Ad Agency New Business Talent Becoming Harder to Come By

ad agency new business talent

A lot of people who led new business programs in the past don’t know how to do it now.

The job of ad agency new business directors is becoming very difficult and complex. A significant paradigm shift is taking place that impacts how ad agencies acquire new business and the knowledge and skills new business rainmakers need to make it happen:

  • According to a recent CMO survey, 80% of decision makers say they found the vendor, not the other way around.
  • Client reviews in recent years have generally become more complicated, given the expanding marketing needs of clients.
  • Agencies generally are having to reinvent themselves for the digital age and how they market that to prospective clients and consultants has changed.
  • A lot more of new business begins with the RFP-driven processes
  • The initial new business engagement is often with procurement executives
  • Ever changing targets and turnover. Over 50% of client relationships lasting less than two years and the average CMO tenure 27 months
  • SEO is now a critical part of new business strategy. According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web.
  • Having a working knowledge of social media isn’t even an option any longer. Social media is now mainstream and greatly affects the way agencies promote themselves.

“It’s just such a hard position to fill,” said Michael Zuna, New York managing director at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, “The Mad Men-rainmaker days — that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s a tough job.”

According to a press release by Reardon Smith Whittaker (RSW), nearly 85% of agencies continue to hire new-business development personnel internally hoping that “this hire will be the right hire.” Yet the vast majority in that position are gone within 18 months.

Why is new business talent becoming harder to find?

  1. Agency leaders say that the job has become difficult to cast and searches for new business talent is taking much longer.
  2. There are fewer persons that aspire to the job. It is often considered to be a “cul-de-sac” agency position.
  3. The turnover rate is very high.
  4. Expectations for new business is often outlandish.
  5. The current talent pool seems to be very shallow.

With all of the difficulties in finding new business talent, it is still an important position for agencies to fill and deserves priority attention.

Why is it critical for agencies to fill this position?  Primarily because of their notorious inability to sell themselves. Agencies desperately need an expert/specialist in the mechanics of new client acquisition, someone who has the sole focus and capabilities to bring “life-giving” new business to the agency.

A good resource for locating agency new business talent that I would highly recommend is Talent Zoo. A number of agencies that I’ve worked with have utilized their services. You can also follow them on Twitter @talentzoojobs

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photo credit: benluckman 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.

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