New business isn’t advertising. In fact, new business is totally different from advertising.

dia new business

Isn’t it about time you got started on that new business program?

That’s why the typical agency president should not do new business – alone. Agency professionals just don’t have the background for devising growth plans – especially since new business rules have changed so dramatically over the last few years.

Agency presidents understand the necessity of growth all too well. Most have reviewed and studied many books that suggest that the president has to be intimately involved in new business. But the books don’t say that the president also must be intimately involved in all other aspects of the agency, such as finances, personnel, recruiting, training, client retention, quality of service, slow pays, heat, rent, light and a host of other legitimate concerns.

If you are like most agency presidents, new business seems to sink to the bottom of your “to do” list, not intentionally, but because running an agency is so very difficult. Perhaps you have delegated new business to someone who doesn’t have the drive, skills or talent needed to increase your business. This is also very dangerous.

If you are doing it yourself, a month can flash by, and the new business calls you promised to make still aren’t made. A few more weeks go by and still no substantial new business effort has been made. Sure, a few leads have been followed. Maybe a meeting or two has been completed, but there is no consistency. There is no successful pattern in place.

The new business problem is like a gorilla in your office, his eyes glowing while he sits there watching you, waiting to be fed. Little by little he sucks the joy out of your agency life.

You’ve probably looked for solutions everywhere, such as webinars, conferences, online, all to no avail. Maybe you’ve hired a so-called “new business pro” and that turned out to be a big waste of time and money. Hiring a 40-50 year old with “lot’s-o-connections” isn’t the answer. You talk with other presidents; they don’t seem to have a handle on new business either. What can you do? Do you continue to muddle along?

You’ve heard of new business consultants who specialize in helping you make a presentation, helping you position yourself against competition or training your staff on the “social media rules” of success. To you, it all seems to be a series of unconnected dots that lead to nowhere.

New business is unique. And it takes a different perspective to be successful. The following guidelines are only the beginning – but they can help get you started.

New Business a “Do-It-Yourself” Project:

  • Create a plan: Outline your goals and objectives and the necessary steps needed to achieve those goals. Write them down, and review them on an ongoing basis. Outline roles and responsibilities, resources, and specific activities.
  • Proactive outreach: Build a system that is focused on developing relationships with prospects. Your agency must demonstrate to key prospects that you’re not just interested in working with them, but you have a good understanding of their brand, industry, and challenges.
  • Prospect focused: Make sure your outreach program is prospect-focused, meaning that your message is presented in a way that your prospect can relate. Don’t talk about your agency. Key in on your prospect’s challenges and needs.
  • Allocate resources: Budget time for your ongoing new business activities. It’s worthless to your agency to have a great new business system without having proper allocation of resources. Too often the clients end up coming first and non-billable activities, such as new business, are forgotten. There is little more damaging to a new business effort than consistently starting and stopping.
  • Prospect scoring: Identify and score your top prospects. Create a prospect scoring system to help your agency focus your efforts on where you will get the greatest return. It’s no good to hunt brands that will never hire your firm for one reason or another. Stay focused on the highest value prospects – ones that fit your brand and your capabilities.
  • Nurture prospects: Many “touch points” are required to convert a prospect to a client. Ensure your new business system is built for the long haul, constantly nudging prospects with insightful and pointed reminders that you’re interested in them. And that you understand their unique challenges. Never sell. Always act with their best interest in mind.
  • Evaluate: Most effective new business systems will start to generate encouraging results quickly. Set up a system to track key metrics and data. Track how many leads you’re generating, where they come from and what are their profiles. You have to know the “lay of the land” if you are to be effective and improve over time.
  • Train your staff: Help them help you. Provide the tools and knowledge needed for them to be successful. Train your team on outreach, first visits, understanding chemistry, and presentation skills. Demonstrate to them that new business is a unique skill, different from traditional marketing, and it’s important to the long term success of your agency.

These guidelines provide your agency with an outline that will generate leads and referrals. It’s up to your leadership team to convert those leads into clients. New business is unique, and it does take time and money to make it work. But most of all it takes courage for an agency president to seek help in new business! The basics are easy enough to understand, but success only comes from a proper understanding.
© Fabrizio Troiani |