A Written New Business Plan: Essential For Your Agency’s Success

I’m often amazed that PR agencies—which are in the business of, among other things, winning new business—don’t have a new business plan in writing.

Am I talking about you?

Ok, let me get this right. You want to win new business. You need to win new business. But you have no written plan to do so?

What would you tell a client that planned to market a product or service, but didn’t have a written plan?

Exactly!

Here are six reasons why I believe you must have a written new business plan:

  1. It’s Not Optional. I realize that’s like telling you that you must have a new business plan because you must have a new business plan. But I believe it to be true. To misquote the adage, I’m not stating that if you don’t have a plan, you’re planning to fail. But I am saying that if you don’t have a written plan, you’re not going to achieve the new business success that you could. Stated more positively, when you write down a goal, or in this case, a series of goals, strategies and tactics, you’re more likely to achieve them.
  2. It Usually Takes A Long Time To Pursue And Win A Client. If you’ve targeted and won a dream client, take a look at how long it took from first connection, to conversation, to pitching, to decision made, to when you got your first check. Unless it was crisis-related, or you’re incredibly lucky, it can take months, even years, to win a piece of business. Keep this in mind when reading the next two bullets.
  3. You’re Going To Be Fired For Reasons Not Tied To Agency Performance. I certainly hope this doesn’t happen to your firm.  But the history of the PR agency business illustrates that chances are high it will be fired for reasons not tied to agency performance: a new CMO or VP of Corporate Communications comes in, bringing their favorite agency. Or your client’s new ad agency brings in the PR firm it owns, which is willing to work for seriously reduced fees to prove their value. They’re in. You’re out. And now you’ve got to start from scratch to duplicate the income you’ve just lost.
  4. Your Budget’s Going to Be Reduced. The volatility of the industry over the past few years proves that no budgets are sacrosanct when the client needs to cut back. And sadly, PR’s one of the first to make the list. Your budget’s been slashed, when you can least afford it.  When this happens, particularly in light of bullet three, you’ll wish you had a new business plan, written and active.
  5. Flat Performance Isn’t An Option. In my view, PR firms are like sharks. They must keep moving, or to be more industry-specific, growing, to survive. That’s because costs, including salaries, healthcare costs, other benefits, office space, and technology, keep increasing, even in tough economic times. What’s your plan to keep up?
  6. The RFP Hamster Wheel Is Futile. RFPs are a sad fact of life for many agencies. But take a hard look at all the RFPs you pursued in the last 12 months and how many of them you actually won. If yours is like many agencies, the win rate is relatively low. That may not be a reflection of your agency and how you handle RFPs, but merely a reflection of the numbers associated with the process. Do you really want to be that dependent on a new business strategy where the odds are stacked against you?

There is a better way. It’s having a written new business plan, and creating one is less frightening than you might think. I’ll provide details in the next post.

In the meantime, do you have a written new business plan? If not, what’s stopping you?

Here are four more reasons you should have one.

 

 

Ken Jacobs

I’m the principal of Jacobs Communications Consulting, which helps public relations and communications agencies and organizations grow and manage business, and enhance staff performance, leadership and communications skills.We do so via consulting, training, and coaching. To learn more, please click on the “Jacobs Communications Consulting” tab on the top.

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