How One Agency’s New Business Approach Distinguished Them From Their Competition

True story from a week ago: Midwest branding and packaging agency seeks Midwest healthcare account. Agency gets to the top of the list of prospective partners – before even meeting with the marketing director. How did they do it?

Before I tell you the secret to their success, let’s refresh our memories about first impressions. If you go to, you’ll see it defined as “first consideration or judgement. Recall, also, the statistic from a now-forgotten study: “You have seven seconds to make a first impression”. One thing we know for sure, humans tend to quickly make judgements about other people. Oftentimes, that first judgement lasts a long time and takes a lot of contrary evidence to overcome it after it’s fixed in our memories.

Twenty-five years ago, I met a guy in college who I thought was incredibly arrogant; I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. However, in the last six months, I’ve had multiple interactions with him and have had to completely re-evaluate my opinion of him. Somewhere along the line either a) I judged him wrong, or b) He changed. I don’t know which it is, but I now realize that my 25-year-old first impression was incorrect. The problem with first impressions, however, is that if he was the agency and I the prospective client, he was out of consideration, and didn’t even know it.

Back to our Midwest branding agency.

Here’s a direct quote from the marketer they’re proactively reaching out to. I’m not going to attribute the quote as I don’t have permission to do so, plus, it was a confidential communication between the two parties that was shared with me for purposes of helping other ad agency new business people and their principals to (hopefully) improve:

Got the package. Thank you. And yeah, you weren’t kidding when you said you guys were all about client service. Most impressed that you tracked the package. Just as impressed with your follow-up voicemail. Having spend 20 plus years in the agency business, I am all about above and beyond client service. Unfortunately, too many of our suppliers/partners do not subscribe to that same way of thinking. After a week of having to make simple demands of such folk – your attention and “Johnny on the spot” like attitude was a refreshing change.

What they did was nothing more than go slightly above and beyond the expectation of the client:

  • They sent information about the agency at the request of the marketer
  • They followed up by email to say that it was on its way
  • They followed up by phone (voicemail) to check that it arrived
  • They tracked the package to be doubly-sure that it got to the correct office
  • They communicated all this in a professional and courteous way to the prospect

Pretty simple stuff, but as stated in the quote, unfortunately uncommon.

If doing these little things can be so effective, think about the opportunities that abound to help your agency stand out!


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