Nurture Your Crumbs to Create Continuous Revenue Growth

Laurie Coots is the global CMO for TBWA/Chiat Day. She’s one of the smartest ad agency new business execs you’ll ever meet. When she speaks, people listen. Laurie shared her thoughts on how to grow your agency at this year’s New Business Conference.

I took away four simple and compelling points:

  1. Pick up a crumb and run with it. Pursue clients you want to work with. Incubate the small projects, as well as any other small clients you attract. Do great work. Great work will lead to more work. Crumbs Laurie pursued and grew last year created $11M in new revenue for TBWA.
  2. Productize“. Take what you’re doing and put a price on it. Avoid charging by the hour. Consulting firm McKinsey and Co. does it this way; why not your agency?
  3. Learn to Sell. Quantify the opportunity. Get the decision makers in the room. [I’d add: ask smart questions, listen carefully, propose a solution, ask for the business.]
  4. Reinvent your behavior. Decide how you want to be, not how you think you should be.

Nurturing your crumbs is a perfect strategy to generate consistent revenue growth. In good economic times and in bad, focusing on smaller projects with growth potential gets you in the door early.

One of the great differentiators between agencies and their new business leaders is their ability to sell. If you really learn to sell, you’ll stand out from the thousands that don’t do it well.

I learned the power of “productizing” as a teenager. I had an odd-jobs business with two employees. When I charged by the hour, I knew how much money I’d make. However, once I created a product, I was able to charge my customers a flat fee and make much more. The technological capabilities of many agencies position them perfectly to charge a flat rate for certain services, and generate significant profits.

My last post about Alex Bogusky echoes Laurie’s call for reinvention. Alex referred to it as “breaking the rules”. However you choose to think about it, clients are looking for agencies that stand for something. You have the ability to choose who you want to be.


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