“Are You Agency Ready?” — PRSA-LA’s first half-day workshop dedicated to independent practitioners — drew a near-capacity crowd of new and seasoned solopreneurs seeking expert advice for aligning their practices with the needs of small, medium-sized and large agencies. The event was held February 3 at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills.
A panel of agency principals shared insider perspectives about how they work with independent practitioners, and what they expect from the relationship.
- Integrity, commitment and trust are the foundation of the independent practitioner-agency partnership. It’s a two-way street where each partner may refer business to the other, but they must never compete.
- While independent practitioners may (in effect) serve as account team members, they must remember that the agency is the ultimate client.
- The successful relationship is based on accepting that everyone needs to make money. This requires an understanding of how billing rates and margins fit into the profit equation.
- Referrals – not cold pitches – are key to getting an agency principal’s attention. It’s critically important for someone in the practitioner’s network make a referral or introduction or, better yet, vouches for the independent practitioner’s work.
During a follow-up session, a panel of branding, business development and management consultants offered their advice on how independent practitioners can market themselves beyond the proverbial “Let’s stay in touch.”
- Winning a new client doesn’t start with a pitch. It starts with a conversation based on understanding the “client’s pain points.” As the sales process moves forward, it’s important to adapt and follow the prospect’s processing speed, rather than your own.
- Don’t send a proposal into a black hole. Schedule a time with the prospect to discuss the proposal, and then forward it just before that call. Jointly reviewing the proposal will lead to a more productive and positive response.
- While solo practitioners are often tempted to be all thing things to all people, it’s actually best to pick an area you love and dive deep to become a solution.
Featured panelists included: Robert Conley, Bedrock Leadership; Paul Flaharty, Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group; Linda Martin, Porter Novelli; George Medici, PondelWilkinson; Tiffany Scott, You Me She Collective; Scott Streitfeld, Streitfeld Accounting; fashion entrepreneur Evelyne Teman; and Jason Wonacott, Wonacott Communications.
To help promote independent professionals, PRSA-LA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance (IPA) is compiling a directory of solo practitioners. To register, visit the directory page.
The workshop was presented by PRSA-LA IPA and PondelWilkinson, Inc.