Agency New Business Growth in 2013 Will Only Be as Good as the Effort

Following is a guest post from Mark Sneider, owner and president of RSW/US, an outsourced lead generation and business development firm for marketing agencies. He is a 25-year veteran of the consumer-packaged goods, advertising and marketing service industry.

In our latest RSW/US survey of 168 agency principals and 101 marketing executives, agencies stated that they fully expect 2013 to be a stronger year for agency new business. In fact, 61.7% of all agency principals surveyed believe that 2013 new business opportunities will improve relative to 2012 — and this is coming off a year where 48% believed that 2012 was better than 2011.

This is certainly great news for agencies, if they put the effort into finding and winning new business. 

RSW Chart

As the bottom was dropping out post-2008, agencies struggled to see much positive in the world of new business. Clients pulled back; prospects held back; and agencies themselves were forced to cut back.

It was an especially unfortunate time for the many small and mid-sized agencies that relied on one or two key clients to drive revenue for their agencies. Every day was driven by uncertainty — not knowing whether or not the one or two-legged stool holding up the agency would be cut short by one of its legs. 

Over a two-to-three year period, we witnessed a number of long-standing agencies fold or consolidate out of necessity with other firms in order to survive.

Those agencies that survived were those that were better diversified, kept the foot on the agency new business pedal when times were good prior to the recession and did their level best to keep it moving during the toughest of times.

The Same Holds True as We Head into 2013

It’s easy to lay off the gas when times are good. Business is coming in; clients seem happy; you have little time to do anything else but service revenue-bearing accounts. 

But, we all have to remember what it was like when things weren’t so solid. You as the agency principal need to think about how you can best keep things going regardless of how busy you are throughout the whole of next year.

As you build your new business plan for 2013, make sure you’re putting in place programs that will attract the attention of marketers. 

Four 2013 New Business Planning Tips

1.) The Tried and True Can Still Deliver 

Marketers tell us that they most often learn about agencies from traditional outreach, like mail, email and phone. While newer platforms like social media are important to help round out new business outreach, it’s critical that you not rely exclusively on them to sustain your new business efforts.

If you can create the capacity, and truly want to develop more substantial opportunities, you should plan on developing a much more robust and well-integrated outreach effort.

2.) Maintain Consistency of Outreach.

Just like we suggested in our last post, the worst thing you can do for yourself when prospecting is start and stop. Remember, you are reaching out to people who likely have no idea who you are, what you do or why you’re a better alternative. 

Like a campaign you’d create for your client, your campaigns need frequency in order to be effective. Stay with it, and you’re sure to benefit from the effort.

3.) Don’t Complicate It. Keep It Simple. 

There are specific things marketers want to know about you. It’s all pretty simple and doesn’t need to be complicated by your philosophy, pictures of your office or blog posts about your last party. They want to see:

  • Your work
  • Who you work with
  • How successful you’ve been
  • Your experience in their space 

Keep it simple, sailor.

4.) Keep the Value-Added Content Flowing. 

While you should never rely on social as the sole means of driving new business (via a pull strategy), you still need to create and maintain a “post and push” strategy for your new business program. 

We recommend posting value-added insights at least 1-2 times per week. Your SEO will benefit; your prospects will see that you have smart things to say; and you’ll get your name in front of those you want most to engage.

Again, great news is that things are looking up. However, our best advice is to play it like I play it — always be a little bit nervous and always try and stay half a step ahead of the game. Work it like you would for your clients, and your business will thrive. Back off the gas, and you will certainly run the risk of a possible meltdown the next time a downturn hits.

How are you ensuring new business success in 2013? Share your thoughts below.

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