Agency New Business

One of the best positions your agency can be in=being able to say no to work that isn’t the right fit.

I’ve mentioned it in previous posts (Ad Agency New Business-When To Say No & When To Follow Your Gut) and it would appear, at least via Ad Age, that agencies are taking this to heart, or more succinctly, are in better positions to do so.

Per the article, Marketers Should Take Heed as Agencies Shun Low-Margin, High-Headache Biz:

Fees offered by potential clients are too low; timelines for pitches too short; briefing documents are too vague, and many marketers overstep bounds by demanding that agencies relinquish ownership of their ideas to them.

None of the above is new to any of you, but it’s always good to see these struggles in print.

Agency New Business

The article continues:

“If you are going to work with someone who’s asking you to move heaven and earth in two weeks, it’s a signal of what the relationship will be like. Even if the fees are attractive, that’s not good for morale.”

Sums it up nicely.

Compounding the issue, however, is the ever-present tendency for agencies to fall into that “vendor” slot in the marketer’s eyes:

“There are pitches that come through where you’re treated like a vendor, and there’s no time, no respect, no information,” she said. “I’m applauding that we are starting to be a little more discriminatory in looking at opportunities.”

So where am I going here?

1)      Saying no more often means agency new business must be a priority

The article initially focuses on San Diego-based Vitro, who “turned down an unprecedented number of pitches. This year, the shop won four pitches and turned down eight reviews.”

The reality check=the majority of agencies reading this aren’t in a position today to turn down 8 reviews.

You’ll only get to that position by consistently getting in front of prospects and showing your value. And the other reason agency new business must be a priority?

2)      RFP’s are the devil

Agency New Business

RFP’s aren’t always a dead end, but chasing them as a new business strategy is not productive. Per the Ad Age article:

Agencies’ increased savvy about what’s financially worth their time is driving the new dynamic, but the quality of RFPs is waning as well, industry execs say.

Sometimes the RFP process is unavoidable-fair enough, but in the meantime, you’ll get to “no” faster and avoid RFP’s more often by putting all the excuses aside and implanting a new business strategy.

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.