New business is the lifeblood of any agency, and acquiring those new accounts has become increasingly complex in recent years. Clients have become more demanding, competition is fierce and diverse, and agencies of all stripes have been forced to evolve and adapt to a rapidly shifting marketplace.
One area in particular has become a fierce battleground -- social media. Traditional advertising agencies, PR agencies, and boutique social/digital shops all can be battling for a brand's social media business. BIA/Kelsey projects that U.S. social media advertising revenue will reach $15 billion by 2018, and with budgets on the rise, landing a piece of social media business has great appeal.
How can agencies showcase their skills and knowledge in this area during the critical RFP/pitch opportunity? What nuggets of information can they share with a prospective client to help distinguish them from other agencies? Here are several practical ways you can think about and use social media insights in your agency's quest for new business.
1. Prospect targeting
Industry benchmarking is a great way for a brand to see how it stacks up in social media against direct competitors and even others outside its sector. From follower growth to average response time to a host of engagement metrics, brands want to know how their social marketing efforts compare to others.
For agency executives responsible for new business, accessing this type of information can help identify those brands that are turning in subpar performance with their social media efforts. Many brands may not even realize their competitors are outdoing them and simply bringing this to their attention can be enough to earn you a meeting.
With an understanding of key business issues facing certain sectors, from travel to technology to food and beverage, you can derive key insights from the right data, rather than just presenting a topline overview of vanity metrics that many potential clients are probably already aware of.
2. Prospect auditing
Once a target has been identified, analyzing social media data can then be used to get a fuller understanding of the current efforts a brand has put into its social media presence. From Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and Instagram, brands have a variety of platforms to explore and leverage, and it's likely they aren't optimizing all their efforts.
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Showing a prospect where they are coming up short -- and acknowledging where they are performing well (and why) can lead to a good conversation, and gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge.
3. Competitive intelligence
Social media analytics can show you which competitors are earning the most engagement -- and what type of engagement around which type of content. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses, and the successes and failures, of a client's competitive set can become a catalyst to identifying a unique creative idea.
Historical data -- e.g. what did the industry players do around the Super Bowl this year and in previous years -- can also be analyzed. What are the year-on-year trendlines and how have competitors changed strategy and tactics over time is the type of intelligence required in today's competitive landscape.
4. Case studies
The case study is a tried-and-true part of the agency new business pitch. With independent, third-party social media analytics, you can clearly show how your work for another client stacks up.
Go beyond the "vanity metrics" so often used in case studies: "The campaign generated more than 10,000 likes," and show how you tied social media engagement to business objectives. Highlight work that drove the most comments for a client that was looking for more meaningful, two-way interaction. Or point to work that generated an impressive amount of shares for a campaign designed to spread the message to a broad audience.
5. Account efficiencies
In this era of procurement departments, agencies need to be efficient with their resources. There are a host of social media platforms and tools for listening, publishing and seeing that can all be tremendous time savers. While pure listening tools are important to understand the voice of the consumer, a tool that allows agencies to see the entire social landscape provides a deeper understanding of true performance.
Explaining to a prospective client that the use of a platform will allow the agency to analyze data and create reports in a way that takes 45 minutes vs. what might have taken four hours if done manually is just smart business.
Regardless of the agency you work for, social media projects have the potential to open doors to new clients, and new revenue. Likewise, your ability to analyze and leverage social media data can be a valuable part of your new business initiatives.