Ad Agency New Business: Tips for Eliminating the Tire-Kickers

How not to waste time with unqualified prospects.

It isn’t difficult to secure meetings with prospective clients of small to midsize ad agencies. What is key is to get appointments with qualified prospects that have the proper budget and a readiness to spend money for an agency’s services.

There are a lot of prospects out there are always glad to meet to glean whatever they can from your agency for free. These are the “tire-kickers”, prospects who eat up lots of your precious time and from the get-go never intend to work with you.

One way to eliminate the “Tire-Kickers” is to have a clear call-to-action … an initial first step for any prospective client.

How do you usually begin a relationship with a new client? Do you normally conduct a market or brand audit with a new client? Turn it into your call-to-action. Price it in a way that is a great value for the prospect but helps to recover some of your agency’s time investment. Tire-Kickers usually wont be willing to pay for anything. This will help to eliminate them and provide a reasonable first step for a prospect to become a client.

4 tips for creating your ‘call-to-action’:

  1.  Define your goal. I would suggest that your objective would be for a face-to-face meeting with a qualified prospect.
  2. Keep your offering simple. Remember attention spans is fleeting online. They wont spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.
  3. Make your offering valuable to the prospect. Their takeaway is much greater than their time and monetary investment.
  4. What action. Be clear as to what action you want your readers to take. The action could be a:

*Market Audit

*Brand Audit

*Competitive Analysis

*SWOT Analysis

*Social Media Workshop

*Digital Workshop

*Strategic Marketing Plan

Prospects want to be able to read up on the details of your agency’s call to action within their own time frame. So make it easy for them to find. You can promote it on a special landing page, through your website, blog, eNewsletter, or traditional collateral print pieces.

I consistently hear from agencies, “if we can just get in front of our prospects, we have no trouble closing the deal”. We’ll here’s your chance. By using this approach for a call to action, you meet your primary objective of getting in front of qualified prospects.

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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. Great advice, Michael. I hear agencies say that all of the time too, “Our close rate is 80% when we get in front of prospects. We just need to get in front of more of them.” When we start to ask them about their lead generation and sales process, we usually find out that all of their business comes from referrals, which of course, closes at a high rate. A monkey can close a referral from a happy client.

    We make the same suggestions to agencies that you’re suggesting in your article. We ask, “What are your calls to action?” They usually just have a “contact us” form on their website and they usually just take meetings without an agreed upon goal or agenda. So, we suggest the same thing: establish a sales process where you have clear gates or steps and deliverables along the way. Doing competitive analysis or an audit of their current marketing initiatives is a good deliverable that establishes a lot of credibility. It is a big “give” to a prospect that can result in them opening up about goals and challenges, budget, timing, etc.

    That said, when agencies only have “audit” type offers on their website, they don’t usually get a lot of qualified leads through it, unless they’re doing other things online. So, we also suggest that they build what we call “top of the funnel offers” for their website, such as ebooks, webinars, worksheets that they put behind a landing page. Then, we tell them to drive traffic to those landing pages via their blog posts, social media accounts, ppc and using their email list. This helps them build and nurture their database, so that their leads are more likely to request an audit or a consultation. This helps them also increase their close rate when actually do do the audit, because all of their content establishes credibility for them.

    As far as eliminating tire-kickers, we also recommend publishing pricing and packaging of services on their website. That usually does the trick. Now, if we could only get more agencies to actually package their services right, instead of trying to be everything to everyone! Keep up the good fight, Michael! Thanks for everything you do for agencies! 🙂

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