Ad Agency New Business

We were a sponsor at the Mirren Business Development conference this week-a great ad agency new business conference this year, as in past years.

I particularly enjoyed Barkley EVP Jeff Fromm’s (@JeffFromm) presentation, discussing how he realigned Barkley’s new business strategy after losing a major client a few years ago.

I’m not doing his presentation justice, but he had several insights, one of them being a list of 8 important steps to take, or ideals to follow might be a better way of putting it, when it comes to new business for your agency.

While I won’t go into all 8 of those in this post, one of his ideals was. . .

“Don’t Chase Butterflies”

Ad Agency New Business

It’s something we see far too often-agencies pursuing that perceived “perfect” client, when they really shouldn’t be.

Jeff wasn’t saying, and neither would we, that you shouldn’t pursue sizable, established companies, but chasing them down, spending untold amounts of money and man hours when that prospective client ultimately isn’t the right fit, is where the problem lies.

Which leads me to a very recent client story here at RSW/US with a happy ending.

Along these same “butterfly” lines, we had a new business director come across an RFP opportunity for a client.

(RFP’s aren’t our ultimate goal for clients, but we also won’t ignore those opportunities if we unearth them.)

Happy to report our client, after taking a look, saw that although the company had the potential to be a great client fit, they knew they didn’t have the expertise to satisfy every facet of the RFP.

So they decided to walk.



And that can often be a very good thing in ad agency new business-knowing when to say no. (As we’ve discussed before.)

But their RSW/US new business director suggested they go to the prospect and say (and I’m paraphrasing here) “thanks, but we’re not able to participate because we aren’t expert at everything you’re looking for, but if you were to decide to break the assignment out, we’d love to work with you and we’ll knock it out.”

Our client did just that, and the prospect said “absolutely, because we love your work”.

Our client had a great call prior to submitting their response, submitted a great RFP response, and were notified they won the business.

So yes, knowing when to walk away is invaluable, but so is offering other alternatives to the prospective client when you know in your gut you can crush it.

Worst that can happen is they say no.

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.