We all know that on January 1, the gyms will be filled with people earnestly making a commitment to get in shape. The same holds true for advertising agencies. The difference between the agencies that struggle and those that grow is how committed and strategically aligned they are to execute, and how well they follow through until the year’s end. And we know this is going to be a special year.
All indications point to a pro-business pro-growth year, and that is good news for agencies. In my most recent survey, 36% of advertising agency owners plan to increase their time and attention to improving their business development success by adding staff, investing in technology and hiring outside experts to help. Will you be in the 36% who grow, the 34% who miss their quota, or the 30% holding down the status quo?
The survey shows that many agency leaders want to put more time and effort into their business development program. I hear it over and over again. And again, the next year and the next. If there was ever a time to go from thinking to doing, this is it. The opportunity will be greater as budgets increase and marketers look for new ways to improve their results agencies of every type will see the increased demand. But who will capitalize on it? Just like your clients, you must try new ways to engage and win. Talking about it won’t help. Stop procrastinating and just do it.
We all have the tendency to swing for the fences. We get excited about reinvesting our time and talent into new business and with renewed confidence, we swing hard. Unfortunately, a home run strategy works only for a rare few. Play Moneyball instead. Try for a single and then another. As in the book, the big money teams can afford the best talent and the home run hitters. Your goal should be to focus on the opportunities that are much better suited for the agency and therefore easier to win. Wins create momentum, boost confidence, inspire the team. Winning creates the perception of vibrancy, energy and success, qualities that attract attention and interest and get press. Batter up.
Ask for help
Developing a strategy and implementing a process to leverage your relationships is the easiest way to get new business. Don’t be reluctant to ask your connections for help. The value you bring to your current clients; increased customers, more revenue, stronger brands, are valuable to any business. Your friends, colleagues, past clients, already know what you can do. Put in the right context; they are doing a great service to their friends who have business challenges by introducing you. You are likely to be the solution they seek. It’s only a matter of how they frame the introduction, and that can only start if you ask for help.
Get everyone involved
As Philip Kotler said, the sales department isn’t the whole company, but the whole company better be the sales department. Everyone at the agency has personal connections, past clients, and friends who are involved in businesses of every size and shape. Friendly referrals are the richest sources of new business. Leveraging agency employees as agency advocates multiplies your network and reach. With a little bit of coaching, scripting, and some light-hearted role-playing, you can turn those holiday parties, cook-outs, happy-hours into lead-generating opportunities. Legitimate leads may be few and far between, but when they do occur, the friendly referral that brought them makes it far more likely to end in your favor.
Plan your work. Work your plan
The number one reason why new business efforts fail is that agencies fail to work their plan. Like the gym in January, agencies rededicate themselves to agency growth and things happen along the way that takes your time and attention off the ball. You must make sure that your plan includes the built-in time that can’t be taken away. I know that is easier said than done however growing agencies value business development time above all else and they make sure that they incorporate business development time in their planning and contingencies. If you think about your agency as your best client and make decisions as you would for your other clients, you will find the time to work your plan. 24 inspiring quotes to keep you moving.
We are entering unprecedented times for agencies. More marketers will change agencies than in the past couple of years. More companies are optimistic about future growth and will spend accordingly. Now is the time to be bold about your new business activity. Be bold about how you engage. Be bold about what you offer and how you communicate. Leverage all your resources, your connections, and your network. This could be your year to turn the status quo upside down. But that all starts with you. Be bold.
Time is more valuable than money
In 2018, time is more valuable than anything else. Your time, your prospect’s time, your CEO’s time, your agency’s time. Use it most wisely to win business by committing to these New Year's resolutions. In my agency leaders survey, 36% of advertising agency owners plan to increase their time and attention to improving their business development success by adding staff, investing in technology and hiring outside experts to help. Will you be in the 36% who grow, the 34% who miss their quota, or the 30% holding down the status quo?
If you want to make the new year your best year ever, email me or spend some time on my website www.jheenan.com to get more tips on ad agency growth. If you liked this post and want more new business advice delivered to your inbox sign up for my monthly newsletter. #LetsGrow!