Even if you can’t sustain your commitment to new-business, why do agencies only renew their focus at the worst time?


Maybe it’s a client leaving, spend being slashed or just a prolonged hiatus, but we’ve all said ‘hmm, Q1’s looking a bit thin…’ as prelude to hitting the gas.

Unfortunately, desperation isn’t conducive to doing new-business well. From poor targeting and unrealistic timelines, to ‘optimistic’ (aka suicidal) qualification and a tendency to shoot the messenger, the extra pressure tends not to help.

Obviously sustainable new-business success comes from doing new-business sustainably – who knew! – but why do agencies only double-down when they’re in dire need? Especially given that there’s actually a far better time to crack on.

Sing when you’re winning

Contrary to any sense of ‘job done’, in fact a new client win is the perfect time to ramp-up new-business. But this rarely happens. Maybe it feels counter-intuitive or, more likely, other concerns overshadow the opportunity to capitalise.

In this initial ‘bedding in’ phase, most agencies only get as far as a press release – which often goes out three months after it was newsworthy, once you’ve produced some work and asking the client for PR isn’t too terrifying to contemplate.

So in trying to avoid rocking the boat, you miss it altogether.

I’ve never understood why a bold, pitch-winning agency suddenly reverts to meek deference. Bonkers.

Another common ‘bedding in’ blocker is people not having time. Fair enough, you might think – let’s get the new relationship off to a flyer? But if that means everything else grinds to a halt, then maybe you’ve undercooked the resourcing…

Prepare for sun if you want to make hay

Winning creates a window of opportunity. Reaching peak momentum, newsworthiness and confidence surrounds you with the perfect conditions to get busy with new-business.

And like most things, capitalising on a win isn’t a knee-jerk thing. It’s something you plan for:

  • Get clients to commit to PR before the pitch
  • Explore their trade publications as much as yours
  • Turn pitch insights into marketing assets and speaker opportunities
  • Talk to intermediaries about what the win adds to your story
  • Use the news to open other doors
  • Add pitch freelancers or new hires to your referral program.

Obviously this isn’t brain science (or rocket surgery). But, be honest, is your new-business model designed to smoothly get all this done?

If you can’t be great, be ready

One of my favourite clichés is that advertising’s only worth doing when you’ve done something worth advertising. So if you have a steady stream of valuable things to say, keep saying them.

And if your well-oiled newbiz machine always glides into action as soon as you have something to new to shout about, then you probably have a brilliant new-business culture.

But if you can’t be on the front-foot every day and would rather not wait until the wolf’s at the door, then don’t miss your chance to crack on when the going’s good.

Image: wonderopolis.org