The Agency New Business Strategy

The Agency New Business Strategy

The agency new business strategy is essential to get right from the start. Who is the best person to approach first within a prospect company? CEO? MD? Marketing Director? Comms Director? Marketing Manager?

Now, you may THINK you know the answer to this one. Most agency heads are of the opinion that it is best to go in at the top; the Top Down strategy. Get in to see the Marketing Director and she will take you on, if she likes you, and all the brand managers will happily fall into line and start using you, right?

Not necessarily. Sure, if you’re talking about the main £10m a year advertising account this will most likely happen. But if you’re, say, an BTL tactical agency then this is probably NOT the correct strategy.

If you are, like the vast majority of the 10,000 creative marketing agencies in the UK, one that works on projects, then your better strategy may be Land and Expand. Here’s why. If you go in to meet the marketing director and she then tells all her brand managers to start giving you work, they will, at best, resent you and at worst go out of their way to ensure you fail. One of the roles of a brand manager may be to find, employ and manage a roster of agencies. If this responsibility is taken from them they feel undermined and undervalued.

A better strategy may be to start lower down the pecking order. Start working for one brand manager on a £20k project; then get another; then get noticed by other brand managers and work the room. Before long the marketing director will notice you and hey presto, they will start giving you work too and the brand manager who ‘discovered’ you gets the kudos and everyone is happy. The Top Down strategy appeals to the ego and maybe the short-term profit motive, but Land and Expand is a better long-term growth strategy for most agencies.

One of our (highly successful) PR agency clients had an even more cunning plan; they didn’t want to meet the specifier or the decision maker, but the end user. The PR executive, whose role was to work with the agency chosen by the comms director. Their CEOs reasoning was this …

The comms director was too busy to worry about the day-to-day workings of the PR agency so the exec had to deal with them. Get in to meet the exec, find out about the little things that the PR agency did that were annoying; show how YOUR agency could do better.

Get them on board as an internal advocate so that the next time something went wrong or a pitch was called, you’d get on the list.