75% of agencies have a new business program-67% are not satisfied with it


As part of our latest survey report release (RSW/US 2017 Thought Leader Survey Report), we’re focusing in on specific thought leaders and the insights unearthed from the agencies who took our survey.

Laurie Mikes is the focus of this post. Laurie is the Chief Operating Officer of Second Wind (www. secondwindonline.com), overseeing daily operations. Laurie has spent the last 20 years with Second Wind and is deeply involved with member agencies on a daily basis.

A few key takeaways from Laurie’s section, via responses from the agencies who took our survey:

75% of agencies say they have an ongoing, proactive new business program, but almost as many (67%) are not satisfied with the success of that program.

I look at it the same way most of us view our site-we can always improve.  That’s normal and necessary, but 67% is a high number of dissatisfied agencies.

Why such a high number?

Our owner Mark provides some initial perspective from our report:

Think about the keys to success: The person. The approach. The process/methodology. And it also takes commitment and patience on the part of management to give an agency’s new business director the time to succeed.

We know from our own efforts that while 30%+ of the meetings we set turn into some kind of bid, pitch, proposal, these often don’t convert for at least a few months. We also know that only 20% of our clients see closure during the first 6 months of a program, so patience is key.

Laurie followed up her initial questions with this one:

Why do you feel your program has been a success or not been a success?

It’s worth providing a few sample responses from agencies, as I’m willing to bet you’ll relate to several of them:

Increasingly difficult to engage with decision makers

Client demands make it difficult

Lack of ability/understanding of existing new business team

Wrong prospects

Inbound marketing only

Not enough resources to fully execute


Lack of consistent focus. No clear goals.

We’ve started and stopped it in fits and bursts.

We sit back and wait for opportunities

And I’ll add in another-unrealistic expectations. This Adweek article is worth a read: The Creative Well Dries Up as Agencies Compete for Fewer New Business Opportunities in 2017.

From the article:

Creative agencies are dealing with the increasing evaporation of the AOR and the growth of the Project Partner,” said Paull. “It’s a sea change that some are dealing with better than others.”

I can say, for the most part, our clients have known and embraced this for a while now.  And most agencies I talk to on a daily basis understand it as well.

(I spoke to it in this post: You Don’t Want To Be The AOR.)

I’ll leave you with a piece of advice Laurie gave to agencies in our report:

Persistence is Key.

When it comes to new business, it’s important that agencies never become complacent, even when times are good. In order to nurture and grow a vibrant agency, there must be a steady stream of new business opportunities in the pipeline.

Clients can be unpredictable and losing a piece a business without replacing it quickly can be detrimental to an agency’s future. In order to protect the agency from such an event, new business programs should be pursued 365 days a year.

While there is no magic formula for the mix of messages and strategies an agency employs for new business success, it is important to use a multifaceted consistent approach that includes online and offline marketing, advertising and PR. By using a wide variety of techniques, agencies have a better chance of reaching prospects effectively.

And, since new business is about building relationships, if you stay in front of prospects regularly, they may call on you when a need arises. New business is never easy but persistence certainly pays off.


I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.