Want To Grow Business? Make Time To Do So!

“I want to grow business, and bring in new clients, but I just don’t have time. I’m so busy running the accounts, leading the team and keeping up that the time I want to allocate to new business just disappears.”

Agency Leadership FAIL!

I’ll assume you created your agency to make money and indeed a fair profit. Last I heard, there’s no such thing as a non-profit PR firm. If that describes your agency, may I respectfully suggest you won’t be in business for long.

There are some things you must accept if you want to grow business:

  • It’s one of your top three most critical responsibilities as an agency owner
  • Every agency loses business for reason beyond its control, even when it’s done a bang-up job….so you must have an active new business acquisition plan just to maintain, let alone grow income
  • Maintaining income isn’t enough, because all costs increase each year, from salary and bonuses to benefits to rent to…

So what’s the plan of attack? Here are five recommendations:

1) Remember that your agency’s very survival, let alone growth, depends on it. So allocate your time per quarter-month-week-day accordingly.

2) Have a written new business growth plan, including specific income goals, targets, and most of all, deadlines. Make sure your plan includes income/business from existing clients.

3) Remember that generating new business from existing accounts is the most efficient and effective way to grow income. How?  First, assess each account to assure that you’re providing five-star client service, because in today’s environment, four-star isn’t enough. Next, if it’s been a while, do a deep dive to make sure that you and the account leads fully understand not only your clients’ communications issues, but their marketing and business ones. Then allocate time for internal workshops where you explore these with the account team, and devise plans to help solve these challenges. This take a lot less time than the pursuit of an RFP, and statistically, has a much better chance of paying off in new income.

4) Shift from a quantitative to a qualitative approach. Rather than pursuing many RFPs for which the odds of your winning are stacked against you from the outset,  determine the kinds of clients you wish to attract, which are in your “sweet spot,” for whom your agency can make a real difference, and will help build your agency reputation, thereby attracting more clients on your target list.

5) Learn to say “no”: Every time you get an RFP, before plunging in, ask yourself such key questions as “What are my chances of winning this business?” “Is there an incumbent who’s done great work for this client?” “Am I the only agency of my size on the list?” “Is the safe money on a much larger firm?” If you’re at all dissatisfied with the answers to these questions, ask yourself “Might I be better off taking the manpower, not to mention the OOP resources, that I’d put into this RFP, and instead invest it in building business from an existing client?” Quite often, the answer’s a resounding “Yes!”

More in Part Two

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.

1 comments
J.R.Hipple
J.R.Hipple

Congrats on the new blog, Ken, and your wise counsel--as usual. JR