Ad Agency New Business is Like Herding Cats

cat herding ad agency new business

Herding cats is now a phrase that is often used as agency-speak to describe the agency culture and how difficult it is to get them to complete tasks for themselves.

It was the theme for an award winning Superbowl commercial by ad agency Fallon.


“Herding Cats” is the best description of what its like to lead new business for ad agencies.


Agencies are great at focusing on their client accounts and providing excellent account service and creative work. But inconsistency and procrasitnation are more the norm when it comes to promoting their own agency. Most suck at it! Agencies are their own worst clients.

There are the four basic cornerstones to make your agency’s new business program much more focused and effective:

1. Someone must be responsible.

There must be the “herder” the person that keeps the process moving. If everyone is charged with new business, no one is in charge. A lot of people should have new business responsibilities but creating and maintaining a new business program should fall to one person. Preferably it should be the only “agency hat” they need to wear.

2. It must be consistent.

One of the common problems among agencies is that they tend to be very inconsistent in their new business efforts. Currently most are focused on new business because of the economy. But just let there be a little bit of success and busyness with new accounts and agencies put their new business practices on the back-burner, when they should be kicking their new business activities into an even higher gear.

3. Keep it simple.

When agencies have time on their hands, they can come up with some elaborate new business ideas, creative collateral materials to promote the agency, etc. But the efforts are sustainable when the agency gets busy and they are quickly dumped. The most effective new business programs that I have seen are effective because they are consistent, and they are consistent because they are simple to maintain, as when the agency is at its busiest. That’s why I would advocate a series of simple mailers over a more elaborate creative piece, know what a struggle it will be to get through the creative process when the agency is busy.

4. Choose a target audience.

This will not deter your agency from still obtaining “other” type of clients through your personal networks and referrals within your local market, but it will go a very long way to creating awareness, appeal, differentiation and focus for your agency’s new business program. It makes new business so much easier when you do.

photo credit: RichardBowen 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. Actually the title of this post is an eye catching for me.You have given valuable and effective basic points for Ad Agency’s new business focused.Your explanations for these points are also good.

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