I wrote a version of this post years ago for a new business audience. But as this website reflects my humble shingle’s recruiting capability, this post needed revisiting… Enjoy!
Your human resources function. Nothing could be more important in the billable ad agency world than the people you have working at your agency and on your clients’ businesses. All of those tired old quotes about talent are true. Word!
But you know, there just might be opportunities to make HR work a bit harder when it comes to impacting new business and agency revenue. Today’s post will share a couple of new business thought-starters around new staff hires and the onboarding process.
We should, of course, mention when you bring someone new to your team, there’s potential for a slippery slope here with regard to confidentiality, non-compete clauses, ethics, etc.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting you participate in shenanigans that wouldn’t please your mother. Or get your new employee in any legal trouble with their old agency. But a new hire can lead one to ask questions that can impact the new agency’s new business efforts:
- Does this new person know a client not working with their past shop that might be looking for an agency in the future? It could be at a shop before their last one. Or it could be a rumor they’ve heard. Or related to a job they’ve heard about before they took yours.
- How might the new agency leverage this intel?
- What’s the sense of urgency here?
- Is this just a chance to fatten up your agency’s mailing list, or could something else need to be done?
- Are there resources or suppliers the new person might know that are worth meeting?
- Should this hire have an understanding how new business was done at their previous agency, how were they successful? (And what can that mean to you?)
- Is this a chance for the agency to announce to clients you’ve made a new hire?
- Might this be newsworthy to the media? It is a blurb for your website? Your social media?
Asking questions like these will pay off with more senior hires, as it will bear fruit faster. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask that young millennial or freshly minted grad the same questions. You need a mixture of people in your network of lead generators and “friends of the agency” to earn more referral pitches. And who knows, that millennial may move client-side one day.
So, consider adding a new form or two to your new employee onboarding process. Yours truly has had the pleasure of working at two great big shops: Ogilvy and FCB. And neither one of them leveraged the many intersections between agency HR and new business.
Many agencies don’t bother. Yet so long as it’s above-board and not getting anyone sued, it’s definitely worth exploring.