Why Your Mindset May Be Causing You To Miss Out On Amazing Clients – 3 Takeaways Ep. 83

For this episode of 3 takeaways, we get into a particular mindset that we’re seeing more ad agency principals embrace when it comes to new business, and it could actually be costing them business, potentially amazing clients, in the long run.

Let’s do it. 

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.

Don’t forget to give us a like if you’re digging our content, we really appreciate it.

If there’s a place you want to be as an agency, it’s being able to walk away from work when it’s not the right fit.

During the pandemic, and certainly before, there are times when you take work, but in your gut, you know this client really is not a great fit-but you have to do it, given a current situation or circumstances.

Having said that, we’re seeing a trend, that’s not necessarily brand new, but seems to be popping up more lately.

It’s the all-or-nothing mentality some advertising agencies have when it comes to work.

All or Nothing

Specifically, that unless they’re getting all the work, they don’t just want a piece-all or nothing.

To be fair, there are those situations where financially, it truly does not make sense to take that project-you’re going to work just as hard on the smaller stuff as you do on bigger projects, and you know it’s a one-off for example.

Fair enough.

But as of late, I’m hearing more examples of agencies not taking work where there is a chance to land and expand, and it has the potential to be a solid client, but they turn it down.


Well those are your three takeaways, and I’m going to phrase them by starting with 3 don’ts.

Here’s you first:

Don’t turn down that project because you’re flush with clients now.

Look, there are a lot of ad agencies who’ve had the best couple of years ever during the pandemic.

And I know hiring is tough right now, especially for AE positions, but one thing you can absolutely count on in our industry is change.

There’s a lot of organic growth happening right now, for example, but that will even out.

You have to make sure you can service your clients, of course, but make sure that’s the reason. 

Because any of those clients could disappear tomorrow.

Here’s your second takeaway:

Don’t hold on to that AOR mentality.

While I think it’s changed in the last decade, there are still agency principals who feel their client relationships should all be AOR relationships.

And it has nothing to do with the nature of their services, they just think it should be that way.

You need to change that thinking, and be open to at least considering project opportunities.

And your final takeaway:

Don’t let your pride get in the way.

It’s the age-old story, right?

Why are we only getting a piece of this, when we know we’re better than the other firm that has a bigger piece of the pie?

All things being equal-if it makes sense to take it, you should want to take that piece of business and show your client what you can do-kick that other’s firm ass.

Much more rewarding.

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

3 Tips For Meaningful Follow-Up To Secure The Second Meeting – 3 Takeaways Ep. 82

We left you last episode saying we would lay out three ways to follow up after a first meeting to secure the second meeting-ways that will help you feel comfortable and confident as you do it.

Here we go. 

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. 

First, this is part 2 of a two-part episode, so go watch episode 81 first and come on back. 

OK, we got into three eye-opening stats on the critical nature oprospect follow-up and how often it’s not done well after a first prospect meeting.

And agencies have trouble in several ways with follow-up, even after the first meeting, where, by all accounts, you essentially have permission to follow up if it went well.  

Reasons they don’t follow up-

1) Clients get in the way-that’s a terrible reason,

and I say it tounge-in-cheek, but it’s true, the don’t make the time,

2They give up too easily

-we saw the stat that marketers think agencies don’t follow up enough, and the third, and in my mind the most legitimate-

3) They don’t know what to follow up with, especially after the first follow up. 

Which is typically some form of-hey, just checking in. How you guys doing?  

And then if there is another follow-up, it’s more meaningless check-ins.

So, how do you go about it in a meaningful way?  

You show them what it’s going to be like to work with you, before you even start. 

Your first takeaway:

Remind them why they took the first meeting with you.

 If they took even 30 minutes of their time to meet with you, they have a need or they saw some sort of value in talking with you. 

Their current agency is underperforming.

Or maybe they are interested in implementing a strategy that aligns with your specific strengths.

In any case, your follow-up should help to re-establish their original motivation for having that first meeting.

Your second takeaway:

Provide information and/or insights on something you discussed in the first meeting. 

After that first meeting, you should have some sense of the prospect’s pain-points.

As you prepare to follow-up, find a way to offer valuable perspective around something you learned in that first meeting.

Relevant client experience, a piece of content you’ve written, or even a 3rd party news item or a trend relevant to your initial discussion.

Show the prospect that you understand what they told you and demonstrate your resourcefulness. 

Now your last takeaway must be kept as a last resort-if you’ve reached out meaningfully in multiple follow-ups and they are just not getting back to you.

It’s the last email follow-up you will send, so make sure you’ve been patient.

If that’s the scenario, you employ the third takeaway-

You go for the nuclear option: guilt. 

It’s a powerful tool, and I’m only half-kidding. 

If your prospect is really ghosting you, you don’t want to waste your time or theirs. 

Some of you watching may have done this, but I’ve seen it used incorrectly and wasted.

You appeal to them, and be direct, and I’ve done this-

Hi Cheryl, I want to make sure I stick with you if it makes sense, but I also don’t want to turn into that sales guy and pester you.  I’ll plan on staying with you for now, but please let me know if the timing doesn’t work, I completely understand.

Most prospects will answer at that point, and it may not be the news you want, but at least you can move on. 

I will tell you, in my experience, it’s usually not a no at that point-they’re just busy. 

But I mention I’ve seen this done incorrectly.

You only use the nuclear option if you’ve had a first meeting, or really, most effectively, after a proposal and now they’re not getting g back to you

I’ve seen salespeople do this after a 3rd email, they haven’t even talked to me at all.

There’s been no connection, but they’re apologizing and saying well, I guess you’re not interested, or I’ve never gotten through to you, so I guess I’ll move on. 

I’m sure you’ve received those emails-it’s a terrible sales technique

There’s no connection with me yet, so you just come from a place of weakness at that point. 

So don’t be afraid of the follow-up, especially after that first meeting. 

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

3 Important Stats You Need To Know About Prospect Follow Up  – 3 Takeaways Ep. 81

Sure you know following up after a first prospect meeting is critical, but the three stats in this episode are going to wake you up to just how critical prospect follow-up really is.

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.

Two of the biggest business development challenges for advertising agencies and PR firms-first is breaking through effectively to your prospects.  

Absolutely one of the hardest things to do and full respect for how tough it really is. 

The second is what we’re going to talk about over two episodes and it’s the process of following up, after the first meeting. 

An important distinction here and I want to make sure it’s clear-there’s your follow-up after your first reach-out, and then the number of touches it takes to get your first prospect meeting, to break through, which on average is about six touches.

But we’re going to talk about follow-up after your first meeting with your prospect.

Follow-up after your first meeting with your prospect.

We’ve got stats for you-and if you’re an agency leader-soak these in, and more importantly, share these with your new business person or team-these are really important. 

Your first takeaway:

53% of marketers say that agencies are not sufficiently aggressive in following up after a meeting.

That’s a stat from one of our survey reports.

I get it-you don’t want to jump all over them after a first meeting, but man, when it’s a really good first meeting, you’re excited, you want to get going. 

Two things you should have done in that first meeting, and two bonus takeaways here:

one-Diplomatically asked about their timeline and two, ask for the second meeting.

Here’s an example, and a version of what I will typically say: This has been great, and really appreciate everyone’s time.  In terms of follow-up, I want to make sure I’m respectful of your timeline, what makes sense in terms of follow up?”

And depending on their answer, try and get that second meeting set. 

But I know, that’s easier said than done, and every situation will be different. 

You just may not be able to get that next meeting set, which is why-follow up is so important.

So here’s your next takeaway-more stats!:

80% of all sales involve at least 5 follow-ups after the first meeting.

But-your third takeaway brings the harsh reality:

44% of sales professionals give up after just one attempt.

This-drives me to distraction.

You worked so hard to get the first meeting-you had the first meeting and it went well. 

You essentially have permission to follow up.

And what typically happens-you follow up once, and your prospect doesn’t respond as quickly as you would like. 

Do not take this personally.

Lack of response does not mean lack of interest. 

I’ll give you some homework-watch episode 58, it will help you if you’re stuck.

Now sometimes they are legitimately ghosting you-it happens, right, but too many times, they’re just busy. Doesn’t mean it’s not rude, but there it is.  So I hope these stats lay out, as boldly as possible, why you’ve got to stick with it.  In our next episode, episode 81-I’ll lay out several ways to follow up, that will help you feel comfortable and confident as you do it. Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways-lots of new business content our site at rswus.com, just hit the resources drop down. 

A Simple 3 Step New Business Agenda To Conquer Your First Prospect Meeting

Today-we’ve got a simple new business agenda to help advertising agencies land the all-important second prospect meeting.  

Let’s do it. 

 OK, in episode 79, we talked about why you, agency principal or new business director, don’t get past the first/introductory prospect meeting-it’s because you make it all about you.

So, your prospect walks away without an understanding of your value-because you didn’t listen to their challenges or understand their priorities. 

So-how do you avoid that in your first meetings?

With this simple three-part new business agenda on how to handle a first meeting with a prospect. 

And here’s your first part, and your first takeaway-

Start with a little about yourself. 

During the first 5 minutes, share the agenda, a quick personal intro and state WHY the meeting is happening.

Share your strongest differentiator-your superpower. 

Prospects want to walk away with a better understanding of your value, not only what you do.

The biggest pain point for prospects is when an agency can’t articulate their USP.

Next on the agenda, and your second takeaway-

Make it a lot about your prospect. 

Prior to the meeting: write down some questions, research the company and industry.

During the meeting: take notes, show off that you did your homework while avoiding the machine gun approach of asking questions by using phrases like: ‘tell me’, ‘explain’, ‘can you help me understand’, ‘fill me in’, and pull from your client experience. 

Listening is key.

Not only to hear what your prospect is saying but to enhance your ability to understand their situation and communicate how your agency can help.  

And your third takeaway-

Set the table for your second meeting at the end of the first. 

Every situation will be different, but again-remember the second takeaway from our episode 79-the goal of your first meeting is to get a second. 

Wrap up the call by suggesting getting together in the next couple of weeks.

Have your calendar ready.

Here’s an example of what you can say:

Marci, thanks for your time, really appreciate your insights and comments, I certainly understand (RESTATE CHALLENGE(s)) and would like to share our expertise and how we might help you.  Why don’t we get together again in a few weeks to dive a little deeper and talk additional insights from our work, especially a campaign we developed for CLIENT X.   Possibly you would like to include some of your team from channel marketing.   – I have my calendar, is the second week of May good? “ 

By following this agenda and adapting it to your situation, your first meetings will be more effective, you’ll feel more comfortable and assured, and will have a much better chance of landing that second meeting.

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


Why Advertising Agencies Really Fail The First Prospect Meeting

From our experience with advertising agencies, few agency principals instinctively know how to navigate the second hurdle (the first prospect meeting)  to winning new business-today on 3 Takeaways, I’m talking about that second hurdle and how to navigate it-stick around.

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. 

First, a shout-out to RSW new business director Liz Lindley, who supplied most of the content for this episode. 

Alright, I won’t keep you in suspense-the second new business hurdle is the first prospect meeting (I know, I already told you above, work with me). 

Many agencies fail miserably at it, and I’m not just talking about meetings you get from outbound prospecting, this can extend to first meetings from referrals as well.

Mastering that introductory meeting isn’t rocket science, but many agency principals fall into the same trap. 

I’ll lay out a brief scenario to explain:

You’ve overcome the first hurdle – scheduling a meeting with that dream client.

You enter the meeting excited to share your industry experience, lots of slides, case studies, client stories, your capabilities.

You share your story and it’s a good one!

You did a great job presenting your agency capes in the best light.

So, why didn’t the relationship move forward to a second meeting and ultimately a win?

Most first-meeting failures are caused by one simple reason, and it’s your first takeaway:

You talked too much about YOU.

Or if you want a formal takeaway-Don’t make it all about you.

And that leads right into your second takeaway-

The entire goal of your first prospect meeting is getting that second meeting.

It’s rare you’re signing the contract or starting the work after your first meeting.

By asking smart questions and doing a little research before the call, your prospect will walk away with the mindset of: I like them. They’re smart, understand my business and I want to learn more. 

Many agency principals believe the introductory meeting is their “one chance to tell prospects how great we are.” 

They have a trepidation that keeps them from planning ahead. 

If you dump everything into their lap at one time during the initial conversation, it’s tough for prospects to distinguish your value and continue the conversation. 

OK let’s go back to the scenario I laid out.

You didn’t get the second meeting, because the prospect walked away without an understanding of your value-because you didn’t listen to their challenges or understand their priorities. 

Without those insights, you can’t really tell a relevant story based on your prospect’s needs, only your assumptions and accolades. 

Agencies have to show they’re playing at a higher level to be invited to the table, and it starts with how you manage the first meeting. 

And that’s a good segway into your third takeaway-

Let your competitors fire up their slide decks.

Let them use up all their time listing their capabilities and walking through case studies that may not apply, while you follow a simple agenda and land the second meeting. 

And in episode 80, I’ll lay out that simple agenda, so stay tuned for that. 

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

3 Tips To Organize Your New Business Plan – 3 Takeaways Ep. 78

Our RSW agency new business summer road trip series started a few weeks ago-a different RSW team member creating blogs and videos talking about different new business plan issues and offering up ideas on how to best address them. 

And we’re gonna get into it right now. 

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. 

I mentioned our road trip content series, we also created a Summer Road Trip physical map, similar to the old-school fold-out maps. 

If you don’t know what that is, then. . . I feel very old. 

But if you’re an agency principal watching this, you’re probably getting one-watch your mail-old school

That map is intended to help you organize your own road trip into the world of new business. 

And on the way, you’re going to see those everpresent road signs, right. 

That’s what your first takeaway is all about, and it’s this:

Don’t get stuck in the Agency New Business Roundabout.  

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

If the agency hired a new business director, most last an average of 18 months. 

And you’ll start to feel like Clark Griswold driving in London-yeah-never sure exactly what the plan is to enter and exit the roundabout, and feeling like you’re just going in circles with no plan. 

So we’ve already got several posts you can access with those links, to help you start that plan. 

But we have 2 more takeaways and they’re important, here’s your second: 

Technology Is Your Friend, But Don’t Let It Overwhelm You

Just like, in an actual road trip, you may have an old school map as backup in the glove compartment, but you’re using Google Maps, or Waze-whatever your preferred app is.

And there are a lot of those apps, right? 

Just like there’s a lot of tech and platforms you can use to drive new business

And it’s all shiny and cool, but what do you really need, especially to start the trip? 

You really need a CRM and an email platform that tracks activity.

That’s what you really need out of the gate. 

Once you have those two things, you can start to research, and add other platforms/software that make sense and you will actually use

Don’t get buried with, or spend a ton of money on, all kinds of tech you’ll never use, at least not at first. 

And your third takeaway is-

Zig When They Zag

If you’re on the road, you don’t want to go the same way everyone else is going if there’s a better route less traveled. 

So with new business, for example: you know your competition is most likely predominantly prospecting, if at all, with emails and on LinkedIn

They are probably not picking up the phone to reach out to prospects. 

They are probably not using any form of direct mail. 

They are probably not creating a lot of content. 

The first two you don’t know for a fact, but people generally don’t like to pick up the phone, for example. 

Email and LinkedIn are great prospecting tools, but relying on them solely will not get you to your brand new client destination on this road trip. 

Find a way to stand out-mix up your platforms and use each of them in concert with each other. 

That way, you’re not hitting your prospects too often with any one platform or method, and you have a better chance of actually breaking through. 

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

How Fowling Will Help Up Your Agency New Business Game- 3 Takeaways Ep. 77

Ad agency friends-have you ever heard of fowling

Whether you have or not-it has many similarities with ad agency new business. 

And if you don’t know, I’ll tell you what it is

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

Are you familiar with Fowling? 

Created in Detroit apparently, Fowling is a game where you essentially throw a football into a set of bowling pins and try and knock them all down

Like bowling, but you’re using a football instead. 

You have two boards where each set of pins sits, 32 feet apart. So-Fowling.

So, we’re about to go Fowling as a company, a little outing.  And that’s apropos, because Fowling is a lot like agency new business.

You thought this was going to be an instructional fowling video didn’t you? 

Well, sort of, first, because it may sound easy-it is not.

I have seen women and men throw perfect spirals and hit nothing. 

So Lee, you’re thinking, how else is Fowling like agency new business?  Oh, I’ll tell you.

Here’s your first takeaway:

Patience is a virtue

OK, before you stop watching, this a building block of new business. 

But there’s some of you watching and you’re thinking, yeah, I know that, but you don’t live it. 

And you’re going to lose that big client, and suddenly need new business. 

Then you’re prospecting from a place of desperation. You don’t want to be there-check out episode 49 of 3 Takeaways for more on that. 

And you absolutely need patience for Fowling.

I’ve seen it get down to the last pin and take a long time to knock it down.

OK, your second takeaway:

Precision is key. 

It’s tough, but those footballs have zero play-it goes to one spot and then bounces away, typically. 

Same with new business-if all you’re doing is mass emails with zero homework, or intent, you may get a hit every now and then, but you’re wasting time in my opinion. 

Alright, and your third takeaway: 

You need to get creative.

In fowling, after the thirteenth time trying to hit those last two pins, maybe you try and throw it underhand. 

Not very graceful, but I’ve seen it work. 

Same with new business-there will be a time when you’ve used all your case studies, don’t have new content, you’ve used your site-in those cases, you have to get creative. 

Google is always your friend, you can always find some piece of news on the company or industry. 

Or maybe you send an old school letter. 

Whatever you do, you can’t wait for things to happen. 

So there you have it: fowling and new business.  Who knew? 

Thanks for watching 3 Takeaways.

How To Handle Toxic Rock Star Employees – 3 Takeaways Ep.76

This episode of 3 Takeaways is about handling toxic rockstar employees at your agency: what that looks like (especially when they’re a rockstar), and how to handle it post-pandemic.

Hey, 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.

Today’s episode is sponsored by the legendary indie record label IRS records, original home to REM and The Go-Gos, to name a few. (OK, not really a sponsor).

So we’re talking about toxic employees at your agency, and what that looks like post-pandemic.

From talking with all kinds of agencies, the pandemic, for a lot of firms, put those employees on the back burner.  

These problems didn’t go away, there was still Zoom and those employees were still there, but there were bigger, and other very real problems.

But here we are, mostly post-pandemic, and agencies are adopting all kinds of models: stay-at-home, in the office, hybrids, and have put a fair amount of planning in place.

And those toxic employees may have gotten a pass over the last year plus, especially if they did well, if they were rock stars. 

If they’re producing, sometimes you overlook a certain level of toxicity, especially if that employee knows how to walk right up to that line, but never quite cross it.

I had an agency describe this very situation recently, involving the employee who drove new business.

And with employees coming back, or staying home, whatever your model, you need to deal with that toxic employee now.  

Especially in this job market-you can’t afford to have one employee drive other good employees out, rock star or not.

So how to deal with that employee now, in your post-pandemic agency world?

Here’s your first takeaway:

Create or update your standards of behavior. 

It’s surprising how many agencies don’t have these in place, or maybe you haven’t updated the existing standards to reflect your agency post-pandemic.

Now is the time to do that, so an employee, and specifically that toxic employee, can never say he or she didn’t have clear guidelines.

Here’s your second takeaway:

Be specific and clear when it comes to performance. 

This goes beyond behavior, and towards expectations for each department, or individual.

What they’re doing well, and what needs to be improved. 

You have to avoid mixed signals, and document all of it.

And that way, all employees are clear on what to expect, and they see leadership making that clear.

And so with that toxic rockstar, it’s made clear to them, and possibly that will help their behavior, or help agency leadership document instances where the behavior continues.

And your third takeaway:

Make sure there is an outlet for employee feedback, and encourage employees to use it.

If that employee is truly toxic, you, as an agency principal, need to know and should want to know. 

And look, sometimes certain employees just don’t get along, that doesn’t mean one of them is toxic, but when it’s clear, you’re better off addressing it sooner than later.

And you can do all the cost/benefit you want when that toxic employee is a rock star, and it may be hard to replace them, but ultimately, is that the kind of culture you want existing at your agency?

What Clients Expect From Your Agency-3 Takeaways Ep. 75

Ad agencies, we just released a brand-new report on marketing tech and agency new business tools you will want to hear more about and specifically in this episode, a recent trend you need to be aware of, what clients expect from your agency, and a few key categories you can use to help increase your client retention in the future. 

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.

 Organic growth and client retention are top of mind for ad agencies-check out episode 68, where we get into that, it’s a nice complement to this episode. 

Another one is marketing technology, and we recently released a brand new report, RSW/US 2021 Marketing Technology & Agency New Business Tools.

You’ll want to download it, because we surveyed marketers on a specific, brief set of questions around Martech tools and their potential challenges in relation to the agencies they work with, and then performed a more in-depth survey of ad agencies, with a total of 19 tool categories: 12 on the tools you and your peers use to support clients, and 7 on the tools you and your peers use to help drive agency new business.

Let’s jump into a couple of the initial stats from our report-your first takeaway: 

67% of marketers say their company’s spending on analytics and marketing tech tools is increasing. 

And as a bonus takeaway: 88% of agencies recognize the need for these tools.

Your clients, if they don’t, will come to expect it. 

At the enterprise level, they already do, and that will continue to those non-enterprise clients. 

If your firm has already started investing in these tools, you’re ahead of the curve and you should consider including language to that effect in your positioning. 

And along with those two stats, there’s another, recent stat, that you and your ad agency team need to be aware of and it’s your second takeaway: 

CMO tenure slipped to just 40 months in 2020, the lowest average since 2009. 

CMO tenure has always been a roller coaster, but the lowest since 2009 is worth paying attention to. 

And one of the quotes from the Drum piece this stat came from,

Top marketers are coming under severe pressure from ever-tightening budgets coupled with a need to improve return on investment.

And further in our report, when marketers were asked what techniques/tasks their companies would work to improve, over the next 1-2 years, they zeroed in on “experience optimization” and “general audience analytics”.

These stats certainly represent more potential opportunities for agencies to deliver value, ROI, and ultimately increase client retention.

Certainly for those agencies that take advantage.

I’ll leave you with one last stat from our report and your third takeaway:

Only 56% of agencies have specific individuals that “own” activities related to finding marketing analytics and tech tools at their agency.

This is short of the 70% of marketers who responded saying they have dedicated people exploring new ways to use tech to drive their business.

For small and mid-sized agencies, understandably you typically won’t be able to dedicate someone full time to that activity, but you can certainly have an individual who “owns it” as part of their job description.  

Or, as we do here at RSW, have a revolving group of individuals who meet monthly, for example, to examine current/new tools.

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


Using Client Work To Land Prospects — OK 3 Takeaways Ep. 74

Two accounts are a conflict. Three accounts make you a specialist agency.

I love that quote, and I got a question on using client work to land prospects and agency conflict of interest for small and mid-sized agencies that you’ll want to stick around for in this episode.

OK, I got a question from a longtime fan of the program, Dan from Baltimore, Maryland:

Something I’d love to hear more about is the use of client work to land prospects from the same industry. Is it ok? Permissions? Beg for forgiveness?”

The first thing I thought was, yes, agencies do that all the time with case studies, right?

But that’s not really what he meant.

So let’s dig into this topic.

First thing to point out, I’m leaving holding company agencies out of this conversation-potential conflicts get locked out or resolved very early in those situations, right?

I’m talking about those smaller agencies.

To Dan’s question, is it OK to share that work with prospects in the same industry?

First thing to ask-is there a non-compete in place?

Which leads to your first Takeaway:

Don’t sign a non-compete and do have a conflict policy in place.

In reality, this will not always work and you will have to sign that non-compete, but you should have a policy in place, in lieu of signing that, to at least give you an alternative you can offer that gives you some leeway, and doesn’t completely constrict your ability to work in that category.

And a bonus takeaway here- if a non-compete is on the table with a new client, think really carefully, if you’re in a certain geographic market, can you charge them what you need to justify that exclusivity?

Can be tough.

But let’s say you’ve already signed that non-compete, or more often with small to mid-sized agencies, it’s understood that you won’t be going after competitors.

It turns into a gray area, right?

There are less AOR’s, more project work, and how broad a definition does a client consider a conflict?

So you have those clients that are sacrosanct-we’re not going after anyone even close to what they do-too important a client.

Then you have those clients who do not care-go for it.

It’s that middle ground Dan is asking about though, isn’t it.

And in those cases, it’s typically that geographically, you’re not going after a direct competitor in their backyard, and there’s not a formal non-compete.

So here’s your second takeaway:

Ask or beg for forgiveness.

Which I guess could be two different takeaways, but if ethically, you can plainly see that yes, this is similar work, but there is no direct competition-you can ask and explain, if you have that relationship with your client.

Or you can prospect those companies outside your client geo, and one-on-one with that prospect, not on your site, not in your content or email blasts, describe the work, possibly name drop the client to your prospect, and beg forgiveness IF it ever comes up.

But even that might feel, “I don’t know”, so the best way to handle is your third takeaway-

If you got this new client, would your existing client be unhappy about it?

It really is best to establish it up front wherever possible, especially because so much of it is situational and case-by case.