Big agency experience and your career, part three

OK. So, you’ve read a bit about how much big agency experience you should get. Then, you might have pondered what a big agency can throw at a pitch and why this can help you. But you didn’t read about another thing to consider: your function in new business at agencies of this size.

So, here are three typical roles, ordered from least to most valuable in the eyes of senior management. And, well, folks that hire new business professionals. Like yours truly.

You’re the go-to person. You take the lead on RFP responses, credentials presentations and finals. You develop the pitch schedule, arrange the meetings, research, participate and lead the internal meetings. You have “the football” – the deliverable. It’s part project management, part strategist and part thankless. Being a producer is typically how most people get started in the new business department. Or, they take part in a pitch at their agency. And then, get hooked!

You help make the bits & pieces that tell your agency’s story. This list is endless: elevator speech, website, blog, social media, whitepapers, agency thinking, events, partnerships, credentials, etc. Typically, you plan and execute elements of the new business program that last beyond a single pitch. This kinda stuff ultimately increases the number of phone calls your agency earns.

Rolodex-grower and relationship builder. You’re working it. One of the proactive faces at the agency that gets the proverbial fish in the boat. These are typically more senior people, capable of having conversations with directors of marketing and CMO-types. This will also include search consultants, a key target for big agencies.

Of course, your mileage may vary. But the above are the basic functions of a new business department of any agency. Not just the bigs. The bigger the agency, the more compartmentalized the functions become. At FCB Chicago, we had a five-person team. Ultimately, it became a boss, a prospector and some marketers/producers. At a 150-person shop, you might have a boss and a producer. At a 50-person place, it’s one professional doing a whole lot of juggling. Lots of variations here.

But ask just about any agency principal, and they’ll say they need more pitches. Which means marketing or prospecting.

So, you career-minded folks…

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to be valuable across the functions. Smarties may be paid for producing, for instance, yet contribute to agency marketing…AND build their network. So that over time, your personal network produces leads for your agency. But we digress!

Hope this gives you a perspective. Happy career-ing.


Oh, almost forgot. A bit on general new business experience and what it can do is here. Now, yours truly has gotta hop. There’s producing, marketing and prospecting to be done.