How To Start, Grow and Sell An Advertising Agency
I’ve been consulting with advertising agencies on how to grow their business for the past five years. It is rather fulfilling and fun. In fact, one of my agency clients just told me that they won a major piece of business from Google. I love hearing things like that. I love thinking that I might have played even a very minor role in the agency’s success. Who wouldn’t?
Back to “How To Start, Grow and Sell An Advertising Agency.” Having run my business development business for five years, I am beginning to see a cyclical pattern. My incoming (which for any of you considering consulting, is fairly steady due to my high-level position on Google and personal brand awareness that comes from sales of my book – buy it!) starts to slow down a bit for six to eight weeks around the beginning of November. I must assume that this is because of the impending holiday season – which is nuts because this is exactly the time to build that kick-ass sales program.
I’ll use some of my extra time to answer the three most important questions that agency managers ask me every week.
- What is the best way to grow my advertising agency?
- What is the best way to start an advertising agency?
- How can I sell my advertising agency?
First, a definition. While I work with digital, PR, hybrid, experiential and other forms of agencies, I use the generic term advertising agency because “advertising” is still the universal term for marketing communications agencies. It is also the term that clients, and other industry people, search. This is a look at a couple of marketing communications search terms from Google. They are ‘Advertising Agency, ‘Digital Agency’ and ‘PR Agency’.
OK, back to the three questions and what I’ll call topline answers.
What is the best way to grow my advertising agency?
Every advertising agency has to grow. That may sound like a ‘duh’ but, believe me, only 60% or so agencies run, I mean consistently, run a smart business development plan. I’ve written on this before. Here are my main points.
You will eventually lose most of your clients. You have to have more clients coming in the front door than going out the back.
Most agencies do not have a business plan. Simply put, these agencies have not done the hard work of thinking through what they are selling, to whom and how they should price their offer. I see this in action because many agencies will go after any client that raises their hand. Most agencies will pitch whatever comes over their transom. I’m sure you are saying, “Not us.” But, that is probably BS because I’ve seen both large and small agencies rationalize why they should waste their time pitching the wrong clients. A bet: show me the clients you’ve pitched in the past couple of years and I can probably show you that you wasted your time pitching one-third of them. Read More