Ad agency new business director

From An RSW/US Ad Agency New Business Director-Win before You Even Make The Presentation

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Maya Angelou

A famous quote—and no truer words were spoken when it comes to business development and winning business.

Wanna know why I know this?

Years ago, as an ad agency new business director working for another organization, I got the team invited and on the consideration list for an AOR opportunity. The prospect liked our work and wanted us to pitch.

Everyone was thrilled and excited about the opportunity.

(I’m taking the 5th here in regard to the name of the account—let’s just say a pet retailer.)

A great marquee name with lots of name recognition and the win would change the face of the organization.

Preparation got underway and my colleagues were determined to WOW the audience.

PowerPoints were gussied up, and the team prepared tirelessly.

The day came for the presentation and upon arrival we made some small talk about the weather and such—then things got underway.

It wasn’t too long before I noticed that the air seemed to go out of the room.

Ad Agency New Business Director

Lots of fidgeting, nail filing and hair twirling along with some yawns. We were pretty quickly thanked and out the door.

A few days later, I called my prospect contact asking for some feedback.

Yes, they had made a decision and our competitor won the business.

She told me that they really, really liked them. What?!?!! How could that be? Their work wasn’t better than ours.

Here’s why: They won before they even made their presentation.

Ad agency new business director

Really, why?

When they came in the room, they took their jackets off and made small talk too –but their T-shirts (front and back) had the pictures and names of their beloved pets.

Was that the only reason they won-no. And stunts (for lack of a better word) like this can backfire if they’re too over the top.

But the competition kicked things off with something extra right out of the gate that we didn’t have.

And that extra effort can make all the difference.

It’s been 20 years since that happened and it’s still one of the most compelling business development stories I can share with my current clients as they try to bring on new work and new clients.

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.