COVID-19 Disrupted New Business Efforts But Small and Mid-Sized Agencies See Key Advantages Over Larger Firms

COVID-19 Disrupted New Business Efforts But Small and Mid-Sized Agencies See Key Advantages Over Larger Firms

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While COVID-19 initially disrupted new business efforts this year, small and mid-sized agencies see some key advantages over larger firms, as taken from our annual RSW 2020 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment, 2020 and Beyond.

This is the 10th year of the survey and we present comparable data available across all previous editions.

In 2020, so far, 67% of agencies reported it’s “harder” or “much harder” to obtain new business.

The five-year average from our reports, however, is 40%. And finally, 80% of agencies said COVID was the reason for it being harder.

Not surprising that 2020 has proven to be one of the toughest years for agencies to find and win new business. Even the climate post the 2008 recession, while difficult, didn’t match the challenges many agencies are facing today.

Smaller agencies have work to do

From a new business standpoint: only 16% report creating new case studies on a monthly basis (versus 53% of larger agencies) and 78% of agencies said their website was either “somewhat” or “not at all” fully optimized to help them win new business.

And this is actually true of both large and small agencies.

Certainly, the disparity in resources and manpower account for these differences between large and smaller agencies initially, but we saw in the pandemic an opportunity for smaller firms to take opportunities to create more new business assets, and those that did stayed ahead of the preparedness curve.

There are, however, positives throughout the report as well.

For example, 80% of larger agencies said they are satisfied with their new business program.

COVID-19 Disrupted New Business Efforts But Small and Mid-Sized Agencies See Key Advantages Over Larger Firms

And there were a few key advantages revealed for small and mid-sized agencies over larger firms.

For example:

Only 38% of smaller agencies reported the loss of trade shows “somewhat” or “significantly” impacting their prospecting efforts.

58% of larger agencies reported the same impact.

While 38% is still a concerning number, small to mid-sized agencies have the advantage of being able to pivot in a nimbler fashion, and move more quickly to change new business strategy.

Another example:

23% of small to mid-sized agencies reported they are in a competitive pitch 1x/month or more .

As compared to 58% of larger agencies.

While this percentage has always been smaller for small to mid-sized firms historically, it’s never been more stark than in 2020, with less formal pitching during the pandemic.

Smaller firms traditionally look to find opportunities, rather than engage in the hamster wheel of competitive pitching, and so have an advantage in traditionally operating that way.

The RSW 2020 Agency New Business Report will be a valuable new business asset to small and large agencies as they look to trends that provide a better understanding of the remaining 2020 landscape, and into 2021.

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.