Focus on your Core Competency to Increase your Ad Agency’s Speed to New Business

Spending money on what you don’t do well is as important as spending it on what you do well
by Todd Knutson

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 business and purchase The List."

Instead of following through after initially calling us, he and his staff had gathered together various internal lists, grouped companies into target categories, and started calling (sporadically) each company to see if the contacts they had were accurate. They weren't.

Finally, after almost 6 months he realized he wasn't making any progress and called us back. Five minutes after looking at our online database, he realized he'd wasted tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours trying to do something that wasn't his core competency.

In his attempt to save money, he had actually spent more, and wasted valuable time. The opportunity cost of his decision was huge.

Many agencies have fallen into this trap - at least 35-40% by our estimate.

Consider the pieces to a good proactive new business program:

  • Someone in charge who's a true sales person, who really knows your agency and the industries you serve
  • Solid agency positioning that appeals to your prospects
  • Identified industry categories to pursue
  • Prospect list - with the specific people you want to talk to
  • Networking list - friends of the firm, past and current clients, etc.
  • Collateral materials: work, emails, letters, case studies, testimonials, website, blog, etc., etc.
  • Smart questions to ask prospects at every step of the process
  • CRM program to track prospects, calls and next-actions
  • Identification and training of your traveling team - those who will attend first meetings

How well do your competencies match this list? Or, think about it this way - why did you get into the agency business? For many agency people it's because they want to do great work with a great group of people in a really fun environment.

Most agencies' core competencies don't match the requirements of a good new business program.

3 questions to think about:

  1. What is your agency best at?
  2. What parts of your new business process are perpetual struggles to complete or do well?
  3. How else might you get those parts of the process done without having to do it yourself?

I put this out there as a thought-piece. In another post I talk about ways traditional and emerging shops are outsourcing their way to new business success.

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