What George Costanza can teach us in ad agency new business development

So, George Costanza really wasn’t the inspiration for this little bit of ad agency new business inspiration. But I fell in love with the headline and thought it would draw you in. Rather, this morsel of business development thinking comes from a smart movie called Locke.

To me, the film is attractive because it’s makers reinvent the standard movie format. In some cases, they actually DO pull a George Costanza. They do the opposite.

In Locke, you see only ONE actor on the screen for the entire movie. And he’s driving and having different hands-free cell phone conversations to move the story along. So, the movie takes place in just ONE setting.

Listed in absolutely no particular order, here are a few quick thoughts that upend standard agency positioning, new business and growth practices.

  • Never doing spec work
  • ONLY pitching if invited
  • Create an agency that ONLY does execution and NO strategy
  • Become an agency that ONLY hires people above the age of 35
  • Hire no one over 30
  • Never using powerpoint, keynote or prezi in your new business presentations
  • Turn down a pitch opportunity and recommend another agency
  • Make your office a digital destination vs. a physical one
  • (Admobile, anyone?)
  • Calling yourself a consulting firm vs. an agency
  • Sell yourself to a client, technology company or consultancy vs. an agency holding company or roll-up
  • Hire out-of-work client CMOs instead of agency new business people
  • Specialize in only ONE old-school medium
  • Double your rates
  • Ignore the competition in your next pitch
  • Bring only two people to your next new business meeting
  • Add a strong call to action to your website
  • Present initial prospect thinking in a capabilities presentation
  • Turn in your RFP response one day early
  • Ask your existing clients for names to add to your email newsletter list

This is just a starter list. Doing the opposite works for Locke. And for George. So, how about you? What could work at your agency? Take a look at the existing structure of an agency. Pull apart different elements like what, who, where, how, when and why. And consider changing things up a bit to become more marketable.

Should you know of any good examples of agencies doing the opposite, feel free to share them below or drop me a line.

Happy George Costanza-ing!