Agency New Business Enthusiasm Growing


2017 is shaping up to be a pretty decent year…comparatively.

In 2014, the enthusiasm for agency new business hit a low of 19%.  Only 19% of agencies believed that the year had brought them more opportunities than the previous year.

In 2016, the enthusiasm meter ticked up quite a bit.  31% of all agencies that year, felt positive about the year they had just closed out.

In this year’s survey, the number continues to rise, with 37% of all agencies feeling like the agency new business landscape was very giving in 2017…and they believe the outlook is equally as positive for their firm.

54% of agencies expect next year to look even better.


So why the enthusiasm?

I suspect a few things are going on.

One is the economy.  Agencies tell us their existing clients are spending more in part because they feel better about the economic direction of the country.  Possibly a cumulative effect over the years or possibly just the effects of an all-Republican hold on government, which continues to suggest positive signs for big business. Like it or not, it’s the reality of the situation.

The other is project focus.  More and more marketers are pushing out project work as a way of “sampling” agencies.  With more project work comes more projects and more agencies opening up more doors into marketers.  If your agency is anything like the agencies we represent, oftentimes once you get in the door, you can prove out your value.

And the final thing is stability in number of agencies.  In years past, we’ve seen marketers contract the number of firms they work with.  In other years they expand.  This year, we see relative stability in the expected behavior of marketers, with 69% of them indicating they will keep the number of firms they use the same as they did in 2017.

So what does this all mean for you, the agency?

Despite all this enthusiasm, agencies are still finding it pretty tough to mine for new business.  43% of agencies say it was tougher to find new business in large part because it’s tougher to break through.

So while the opportunities are out there – and agencies are seeing the fruits of the giving market, all this enthusiasm doesn’t mean you can sit idly by and wait for the door bell to ring.

With referrals on the decline, with more agencies hunting for new business, with fewer marketers moving from job to job (because there are less of them), pushing forward with a strategically well orchestrated new business plan is key.

So keep your name out there.  Start treating your brand like a client.  Look at your social program and ask yourself if it really “rates”.  Look at your website and does it work as hard as it can to “sell” your agency…easily.  And think about what you’re doing to be present in front of the marketers you want to win that project from.  Because one thing is for certain…if you don’t keep your name out there and you don’t organize your new business face, there are 5 other agencies in Fort Wayne, or Cincinnati, or Los Angeles, or New York that are doing it for themselves.

Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.