Don’t Cap Your Ad Agency’s New Business Pipeline


An ad agency’s new business pipeline isn’t something you can just turn on and off. It needs to continually flow, constantly generating leads.

While there are different approaches to successful agency new business development programs, they are made up of some common building blocks. The first secret to a new business program is getting started. The second secret is developing a new business program that your agency can consistently execute and sustain.

As you create a new business plan for your agency you should think in terms of “what is sustainable when our agency is at its busiest”.

Many well-intentioned plans are often derailed by success. When the agency starts to get busy the new business program is put on the back-burner. This creates a roller coaster effect for new business. Your new business pipeline often takes 3 to 4 months to begin generating leads so it is very inefficient to turn it on and off like a spigot.

Often, when your agency is beginning to get busy with new business, it is the best time to step-up your efforts.  What agency wouldn’t want to be in the position of being able to turn away business. To be more selective of the type of client accounts your agency is willing to accept.

To be consistent, any agency new business program must:

1. Be realistically achievable within the culture and resources of the agency

Set realistic goals. There are a lot of agencies, when asked what are their new business goals will say, “we want to double in size” or “we want to take our agency to the next level”. This aren’t realistic goals unless you have a plan and that plan will be dependent upon what resources of time, personnel and budget that are available for implementation.

2. Have a manager who is held accountable for its execution

If everyone is responsible for your agency’s new business then no one is responsible.

Someone must be accountable, have the authority and ability to drive it. There’s a lot of pushing, prodding and poking that must be done to keep the new business program working. Someone must be responsible for keeping it focused and on track.

3. Top management must be intimately involved in the process

No one in the agency feels the pressure to succeed more than the agency principals. Like it or not, they are the face of the agency. Their involvement is important for new business and they shouldn’t shy away from this responsibility. To maintain consistency, new business, must be a priority in their daily responsibilities.

  • Mandate that your agency has an integrated new business plan. Unbelievably, 62% of agencies don’t have a planned new business effort.
  • Define your agency’s positioning. This is the starting point for any ad agency new business program. It is a fundamental prerequisite for small and midsize agencies. But it is also the place where most agencies where most fail. Positioning is everything.
  • 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.
  • Resolve to stay the course. New business efforts are relational and take time to come to fruition.

Some additional articles that may be of interest:


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. Your advice is very apt for small to large agency environments where the agency principal’s often play a key role in all things biz dev.

    After years of business development in the creative industry I can say that gearing your program to a sales prospects needs first, and ‘working back’ from a successful closing of deal, account or pitch will set up an highly efficient business development program and make most of a small or mid-size agency’s resources.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Peter Freer

  2. Thanks Peter. I like your new blog:

    Nicely done!

  3. Michael – thanks for the nod. Note the links tab 🙂
    – peter

  4. Very kind of you Peter. Thanks.

  5. But a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great design .

%d bloggers like this: