As the CEO of a thriving public relations/content marketing agency, I wear a lot of hats — and one of them is business development. Over the years, I’ve seen many trends in our quest to acquire “new business,” the latest being the lengthening of the new business cycle, or the amount of time from the first meeting with a potential client to the “close.”
The amount of time is getting longer.
In the past when we’ve experienced that, it’s mainly been because the potential client just wasn’t sure what they were looking for. As a result, we revamped the questions we asked in that initial meeting to help us determine whether we should continue the conversation or refer the client to someone else.
This time it’s different. Potential clients coming through our doors today are much better prepared and have a greater understanding of what public relations and content marketing can do for them. Because of that, they are much more thorough in their discovery process, likely leading to the increased new business cycle length.
That being said, here are three things that you can do to prepare yourself for that PR firm search…
Come to the first meeting with an agenda
Spend some time before the meeting to figure out what your PR/content issues are and how you’d like a PR firm to help you solve them. A simple list of issues, goals and how you think you’d like to achieve success is extremely helpful at this initial stage.
Engage your C-suite before you start your search
It is our experience that, if you start your search after talking to your CEO, COO or CMO and getting his or her feedback, it will lead to a successful search and long-term agency relationship. If you can bring that C-level person to the table for that meeting, that’s even better. If not, getting buy-in after the fact, while doable, is hard and leads to an inevitable delay in the process.
Bring your wallet with you
I know its crass but, at some point, we will need to ask the “money question.” After running an agency for 17 years and being in the business for much longer than that, I know how much things will cost after about 30 minutes of that initial meeting. And we usually share that ballpark cost by the time that meeting ends. It helps if you know how much you can spend so we can decide early in the conversation if there’s a financial fit. It will save time for both of us in the long run.
There are many other factors that go into your eventual decision we know that. But coming to the table with a plan will help make the process faster and hopefully easier for all involved.
Ready to hire a PR firm? Let’s talk.