Big Or Small-Agencies Have The Same New Business Challenges


Coming off the Mirren New Business Conference, I’m reminded again that the struggles larger agencies have with new business are no different than the struggles small to mid-sized agencies go through.

Different in scale?  Sure, but much the same.

Big Or Small-Agencies Have The Same New Business Challenges

A consistent approach, agency positioning, new business hiring and difficulties breaking through to prospects are just a few of those similar challenges.

And if you’re a small to mid-sized agency, you need to be reminded that new business is about the long tail.  It simply is.

And yet, I consistently hear agencies of that size say they only gave an internal effort 3 months, or a new business director 3 months, to show results, as in closed business.

Can it happen? Yes.  Does it happen often? No.

(For example, we see 20% of our clients close business before month 6 of a program.)

Carrying this “similar challenges” point further, I’ll mention a panel I attended that included Zach Rosenberg, President at MBMG, Bob Kantor, EVP, Global Chief Marketing Officer at MDC Partners and Laura Maness, CEO of Havas New York.

These are all individuals put on the panel because they have, and do, excel at agency new business, and while not all they discussed applies to the small to mid-sized agency, a few (paraphrased) quotes you should take to heart:

“Once a prospect starts to look at multiple examples of different agency work, it all starts to look very similar-clients choose people who they like.”- Bob Kantor

You’ve heard something similar if you’ve been in sales, and this might seem frustrating, because how are you going to break through to a prospect you’ve never spoken to before, so they can “like” you?

The answer in the following quote:

“You have to be visible.” – Zach Rosenberg

In order to break through to a prospect, you have to stay in front of them, and do so with a level of personalization that shows an understanding of their challenges.

Obviously, they won’t start by liking you personally, but they’ll like what you’re laying in front of them.

Laura Maness spoke to this as well when an audience member asked about automation. She responded, essentially, that it has a place, but nothing beats doing your homework and making your outreach relevant to the prospect.

All this may sound familiar if you read our posts here at RSW.  It should, because we embrace the same principles.

Something I always talk with our salespeople-you have to put yourself in the prospect’s place with any kind of contact.  Is it worthwhile?

Does it add any value, or are you just talking at them?

Would you read that email you just sent, or immediately delete it?

I hope this post gives you a lift, at least as a reminder that big or small, you’re going through the same challenges.

And quite a few small to mid-sized agencies are rising to the new business challenge, and giving the big agencies quite a run for their money.

But understand that much of the new business process is about the long tail and until you embrace that, you won’t have an ongoing, successful new business program.

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 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.