mid-to-small size agency looking to kick a new business effort into gear, what would it be?
Build on a foundation of serious research vs your views.
Think about this they way you would think about a client’s business. When we started working on Millennials in 2010 there was almost nothing available on Google. The absence of any authoritative content lead us to believe it would be a good opportunity to plant our flag and provide expertise to our clients and prospects.
10. Why do you think it’s so difficult for agencies to run successful new business programs on their own?
Impatience and/or lack of focus.
Ultimately, I’m not the “Horse Whisperer” of new business, but we follow a disciplined process with great team participation.
Jeff Fromm and his team at Barkley have obviously found success with the Millennial niche.
Showcasing your agency expertise, be it in specific verticals or through service as a specialty, is ideal, if not challenging at the outset.
In regards to question 6, referrals are obviously fantastic, but never forget Jeff’s second point:
Behind referrals, your agency still has to find a way to “be found.”
For Jeff Fromm and his team, their successful content generation and thought leadership has raised them to a high level of expertise in the millennial space to the point that they are now “the hunted.”
But it takes time to get there and with a staff of 325, the path isn’t easy, but it is easier.
You need a team that develops targeted lists, writes content, crafts well-thought-through positioning, and who know how to sell the ethereal services an agency sells.
All of this can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
If you’re a smaller or mid-size agency, Barkley’s model can still be attained on a smaller scale, but as Jeff points out in question 10, it takes a great deal of patience and focus to become “hunted.”
At RSW/US for example, as part of a larger awareness-building outreach campaign for our agency clients, we create a post a month.
Use this as a first-step for your agency, be consistent and build from there.