Business Development is a ZERO-SUM Game

Business Development is a ZERO-SUM Game


If you’re an Advertising Agency, Digital Agency, PR Company, etc. – to be successful in new business development today, you must play a ZERO-SUM game.

By that I mean, building partnerships and client relationships in a fundamentally different kind of way – one that gives the potential to GROW THE PIE for everyone, rather than dividing up a finite pie amongst the winners. This is a WIN-WIN situation and can easily differentiate you from your competitors instantly and effectively.

In fact, even ‘pricing’ is more critical in 2017 than ever before too. For example, pricing to create meaningful product differentiation separates you from competitors and allows you to command price premiums. Product differentiation is even possible with win/win pricing.

One thing I have really felt that has helped me achieve great successes in multiple countries on hundreds of brands over the past few decades is to ALWAYS begin with the end in mind. This means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.

By that I mean, know where you’re going so you better understand where you are now and where you are going so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

New business is critical and explosive in recent years. In fact, it’s at an all time high in the marketing communications arena. More brands and clients are changing marketing communication companies than any other time in history.

So, are you getting your fair share of wins? Have you figured out how to get even more wins, brands and clients?

Today, I think all Advertising Agencies, PR Companies, Digital Agencies MUST be much more entrepreneurial and flexible. If something isn’t working, then change it.

Here are a few more ways to outpace and out maneuver your competition today:

  1. Establish a new business ‘system’ to focus on delivering great, highly qualified new business meetings every week.
  • Focus your new business efforts daily on getting first meetings with qualified prospects e.g. Always focus on where your ‘management team’ has deep experience and insights.
  • Own a ‘niche’ if you can. Offer world-class knowledge and expertise about a subject related to what big clients need. If you can offer something smart, unique or an unexpected point of view on subjects of interest to prospects, you become more attractive to the brands or clients you want!  
  • Turn good or great ‘leads’ into invitations for first meetings, which are the key to growth.
  • Don’t waste time going to see prospects who aren’t interested in changing agencies, design firms, PR companies or marketing communication suppliers (Avoid this time suck)
  • Stop wasting time with cold calls on prospecting. In 2017, that is highly ineffective and wastes everyone’s time, money and patience!
  1. Win because you know how to control the strategic high ground:
  • Use the consultative approach to win more accounts and earn more fees
  • Use specific techniques to change the way you talk to prospects
  • Impress prospects with proprietary branding processes
  • Leverage the power of flanking their tactical issues and move onto the strategic high ground
  1. Win because you make the prospect like you better:
  • The biggest obstacle for most agencies is poor chemistry with prospects
  • Chemistry is often more important than industry-specific capabilities
  • Discover what type of firm each prospect wants to deal with
  • Emphasize results, process, relationship, or inspiration before you pitch a prospect

Work hard to transform your efforts into a new business machine that provides a steady stream of leads into your agency. Adopt a lead-generation strategy and split your new business efforts into “winning the opportunity” and “winning the account.”

  1. Focus on producing AMAZING CONTENT for your Company’s Website

If your Agency doesn’t produce content every week, you are missing a huge opportunity to attract clients, brands and that will leave money on the table.

I especially recommend features such as: compelling case studies, testimonials with ROI based successes, adding videos of compelling video’s from passionate clients, inspiring and unique services at which your Agency excels, more case studies, downloadable Agency Fact List (one page) and even promotes a compelling offer to learn more. (i.e capturing names/email addresses and phone numbers) All of which are hugely beneficial too!

After all, we all know more leads means more growth:

  • More leads gets you more chances at bat and lifts your standards
  • More leads mean you can walk away from prospects that aren’t right for your agency – always be selective! 
  • More leads mean you don’t have to chase after every RFP or RFI that comes in
  • More leads mean you control your firm’s destiny by defining who you want to go after rather than reacting to any prospect that drifts in

It’s the most important job in any agency: someone who is focused on generating a steady stream of high-quality leads into your agency. More leads means more prospects, better prospects. New business is much easier that way.

  1. Use Social Media as a Selling Tool

Advertising Agencies all need to refine and develop their skills to directly reach marketers, brands and consumers through social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer ways for consumers to shop, and Instagram, in addition to allowing users to shop via its platform, allows brands to directly share their brand story and messaging with users. Ad Agencies and PR companies need to become more ‘mainstream” in 2017 and beyond, using social media marketing.

Some interesting points that most agencies today are not capitalizing on are;

  • According to Experticity, a firm that connects category influencers with brands, micro-influencers (influencers who specialize in a specific product niche) have 22.2 times more conversations than typical consumers do regarding recommendations on what to buy. Can your Agency afford not to capitalize on this?
  • According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 82% of consumers are likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer. 
  • Econsultancy recently announced, Gen-Zers are 60% more likely to believe what a YouTube star says than what a movie star 

In conclusion, I have always found the most successful Advertising Agencies in New Business Development and Growth are the ones that have a ‘dedicated’ Director managing, planning and running their New Business program year round. Not, just after they’ve lost an account and need to replace the revenue or billings. (Ambulance chasers!) 

Agency growth (no matter if an Ad Agency, PR Company, or Digital Agency) is too important not to have the active participation of the most talented and most experienced personnel at the firm.

Having spent 25 years refining, experimenting and exploiting these skills: Global Marketing, Advertising, Sales, Training, New Business, Consulting, Management, Leadership Mentoring, Team Building, Operations, High Performance Marketing, Influence and Ad Agency Growth. As we approach the end of the year, why not give me a call so I can personally help you to become more effective in driving new business.

Conclusion – after 25 years I have found, the agency that presents the best usually wins. Start today!

Call me on +61 411 224 961 in confidence or drop an e-mail to


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