How new business can help your advertising career

A quick little thought at the end of the week. Yesterday one of the loyal fans of this hastily written and occasionally helpful blog suggested he was in his first ever new business pitch at his agency.

Great stuff.

Anywho, it inspired a few words on why staffers should seek out chances to work on new business at their agency. Written in no particular order, agency leaders might also use this as a starting list for internal talkpoints to the less grizzled.

New business exposes you to senior leaders at your agency. Generally speaking, you’re working with the best at your agency. Even if you aren’t presenting, you may have the chance to sit in on internal meetings and see how your leaders really think through how to solve problems: how to convince the prospect your agency is the best choice and how to solve the prospect’s marketing challenges. I’ll never forget being in the war room at FCB back in the day.

It was exciting to see seniors in mis-matched chairs relaxed around a crappy table in a poorly lit meeting room. Boards, markers and paper everywhere. Not the war room that was pitch theater, mind you. But the room where the real sausage was made. And it was awesome to see smart people think, laugh and map out how to win. For me, the exposure was exhilirating. And did wonders for my career. Because I was simply there. And worked my ass off, natch.

New business exposes you to different categories. Ever get a little tired working on the brand or brands you slog away on every day? A pitch in a new-to-you category broadens your understanding of marketing in general. (You read that right – “marketing,” not just marketing communication.) And it’s another resume highlight. You learn more, faster, through new business.

New business is an excellent stepping stone to senior agency management. If you’re serious about your career and are looking to either head a discipline or GM an agency, you’ve got to spend some time pitching. The new business craft sharpens your ability to listen, think, write, communicate, lead and persuade.

So, you fresh-faced souls out there, next time your agency is looking for new business help, don’t just volunteer. Demand to work on it! Yes, the hours might be long. Yes, the pressure is crazy. And yes, you might lose the pitch. But treat these losers as learning experiences. And enjoy the ride.

Seasoned veterans (AKA the afore mentioned grizzled sharpies), should you have any words o’ wisdom, feel free to add a bit or two. And happy weekends, all.