Reaching out to prospects should be the centerpiece of any ad agency’s new business activity.

new business support

Going the extra mile… wins.

New business outreach should drive the allocation of resources — not just budgets but the use of time and materials as well. All too often, agencies fail to properly support outreach. But what type of support is truly needed?

The goal of any outreach program is to build agency awareness and relationships with prospects. The success of the program should be measured by the number and quality of opportunities created. If you’re not tracking your leads, start now! If you’re not running a strong outreach program, start now!

New Business Outreach Support:

List: Proper outreach support always starts with having an outstanding prospect list. Everyone knows to build their list around established criteria and category experience – that’s a given. But take the time to truly invest in creating a viable list of qualified prospects. There’s nothing worse than discovering after all the hard work of creating awareness and relationships that you really don’t want to work with this particular prospect.

Brand: You need to have a compelling competency story. First impressions are critical—it is the most significant time to get your point across. The challenge for any agency is communicating a lot of information within a short period of time in a cogent, logical and most importantly, compelling way.

Direct: An effective and often forgotten way to introduce your agency and to start the relationship building phase of outreach is to use direct mail, something that the prospect will notice and is relevant to their industry and needs. Create a simple mailer that generates awareness about your agency and gives you the chance to reach out and start the relationship process. Worthless if you don’t follow up with a warm call. And follow that up with a nice note.

Nudge: It’s also important to support the outreach effort with great content: articles, white papers, book reviews, infographics and the like that support the agency’s brand and positioning. Well-presented topical general information also helps. Another great mailer to organize is the invitation to an agency reception for prospects – never at your agency, but at some great local event where you can have a reception booth and invite prospects to stop by. In addition, you should plan on hosting an open house for the local vendors, media and trade reps and send out invitations.

Proof: It always shocks me at how so many agencies create great brochures for their clients, yet fail to have one for the agency. Every agency should have a basic “Send Me Something” brochure – something tangible, real, that they can touch. Many prospects will brush off your outreach efforts the first few times – they’ll ask if you could just “send me something?” It’s very handy to have a tangible item that you can send as follow up. Not a PDF, not a landing page, something they have to touch, see, and must handle. This helps in building relationships, trust, and proves you’re a real firm with the ability to produce something.

Personal: Never forget the all important personal touch. Follow up every contact with a personal call, a note, or a letter. The investment in creating a support program that delivers a personal touch enhances the creation of relationships with prospects. The person responsible for your outreach needs Monarch stationery, or a simple, dignified form of stationery, with his or her name on it. All the letters should be signed with a fountain pen. The use of a fountain pen creates a personal, almost intimate, relationship with their users. It shows that the agency is significant and that the person contacting the prospect is important. Prospects cannot see your facilities, you, your agency’s bank account, or your account list. So they judge your agency by small things such as your stationery. Plan to win this first impression with quality Monarch stationery and a powerful signature.

Kindness: Finally, the outreach effort needs some support items such as books, cards, gifts, and subscriptions to key publications. Part of building relationships is being the friend that sends that little something special. Be a good friend. If a prospect has a life changing event, respond. Some agencies establish a recommended budget of $200 – $300 per month to purchase gifts, flowers, and cards to send to prospects.

Final Thoughts.

Some may argue all this – the brochures, gifts, mailers, etc all seems so… dated. I would argue we’ve lost some of that all important human touch that build relationships. And trust. And that is what wins new business. Not to mention, isn’t it a good idea to do something different to stand out from all the competition?

If you want, or need, a steady stream of new business leads for your agency, build and support a strong outreach program. Build awareness and business relationships with a select group of high-value prospects that you can work with for years to come. Create a new business system that will run for years, generating leads on your behalf on a consistent basis. You’ll be shocked at how easy new business becomes.

Proper support of your new business outreach efforts allows you to gain control over your agency’s growth quicker and easier than you ever thought possible. Successful outreach means not having to chase RFPs, which never seem to lead anywhere. It allows you to win more accounts without having to make formal presentations. You can approach accounts where there is less competition. Building a strong outreach program, and that includes proper support, means your agency will win. And grow.


The endless road photo by Bassonvz