Warning: no magic formulas revealed here. The answer relies on common sense steps toward creating an infrastructure, filling it with data, and then using it with purpose and consistency. Yet, it’s not uncommon to see an agency miss or neglect a step. Which one do you tend to neglect?
It’s that time of year when big, optimistic plans to pursue dream clients and win lots of new business start to lose their luster. I get it. Stuff gets in the way...
...an unhappy or demanding client.
...an important team member goes on maternity leave.
…a large and unexpected new project.
It’s all part of running an agency, of course, but why is the pursuit of new business often the first thing to be abandoned?
Admittedly, there are a lot of factors at play here. Time management, team management, budget, lack of clarity.
I want to address another factor—unrealistic ambitions—as well as offer you a tool to manage them.
When I was on staff leading new business teams at ad agencies, I spent many an August working late nights and weekends in overly air-conditioned offices instead of enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer.
I attributed this spike in new business activity to summer vacations – not mine but the client’s. I imagined the client realizing somewhere in July that the agency search she’d planned to do that year hadn’t started yet. But if she could rally and send that RFP before her vacation started, the agencies that received it would have a couple of weeks to respond while she enjoyed the beaches of Nantucket.
Maybe you spent your summer pitching a lot of business and not resting too much – and I hope that most of those pitches ended successful—but as we move into Q4, you should be focused on two priorities. Read more.
When it comes to pitching for new business, agencies are so accommodating!
They put in late nights and give up holiday weekends. They divert their best teams from paying clients to do spec work. They put up with terrible briefs and minimal information.
Are they too willing to play on the client’s terms for the chance to compete for
I’ve identified four points in the pitch process where agencies should set their own terms, both for the sake of the future client relationship and their ability to pursue new business from other clients.
Still managing your prospects largely through Post-It notes? Relying too much on a white board (the one that your assistant just erased by mistake) to track your marketing activities?
Time for an upgrade! Check out my recommendations for five indispensable tools for agency new business. They also happen to be widely available, and most are easy to put in place so you can start using them right away.
Q4 often brings a flurry of pitch activity, known to ruin many a Thanksgiving or Christmas for the ad agency new business professional. And while all this activity helps to fill the pipeline, the timing can be unfortunate because it distracts you from tackling one of the most important things you’ll do all year: plan for 2015.
It’s well worth finding the time now, while there’s still more than two months left to the year, to put this crucial road map in place. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, so in my latest blog post, I’ll get the ball rolling for you by giving you a basic outline to follow.
I can't promise a last-minute RFP won't ruin your holiday season, but now it's a lot less likely that your new business plan will.
Adweek featured an article yesterday declaring business development the "most dangerous job" at an ad agency.
The piece raised a lot of important issues but I'm going to focus on two of them.
Assigning responsibility for a pitch can be a bit like throwing around a hot potato – no one wants to take ownership of it for very long. It’s not hard to understand why. Running a pitch can be grueling work – long hours, intense schedules, lots of moving parts, typically piled on top of someone’s day-to-day activities that already have them working at 110%.