New Business

Painless Prospecting for New Business with Tom Martin

As times change, so must agencies. AMI does some research every summer and in talking to CMOs across the country, it's been very clear that clients are no longer interested in only working with just one agency anymore. In fact, our study showed that over 50% of them want to work with multiple agencies, allowing each other to do what they do best but not letting them run the show. In learning how to be a part of that blended family team, there is opportunity. That’s just one of the topics that I chatted about with my podcast guest, Tom Martin. He helps agencies take advantage of that opportunity. He gets them to the place where the client sees them as the ultimate partner, a consigliere, if you will, versus the guys that just execute ad strategies. He finds that the real money is in becoming a partner who can think, ideate and grow a client's business.   But how do you find those partner clients? He does all of this through his system of Painless Prospecting where you wake up, open your inbox, and there's a lead waiting for you instead of having to go create that lead. It’s investing in your agency to build not tomorrow’s lead, but the lead that’s six months or a year down the road. Tom and I dig into the nuts and bolts of this with: How prospecting for new business has changed over the years Why clients no longer believe in hiring just one agency How to define your value to your clients when delivering ideas instead of “stuff” Correctly positioning your agency in the days when your client first discovers you Painless Prospecting: how to get [...]

How to Develop a More Profitable New Business Process with Lee McKnight Jr.

“We're a full service integrated marketing agency.” Sound familiar? Trying to be everything to everybody is just one of the big mistakes that agencies today are making when it comes to attracting new business. Agencies hate to leave money on the table, even if it’s “bad money.” But we all know what happens when you chase after or work with clients who aren’t in your sweet spot. They clog your new business processes and cost you time and money. My podcast guest, Lee McKnight, Jr. helps agencies solve this conundrum and many more in the dreaded agency quest for new business. He helps agencies get out of their own way and identify what makes them a unique option and just what certain prospects need. We cover a lot of ground in this podcast including the following: How to prevent your agency from making the major mistakes that agencies make all the time Why agencies need to specialize instead of generalize New business: how to develop a better, simpler new business process How to use a delicately balanced process that uses all different kinds of marketing Why patience is so key in closing on new business The importance of having one person who is the leader on a project Why there needs to be a balance between showcasing the figurehead and the agency The tools you’re going to need to put into practice the objectives discussed in this episode Lee McKnight Jr. is the Director of Business Development for RSW/US in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are a new business development firm that works solely with agencies and marketing services firms. After graduating law school, he ran away as fast possible from that profession and worked for an [...]

New Business Development for Agencies with Jami Oetting

My guest, Jami Oetting has seen both sides of agency life and is with me on this podcast to discuss new business development for agencies. She worked as a strategist at a full-service agency before deciding that she really liked reporting on what agencies are up to more than living it day-to-day. As the editor of Hubspot’s Agency Post, she gets a front row seat to what is going on in shops all over the nation and boy does she have some perspective.   In this podcast, she gives us her take on a wide array of topics from how agencies need to differentiate themselves to tips for how agencies can consistently create content. The conversation also digs into new business development for agencies in this digital age. Some highlights include: Solely relying on referrals doesn’t make sense anymore. There’s a whole world out there with clients looking for specialists. Attract the right clients and repel the wrong ones. We discuss why it’s so much better to be upfront about who you are as an agency, and who you are not. Consider what your agency would look like in five years if you started specializing today, versus what it would look like if you didn’t. People will pay more for specialized expertise. Stay on track with your content creation. Understanding formulas and blocking time to write will allow agencies to create better content in a more efficient and consistent way. Create your niche from your client profile and develop a plan to generate leads from that. Jami Oetting is the editor of Hubspot’s Agency Post, which is a blog for advertising and marketing agency professionals. She led the launch of the publication in 2011 and [...]

New Business Prospecting & Making Your Agency Attractive to Prospects with Chuck Meyst

As agency owners, the topic of new business prospecting is one that’s always on your mind. How do you do it in a way that’s different from every other agency out there? Is there a better way?  Can you truly differentiate yourself?  Who is your right fit client? The value in finding the right prospects for your agency is invaluable, both in terms of time and money. Chuck Meyst understands the importance of finding that match and has spent the past 20 years perfecting the matchmaking sales connection between agencies and clients, which is why I was eager to get him on our Build A Better Agency podcast. Chuck shared his expertise that comes from years of experience working with agencies and their clients. Some highlights include: how a clear focus of your goals and priorities can create something of value for your client and create a better match between you and your client how the word “sales” is not something to fear, but something to embrace, and how to create maximum impact from it how agencies make themselves valuable and different by being good listeners and asking pertinent questions to their clients how to make your agency available for potential matches at his online tool, AgencyFinder without adding extra work. Chuck Meyst has been in sales all his life, from his childhood bike route to CEO and founder of, a matchmaking service for agencies. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site ( and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.   If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of [...]

Business development insurance

Drew's note: I've invited John Heenan, an agency growth consultant to share a little bit of his expertise with us here at the AMI blog.  Without further ado -- here's his take on business development insurance. I’ve asked other agency owners and new business directors to talk about about their own business growth advice and as you can imagine there are as many opinions as there are agencies. But what everyone does agree on is that new business is the priority. After all, winning new business is the future of every agency. So why is it so frustrating? There are so many complicating factors that play into the client-agency mating game. A little business development insurance can help. In theory, getting a new client shouldn’t be so tough. Not so fast. LinkedIn has a little over 1 million marketers, and the government counts over 30 thousand advertising-like firms in the U.S.. That is a lot of competition for new business. If you were a brand marketer, how would you sort out the differences among the hundreds or thousands of agencies knocking on your door? How would you distinguish between all those who claim the same things; innovation, creativity, great results, cool processes, big data expertise, and the list goes on. Most marketers say they all look and sound the same. The struggle to differentiate is one of the fundamental challenges for agencies and the reason there are many resources to turn to. The challenge is further complicated by the way marketers choose their agency partners including how they go to market, what services they need, what experience they value, size, geography, resources, culture and many more. There are also many tools to help find and engage [...]

Why Getting New Business Doesn’t Have to be a Mystery with Peter Levitan

I don’t care how big or old your agency is — you want to win more new business. If I could bottle business development success — I’d be a billionaire. Honestly – getting new business for your agency is not as mysterious as we make it out to be.   There is a methodology that works. But it requires work. That’s why agencies struggle. They wrestle with being disciplined enough to do the work consistently. That’s why I knew I needed to get Peter Levitan on the Build a Better Agency podcast. Peter’s book, Buy This Book, Win More Pitches, is a brilliant read on how to get your agency noticed and pursued by clients you’d love to work with. Peter has spent his career building successful brands, digital technologies, publishing and advertising environments, and highly effective marketing programs for Fortune 500 companies. He has 30 years of experience running Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, his own Portland Agency, and as the CEO of two Internet start-ups. On the podcast, Peter and I talk about truly differentiating your agency, how successful agencies prospect and what you need to do right now to get your new business program in high gear. We also delve into personas and how inbound has changed the agency new business model. You’ll probably listen to this one more than once when working on getting new business. Peter’s straight to the point style and 30 years of success in the field success make for an incredible interview. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site ( and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the [...]

Hey agency owner — the podium is calling (thought leadership for agency owners)

When I review an agency's new business plan (assuming they have one) one of the strategies that is usually built into the plan is building a thought leadership position for agency owners or leaders.  Within that strategy is usually a list of tactics and one of them is almost always secure speaking engagements. Hard to argue with that strategy or the value of using speaking gigs to put yourself in front of a room of prospects and influencers.  But it's a long road between putting it into your marketing plan and actually making it happen. Fortunately for you -- Karl Sakas has written a how to guide that will walk you through exactly how to secure those sought after opportunities.  His book, The In Demand Marketing Agency: How to Use Speaking to become an Agency of Choice is a primer for agency leaders whether you've been speaking for years or are just starting. Not only will this book walk you through the mechanics of securing the speaking opportunities, but it's also packed with templates, check lists and samples of everything from speaking contracts to post presentation surveys and follow up tools.  He has literally mapped out the entire process for you. Best of all, Karl is not someone writing a generic book.  He's a guy who knows agencies, has owned agencies and uses the tools he describes to promote his own consulting business.  So you know that every tip and trick was hard earned and learned. Karl has generously given me three copies of his book to give away.  To qualify for the drawing (i'll use all you need to do it leave a comment and tell me what you'd like to learn from the [...]

Hey agency owner – want a no fail agency new business tactic?

One of the biggest issues that agency owners and other key staff that are charged with agency new business face is getting on the radar screen of their prospects. This is where a small business marketing technique could come in handy. Read on for more. Even when you have the experience, knowledge and chops to help a prospect move their sales needle or accomplish whatever they're trying to get done – it’s tough to get their attention long enough to be noticed. That’s even more of a challenge for agencies that don’t have a big marketing budget or exist in a crowded, competitive landscape.  Which by the way, is all of you. That’s where some psychology can be incredibly helpful. One thing that is almost universally true about us humans is that we are incredibly flattered when someone thinks we have something of value to offer in the way of experience, knowledge, expertise or hard-earned wisdom. And that, I believe, is the door we need to open if we want a prospect’s time. For this small business marketing technique to work, I think the following needs to be true about your agency: You/your agency has a niche/specialty in which you have a great depth of expertise You have some outlet (website, blog, podcast, newsletter) in which you share that expertise without a sales pitch or being self-serving You have a genuine interest in the people you serve and a passion for helping them in your unique way with whatever you do/sell You are willing to commit to working on agency new business on a consistent basis If that’s you, read on. Make a list of your ideal prospects and their influencers. Who would you most like to serve and are the people/companies that you [...]

Hey agency owner — it’s time to learn how to share the sandbox and work with other agencies

Building client relationships and working with other agencies can be challenging, but it is vital for your agency’s long-term success. In fact, one of the agency/client trends that is toughest for most small to mid-sized agencies is learning how to and accepting the idea that you’re going to have to work with other agencies.  The whole agency of record model is crumbling and more and more clients are telling the marketplace that they prefer to work with multiple agencies. When AMI partnered with Audience Audit last fall to do some primary research with CMO types, one of the things that popped off the page was how prevalent this attitude is.  Many of our respondents worked with 3+ agencies and thought they were better off for doing so. The reasons they opted for multiple agencies varied but the predominant message was — “no one agency can be excellent at everything. We would prefer to buy subject matter expertise across agencies.” The other thing the respondents told us is that they hate it when agencies bicker and try to throw each other under the bus.  They end up distrusting and often firing the bigger whiner among the agencies.  (You can download the research report here) Who comes out on top?  The agency who finds a way to work well with the others.  The agency who busts a hump to coordinate their efforts and actually recognizes what the other agencies are good at and takes full advantage of those talents. Why?  Because then you are actually building client relationships. You are doing what’s best for the client, rather than worrying about the lost billable hours.  Because then you are acknowledging other agencies has something to contribute.  Because then you are [...]

Hey Agency Owner – How’s Your Thought Leadership Strategy?

We work hard to help our agency clients embrace thought leadership as a way to position themselves as a premiere choice among their competitors. Which means we need to walk our talk, eat our own dog food or whatever cliché you'd like to use to prove that it works. We're very grateful that many other publications seek us out to comment on various aspects of the agency business and we're always excited about sharing what we've learned and try to teach. Rather than making you hop all over the web looking for Agency Management Institute's examples of thought leadership -- we thought we'd give you this handy list. As always -- we'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the topics below. Digital Marketer -- 4 Ways to Build a Better Agency with Smarter Hires The Agency Post -- How to Stop Your Client From Shopping Around B2B Marketing -- 5 Ways to Avoid the Last Minute New Business Crunch Washington Post -- Overstaffing Can Break Your Small Business iMedia Connection -- Why You Need to Stop Billing By the Hour Smart Insights -- How Can Agency Account Managers Build Better Client Relationships Marketing Agency Insider -- 10 Ways to Establish Order in Your Advertising Agency -- When You Should Hire Full Time Staff Digiday -- Time to Retire the Digital Jedi The Agency Post -- Use Content to Tell Your Agency's Story The Agency Post -- Building An Internal Content Strategy for the Long Haul -- How to Transition from Corporate Thinking to Small Business Thinking -- 4 Ways to Compete With the Big Guys Steamfeed -- One Page: The Short, Simple Way to Plan Your Agency's Future Linked2Leadership -- On Leadership, Workshops and Organizational Health Under 30 CEO -- Why Good Writing Matters and 4 Ways to Teach It to Your Team LinkedIn -- Marketers -- Take Digital Out of Your Vocabulary Washington [...]