Agency New Business: Making Your Vision Reality

In yesterday’s post I mentioned participating in a Vistage meeting on Tuesday that featured an excellent speaker, Dan Barnett. Dan has run businesses for 25 years at companies like Pillsbury, Nestle, Constellation Brands, Vistage, and now on his own.

After giving us a lot of helpful advice about the Vision each CEO had for his company, he introduced us to a concept that will help you make your vision reality – what he calls your “Make or Break”. (To understand this concept and to make it meaningful, you first need a clear, specific, measurable and achievable Vision motivating your agency, which was the subject of yesterday’s post.)

To get help us get started, he emphasized that the Make or Break is the one thing that must be done extraordinarily well to achieve your Vision, and then cited a few examples:

Company Make or BreakAppleDesignGETraining leadershipConstellation BrandsAcquisitionsLibby’s Juicy JuiceDistributionVistageMembership growth

Once identified, your Make or Break will become the central focus for your agency.

What is the one thing that your agency must do extraordinarily well in order to achieve your vision?

As a thought-starter, consider the make or break that my friend Keith Browning came up with. He’s the CEO of Sparks Grove, a boutique interactive agency and a participant in the meeting: he identified his make or break as “interactive design”.

The next step is to Identify the activities that cause your Make or Break to happen.

Let’s say your Make or Break is proactive new business (it won’t be, but let’s use this as an example of the activities that cause new business wins to happen). Here are activities that might be on the list – keep in mind that each one needs to be easily measurable:

  • Make calls, send emails, leave voicemails
  • Have conversations
  • Set meetings
  • Hold meetings
  • Complete RFPs
  • Submit proposals
  • Meet with search consultants
  • Pitch

With each of these identified, you can now set weekly goals and measure progress towards their accomplishment. You then create a dashboard in Excel to graphically show how you are doing.

Dan has proven that a weekly 30-minute meeting with everyone from your agency in attendance who touches any aspect of the Make or Break, will lead you to the results you want, and the achievement of your Vision.

Unlike most reporting, this is “forward-facing”. It’s not waiting until two weeks after the month you just completed: it’s looking at your progress weekly, and then immediately adjusting or innovating.

We’re putting this into place at The List now; I’ll let you know how it works.

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