Believe it or not, most agencies do not have a documented and functional new business plan. They might have a prospect list, and they often have a current lead/contact list, but very seldom do they have a new business plan. Success in this area is often left to hope, faith, and the grace of God supported by serendipitous events.
An ad-agency without a new business plan is in all likely hood headed for failure. This applies to both new business development as well as organic business development growth. What you don’t plan, monitor and measure never gets done.
Now, I am not suggesting that the plan take months to complete and be the length of your last university dissertation. What I am suggesting is that you use the discipline of having to prepare one, to make sure that you hone your focus and do your homework and preparation. No longer are you able to just throw things at the wall and see what sticks. The stakes have changed and success is that much more elusive today.
Here are a few tips to consider when preparing your agency new business plan:
- This not a sole initiative undertaken by the person responsible for new business. This is a job for the whole agency. Get them involved. Get their input. Ask for suggestions and share it with the whole team. How do they know how to help if they have no idea where you are going?
- Make the plan focused and concise. As I said, this is not a lengthy dissertation. It must be readily understood and actionable.
- Make sure it leverages all the agencies CORE competencies and experience. Not all competencies, all CORE competencies. You cannot be everything to everyone.
- Base it upon achievable objectives. Do not include any objectives that you are skeptical of from the start. That does not mean there should not be an element of stretch included, but avoid the “pie in the sky” objectives. You are just setting yourselves up for failure.
- Realistic targets and timeframes. Too often when I ask “How did you get to these numbers?” I am told that they were plugged in because they were the minimum needed to support the current overheads and required profit numbers. Resist the overwhelming temptation to do this! In addition, make sure that your timeframes are reasonable, given where you are in your new business development process. Miracles new business people can sometimes do, the impossible takes that much longer.
- Action plans and clear responsibility/accountability. Need I say more here?
- Measureable goals with ongoing monitoring. Make the goals measureable and consistently monitor progress. Avoid “feel good” new business activity that shows busy work without any measureable progress or results. It just delays the inevitable…failure to meet goals.
- Incentives linked to desired behaviors. Simply described, you get the behaviors you reward. Make sure that you reward accordingly.
- Senior management participation and support. To be successful the whole agency needs to realize how important new business is. Nothing sends a clearer message than an actively involved and supportive senior management team.