Your agency’s new business program must be sustainable at the times when your agency is at its busiest.
To often new business development is put on the back burner until existing business decreases and a downturn begins. That creates a roller coaster effect on your agency’s pipeline of prospects which impacts agency income and causes you to accept the wrong type of client, from the wrong pool of prospects who do not fit your agency’s strengths and core competencies.
adj = able to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with minimal variation
To be consistent, any agency new business program must be “realistically” achievable within the culture and resources of the agency.
A lot of agency’s, when they start thinking about new business, are doing so when they are not busy. They should create a new business program that is sustainable when they are at their busiest.
7 tips to find time for ad agency new business, when you are at your busiest:
1. Have someone who is held accountable, who will also keep others accountable for the agency’s new business process. If “everyone” is responsible for your agency’s new business, in actuality no one is. But that doesn’t mean that others, particularly agency principals aren’t involved in the process.
2. Look for ways to simplify your new business processes. Your agency’s new business program should shut down or even slow down just because you have a couple of RFPs that have a short turn-around period or even if you have a significant new business pitch that week.
For all of your agency’s new business activities such as RFP responses, direct mail, phone calls, social media marketing, etc, always invoke the K.I.S.S. principle. It isn’t rocket science, so keep everything simple so that it is sustainable even during your agency’s peak periods.
3. Keep reporting to a minimum. I know of some agencies that overburden the person that is charged with new business with lots of detailed reporting on the persons daily or weekly activities. Don’t hold them accountable for the activities, hold them accountable for results. In the end that is what they are judged on anyway.
4. Keep meetings to a minimum. Don’t tie up your new business person(s) with meaningless meetings.
When I served as VP of new business for a regional ad agencies, we moved our new business staff to a quiet floor of the agency that no one else occupied. We didn’t get roped into the plurality of meetings that were being held throughout the day. This kept us out-of-site and out-of-mind so that we could stay focused on generating results for new business.
5. Create a support group. Involve junior level staff, interns and/or persons working remotely to carry out a lot of the “grunt” type new business work. There are many activities that don’t make financial sense for a new business executive to be doing on a daily basis. It isn’t smart business for their time to be used for some new business tasks.
6. Outsource services where it is appropriate. An example of a service that could be outsourced could be the agency’s prospective client database. A lot of agency’s tell me about their data base of prospects. But most of the time, this type of a database is just a bunch of names and contact information gathered from lots of different efforts and sources. But there usually no one that is maintaining and updating the data because of the tremendous amount of time that it takes.
A midsize ad agency, outsourced their own PR for new business, even though they had a PR department. They found that outsourcing the service provided more accountability and consistency. “You can be sure it’s no accident that some agencies get more ink and air time than others. It’s because they have an intentional, ongoing effort to get their names in the marketplace, and they have made PR a priority” – Don Beehler, PR Consultant.
7. Maintain focus. Part of the excitement and also frustration of working within the agency environment is that it face paced and constantly changing. But this kind of environment makes easy to get sidetracked and wastes lots of time. And it will happen particularly if your new business program lacks focus.
To have focus, it is imperative that you create a simple new business plan and ritualistically work it. It must be the person responsible for new business to keep it headed in the right direction. Strategic, not reactionary. Plan the work and work the plan. It is that simple.
Additional articles that may be of interest:
- The Top 10 Social Media Questions Ad Agency Clients are Asking
- IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it
- Twitter List: 500+ Advertising Agencies on Twitter
- The Top 100 Social Brands of 2009
- Ad agency having explosive new business growth by leading with social media