Toute Nuit – Please look your best. Oh, and wrinkle-free.
Yes, Your Advertising Agency Business Development Director Might Be Doomed. A 2020 Update.
Some updated thinking. I am asked on a high-frequency basis by agency management, that means CEO types, if their advertising agency should have a business development director. Because of this question, I thought I’d update this evergreen interview with Brooks Gilley who knows what’s up.
My current thinking based on talking with many agencies is that, at best, only 50% of advertising agency business development directors succeed. I am about to do some haranguing. Why?
- As is pointed out below, most advertising agencies have a low to a non-competitive brand position. The degree of positioning sameness – “we are a digital agency” or “we are creative thinkers” – and messaging sameness – as in no soul or a distinctive opinion or having the goal of being unignorable – is crazy. How could even a competent business director sell the 50% of agencies that cannot define a strong sales proposition? Or not have a well-considered target market?
- A huge chunk of agencies (it has been reported that up to 75% of agencies) do not have a master business development plan, think of it as a sales plan. How is this possible? And, worse, who is supposed to write the plan? I do not think that a business development director alone can write this plan. It should be an agency self-preservation and growth project.
- Many advertising agency leaders have little experience in writing a sales manager compensation plan. Here is a compensation plan you can use.
- Too many agency leaders hand off the role of business development to the director. I owned my own agency and I devoted at least half of my time to business development. And, I provided daily support and thinking and budget.
Give me a shout if you want to discuss your agency and its specifics.
Back To The Interview About The Doomed Business Development Director.
To quote the Beach Boys… Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Yes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a business development director that brought in more business for your advertising agency than you can handle? But is your business development director doomed from the start?
She or he could be if you do not have agency objectives, a competitive agency brand positioning, something to sell beyond, “Hey we are a full-service/digital/social media agency”. Or, not having a list of clients and categories you want to nail; an active up-to-date CRM system or you are now in a state of panic because you just lost your largest client.
I know that this is a tough job to fill and do. I managed my agency’s business development director at my own ad agency; for Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in New York and London and as CEO at two Internet start-ups. I have hired ten business development directors over the past twenty years. Some worked out and some, well, not so well. Again, this is one of, if not the toughest, agency jobs to position for success.
But, don’t take my word for it. Before you read on for an expert interview, you might also want to go to my blog post on how to pay an agency business development director.
An Expert Interview With Brooks Gilley On How To Hire A Business Development Director.
Brooks Gilley is the Founder and CEO of Portland’s 52 Limited. 52 LTD is a 15-year-old creative resource company that connects world-class talent with leading brands, marketing departments, design firms, advertising and digital agencies.
In addition to running one of the west coast’s leading creative talent agencies, Brooks ran the Portland Advertising Federation and worked at advertising agencies.
Peter: According to the RSW/US 2014 RSW/US Agency-Marketer Business Report, the tenure of agency business development directors was two years or less. ADWEEK reports that people in this position at large agencies last less than one year. Is this surprising to you?
Brooks: It’s not surprising at all, largely for the fact that agencies I have worked with on business development director searches come to us in a moment of panic, and that’s usually where the ask starts. It’s a role that is needed now but was probably needed at least twelve months before new business gains became an issue. Additionally, it’s not necessarily a strategic role that is esteemed at and supported within a ‘creative’ organization. [Read more…] about Is Your Advertising Agency Business Development Director Doomed?
My Advertising Agency Survival Guide. 2020 Version.
I am republishing this April Advertising agency survival guide blog post. Why? The Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, is going to pass it along to their membership. So, I figure why not try to make sure that you as an advertising agency has a chance to see it or better, re-read it.
Frankly, I thought that there has been too much “what to do about the Covid-19 pandemic and the future of the advertising agency future”… But, I think that this is a good summary that has stood the test of time.
Tough Question. Will Your Advertising Agency Survive?
Here is my educated take on which advertising agencies will survive and how they will make it happen. It is my advertising agency survival guide.
Having gone through the 2007 – 2008 recession as an agency owner, I saw approximately one-third of advertising agencies fail or shrivel. My current survival advice is based on watching that storm as well as recent deep conversations with small and medium-sized agencies. I did not choose to rush out my thoughts. I actually thought about my thoughts. LOL.
Plus, this is not short and sweet. You will actually have to read all of it. OK, it is sweet.
Quickie… I am giving away my 30 years of huge and small agency experience, guidance and coaching for free – for awhile – the right thing to do. If you want smart advice, go here. It will open a new window for this offer.
Two Quick & Very Important Points.
How long will the shit-storm last?
Like you, I have no clue when any semblance of normality will return. I have to assume it will. Plan accordingly.
Chamath Palihapitiya is one of my most respected “advisors”. He has said that companies should be able to adjust and make new plans to survive 36 months. 36! Yes.
He says, think like this is another depression. Whoa. Are you ready?
This is what I do know… If you want to be in the top 1/3, you can’t lose all or even some marketing energy or brand awareness. Why make your voyage back too uphill?
You will get my marketing recommendations below. But first, the big question.
Will Your Advertising Agency Fail?
Here is what an advertising agency principle should be doing right now. I admit that this is generalized given the diversity of the types of advertising agencies. But generalized does not mean its not an effective how-to for virtually any agency.
- “Advertising Agency”: This is my universal term for most types of communications marketing firms.
- “Client”: A client is a company that has consistently used any form of advertising or digital marketing. In your case, it is a client that meets your target criteria (you have that, right) and you think would want to hire you. Sorry, Nike and Adidas do not want to hire you.
OK, Advertising Agency… What Are You Going To Do About it?
I am going to be tough here. At least 30% of advertising agencies will fail in the next twelve to eighteen months.
This post provides my take on how to survive, my advertising agency survival guide. For the winners, how to set yourself up for growth.
6 Advertising Agency Pain Points – I Know You Know This. But, It Is Worth Restating.
- Your current and future clients are freaked out.
- Some current clients have already reduced or canceled advertising and project spend.
- Agency profitability sucks.
- You will be too slow to manage your costs.
- Agencies, too many, are already poorly positioned, and, worse, are unbelievably ignorable.
- Prospective clients “probably” do not want to hear from you.
Advertising Agency Survival Strategies
I know what I am talking about. I’ve won and lost. My advertising agency survived the 2007-2008 recession. My $30 million VC funded digital business did not survive the 2001 dot-com bust. Don’t feel bad for me, Microsoft eventually bought our technology.
Current Client Opportunities
I launched a new advertising podcast = Advertising Stories (you can listen to it everywhere). So, why not create a quick advertising agency podcast guide based on my research? Here you go.
FYI: My last podcast series which, I did for my own Portland Oregon agency, faded away in 2008. Ya think I was too early for the podcast market?
Advertising Stories is designed to be entertaining and filled with teachable moments. The keyword is entertaining. Entertaining for you advertising and marketing folks – and, frankly, anyone that just likes a good story from the good old days (or today).
Oh, if you do not get my email newsletter – sign up on the left and you will automatically know when I launch my podcast.
A Quick – Advertising Agency Podcast Guide
There are 213,000 results for the Google search “Podcast Guide” so I am not going into big detail here. I’ll just point you to some of my thinking and the resources I’ve found. [Read more…] about Advertising Agency Podcast Guide