The Secret Marketer

I do not envy anybody whose job it is to prospect for new business. It is a tough and lonely task, yet it never ceases to amaze me how many in our industry go about doing it really badly. We are, after all, supposed to be professional experts in consumer targeting and communication.

My number one bugbear is those agencies who pay an external person to sit on the phone and seek appointments on their behalf. This person usually knows little about the agency they are representing and even less about my business, though they can be relied on to read a tedious script announcing the number of awards the agency has won and how they have always wanted to work on my brand.

If I’m in luck, they might also remember the name of my brand, though far too often they confuse it with that of my competitor, which I guess must be next on their list of people to call. Nice touch.

Next is the send-a-brochure-by-post brigade. This goes along the following lines (do feel free to just copy and paste for your own campaign): “Dear Sir, I am writing to introduce my agency. Today’s consumer is bombarded with marketing messages and does not have time to digest all the multitude of marketing messages aimed at them. My agency understands this problem and can help you engage with your customers. In the meantime, please find enclosed our latest agency credentials brochure. It is 286 pages long, costs God knows how much to produce and looks like everybody else’s piled up in my recycling bin.”

When will they ever learn that the best thing they can send me is examples of their recent work rather than essays pretending that their process is hugely differentiated from their peers?

A week of new business post would not be complete without at least one novelty-inspired mailing. By novelty, I am not talking about branded pens, boxes of chocolates or bottles of champagne, but a whole new world of bizarre and ridiculous widgets.

These people have gone the extra mile, though it sometimes feels as though they have bypassed the insight and planning phases of their campaign along the way. As somebody once famously said of advertising, if you have nothing useful to say, then just make sure you sing it instead.

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