How to keep your ad agency new business job

In a word? Leads.

Sure, you could talk about making the agency money. But you can’t do that part of the job until you have a lead. There’s plenty of writing in all sorts of places about how to get said leads. But I thought it might be worth a few hundred words to discuss how leads are related to keeping your job. Meaning, some quick thoughts on how to merchandise what you are doing in agency new business. You know, how to make sure everyone knows you’re worth keeping around.

Think SALES and marketing

A lot of agency new business development professionals look at themselves as marketers. Particularly at the bigger shops. To me, agency “marketing” is the stuff that will impact your agency’s transom – the unexpected, but expected opportunities. You know, the stuff that makes the phone ring. So, craft a plan. Tweak the positioning, the website, your social program, develop some unique agency intellectual property… Absolutely a part of your job.

But to me, “sales” is the stuff you do before, during and after the marketing aspects. “Sales” often has a negative perception in the professional services industries. Get that outta your head. Get on the phone. Get outta your office. And start building some relationships and earning referrals. So that you can say, in a sense,  “I know this person and our agency has a relationship with this person because of my efforts.” Being able to say this and really mean it will go a long way to keeping your job. Yes, when you  do the marketing right, you’ll be able to say this, too. But the “sales” stuff and the relationship you have really matter more. Because everyone should take credit for the marketing.

Treat the agency as your client

Again, not rocket science. But more directly related to keeping your job. (And keeping you and yours from living in a cardboard box on lower Wacker, sipping Mad Dog and bitterly muttering, “new business is a tough racket.”) Two areas worth pontificating on.

The first is the actual act of “surprising and delighting” your boss and the agency with new business progress. Your goal: avoiding the new business grumpies and communicating that you are successfully harnessing the team’s efforts. This can mean things like:

  • Status reports that show progress even when there isn’t any (probably worth it’s own blog post)
  • Email heads-up notes on specific prospecting outreach efforts
  • Showcasing the work after a pitch to the rest of the agency
  • Sharing an idea that will grow incremental business (then stepping out if need be)
  • Making it easy for people to contribute to new business
  • Keeping in mind these folks are billable and already busy
  • Rewarding folks who contribute (particularly after a pitch)
  • Prompt replies and attention to internal new business interest or ideas

The second? All the political stuff. Yeah. That. Super important. Your mileage will absolutely vary there. So, more on that at another time, perhaps.

Hope this has helped. Shout with any questions. Thanks!


If you liked this, check out some other career-related posts from Thunderclap and other sources:

Big agency new business experience and your career (Part one of three)

Why new business should be a part of anyone’s career 

Michael Gass on three things a new business person needs to succeed. Good read.

Thunderclap (on Michael’s site) on your new business resume. Fine read, too. But check Michael’s links below the post.