If new-business is when you most need to stand out, then why do we all aspire to the same techniques?
A recent article on innovation reminded me of something I only learnt the hard way from years of new-business graft – ‘best practice’ isn’t the mark of quality it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – like ‘asap’ being the deadline-free lowest form of urgency.
‘Best practice’ new-business means ‘me too’ and doesn’t improve anything important – like making newbiz more fun, achieving greater success or getting better outcomes for clients.
Best practice is old news
“Just because a practice worked last time doesn’t mean it’s a best practice this time. More strongly, just because it worked last time doesn’t mean it was best last time. There may have been a better way”
Mike’s spot-on here. I’ve seen agencies flounder because they stubbornly stick to what worked before. Scrabbling around for little projects might have got your start-up going but, now you’ve got some scale, it’s resource-dwindling suicide.
Similarly, necessity is often the very welcome mother of invention in new-business – an urgently minted case study for that RFP or a clever new think-piece to fill the pipeline as Q4 looms. But being so last-minute is a tell-tale sign of vision being missing.
Bold work needs bold new-business
I also loved Mike’s simple sentence with a big lesson:
“If the work is new, there is no best practice”
If ‘work’ is the client’s problem, then your new-business efforts have to excel on two counts. Obviously you need to stand-out. But you’ve also got to prove you’re qualified to do something new. Tepid ‘best practice’ fails on both counts.
So if you aspire to do interesting, groundbreaking work – and if not, why not? – that’s reason enough for your new-business model to evolve.
Best practice – the basecamp of ambition, not the pinnacle
In fairness, all those books, blogs and seminars on ‘best practice’ are a decent induction for newbiz newbies and a healthy refresher for older hands. But their mass appeal can’t help but make them one-size-fits-all.
In our painfully over-supplied market, where clients are crying out for expertise like never before, agency CEOs can’t be satisfied with ‘best practice’ new-business. Otherwise, you’re guilty of a serious lack of ambition.
The truth is that agencies win the briefs they deserve. With new-business, the more you give, the more you get. And as Dave Trott said recently “what makes you great is what makes you different”. Hear hear, Dave.
Time to aim a bit higher with new-business?