02 Sep 2018

What are New Business Development messages?

Far too many agencies marketing and NBD drives have a deficiency of NBD messages. These are not just a crystallization of your proposition; they are coherent and demonstrable reasons why you are approaching your prospective clients and how much you want their business – and not just the next review, next pitch or an ad-hoc project.

Many agencies rightly spend time developing descriptors for their agency. In simple terms these succinctly capture what the agency does and it’s often a distillation of their proposition. In not so simple terms it can fall foul of incorporating what the agency thinks it does or what it aspires it to be and might include certain phrases or buzz words which we reckon will grab attention.


For right or wrong reasons some agencies decide to totally reinvent their descriptors. At times it looks as if they feel the need to reinvent the agency and have completely changed the staff to bring in a completely new set of skills. Thankfully this seldom happens.


From a new business development perspective establishing constants is important and will comprise the agencies proposition (possibly position too) and the reason why we are introducing our agency to a prospective client. We need an element of consistency with new business development messages and this should manifest through all components of NBD, including marketing. What the agency is, what it does and how it goes about its business contribute almost fifty percent of making up the hierarchy of new business development messages. Effective and successful new business activity requires us to communicate concisely with clarity, confidence and conviction. Therefore the top two, three or fours tiers of the message hierarchy should be fixed.


Further down the hierarchy we can be a little more creative with what we say about our agency without applying too much artistic licence or being inaccurate. The beauty of our hierarchy is we can pick and chose the descriptors, which will resonate with our prospective clients or a chosen sector with greatest impact. After all, a proportion of NBD involves name dropping. Mentioning the name of one our clients might not have as much impact as actually using their key descriptor. For example, if we state we work with the UK’s leading manufacturer of bathroom accessories instead of stating the name of the business this could very well catch the ear or eye of our prospective client with greater impact. This will seem to be very obvious yet these are rules or devices we all too often overlook and fail to apply and we all know a robust NBD strategy should not overlook the obvious nor should it fail to implicitly state the obvious.


Perhaps the most obvious and successful NBD message which is not communicated enough is the agencies proximity to the prospects front door, especially when targeting every local and relevant business within 45 minutes drive for instance. Location can be an instant point of differentiation so if we are only 5 miles away or 15 minutes drive away then state it. Furthermore qualify why this could be an advantage, i.e. we can get to see you quickly and frequently; you’ll be dealing with ‘people’ and not constantly pinging emails back and forth.


One of the most important NBD messages is a simple, sincere and no-nonsense reason why you are approaching the client and what you want to achieve. Without this they can’t help you and you will not know how best to develop the relationship from this stage onwards.


Your hierarchy of NBD messages should always be work in progress. With every new client you bring in, every agency success or award you can refine the messages accordingly.

First published in The Drum Newsletter


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