How Agencies Can Win More New Business


I have conducted the Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets agency reviews and also spent years developing successful New Business programs for agencies.

These are my perspectives from being on both sides of the street so to speak.  As an agency review consultant I have seen countless presentations.  I have seen what works and what doesn’t and what clients respond to.  I have seen long shot agencies make it to the finals because they showed more passion, worked harder and were smarter.

There are three stages in agency reviews.  Getting invited, the dance and the altar.  I have already blogged and written often about the need for agencies to be very easy to find and connect with.  Many have challenges in that area. info@ doesn’t work these days.

The next stage I call the dance. This is where the client and I visit a medium list of agencies for presentations, agency tours, chemistry checks, and meeting the people that would be involved on the business etc.

Want to win more New Business this year?  It is simple.  Treat the initial meeting like the finals.  I have seen agencies that were perceived to be long shots make it to the finals based on the passion they distributed during the initial meeting.

So here is some advice for agencies.  First, treat the prospect like a client. From the first time you hear from them find reasons to interact with them.  This helps build chemistry and gives the client the perception you are already involved with their business.  Checking the Linkedin profile of your contact gives you lots of content for connectivity.  Make the discussions initially very business focused and not just trivial housekeeping questions.

Secondly show sweat equity.  The agencies that treat the initial meeting like a meet and greet and opportunity for an agency tour and a chance to review the agency’s general capabilities presentation don’t go very far these days.  The agencies that move on are the ones that have turned their board rooms into war rooms and have the walls covered with store tour photos, competitive ads, the client’s advertising history, preliminary positioning options, and initial research move on.  If you are just going to go through the motions that day pull out of the review.  You will not create a good reputation for your agency.

Set the bar.  Focus your entire efforts on setting such a high bar that you will be the front runner.  Outwork the other agencies.  Go farther. Do more. Dig more.  Think harder. Demonstrate your creativity with your insights and your approach to their business.  When we visited a number of agencies during the Jenny Craig review many of their staff members had gone on the Jenny Craig diet.

Agencies often ask me what the order of the presentations is.  They say they don’t want to be at the beginning because they think they will be forgotten.  If you think you will be forgotten you don’t have a very memorable presentation. Memorable presentations aren’t forgotten.  Agencies got lost in the sea of sameness, not a sea of distinction.

Rehearse and then rehearse again.  Make sure you have a client team not people who have just met each other that morning.  Remember that clients have ears.  We have met with agencies and when they are getting themselves set up I hear things like, “Oh, you are the direct response person.  I have heard your name.  Nice to meet you.”

In closing also remember that New Business has nothing to do with advertising.  New Business is about theatre.  Do not sit down presenting.  Use the room as your stage.  Clients want to be informed but they also want to be entertained and engaged with passionate, well rehearsed presentations.

So treat the prospect like a client and treat the initial meeting like the finals and your New Business efforts will thrive.

Besides conducing agency searches, Hank also helps agencies build effective New Business programs.  He frequently speaks to AAF Chapters on Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business and Networking Your Way to New Business.  You can contact Hank at

He has two CD’s on his site about New Business Development that has helped many agencies win more New Business.


One thought on “How Agencies Can Win More New Business

  1. Well said Hank. We hear horror stories from clients about shops they’ve taken the time to visit only to find arrogance or an attitude as if to say, “Well, now that you’re here, give me the business”. It’s a courtship and just like selecting a mate you want feel wanted, you want to feel that they actually care about you and your business and you want feel like you’ll really enjoy working with this group of people. If you can’t present an honest interest in the client, the people and their business in an initial meeting, don’t bother opening the front door. Our clients return and refer because we treat them as we would like to be treated – partners and friends. We work hard to make our direct client contacts look like heroes in their respective jobs and that shows from the very first meeting.

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