Lead-Specific Creativity Leads to Good FortuneBy Joe Walsh
March 2, 2017
Most budget and time-challenged professional services marketers and business developers try to woo or persuade prospects with a slumbering mix of proposals and PowerPoints. Not to pick on the efforts, but these approaches have all the appeal and differentiation of dry white toast. They rarely cut through.
In response, innovative firms of varying shapes and sizes are applying prime time creativity at the point of sale. For demonstration purposes, here are two recent examples, stripped of firm and prospect names, and slightly modified for competitive anonymity.
1. Consulting Firm A was being considered by a real estate investment and development company prospect and was one of a handful of well-qualified firms in the running. The consulting firm has deep credentials in the real estate industry, great testimonials from satisfied real estate clients, specific skills connecting to the problem the prospect faced, and volumes of thought leadership content pertinent to the situation.
To break from the pack, the marketing, sales, and proposed account team invested in a half-day workshop to generate ideas for the prospect. Nothing novel there, just good new business pursuit 101 work.
The novelty came in the form of a microsite the marketing and business development team designed and built specifically for the prospect. Yes, the consulting firm already had a website with a robust “insights” page. Instead of sending the client emails with links to the appropriate web pages and articles, they designed and built a client-specific site to send a signal: “We will go above and beyond.”
The site was 1) well designed; 2) co-branded with the consulting firm and client logos; 3) populated with curated content and ideas from the workshop tailored to the client; 4) also populated with bios and social media links for both the consulting firm and the prospective client’s teams; and 5) updated with new content, ideas, and information throughout the proposal and presentation process.
Wow. The top of the funnel meets the bottom in a purposeful blend of sales and (digital) marketing.
2. Accounting Firm B was being considered by a craft brewer ascending nationally for its audit, tax and other needs. Firm B was up against four other firms who had received the RFP—all with strong and robust retail, distribution and consumer goods experience. Arguably, Firm B was in the weakest competitive and relationship position of the five firms vying for the account. Once again, the marketing, sales and proposed account team invested in a half-day workshop to generate ideas for the prospect (detect a pattern?).
In this case, Firm B opted to package its proposal and presentation differently.
They ditched the 40 page, wire-bound, droning, proposal document and PowerPoint (firm overview, industry credentials, “unique” audit process, service attributes, team bios and pricing) for a case or two of beer. Yum. The accounting firm’s marketers and graphic designers deconstructed the craft brewer’s packaging and repacked it as a co-branded collection of 24 business improvement ideas developed by the account team. One idea was inserted on a piece of paper in each custom-labeled (and emptied and cleaned) bottle. Team bios were on coasters. Beer openers carried Firm B’s logo. The proposal was wheeled into the pitch on a dolly. Talk about different. By the way, the firm was chosen. Cheers, all around!
Whether these tales and examples are new or old to you, the bottom line is the same. Creative marketing talents should not be limited to the tree-tops of advertising or brand campaigns. Often, they are best applied at the grassroots of new business development to deliver good fortune.