Existing clients, the cornerstone of growing a profitable advertising agency

MoneyTree2There is a way to deliver significant new revenue growth at a fraction of the cost of going after new client revenue.

When you enthusiastically sit down to develop your agency growth plan for the year, do you spend as much time talking about existing clients as you do new business development? Probably not as often as you should!

The analysts who cover the public agency holding companies know just how important existing clients are to growth of a successful and profitable agency. Not only do they look at recurring revenue but also at what level of organic growth did the agency deliver from those existing clients. And should they not adequately deliver, they penalize the holding company accordingly.

It is impossible to grow and be profitable without a stable client base that is also delivering increased revenue on an annual basis. Without it you just do not have the intrinsics to support a robust new business strategy. Yes in a few words, existing clients help you fund new business strain. Without it you need generous investors that are not concerned about returns.

Having said this, one of the major issues most agency principals face today is the fact that many of the key client service executives are accomplished farmers and poor hunters.

Agencies do a great job servicing the clients but are less skilled at identifying and growing new opportunities.

The result can be summed up in a client comment like this:

“Most agencies…. do not listen, do not seem to care about our business, lack creativity, get stale quickly and in general are not moving as fast as consumers and technology”. (Large beverage client)

More so than ever before our clients are looking to us to not only help them grow and be successful, but in many instances just survive the current economic firestorm. They are looking for new ideas and new approaches but they want to know that the accompanying risk is small and that you have done your homework. In my experience, what you do not plan against and measure does not get done. Every year we plug in a number for “Organic New Business Growth” and just hope that it happens.

You may have already found out the hard way but that’s just not going to cut it. If you are serious about delivering profitable organic revenue growth then I recommend that you:

Create an organic new business strategy for all key clients from which you have identified possible growth. This should include elements like;

  • Organogram of the company, including all divisions, key leaders with responsibilities and products etc.
  • Marketing/Advertising budgets, target markets, channels etc
  • Current agency relationships, key contacts both agency/client plus any legacy relationships etc.
  • Company performance status, competitive environment, key issues etc
  • Referral strategy using existing client’s contacts.
  • Assignment of agency responsibilities’ by person, action and time.
  • Monthly client team meetings to review progress.

An organic new business growth strategy will deliver significant new revenue growth, at a fraction of the cost of going after new client revenue.

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One Response to Existing clients, the cornerstone of growing a profitable advertising agency

  1. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not
    writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

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