If new business is the heartbeat of an agency, then new business leads are the pulse.

If your agency isn’t seeing a steady stream of prospects who are interested in changing agencies, chances are your agency’s growth cycles are all over the map, and perhaps much lower than industry averages.

Achieving successful long term growth should be the goal of any good agency. Where does your agency stack up with the common business cycles we see? What can your ad agency business development plans do to change this?

Where is Your Agency?


  • Definition: This is the curse of many marketing communication companies, usually small ones. It’s up and down, up and down. The firm wins some new business and everyone works to handle the new account and no one continues to sell. The workload slows down so the firm does more new business. New business comes in and the new business effort stops while the new account is handled again.
  • Summary: This cycle unless broken will keep your firm small.
  • What’s needed: A strong consistent new business effort that doesn’t stop when the firm gets busy. And more new business leads.


  • Definition: This is often the cycle of a new start up. The firm opens with a burst of activity and business from existing relationships. The management believes this will continue forever. Of course it doesn’t. An account or two leaves and the firm panics and scrambles trying everything to get some new business in. The management team usually doesn’t understand new business so many firms in this situation go out of business before management learns how to grow the firm.
  • Summary: This cycle usually doesn’t last long. If the firm cannot learn how to do new business, it will quickly cease to exist.
  • What’s needed: Quickly learn how to do new business the right way. And more new business leads.


  • Definition: This is the business curve for many older firms. The firm rocks along without much growth until a major account leaves and pushes the firm into emergency. What the firm should have done is concentrated on new business during the good times, investing in the future by building up new business strengths.
  • Summary: This cycle sneaks up on a firm without any warning. The danger sign is no new growth and clients that have been with the firm for a number of years. For many firms caught in this situation with an outdated brand image, recovery is often difficult.
  • What’s needed: Immediate major new business effort, perhaps re-branding and more new business leads.


  • Definition: In this cycle the firm is experiencing a long-term steady decline. Typically the firm experiences a few account wins but older ones leave. The impact is overall decline because the new accounts won are smaller than the accounts leaving so the effect is steady decline.
  • Summary: Often the agency knows how to win new business but needs help in targeting and winning larger accounts. This common cycle can usually be arrested more quickly than the other cycles.
  • What’s needed: Help in winning larger pieces of business, and improve the quality of leads.


  • Definition: This is the preferred cycle where the firm grows steadily over time, usually ahead of the industry average. This is the cycle of a firm that understands new business and has a strong new business program in place that is generating a steady stream of new business leads.
  • Summary: This cycle allows a firm to continually renew itself. The steady stream of new accounts means many new opportunities and new challenges for the staff to work on. Such a condition provides a fun place to work but it does carry some stress as the firm shifts to handle an expanding workload.
  • What’s needed: Perhaps more efficiency in new business so the firm can win more accounts with less effort (fast closing). And perhaps improve the quality of leads.

Next Steps: Breaking The Cycle

key to growth

The key is to break the cycle.

The best way to break the cycle is to install a proper new business system that puts your agency in front of one or two good prospects every week.

Option #1: DayOne (Recommended Course of Action)

  • Full-day new business planning session at the agency
  • Sort out various options and build the most effective program tailored to the agency’s needs
  • Builds management consensus behind the new business program
  • Full explanation on new business program, critical elements, projected investment, and timeline
  • Determines new business priority including more leads or presentation assistance or something else (added resources, etc.)

Option #2: Brand Retreat

  • You might not have a new business problem. You might have a brand problem
  • In one day at the agency
  • Focus on if the agency’s brand needs modifying, re-defining, or changed
  • Two to three days to get the Brand Retreat set up, one day on-site

Option #3: Spark Training

  • Two to three days on-site at the agency
  • Trains the agency’s account executive for new business on how to build awareness and create relationships
  • Sets up the timeline, defines the needed support items such as direct mail, agency brochure, and other materials

Option #4: Presenting To Win

  • Help on all new business presentations
  • High success rate at helping agencies win
  • Proven tools, tactics, and techniques that separate your agency from the competition

Option #5: Torch Training

  • Making first visits with prospects
  • How to build trust, set up for a fast close
  • Fast closing strategy, either 48-hours or 7 days
  • Sets requirements for taking on new accounts
  • Never take on a bad client again

Note: If the best option for your agency is unclear, schedule a DayOne to sort it all out so the agency doesn’t waste time or money. But the mission must be to generate more leads!