What’s the story?

A few weeks ago I went to an event run by UKTI called Exporting Creativity. As part of the event, we heard from Caroline Rowland from a branding agency called New Moon.

New Moon worked extensively on London’s 2012 Olympic bid and since then they have been involved in a number of high-profile bids including: Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid, Istanbul’s 2020 Olympic bid and the Sochi Winter Olympic bid.

During the talk I thought that winning business must be a doddle for them. They have a clearly defined niche, an outstanding track record and a clear USP.

Aside from these high profile projects, the thing that I found most compelling was that Caroline had a great story to tell. She was passionate about her agency, the talent in the agency and the results that they had brought to their clients.

There are a lot of creative companies in the UK and most of them simply just get on with the job of delivering good work to their clients. Sadly, this is as far as many new business messages go. Many design businesses feel that it’s enough to tell potential clients that they can do a competent job.

The problem is that to someone looking to appoint an agency, this is not a particularly compelling message.

I know that many creative businesses agonise over identifying their USP and think that they have to offer something unique to be able to stand out.

How unique do they have to be?

I’ve worked with dozens of creative companies over the years and every one of them has absorbing stories to tell. They don’t have to be hugely exotic but it’s important that an agency gets their story across in their business development activity. This will help them stand out and provide a bit of texture and personality to their approach.

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They let me slip away

It’s not easy to stand out as an accountancy firm, especially to small businesses that have much more pressing things on their minds than changing accountants.

Some do though and when I was toying with the idea of changing accountant, one particular firm stood out.

They were doing so many things right, they had a fresh and vibrant brand image, they had a great website with all sorts of tools and calculators, their tone of voice was informal and jargon-free and their Tweets were useful and at times entertaining. All of this was backed up when I went to meet them. They were warm, informative and I really felt that at last I’d met an accountant that understood the needs of my business and was able to communicate clearly and patiently.

They duly sent me out a welcome pack and a contract that I had every intention of signing, just as soon as I found the time to sit down and read it. The problem was that I never got round to reading the contract, signing it or sending it back. The weeks and months went by and the welcome pack got buried under a mountain of other stuff.

As the tax deadline loomed any thought of switching accountants was eclipsed by the need to get my documents to my existing accountant so that they could get them submitted on time.

The new accountancy firm had missed the opportunity to secure me as a new client when I was there for the taking.

The missing piece in their new business approach was that they didn’t have a strategy to effectively follow up on their leads – their approach was too passive.

I see this so often with design businesses, they are doing so many things right, a good website and a comprehensive social media strategy. The problem is that they don’t combine this with more direct tactics for a fully rounded business development strategy.

By the way, the accountants still haven’t contacted me, a year after they sent me the welcome pack and contract. Perhaps they didn’t want me as a client!

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