I wear two hats as a consultant. I consult with companies that need guidance in their marketing and communications, and I support agencies that need management input and help with senior-level communications services. Hiring me to help you will reduce your stress level, give you a little more sleep at night and help you keep your agency running smoothly without having to wear yourself out.
An ethical note: I sometimes help companies identify and hire agencies. To avoid conflicts of interest, if I am helping a company conduct an agency search, I will not accept payments or commissions from agencies that I recommend including in a search. While helping an agency with any aspect of work for one of its clients, I will not accept any work from that client company.
Below are some examples of how I can help.
Business Development Support
After 30 years in PR and integrated marketing agency leadership positions, including 18 years running two agencies of my own, I know how crucial business development is and also how difficult it is to carve out enough time to do as much of it as you should.
When you have a new business lead and don’t have the right staff or enough of your own time to pursue it, you can turn it over to me. I’ll manage the discovery phase to find out if the lead is a good fit for you and if it pays enough to meet your financial needs. I’ll advise you on whether or not you should purse the lead, and why. If so, you can also rely on me to do the necessary research and develop a top-notch proposal. I can do as much or as little as you need in a business development situation. My fee will be based on the time I spend.
CLIENT SATISFACTION RESEARCH IMPROVES RETENTION
Customer satisfaction research is vital to customer retention. Just as product marketing companies survey customer satisfaction to help them compete in the marketplace, agency owners need feedback to discover client dissatisfaction. Only if you’re aware of problems can you do something to fix them.
However, it’s hard for agencies to conduct this research themselves. Clients are often reluctant to give negative feedback directly to the client team or agency management. In addition, many overworked agency owners feel they just don’t have the time.
I’m available to conduct annual client surveys to obtain the vital feedback you need to assure or improve client retention. I’ll conduct one-on-one interviews with your clients and prepare a written report. As a third party, I’ll get better feedback than you can. Your clients will be pleased you care enough to seek their input. The cost of this annual research is usually a small fraction of the cost of losing a client.
Development of Communication Strategies for Your Clients
If you’ve had clients say, “I don’t care about the process, just get me results,” I’ll bet you said (or thought), “Using the right process is the only way to get the results.” A good communication strategy is the base for developing the right process.
When agencies fall short in creating good strategies, the reason is usually a lack of enough senior people. Junior-level agency employees usually don’t have enough experience for this. You can do it, but you can’t be everywhere.
I can solve this problem by sitting in on a discovery meeting with your client, gathering the necessary information and developing a smart strategy as the groundwork for a successful PR program. Or I can review what your staff develops and provide ideas and input.
Help with Hiring
Just to remind you why hiring decisions are so crucial:
- Nothing upsets clients more than staff turnover.
- In a small-to-midsize agency, being short-staffed means everyone has to work longer hours.
- A bad apple can be very demoralizing for everyone else to have around.
After many years of hiring, I’ve developed very good instincts. I’ve also developed an excellent hiring process. I’m not a headhunter. But I can help you make the best hiring decisions possible by adding an extra layer of vetting to your hiring process – having your finalists for a position interview with me before you make a decision. This isn’t a huge expense and it’s worth every penny you spend if I can help you avoid bringing the wrong person into your agency.
SUPPORT FOR THE CEO
As an independent PR agency owner, you learn quickly that the saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” is really true. Being an entrepreneur has its plusses and minuses. On the one hand, you don’t have a boss. But on the other hand there’s nobody to help you make tough decisions. Should you raise your rates? Is that RFP worth pursuing? What should you do about your “client from hell?” When can you afford to hire another staff member?
I’ve been in your shoes and know how much anxiety some business decisions can cause. I’ve also seen the results of those types of decisions. In retrospect, I know what I did right and what I’d change if I could go back and do it again.
I don’t claim to have all the answers – nobody does. But when I don’t, chances are good that someone in my very large professional network will, and I can refer you to a specialist.