Finding new solutions for outdated billing models is helping digital media company 25AM move its business forward.
Like many marketing agencies, 25AM are digital media specialists. It’s a tricky business model. Traditionally, media agencies charge a 5% commission on placements. Print, billboard and TV advertising costs are substantial, and so the billing model works. The problem is that it’s a system that predates digital marketing.
“Large agencies offer digital services as a value-add,” says Andre Steenekamp, COO of 25AM. “If you’re a digital specialist however, you need a completely different billing model.”
This was 25AM’s challenge. Here’s how Steenekamp is solving it.
Challenge: Convincing clients to pay for a service that other agencies offer for free.
Solution: Closing deals is all about showing value. While digital might be a value-add for many agencies, this is not their core area of focus. First, Steenekamp recognised the need to prove to clients why a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is important for the business’s marketing strategy.
Related: Improving customer service
“If you can highlight a need, create a sense of urgency around solving that need, and then present a solution, you’ve got a client’s attention,” says Steenekamp. “The conversation stops centering on the billing model, and starts focusing on ROI.”
Next, Steenekamp unpacked a process that would build a business based on valuable partnerships, where the billing model stopped being as important as the value that 25AM brings to its clients.
According to Steenekamp, the first step towards recognising a need is building a relationship with clients and potential clients.
“You can’t show a client that they have a problem without understanding that problem in the first place. To do that, you need to find out as much as possible about their business. We’ve invested a lot of time and resources training our account managers to understand this crucial point. You’ll never uncover problems from a place of arrogance. You need to first build trust and rapport. You need to listen, and most importantly, you need to pay attention. You might spot something they didn’t, but that’s the next step. You can’t advise until you’ve got a complete picture.
“You also need to remember that in most cases there are multiple decision makers, and you need them to all be on board. The deeper your understanding of the business and the various departments your solution affects, the greater your chance of 100% client buy-in.”
25AM has multiple channels that it offers clients, from media planning and buying, to campaign management, mobile, programme buying, SEO, online reputation management, customer engagement strategy, and social media.
All of these offerings are supported by Google’s Double Click software however, which allows clients to track and target digital consumers and the adverts that they view. More importantly however, it lets 25AM prove the ROI of its services.
Because Double Click is not 25AM’s proprietary software, it’s available to competitors and the clients themselves, which means the company’s real value is in how it interprets the information for its clients, using real-time data to shape digital strategies.
“We therefore need to show how our experts can unpack and use the information the software can provide, and how this can really impact each client’s bottom-line.”
Steenekamp is quick to point out that there’s a fine line between tracking digital users, understanding how they engage online and where their interests lie, and ‘stalking’ them on the Internet. “Software is just a tool – real value lies in how you use it.”
Building multiple revenue streams
A niche focus means you can be the expert in your field, but that doesn’t mean you should limit your business to one revenue stream.
“We have eight verticals, all of which have their own product heads and clients. Every division is a specialist, and although we share clients and support each other, the business as a whole is not beholden to one large client or service offering.”
Related: How you should show your customers some loving
The link between the verticals is Double Click, which allows 25AM as a whole to track everything it does. “Our different offerings work together, which means we’re able to add value to each other and our clients.”
According to Steenekamp, the secret to multiple revenue streams is to run them as separate verticals with subject matter experts, but ensure there are no silos within the organisation.
Image credit to Andre Steenekamp LinkedIn.