Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business


Obviously I am being very facetious.  Most agencies would die for new business.  It boosts their reputation, helps their recruitment, and elevates the agency’s energy and enthusiasm.  Never mind the financial ramifications.

But New Business is also their heroin, and like all drugs, it clouds their perspective and reasoning. Like Leonard Cohen wrote, “Johnny Walker Wisdom running high at closing time.

I have had a long career successfully developing New Business at agencies across North America. I have also conducted agency searches for clients such as Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets. During those reviews and others I started keeping a journal of the mistakes that agencies were making and that turned into a presentation that I have presented to many AAF Chapters called Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business. The stories aren’t invented, they were created by agencies.

In most cases agency people are incredibly smart and interesting people but New Business makes them stupid.  When I did the review for Villeroy & Boch, a company marketing extremely high end luxury brands, I had agency suggest that they had relevant experience because they worked on high end semiconductors.  I have seen agencies on the East coast spending hours chasing West Coast based clients when the client would never consider an East coast resource.

Agencies often make lots of mistakes in the beginning. They stretch to be included in a review when they are long shots and chasing a low probability opportunity.  If they get included their chances are minimal but the time and resources they waste are great.  Often they are greatly disappointed when they are cut but they should have not participated.  Spending lots of time on low opportunity understandings is not a smart New Business Strategy.  Just think of the benefits that they could achieved if they had directed that time to more high return activities like their social media presence.

I think that many agencies get misdirected because they have no New Business Plan.  They have an organic plan but not a systematic process that they pursue methodically without interruption.  They are not as disciplined with themselves as they are with their clients.

The other major mistake that agencies make is while most agencies are terrific about marketing their clients they are very poor at marketing themselves.  They explain that they are world’s best kept secret. If that was the result of their activities for their clients they would get fired and it would not be acceptable. Yet agencies have allowed it to be acceptable for them. These are not the times for cobbler’s children excuses.  Clients come and go but your asset is your agency.

Now is the time to make your agency your number one client. More to come.

Hank Blank is an agency search consultant based in Laguna Niguel, CA. He has conducted reviews for companies such as Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Bock, and Raley’s Supermarkets.  He also helps agencies with New Business Development.   You can reach him at hank@hankblank.com or visiting his site at www.hankblank.com to check out his CD called Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business.


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