By Category: New Business for CEOs
Identify the best talent
Published on May 05, 2011
Most CEOs agree that one of their most most important jobs is to identify talent. When I think about talent I often recall a "Corner Office" interview in the New York Times with Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store.
Here's the paragraph that's stuck with me:
One great person could easily be as productive as three good people. So we try to pay 50 to 100 percent above industry average. That's good for the employee, and that's good for the customer, but it's good for the company, too, because you get three times the productivity for only two times the labor cost.
I can easily see how this applies in a retail environment, particularly if you're talking about the difference between a minimum wage employee and one paid double that. My question is, does this apply to ad agency new business?
I think it can, if you - the CEO - focus on identifying the best talent.
- Let's say you're thinking about creating a new business team out of existing account service personnel. They're all likable and gregarious; everyone thinks they'll do great. Their all-in cost is $50,000 each, including salary and benefits. They don't know much about sales, but have some knowledge of the various industries you have expertise in. They're young and eager, and relatively inexpensive, so you're okay giving them a chance to show what they can do.
- On the other hand, you have a prospective external candidate who will cost you $100,000 a year. She has worked at two different agencies over the last ten years, and has demonstrated her ability to work in related industries, has good sales skills, and can orchestrate a pitch.
Who do you hire?
Sure the external candidate is twice as expensive as any one individual candidate, but will she be three times as productive? I'd say she will, and perhaps in ways that you wouldn't even think of.
For example, many less experienced new business people will spend inordinate amounts of time researching a long-shot prospect. They'll argue that they need this information so they can relate to them once they get them on the phone. On the other hand, the more experienced person will quickly and efficiently do the research to identify potential business issues they're facing, and will then pick up the phone, engage the prospect with relevant questions and concise insights that reflect your agency's capabilities.
Good sales people are hard to find: most employers I know tell me that their success rate on new sales hires is 1:2 (best case) and 1:4 (worst case). So, if you go the "hire three" route, you're most likely to end up with one who's good. So, your decision really is between promoting one good person (but you don't know which one), versus hiring one proven, great person.
I'd go with experience and proven results and productivity every time.
What do you think? Do you believe in Mr. Tindell's approach?
Growth, incentives, accountability
Published on May 04, 2011
It's not every day that you get to see John Wren, Michael Roth, and Sir Martin Sorrell on stage together. At least I don't. One thing's for certain, when you do see them together you'll realize there's no shortage of ego on stage!
These three are smart guys, and as I expected, after listening to them recently I came away with ideas that apply to most ad agencies. And, as new business is always tied to the strength of the agency, if you implement their recommendations, you'll impact your new business effort.
Recommendations for agencies from The Big Three:
Keep pace with new technology and new media
Spend more on attracting and retaining talent
Use data and analytics to generate consumer insights
Focus on your people
Reflect your market in the diversity of your team
Implement a compensation model that reflects where the growth (new business) is, with financial incentives to match, and accountability
As you can imagine, when asked about agency-client relationships, they had lots of opinions. I thought the best were four things clients can do better:
Praise more, express appreciation
Encourage your agency to take more risks
Don't try to take the last $5 out of my pocket
If you kick your agency like a dog, you won't get good work
I'm sure you can add a few more to this list, but this is a good start.
Are you training?
Published on April 27, 2011
McKinsey & Co. managers spend thirty days per year training and evaluating their people. In contrast, agency managers spend two. Given that consulting companies like McKinsey are encroaching on turf that has historically been the purview of ad agencies, what does that say about the future...?
We use the excuse that we don't have time.
The reality is, we aren't taking our own advice - the advice we give to clients every day, said Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Arnold Worldwide at the recent 4As Transformation conference. He conducted a survey of 3,000 people at all levels in all types of agencies. This is what he found:
- 30% of employees said they'll be gone in 12 months
- 70% will call a recruiter back
- 96% are confident that they could easily get a new job
"We accept that an employee will be with us for just a few years."
- 30% think they'll be with your agency for < 1 year
- 37% think for between 1-5 years
- 35% for > 5 years
Other alarming statistics:
- 70% believe they need to take care of their own careers
- 60% would leave for better compensation
- 43% answered that "employees" are most important in their agency.
- 50% feel there is no career path
This latter point is critical. Employees want the ability to learn, and the ability to be creative. If your agency can't give them this, they will move on.
It's not a factory, it's a garden. Adjust your paradigm.
Less than 10% of new employees come from referrals. In other industries, it's 50-60%. Bottom line, says Benett, the ad industry is not promoting itself. For example, "We are no-shows on college campuses."
Five steps to get the ad industry moving on talent:
1. Go back to school.
- Commit senior management time to train
- Partner with universities; go beyond career services
2. Promote cross-training
- Share training sessions
- Encourage reverse mentoring
- Offer employee exchanges
3. Introduce new incentives
- Offer paid sabbaticals; education reimbursement; relocation
- Offer support to families
4. Fix performance management
5. Engage employees in the conversation
- Solicit ideas; listen
- In the decision-making process
What do you think? Will these ideas work?
Published on March 23, 2011
With Salesforce.com's acquisition of Jigsaw, you can now easily export contacts from Salesforce.com to Jigsaw. (For more on crowd-sourced data sources like Jigsaw, click here.)
However, ad agencies, as well as any other Salesforce.com user, must now recognize the significant intellectual property issues presented by this merger. Most importantly:
Whose contacts are in your current Salesforce.com account, or your internal database?
Do you have the right to export these contacts to a third party? If so, under what circumstances?
May that third party sell them?
This is important as your agency may be opening itself up to potential legal liability. Consider:
If you export contacts, purchased from a third party, into Jigsaw, what is your potential liability for violating the third party's license agreement?
If you import contacts from Jigsaw that belong to a third party, what is your legal liability for doing so?
Here are extracts from the license agreements of popular providers of new business prospecting information to ad agencies:
You are specifically prohibited from: (a) using or permitting the use of Information to prepare an original database or a comparison of the Software to other databases that are sold, rented, published, or furnished in any manner by or to a third party; (b) using or permitting the use of Information for the purpose of compiling, enhancing, verifying, supplementing, adding to, or deleting from any mailing list, business directory, or other compilation of information that is sold, rented, published or furnished in any manner to a third party.
The Content on this Web site is for use by the Subscriber and its Users only and not for commercial exploitation. A User may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, rent, lease, loan, sell, sublicense, or create derivative works from either this Web site or its Content. A User may not use any network monitoring or discovery software to determine the site architecture or extract information about usage, individual entities or users. A User may not use any robot, spider, other automatic software and/or devices or manual processes to monitor or copy this Web site or its Content without the Provider’s written consent. A User may not copy, modify, reproduce, republish, distribute, display, or transmit to third parties outside the User’s agency network for commercial, non-profit or public purposes any or all portions of this Web site without the Provider’s written consent. A User may not use or otherwise export, or re-export, this Web site or its Content pursuant to the export control laws and regulations of the United States of America. Any unauthorized use of this Web site or its Content is expressly prohibited.
Redbooks (Lexis Nexis):
The Content on the Site is provided solely for your personal use and not for commercial exploitation. You may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, rent, lease, loan, sell, sublicense, or create derivative works from the Site or the Content. Nor may you use any network monitoring or discovery software to determine the site architecture, or extract information about usage, individual identities or users. You may not use any robot, spider, other automatic software or device, or manual process to monitor or copy our Site or the Content without our prior written permission. You may not copy, modify, reproduce, republish, distribute, display, or transmit for commercial, non-profit or public purposes all or any portion of the Site, except to the extent permitted above. You may not use or otherwise export or re-export the Site or any portion thereof, the Content or any software available on or through the Site in violation of the export control laws and regulations of the United States of America. Any unauthorized use of the Site or its Content is expressly prohibited.
The Services are licensed for Customer's internal use only and subject to any restrictions set forth in the Order. Customer will not provide Information, or other Services to others, whether directly in any media or indirectly through incorporation in a database, marketing list, report or otherwise, or use or permit the use of Information to generate any statistical or other information that is or will be provided to third parties (including as the basis for providing recommendations to others); use or permit the use of Information to prepare any comparison to other information databases that is or will be provided to third parties.
As you can see, if you've purchased information from one of these third parties, and have exported or plan to export it to Jigsaw, you are clearly violating their license agreement(s). For these third parties, the natural next step is legal proceedings. It remains to be seen if it's against Salesforce.com, their clients, or both.
My recommendation is to go back and re-read the applicable license agreements - your legal obligations - if you've purchased data from a third party anytime in the last few years. And then, be very careful to document what you export to Jigsaw, if anything.
Better yet, just don't do it.
From classroom to workplace
Published on September 21, 2010
How do you build team players? Is "team play" something that people are born with, or is it a learned behavior? How do we create it in this Millennial age, when our youngest employees have grown up hearing that 'everyone is a winner', even though in business there are winners and losers?
I recently read Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture. At one point he talks about a feedback system that helped the students in his "Building Virtual Worlds" class at Carnegie Mellon University learn how to operate effectively in teams. It occurred to me that this might work for creative, account, and perhaps even new business teams.
Here's how he did it:
First, he created four-person teams. Each person was dependent on the work of the other three members of the team, and their grades reflected it.
Next, he would ask each team member to evaluate the other three members of the team three different ways:
- How hard did this person work? Exactly how many hours do you think this person devoted to the project?
- How creative was his contribution?
- Was he easy or difficult to work with? Was he a team player?
There were five projects each semester, so each student ended up with 15 data points. He always found the answer to number three the most compelling:
What your peers think is, by definition, an accurate assessment of how easy you are to work with.
Randy then stack-ranked the results in a horizontal bar chart showing each student's scores. The results were hard to ignore.
He also asked for free-form suggestions for improvement for each student. When coupled with the chart, each student had numerous examples of their behavior in action, with suggestions on how to perform better in a team.
How might such a simple system work within your creative department? Account service teams? New business or pitch teams?
Most important things entrepreneurs have learned
published on September 14, 2010
Readers of this blog will recognize that I'm curious about how to improve new business, and business in general. I believe you can learn from the experience of others, particularly when you think
Execute well for growth
published on August 11, 2010
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, authors of REWORK, write: "The original pitch idea is such a small part of business that it's almost negligible. The real question is how you execute."
Sparkfly personalizes offers to influence shopper behavior and drive maximum margins
published on July 14, 2010
One of the "if only we could" wishes of B2C Chief Marketing Offers is delivering highly personalized, one-to-one offers to customers - offers that result in increased brand loyalty and higher
It's tough to improve if you don't know how you're doing
published on June 29, 2010
How do you measure the performance of your new business team? Is it just number of wins and revenue generated? If those numbers are good, do you know what they're doing well? If those numbers
Build your plan
published on June 24, 2010
Creating an advertising agency new business plan is a step-by-step process. With the outline of ingredients necessary to create a new business plan provided in this post, you'll be able to make
Are you committed?
published on June 22, 2010
It may be the result of losing a client, reading a book, article or blog, attending a conference or meeting, or perhaps just having a conversation with someone: every so often an ad agency CEO
Case Study: Cinquino & Co.
published on May 05, 2010
Was your agency able to win new business from 71% of your first meetings in 2008? How about 60% in 2009? That's what one small agency in New Jersey accomplished after being on the brink of closing
In the words of Rishad Tobaccowala
published on March 03, 2010
Marketing is understanding and meeting customer requirements. In order to survive, companies must meet their requirements; technology is going to allow agencies to understand customers'
The glue in the marketing organization
published on February 24, 2010
The marketing organization inside many of your larger prospects or clients is becoming increasingly fractured and siloed, creating a big opportunity for agencies to exercise leadership and vocally
Objectives and Key Results
published on February 02, 2010
Two days ago I was introduced to a management technique that's widely used at Intel and Google, about which I was previously unaware. The idea is to get everyone in the company focused on the
How hard are you willing to work, and for how long?
published on January 22, 2010
Most ad agency new business people are competitive, and want to be the very best they can be. What separates the average from the great? The experts from the "wannabes"? I was struck by a section
Making sure you and your new business director are on the same page
published on January 19, 2010
Every now and then you learn a management technique that's so easy and powerful that you can't believe you didn't know about it before. I learned one of these tactics recently from an executive
The good news is that everything is measurable
published on December 15, 2009
A reader recently wrote me, saying that he's a new ad agency CEO, but has never managed a new business department. What objectives should I set, he asked? What should I measure? As many agency
Introducing Leap Media
published on November 19, 2009
Small and mid-size advertising agencies can now offer their clients Digital TV services. A low-cost, turn-key solution, which you can offer as your own, is available to drive new business.
Good chemistry means learning how to have difficult conversations to maintain harmony
published on November 04, 2009
You've seen it happen: two members of your team aren't getting along. You've tried to repair the damage, but everyone knows it's there. While everyone tries to cover it up in the pitch, it still
How one agency is turning an opportunity to win into a likely loss
published on November 02, 2009
Agencies will do almost anything to get a first meeting with an ideal new business prospect. But once the meeting is secured, optimism often turns to disappointment, and too often it's because the
It's a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face
published on September 30, 2009
It's my birthday (it's not divisible by five, just another on the short march towards the big five-oh), and I've given myself permission to rant after hearing this comment one too many times from
Real change requires real effort
published on September 16, 2009
A recent Harvard Business School article addressed why it's so hard to change, which is a good follow up to my last post on the need for constant change and improvement in ad agency new business.
A call to action
published on September 14, 2009
You've probably heard the expression, "Change or Die". Winston Churchill had another take on it that, to me, is even more powerful:
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
And it needs to be a sound business decision
published on September 10, 2009
A few years ago I was faced with a decision about whether or not to file a lawsuit. As I considered my options, an old friend related to me what his even wiser lawyer once counseled him about
($ Canadian, that is.)
published on September 09, 2009
How many of us are willing to offer $40,000 off agency fees to bring in a client? Well that's what The BrainStorm Group did at the end of May. And it worked.
Ron Telpner, chairman and CEO of the
What's the right mix?
published on August 31, 2009
Ad agency clients regularly ask us this question, "What's the best mix of retainer vs. project work?" I think the answer can determine how successful you are at creating a sustainable new business
Growth is within your control
published on August 17, 2009
CEO beliefs and behaviors either contribute to revenue growth or work against it. The questions is, are you helping or hindering your agency generate new business?
Here's an article by Michael
The skills of your hunters and farmers are critcial to landing and retaining clients
published on August 14, 2009
Tight client budgets, hungry competitors, and aggressive new business hunters make for a tricky new business environment. That's what we're all experiencing now, and probably will for some time -
Best predictor of job performance is a work sample
published on August 05, 2009
Dan Heath and Chip Heath, authors of "Made to Stick" wrote a provocative article in the June issue of Fast Company. It challenges our basic premise about how to hire successful employees.They
Input from entrepreneurs on management, marketing and sales
published on August 03, 2009
If your ad agency is new or entrepreneurial, you're in a start-up marketing services company, or you're a CEO, you'll relate to this list of 10 things MBA schools won't teach you and the
published on July 28, 2009
Too often, creatively-driven firms forget the business discipline that's required to achieve financial success.
A consultant recently reminded me of this. He's the product of the financial and
The single best way to improve results is to measure activity
published on July 23, 2009
Those of us of a certain age remember the Ford Pinto. It had problem: hit it in the rear-end and the fuel tank might explode. This was a rather nasty surprise that drivers wanted to avoid, which
Adweek doesn't suggest an answer; Here's one.
published on July 15, 2009
Large, well-known agencies are getting frustrated at the length of time it's taking to fill open CMO positions and with the lack of available talent, according to a July 13 article in Adweek.
Leaders never let their minds shut down, always strive to learn more
published on June 30, 2009
In college, I don't think there was any way to comprehend what a professor meant when he said, "learning is a lifelong occupation". All we wanted to do was graduate and not have to take another
Making brownies while presenting your credentials doesn't mix
published on June 25, 2009
One day during the week of June 15th, 2009 a multicultural ad agency that can't be named had a conference call with a very large, well-known telecommunications company. They completely blew it.
The greatest change of our work lives is on the horizon
published on June 23, 2009
Michael Malone's new book, The Future Arrived Yesterday hit bookshelves on Monday. You may remember his name from the early 1990s prediction that work was going to become increasingly virtual. He
Think twice, then act decisively in pursuit of new business
published on June 19, 2009
Chi Wan thought three times before taking action. When the Master was informed of it, he said, "Twice will do."
Shaun Rein writes about "Confucius' Three Keys to Successful Leadership" in a
4 steps to benefit from focused learning and strategic targeting during slowdowns
published on June 16, 2009
Elizabeth Baskin of Tribe passed along a good idea to me yesterday that may be of use to those who work or own small agencies. We ran into each other at Catapult New Business' New Business from
Recession success proves the power of a well executed strategy
published on June 09, 2009
Amid stories about client losses, staff cuts and reduced spending are powerful reminders that a well-executed organic growth strategy can be a powerful revenue-generator in good times as well as
To be successful, a good new business hunter needs to feel their boss' confidence
published on June 03, 2009
Faye Hyman died six months ago after losing her battle with cancer.
I met Faye in 1997. When I took my new position, Faye was on probation, facing the loss of her job if her numbers didn't
Measuring and graphing trends over time will show whether your new business process is improving, or not
published on June 02, 2009
If you have kids between 7th and 10th grades, you should know about The College Board's The Official SAT Question of the Day. It provides a daily question that is a fun and challenging way to
Take a page from Jack Welch's playbook
published on May 29, 2009
Ad agencies must drive new business to grow. But then there's growth through acquisition. Or, perhaps "stealing" your way to growth. If you missed this from today's Vanity Fair/Bloomberg Panel,
Facing lack of new business growth? Loss of clients? This is what a recession feels like, so now's the time to rally your troops
published on May 26, 2009
Ad agencies and other marketing services firms are perfectly positioned to get creative and inspire their marketing talent on behalf of the firm. reminds us that,
But in any economy, clever entrepreneurs find opportunity where others see only problems
published on May 25, 2009
Imagine running your agency while fearing imminent kidnapping of a family member.
I spent the Memorial Day weekend with family. We are quite a crew of different nationalities and cultures. One of
Your agency's first meeting with a prospective client should be all about them and not about you or your capabilities
published on May 21, 2009
I've enjoyed reading Norm Brodsky's articles in Inc. magazine for years. He's seen and experienced just about anything you'll ever encounter, and there's a wealth of good business insight in every
Don't be one of those new business professionals (or CEOs) who's missing what's happening outside the four walls of your agency
published on May 18, 2009
If you're the new business person at a small or medium-size agency, or the agency CEO, a recent post from OnStartUps by Dharmesh Shah may resonate.
I borrowed this post's title from Dharmesh, who
What is the one thing that must be done extraordinarily well to achieve your Vision?
published on May 14, 2009
In yesterday's post I mentioned participating in a Vistage meeting on Tuesday that featured an excellent speaker, Dan Barnett. Dan has run businesses for 25 years at companies like Pillsbury,
What is the clear, specific, measurable and achievable Vision motivating your agency?
published on May 13, 2009
Yesterday I participated in a Vistage meeting that featured an excellent speaker, Dan Barnett. Dan has run businesses for 25 years at companies like Pillsbury, Nestle, Constellation Brands,
If you can find the time to write a blog, you can find the time for proactive new business
published on May 07, 2009
A few months ago I committed myself to writing a blog post every day for the professional enrichment it provides, in that you don't really know what you know until you write it down.
Starting an agency any time is difficult; succeeding today is even more challenging. Tips for success from a venture capitalist
published on March 27, 2009
I stumbled upon a post by Paul Graham, venture capitalist, titled "How Not to Die". It's the notes from a talk he gave at a dinner for the leaders of companies his firm had invested in. As someone
Any excuse is a good excuse not to make prospect calls
published on March 23, 2009
Just last month an agency president told me, "Over 20 years I've made up every possible excuse in order to NOT make the new business calls I needed to make."
Here are 4 common forms of new
Right-size your agency instead of eliminating your sales and marketing effort
published on March 17, 2009
The day before yesterday a Midwest agency CEO called and told us that they cut all new business spending at their 40-person full-service agency. I cringed when I heard the story.
What would you
Spending money on what you don’t do well is as important as spending it on what you do well
published on January 21, 2009
Last week an agency principal from the West coast called and said, "I haven't forgotten you, we just got busy (months after his initial call). But, now we're ready to move forward with new