How To Win One Good Account A Year (thank you Dave Brubeck)

ONE of the best lines I’ve ever heard about the advertising agency business was by Joel Babbit. I’m not a disciple of Joel Babbit. I have only met him twice, both just brief introductions at the legendary Johnny’s Hideaway. But Tim Bayless once told me that he said, “this business is great, you only need one good day a year”. Now truth be told, it takes a lot of days of hard work to be in the position to have that one good day. But, it’s essentially true. Agencies often lose sight of this fact and scatter themselves with a machine gun approach to new business. And now with social media tools, the machine gun has gone digital. There is such an unhealthy emphasis on broadening new business efforts that a lot of agencies are becoming an inch deep and a mile wide.

In this recession-induced new business frenzy, clients wonder how agencies can service their account when their energies are so blatantly focused on new business. Clients are becoming leery of “hot” agencies on new business “rolls”. It’s ephemeral, like their jobs. So few agencies take the time to focus on a handful of prospects that make business sense by studying their revenue streams, category challenges and market conditions.

So how do you win one good account a year? As Dave Brubeck said:

“TAKE 5!”

1. Choose 5 Companies that make sense. Buy 5 3-Ring Binders (how digitally incorrect is that?).
2. Study their business, categories, industries, market effects. Assign a team to each “account”.
3. Develop a POV on their business, their customers, their communications, their internal culture.
4. Create an outreach program that is consistent, non-threatening, polite and professional.
5. Approach them intelligently with an idea or insight that will help them drive business.

This takes time — months, years. In the meantime, RFP’s will come over the transom. You will get referrals. You will be invited into pitches and reviews. You will get projects called in. And, yes, prospects will find you through social media vehicles. But, you will be prepared to hit the ground running with one of your Top 5.
I’ll be posting tips and tactics on best practices for each point above throughout the week.

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