Every advertising agency knows that growing new business relationships needs to be a priority. After all, that’s how you transform a good agency into a great agency. But oftentimes, they’re so busy serving current clients that they don’t cultivate new opportunities at all — or until it’s too late.
In fact, sniffing out new business is usually a desperate move of an agency in a tight spot. Instead of creating a proactive effort, many agencies wait until they lose a big account to find new business leads. (After all, losing one major client — especially if they make up 25 percent or more of the agency’s billings — can mean an entire agency’s demise.) During this kind of last-minute rush, an agency might even have to lay off staff or make budget cuts in order to make a panicked, half-baked new business search work.
Obviously, this isn’t the right way to go about creating new client partnerships. New business isn’t just an opportunity — it should be a creative collaboration that comes from a thoughtful, inspired place. To build a process that supports successful new business explorations takes time, and it requires planning, discipline, and patience. But the rewards will keep new possibilities in your sales pipeline, and it can bring you bigger and better accounts down the road.
Here are a few ways to start building a new, smarter business process:
Pursue new business every day.
Commit to finding new potential clients — no matter how busy you are with client work. This can help your agency learn to put new business higher on the list of priorities, and it will make your search much less stressful as it becomes a daily routine.
Narrow your target list.
You already know your time is limited. So make sure you’re spending your time as efficiently as possible when you’re searching. Don’t waste time on companies that aren’t interested or don’t fit.
Stay on your potential clients’ radar for at least a year — if not longer.
Be patient and be present. A prospective company won’t take action until it needs something. The trick is to be available when that time comes. You should be one of the first agencies to come to mind when they’re looking to hire.
4. Make sure your new business program is digital.
No modern new business program will succeed without a digital component. Without a relevant web presence, you’ll have little chance of winning new business. Make sure your online assets reflect your agency, goals, and capabilities.
5. Assign new business to a specific individual.
Build a well-compensated internal team with a single leader responsible for fueling your new business efforts. A committee won’t have the same kind of impact — or results.
Activity and interest should always be growing at every stage of your sales pipeline. Why? There’s no sure way to tell when one of your potential clients may need a new agency. Rather than guessing, you should be present, connected, and helpful — all the time. Then, you’ll be the first agency to come to mind the first day a need arises.
There’s a bigger philosophy at work in this approach, too: You can’t force new business wins, and you can’t sit back and wait for them to come your way, either. There’s only one good way to succeed: Do the hard work, and
doing the hard work. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. And the best way to win is to start now, plan well, and persevere — no matter what.