The Three Slide Agency New Business Pitch.


I like talking to agencies and to clients.  Always learn a lot with a little listening.  I was talking to my agency friends at Tag in Philadelphia the other day.  We were having a proper chat. They shared a story about a recent New Business pitch that they made with a three page deck.

Intrigued I said please share more.  The three slides were their logo page, an infographic and their brand wheel. Tag is part of the Brand Establishment network so brand is their mantra.  The infographic was a snapshot of the client’s current situation.  It immediately got their New Business prospect talking.  That is always very good in a New Business pitch.   It provides an opportunity to build chemistry and show your smarts.

I have become very interested in infographics in the last year.  There is an agency in OC called Column Five that has a strong practice in the area.

I like the snapshots of infographics.  They look like a picture of facts to me. I was taught a long time ago that you have to visualize to realize.

As an agency search consultant I have seen many agency New Business decks. Most are too long.  Many are 30 plus slides long or longer.  Talking takes time in a pitch.  If you have a 30 page deck and you take 3 minutes on each slide you have a 90 minute presentation.  Agencies generally like to talk.  During a pitch everybody in the room from the agencies loves to talk.  Everybody wants a role.  Everybody wants to contribute.  Big decks create long times before the clients get to talk and that is the most important part of a pitch.  They often also leave agencies rushing at the end.

I have never heard any client in any review that I have done say Stop Talking About My Business. Never.  All clients love talking about their business.  It’s their baby.

When I talk to clients about New Business presentations they have conducted they often groan about agency’s New Business decks.  Most hate sitting in them because the decks are all similar and they know they are going to be seeing largely the same thing down the street.  Not every time but enough that the current sentiment among a broad swath of clients is that agencies are all the same.  Agencies created that perception I think because they follow a pretty standard template that needs to be blown up.

I think today in the New Normal we are all very much over capacitated. In New Business today less can be truly more.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch his video on the Why Small and Smart is the New Agency Model.

You may also enjoy these articles.

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Are Your Agency’s New Business Efforts A Waste of Time


It is great to have perspective in business and in life. I have learned a lot about the ways agencies hunt from my hunting experiences and being an agency review consultant.

I often see many new business efforts that are a total waste of time. I could be talking on the phone to somebody who sees opportunity and I think they are wasting their time. But we have all been there.  I have to admit that on occasion I am guilty as charged. Because creative people see opportunity they can often be mislead by too much personal passion. It is a fine line to walk.

I think that agencies need to access where their New Business plans are on the opportunity meter. In New Business there are two P’s. Probability and Possibility. The best metric is probability but many agencies with short runways chase possibility and that is the wrong strategy. Chasing possibility is something you do when the larder is full and things are rosy and toasty and not needy. But needy agencies often lose radar.

I have learned over the years as a  search consultant that clients switch agencies or work with agencies for two P’s. Pain and Promise. When I do an agency review the pain is getting pretty acute. Then there is the Promise component. Most clients love to embrace promise. That is an idea that can move their business ahead and make them an internal hero.

In the Old Normal clients had more time and would take a call with somebody they had a solution for them and possibly take a meeting. In the New Normal nobody answers the phone from a blocked number or a number they don’t know. If you get lucky and get them on the phone by calling at 7.30 AM or 6.00 PM they are less likely to take a meeting based on your sell that want to see how your platform of marketing solutions can align with their marketing needs. You are selling solutions looking for a problem which is akin to going through the Eye of the Needle.

At a recent New Business Conference in LA put on by Think LA and Mirren I had the opportunity to hear a client speaker from a major cool national brand that all small, medium, and major agencies would love to have.  They had also worked on the agency side. Somebody asked him what was the best way to connect with you?  Do you like email?  He turned to the audience and said do you know how many emails I get a day?  I could see that he was overwhelmed by today’s New Normal.

What’s the best way to get to you?

Networking is what he said.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch:  Power of Networking.

Read: The Most Powerful Word in Agency New Business is No.

Agencies Need to Focus on the Things that Clients Can’t Do.

When is it time to Fire Your Agency.

Peeling the Onion or New Business.

Winning New Business Is Easy.

The Most Powerful Word in Agency New Business is NO.


The most game changing word in new business is one that advertising, digital and PR agencies rarely use. It is NO.

Yes. NO.  Agencies need to say NO more often in New Business.  I can’t do that you say.  I am a yes person.  It’s time to change.  The industry has changed.  Technology has changed.  Marketing has changed.  But many agencies haven’t changed.

I went to a very interesting New Business Conference recently sponsored by Think LA and Mirren.  I wrote about some observations in an article called To Grow Agencies Need to Focus on Things that Clients Can’t Do.

So here are suggested ways to respond to the New Business inquiries your agency may receive from companies, start ups, etc.

We are looking for an agency that can invest with us.

Say NO.

We would love to meet with you guys and get some new ideas.

Will you pay us for our time?  NO.

Then say NO.

Or you can also send them a ten page agreement with lots of legal terms saying a bunch of mumbo jumbo outlining you will own your creative and their children.  They will go away.  A proportion of clients save their careers by using agencies and have no idea how to conduct an agency search.

You may think that there is a ray of hope.  It is a mirage if people that don’t value your time, your work and your product.

Our budget is small but we are looking for a partner to help grow our business and then we will invest more.

Say NO.

When the calls come ask them if they are doing this review because it is mandated?  If they say YES. Then you say NO.

We are anxious to go to market.  Our timeline is aggressive and our budget is small but we are looking to grow.

Say NO.

All misguided New Business efforts aren’t just stimulated by untrained clients.  Most badly planned efforts at agencies start internally.

Here are some ways to respond to the internal amped up, often politically riddled New Business meetings you may have each Monday morning after the your status meeting.

This could lead to something.

Say NO. It will lead to nothing.  It is a low probability opportunity and New Business isn’t about playing the Quarter slots.

We should just give it a shot.

Say NO.  The person who said that had too many shots on the weekend.

Here are some things you can say YES to in New Business.

Say YES to growing your existing clients.  It is easier to grow your existing clients than winning New Business.

Say YES in taking the time and money that you would invest in fruitless searches and apply it to marketing your own agency.  The majority of you don’t do it very well.  I have seen it countless times as a search consultant and new business development person.

Say YES to NO.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch his video on the Power of Networking.

You may also enjoy these articles.

When is it time to Fire Your Agency.

Peeling the Onion or New Business.

Winning New Business Is Easy.

Advertising Agencies Need to Focus on Things that Clients Can’t Do.


I went to a very interesting New Business Conference this week sponsored by Think LA and Mirren.

A number of speakers from different agencies focused on the common problems facing the industry.  The move to more project based assignments versus AOR relationships, declining revenues, the shift to clients having multiple agency relationships, etc, etc, etc.  It wasn’t pretty.  A sea of laments.

There was a very interesting presentation by Tim Williams from Ignition Consulting on New Emerging Business Models for Agencies.  He outlined the days when agencies did things that clients couldn’t do.  Setting type, preparing mechanicals, producing TV commercials. Yes agencies did things that seemed like magic potients for clients.  Elixirs of creativity. Then came the computer which changed the playing field.

Certainly agencies very quickly jumped on the benefits of technology and the new creative software that accompanied it.  But clients could also buy computers and do many of the same commodity things in house.  Maybe not originally with the same degree of creativity but how many clients really want creativity?  It is more a platitude than an attitude? Most companies aren’t Nike or Apple.

The next day I had an early morning coffee with the CMO of a pretty significant company in Orange County.  He had started his long and successful marketing career in the advertising industry.  He felt that he could do in house most of the things that agencies could do and do it better.  He could do social media, videos, produce ads, hire photographers for product shoots, and update his web site. The 22 year old AE wasn’t going to take him to the next Marketing Valhalla. He really didn’t need to pay an agency to resize ads. Then he said one thing that stopped me.

He said the one thing that had great value for him was ideas. That sounded good for agencies.  Then he said something else that wasn’t good.  He said that agencies gave their ideas away for free.  Now I don’t know what agencies he had talked to or what his agency experiences were but he was right that agencies often give things away for free.  I wrote about this recently in a blog called Why Agencies Need to Stop Giving it Away.  I have painfully learned in my business that giving away your knowledge for free is not a great way to pay the mortgage.

The conference and my breakfast left me with the conclusion that to grow agencies really need to focus their future services on the things that clients can’t do.  I think that menu may change based on the clients you encounter.  There is a good chance that what many clients can’t do is to live at the forefront of today’s dynamically changing technology.  Many clients don’t have centers of innovation for instance.  I certainly believe that agencies have the creative fire power to develop these services and productize them.  The scale of agency innovation surpasses most client organizations in my opinion.  I still hear plenty of client ahs when I do agency searches.

The problem is that many agencies have commoditized their offerings and can offer little more than their clients can do at less cost and probably with more insight. It’s time to stop billing for low hanging fruit and go to a higher level and get paid for it.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You may also enjoy these articles.

How Many Agencies Are Submitting.

Why Small and Smart is the New Agency Model.

How Agencies Can Get More New Business

Do Marketers Walk Their Talk?


One of the things I like to do is to conduct agency reviews or searches for clients.  I have conducted reviews for Toyo Tires, Jacuzzi, Jenny Craig and other companies.  I get to go on a great journey of learning that I generally share on my blogs.

Agency reviews are done very infrequently by clients and are not impulse actions.  They generally occur when there is some pain in their agency relationships and some performance shortcomings.  They may occur once in a decade for a client.

To promote my practice I often reach out from time to time to client prospects.  My expectations are low because of the cycle of reviews. I recently sent some e mails out to the Marketing Departments of one of the financial institutions I deal with. Later that day I got an e mail back from one of the marketing people asking me to delete her from my data base.  I complied.

Later that day I checked my bulk e mails in my inbox.  My daily e mail was there from that financial institution.  I get one a day every business day or about 20 in a month.  They stay in my bulk e mails. During one of my reviews for a company in the CRM space I heard many stats on how many e mails were sent out by marketers in a day as the world shifts to automated marketing.  The number was staggering.  Made the deficit seem like a small number and it isn’t.

I went home that night and checked my mail.  I probably get 2-3 direct mail pieces from the same bank in a week.  I think that they should save some money, but what do I know?  I am already banking with them.

I was with the same bank when the world melted.  I got a letter a couple of months after the banks started to falter.  They told me that my line of credit had expired.  They didn’t explain that to me when I opened the line of credit during the boom of the housing bubble;  I didn’t realize lines of credit were coupons.

I am kind of different because I like to go into a bank and talk to the tellers when I make a deposit.  I like to network in my community.  It is a better way to get the news. Lots of people behind the counters have come and gone.  Most of the people that worked there for a long time are now gone.  They are replaced by young people with smiling faces asking me, ‘how my day is going so far?’  I heard the same thing at Starbucks that morning. I don’t think anybody really cares.  It is all a corporate script and contest.    I ask them where the previous people are and they shrug.

I looked at some new posters at the bank the other day telling me that that I could count on a personal relationship with them. .  I don’t believe that for an instant. They said they were a community bank even though they are based across the country.

I am not sure that if the Marketer at the bank who told me to delete her e mail from my data base and avoid contacting her in the future was having a good day that day.  I am not sure if she designed the marketing program the bank was implementing. But I do know one thing:  Marketers have to learn that in today’s social media world the way they act at work and in life must be the same.

By the way, the name of my bank is…



You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch his video on YouTube on Why It’s Time to Change the RFP Process.

Watch his video on YouTube on Why It’s Time to Change the RFP Process.

Should Marketers Conduct Their Own Agency Searches?


These are interesting and challenging times for Marketers.  I recently read in the Harvard Business Review that Marketing is Dead.

The article cites that CEOs have lost all patience. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric. Ouch.

I think that clients’ greatest ally and most powerful resource in insuring their success during the careers are their agency partners and I am always surprised by how little time some marketers take in making sure that they have the right resource supporting their marketing innovation.

I help clients with agency searches.  I don’t do agency reviews every day because clients don’t fire their agencies every day although I am sure that some would want to.  I have read that over 80% of clients do their own agency searches.

I often hear about reviews that are conducted in a very superficial fashion.  Clients talk to their friends and network about some suggested agencies they should contact.  These people have no in-depth understanding of the business problems or challenges. They rarely get a copy of the RFP.  Then the clients go out and visit 3-4 agencies for an hour or 90 minutes.  Then they select the 2 or 3 finalists and have another 90 minute presentation with other team members and often make a consensus committee decision.  The whole process often takes less than a day’s work.  Not the way to pick the architect of your future success.  Would you pick your spouse that way?  You may spend almost as much time with your agency partner as you do you with your life partner during a work week.

What I have seen in the agency reviews I have conducted is that the journey brings clarity to the client’s decision making process.  Sometimes they select a partner in the end that doesn’t match their initial criteria.   If you implement an abbreviated process that journey may not provide that clarity.  Clients miss out on a lot of discovery if they try being their own guides.  That is not the way to discover new paths.

Clients face too many challenges today to have the time or the knowledge to conduct their own reviews.  Reviews take a long time to do right.  I know that firsthand. Many marketing departments are much smaller these days with fewer doing more. There is no way that clients today have the time resources to keep up with the thousands of marketing options that are out there in the U.S. today.  Then there are the demands of keeping up with all the changes in the social media space.

What I have learned during my career is that having the right resource walking at your side helps to insure your success in a very challenging world and often you need somebody with better experience and vision to make sure that you are walking side by side.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch his video on YouTube on Why It’s Time to Change the RFP Process.