I have just come away from a big digital marketing show. And is has got me worried that some digital agencies are missing opportunities that are right in front of them. They are letting potential clients slip through their fingers. And that is a great shame.
The exhibition had big footfall, lots of stalls, stands and exhibitors. Lots of digital agencies.
Before and after my keynote presentation, I did a little market research for myself. I visited some 30 digital agencies to check out their stands.
My strategy was pretty consistent. I would hover in front on the exhibition stand and take in the glossy graphics and artwork, most of which had a funky edge to match the funky name.
I would then be approached. After their warm-up/gaining rapport conversation I would ask a number of questions including:
– What do you do?
– What can you do for me?
– Why should I buy from you?
– What makes you different from the rest?
I am afraid and excited about the results.
Afraid because the results (as a mystery shopper at a particular event on a particular day) were hugely disappointing.
Excited that either these agencies are so busy that they don’t need to work that hard to win customers or there is a golden opportunity for a customer-focused agency to clean-up.
Despite all the sales training that exists, virtually no-one asked me what I did or why I was enquiring or what I was looking for. Only two people asked me about my current arrangements (one of whom asked how happy I was and why).
I received business cards and brochures from all. All took my business card. Several “took my details” on paper but still failed to engage me about my business issues. (Few actually followed up).
So, what is going on? (Leaving aside the informal and relatively random nature of my survey.)
I observe the following: many agencies, while probably brilliant at the technical stuff failed to engage a potential customer:
They failed to articulate why they are different from the rest. Surely there must some differences in price, quality, style, flavour, niche, market, product or service?
They failed to understand the customer or what the customer was looking for.
They were too interested in telling me stuff. Showing me stuff. Thrusting stuff in my hands before they lost me.
On the plus side, for them:
They succeeded in getting details for the database
They succeeded (in the main) in using more-attractive-than-average people to represent them
They succeeded in putting together light, bright exhibition spaces.
To be honest it felt a lot like a numbers game. I didn’t really feel that many really wanted to connect and engage with me, a potential customer.
So, would they make more sales if they ran the stalls a different way?
Dunno but I think so.
Would they make more sales if they spent more time listening and connecting?
Would punters be able to remember or distinguish them, one from another, if they listened?
Do the agencies care?
And that is my point. There was a sense that the agencies were confident about their technical skills. That was never questioned or doubted. All they had to do was make me want to work with their agency and not another one. And in that, most failed.
And the opportunity is there for all to see.
You don’t need to be the best, you just need to be better than the competition.
And how much better? Just better. 5% would make you stand out from the others. That’s all it would take. Unless of course the agencies are all getting exactly the quality and quantity of work they want… in which case I will shut up.