Ad Agency New Business-Agencies Create the Same Problems Their Clients Do

An article in Adweek focuses on the 2018 Agency Productivity Report from Canadian software company Function Point (in partnership with the Agency Management Institute, or AMI) and points out:

More than four in 10 respondents said they don’t track their team’s time accurately, and 68.8 percent often face communication breakdowns, which they blame on inaccurate or incomplete briefs with too many last-minute changes.

And one more stat to drive home a new business point (that I will get to, I promise)

When asked to assign responsibility for missed deadlines, a majority of the respondents pointed squarely at their own clients.

All this sound familiar?  I have not read the report in full yet, but so far, looks to be worth a read.

As I looked at these stats, I thought about agencies I’ve spoken with and the struggles they face with their new business strategy and programs.

You can look at every one of these stats and also apply them directly to an agency’s new business program, specifically as to why they often don’t succeed:

-Don’t track time accurately

-Communication breakdowns

-Last-minute changes

-Missed deadlines

And while I completely empathize with clients holding things up and causing deadline issues, when it comes to your new business program, that’s completely in your hands.

And way too often, the biggest reason all these factors come into play?

Agencies create the same problems their clients do.

Agencies have a hard time getting out of their own way, and can get way too far into the weeds on details that don’t deserve it.

Think about these 4 things as you’re trying to get a new business program off the ground or revitalize what you have:

Don’t obsess over the small stuff.  Sure, there are key components like your positioning that you have to nail, but if you’ve re-written that case study 10 times and it’s still languishing on someone’s computer because three of you can’t come to terms with one design aspect, stop doing that.  Get it done and start using it-now.

Stop trying to govern new business by committee.  If nothing’s getting done because 4 of you are continually going back and forth over multiple details, put one person on it who can spearhead.

Don’t check out.  I’ve seen agencies go the opposite way-instead of obsessing over details, they turn it over to someone and ignore it, until that big client leaves and suddenly they want to know where all the new business is.

Stop holding things up needlessly-I’ve seen agencies who continually push back their new business effort because they need to have one more internal meeting, for example.  Without a doubt, timing really is everything and there are legitimate reasons to delay a start, but there are also plenty of times you just need to pull the trigger, now.

Author: Lee McKnight Jr

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 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.