Hope is Not a Strategy for Ad Agency New Business

It's okay to hunker down during a violent storm, but not as the economy contracts
by Todd Knutson

Last fall, as we all started feeling the effects of the economic slow-down, agency CFOs started tightening controls over new business spending.

  • Individual employee spending limits were reduced or eliminated
  • Budgets were frozen
  • Vendors were cut
  • Travel was reduced or eliminated

Much of this was prudent, but the pendulum may have swung too far. Amid the dire economic news the media unrelentingly reports, companies are taking advantage of the downturn. Consider Beal Bank, as reported in the April 9, 2009 edition of Forbes magazine. Where quite a few banks are just trying to survive, they are taking advantage of "...the opportunity of my lifetime," and have "tripled in size in the last eight months".

What new business opportunities are out there for agencies to pursue? Rather than cutting new business spending, why not invest in it?

The encouraging news is that some agency presidents are doing exactly this by:

  • Aggressively pursuing organic growth with every one of their clients, and
  • Investing in proactive business development

We're seeing agencies invest time and money on the following new business tactics:

  • Nurturing referral networks
  • Building a social media presence (for help on this click here)
  • Email, telephone outreach to targeted prospects
  • Outsourcing prospecting

These are all positive, action-oriented steps to take, rather than trying to wait out the economic storm. As I said to our sales group recently, "what if 'normal' doesn't return?" Even if it does, who knows when it will be?

Don't wait, get aggressive about your new business efforts during the recession.

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