Soon it will be a New Year, time for some renewal and focus on agency’s goals.

New business goals ad agency winter dream

Use this time of year to think, carefully and persistently, about your agency’s growth and where you want to be next year.

Most agency leaders have a hazy idea about their agency goals and objectives for the New Year. Some may even hold a planning session to set tangible goals. However, many have more questions than answers on what tangible new business activities they should target.

Think back to last year around this time. Think about what was planned and what was achieved? How much did the agency grow? With the power of hindsight what could have been done differently? What worked, what didn’t work and why?

Here are a few tips to help agency leaders set some New Year goals, plan them effectively and carry them out successfully.

  1. Establish SMART (Specific Measurable Assignable Realistic Time based) Goals: New business doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be extremely frustrating if agencies don’t plan properly. Most new business plans fail because agencies never put in the effort to properly plan. Or they create overly complex initiatives that will never be followed. This most often happens because agency leaders don’t understand new business and focus on the wrong things. Our advice, start small and establish habits that contribute to your growth. Establish a robust list of prospects that match up with your agencies brand and you know you can do great work for. Put into place a simple mechanism that will reach out to everyone on the list (what we call nudging) multiple times a year. Follow up each nudge with a warm call. Leave a nice message and never ask for a call back. Set a goal to build your agency brand (and make sure you have a clear brand) through blog posts, white papers, talks, conferences, and great content. No matter what, keep the activity up.
  2. Get Everyone on the New Business Bus: Employees must be involved in new business, after all it is the lifeblood for agencies. Everyone has stake in the game. Leaders, managers, staff, all employees must walk the talk. Everyone can help build and reinforce the goals of the agency through their actions. Set specific goals and make sure to review progress on a regular basis. However, it’s difficult to hold people accountable for new business if you don’t provide leadership, guidance and training. Do so. Make sure you have tools that support new business efforts: to do list, database, goal reporting and more. Provide focused new business training to help everyone in the agency understand the importance and rules for successful growth.
  3. Grab the Low Hanging Fruit: Keep your clients happy, and leverage your relationships for more growth. Many agencies have a difficult time managing client’s expectations. They don’t understand them, they’re not sure how to measure them, and they don’t use them as a growth strategy. It is vital agencies under promise and over deliver. This way you build a bank of goodwill that you can leverage later to get truly game changing work through, or access to greater opportunities and new relationships. Be sure to take in a steady stream of business building ideas, at least one a month, and keep the focus on moving up the strategic ladder. Set up a simple, easy to follow organic growth plan for top clients, the ones with great potential or that can open up new opportunities. And make sure everyone understands the importance of client retention and growth.
  4. No Money, No Action: It’s really quite simple – if an agency is not willing to invest in growth (throwing money at pitches doesn’t count) and establish a detailed budget for consistent new business activity, then the agency is not serious about growth. Budget for website and content development, outreach, interesting mailers, and most importantly, time for the staff to execute the new business plan. Include time allocation for the agency to develop great content that can be used on many platforms and channels. Dedicate some staff time to monitor all media looking for great content, client activity, potential prospects, and emerging trends. It’s important to place a value on new business if the staff is going to be involved. Most agencies are running a tight ship, that’s a given. But agencies that are serious about growth are willing to give up something to keep the new business machine running.
  5. Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way: There are a few agency leaders that that truly understand new business. They take control and drive the process – they run new business as if the very survival of the agency depends on finding new clients. It does. There are a few leaders that recognize they don’t have that skill, so they must do something different. Some end up handing off the role of New Business Driver to someone who has the focus, skills and energy to be successful. No matter what is done, understand that someone at the agency must be in charge of agency growth. Key reminder, do not be one of those leaders who swoop in at the last minute and try to put their thumbprint on everything. Give the New Business Driver room to execute, stand back and simply measure the results: leads, wins, hits, etc. If the plan is not working, then you can make some changes. Never be a backseat driver. Create a new business plan with actionable items, and stick to the plan.

New Business Starts at the Top

The staff is looking to agency leaders for direction, inspiration, and growth. With this in mind we recommend that every agency should execute a DayOne planning session to understand the secrets and tactics of agency growth and develop a strong plan moving forward. The overall objective of investing a little time and effort into the agency is to create a new business strategy that everyone can buy into. And fix new business once and for all.


Great winter photo by Jelle and used under creative commons