Based on what I have learned I have developed Hank Blank’s “Passion Approach” to New Business. It takes passion and pride to win New Business.
Here’s what I hear when I talk to agencies about New Business. Most have no plan, or a loose plan but the majority rely on an organic approach and waiting for referrals and prospect calls. Or they cold call prospects and focus on chasing strangers versus building relationships.
New Business becomes more of a priority with the loss of an account. I call that a pain driven New Business program.
Eventually after a few years the agency’s client profile is not driven by any vision or plan but by the clients that have called and the various clients that the agency landed. This often results in no agency differentiation. The New Business acquisitions are often not aligned with the agency’s core competencies and clients often tend to come and then rather quickly go.
The agencies also spend a lot of time involved in low probability chases and chasing rejection because they have no criteria for what type of clients they want besides revenue. The agencies play the quarter slots versus high probability hunting.
When clients ask for the agency’s capabilities presentation they have to reinvent it each time.
When they pitch a client they are often getting prepared at the last moment and rehearse in the car.
There are no metrics for their New Business activities.
The agency’s website is often outdated and the agency has not issued any PR for themselves. Their social media presence is rudimentary.
Ironically the agency is very disciplined with their clients and markets them well but not very disciplined with themselves and market their agency poorly.
Hank Blank’s “Passion Approach” to New Business starts with an agency discovery session to try to identify the essence of the agency’s differentiation. That essence is then translated into the agency positioning.
The next key step is to develop criteria for what type of clients the agency will accept and pursue. This must be vigilantly enforced. I met an agency in Lincoln Nebraska with 120 employees. They were very focused on clients in certain verticals and would not chase outside of that criteria. That takes discipline because we are all addicted to the drug of revenue.
Based on the criteria that has been developed the agency then identifies their “chosen few.” These are the top 20 or 25 prospects that they covet and will be focused on acquiring. This is supplemented by a nice to have list with a total of 200 to 250 prospects. This can be built over time. The list is shared internally and the entire agency shares in populating the list with contacts etc.
Next the agency’s outreach vehicles are developed. This is more than just the website. The agency should have a printed capabilities presentation. Do not think that prospects are going to print out a 40 page PDF file of your capabilities. Consider your capabilities presentation one of the agency’s most important showcase creative pieces.
Then you must develop a very aggressive PR program including releases distributed through wire services. This function should be managed by a PR professional and repurposed on your social media platforms. Your first measure of success will be when you own all 10 postings when you Google the agency’s name. I call this “Shameless Self Promotion” and it is essential today to make your agency easy to find. Remember eighty percent of clients find their partners not the other way around.
The last step is the development of the agency’s networking plan. Seventy-five percent of all business comes from relationships and subsequent referrals. Sending boxes to strangers saying you will be perfect for them is not a high opportunity New Business program. Agency principals should be the primary face of the agency and should be constantly networking.
The last step is implementing monthly benchmarks and metrics and accountability.
New Business is a tough game but you will only win with a strategically focused plan, ruthless discipline, pride and metrics. It is the only way to win today.
Besides conducting 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
He has two CD’s on his site about New Business Development that has helped many agencies win more New Business. They can be easily downloaded.