Agency Advantage 55: Mark Sneider on 5 Steps to Grow Beyond Word of Mouth

Header image for podcast interview with Mark Sneider

In this episode of Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, I’m talking with Mark Sneider of RSW/US who shares a proven methodology for winning agencies new business.

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the advertising and marketing service industry. Today he runs the 40-person agency, RSW/US, where he and his team help marketing service firms find and win new business. He’s been running the agency since 2005.

To help clients, RSW/US follows a proven methodology. Not only does this help its clients grow; it has also produced double-digit growth every year for RSW/US.

Deep down, every agency owner out there knows that having a real plan for winning new business is crucial to success. But most are crossing their fingers that they’ll get by on word of mouth alone.

If you’re tired of the feast or famine cycle, this episode is for you.

Get a full transcript of the interview with Mark.

5 Steps to Grow Beyond Referrals

Step 1: Define your positioning

Ask yourself what makes you different and why clients would want to take a second look at your agency. While you may say it’s because you’re strategic and smart and hard-working, every other agency says the same thing. You need to come up with an elevator pitch that truly sets your agency apart from the rest.

Is it a certain level of expertise? Is it a certain knowledge within a sector? Is it a certain knowledge and expertise within a sector? Is it a certain source of insights or process that helps you get to a better place?

To grow beyond referrals, first you need to have an answer to the question, “What makes you different?”

Step 2: Build the content to support the program

After you know what sets your agency apart, you have to create content to help give that position some authority.

The first step is to create a blog if you don’t already have one. To use your blog to build your reputation, Mark says you need to speak with one voice, create easy-to-digest case studies, and, above all else, focus on adding value.

Mark also goes a step further than most agencies by creating a physical component to go along with their digital content. He suggests creating a short brochure that introduces your agency, its value proposition, and previous work and successes.

Step 3: Build a list of prospects

Mark found that the more focused they were in terms of who they were going after, the more successful their programs were. In this step, take your positioning statement and use it to build a narrowly defined list of prospects.

Mark stresses the importance of cleaning your list, however you build it. If you buy a list, it’s not uncommon for 30% or more of the contacts to have bad information.

At RSW/US they have a bit of an advantage here because they’ve built a list of 100,000 marketers and other decision-makers. That being said, even with a high-quality database, they still make sure to clean their lists before contacting prospects for any campaign.

While it may not seem like much of a problem, if you’re already struggling to find the time for new business development, you want to make sure you’re maximizing time by only reaching out to verified prospects. An email bounce-back isn’t the end of the world, but if you’re doing higher touch, personalized outreach, you need to make sure none of your effort goes to waste.

Step 4: Start contacting your prospects

Once you have your list together, it’s time to start reaching out through all available channels.

At RSW/US they typically start by sending their prospects a letter attached to the brochure they created in Step 2. From there, the New Business Director will call and email the prospect the day the mailing goes out to let them know they sent them something. Then, a few days after, when they know it has arrived, they’ll start calling in earnest.

There are two things to keep in mind here:

  1. These calls aren’t just a generic “Wanted to see if you got my letter” call. Each call is adding value to the prospect by looking up news about them and their market and trying to engage them in genuine conversation.
  2. Your outreach process needs to be exactly that, a process. To get a meeting scheduled, it usually takes a minimum of 5 touches with your prospect. So if you want to succeed, you need to commit to the process. You can’t send an email or two and expect results.

Step 5: Go for the close

Once you have the prospect on the phone, you need to convince them that, “Hey, you’ve defined some problems. We’ve looked at those same problems in a unique and different way. It might make sense for us to sit down and have another conversation about how we can grow your business moving forward.”

From there, it’s all about keeping the focus on the client. Mark estimates that 84% of agencies spend their pitch talking exclusively about themselves. Your clients are looking for insights, and if you give them those insights you’re going to stand apart and increase your chance of closing the deal.

You want your prospects to look at you and say, “This agency gets me. They’re bringing some interesting thinking to the table. They value my opinion. We’ve had a good business conversation and they haven’t flipped open their PowerPoint and told me about everything everyone else has.”

If you can consistently do that, you’re going to come out ahead.

Transcript:

Andy Baldacci:Mark, thanks so much for coming on the show today.
Mark Sneider:Right, thank you, Andy. Appreciate the invite.
Andy Baldacci:Of course. Let’s just get right into it. What are most agencies doing wrong when it comes to new business development?
Mark Sneider:

[00:00:30]

[00:01:00]

[00:01:30]

Let’s see. Where to begin? No, just kidding. I think the biggest challenge agencies have is consistency. I think it’s partly consistency of outreach, in terms of always being there. I think it’s partly consistency of messaging and making sure they’ve really fine-tuned positioning and they’re carrying that across all platforms: presentation, social media. I think it’s a consistency of methodology, in terms of having a process in place that can really systematize their program. In asking that question, I sort of thought back to, I think it was either a blog post or an article I wrote back when I first started the business in 2005, titled “The Three Cs.” It was the consistency of methodology, messaging, and just general outreach that I think agencies have difficulty with.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:02:00]

Yeah, and I think you really hit the nail on the head when you talk about consistency because so many agencies, especially smaller agencies, they don’t think about new business development when they’re busy. If they have a lot of client work, they just keep churning through that, focus on the work. Then a couple months later they look up, there’s no leads coming in, and they have to scramble to get work so they do this blast of whatever it is that they try to do, get a few clients. It just repeats over and over again.
Mark Sneider:
[00:02:30]

[00:03:00]

Absolutely, yeah. The time has to be right. You have to be mentally committed to establishing a process and dedicating yourself to new business. I’ve seen too many agencies wait too long before they make the jump in. Occasionally we’ll have agencies give us a call, and they’re in a real desperate situation where maybe they had two or three clients that represented 90% of their business. Suddenly one or two are gone, and we’re by no means a pot of gold at the end of the six-month rainbow here. You really need to be there all the time, and you need to be committed to it. It starts at the top of the organization. Getting others involved to varying degrees is helpful to the process, but there’s got to be clear commitment and visible commitment from the person driving the ship at the top.
Andy Baldacci:
[00:03:30]
I’m curious, when clients come to you, when they come to RSW/US, what usually is the catalyst for making them say, “We need to reach out to someone. We need some help on this?”
Mark Sneider:

[00:04:00]

[00:04:30]

It’s something they’ve been thinking about for a while. They’ve tried new business directors inside and have failed with that experiment. Referrals and networking leads have begun to slow at some point. While business might be built off of those, those begin to slow down. We see it in our world, too, when clients come in. They are fewer marketers out there. There are more agencies competing for the same piece of work. There’s consolidation of agencies among marketers. It’s any combination of those things that facilitate the move over to us or the phone call to us to explore alternate ways of supporting a business development program.
Andy Baldacci:When these clients are coming to you, when they start an engagement with you, I know you’re not just winging it with them. You have an organized methodology. Do you mind walking us through what that process is like from the very beginning?
Mark Sneider:
[00:05:00]

[00:05:30]

Sure. It’s really a process that I think any agency with some focus and discipline can follow themselves. It just takes focus and it takes discipline. The first step is defining your positioning and figuring out, asking yourself what makes you different and why would marketers want to take a look at you and sit down with you. It’s not because you’re strategic and smart and hard-working and fun to work with. That’s what any agency can say about themselves. You’ve got to be thinking about what is that five second to two minute elevator speech that’s going to really set you apart. Is it a certain level of expertise? Is it a certain knowledge within a discipline? Is it a certain knowledge and expertise within a sector? Is it a certain source of insights or process that helps get you to a better place?
[00:06:00]

[00:06:30]

Thinking about the reasons to believe why a marketer would look at you and say you can bring something different to the table that I’m not getting right now, that’s the first step. Once you define that, then you can start building your content around that. Posts can speak to that expertise. We use physical mailing pieces in our program that we’re pushing out to prospects, would want those things to be included. The positioning to manifest itself into that piece. Any other outreach, email outreach, any LinkedIn outreach, just try and keep some consistency of messaging and positioning throughout the life of the program.

[00:07:00]

[00:07:30]

Once you define that positioning, the next step is really to build the content and collateral to support the program. If you don’t have a blog, you should develop a blog. It should speak with one voice. It should be value-added in nature. You should create case studies that are easily digestible by the prospects you’re pushing them out to. We would advise, and again, we do for every program, that you create some sort of mailing device. Ours typically are short little introductory brochures that introduce the agency and its value prop and showcases work and success. Building all that content, maybe taking a step back and looking at your presentation. If you have a capabilities presentation,  tailoring it so ultimately it can be more about the prospect and less about you. That sort of lays the groundwork for the program.
[00:08:00]

[00:08:30]

The next thing is figuring out where you want to focus your efforts. We find that the more focused we can be in terms of who we’re going after, the sectors that we’re pursuing, the more successful our programs are. It’s nice to say, “Oh, I would love a beer account because we all drink craft beer here and we all love craft beer. We don’t have any experience, but we’d love to have a beer account.” That’s all great and good, but there are hundreds of other agencies out there with beer experience that are going to eat your lunch as you try and make your way into this new account. Really being honest with yourself and saying, “Where does my expertise lie? Where can I best leverage that expertise and have the best possible chance of winning new business?”

[00:09:00]

If your agency, your creatives are tired of doing hospital work and tired of doing B2B manufacturing work, but that’s where your experience is strongest and your networking and referral opportunities are slowing down, don’t go after the categories that are outside the areas where you’re strongest. Focus on those. Build up some new business and then maybe begin to look in categories that are tangential to those categories. Maybe you begin to look in med device or other health care services or B2B2C opportunities versus just B2B, as an example.
Andy Baldacci:You’re not making some jump into an entirely new industry.
[00:09:30]

Mark Sneider:

[00:10:00]

Yeah. I would say it’s fine to want to go from point A to point Z, but we’ve got to take steps in between to get ourselves there. Define your focus. Build up a list of prospects. You can go to a variety of sources to buy lists. We find that even bought lists are only 60%, 70% worth their weight. We’ve got folks here, I’ve got about a dozen folks here, that do nothing but build and clean lists for programs. We’ve got a database of 100,000 marketing and other decision-makers and then a variety of other resources. Even when we tap into those other resources, we’re still cleaning those lists. You don’t have to go to that extent, but know that if you don’t, if you don’t call into those companies and verify information, you’re probably going to get a lot of bounce-backs. You’re probably going to get a lot of return mails and things like that.
[00:10:30]

[00:11:00]

[00:11:30]

Define where you want to go. Build your content. Define your positioning. Then once you have your program put together, the way we work is we’ll push out a mailing to 50 to 75 prospects. We’ll have a letter attached to that mailing that will introduce the agency and the new business director. That new business director will call and email the day that mailing goes out, to let them know we just sent them something. Then a few days after that mailing has sent out and we’re pretty certain it’s arrived, that’s when we start calling in earnest. That’s where we’re looking up news about the prospect, trying to engage them in conversation and get them talking about their situation. Then bridging back to similar situations we’ve been in, speaking as if I’m part of the agency. Then giving them the confidence that we have some empathy and understanding for what’s going on in their world. Using those reasons to believe that we’ve built up in our positioning to suggest we got our clients to a better place and can do the same for you.

[00:12:00]

[00:12:30]

Then I’ll say, “Go for the kill.” I don’t really mean it. Then convince them that, “Hey, you’ve defined some problems. We’ve looked at those same problems in a unique and different way. It might make sense for us to sit down and have another conversation about how we might be able you further your business going forward.” It’s kind of just taking those kind of steps. We find, marketers tell us in our surveys, that only about 16% of agencies come into first meetings and talk about the prospect. The majority of agencies come into meetings and talk about themselves. What marketers are looking for are insights. They want to be able to look at that agency and say, “This agency gets me. They’re bringing some interesting thinking to the table. They value my opinion. We’ve had a good business conversation, and they haven’t flipped open their PowerPoint and told me all the things that every other agency can tell me.”
[00:13:00]

[00:13:30]

That’s how we sort of get to a meeting. It takes a lot of touches. We did an analysis of number of touches it takes to get a meeting, and I think the highest was, like, 11, in the consumer package goods food space. I think the least was, like, 5, and I can’t remember which industry that was. It does take a lot of touches, whether it be email or phone touches, to just bust through to somebody and then ultimately convince them that it’s worth sitting down and having a conversation.
Andy Baldacci:I’m guessing this is what you do at RSW/US. Again, I’m assuming you dog food your own process. These are the steps you go through to build your own agency. Is that accurate?
Mark Sneider:

[00:14:00]

[00:14:30]

Yeah, absolutely. We live and die by the same things that we implement in our client programs. We have built up this business through basically giving our thinking away throughout thought leadership content, blogs, webinars, speaking engagements. Not that all the business that we’ve built in has come in inbound. We’ve had to do our share of outbound outreach to prospects. We do mailings all the time to prospects. Yeah, we follow the same fundamental methodology that we use for our client programs on our own program and in our business. We have, since ’05, grown at double digits every year since we’ve started the business here.
Andy Baldacci:Wow. Do you mind if we get a little tactical by kind of digging into how you implement this at RSW/US?
[00:15:00]

Mark Sneider:

You’re talking for our own benefit or for the benefit of clients?
Andy Baldacci:Yeah, for your own benefit.
Mark Sneider:

[00:15:30]

[00:16:00]

This hasn’t always been the case. Back in the early day, I was the guy writing all the blogs and putting together all the surveys that we were pushing out to marketers through, back then it wasn’t SurveyMonkey. Whatever it used to be. I was the guy writing all the survey reports and running the business, so it was a 24/7 operation. As we’ve grown, I brought somebody else into a sales role that sits alongside me who is also doing that. Then eventually we brought a marketing person on board who is full-time marketing, who is doing more of the blog writing, who is developing the surveys, who is creating the webinars. We’re managing those webinars, but she’s writing all the webinars.

[00:16:30]

[00:17:00]

It takes a lot of work. It’s certainly something that an individual can manage on their own, but they’ve got to be committed to it. I would highly recommend that if an agency were going to try and do stuff like this, that they either employ or engage an employee to sit side-by-side and share that responsibility. It takes a lot of effort. We’re writing at least a couple posts a week. We’re pushing out webinars once every quarter that sit on top of surveys that we’re releasing. We have a large group of media contacts that we’re reaching out to every time we push surveys out, to try and get press on their sites. We have established relationships with the likes of Tim Williams and Jay Baer. We’re pushing out thought leader surveys where they ask questions of marketers, of agencies. Then we do Skype interviews with them to get their perspective on the results.
[00:17:30]

[00:18:00]

There’s just a heck of alot of stuff that we build into our program to try and stay out there and be the leaders in thought leadership in our space. There really is nobody doing what we’re doing at the level that we’re doing it. We enjoy it, and it certainly has helped our business. I know it can be a value to an agency’s business as well.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:18:30]

That’s one thing I want to dive into a little bit. A lot of agencies, especially a lot of businesses, too, when they think of content marketing, they’re like, “Alright, we need a blog. We’ll write up some posts and publish them.” They don’t think of it as a more holistic strategy. They don’t think of it having an ultimate goal. For you, it seems as though you’ve clearly developed all of this content to promote yourselves as thought leaders. Is that fair?
Mark Sneider:
[00:19:00]

[00:19:30]

Yes, it is. I talked about the positioning and carrying that throughout everything you do, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve stayed true to the space of marketing service agencies.That’s the only place we operate and have become experts in this space. We have a unique advantage in that we also have a separate search firm that we manage. On occasion, we get marketers coming in looking for new agencies, and I’m the guy that manages that. That gives us an added unique perspective that not many have, where we’re writing RFPs, I’m sitting in pitch presentations, I’m talking to marketers who have the pain points that they’re facing, which then benefits our clients because we have that perspective. That also gives us additional content and fodder to be able to write about when we’re posting.
[00:20:00]

[00:20:30]

[00:21:00]

If all we did was just post, we might get some SEO value out of it, but you really have to activate that content. I remember writing a post once that kind of irritated Michael Gass a little bit back in the day. I talked about social media, which was really where he made his name. I talked about social media inherently being a passive platform or medium. My point was that just to write posts isn’t good enough. This is how inbound marketing really came to be. It’s writing that content, activating it, and then acting on it. That’s what agencies need to do. That’s the simplest thing they can do, is to write posts, push them out consistently – every week, every couple of weeks – and have somebody there that can call into those people that are clicking or opening up their content. Maybe occasionally popping over some other value-added content to them.

[00:21:30]

[00:22:00]

I’m somewhat oversimplifying it, but I think at a bare minimum, those are the things that agencies can do to help themselves a little bit. If nothing else, to help build awareness of their agency among the group of targeted prospects that they’re interested in going after. At some point – we see this in our programs – all of a sudden the new business director reaching out this sea of marketers will get an RFP in their email. They’ve never talked to this prospect, but we’ve been pushing out value-added content to them for the past six months. All of sudden now our agency client is engaged in some conversation with this prospect. Those kind of things can happen and be the direct benefit of that sort of activation effort.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:22:30]

Because when you have that clearly defined scope of who you work with, who you serve, and what problems you solve, you’re able to create content that actually resonates. It’s not just content that people write up for SEO, but no one actually actually wants to read it. It’s something that people really care about. Then when they start coming across that, and they start seeing your name again and again and again, it changes their perception of your agency. I’m sure it adds also to the cold outreach you’re doing because even though you haven’t talked to them before, they’ve probably heard of you before. It’s not as cold of a contact.
Mark Sneider:
[00:23:00]

[00:23:30]

[00:24:00]

You’re absolutely right. That’s absolutely true. The challenge is just obviously doing it consistently. Before I started this company, I was running the domestic operations for a big global research firm. We would, with best intentions, push a mailer out or some content out and make a few phone calls. Then Colgate, Palmolive, our client, would get in the way. They’d want a study, or they’d need some research done, and then all that effort around trying to manage our outreach would fall by the wayside. RSW actually started in London in 1992. We actually hired RSW out of London in 2003 because my sister company over there was using them. I’ve kind of lived through a lot of the struggles and challenges that agencies live through and found that something like this, going to a resource that’s solely dedicated to this kind of a process, for me back then was a great move and really helped us. It’s been helpful to a lot of agencies since then.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:24:30]

For sure. One thing I want to ask, because I think something that is very rarely talked about but is super important is leveraging the content that you do, leveraging the content that you create, with direct mail. Actually putting something in the mail, sending it to a prospect. How do you do that? You said the first contact is often just a brochure. What goes into that?
Mark Sneider:

[00:25:00]

[00:25:30]

It’s usually pretty simple in terms of content and design and structure. Usually it’s a six, eight-page brochure. It introduces the agency’s brand, tells a prospect who, what they are. Open it up, there’s a definition of their value proposition, maybe some credibility builder and logos of clients they’ve worked with. Then I like to just characterize it as mini case studies, big visuals of work, quick description of the problem and solution, and maybe a big call-out of results. Again, it’s maybe a six, eight-page piece and closes with a listing of services. Then on the back, the contact info for their new business director.

[00:26:00]

[00:26:30]

It’s a pretty simple piece. Agencies are typically, we usually direct the development of it, give them the outline, and then they design it and produce it and send it to us. Then we’re mailing it out from here. We’ve done this since the start of the program. My sister company in the UK has never used mailings. We used them from the get-go. Having been a marketer for ten years, I knew how flooded emails and phone can get and knew the mailing platform, if you want to call it that, is relatively uncluttered. It’s a great way of setting the table in a very uncluttered environment and introducing your agency. It gives the new business director the opportunity to reference something as they’re calling into that prospect. It’s actually been quite helpful.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:27:00]

I’m guessing that you’re not getting a ton of callbacks from that mailing itself, but when you’re actually calling the prospect and, one, they probably have at least if they don’t know why, they’re probably at least aware of the name because of the mailing. Like you said, you have something to reference. You have some reason to call.
Mark Sneider:

[00:27:30]

Absolutely, yeah. Occasionally we will get callbacks. Occasionally those mailings will be passed on to somebody else in the organization, that’s all a really good thing. The primary purpose is just, I like to refer to it as “setting the table.” “We’ve called, you’re going to get a mailing, it’s in a bright green envelope, and look forward to speaking with you in a few days.” There is at least some awareness when that bright green envelope shows up on their desk. We’re calling right behind it.
Andy Baldacci:
[00:28:00]
Interesting. It almost is similar in purpose, on a smaller scale, as the content marketing. The content marketing sets the table. It’s going to do a bit more to establish your authority, but it’s really just trying to get them aware of you so that when you do contact them, they know who you are.
Mark Sneider:
[00:28:30]

[00:29:00]

Sure, absolutely. The way we look at it, it’s not unlike a well integrated program that an agency would create for its client. We look at it the same way. I’m going to use as many platforms as I can with a consistency of messaging to try and connect with that prospect. I don’t know if they’re going to be more receptive to phone or email or mail or LinkedIn or even Twitter. We’ve set meetings communicating via Twitter, bizarre as that seems. I’ve got to be able to touch these folks in as many different ways as I can, politely and persistently, but I’ve got to be able to use as many platforms as are available to me.
Andy Baldacci:Most people, when they think about direct mail, when they think about content, when they think about cold-calling, they think about them in these little silos. With your process, they’re really not at all. They all work together. You’re trying to find all those touch points against different channels so that you can optimize for trying to contact them in as many different ways, because you don’t know what’s going to work best for them.
[00:29:30]

Mark Sneider:

[00:30:00]

Right, exactly. Maybe it’s because I’m 53 years old. Not all the time, but I sometimes like to print stuff out and look at it. Other people refuse to print anything and operate solely on their laptop or their desktop. There’s no way to predict how somebody is going to be most responsive to an outreach. We want to just be prepared to do it as many different ways as we can.
Andy Baldacci:How do you manage this process, when you have so many different touch points? Do you have internal software you use? You just use commercial software? How do you keep track of everything?
Mark Sneider:

[00:30:30]

We, since the get-go, have used GoldMine, which is a fairly robust CRM. It just basically allows us to track history of touches. We also use SharpSpring, which is a marketing automation software platform. We have created our own custom API that connects GoldMine to SharpSpring. As we’re pushing out more mass outreach to our databases, we’re able to track that history and activity through our CRM GoldMine.
[00:31:00]

Andy Baldacci:

[00:31:30]

Interesting. It’s something where you touched on it before, about how when you were trying to do this while running the agency, while doing everything, it was basically not just your full-time job. It was your life. That was all you really had time to do. It seems like with all the moving pieces that there are, a lot of times you’ll see agencies hire a salesperson. They’ll hire some new business director, and they’re like, “Alright, this guy is going to come in. He or she is going to just sell for us, and I can stop thinking about it.” It rarely works out that way because talking to, you know, I see how many different steps of the process needs to be done. One person really can’t do it that well. What is the sweet spot for when an agency can reliably do this in-house, without sacrificing their life? When should they think about having a partner help them out with it?
Mark Sneider:

[00:32:00]

[00:32:30]

[00:33:00]

That’s a tough one. I think everybody has their own threshold of pain. If I were an agency principal, I would look to my staff and find people that can support different parts of the process. We here have not just a marketing person, not just myself or my other sales person writing blogs, but there are other people that contribute. You could create a content calendar and assign different people in different months to write content for the blog. You could have somebody sort of coordinate the mailing outreach and maybe somebody coordinate separately the mass email outreach to the database. I think unless you are confident that there’s somebody else that can represent the agency as well as you can, then you should probably be the one on those intro calls and those intro meetings. Your job becomes more the sales job, and you have other people.

[00:33:30]

[00:34:00]

In our world here, we’ve got a list department and a mar-com group, and somebody overseeing the performance of the programs, somebody managing the mailings. The new business director, pretty much all they do is manage the outreach, try and get meetings set. If you can do that, then that’s great. Then it’s going to become a little bit more manageable for you. If you don’t have those kind of resources, you don’t have those people that you … It’s not a question of trusting them, but believing that they have the time and the talent to be able to manage those things. If they’re not there, it’s going to be really hard to effectively do all that yourself.
[00:34:30]

[00:35:00]

[00:35:30]

We had, and continue to have, back in the day, the advantage of being one of the only … We’ve kind of built this category. There are some other players here, and there were a few other players. We’re zeroing in on one sector: marketing service firms. The need is pretty well defined. We’re out there delivering against that need very specifically. Not that it’s easy, but it’s easier than trying to bust through to a CMO of some consumer package goods organization when there are 100 other agencies trying to knock down that same door. The level of complexity and time to do what they need to do just gets harder. That’s why I think if you don’t have the supporting case, for whatever reason, I think then you’ve got to look out and see if it makes more sense to bring somebody like us or whoever on board.
Andy Baldacci:If they brought you on board, what is the principal of the agency? What is their job? Is it really just they hand off most things to you, they give a few approvals here and there, and then they show up for meetings? What is the workload like for an agency, if they partner with another agency like you?
Mark Sneider:

[00:36:00]

[00:36:30]

Yeah, it’s primarily being the one that’s on the meetings or on the intro calls. It’s being there for the weekly updates with the new business director, who looks like they’re part of that agency, that they give to that principal, that marketing service firm. It is in the beginning coordinating, either they are or somebody else is helping us coordinate the development of some of the mailing piece, any revisions, or creation of case studies. There’s a fairly concentrated, heavier upfront involvement as we ramp up programs, approving lists, and things like that.

[00:37:00]

Once the program gets going, it’s like once a week, they get their update. The new business director is calling in between those weekly meetings if they have questions, or they get meetings set reviewing the client meeting form that they send the principal of that agency to set them up well for that meeting. Those are the ways in which a principal would get involved in a program like ours.
Andy Baldacci:

[00:37:30]

Interesting. Talking with you, I see all the steps. I see all the pieces. I’m starting to see how they all fit together. Like you said, if you’re making that decision on whether or not this is something to do in-house or to hire out or not, it’s first figure out and get a grip on what all the pieces are, who would be responsible for them, and then asking the question, “Do we have time for this? If we do, will other things suffer? Will we be able to do it well?” All of that. Then from there, you’ll be able to make a better decision on how to go forward. I feel like that’s a good starting point, at least.
Mark Sneider:I definitely would agree with that.
Andy Baldacci:I think you gave listeners a ton of information today. I want to end with just a few quick questions.
Andy Baldacci:The first one is, what do you spend too much time on right now?
Mark Sneider:Me personally?
Andy Baldacci:Yeah.
[00:38:00]

Mark Sneider:

[00:38:30]

That’s a good question. What do I spend too much time on? Not because accounts don’t perform well but I’m just an inherent worrier, and so I’m always worrying about my accounts, our clients, and making sure the programs are working the best possible way they can. I probably do more of that than I need to, but I always say I’d rather do that than fall asleep at the wheel and wake up one day and have half my clients go away.
Andy Baldacci:
[00:39:00]
That’s very true. I’m sure a lot of people have been there, where they think everything’s going great. Then all of a sudden, they lose a couple key accounts. On the other side of that coin, what do you think you could spend more time doing?
Mark Sneider:
[00:39:30]
It would be nice if cash wasn’t an issue, to spend more time physically visiting clients. We have started, just in this past year or two, either sending myself and the new business director or just the new business director to going clients – clients that have been with us a couple of years plus – to visit and talk strategy. That’s happening more. I’d like to be doing more of that.
[00:40:00]Then I think the other thing is dreaming up new and different ways to service agencies, to help them find new opportunities. We’re actually spending a good amount of time this year testing some new concepts. Hopefully we’ll be in market with something brand new in February of this next year. Stay tuned for that one.
Andy Baldacci:Building on that, the last question is what does the next year look like for RSW/US?
[00:40:30]

Mark Sneider:

[00:41:00]

It looks pretty exciting. I think with this new platform that we’re introducing, and it basically takes advantage of that relationship that we have with our sister company, this RSW Agency Search, I think that could prove pretty exciting. It could open up some new doors for us among agencies where we’re not doing business right now. I think the year looks promising. We’ve got great new business directors that know what the endgame is for us. The endgame for us is not setting meetings, which, if you were to ask me back in 2005 through 2008, I would have told you that we’re in the business of helping better position agencies in finding qualified leads and setting meetings.
[00:41:30]

[00:42:00]

Today, we’re all about getting clients closer to close. We’ve changed the compensation structure of new business directors so they’re not only given good base salaries and incentives when they set meetings, but those incentives per meeting go up when the client closes business. The longer the client stays on past their contract period, they’re given ten year bonuses. They’re there to coach and counsel and push those clients to make sure they’re doing everything they can. We’re doing everything we can to try and move them down the line past that first meeting and get the close. Our retention has risen consistently year after year. We have more and more clients that have been with us three, four, five, six years. Hopefully we’ll see more of that as we roll into ’17.
Andy Baldacci:Awesome. I’m excited to see how that all plays out. The last thing is just, Mark, where can listeners go to learn more about RSW/US and everything that you offer?
[00:42:30]

Mark Sneider:

[00:43:00]

[00:43:30]

Sure, appreciate that. Your best place is to go to our site, which is rswus.com. Lots of free resources there, webinars, survey reports, blog posts. It’s spilling over with content. Whether you choose to use us or not, there’s a lot of really good stuff on there that can at least get you thinking about different ways to manage your agency in their new business development efforts. That’s certainly the best way. If there’s interest in reaching out directly to me, my email address is mark@rswus.com. Certainly feel free to reach out directly to me if there’s any questions that anybody has or wants to talk through any challenges. My time is free, so happy to talk about those things.
Andy Baldacci:Awesome. I really appreciate that, Mark. I’ll get all of that linked up on the show. I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
Mark Sneider:Yeah, thank you.

Want to learn more?

Mark and the team at RSW/US practice what they preach, especially when it comes to creating content to support your positioning.

To access webinars, surveys, blog posts, and other types of content, head over to RSWUS.com. If you have any specific questions or challenges you want to talk through, Mark’s email is always open. But if you want his email address, you’ll have to listen to the show.

Resources mentioned:

The Three “C’s” to Successful Pipeline Building: Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

GoldMine (CRM)

SharpSpring (Marketing Automation)