You Dare Not Speak Its Name-The Agency New Business Rut And What To Do About It

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It happens to the best of us – you get stuck in an ad agency new business  rut.

You’re in a bit of a slump.

Those client wins aren’t coming in as quickly or easily as they used to.

So what do you do – besides go to Starbucks and drown your sorrows in a Venti Mocha Latte – extra whip?

This is a great time to take a step back and focus on the basics.

Ad Agency New Business


Playing hockey in college, I was a pretty streaky scorer.

I’d hit rough patches where I’d go a few games without a point.

It was frustrating, but it taught me this valuable lesson – there are other things I do well out on the ice that can still help my team win games.

So when it felt as though my hands were made of stone, I would focus on playing a solid defensive game, concentrating on my checking, my positioning, winning faceoffs, not taking any stupid penalties, etc., things that would help my team still win the game – knowing that if I focused on the basics, the scoring would come back.

This is really a lesson that can be applied to most aspects of life, let’s face it – even the best sales person has a down week.

So what can you do when you have had a long string of “Thanks but no thanks,” or “Call me back next year?”

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Reconnect with past prospects with whom you’ve already met but from whom you were unable to secure business. See if they would be open to a follow up meeting. Business moves quickly – perhaps their situation has changed and they might have a need for you now.

2. Take a look at your sales pitch. Could it be stronger? Just because it worked 6 months ago doesn’t mean it’s still effective. This is a great time to show your prospects a new side to your agency, things that they might not know about you. Also, don’t be afraid to test different messaging or try something new. You never know if something will work unless you give it a shot.

3. Review your past efforts. Are you really doing everything you could be? Do you have a blog? If so, when was the last time you had compelling content there to pull people to your site? Speaking of compelling content, when was the last time you took a look at your website? If you haven’t looked recently, chances are prospects haven’t either. One of my biggest pet peeves is having a News link on a website where the last entry was from 2007. Seriously, you haven’t had any news in three years? Are you still open for business?

4. Get your power suit dry-cleaned and go to a trade show or association meeting. Or join an association message board. These are great outlets to find out about industry trends and also to meet others who share similar interests. Not only can they give you some ideas of new ways to sell your agency, they can also give you a much needed spark to get you back knocking on more doors.

5. Do something you do well. Nothing boosts your confidence more than doing something that you KNOW you do exceedingly well. Do a pro bono project for a non-profit organization in your community or your child’s school. Present your client with an idea for new creative without the client initiating it. Write an article for a trade pub. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or ruin your billable hours – just a little something to remind you that you still got it.

Eventually, I would put the puck into the back on the net and all would be well again.

There is no better feeling than watching a little piece of vulcanized rubber sailing off your stick, past a goaltender and into the net with the red light flashing. So focus on the basics and you’ll be scoring again soon.

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.