Marketers must feel like they live under a waterfall with the steady volume of agency new business contacts they receive each week.  We DO talk with a lot of them every day, and a common refrain we hear is some variation of:

Do you know how many (fill in the blank: calls, emails, letters, etc.) I get from agencies?”

Actually, we’re fortunate to hear this, as it’s a sign we’ve broken through.

It’s best when the next sentence is some variation of:

“I’m responding to YOUR call/email, because you said something that caught my attention…”

That “something” is usually on-the-mark insight relating to challenges that Marketer is experiencing.

So, while WHO you know can matter, it’s WHAT you know that can set you apart.

Blair Enns, founder of Win Without Pitching participated in our 2016 Agency New Business Thought Leader Survey, posing questions to agencies about their ability to “affect the buying process” – that is – the marketer’s selection of an agency and the degree to which an agency can affect it.

Affecting this process depends on an agency’s ability to build a position of strength that can greatly reduce becoming commoditized as “order-takers”.

And this requires deep understanding of the prospective client’s business and industry.  Acute insight into the business is what can get a prospect to say, “I responded to YOU because….”.

Along with Blair’s questions to agencies about their ability to affect the buying process was one asking where they get insight and intelligence about their prospects.

Our survey report describes how these responses were analyzed according to the respondents’ self-reported effectiveness in affecting the buying process.

The results go beyond confirming that “what you know” is very important: going beyond the typical research sources – trade journals, prospect website, industry research resources – makes a difference.

Agencies reporting they are able to affect the buying process cite information resources that include competitive analysis, proprietary research and more. 

Prepare yourself with the best information you can acquire about a desired client prospect.   You want to hear, “I responded to YOU because…”.

And, that’s just the first step.  Importantly, you want to develop and maintain a strong position throughout the selection process, one that makes your firm the only rational choice for your prospect.

Inform yourself.  Inform your team.  Better yet, immerse yourself as thoroughly as possible in information about the prospect, their business and their industry.


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.