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.

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.