An Ad Agency’s Rationale for Not Doing Proactive New Business

It’s not uncommon to hear that an ad agency (or other type of marketing services company) is suspending their proactive, outbound new business efforts due to low Return on Investment (ROI).

In our company, this might sound like the agency head who recently told us that, “I’m too wrapped up in my business to get ROI from The List.” Or, you might hear a CEO say, “We tried proactive new business for three months and didn’t close any business.”

I propose that positive ROI from proactive new business efforts is determined by four things:

  1. An information resource that gets you to the right person
  2. Creative or product excellence
  3. Strong sales skills
  4. Significant time invested in the process 

Let’s briefly address each one of these.

Information Resource: An information resource, by definition, can’t award you new business. It is designed to get you to the right person, saving you time and increasing the odds that you’ll have productive conversations with decision makers. Only if you purchase a leads-driven resource – like DailyVista (full disclosure, this is division of my company) – will you know that your prospect may have a need when you approach them.

Creative or Product Excellence: Your product or service needs to be of the best quality possible in order to win new business. And, the more sophisticated the buyer, the better it needs to be. I’ve seen lots of small shops with mediocre creative aspire to work with the top brands in the country. If that’s you, you’re likely to experience low ROI.

Strong Sales Skills: A really good sales person can overcome just about all obstacles, so this is a critical ingredient for positive ROI. Keep in mind that the person setting appointments and the people attending first meetings need good sales skills. For more on the importance of the latter, check out this post.

Invest time: This is the single most important ingredient for positive ROI. Without the investment of time in proactive new business, the effort is doomed from the start. A great database, show-stopping creative, and superior sales skills will only be valuable if you consistently put them to good use.

As you can see, once you have a good information resource, your proactive new business ROI is determined by internal factors. I believe that if you challenge your agency to consistently invest the time you know you should in proactive new business, you’ll get the ROI you’ve hoped for.


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