How often does your agency revisit its new business strategy? (Dare I ask...does it have a proper new business strategy, to begin with?)
It’s such a big deal to get an effective new business strategy in place that sometimes questions about its longevity fall by the wayside. So just how long should you expect your new business strategy to last?
To some extent, it varies. For reasons I’ll detail below, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where you’d want to continue with the same strategy and messaging beyond a year.
Certainly, it isn’t sensible to robotically push out the same messages to the same people leaning on the same strategy indefinitely. Not when the world around us is in a constant state of change. You could do it—but it would be ineffective.
Is your agency still sending the same new business outreach messages that it used last year? Or worse, in 2019?
Why revisit your new business strategy
When it comes to new business tactics like emails and calls, your approach might be “rinse and repeat” (or, preferably, “rinse, repeat, and optimize”). But when it comes to new business strategy, it’s more like map, implement, assess, fine-tune, and re-evaluate. Ideally, you would evaluate the effectiveness of your approach and consider necessary pivots on an ongoing basis. But we recommend going further.
It’s wise to formally bake that re-evaluation step into your new business process and calendar a specific time to revisit it at least once a year. In years like the one we just had, you may need to do it more frequently. If you don’t make time for this step, you risk wasting valuable resources and missing out on new business with a less relevant message and a less compelling case.
Re-evaluation is a time to hit pause, assess internal and external conditions along with the effectiveness of your new business program to date, and take a fresh look at where your best opportunities are in the near term.
For example, consider:
- Who are your ideal prospects?
- How will you connect with them?
- Why is your agency the right solution for their immediate needs?
- What proof points do you have to show?
- What do you need to update or create in service of this effort?
We recently covered SoDA’s latest study, which revealed that new business strategy is the biggest concern for agency leaders right now. By re-evaluating your strategy and making necessary changes regularly, you are more likely to realize greater profitability from it.
60% of agency leaders said the number one thing their agency needs to improve on is a more profitable new business strategy. — SoDA’s 2020/21 Agency Performance & Outlook Study
Need more convincing about the importance of re-evaluating your agency’s new business strategy regularly? Here are four specific reasons to pause autopilot and confirm whether you are still headed in the best direction for new business.
4 reasons to re-evaluate your new business strategy annually
1. Context changes
Industry conditions change constantly, and so do marketers’ priorities and budgets. Your agency must find the right balance between being true to itself and flexing the right ways when needed in response to those external changes. Agencies that skip this step risk coming off as tone-deaf, dated, and out of alignment with clients’ needs.
For example, consider:
- What trends are relevant to your agency and will impact its future business prospects?
- What immediate challenges are your prospective clients facing in the current environment?
- How might that change the way you need to talk to them (in terms of style, content, and terminology)?
- How might that affect the services that you offer—or the way they are positioned?
2. Agency changes
Apart from external changes, your agency is constantly undergoing internal transformation as well. Some changes may be good, some bad, but the net is that year to year, certain things are different. To what extent do those changes affect the way you present your agency?
It’s important to be brutally honest in this assessment. Denial around changes in capabilities can hurt the agency by wasting resources in pursuit of the wrong things. It can also postpone the realization that a new hire, or other action, is needed.
For example, consider:
- What team members were lost in the past year, and what skills and expertise did they take with them?
- Over the past year, what new hires were made, and what are their skills, experiences, and accomplishments?
- Do the losses/additions of skills and experience cancel each other out? Are there gaps? Do those gaps affect how clients are served?
- Are there net new capabilities and skills that your agency can take advantage of? What can your current team do better for clients this year than it could last year?
- Do your personnel changes affect how your agency sits relative to competitors (negatively or positively)?
- Do these changes amount to new talking points or selling points, or are they significant enough to merit a shift in agency positioning?
- What new work and proof points have been gained by your team over the past year, and what is the best way to leverage them?
BONUS QUESTION: Given where your team is today, what do you need to do (in terms of hiring, talent development, client acquisition, and proof point creation) to position your agency for the new business you want this time next year?
Based on your research of external and internal factors that may affect your agency’s new go-to-market strategy, consider whether you need to change who you are reaching out to. If you are adjusting your strategy, should you still be talking to the same people?
Here are some considerations:
- Based on your strategy, who do you want to connect with? (Maybe it’s digital innovation leaders or internal communications instead of CMOs).
- What talking points and strategies should you use to reach them effectively?
- Do you need to change your target verticals? Or geographic target area? What makes the most sense right now? Where are you most likely to secure wins?
- Have you been spreading your efforts too thin with a bigger, less-targeted list? How can you tighten it up to make better use of limited resources?
- Do too many of your prospects not have enough budget for your agency? Can you aim for larger targets with greater marketing spend?
- If you aren’t breaking through to enough people on your list, could you be aiming too high? Are you reaching for vertical leaders when you should be looking at more brand challengers?
- What can you do with previous targets? Can you rekindle earlier attempts with a fresh message strategy and a new value proposition and proof points?
- How will you reach out to lost opportunities and other contacts that need lead nurturing? What messages should they get from you now?
4. Reinforce alignment
The last reason to set aside a specific date to revisit your agency’s new business strategy is to reconfirm that everyone is aligned around the same strategy and goals. It’s important to get the leadership team’s buy-in and get everyone rowing in the same direction.
When a prospect speaks to your new business director, they should hear messages that are consistent with what they hear when speaking to your agency’s founder.
Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity to address areas of improvement from a new business perspective, such as website updates and aligning new business strategy with content creation.
Strategy lays the foundation for every aspect of your agency's new business program, making it the most important part. Unfortunately, many agency leaders have identified new business strategy as a particular area of concern.
New business efforts built on poor strategy can waste resources and reflect poorly on the agency. Failing to revisit your agency’s strategy regularly to keep it current and relevant will also contribute to its ineffectiveness.
Take the time to set up a well-thought-out new business strategy, revisit it at least once a year, and your agency’s outreach efforts will be much more successful.
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- How to Use Industry Trends for Agency New Business
- Agency New Business Takeaways from the Latest SoDA Report