Once upon a time, there was a nice advertising agency in an important city far, far away.

new business fable

The agency had four key partners named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. The agency’s creative work was outstanding but the agency wasn’t growing.

It seemed when it came to new business, Everybody was sure Somebody was looking after it. Anybody could have done it easily but Nobody touched it.

Somebody got angry about the lack of new business growth because he thought Everybody was in charge of it. Everybody thought Anybody was looking after it. And Nobody did nothing.

The situation lasted for several years and the agency stopped growing. Some key people left for better opportunities at agencies that were growing rapidly. Then the agency’s best accounts left because of company buyouts and changes in client management.

fable for saleThe agency spiraled downward because there were no new clients to replace the ones who left. In desperation, the partners sold their firm to a large agency holding company who had to rebuild the entire operation. The partners’ buyout turned to peanuts.

To this day, Everybody blamed Somebody for the lack of new business success when Nobody did what Anybody could easily have done. And that was to fix ad agency new business forever. 

New Business Fable: Misunderstanding New Business

New business is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the ad business.

Just ask the ESA&N agency above. After all, who can dispute the importance of new business in a strategic sense – growth, after all, is life! The problem lies in understanding that we are marketing a very different product than widgets or other traditional services. This is a people business, built on relationships and trust. All of an agency’s work is a one-off, a creative idea with no substance, nothing to grab, nothing to measure, and its value is subjective.

You could be the best account service person, or designer, or brand strategist, or creative in the world. You may be able to turn people’s lives around or double the revenues of any business – but if no one knows you, if they don’t trust you, and if they don’t have a general idea on what you can do for them, you will not win.

The faster you understand this truth behind the fundamental differences between doing great advertising and new business, the closer you are to understanding how to execute a new business program. A New Business Fable we can all learn from.