What clients want from agencies and how to approach them

On Thursday 1st December we hosted December’s festive episode of The New World of New Biz webinar, sponsored by Just After Midnight. Our Founder Katie Street was joined by an amazing line up:

James Walls, Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Manager at Osprey Europe

Jonathan Sands OBE, Owner and Vexillifer at Elmwood

Holly Hall, Managing Director at BIMA

– Bam Bam Clause – not currently on LinkedIn

The importance of understanding the changes in agency and client needs

Holly kicked off the conversation by pulling out some amazing stats from the BIMA state of the nation report to help agencies and clients of all sizes better navigate the next 6-12 months, you can read the full report here but the headlines were:

  • Be super clear on your value and your point of difference – 44% of clients surveyed said those that developed relevant case studies with a clear ROI were more attractive
  • Build trust by expanding your network and making sure you’re taking care of any current, ex and potential clients – 23% of clients looked at agencies who had been recommended by someone they trusted
  • Be empathetic there’s a mix of agencies that were making redundancies whilst others are hiring, and for over 70% clients surveyed there had been a cut of at least 25% in their marketing budgets cut by 25%
  • 44% clients are changing their marketing strategy and 36% are changing their business model and they’re looking for agencies that can support those changes and be flexible, pro-active and focussed on ROI

For smaller agencies the data showed that a lot of work was going into pitches but they weren’t necessarily being won so make sure you’re qualifying those pitches and also take care of the mental wellbeing in the team.

Do your research

To many agencies try and get into a pitch situation without really knowing enough about the business, James talked us through his common sense top tips for things that simply have to be done before trying to get into a pitch to save time

  • Have a brief conversation about ROIs before spending time on a lengthy video call only to find out the budgets don’t work
  • Really look at the business and come up with suggestions for areas that they can expand that may not have been picked up on already internally
  • Know who you’re talking to, some brand names are similar but as James mentions it can be awkward when you’re pitching to the wrong one!

The essence of good business development is keeping relationships alive and being understanding of the needs of the client. Jonathon commented that given that most of us are working from home and interacting largely over video it’s probably the easiest time for business development as that window into someone’s home gives you an opportunity to learn about your client as a human being instead of a person in a corporate setting.

A lot of brands are making social purpose and sustainability part of their brand purpose as part of your research look into what is important to that brand, are they working with a charity, and can you show that your values align with those of your client.

Webinar etiquette and building relationships

Now this one got the chat buzzing! What is and isn’t appropriate and Jonathan commented that to get it right you need to balance the real you and the professional you

✅     Comment on something in the background to help create a relationship – you may find a shared hobby, interest or opinion

✅ Laugh off some of the weird and wonderful things that happen at home, from doorbells, workmen and teenage tantrums

✅ There’s nothing wrong with a greenscreen if you need a better background than your homework offers you. And, if you are using a green screen can you personalise it to your client?

❌ Eating, especially if you’re not on mute!

❌ Messy backgrounds as you’re looking into someone else’s home they are looking into yours, don’t let them be distracted by an unmade bed or a mountain of laundry.

❌ Do your best to remain professional even with all of the distractions – especially if you’re in a pitch.

How do you get the attention?

James gave Katie his top tips to cut through the dozens of emails a day he gets and as much as he would love to read and reply to them all that’s would be a full-time job!

✅ Solid subject line – nothing extreme, but not dull
✅ Include links to relevant case studies
✅ Clearly communicate what makes you different
❌ Obvious template
❌ Gimmicks can be OK, but don’t focus on them
❌ Typos!

Don’t pitch and ditch

Katie James and Holly all touched on the need to keep nurturing your audience, with events, insights and content to keep them engaged and keep you front of mind. James mentioned that word of mouth will cut through the noise of lead generation emails because there’s trust and a maintained relationship.

Katie urged all agencies to get their content plans together for 2021. If you haven’t got decent marketing content and you’re not finding a reason to speak to your audience someone else will be and your potential clients will be listening to them instead.

Networking at events, yes even virtual ones, will really help you to win new business, before you show how you can help them solve the problem, they have you need to have already built that relationship.

WIBSCAT – not a typo

Jonathan talked us through an experiment he ran with his team to look back at all of the pitches they had over a 2-year period and as a result he identified 7 things you have to do every time to win a pitch and it’s WIBSCAT – he gave us an insight into 5 of those 7 must-dos



Beyond brief


Cheerful and charming

A ???

T ???

You’ll have to listen to the podcast he’s on with Katie to find out what the A and T stand for! Elmwood also have a pitch panel to make sure that WIBSCAT is part of every pitch before they go to a client to test that each of the 7 ingredients are included.

If you want to watch the full webinar here’s the recording:

We’ll be back in 2021 with a brand new series and we want to hear what you’d like to learn more about – drop our founder, Katie Street an email with your suggestions.

By Michaela Dudfield
2nd December 2020
4 minute read