I once worked with one of the best new business gurus in the world, and he always told me, “give me enough new business leads, and I can double the size of any agency within a year.”

winning new business

You want to be super in new business? Generate new business leads!

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

His point was simple. Most agencies focus on new business only after a lead has dropped in their lap. They never focus on how to generate those leads. New business, at its core, is about generating new opportunities, or leads. Nothing can happen until you have a lead. You can’t respond, fill out an RFP, prepare for a pitch, do research, nothing, until you have a lead. Doing anything but focusing on generating more leads for new business is like spitting into the wind – just stupid. Focus your energy on learning how to generate new business leads.

You don’t spit into the wind.

Agency leaders want to talk about every other part of new business but leads. They want to discuss: closing tactics, going on visits, setting the agency up for tours, the new business pitch, how some agency decorated their lobby to look like a airplane to win an airline account, different RFP tactics, how much to pay as incentives, and on and on. While these are all important and true, they are not nearly as important as new business leads.

You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.

Discussing all that other stuff is helpful and it’s fun. And it’s where most agency leaders are most comfortable planning, strategizing, and organizing. But they’re just spitting in the wind. And that’s a dangerous place to be. It keeps you from seeing what’s important: generating leads.

In fact, so many agency leaders are so reluctant to discuss leads, I now refer to it as “winning the opportunity.” That’s what a lead is, an opportunity. Give me enough opportunities and I can double the size of any agency in a year. Or less. And so can you.

Thoughts on Generating Leads:

  • If you cast too wide of a net when looking for prospects, you’ll come up empty. If you can’t clearly define your perfect prospect, there is no way for that prospect to identify with you or your offerings.
  • When agencies state they’re a “very strategic, full service, highly creative agency” they’re hurting new business. That’s because prospects have specific needs, and they don’t want to take a chance on an agency that may or may not be able to help them.
  • Clearly define the type of problems you solve for clients, help them help you by making it easy to understand when and where you can best help them.
  • Stand for something and you will stand out. And more prospects will reach out for your help. You will get more leads.
  • Generating leads takes work. Set up a system to push your unique set of solutions and problem-solving specialty out to prospects that fit a narrow profile.

A Simple Exercise:

Try this: take out a clean sheet of paper and outline the top 6-8 things that your agency does better than most in your market. Measurably better. And provable. Now flip the sheet over and outline what your clients really want and need from your agency. What are they really paying for? What problems are you solving for them? If it’s confusing to you, think about what prospects are seeing.

Now take that same sheet of paper and go look at your website, your last RFP, your… ugh, capabilities presentation. Do any of those ideas you outlined come screaming out at you? Are those ideas delivered in a clear, non-marketing speak, message? Or are you just spitting in the wind? You’re hoping that someone, anyone, will be able to figure out what you really do out of all your generic messages.

Generating leads requires that you are proactive and always push a consistent branded message to prospects that are looking an agency that can help them. If you don’t self-evaluate and win opportunities, generate new business leads, then any agency growth effort is like spitting in the wind.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger. And you don’t mess around with Jim.”

Jim Croce’s, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”


Photo by Xurble