Four great places to develop innovative ad agency new business thinking

Hey there, sports fans! A business development professional in the legal industry re-tweeted an earlier Thunderclap post. We can learn all technique or two by exploring how other professional service industries get new business. After all, we in the agency business aren’t the only folks out there pitching.

I know. You have “special eyes.”

But let’s get over ourselves. Here are four terrific sources to get you started:

  • Harding & Company. Ford Harding’s firm specializes in professional services business development. His team’s experience spans a number of different categories and he has written many books on the topic. Check out his site here. Buy this man’s books. Two of them are listed in this library post.
  • Ian Brodie. Ian’s a Brit who seems to specialize in helping solo practitioners. Very smart, nice guy. I have a couple of his whitepapers on generating referrals. Oh, and potentially, his website is a nice example on how a digital presence can be maximized for new business.
  • Charlie Green. Specializes less in business development, more more on a critical component in any client/agency partnership…trust.
  • David Maister. Like a Charlie Green, I think. Back in the day – working at FCB and Ogilvy – I had a plaque on my desk featuring one of his more famous sayings. Gain a client’s trust, and you can go very far. Not to mention earn a referral or two.

You will note that two of the above are more about classic business development that can be applied to many different professions. The latter two are more about core elements of a service-based professional relationship. And of course, there are specialists in specific industries. Most notably, the legal business.

I am finding in my own work with agencies the best new business thinking comes about when you combine classic biz dev techniques with a dash of the core elements and a big dose of agency positioning. That’s where the really cool, interesting and effective thinking comes from. But alas, I digress.

Of course, the reverse is true. If you’re not in the agency business, but responsible for new business at your professional service firm, consider hiring an agency new business guru. My biggest project last year was not with an agency – it was with a $5 billion dollar IT consulting firm. They hired our team THREE times.  It’s an excellent example of how new business ideas in one service category can be applied  to another.

Check out these resources listed above. And lemme know what you think! Thanks. And happy pitching.