Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022

Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022, and you can look into the reasons why in our latest RSW/US report.

Download it now at no cost: RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment.

(And you can read the Adweek feature on it here: Obtaining New Business Is More Difficult for Agencies, Report Finds)

Our first question to ad agencies:

How Difficult Is Obtaining New Business, Compared to Last Year?

After an unprecedented 2021 survey report, where only 28% of agencies reported obtaining new business (compared to the previous year) as harder or a lot harder, this year we see the cyclical nature of the ad industry rear its head again.

In 2022, 43% of agencies report that obtaining new business (compared to the previous year) is harder or a lot harder than it was in 2021.

Ad Agencies Are Finding New Business Harder To Drive in 2022

Looking at the responses from this question dating back to 2008, 2021 was a high point for many agencies, with only 28% saying it was harder to obtain new business that year.

Following the lockdown, budget freezes, and the overall extreme uncertainty of 2020, agencies needed that respite–and thankfully many firms got it.

But as you’ll see in our report, business is inevitably becoming harder to acquire again in 2022.

Looking at the data from another angle, only 17% of agencies said it was easier or a lot easier to obtain new business in 2022, versus 38% in 2021.

And in a follow-up question, “Relative to last year, have you seen the number of opportunities for new business decrease, increase, or remain the same?”, we saw that-

32% of agencies said the number of opportunities for new business increased, versus 51% last year.

As if agencies weren’t already exhausted from managing the pandemic and workforce disruption, the remainder of ‘22 and ‘23, with inflation and recession concerns, reaffirms
the need for agencies to make sure they have an actual new business strategy in place.

We’ll have a series of  posts on our report, covering each major stat, and what it means for new business moving forward.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Amanda Parker-Wolery: Marketing to Multiple Audiences

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking marketing to multiple audiences (consumers and builders), eCommerce, localized marketing, and dealer networks with Amanda Parker-Wolery, Marketing Director at Organized Living.

If your agency pursues clients in the building industry, who target dealer networks, or who focus on localized marketing, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: Organized Living offers high-quality, innovative storage and organization products for single family builders and multifamily professionals.

From the bedroom closet to the kitchen pantry to the garage, Organized Living offers high-quality, innovative storage and organization products for single family Builders and multifamily professionals. Sold through professionally installing dealers, retailers, and online retailers.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Amanda talks:

  • How she addresses the need to localize marketing for each property yet still maintaining efficiencies in her overall spend.
  • Her goals for the organization – where she would you like to see the company 2-3 years out.
  • How Organized Living differentiates itself from competitors in the market.
  • How the company markets to each of their different audiences.
  • The design background and quality experience managing creative institutions like, most recently, The Art Academy of Cincinnati that she brings to Organized Living, and how she thinks that experience will impact how she manages the marketing of Organized Living.
  • Any advice Amanda would give to marketers thinking about bringing a new agency on board.
  • And lastly, if an agency was trying to knock down Amanda’s door and attempting to win business from her, what advice she would give them

A little bit about Amanda:

Amanda Parker-Wolery meshes her creativity with her background in marketing and strategy as Organized Living’s Director of Marketing.

She holds a BFA in Visual Communication from the University of Dayton and a MFA in 2D from the University of Cincinnati.

Find more at: https://amandaparkerwolery.wordpress.com/Amanda

RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment

This is the RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment, 2022 and Beyond.

(Download your report at the bottom of this page)

We’ve fielded this survey since 2010, and in this year’s edition we present comparable data that is available across all previous editions, providing insight on trends in key areas over the past ten years.

This report is typically heavily downloaded because the answers come from our survey of your agency peers.

This year’s survey and the resulting RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report see ad agencies, marketing services firms, and PR firms in a different place in 2022;

with organic growth slowing and “new” new business tougher to get, agencies have some work to do.

RSW/US 2022 Agency New Business Report: Perspective On The Agency New Business Environment

Over 3,000 Agency executives nationwide had the opportunity to participate, and in fielding the survey, we wanted to discern how the challenges and dynamics of agency new business efforts have evolved as we came out of 2021 and progressed through 2022.

Our hope is the key findings and implications of the study presented in this report provide value as you develop your plans for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.

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If this is your first time here, RSW/US is an outsourced lead generation/business development firm that exclusively services ad agencies, PR firms, and marketing service firms (of all sizes and types).

We work with over 50 agencies across the U.S., operating as their outsourced sales and marketing team. and were founded in 2005.

More about us here.

To view please fill out the form below

While we offer the resources found on our site at no charge, we do ask for your assistance in maintaining a certain level of knowledge about who is accessing our valuable assets. We will never sell or distribute your information to any third parties.

Your Ad Agency Tagline Is Not Your Agency Elevator Pitch

Let me repeat, and not just for SEO purposes: your ad agency tagline is not your elevator pitch.

Yet, so many agencies treat them as one and the same.

An Adweek article defines an agency tagline this way:

Every organization has words it lives and operates by—mantras, if you will—and ad agencies are no exception. Some are more well-known than others, some are plastered across the agency’s website, and some take a bit of digging to find. But all represent an agency’s core values and goals.

Ad Agency Taglines Are Important

Let me just get that out there.

Creating one for your firm provides you with an exercise into who you are as a firm.

As the article points out, it represents your core values and goals.

Having said that, many come across as empty platitudes, but I’m not here to judge.

So now that I’ve put forth their importance, what is absolutely critical?

Your Ad Agency Tagline Is Not Your Agency Elevator Pitch

When To Use, And Not Use, Your Tagline

Your tagline is on your site, it’s on your digital and physical collateral and it’s on your business card, as it should be.

You should not, however, use your tagline in your top-of-the-funnel messaging.

I’ve said it previously, but you have to break through to your prospect before you can do anything else.

And you typically won’t if you lead with a tag line.

But, I see agencies do it, and I do understand.

You’ve spent time and effort crafting that tagline, and it does embody your core values.

Why wouldn’t a prospect understand and embrace that?

Because they’re busy and they don’t care-not upfront.

Here are three real-world agency examples to illustrate why leading with a tag line in your prospecting doesn’t work (and I’m not saying these aren’t good tag lines.)

Hi, Lee with X agency, we exist to help our clients make it deep.

Hi, Lee with X agency, we’re successful because we believe the work for our clients is never finished.

Hi, Lee with X agency, where we deliver for our clients by uniting behind one principle: Be Human.

To be clear, these taglines are real, but I made up the examples, not putting forth these firms are using their tag line in this way.

A lot of agencies out there are though, they’re leading with their tagline when reaching out initially to a prospect.

Look at my three examples again.

As a stand-alone, they don’t mean anything.

A prospect is not going to care-at all, at that point.

Your tagline has a place, and it’s when you have the time to tell a story, and you can weave the tagline into the work you do.

Upfront, lead with your 1 to 2 sentence elevator pitch, who you help, what you help them solve and who you are.

The Prospecting Tool Your Agency Is Not Using-But Should Be

There’s a prospecting tool most ad agencies aren’t using to drive new business-we’re going to tell you what it is and give you some tips on how to use it-stay with us.

Welcome to “3 Takeaways”, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program. 

We’re at episode 98 of this thing! 

If you haven’t subscribed, take a second and do that, along with smashing the old like button if you’re so inclined. 

Now, being so close to episode 100, I wanted to go back to our very first episode, called “Embrace the Snail”.

(Check out this episode below at .53, it’s good stuff.) 

We’ve made some quality strides since then (nice work Craig), but the content in that episode still holds up, and I wanted to provide you with an update of sorts.

A little background-in that episode, I talked about the continued efficacy of snail mail, of a physical mailer as part of your prospecting process.

Our first takeaway back then was:

36% of marketers learn about agencies from mailings.

So that episode was back in 2018-a lot happened between then and now, right. 

And physical mail for prospecting took a bit of a back seat at the height of Covid.

But if you want another new business tool in your arsenal, you need to think about mail. 

It’s funny how often I heard, phone calling didn’t work during Covid. 

Short answer-it did, were you trying? 

Similarly, I hear the same thing-mail?

Pretty old school. 

Yeah, it is, and you know what it works.

Here’s your first take away:

It’s only one prospecting tool. 

I can’t stress that enough-in our own RSW programs, we use mail as one tool in the toolbox, our tech stack is another, well many tools there, but we do not use mail as the main driver to drive new business for our clients. 

If you ever come across advice that you should only use one tool, like email or LinkedIn, to drive new business, potential opportunities will be left on the table. 

Let’s get to takeaway two:

You have to use mail to interact and reinforce all your other tools. 

It’s a succession, a chain if you will, as you reach out to a prospect, referring back to the mailing piece, a phone call, an email, alternating each of these touches-it’s going to reinforce your awareness and make what could be a cold call warmer.

OK, your third takeaway-

Keep your copy concise with any mailing piece.

According to stats from the Who’s Mailing What database, the word count in direct mail they’ve tracked has declined by 62%. 

That’s a good thing, and you should mirror that with any piece you create.

Less copy, more images-that’s the direction you want.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site to help you at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down. 

Cobbler's Children And Agency New Business-An Update

The most-used description we hear for agencies and their new business process (or lack of one) is the story of the cobbler’s children.

(If you’re not familiar, read here.)

Essentially the cobbler (maker of shoes) is so busy making shoes for his customers/clients, that his own children are walking around with no shoes themselves.

Similarly, agencies are working so hard for their clients, they don’t make time for the new business process.

But given that’s a proverb from hundreds of years ago, I was struck with inspiration for an update to describe how often agencies ignore the process of new business.

And we all see it every day:

Agencies ignore new business like someone texting and walking, or simply engrossed in their phone screen-ignoring what’s in front of them.

So taking this analogy one step further:

The focus on your phone is essentially like the focus on your clients

Constantly looking at it, head down, (servicing clients), to the exclusion of new business.

Once you finally look up, the far-too-often ignored new business process becomes the collective realization that you should have had an achievable new business strategy in place all along.

(Before that big client left, or budgets got slashed or referrals started to become more sporadic.)

Before I come across as too harsh, clients do have to come first, of course.

I could never begrudge agencies that fact (you gotta eat after all), but there really is never an excuse for the lack of a new business strategy.

Cobbler's Children And Agency New Business-An Update

An achievable strategy, that won’t overwhelm you.

Need a few more reasons?  How about some cold, hard new business stats?

From a few of our recent and past agency new business survey reports:

Less than 3% of agencies report closing business during a first meeting.

It’s hard enough just getting that first meeting, and 97% of the time, the new business process doesn’t stop there.

Leading to my next stat:

Agencies say 48% of business closes within 2-3 months of the first meeting.

We know too many examples of agencies handling new business internally claiming a meeting went nowhere, when in fact the agency performed little-to-no follow–up.

And to put a capper on this point, our last stat for this post:

53% of marketers say agency follow-up after meetings is not aggressive enough.

So, as I say goodbye to the cobbler’s children, I’ll flesh out and finish my new, updated analogy: your phone is important, you rely on it and need it, but you also have to be aware of your surroundings.

Lift up your head and pay attention to your new business process, lest you get blindsided by a glaring lack of new business.

3 Business Development Strategies That Work In 2022

Lee McKnight Jr. is delivering you 3 business development strategies that come straight from your agency peers.

Welcome to “3 Takeaways”, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

We attended the AMI Conference in Chicago a few weeks back, and were privileged to moderate three different agency roundtables, with the topic, Business Development in 2022-What’s working and what’s not. 

I can’t give away all the good stuff, but for our three takeaways, I wanted to point out three tips on what’s working: what we see working with our own clients, and what agencies from our roundtables mentioned was working for them.

Here’s your first takeaway:

Try posting something personal on LinkedIn. 

Does that sound weird?

It kind of feels weird-I have not done it often, but I’m planning on doing it a bit more. 

Because it does two things-

  • Gets you more views and likes, and
  • Brings a human side to you, that prospects will respond to.

There are some ground rules here.

Do it sparingly, and provide some type of insight or reflection. 

If it’s just a post with a picture of you by the lake, or the team at happy hour, you’ll probably get some views, but then you’re just turning it into your Facebook feed.

Ideally, you tie in some aspect of your personal life, could be a reflection on something positive, or how you handled a struggle, into your work life.

I will tell you, it’s not always easy, because, and I hate this overused word, it needs to be authentic. 

But mixing one of those posts in, with every nine thought leadership posts, gives your profile more dimension-prospects work with agencies and people they like.

This will help you do that. 

Your second takeaway:

Don’t sell in every email.

Also sounds weird, right?

You need to take advantage of that email real estate with every send. 

Well, email deliverability is getting more and more important. 

The days of blasting out ineffectual, no homework emails is going away. 

Your sender reputation is incredibly important. 

If more and more of your emails are going into spam filters, Google will ding you.

If you pick one email a week, or 1 out of 4 in your cadence, and not sell to your prospect, but instead, provide them with something of value, that relates to their industry-it will help you stand out, and your prospects will respond in kind. 

It will still take time, it’s not a silver bullet, but everyone else is blindly selling, seeing what sticks. 

And your third takeaway, and it’s purely tactical:

Pursue new hires-the right way. 

A new CMO, or VP of Marketing, will have a lot on her or his plate being new on the job. If you approach them respectfully, and show your value, chances are good they’ll at least be more open to talking.

They’ll need the help. 

Doesn’t always work, and you can’t jump all over them, but there are some software platforms, like a ZoomInfo, or more inexpensive options, just Google ZoomInfo new hires, or Lead 411 new hires, and other platforms will pop us as well within that search to help you find those new hires. 

Couple that with Google alerts and LinkedIn, and you’ve got what you need.

There you go-3 business development strategies for 2022.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site to help you at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down. 

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🔔 Subscribe for more free content on how to help improve your new business program: https://bit.ly/2Mn0gXy

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy for your ad agency, email Lee McKnight Jr. at lee@rswus.com. He would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

Marketer’s Edge Interview With Becky Freemal: Credit Union Rebranding

In this episode of Marketer’s Edge we’re talking with Becky Freemal , Chief Marketing Communication Officer at ValleyStar Credit Union, and the discussion focuses on repositioning and rebranding credit unions.

If your agency pursues clients in the credit union space, you’ll want to watch this episode.

A bit of background: across Virginia, ValleyStar Credit Union has served businesses and families since 1953.

They help their members get beyond the dry language of mortgages, loans, accounts and credit cards to focus on what they really care about – the house they’d love to own, the bigger car, the credit card that works with their lifestyle, reaching that goal of a law degree, owning a small business or a secure retirement.

Why Advertising Agencies Should Watch This Episode-Becky talks:

The recent (2021) launch of their credit union’s repositioning and credit union rebranding and what that has done to the performance of her business.

Her move from a storied career in journalism to the world of credit union marketing – and why she decided to leave television to run marketing for a credit union.

How her life as a journalist has made her a better marketer, and better able to tell customer stories in ways that are more impactful and believable.

Her advice to marketers looking to bring on a new agency and offers counsel to agencies looking to knock down her door and win new business.

A little bit about Becky:

All Data … Big Analytics … each data point has a story.

I uncover those stories, make sense of the numbers and comprehend the impact of each one.

Stories connect people, empower relationships, measure brands. I tell those stories. I connect those people and I build those brands.

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You can also see our video series 3 Takeaways here. It’s our agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy, email me at lee@rswus.com. I would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

3 Tips On Crafting Effective Emails Prospects Won’t Ignore

For this episode, we’re bringing you 3 pieces of advice on how to craft effective emails from our own RSW/US new business directors.

Welcome to “3 Takeaways”, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

If you’re driving new business for your advertising agency or PR firm, you’re always looking for ways to make your emails more effective.

In this episode, we’re giving you 3 quick tips, or takeaways, directly from 3 of our new business directors here at RSW.

Your first takeaway on crafting effective emails is from Brandon Buttrey:

Shy away from links, bold, italics, underlines and attachments.

I like this one a lot, Brandon points out as well,

The e-mail should read like a conversation between two people.

I’ve talked about this before in these episodes, and it’s a prospecting mantra of mine:

Talk to your prospects, not at them.

An email full of bold or underlined copy with multiple links screams sales email.

I’m not advising you never use any of these, but early on, especially, avoid all of them-just reach out with simple text.

Your second takeaway is from Amanda Mudd:

Be literal in your subject lines.

I’ll give you an example.  You‘ve heard that your subject line should reflect, in some way, the content of your email.

So, one way to be literal in your subject line, and a great way to use your case studies, is naming the company that’s in your case study in your subject line.

And that’s it, just the company name.

It should obviously relate to the prospect’s industry you’re reaching out to, but getting your email opened is that huge first step.

And just the company name will create some interest, and quite frankly, maybe some confusion, but that’s a good thing.

Chances are better they’ll open it.

And your third takeaway is from Carrie Shoemaker:

Be Enthusiastic, upbeat, and confident.  Be memorable. 

Advice you may have heard before, but so many salespeople don’t embrace it.

Your enthusiasm and passion shows, on the phone or video, sure, but in email and voicemail as well.

There’s a balance-you don’t want to be over the top in your enthusiasm, but it humanizes you.

So much sales outreach comes off as an ad a robot wrote.

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🔔 Subscribe for more free content on how to help improve your new business program: https://bit.ly/2Mn0gXy

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy for your ad agency, email Lee McKnight Jr. at lee@rswus.com. He would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.

My Ad Agency Did The Work But I Can't Talk About It

What do you do when a client won’t let your ad agency talk about the work you did for them?

Keep watching for 3 ideas to still use that work when you’re prospecting.

Welcome to “3 Takeaways”, your agency new business video series where we focus on one new business category and give you three takeaways to help improve your new business program.

The idea for this episode came from an Adweek article titled Brands’ Silence Hurts Agencies. PR Is a Win for Both.

The short version: it talks about brands or companies, not letting an ad agency publicly talk about the work they created for that brand.

Worth a read, but per usual, Adweek tends to focus on larger agencies, so I wanted to focus your takeaways today on small and mid-sized agencies. 

Because it’s an issue for you as well.

Let’s get the obvious point out of the way, and your first takeaway:

Discuss publicizing your work early with your client-or don’t. 

I don’t mean to be flip about this-but you can take one of two paths. 

The first is you bring it to the table early. 

Fair enough, there may need to be some negotiating, as I get into shortly, there are ways to use that work as part of your new business strategy that don’t involve plastering your client’s logo across your site. 

Or there’s the other path: if it’s not mentioned, it’s fair game, but again-in my opinion, you’re taking baby steps at that point, not plastering the logo-more on that.

Now let me point out-I get that this is your new client. 

Your goal is not to make demands or piss them off out of the gate on this subject. 

A lot of small and mid-sized agencies are working with bigger companies, and some of those companies will make it known early that you cannot talk about the work-period.

At that point, and circumstances will dictate, you don’t want to push it any further.

But it’s not necessarily over at that point. 

If there’s not a firm policy, you have some potential leeway-for example, your second takeaway:

Create docs, mini-case studies or one-pagers that are only used in your prospecting as one-on-one communication, that you can share with them.

Or a non-published, password-protected landing page, not something you’re posting on your site or on any public platform.

Again, I’m not advocating you jeopardize your relationship with this client.

If you feel in your gut that this step could bite you, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. 

In some cases, it may be.-

For example, I’ve had conversations with agency principals along the lines of, “this is a long-term client that we’d really like to replace”, so you need to at least create something that talks the work only in direct communication.

But even that may make you feel queezy-fair enough. 

Another option, and your third takeaway:

Talk about the work in one-on-one conversations.

If you really can’t, or don’t want to, have anything public-facing, or are too concerned about physical or digital versions being out there, another option is discussing the work in a prospect meeting, in one-on-one conversations.

And maybe you don’t actually mention the brand directly to be safe, but what you did and what the results were.

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down. 

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🔔 Subscribe for more free content on how to help improve your new business program: https://bit.ly/2Mn0gXy

If you’re looking for a more effective business development strategy for your ad agency, email Lee McKnight Jr. at lee@rswus.com. He would love to talk.

Or, if you’re not ready for that step, you can read about how our outsourced business development programs work here.