Mark O’Brien of Newfangled: No Silver Bullets for Agency New Business


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I’m delighted to introduce a guest post from Mark O’Brien, the CEO of Newfangled.

Newfangled empowers agencies to generate ideal new business opportunities through creating and nurturing digital marketing systems and habits that have a measurable impact on their bottom line.

Mark is the author of “A Website That Works: How Marketing Agencies Can Create Business-Generating Websites.”

Mark was a panelist in our 2016 Thought Leader Survey, in which leading industry Thought Leaders presented questions for the survey.  In addition, Mark, along with the other Thought Leaders, offered new business advice for agencies.

Mark opened his advice with:

“We’ve never had more technology at our disposal to market ourselves.  We can affordably pull off marketing campaigns that would be unimaginably sophisticated even for Fortune 500 firms as recently as a decade ago.  Despite this, marketing your firm is more difficult than ever.  Why?”

His post that follows begins to answer that.

I’m truly fortunate to be working in the advertising and marketing industries, having the opportunity to work with agencies as closely as I do.

Agencies are brilliant marketers.  But here’s a paradox:

Although agencies are the best marketers in the world, they are weak in marketing themselves.

In my work, I see three groups.  In very broad strokes:

  • Some say demands of client work keep putting their own agency marketing in the back seat.
  • Others express that they simply don’t like marketing themselves.
  • Many understand the importance and initiate an agency new business program, but still aren’t achieving the results they’d like to see.

Across all three of these groups is a common denominator: a search for a silver bullet.  Whether it’s a star rainmaker they want to bring on board to lead their business development efforts, or acquiring the latest technology, many expect that perfect acquisition – human or program/platform – to plug in and deliver the new business effortlessly.

The reality is that silver bullet doesn’t exist.  Business development is a lot of work; and no single resource – human or technology – can work alone in a vacuum and generate success.

When RSW/US invited me to participate in their 2nd Annual Thought Leader Survey, my questions focused on one element of the agency new business tool kit: Marketing Automation.

A comparatively recent newcomer to the technology toolkit for agency new business, the survey found that of agencies who have Marketing Automation systems, only 34.7% apply the technology to their own marketing.

The survey results actually surprised me some in the number of agencies saying they don’t have a Marketing Automation system in place for the purpose of marketing their agencies – 65.3%.  This is higher than what I encounter in my work directly with agencies.

However, their reasons for not applying Marketing Automation tools for their own agency marketing are familiar:

  • First, those who don’t use a Marketing Automation platform at all indicate that cost is a factor: 43.9%.
  • Another 41.5% indicate they don’t have the time required to manage a Marketing Automation program.
  • Almost half, 46.3%, say it’s “too automated” for the personal aspect of agency new business development.


I’m not trying to push Marketing Automation itself on anyone.  I work with my clients on the basis of developing a strategic lead development “ecosystem”.  Within that strategy, Marketing Automation typically has a role.

Yet, the reasons agencies cite for not employing Marketing Automation, tell me a couple things:

  • New business development really isn’t a priority for them. Funding and time will be devoted to initiatives that are high enough priority.
  • Agencies don’t fully understand Marketing Automation or the role it has within a fully integrated ecosystem of business development tools.

So, going back to that opening question:  Why does it seem more difficult than ever to market your firm?  To great extent, it begins with the priority new business development has within your organization.

Before you go looking for a silver bullet, know that there are none.  This is not that easy.

Look to yourself and your firm and be brutally critical about what might be holding your efforts back.  Figure out what you can implement on your own to add muscle to your new business efforts, and enlist assistance where you see gaps you cannot fill internally.  Be prepared; there will be some!

Resources to help you are plentiful.  At Newfangled, we’d be happy to assist strategies around lead development web platforms.  See the Newfangled website for further information.  RSW/US can assist with full-service lead generation strategies supporting agencies from initial meeting through closing.

Be sure to check out the expertise of the other panelists who participated in the RSW/US 2016 Thought Leader Survey.  They each have a unique area of expertise, and possess incredible passion for helping agencies succeed as well.

Here’s to a successful and prosperous 2016!


Mark speaks regularly at marketing events for the 4A’s, TAAN, Mirren, MarketingProfs, ReCourses, MAGNET, ICOM, AMIN, and Worldwide Partners, among others.

See the Newfangled website for information on their 2016 Seminar in May: Advanced Digital Marketing for Agencies.