Business development is the lifeblood of an enterprise. There is no place where that is truer than in an advertising agency. Winning new business is a fiercely competitive game that requires significant investments in time and money. An advertising agency may begin its pursuit of new revenue with an audit and survey of traditional print media, broadcast, outdoor, point of sale, packaging and collateral material for clues to position a prospective client hopes to own in the marketplace and the competition they routinely face. Recommendations for planning and implementation can only be effective if it appropriately leverages attributes that are consistent with how a company wants to present itself to the world. The strategy needs to take into account a full understanding of the competitive environment as well.
But even that isn’t enough. You have to check all claims against perceptions of internal and external audiences, (assuming that perception is reality). Are the messages that are currently conveyed by gatekeepers in customer service and throughout the product delivery/distribution channels consistent with the position the brand owns in the mind of its best customers? Is the business delivering on its promise or falling short? Are there opportunities to reinforce competitive advantages with real and perceived differences for the brand?
Accurate assessment and analysis might be the difference between winning and losing. Of course there are also the vagaries of relationships. People generally want to work with people they know, like and trust. However, category and brand familiarity can sometimes be overriding considerations.
An illustration of the dilemma could be found in a hospital looking for an advertising agency. In this scenario, the decision-makers at the hospital may respect the track record of the agency with a long list of hospitals with whom they have worked. The danger here might be the tendency for the hospital to make a safe choice and thereby fall into a kind of conventional wisdom that leads to accepting the “status quo” instead of finding a unique and powerful competitive advantage.
Taking care of existing business is important of course. (Growing the core is a smart and conservative way to assure success.) But there is nothing quite like the excitement and energy at an agency when the team effort and dilligence produce a result that gets the order. Ring the bell. Celebrate. Now get to work.