Peeling the Onion of Agency New Business.


I am lucky to have a unique perspective about New Business as I began my career working on New Business at major agencies in Canada and the U.S. I have also conducted agency reviews for a number of companies including Jenny Craig, Jacuzzi, and Raley’s Supermarkets. I have seen countless presentations and see what clients react to favorably.

I have never been in a review where they clients didn’t welcome the pitching agencies perspectives and observations on the client’s business.

No matter what the brief says, if you talk about the client’s business you never get marked down.

No client ever hired me to do a review for them that didn’t have pain and need new answers.

But today Peeling the Onion of New Business takes more effort but then again what doesn’t take more effort in the New Normal.

Some Agencies sometimes think it would be premature if they talked about a client’s business without a full briefing and lots of time but New Business is about taking chances and being nimble.

Clients encounter unexpected challenges all the time from competitive threats and economic changes and they have to react quickly to solve these incoming missiles without much information or data.

To win New Business today agencies have to peel the onion to the core. That is what many agencies don’t get and maybe some aren’t willing to do.

When you see pitches from a number of agencies during a review they often arrive at the same observations. This creates a sea of sameness in their observations. That is because they only peeled a layer or two.

You see it is often not very difficult to understand the problems a prospective client has. Being outspent, the fact that all the advertising in the category is the same, being middled or whatever.

The problem is that these observations are nothing more than what the client already knows.

The agencies that win more New Business than other agencies peel the onion to the core. They go deeper. They work harder.  Their observations are more insightful and unique. They aren’t afraid to take chances and most clients give them credit for that.

The best demonstration of peeling the onion is a War Room.  This is a conference room or an area at the agency that is literally covered from floor to ceiling with competitive advertising, screen captures, store check comments, screen captures of videos the agency shot, location photos etc. It is akin to an Infographic of the current situation.

It is like a magnet. All clients walk to the area or the wall and check it out. It stimulates lots of dialogue and interaction which builds chemistry. It demonstrates sweat equity and hard work wins business,

Talking about a client’s business creates more dialogue which leads to chemistry connections. It also demonstrates smarts if the observations are insightful and sweat equity. Those are the three key qualities to win New Business. Chemistry, Smarts and Sweat Equity.

Peeling onions at the start often makes you cry but if you stick with the process you invariably get rewarded.

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Watch: Why Small Smart is the New Agency Model


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