The Ad Agency New Business Roundabout


This article is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.

We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!

The Ad Agency New Business Roundabout

When I started RSW/US in 2005, I never imagined that so many ad agencies would ultimately benefit from our agency new business services.

I knew my sister company in the UK had been successfully assisting marketing agencies for 13 years, but I wasn’t sure if their success in the UK would translate into the U.S.

However, I soon discovered something that has proven out over the last 16 years.

Marketing agencies struggle with the proactive acquisition of new, new business.

Networking and referrals…no problem.

But when those slow (and they have steadily slowed over recent years), most agencies are left without a plan.

Why do marketing agencies have so much trouble developing a new business plan that they can follow consistently all the way to the win?

The first step in creating a strong new business program is drafting a well-defined strategy that capitalizes on your strengths, focuses on your objectives, and targets the right-fit prospects.

However, the new business process is made up of a very long continuum of steps that carry agencies from the first meeting, and ultimately to the close.

At any given stage, there are myriad decisions to make about positioning, messaging, targeting, timing, cadence, etc. Some agencies realize this and are discouraged before they begin. “Putting together a new business plan” remains a perpetual item on their to-do list that never gets crossed off.

Also, while putting pen to paper is often the toughest part of developing a well thought out new business plan, implementation is also a hurdle.

Prospecting setbacks are common and will drive some to panic with the thought that their plan is the cause.

So begins the second-guessing and tinkering with the new business plan.

This leaves agencies doomed to endless trial and error for the lack of a methodology to follow.

If the person tasked with new business is an agency principal, client work is always the #1 priority, and eventually new business takes a back seat.

If the agency has hired a new business director, time ticks away as they wait for results – in fact, most agency new business directors only last an average of 18 months.

This leaves most agencies feeling like they are on the new business roundabout.

Never comfortable jumping in, never sure where to find their way out, and often times feeling like they’re just circling the wagon with little semblance of a plan.

It has been 16 years since that fateful day when I left a good-paying job to start RSW/US…and the success met in the UK is still translating well today!

Thank you, agency clients! And thank you Team RSW/US!

We are proud of our history of trying to help agencies help themselves.

We are big believers in giving our ideas away.

If you check out our resources page on our site, you’ll see what I mean.

From Lee McKnight’s famous “Three Takeaways” series, to our annual surveys among marketers and agencies…all intended to help you create a well-run, new business program.

We’ve been doing it for years…and this year is no different.

Today is the start of our “Summer Road Trip” Campaign series.

For the next 10 weeks, you’ll hear from various members of the RSW/US Team via blogs and videos talking about different new business issues and offering up ideas on how to best address them.

In another couple of weeks, you’ll receive your very own Summer Road Trip map (similar to the old AAA maps your parents used to get mailed to them to help them organize their trips).

Our map is intended to do the same: To help you organize your very own trip into the world of new business.

So, if you’re feeling like you’re in the agency new business roundabout and don’t know where to go, give us a shout. We’re happy to talk about how we can help you help yourself.

And don’t forget that map! It will be on your desk soon. Some fun giveaways along the 10-week journey, so pay attention to the road and put that phone away!

Happy travels!