How to Get Started Using Social Media for Ad Agency New Business

I’m often asked what is the very first step in developing a new business program for a small-to midsize ad agency?  To have an efficient and effective new business program you must first …

…  identify your agency’s point of difference and select a target audience.

Once this decision is made all other decisions are easy. But for the agencies that refuse to declare what they stand for and who they are trying to reach, they will constantly struggle because they try to be everything to everybody.

Trying to appeal to everyone appeals to no one.

Agencies without a declared expertise and target are generalists not specialist which means:

  • No premium pricing for agency services
  • Lack of client respect
  • Limited to acquiring new business because of location, personal networks and referrals
  • Difficultly in attracting the right kind of creative and strategic talent
  • Little if any regional awareness
  • Chasing new business instead of having new business pursuing the agency
  • Not able to attract the right type of client that best fits the agency’s core competencies
  • Acquiring new business is more speculative and expensive

If you’ve been a reader of FUEL LINES for awhile you know that I advocate that …

… agencies need to practice what they preach. They need to use the tools that they recommend their clients by using them to promote their agency.

I recommend using social media for your new business program. The primary reason why I love social media is that it “forces” small-to midsize agencies to do the things they should have been doing all along to acquire new business.

How to use social media for agency new business?

Once this initial decision is made I recommend that agencies develop a blog as the central online platform for their new business program.

For your agency’s blog to be effective you must:

  • Identify your niche and your best target audience.
  • Be transparent. The success of your audience must be more important than your own. But it goes without saying if you can help your audience with their success you will be successful.
  • Always lead with benefits rather than agency’s capabilities. It’s all about your audience. The moment you try to “sell” your agency’s services will be the moment you lose your audience.
  • Become positioned as marketing leader rather than a marketing partner. Clients want leadership not partnership.
  • Articulate and better communicate what you know. Agencies are often poor communicators. Don’t believe me? Ask any of them what they do. They can’ succinctly say without a prolonged discussion.

10 tips for the development of an agency blog for new business:

  1. Do not incorporate your blog into your agency’s website. Allow it room to breathe, grow and germinate as you interact with your online audience. You will be amazed at the rich input your audience will provide as to their challenges, needs and the messages that appeal and motivate.
  2. Blog posts should written by the agency’s principals. Prospective clients always want to know about the agency principals. How much will they be involved with their client’s accounts. Plus the agency principals are the least like staff changes within an agency. Social media is personal and you are the face of your agency. Therefore agency principals should lead the way.
  3. Keep the design simple. Utilize WordPress, TypePad, Blogger blog platforms. Remember that it’s content that is king. If you want to slooowww down the process involve your creative and digital staff!
  4. Own your domain name. If you ever want  to change platforms you can easily do so without losing traffic if you own your domain name.
  5. Before you start to write learn to listen. Identify and read other online resources that would important to your target audience. Read blogs of competitors. Subscribe to blog RSS feeds with Google Reader or the feed reader of your choice to strategize and organize your online reading.
  6. Write out a creative brief for your blog. This will provide direction for the tonality of your blog and keep you reminded to write to the benefit of a particular target audience.
  7. Outline your blog. I outlined a book and have used that outline for my blog. I will be able to reuse most of my blog content for the book, ebook, whitepapers, etc. Having an outline has been a tremendous time saver.
  8. Keep a list of blog post ideas. I’ve been writing blog posts for a year now and have well over 200+ posts published and 45 blog post drafts. I keep a Word document on my laptop’s desktop with a running list of ideas. I have over 100 potential blog post ideas.
  9. Set a goal for the number of posts to write per week. I saw a dramatic change in my blog traffic and audience interaction after I reached the first 50 posts. I encourage agency’s to get to fifty within the first sixty days. It establishes a habit for writing and helps them to find their voice.  Beyond this initial phase I encourage agency’s to keep fresh content on their blog by making it a goal to posts at least five times per week.
  10. Reuse your blog content. With over 200 posts I have lots of material to utilize through other new media tools. I’ve already mentioned that your content can be reused for books, ebooks and white papers but you can also use them for your agency’s newsletter, article marketing, microblogs like Twitter, etc.

I know that you are thinking, that is just great, something else for me to do. Please understand, using social media tools is like networking on steroids. You will be able to network with more people in one hour online than you could do within a week offline and the results will be far superior to the time you’ve invested. Prospective clients will actually call on you and when they do, the conversation is much further down the road. They’ll be ready for business.


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. Excellent points, Michael. There is a lot to consider and understand when you first start taking blogging and social media seriously. I am amazed to see the things it has done for my site traffic. Great work. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you Erika.

  3. Thanks so much for this wonderful insight for those of us in the biz. It’s cogent and to the point.

  4. You are most welcome Lee. I’m glad you find it helpful.

  5. Thanks for the pointers. There is one point that I can’t wrap my head around: “Blog posts should written by the agency’s principals.” True, the principals are the face of the company, but how many have the time to write as frequently as needed.

    And what about the voices of the employees? They are just as necessary. They are the ones who will be doing the weight of the work. They offer just as much insight and information, and a variety of point-of-views as any other.

    As a potential client, wouldn’t it be nice to know that there are other smart people at the agency and not just the principal who could be working on your business?


  6. I totally understand your point. But from a new business perspective for the small to midsize agencies, the principals have got to get their head around social media and be in a position to lead.

    I think it is fine to include other staff. But a team approach is hard to manage and keep focused, it is like herding cats.

    Also, a lot of principals are already inclined to push this responsibility to someone else and if they do, that person leaves, their equity goes right out the door with them.

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