Blasphemy! You don’t want to be the AOR? Explain.

And so I will.

In a normal day, I talk to multiple agencies, and a little while back, I had a conversation with an agency principal that stuck with me.

He described a client they had: a Fortune 500 company they’d worked with for 3 years ongoing.

Every bit of the work was project work, and while they were essentially the lead agency, this principal was getting frustrated:

Why aren’t we the AOR?

To the point that he brought it up with their main contact, who, if I remember correctly, was the VP of Marketing.

He did this carefully, but had a relationship strong enough that he could be up front with his client. The conversation went along these lines (in my paraphrase):

Agency Principal: We’ve done some really good work for you and we really enjoy the work we do for you.

Client: Absolutely, your team is fantastic.

Agency Principal: Always like hearing that and appreciate the confidence.  But I did want to throw something out to you.  With all the work we do, we’re essentially your lead agency, but you don’t have an AOR-this is a little bold on my part, but why aren’t we your AOR?

Client: John, you essentially are our lead agency and I hope that doesn’t change for the foreseeable future.  But you’re right where you want to be.

You don’t want to be our AOR

Agency Principal: (Perplexed) Why?

Client: AOR’s Get Fired.

Moral of the story?

Don’t be afraid to embrace project work, although the goal is always ongoing projects in that case.

And don’t self-select when it comes to new business opportunities.  You find some agencies who aren’t open to certain project work, will only meet face-to-face, or simply aren’t willing to entertain a change of direction in new business strategy.

Does that mean you take any and all opportunities?

Of course not, but I see far too many agencies whose lack of new business flexibility leads to missed opportunity.

Don’t be that agency.

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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales
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.