Another ad agency new business tool that needs sharpening

Your human resources function. Nothing could be more important in the billable agency world than the people you have working at your agency and one your clients’ businesses. All of those tired old quotes about talent are true. Word!

But you know, there just might be opportunities to make the function work a bit harder when it comes to new business. Today’s post will share a couple of new business thought-starters on two important aspects of this function: arrival and departure.

With regard to arrival, let’s avoid some of the obvious stuff for now. (The idea of how much intel one can get through the interview process.) There’s potential for a slippery slope there with regard to confidentiality and ethics. And we have enough schmucks in our business. Instead, let’s talk about the actual process of adding an employee:

  1. Does this new person know anyone that might be looking for an agency in the future?
  2. Is it worth your new staffer making a friendly call to their friend talking about why they’re excited about their new job?
  3. Is this a chance to fatten up your agency’s mailing list?
  4. Are there resources or suppliers the new person might know that are worth meeting?
  5. Should this hire have worked on new business at their previous agency, how were they successful? (And what can that mean to you?)
  6. Is it a chance for the agency to announce to clients you’ve made a new hire?
  7. Might this be newsworthy to the media (local business, ad / discipline / category trade media, etc.)
  8. A blurb for your website? Your social media?

You probably already do some of the classic PR type stuff listed above. But consider adding a form or two to your new employee hire process. Yours truly has had the pleasure… of working at two great big shops: Ogilvy and FCB. And neither one of them took even the basics to leverage the idea in their new business.

Granted, I was but a poor waif. Excited to be working at a namesake agency. So sure, this practice will pay off with more senior hires, as it will bear fruit faster. But don’t you need a mixture of people in your network of lead generators and “friends of the agency?”

When it comes to departure, some of the same questions apply. And, of course, it kinda depends on the the circumstances. No matter how the professional left, though, if you added any names to your list or made some progress with any new prospects, make crystal clear where things stand. This is all the more reason why any parting should be as professional as possible.

Many times, your staffer could be leaving to go to a different agency. No doubt, the very best contacts may be contacted by the leaving staffer moving to the next (see point #2). And the circle continues!

But you know what? Many agencies don’t even bother. So, take a look at your arrival and departure processes and think a bit more about how they related to new business. Could lead to a pitch or two.

As always, your thoughts more than welcome. Thanks!


Oh, and curious about other low-cost new business tools? Here’s one. And let’s not forget the FREE, on-going pitch predictor series.


  1. derek walker says:

    Steve, you are so way ahead of the curve in your thinking here!

    I think a strong HR department can help promote and protect the agency culture. We need to expand how we see HR fitting into the success of agencies. HR can help with issues of training and mentoring.

    We need to get creative in how we view and use HR, they can do so much more than help with the hiring and firing.

  2. Steve Congdon says:

    Thanks, Daddyo! I have long been interested in HR, and see it as an important, and often overlooked element in agency management.


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