It’s a new year– time for renewal, reflection and looking forward to a better future!

Advertising Agency New Business Resolutions

Stop doing bad things. Or else…

As part of that process it’s helpful to review this past year and think about what worked and what didn’t. Time for some New Year’s advertising agency new business resolutions! After all, a New Year’s resolution is a challenge to achieve one or more goals. Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self-assessment and repentance that demands honesty.

But sometimes it’s not about what you need to start doing; it’s really about what you need to stop doing that’s important.

6 things agencies should stop doing right now:

  1. STOP thinking you can control or slow the pace of change. Any attempt to control it flies in the face of reality. It can’t be done. Stop reacting and stop trying to manage what can’t be managed. Instead, focus on what you can control. Agencies can dictate the pace of change only by getting out ahead of it. Clients spend big money making sure their firms operate the fastest, quickest, smartest way they can. Take a page from their book and focus energy on building a better marketing firm that is faster, more effective, and more responsive.
  2. STOP trying to be everything to everybody. Too many marketing firms are focused on the past where a great ad agency was defined by being “a full-service agency that offers outstanding creative!” Those days are long gone. Your agency needs a brand that is current and memorable, and you have to offer strong proof that shows what you stand for– what is important to prospects. Do you know? Reinforce your efforts by getting all your resources, including the agency website, in congruence behind the agency’s brand. Make sure your agency location is identified, has strong curb appeal, and your space is propped for a tour that supports the agency’s brand. And most importantly, make sure your agency’s brand is clear and projected in all of its new business materials.
  3. STOP waiting for the phone to ring. Client churn is at an all time high, but your phone isn’t ringing off the hook… Why? You must be active and reach out. Constantly. Many ad agencies have no formal new business system in place, and any new business activity is sporadic. The result is agency growth is slow, staff interest is mixed, and management frustration with new business is high. All leads are from “over the transom” and you have no system in place to generate leads. The phone never rings because prospects haven’t heard of you. You haven’t reach out to them, contacted them, built a relationship with them. Prospects don’t know you’re interested in them. Or prospects think your firm is not a good fit based on an old brand long out of date. Resolve to have regular outreach to your prospects. Move to have all of your prospects in a strong CRM program so you can track and maintain contact with them. Hold an annual reception and make sure you have a strong publicity program in place. Consider holding a supplier open-house to get your brand message out in the market. The best advice we can offer is make sure you have a full-time person to build relationships with prospects full-time.
  4. STOP treating prospects the same way. Each prospect is different: different values, different world views and different ways they make decisions. If you often find yourself not making the final presentation set, if what seems like strong a relationship doesn’t turn into a solid prospect, or if you come in second on key pitches, you have a chemistry problem. Other symptoms include poor client retention, and your superior creativity, strong marketing and solid experience are not winning accounts. Start profiling all clients and prospects. Winning agencies change their presentation strategy to fit the profile of the prospect. Control the chemistry from the first meeting through to the final presentation. Build a comfort zone for prospects early in the relationship. After all, we all know the “birds-of-a-feather” rule. So if you treat all prospects the same way, then the only birds that will flock to you are the ones exactly like you.
  5. STOP sending proposals and presenting. The ability of your agency to successfully respond to a prospect’s show of interest is critical in understanding how best to win the account. Too many agencies have no idea how to handle prospect interest. Do you send proposals on a regular basis without positive action resulting? Or end up doing a “capabilities presentation” with little or no follow-up? If your “First Visits” with a great prospect generates no action and the prospects show little interest in proceeding, then you need to change. Your ability to handle the first interview with a prospect is the key to winning. It’s better to focus on building trust when you see a prospect. Limit your presentations of samples or case-studies and focus on sharing your competency story in a trust-building way. Keep the time talking about yourself short and powerful. Remember, less is more at this stage. The most successful agencies have a solid first visit strategy and know how to return with solutions to win the account. The simplest path is often the right one – as long as you stay focused on winning.
  6. STOP being tactical. The line between strategic and tactical was once open and fluid, where ideas, staff, and agencies could freely roam up from one to another. Today, much of the strategic work done by a traditional agency is for new business, or for “free” just to win or keep the account. Very little advertising revenue these days would be considered strategic. Management, branding, marketing consultants and research firms have all moved to fill what was once the purview of traditional agencies. As a result revenue on the strategic side continues to grow faster than tactical – but agencies are being blocked as they are “creative” or tactical. Take a page from the consulting firms and understand how to be more strategic. Challenge the management consultants with better processes, procedures, methodologies and tools. Build a consultancy around packaging “Business Building Ideas” with outstanding deliverables. Better reports. Better communication skills. Better results.

You’ve enjoyed a long and, we hope, relaxing holiday break. Now it’s time to focus on your agency plans for the New Year. It’s time to make the changes needed to support your vision. One last reminder: the sign of a highly successful marketing firm is its willingness to move beyond methods that are currently working well, with the expectation of discovering something even better. So stop doing the “same-ol’-same-ol’” and focus on making some resolutions for the new year! Cheers to another chance for us to get it right!

Sanders Consulting Group has for over 30 years helped over 5,000 agencies as the leading new business consulting firm. Working with some of the best managed agencies on the globe and selected as the new business training provider to the largest agencies in the world. We show you how to win, not just play the game.


Photo by ~Luria-XXII