16 Systems to Simplify Ad Agency New Business

systems for ad agency new business

Every agency needs detailed methods, procedures and routines for consistency and success in new business.

Small to mid-size agencies have common problems when it comes to new business:

  • They often excuse their inconsistency by being the cobbler’s children who have no shoes. It’s time to visit the shoe store! Acknowledge the importance of new business and put forth the necessary effort for real success.
  • Reactionary instead of a progressive approach for new business. They tend to bounce from one new business activity to the next with no cohesive structure. Business development needs to be organized and systematic.
  • ADD (attention deficit disorder), easily distracted from their focus on new business. It takes commitment and discipline, especially when an agency is busy, to create a new program that consistently produces results.

Business development doesn’t have to be so difficult. With a little forethought and the creation of simple steps and procedures, you can create systems that will make it much easier.

Here are some suggested systems that will help you to create a consistent new business program:

  1. Agency Directories: Identify the directories that your agency should be included in. Set the times to update each throughout the year, at least quarterly.
  2. Agency Tours: Often overlooked, the agency tour is a strategic new business tool with a little planning and training. This is a great way to share your agency’s story with prospects who visit the office or to those that would like to take a virtual tour.
  3. Cold Calls: If you must do cold-calling, at least create a system for “warm calls.” Create a system by knowing which prospects to call, set regular times to make calls and a program to record information from those calls.
  4. Collateral Materials: Set the time to review and update collateral materials. Simplify the creative process so that materials are available in advance instead of being created on the fly.
  5. Conferences and Events: A system should be in place to help make strategic decisions on what conferences, seminars and events should be attended and who from the agency will attend, what goals will be accomplished, etc. This should be done prior to the agency’s calendar year and part of the new business budget.
  6. Creative Samples: If your agency doesn’t have a sample room you should create one and have a system in place to maintain and add to your agencies creative library of materials to be used for new business. A system should be implemented to automate the process of organizing existing creative and adding new creative to your library in the quantities needed, and how samples will be used.
  7. eMail: A system is needed for creating eMail campaigns for new business, capturing leads, building data bases, metrics, etc.
  8. Identifying and Qualifying prospects: A lot of time and energy is wasted on chasing the wrong prospects. A system should be in place that simplifies how you will identify qualified prospects, creating and maintaining data bases, updating information and how information is shared.
  9. New Business Data Base: Most agencies have an antiquated new business data base that is usually made up of a large hodge-podge of prospects. Think through how you need to create a system to build your data base and the resources that will be needed to maintain it or what services may need to be outsourced.
  10. New Business Leads and Referrals: A majority of new business leads are wasted because there is no system in place for followup.
  11. Printed Newsletters: It is an arduous task for agencies to create their own newsletters. They tend to over-think and over-create them. A system should be created that would make this process easier, limiting the number of persons involved, creating an editorial calendar and systems for editing and production, etc.
  12. Promotions and Publicity: Sporadic PR is a lot like sporadic exercise – it’s better than none at all, but not nearly as effective as when there’s a consistent effort. It’s no accident that some agencies get more ink and air time than others. They have a system in place for PR. If your agency is lacking PR capabilities you should consider outsourcing your efforts. Don Beehler is a PR specialist for creating new business opportunities for small to midsize agencies.
  13. RFPs: These responses shouldn’t be a numbers game, especially for small-to midsize ad agencies. Every agency needs a “simple” system to qualify which of the RFPs they should respond to and have a system in place for their development.
  14. Search Consultants and Procurement Officers: A system to keep up awareness and create relationships among search consultants and procurement officers.
  15. Social Media Marketing: Is now a key part of agency new business. If you’ve been a reader for any length of time of Fuel Lines, you know that I strongly advocated a system that will give top of mind awareness for key people within the agency 24/7. Without a system and a clear objective for new business agencies wont have much success creating new business opportunities.
  16. Website Updates: Most agencies that I know are in a perpetual state of redesigning their websites. The website is among your most important new business tools and those charged with new business need to push for a system to keep the site fresh with new work and information regarding the agency’s credentials and capabilities.

The use of a program such as Basecamp, an excellent, inexpensive, online project management tool to help implement systems for new business.  Set milestone dates, create an feasible To-Do List, keep track of who is doing, what, when, etc.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

photo credit: seier+seier via photo pin 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.


  1. Neilan Tyree says:

    Bingo. What you just said.

    If I could JUST insert this into my own prospective agency leader clients’ heads… Heh heh heh.

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