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How Agencies Can Use Social Listening to Win New Clients

By Nate Stedman  •  July 9, 2018

Your next client pitch needs to be totally backed by the right insights. Here's your playbook.

How Agencies Can Use Social Listening to Win New Clients

Posted by: Nate Stedman on July 9, 2018

Your agency or firm wants to land that awesome new client for their marketing, advertising, market research or creative business. But first, you need to sell them at the big pitch meeting.

How do you go from the standard pitch to the remarkable one that lands the deal?


By bringing the right insights to the table. It’s nice to have a big creative idea, but without the right data to provide context, it will be difficult to persuade the prospect you are the one for them. They need proof.

To win that next client, you need to prove that you know about their audiences, you know their brand backwards and forwards and you know how to talk to their audiences and customers-- and how to listen to them. In that, you’ll show how to drive the brand forward.


There may be no better method of showing that proof than with social listening data.


Social listening is the secret sauce for marketers and researchers everywhere. It’s the art of tuning into, monitoring and discovering key insights about audiences, customers, competitors, brands, products, influencers and more.


If you have access to a database that gets to the heart of audiences, who they are, how they feel about brands, products and topics you can add insights to your presentation that will differentiate you from everyone else. This is the information that clients and prospects need to know most. And that’s how you’re going to sell them on why you’re the ones for the job.


Before you run into your next pitch hastily throwing out all your great creative ideas, start with data-based context that can uncover insights the brand didn’t know about their customer.


In this quick guide, we’ll explain how to conduct the best pitch using social listening data and show how you can leverage these insights to lead you down the path to winning the pitch.


How to Use Social Listening for client pitches TITLE

Why Better Data Leads to Better Pitches

If Don Draper stood up at the front of the room and made one of his grand pitches like from the show Mad Men today, he’d be laughed out of the room.


Today, pitches need insights driven by real data, not assumptions. The better the data, the better the pitches.


Prospective clients are looking to tell better stories about their band, products and companies. But they could miss out on crucial data that helps them better understand the context of their efforts.


That’s where insights from actual customers come in.


In the steps below, we’ll show you exactly how to own the next pitch using the insights that will leave those prospects drooling.


With the right intel, you’ll be positioned to showcase your expertise and ability to create winning branding, marketing and advertising strategies. Let’s take a look at how to do that from the get go.

Step 1: Show How Well You Know Their Brand With In-depth Analytics


Start by showing you’ve put the time in. You know their brand and their audience.  


Since people express themselves much more today all over the web, you can obtain much deeper insight about their industry, current customers, and their prospective customers with insights like purchase intent, emotions, and sentiment analysis.



Begin with initial industry research and narrow your focus on specific targets.


It’s important to incorporate psychographics-- information on audience thoughts, emotions, motivations and behaviors-- to help complete the story of a brand’s audiences or target customers.


If you’re pitching to a swimwear brand whose tasked you with figuring out how to target people with the next summertime campaign, you could start by giving them insight into how people are discussing summer online. Using social listening, you can easily show them just how well you know these audiences.


You can show them what topics they’re discussing most, such as vacation, grilling, family and swimming:

Summer Conversation Data and Share of Voice



You could show which terms get the most negative and positive vibes from those audiences:


Summer time positive and negative terms


With these positive and negative topics around summer, you can describe how the swimwear brand can frame itself within the context of the conversation for the summer time campaign. Here’s a couple of hypothetical ideas:


  1. Content that explores barbecuing by the pool (images, tips, etc.)
  2. Social posts that cover the best swimsuits for the tropical beach vacation
  3. Creating swimwear that is sweat resistant or bug resistant

Additionally, with this research, you can feature a breakdown of the audience’s demographics and their top interests as well:


Summer time demographics and interests


This is just a small sample of available metrics that you could present your prospects and clients with utilizing social listening.


The next step? Analyzing the competition.

Step 2: Showcase Your Competitive Intel

Brands are always on the lookout for one thing over anything else: competitive insights. Highlight compelling brand comparisons and display competitive insights that can’t be found elsewhere.


If you were pitching to the candy bar brand Twix, for example, you could show them how they are faring against other popular brands in the category by showing them their share of voice, a metric that looks at how much audiences discuss a topic compared to others.


By highlighting various points on the data you could present a potentially unforeseen opportunity:


Twix Competitive Analysis Share of Voice

You can wisely point out here that their competitors Kit Kat and Reese’s drive significant conversation during specific holiday times, while Twix does not. By looking at the revenue earnings of these brands, you can see that this is a successful money driver for Kit Kat and Reese’s while Twix could capitalize on driving more discussions during these times.


Another example: if you were in a room with people from the streaming service Hulu, you could easily show how they fare against the other streaming brands by age group. Here is a quick snapshot of which groups own which age ranges.


Netflix + competitors age distribution AGENCY REPORT insights

Now you’ve shown you’re adept to showing how well you know the audiences and how well you know the competition (and the competition’s audiences!) You’re just killing it!


Let’s show you how to give the prospect a complete look in their overall brand health using these insights.

Step 3: Seal the Deal With a Brand Health Assessment 

Here’s the knockout punch.


This is your chance to show how much you really know about the brand and industry, their success and failures, their position in the marketplace, the typical demographic makeup of their audiences, everything they want to know.


Start by looking at historical trends for the brand over time. Our social listening tool allows you to look at any window of time since 2007.


Using the various searching methods and metrics, compare past messaging and events and share why some were successful and some weren't.


Let’s say you’re pitching the luxury car brand, Lexus. And they’re wanting to find new opportunities for the holiday campaign known as “December to Remember.” You can find them insights and analysis of any holiday campaign dating back over a decade.


Let’s check the tape:


Here is the conversational volume during the holidays time in which their campaign ran for each holiday season 2014-2017:


Lexus December to Remember Volume

Lexus drove the most conversation in 2017, with its worst year in the time window being 2015. In 2017, as well as 2015, Lexus drummed up excitement  and anticipation for the seasonal campaign right before December started. In 2014, Lexus was able to accumulate online conversations right around December 25, while the other years, conversation declined during that time.


Next, we’ll look a the overall positive or negative sentiment from audiences each of these years:


Lexus December to Remember Y-o-Y Sentiment


This chart shows us that consumers responded the most positively in 2016, while 2014 received a more negative reaction from audiences.


Here you can start to ascertain as to why people reacted the way they did. What happened in 2014 that could have led to the less than stellar response to the campaign?


Something important to remember: show them both the good and the bad. Don’t shy away from results that may not have been desirable. It’s ok to bring it up.


Just be sure to also show how you offer value to help improve those results;  show them why results are bad. Then explain how your ideas are best to solve those issues. That’s how you put a positive spin on bad news-- by showing you’re ones to help.


Use this opportunity to sell the client on why analyzing the billions of online conversations has helped you gain a better understanding of their brand, their audiences, competitors, top influencing factors on purchase intent, brand loyalty and so on.


This is your chance to show you’re really inside the heads of their customers.

Step 4: Show How You Can Help Tell Their Story


Now, you give them the who, what, when, where, why and how!.


This is where the pitch can be used to highlight new ideas for the prospect and show how you plan to meet their needs.


To do that, give the full scoop on their brand story. They need to know:


  • Where their brand is now (you did that with the brand health overview)
  • What your ideas are to tell the next chapter of their story
  • How the audience will connect to those ideas and bring you a winning strategy and campaign
  • Visual representations of how the brand story will be told
  • Finally, how you plan to analyze the reactions to the new strategy and campaign and how you will measure the performance of your big ideas.

We covered in full detail how you can use social listening to tell a brand story in this article. We encourage you to read through that to help you prepare for your next pitch.

Final Thoughts

Following these steps, you can use social listening data to seriously impress your prospects (or sell clients on a new idea). Don’t let the limitations of not having complete access to all their data keep you from showing off your best self.


Here are a few final considerations to tie a bow on this guide:


Make your research and analysis for your pitches goal-oriented. But start broad. Make sure you understand completely what the client or prospective client is trying to achieve so you can find the best insights.


Surprise them! Be on the lookout for insights that they may not be aware of, or discrepancies in the preconceived target audiences and the audiences they should be focused on more.


In our latest report, “Social Listening Insights for Ad Agencies and Their Clients”, we discovered one brand was missing a huge opportunity, based on their most passionate audiences, to leverage food influencers to help market their product. This kind of info could be the difference between winning the pitch and losing it.


Be prepared. Social listening tools give you quick, high-speed insights about any historical point as well as real-time results (note: not all social tools can do this 🙂). If a prospect throws you a curveball about the audiences, you can get them reliable answers in short order.


By understanding that the core issue of conducting audience research with traditional methods, you’ve put yourself in a position right off the bat to jump to the top of the leaderboard.


Sources like Google Analytics, social media channel analytics, focus groups, etc. have their place, but relying on them is the undoing of your competition. You’ve got better data.


In fact, even some of the better known social data platforms focus far too heavily on the social conversations specifically around the brand. Our focus here needs to be people. You know that. Now, give the prospect those need-to-know details provided by an advanced social intelligence platform.


Why will this data ultimately work better for you?


Because people express themselves online now, you’ll know more about the target audiences, can show their brand’s place in the marketplace better than others who are pitching them, and can easily compare their efforts with those of their competitors.


Now, go out there and win that pitch!

Topics: client, customer success, metrics, social media data, marketing strategy, social media strategy, advertising

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