21 Ad Agency Business Development Must Do’s

What Every Ad Agency Must Do To Grow

keep-calm-and-love-number-21-1A simple fact: You have to decide to work at business development and then do the work.

Here are 21 ad agency business development actions that will absolutely result in growth.


  1. Have clear attainable (or even audacious) business objectives – and, while you are at it, write a business plan to get there.
  2. Nurture an agency business development culture from the CEO on down (or, is it up?)
  3. Craft a business development plan with clear-cut objectives and strategies.
  4. Have an effective sales pitch based on something your agency owns or can act like it owns.
  5. Have an action-oriented hook that generates client interest and meetings. If not, go back to number 4 and work it out.
  6. Make business development an integral part of your agency’s daily life.
  7. Manage business development the same way you treat a client job. Have a process.
  8. Know who is responsible for what and have a calendar.
  9. Make sure that everyone in the agency knows that new business is everyone’s business and that no new business growth = staff reductions and possibly, I am afraid to say this, no new foosball table.
  10. Have a list of the top clients you want and create a compelling sales pitch. I stress: compelling.
  11. Design a sales-oriented agency website for that client who is only going to give you 8 seconds to make an impression. Your goal is getting them to contact you.
  12. Use the website to deliver some human chemistry vibes. Please use video to bring your agency to life. A brief video.
  13. Have a short list of the top clients you want, create personas and build a compelling sales pitch just for them. I stress: compelling. Put yourself in their shoes. They want to succeed at their jobs too.
  14. Stay in touch on a reasonably regular basis via email (gently) or some other form of direct marketing.
  15. Use social media correctly. That means having an objectives-driven LinkedIn, Twitter, blog, Facebook etc. strategy and the will to keep at it. Kill the program if you can’t keep it up. Dated blog posts are worse than no blog posts. I don’t even want to discuss having an empty aging Twitter account.
  16. Consider concentrating on (and owning) a specific client category or becoming a media or technology or creative specialist. Pick one.
  17. Learn to pitch like Steve Jobs (you already know this.)
  18. Learn to negotiate like Steve Jobs. Most agencies have no clue how to negotiate.
  19. Take this offer and contact me. I’ve been there and done it. 
  20. Buy my book.
  21. Get a good night’s sleep.

Of course, the devil is in the detail. But, I guarantee that the first place to start is to admit that you should do at least these 21 things to grow your agency.

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