Study: 50% of Ad Agencies Generate New Business Through Networks and Referrals

Most ad agencies are still generating new business the old-fashioned way, networks and referrals, but there’s a way to boost those personal networks nationally.

A soon to be released survey of advertising agencies conducted by Fuel Lines, reveals that 50% of the 430 responding agencies generated new business from two primary sources last year: referrals and networking.

Agencies have long understood the importance of social networks and individual connections to generate new business. It has always been the lifeblood of small to midsize agencies.  Lots of activities went into building these personal networks to generate business within an agency’s market.

Thankfully, albeit slowly, agencies are starting to understand the potential of social media to enhance networks and referral opportunities. What will make the social media pill easier for them to swallow is to understand the multiplicity of benefits it provides:

  • You can realistically build awareness among your best target audience well beyond your geographical location. Small to midsize ad agencies can affordably build a national awareness.
  • Everyone has a desire to work with someone they know, trust and like. Social media greatly accelerates and expands networking opportunities.
  • Creating and managing social networks is more efficient online than generating networks offline.
  • It’s hard for people to socialize with an entity such as an ad agency. Social media is about people. It puts a face to the agency.
  • Even though social media is very time intensive in the beginning, as you get up to speed, it becomes an extremely efficient use of your time. You are not constantly having to chase new business.
  • Social media isn’t that complex. It’s not hard to get your head around it once you are a participant. Just remember to use your offline personal networking skills online.
  • Social media allows agencies to differentiate themselves, to be more narrowly focused and niched than they would have been comfortable with otherwise.
  • Through social media prospects have an opportunity to check under the agency’s hood, kick the tires, examine the upholstery within their own timeframe.

“You need to look at social media as a savior not a nemesis, an asset rather than a liability and time saver rather than time killer for ad agency new business.” – Yours Truly

Click on the following link to download a copy of the 2010 Advertising Agency New Business Survey

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. A well run survey Michael. The irony that so few agencies invest in self promotion/marketing continues to provide great opportunities for those that do. I’m encouraged to see the shift and look forward to seeing more from our industry.

  2. Thanks Dave. The last time I talked with Todd Knutson he said Catapult was having a good influx of new business. Congrats! Let’s catch up soon.

  3. Great article. So true that when you trust people you are more likely to do business with them. I am not at L7 Creative in San Diego, and my switch from my other agency happened by forging a relationship with their CCO via social media. I am a testament to this article.

  4. Michael Gass says:

    Thanks for sharing how it has worked for you Steven.

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