Ad Agency New Business: The Cobbler’s Children Still Need Shoes


Despite an endless supply of easy-to-follow tips designed to put you on the road to new business success, your firm may be one of many continuing to put its own work last by prioritizing client activity and postponing agency needs until they become urgent. How can you change this pattern?

After decades of working with marketing firms (of all specialties and sizes) we offer two maxims which have consistently helped our clients succeed.

1.  BUDGET don’t barter

2.  HIRE don’t appoint

Chances are you have been through an agency rebranding or two aimed at refining your position to sharpen appeal and generate new business.  Perhaps staffers were appointed to assume “new business” roles and all “free time” was proclaimed to be “new business time”. Lists were generated, mailers conceived and social calendars formulated. Everyone appeared to be onboard.

What happened next?

Probably little or nothing …and time passed.

But then, maybe you got a referral or an existing account blossomed. The storm passed and you shelved the endeavor…until the next dark clouds arrived.  Like the cobbler's children, you still lacked a basic requirement to ensure the long-term health of your agency.

Don’t kid yourself. Creating a successful business development program is a full-time, multi-pronged endeavor. With hundreds of firms competing for the attention of your top prospects, mounting a last minute, part-time effort is about as effective as spitting into the wind. Furthermore, as inbound marketing tactics continue to gain momentum, agencies can expect the “barter” approach to be even less effective as marketing channels overflow with the content of competing “experts”.

And whom you hire also matters.  Business development is a skill and a specialty. It’s not the secondary job of an under-utilized account person who would rather spend their time elsewhere.

So, when is the best time to make this person and program investment?

When you are BUSY.

Allocating resources in good times allows you to focus on pursuing the accounts you want. It frees you from desperate selling tactics, resulting in project work with less than desirable prospects. It also provides the opportunity to build and nourish a true expertise.

Take the time to do it right. Plan your program for the long term and hire the right individual or resource when times are good. It will give you the freedom to CHOOSE the business you want and strategically plot the logical evolution of your firm.

Stop going barefoot. Treat your agency like its best client and outfit yourself for the inevitable winter ahead.