3 Ways to Fix Agencies New Business Problems - #1 What's your Strategy to Fix Things?

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

I’m going to throw out a stat that really didn’t surprise me: 55% of agencies said that growing their client base was their top pain point.

This is good.

You’re probably wondering why a pain point is a good thing. Don’t you want to get rid of pain points? No.

Simply, what it means is that you’re aware of it. That’s good.

When you’re aware of something, awareness leads to action which then leads to results.

Results are what we’re after so this is good. Without pain, there’s no reason to change since nothing is hurting.

So my question then is what are you doing about it?

Before giving my thoughts on it, I’m going to give you a pass on this if you’re struggling with growing your agency.

It’s not your fault. No one ever taught you how to run your own agency unless you were one of those fortunate enough to find a really good mentor.

How to scale it. How to find new clients. All things that are only learned the hard way.

Take a look in a college catalog and you won’t even find a single class devoted to sales! Yet in business, nothing happens until a sales takes place. No wonder it seems like the deck is stacked against you at times!

From my experiences, there are three common reasons why I see agencies struggle to grow their client base. And before going into it, I’ll let you know that it’s usually a combination of all three that is causing the pain, just not one.

#1 – There is no formal new client acquisition strategy.

At all of the agencies I’ve worked at, only half had a dedicated New Business Director. This person has typically ranged from the fabled rain maker with a rolodex to kill for to the eager new hire who just got hired into the position. At worse, it was an owner or other executive team member who had new business as a responsibility on top of everything else they’re doing.

There are a few inherent issues with both of these that most agencies aren’t aware of until it’s too late. But to understand it, let’s take a look at how media organizations such as TV stations run their sales efforts.

In any media organization sales is its own department. Here’s what a typical org chart looks like:

Typical media organization sales department organizational chart

Notice anything? Notice the formal structure? Notice the specific roles? That’s how a media organization is able to successfully bring in millions in revenue every year for an advertising driven medium.

It’s a methodical process:

· Everyone has goals. Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly.

· Everyone has account lists. Target accounts, key accounts, accounts in development

· Everyone is held accountable: Account Executives have weekly 1:1 sales meetings with their sales manager(s). The sales managers have a weekly meeting with their VP of Sales. The VP of Sales meets regularly with ownership. The sales team knows that if they don’t bring in new accounts, then no one has jobs.

Compare this to agencies:

Typical ad agency new business organizational chart

Again, not the agency’s fault I feel. No one taught them how to do sales and let’s agree, it’s not really baked into an agency’s core DNA. But do you see the problem?

I get it…I’ve worked at both agencies and media organizations. Both are wired very differently, with agencies obviously being more creative driven and with that, typically formal processes tend to be de-emphasized.

The big problem though in all of this is that agencies don’t have a formal process to find new clients and this has a real cost in the way of missing new business opportunities.

The way to win new business is to have a process.

It really doesn’t matter what the process is as long as there is a process.

It could be content marketing. Email. Cold calling. Whatever that works and you can stick with. It’s repeatable. It’s reliable. It works.

I knew of one agency in Denver that on the 2nd Tuesday of every month they would host an ice cream social at 3PM for anyone and everyone to attend. It worked brilliantly and in addition to becoming known as the ice cream agency, they won quite a few new accounts from this brilliantly unique new business process that they stuck to.

Designing your Process

So with that, I’d like to ask you to think about what you’re doing for a process.

If you have one, is it working? Can it be improved?

If you don’t have one, what could your process be?

Stay tuned for pain point numbers two and three in the coming days.

In the interim, please feel free to reach out to me if you need help in working through your process. I’d be happy to chat about either about what you do, or do not, have going on and ideas on how to improve it.

To schedule some time to talk, please feel free to reach out to me via the contact us link or schedule some time on my calendar here: https://calendy.com/jeffpugel

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