The Secrets of Agency New Business.


I have conducted agency reviews for clients like Jenny Craig and Toyo Tires. I was the fly on the wall.

I have won lots of New Business for agencies and supported myself for over a decade by creating my own salary.

So here are the key secrets I have discovered about New Business.

There are none. None. Nada. Zero. None. Aucun.


“I don’t want to hear that Hank. I want the easy answer.”

Yes most agencies want the new shiny object. They need to feed the payroll beast.

If agencies found out that human arrows worked they would be standing on the corner outside of their offices twirling a sign wearing ear buds.

I had lunch with a client the other day and he told me that in his opinion most agencies follow the ABC method of New Business Development. Always Be Closing.  He didn’t make it sound too engaging.

Yes many agencies think that New Business is like short order cooking.

They sell all the time.

I find it ironic that at the same time agencies will send out Gallup reports saying social media is not about selling, it is about developing relationships with your customers and providing them with added value that will eventually lead to a sale.

Agencies don’t realize that they teach what they need to know.

I had a nice breakfast the other day at  Zinc Café in Laguna Beach. The perfect place for perfect and not so perfect people.  It was with an agency pro who had worked at large agencies and small agencies.  He had worked in the show.  He worked on accounts like Apple and once tracked dog poop into Steve’s Job’s house. It was a great story.

He said, “I have used four different techniques of New Business Development and they all don’t work.”

He shared that he had recently been pitched by a New Business firm that set up New Business meetings by phone for $8,000 a month.  When is the last time you reached a marketing person by phone at their office? Do you think the CEO would be coming to that meeting?

Oh I will get a comment or two on how it has worked for some agency but it is not high probability today.

I had a Skype call recently with somebody from the UK.  He had read one of my blogs called “Does Cold Calling Work for Agencies.”

His agency created high quality branded mobile games for clients.  They worked with VW, Coca-Cola, and Barclaycard.

He was sharing how long the New Business process was for selling new ideas.

Most marketers and agencies like to follow the bandwagon and not lead it.

He has reached out to many clients with no avail.

He had reached out to agencies with even less success.  Ever try to sell something to an agency that doesn’t market themselves?

Agencies can be the worst people to try to sell to.

Agencies embrace the Cobbler’s Children model as if it was a badge when it is their anchor.

You win New Business when Relationships align with client pain. There is no algorithm for that. No data base, no LinkedIn Group, no seminars, webinars, conferences or apps.

A relationship is not a connection on LinkedIn.  It is a connection that trusts you and always developed in person.

The axis of relationships and client pain comes from face time and developing real relationships and trust so that when a client’s worry becomes their pain, you receive the call for help.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch a Video Called When Is It Time to Fire Your Agency?

I want a New Business Person with a Magical Rolodex.

Are Most Social Media Experts Empty Suits?


4 thoughts on “The Secrets of Agency New Business.

  1. Ant Denny

    Here here, Hank Blank. A welcome post to the person who hates cold calling, but loves chatting face to face, who resents spending money getting someone with no proprietary passion to cast around, but is happy to spend lots of time “getting to know”.

    The sooner people realise that the quick, cheap, impersonal, unengaged and empty ways of bizdev rarely RARELY work, the sooner they’ll realise that “oh hang on, there’s an actual PERSON involved here”.

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