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5 New Year’s New Business Resolutions for Agencies

by Judy Neer, Wednesday, December 18, 2013

For many of us, the New Year means New Year’s Resolutions. A few of mine include— simplify my life, limit my to-do list, and refrain from buying the latest of everything. Oh, and I will compliment my 20-year-old daughter more often and stop telling her what to do.

So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I might recommend a few New Year’s New Business Resolutions for agencies, who often ask us what clients look for in a pitch, what they can do to stand out, and what, quite frankly, are the common mistakes and missteps we see during our Agency Selection processes. 

Resolution #1

Avoid saying the following during a new business pitch— We aren’t like the big guys. We don’t put a pitch team forward in a review. We’ll actually be involved in your business. We have a unique agency model. There are many ways agencies articulate to potential clients what they are “not” and how they are different from “the other guys.” I can’t tell you how many times the phrases above are uttered in reviews, and clients just roll their eyes. Focus on what you are rather than what you are not, and you will differentiate your agency and keep yourself above the fray. 

Resolution #2  

Do not present your agency as being good at everything. Clearly, you want to showcase your strengths in a review. However, rather than making a blanket statement about how good you are, show how good you are through a case history that is relevant to a client’s needs. A case history that is recent, not four-years-old. And if you simply can’t deliver against a particular client criterion, don’t say that you can.  

Resolution #3

Remove any references to “paradigm shifts” from your presentation. (Just trust me on this one.)

Resolution #4

Send out flawless pitch materials with no typos, (and the right client name), even if it means locking someone in a conference to review your submission. Make sure the type is readable, the copy is succinct, and that your case is relevant to the client by addressing all of their criteria.

Resolution #5

Do not FedEx press releases or other agency information. Email is just fine. It’s not that we have anything against FedEx, but it’s 2014 and electronic files are better!

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday, perhaps a little time off, and a prosperous New Year where resolutions, personal and professional, are fulfilled.


Judy Neer is President and CEO of Pile and Company. 

Link Beyond LinkedIn

by Christine Hickey, Thursday, October 31, 2013

Without a doubt, LinkedIn has become the primary resource for recruiters looking to find passive jobseekers. But has LinkedIn become oversaturated with InMail and requests to link? Are potential introductions and connections getting lost in the social media abyss?

In Pile and Company's Executive Search practice, we’re hearing from executive-level marketers that they are so bombarded with new opportunities on LinkedIn that they have started to ignore them. In fact, passive executive jobseekers are no more apt to respond to a LinkedIn request than they are to a job posting.

So, how do we reach sought-after talent who may not be actively looking for their next opportunity? The old-fashioned way—networking.

Find a colleague or friend who might be willing to make a direct introduction via email or handshake. It sounds simple, but warm introductions and in-person networking are still among the best ways to find passive candidates.

Likewise, attracting executives to your brand with relevant content and information via webinars, videos, forums and conferences should not be underestimated as a viable and fruitful way to find your next great hire. You provide information executives need or want, and they provide their contact information.

LinkedIn is a great tool, but it’s not the only tool. To really uncover the best senior-level talent, you need to go out and find them. And they need to be able to find you.

Christine Hickey is a Senior Consultant for Pile and Company’s Executive Search.

How To Stand Out In An Agency Review

by Judy Neer, Friday, April 26, 2013

When it comes to pitching new business, every agency asks the same question: How do we stand out?

There was a time when converting a conference room into a supermarket won the day. Five years later, spending too much on the breakfast bagels was frowned upon. So, where are we now? How does an agency stand out in a sea of qualified, talented competitors? Is there room for razzle-dazzle in the pitch process? What about just one bowl of M&Ms? Read More...

3 Hiring Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make

by Joyce Bethoney, Thursday, March 28, 2013

As a recruiter, I speak so often to candidates about the importance of being clear about their personal brand statement. It is critical to know your strengths, the sweet spot of your skillset, and how to explain your background to a potential employer. Without this clarity, you may be overlooked in the screening process.

That said, I am also seeing companies that are not clear on what they want. Thousands of jobs are going unfilled and hiring processes are going on for so long that companies are losing perfect candidates simply due to a lack of clarity around what they want and need.

Clearly, hiring managers want to ensure that they are thorough and hiring the right person. But the answer is not a job description that reads like an engine part specs sheet— packed with a litany of skills and obtuse requirements like “hit the ground running,” and then culminating with a subpar salary.

Rather than continue with an approach that keeps employers with vacant positions and qualified candidates out of work, here are three hiring mistakes we’re seeing and our suggestions for rectifying them. Read More...

The "B Word"

by Judy Neer, Thursday, February 21, 2013

I’ll never forget a few years ago, I was sitting in a conference room with one of my clients waiting for the CEO to arrive. Suddenly, my client turned to me and in hushed, urgent tones said, “I almost forgot! Whatever you do, do not say the 'brand word’ in front of the CEO!”

Historically, using the "B word” around anyone outside of Marketing was tantamount to a four-letter word, or, at a minimum, viewed as fancy marketing speak that didn’t really mean anything to business goals or the consumer’s experience. Oh, how times have changed.

Today, everyone, especially the CEO, needs to embrace the brand word. Leading organizations now see the value of a cohesive brand message and delivering on that message to the customer. They understand that referring to “our brand” versus “our company” isn’t just semantics. They know that in order for a brand positioning to be effective it needs to permeate across all departments and employees, as well as, reflect the genuine values of the organization.

And none of this is possible if a CEO refuses to use, let alone hear, the word brand.

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