The Idiocy Of Ad Agency Christmas Giving

Yes, Ad Agency Christmas Giving Is Stupid

It is that time of year again. The time that many an ad agency decides that it is a great time of year to add to the ad agency Christmas giving clutter. Am I being Grinch-like? You bet.

Does your ad agency send out Christmas cards or gifts to clients — even prospects? I call this practice stupid. Strong words? Sure.

Look, I have nothing against season’s greetings. But, after working at a couple of agencies (including my own) and watching dozens/hundreds more send out very “creative” Christmas (Chanukah, Kwanza, etc.) cards and gifts during the late-December season, I have to say this is very ill-timed even highly-inefficient outreach. It is wasteful in three critical ways: Read More »

The Secrets of Advertising Agency Business Development

The Not So Secrets of Advertising Agency Business Development

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 5.02.10 PMDo you think that advertising agency business development is hard? Try getting featured on Spotify or on stage at Coachella or Carnegie Hall.

OK, so how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, you know the answer: Practice, Practice, Practice.

That really means having objectives, strategies, executions, assigned roles, timetables and analysis. In other words, a plan.

Back to practice because business development is a skill set that gets better over time.

The 10,000-Hour Rule

Here is a definition from Wikipedia of the 10,00-Hour rule as discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers.

A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the “10,000-Hour Rule”, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples.

The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent and quotes Beatles’ biographer Phillip Norman as saying, “So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.’

Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.

Is Your Advertising Agency Willing To Work (Hard) At Business Development?

If it isn’t, it will fail.

Try This Agency Road Map

  1. Have a master business plan that is reviewed at least annually. The marketing environment, especially in advertising, is changing on a monthly basis. Know how you will make the big bucks and plan for it.
  2. Have clear business development objectives. Not, “I want to work with Nike or Google.” Be real.
  3. Have an in and outbound marketing plan. It must be an easy plan to follow and run – or you will join the 60% of advertising agencies that do not run their plan.
  4. Your plan must be smart but not too complicated. Process rules here.
  5. Be slavish to your agency’s brand positioning. Make it something clients want.
  6. Have a business development leader that is 100% responsible for making sure the Biz Plan runs like clockwork. I suggest that for at least the first 6 months that it be the CEO or COO. She is a feet-to-the-fire person. If the top person isn’t committed to putting agency time and assets towards business development 24/7 – fuhgeddaboudit.
  7. Biz Dev has to become part of agency culture. And, yes, it can be fun, too. Winning business because your plan is working is super fun.
  8. Biz Dev must a job on your daily project list like every client job. You are your agency’s client. If you don’t support the program, then what you do for paying clients will not matter when you shut down.
  9. If you have a dedicated (or part-time, for that matter) aim her or him at the sales target. Here is how to manage that process.
  10. This is a pan-agency challenge. Distribute the workload to responsible people in the agency. Make it part of their compensation plan. If they don’t do their part – they are not rewarded for their client work. They are not going get a large bonus.
  11. Be everywhere your future client looks for new agencies. This includes agency lists, directories, in web searches, award shows, etc. Where would you look for an advertising agency? Are you there?
  12. Have a marketing calendar and be slavish to it.
  13. And… Whatever you do, make sure it’s Unignorable. Boring sucks.

Go do it. From Mario Andretti: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”

Don’t Go! Yet…

I have over 600 blog posts dedicated to you and your agency’s business development success. Check them out right here.

If you are in a hurry… email me –

What Do Advertising Clients Want? I Asked A Real Mad Men Man

I asked a real Mad Men man, a senior exec at the Association of National Advertisers, and a long-time playa in the industry, about the current state of the advertising industry. Most importantly, “what do advertising clients want?”

Here are some answers that should be digested and could impact your agency’s business strategy no matter your agency size. This is Part One of my interview. Stay tuned for Part Two.

Michael Donahue is a Senior Director at the ANA (check out their member list); he was a long term EVP at the 4A’s (their digital futurist) and EVP and board member at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide. He even invented the Creative Brief format that the 4A’s uses. Decent creds, huh?

He was also my boss for a while. Yes, I have some stories.

Peter: Let’s talk a little bit about the clients and what they’re looking for today from their advertising agency partners. What are the top, let’s just keep it simple, three marketing communications related pain points that marketers are experiencing today? Can you give us an overview of that? Read More »

I Need Friends In India – Can You Help

I am a solo traveler in India from December 31 through January 30. It is a part business, pleasure and photography trip.

Photography wise, I’ll be shooting the next series for my 7 continent ethnographic photography series. I shoot selected people on the street using a portable white background. Go here to see the work from L.A, San Miguel de Allende Mexico and Selma, Alabama.

I’ll be in New Delhi, Rajasthan and Mumbai for the whole month.

My Indian Question

I am interested in meeting people in the advertising, marketing, and art worlds. Can you help? Do you have any friends that I could meet, eat and laugh with to help me get a better inside view of Indian culture?

If so, please send them my way via — 


Seven Powerful Ideas To Help You Attract That Desirable Advertising Agency Client

Imagine that you are a desirable advertising agency client. The desirable (to me) client = has a decent budget; respects marketing and what my agency could do for them; has a famous name and are nice people (If I got three out of four of these attributes I was usually happy. My client Nike got all four.)

Now imagine how many incoming sales messages a client like this gets every month from the aspiring advertising agency universe? I’m talking about direct sales messages.

To find out, I asked Lee McKnight, Vice President Sales at RSW/US. RSW/US has consistently provided a research-oriented perspective on the advertising agency business development marketplace.

Marketers Are Inundated – The Insane Math

Inundated is the best word I can use to describe the life of an average prospective marketing communications client. Here are a couple of stats from Lee:

The desirable client gets from 5 to 15 advertising agency emails per month.

Incoming telephone calls average 2 to 5 a month. Phone contacts are lower because, according to Lee, “Most agencies are afraid to pick up the phone, even when they have a new business director, the tendency is to rely on LinkedIn and email.”

So, you are Ms. Client trying to get her 10 hour day moving along – it is not hard to imagine that you might get 20 (or more) incoming advertising agency sales messages a month.

But, but there is more. This client also gets vendor and media contacts. Yikes.

The of-course question is: How can you get a prospect’s attention and then interest in hearing what you have to say?

Breaking Through The Clutter

Here are my top seven clutter busters:

  1. Make sure you have something to offer the prospect. This might sound like it does not need to be said. But, too often agencies just roll the dice without any forethought about why the client might ever be interested. “HI HI, we are here” is not an effective sales pitch.
  2. Create sales personas for the client types you want to reach and entice. Who are they / what do they need / what are there pain points / what do they look like / what might be job issues?
  3. Have a sales plan that includes an account-based marketing schedule and a sales messaging progression.
  4. Create a set of insights that must be read. Figure out more than one platform for your thinking. Get efficient. Amplify your messaging. That uber desirable advertising agency client – the ones you want – need to learn about how to grow their sales. Help them.
  5. Attack specific categories so you can use and reuse ‘expert-oriented’ sales messages that can be easily tailored to multiple clients. Why recreate the wheel for every client? But, do not be too universal – you want to speak directly to that prospect.
  6. Learn how to do warm vs. cold sales calls. Read this: Advertising Agency Business Development and Cold Calling.
  7. Think hard about how to look and sound different. How can you and your insights and messages and outbound tools be unignorable? You know, how can you break through the clutter? Sameness does not work.

I busted through sales clutter for Saatchi & Saatchi and my own advertising agency. I got the attention of that allusive advertising agency client.

Let’s talk about growing your business. You are in a hurry, right?

Contact me and take me up on my free Vito Corleone offer