Agency New Business Impacted by The Perfect Storm

the perfect storm

My observation from the front line trenches of acquiring new business is that we are in the midst of a “perfect storm.” There are dramatic changes occurring in the way we attract and win new clients.

With the acceptance and growth of new media plus a downturn in the economy, there has been an acceleration of a paradigm shift in agency new business development.

Prior to the “storm” agencies actively pursued new business. For most small to midsize agencies, it has been targeting the masses. Trying to appeal to everyone. Relying upon our personnel networks, referrals, presentations, newsletters and cold calling.

Today, prospective clients are finally forcing agencies to differentiate. They are being pressured to clearly state and demonstrate their expertise. Agencies that aren’t doing for themselves what they recommend for their clients are viewed with suspicion. Prospective clients want to see leadership. Agencies are being pushed, prodded and poked into the new media arena.

Small to midsize agencies have seen the storm clouds on the horizon for sometime but they remain unprepared to deal with it.

Many agencies believe that as soon as the economy picks up, it will be business as usual.

But I’m telling them, that isn’t going to happen. This storm is of such revolutionary proportions, it will change advertising as we know it and it will dramatically change the way we develop new business.

Agencies that weather the storm will be the ones that:

  • Differentiate themselves from their competition
  • They have narrowed their focus by either their target audience, category or discipline
  • Have realized they will not appeal to everyone, but within their target group they will have strong appeal
  • Clearly articulate who they are and how they benefit their target audience
  • Are digitally ready and comfortable with new media
  • Have a blog, and understand how to use social media to build relationships
  • Have a large online footprint positioning their agency where it can be easily found online by their target audience
  • Do for themselves what they do for their clients, having a sustainable new business program that fully utilizes new media to promote themselves

Additional Reading:

photo credit: jeffsmallwood via photopin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Another great, brave post, Michael.

    There’s a lot of potential out there right now for the agencies willing to think different. The new relationships and visibility they can achieve by being different at this point in time could be huge.

    Agencies like Crispin Porter changed how agencies and many others viewed traditional media. I believe there’s an opportunity for an agency to step up and change how the world looks at social media.

  2. Thanks for the kind words and additional thoughts Kevin.

  3. Hi Micahel,

    Very good post. We here at our agency having been doing all of what you’ve listed for a number of years now, and it would be surprising to me if most agencies are not doing most of this by now. I personally think we’re now into the next generation of new and social media marketing, for new business development, from building communities to draw knowledge of your market expertise and gain confidence in prospects, to utilizing micro-targeting to reach your target on targeted social communities like linked in. And those storm clouds on the horizon…the industry has been talking about this for just about two years now, and they’re not on the horizon anymore, the storm has hit the main land…and with this economy, yes, this is the perfect storm. Hold tight.

  4. Greg, glad to hear that your agency has moved into the social media arena. It is sad but I’m finding that most small to midsize agencies are still way behind. They are not convinced that this isn’t some fad. I would hate to be in their position come 2009.

  5. Michael, fantastic insight. I especially agree with the active stance you recommend, rather than passively waiting for things to return to status quo (because that ain’t gonna happen). Your list of differentiators for surviving and thriving is right on.

  6. Sally, thank you for taking the time to comment and for the kind words. 2009 ought to be another interesting year for agency new business. Maybe more agencies will be convinced that our new business paradigm has definitely changed.

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