Developing New Business in the New Year

Current Clients May Be Your Most Important Tool

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I've now been involved in new business development for over 12 years and every January I face this question: "How are we going to bring in more new business this year?"
Noelle Weaver Noelle Weaver
And then there's a scurry of emails and lunch meetings to think about what types of companies we want to get on the roster this year? Can we get bigger accounts? How should we build relationships with search consultants and get our agency on their radar for those multi-million dollar pitches? What award shows will we enter this year? How are we going to get more mentions in the press? And whom do we have to take to dinner to get ourselves named as part of that annual list of top great agencies? [If anyone knows, call me.]

Truth be told, in years prior to SS+K, I've found that on that great "to-do" list there was never much mention of taking care of the internal resources that would allow the agency to do business more easily and efficiently that coming year.

Those of us involved in new business should be asking ourselves what shape is our credentials presentation in? Are our case studies up-to-date? Do we have a one-pager about our agency that is easy to e-mail off with a note attached? Do we have bios on all the key people that were hired last year? What shape is our website in? Do the search consultants have a copy of our latest reel and portfolio along with an updated client list? These were the things that, throughout the year, made life a little bit easier, less hurried and allowed us to concentrate on the most important new biz "stuff." Your clients.

They are often your best resource for new business.

Business consultants Reardon Smith Whittaker's U.S. New Business Report lists its findings on why clients most often look for new ad agencies.

Topping the list was "Not happy with their strategy or thinking" [41%], "Lack of proactivity" [40%], "Not happy with creative" [36%] "Wanted lots of ideas for a new project" [33%].

The surprising thing to me here is how much of this can be offset by taking the time to listen to what our current clients need and offering them some fresh insights and ideas that will fuel their business and success.

It's simple really: do good work and you will be well rewarded by gaining a stellar reputation and many client referrals.

A statistic I have always remembered is that 80 percent of new business comes from existing clients and it only takes 20 percent effort to develop it.

On the other hand, it takes 80 percent effort to produce a totally new client and that generates only 20 percent of your agency's new business.

Like #2 on the list above, be proactive with your current clients and start your new business efforts there. Do that, and watch your business grow.
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