Agency New Business Trends for 2018

Agency New Business Trends for 2018

Many agencies, over the past few years, have been tremendously slow to invest in or try more advanced techniques for their sales and business development programs. With digital and mobile technology driving this rapidly changing landscape, I don’t understand why so  many of them have lagged  behind client demand and not stayed ahead of the curve and focused on the technology driving this change.

With mobile marketing and social media marketing, wearables, virtual reality, streaming live video, chatbots and more transforming the marketing and advertising landscape, Agencies must upgrade, invest or parish. In particular, I see a massive opportunity to innovate and become an industry leader with a major investment in advertising technology and greater marketplace accountability.

Over the past several decades, the U.S. has lost millions of high paying manufacturing jobs, 5+ million since 2000 alone and this has slowed down the Advertising and Marketing Industry. But, bringing jobs back to America became a cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, resulting in several high-profile announcements of new U.S. jobs. And, these announcements are GREAT NEWS for New Business and GROWTH in 2018.

With Apple alone hiring 20,000 people, tax payments and business with U.S.-based suppliers, Apple estimated it would spend $350 billion in the United States over the next five years, opening a new campus, shifting manufacturing from Asia/China to the US. Now that alone is a huge opportunity for Ad Agencies and America this year too! In fact, other companies moving back to the US this year include: Amazon, Ford Motor Company, IBM, Walmart, Sprint, Lockheed Martin, Hyundai, General Motors, Carrier, etc.

Here is my forecast of some of my the most important trends to look for in the coming year:

  1. I think major ad agencies will need to begin using streaming live video for more of their clients and brands this year. With iconic brands like: com, IBM, Google, Facebook, Dunkin Donuts, Tough Mudder, Starbucks, Sephora and Airbnb already using live streaming. Agencies that don’t manage and supervise this area, will ultimately lose even more ground in this digital, mobile and social age!

Research in 2017 highlights that approximately 70% of marketers say that they will increase the number of live events they host in 2018. This is because marketers recognize that live events are one of the most effective marketing channels.

Just look at these stats that recently appeared in NY Magazine:

  • 80% of people would rather watch a live stream from a brand than read a blog
  • 82% of people prefer live video from a brand to a social post
  • 87% of people would prefer to watch video online if it meant more behind the scene content
  • 67% of people that watched a live video stream will purchase tickets to similar events
  1. Ad Agencies must get better at being customer obsessed, prioritizing customer understanding, brand strategy, and delivering a better customer experience. Agencies are already feeling the demand to lift their standards especially by B2C clients and brands.
  2. Automation tools – with most leading B2B clients now extensively using automation tools to improve productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, to tackle ever-shorter delivery times, and to deliver successful products and services, it’s critical that all the major Ad Agencies ‘mirror’ or improve upon using Automation tools in 2018.

Not only do smart analytics speed up decision-making and validation but they also better address  business and marketing challenges. For Agencies to regain more power in the client boardrooms, they must become better, smarter and faster with analytics, data and insights. Some of my favorite tools include: Zapier, IFTTT, Mulesoft, Mailchimp, Canva, Moat, etc.

  1. There is now a far greater need to update everything e.g. websites, decks, positioning, tools, content, etc.  And, according to Adobe, over 75% of marketers think the industry has changed more in the last two years than the past 50 years. So, if you run an agency, remember that first impressions are lasting impressions and if your sales and marketing materials looks dated you’ll need to take massive action to update and improve your performance.
  2. Mobile First – As I have been saying for years now,  US  businesses, and especially Agency leaders, must implement and practice far more mobile marketing. Having been lucky enough to live in Asia over the last decade, I have seen how far behind the US  has become, especially Ad Agencies, in moving to mobile marketing and ensuring a mobile first mantra.

In my mind, there is no doubt that marketing decision-makers use their mobile phones to make choices and decisions.  There are approximately 280 million mobile users in the U.S., and 82-percent of adults own and use their phones daily, usually hourly, especially busy marketing and agency executives.

  1. Influencer Marketing – As I have often written over the last two years, ad agencies who use Influencer Marketing to enhance awareness, will improve  their visibility, revenues and success by capitalizing on this strategy.

Importantly, your clients and prospects know people, follow people, trust people who are independent authorities and thought leaders in areas that are important to them.

These influencers have built their industry status on credibility, trust and independence. They are motivated by bringing unique value to their followers which increases their authority and influence. So, if you can find synergies that your agency has or can support their POV (point of view) a partnership becomes the natural extension of what each other offers. This is a ‘no brainer’ but I am watching in amazement at how few Ad Agencies don’t seem to understand this basic concept.

Influencer marketing programs and campaigns will continue to be used more frequently and more strategically. I certainly understand  why all clients want greater ROI and are endeavoring to measure their audience reach much more effectively too.

In line with this trend of increased accountability, performance-based pricing models are also gaining traction, with 50% of marketers reporting that cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-engagement (CPE) pricing models are the most effective for driving results.

Summary of Influencer Marketing benefits:

If  stats aren’t enough to persuade you or sway you about the importance of influencer marketing, take a look at how it can benefit your business now:

  • It’s the most cost-effective and efficient channel for marketing
  • It helps you gain access to a larger audience base
  • It’s an effective way to win over a new target audience
  • It’s more authentic than traditional advertising
  • It’s effective for building trust
  • Influencers spur greater social engagement rates for brands
  • According to McKinsey and Forbes, branded content through Influencers is known to increase conversions at twice the rate of paid advertising 
  • It builds brand awareness up to 40% higher too!
  1. SMS – Some of the more progressive agencies are finally starting to use SMS in a very targeted and strategic manner now. With over 280 million American marketing and advertising executives now using mobile phones, SMS is one of the most underutilized tools in Ad Agencies New Business arsenals today.

In fact, SMS messages now have a much higher response and opening rate than emails! However, I would only  recommend using SMS once you have established a personal relationship and only use it during business hours.

  1. Chatbots – According to Oracle, in a survey conducted this past year of 800 decision makers, including chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, senior marketers, and senior sales executives from France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the UK, 80% of  these respondents said they already used or planned to use chatbots by 2020. Chatbots are interactive software platforms that reside in apps, live chat, email, and SMS and can behave in a human-like manner.

This translates to the Ad Industry and Marketing Industry by highlighting that business leaders, smart and innovative Ad Agencies and decision makers are turning to the broader umbrella of automation technologies, which includes chatbots, for things like sales, marketing, and customer service.

In fact, 42% of participants believe automation technologies in these areas will most improve the customer experience. And 48% said that they already use automation technology for these business functions, with 40% planning to implement some form of automated technology by 2020. I certainly hope Ad Agencies investigate this trend, study and implement them this year. This is part of innovation and adding value to clients and brands in 2018. Heads up!

8. Transparency and Authentic Agencies will win – they also need to remember TRUST & LOYALTY is POWER. Additionally, with a number of high-profile data breaches in 2017 and all the fake news in the media and in the press. Transparency and authenticity in 2018 is a must for all Agencies and critical for building a successful new Business programs. From the DNC email hack to the Equifax breach, cyber security has had a considerable impact on many aspects of our world. Moving forward, consumers will begin to favor products that protect their privacy.

I predict, 2018 could be an epic year for Ad Agency growth and success, and with the stock market/DOW blasting past 26,000 recently, lowest unemployment in the US, manufacturing companies returning to the US, Apple repatriating USD $38 Billion and opening a new campus as part of a five-year, $30 billion U.S. investment plan will be an exciting year for ad agencies. It can also be a big growth year in this booming economic market too.

More Companies Will Be Bringing More Jobs Back to America in 2018

Some of the companies that are repatriating vast amounts of money and bringing  investments back to the US include: JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup. JP Morgan’s CEO, even stated last week ‘He believes that repatriation’ could serve as a sort of economic stimulus for the U.S. Now, that’s great for any Ad Agency looking to pitch and grow this year.

Additionally, the Trump Administration is continuing to bring more businesses and overseas money back home to the US. Which is also a great thing for New Business in the years to come too!

Finally, I firmly believe in 2018, more marketers will be changing agencies, dividing up projects, brands and assignments, PLUS, exploring new ways and new resources to achieve their business and marketing goals.

Importantly, with all the technology changes, the political environment, expanding media options and channels – I truly believe the best marketers will accelerate their search to get more leads, generate more sales and revenue and will look for the most cost-effective and cost-efficient Ad Agencies this coming year. Big, slow, monolithic agencies doing the same things they have always done will be the losers in 2018.

Clients and their customers in 2018 are the new market-makers, reshaping industries, categories and changing how businesses compete and win.

So Heads up! This is the best opportunity in decades to win new, and grow  your business, so I wish you much success  in the year ahead.



Geoff is passionate about the art of influence, new business and presentation. His techniques can help you communicate and lead more effectively. As a global marketer, coach and workshop leader, Geoff makes mastering these advanced skills an enjoyable and achievable process. His sound business acumen and results driven approach have made him a trusted business advisor to many of the world’s leading organizations and their senior executives.

Geoff works with business leaders to ignite their courage and confidence so they can step up and step out in the way they engage people and communicate their leadership style. He is in high demand with CEO’s, CMO’s, directors, corporate executives and senior managers for his expert counsel and guidance in creating strategies for face-to-face communications and integrated global campaigns that are engaging and delivered with confidence and passion to key stakeholders.

Email me today and let me show you a better way and prepare for the future: or visit:

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