Tony Mikes

Tony  Mikes of Second Wind, a firm dedicated to helping give smaller agencies the power they need to compete in the 21st Century, kindly agreed to offer his perspective on one of the key agency new business discussion points coming out of our latest survey:  How do Marketers decide what agency to work with?

Agency New Business Discussion

It was a great exchange and Tony offered some fantastic insight that can be extremely helpful to any agency trying to figure out how to best represent themselves throughout the new business process.

The key question Tony asked to capture the essence of his insights is:

Are You a “Winner” or a “Presenter”?

In his opinion, too many agencies are “presenters” and they don’t think about what they need to do to win from the very start of their engagement with a prospect.

Three specific things Tony says you need to think about:


1. Marketers can tell if you’re a “winner” from the first meeting or call

You have to prepare to WIN!

You need to build client confidence!

It’s about THEM, not YOU!

The potential client is going to look at you or listen to you during that first connect and they want to know if you understand their business and can fix their problem.

Walking through capabilities isn’t the answer!

Sitting down (versus standing) to present doesn’t build confidence.  Doing all the talking will accomplish little.

Tony recommends coming to the table with at least one big question about their business to start the conversation.

He suggests that you carry into the meeting a small book filled with factoids about their business and competition that you can look at and reference and impress them with.

They’ll wonder what you keep referencing.

Tony says the while marketers know a lot about their customers, the two things companies know little about:  1. Their Clients.  2. Their Competitors.  Be the EXPERT!

The only reason for a 1st meeting is to get a 2nd meeting!

If you’re able to impress them with your knowledge, suggest they come to the agency for a visit so you can walk them through the full analysis that you’ve worked through in preparation for the meeting.


2. Marketers are going to do business with people they like

So the question you need to ask yourself is how quickly can you/do you establish “likeability”?   The quicker you can establish it, the better.  So help yourself by knowing something about their business to let them know you care.

Be humble.

You want them to feel like they can work really well with you.

You want them to know that not only are you a good listener, but you are also one that will give their opinions.

Don’t threaten them by making them feel like you’re after their AOR.

Show interest in them. Know something about the prospect (their school, their employment history) to help create the connection.


3. Marketers will favor those agencies that do things differently

Tony conducted his own survey among clients of his Second Wind member agency network and and 88% of the clients said that “IDEAS” was the #1 and #2 reason why they look for new agencies.  Agencies have to keep things fresh.

Same holds true when presenting or on that first call.

You need to make it fresh and different from all the rest.  Take some chances!


Agency New Business Discussion

Agencies either get lazy or tired or a little of both and marketers start feeling like they need to look outside for better thinking.

Tony sees it all the time.

I asked Tony what “different” means in the context of presentations or calls, and he suggested the following:

Present differently than others (don’t just rely on the powerpoint, put the projector away).  Tony talked about a pitch where the agency put the projector away and took all their working research and posted it all around the room.

The principal explained how they got to the conclusion and everytime he came to a summary, he pasted a cardboard summary over the research.

In the end, he was left with the conclusion they ultimately drew about the client’s business.

The client gave it a big old “WOW!”.

Come to the table with insights that break the typical pattern (interview customers, consumers, do focus groups).

Tony told a story about a bakery client that only believed in slotting fees and moved all his money into this from his ad budget.

The agency guy noticed a consumer picking up a loaf of the client’s bread in a store, then put it down, and select a competitive brand.

He did 8-9 interviews with customers who did the same and teased the client with the findings.  Again, another “WOW!”.

Emote or become an undertaker! 

Energy is key.

The client sees you’re empassioned, they will feel the love and want to work with you.

You present in a monotone fashion and you sit down when you present and you probably aren’t going to fire up that prospective client.


Tony Mikes is the founder and managing director of The Second Wind Network, an association of small to mid-sized advertising, graphic design, interactive and PR firms. Mikes, a former advertising executive who spent twenty-five years managing and owning advertising agencies and graphic design studios, today conducts agency management workshops, serves as an agency management consultant, and has addressed many advertising associations and trade organizations. He is an author and contributes to numerous industry trade publications.

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, 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 domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.