Planning, prepping and ‘respecting the no’ – insights from the latest BD Session

Help your clients with as much market insight and intelligence as possible as they begin to revitalise their businesses in the second half of the year – that was the advice from the last of the BD Sessions before the summer break.

It’s time to start looking ahead as elements of day-to-day normality begin their return, so we brought together agencies and brands for this latest BD Session to share how they are planning to strengthen resource and tackle the demands of the next few months.

The panel included Chris Ellis, Group Digital Marketing Manager at Belron (owner of Autoglass), Jemima Monies, Deputy Managing Director, adam&eveDDB and Pedro Martins, Chief Growth officer at Total Media and co-chair of the IPA New Business and Marketing Group.

Propeller’s own Ali Woods hosted the event and our Director of Content Branwell Johnson moderated the Q&A segment.

Trying to read the market

Everyone agreed there were green shoots of recovery for their respective businesses, but the outlook was still very uncertain. Chris said: “We don’t really know where the market is right now – we’re still in a recovery phase. Fortunately, our market is growing and we’re trying to understand baselines and effectiveness of campaigns. Our people are working hard so we must focus on the priorities. If something is not a priority there’s no point in pushing it.”

In regards to what Belron needs from its agencies, he said: “We’re moving out of open heart surgery into proper health care and growth and if agencies can help us get a really good grip on what true status of the market is – what our share is and how we can increase that share – that’s what we need. Right now, it’s harder than ever to get the answers to those questions.”

Jemima said that from her perspective new business conversations were happening but a lot of the interest “did not necessarily lead into a full on pitch and opportunity” – rather it was indicative of some marketers having time on their hands, so they were reaching out and exploring options.

The speakers agreed that the role of the new business team will be crucial in the coming months to build on any recovery and cutting this resource will be a false economy. Jemima stressed: “The market is fairly buoyant and there are opportunities … agencies should be investing in their teams to grab hold of the opportunities when they come along.”

Pedro added: “In times like this you need even more support in making sure you are reaching the right brands and consumers and talking in the right way.”

Second-half year preparations

Summer is traditionally a relatively quiet time for agencies, but brands may be looking to ratchet up activity after a long period of relative silence. Chris said that early summer was a busy period for his business but questions remained. “Is everyone going away or not? Is the level of recovery we’re seeing at the moment going to stall?” He said he was having to carefully balance the need for resource with bringing back people on furlough but added: “We need to be advertising to make sure demand does come back.”

While the final quarter and the festive season still seems distant in ‘normal’ times brands and agencies are usually prepping campaigns, promotions and media buys at this point of the year. However, gauging the public mood and what tone of voice in marketing will most engage consumers will be a challenge this year.

Jemima said that personally she was finding sentiment-fatigue setting in and “By Christmas I’ll want something uplifting and celebratory – that’s what Christmas is all about. It will be interesting to see how brands approach it.”

Chris added: “I personally have had enough of shaky zoom camera work and ‘everyone pitching in together’ and having a lovely time at virtual tea parties. I suspect a return to normality is what people are craving.”

Targeting new business

The panel all pointed to referrals as the best type of lead. Chris pointed out that agencies making an approach to brands should ask the question at the very start “is this in your area of interest or should I just go away now?” and if the conversation is a no-go then “respect the no.”

Pedro stressed his agency is focusing on analysing where, what and who it should be targeting. Both adam&eveDDB and Total Media are looking to build more international business and Pedro added: “We are looking at where we can provide the most value, get most return and how we target prospects. The pipeline still there but we are making sure if we pro-actively going out to market we know what we are offering.

“There’s no point just cold calling but if you can say ‘we can see you have this challenge and we reckon we can solve it’ that’s the way to go.”

Everyone agreed that ‘random’ conversations, either in the office or out and about, needed to be kickstarted again in some way to provide ideas, creative thoughts and potential new business leads.