Why Don’t Advertising & Digital Agencies Have A Business Plan?

Today’s marketing advertising and digital agencies need a well-considered marketing plan to plan and build a profitable marketing communications agency for the future. The problem: most agencies don’t have a plan.

Through my experience as a board member of the Portland Advertising Federation, a business development director working across the global Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide network, President of the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Federation and an Internet entrepreneur, I have been continually amazed that most agencies, media and tech companies don’t have a master plan. Considering the rapid changes happening in the advertising and technology industries, I can’t imagine navigating the marketplace without one.

There are many moving parts to building an agency marketing plan. But, it doesn’t have to be daunting and restrictive. It just has to get done.





My approach to helping you build a plan is one of the most valuable services I offer. My 3-Year Plan, 2 is too soon and 5 is too far away, is a strategic roadmap to help you optimize your service mix, staffing profile, client prospect targeting and business development program. This 3-Year Plan will help you make smart business decisions by taking control of the future instead of just letting it happen to you.


Plan structure is important. When it comes to business plan development, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the school of Keep it Simple Stupid.

As a plan blueprint, I use Seth Godin’s system for building a modern, concise marketing plan. It is comprised of five elements that will be tailored to your agency and objectives:

The Truth: This is a thoughtful review of your goals, your position in the market, your direct and indirect competition and alternative business model opportunities. There are agencies making serious money that don’t look like a 1990’s full-service agency. Be one of them.

Assertions: This is how you can change to create more value for your agency and clients.

Alternatives: Consider this the scenario planning or “what if” section. Not all plans turn out as hoped and the unexpected will happen. Be prepared to pivot.

People: This covers skills, positions and individuals who should be on or off your team, and when. We’ll determine the balance and benefits of a managed FTE and planned freelance system.

Money: A strategic examination of your day-to-day expenses and investment requirements, including your P&L, cash flow and balance sheet.

Having a 3-Year Plan is critical. And having built-in flexibility is just plain smart. Things are moving very fast these days so, we will build in time for periodic assessment and adjustment.

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