Agency new business – the soft power offensive

Soft power has seen a growth in popularity in mainstream media as countries adopt it as a way to gain greater influence in the world through means other than military or political.

For example, the US has Hollywood, the UK has music like the Beatles, France has cuisine, Brasil has the carnival and Japan has geishas and karaoke.

Whilst this may seem a relatively new phenomenon, it has been used for centuries, it just didn’t have a name.

Agencies have always used soft power as a means to try to get new business.  Before giving any creds presentation they need to get into the consideration set.  How do they do that? A few ways:

  1. Most importantly, doing a good job for your current clients – nothing beats WOM and recommendations
  2. Advertising themselves – DMs, press ads etc – limited use but they have been used
  3. Showcasing knowledge about advertising and/or specific sectors through means that don’t overtly sell the agency but begin to position it in the minds of prospect.

One of the clearest examples of the latter is Dave Trott.  Dave has a column in Brand Republic, where he talks about advertising, he also has a Twitter account that anyone can follow and a blog within his agency’s website.

Imagine I’m a client and I just happen to read Dave’s column in BR. I think to myself ‘he’s a smart chap’ I wonder what else he has to say, so I follow him on Twitter.  As part of Dave’s tweets he links me to a blog entry on his agency’s site.  Suddenly I’m delving into his world and being influenced by what he says (even if I may not like to admit it).  A few months later my incumbent agency is not performing very well and I need to get someone new in.  Will I just pick up the Yellow Pages and take a punt, or will I go to someone who I know a little bit more and in whom I have seen the necessary skills to do a job for me?  I think almost everyone would go for the latter.

So why is this important?  For agencies, it is just part of everyday business, but how many of our clients actually invest their time and money in this type of activity?

Do you use it in your line of business?


One thought on “Agency new business – the soft power offensive

  1. Yes! I agree with this completely. Right now I am working on a school project for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, trying to help them get the word out about air pollution. The organization refuses to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and any other form of social networking tools, due to low resources.
    I am recommending to them that they need to figure out their resources so they can devote some time to these types of things, because it will become increasingly hard in todays market to influence anyone without utilizing these types of “soft power” tools.
    Well said, thank you for that.

    The Green Guerilla

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