Ad Agency Survey Finds Traditional New Business Methods Aren't Working

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The current U.S. economic crisis has not only impacted small-to midsize ad agency business, it is impacting their new business practices according to a new survey of 302 agency principals and new business directors by Michael Gass Consulting.

This is a revolutionary time for the advertising industry. There is definitely a revolution taking place in the way agency new business is acquired. The new business paradigm shift that is taking place requires agencies to position themselves where they can be found online by their best prospective clients. This will require the use and greater dependence upon new media tools for new business

It isn't surprising that half of the agency leaders surveyed stated their business was down or down significantly from last year and that new business was harder or a lot harder to obtain. Nor is it surprising that there were fewer new business opportunities and prospects were harder to reach. What seems to be revealing is the significant majority of these agencies are still relying heavily upon referrals and networking for new business and these traditional methods are not working.

Even though the rapid rise of new media has been accelerated by the current economy, according to this survey, agencies are not utilizing new media tools as a source for new business. Only 33 percent of these agencies even had a blog. Email, search engine optimization and eNewsletters were rated less than 4 percent as a source for new business opportunities and as a way to reach prospective clients.

Michael Gass Consulting, a Birmingham-based consultancy for small-to mid-size full service advertising agencies, surveyed agency CEOs and new business directors. The sample came from a database of 4,955 U.S. full-service advertising agencies ranging in staff size from 5 to 80 full-time employees. An online link to the survey was also made available. The survey was emailed in August and kept the survey open through October 5, 2008 using an online questionnaire. There were 302 agencies that responded.

According to Michael Gass, "We're finding that agencies are not digitally prepared. They are way behind the growth curve of new media. That problem is compounded with the current economic crisis which was already hurting agency new business. Agencies would be wise to incorporate new media into their new business program and experience how it can be used to generate leads first hand."

Many economists believe 2009 could be much worse than what we are experiencing this year. Agencies will need to make new business a top priority to survive. When asked if their agency had a new business director 48 percent said no and 42 percent said they had no written new business plan. "A good number of agencies still do not see the importance of having someone oversee their new business practices," Gass said. "If everyone" is responsible for new business, no one will be," he added.

"This is a revolutionary time for the advertising industry. There is definitely a revolution taking place in the way agency new business is acquired. The new business paradigm shift that is taking place requires agencies to position themselves where they can be found online by their best prospective clients. This will require the use and greater dependence upon new media tools for new business," Gass said.

http://docs.google.com/fileviewid=0B0EP9ZaM40HbZWJhNmI5MGQtMTIxMi00OGJkLWJiNDUtYjkyNTk5NTlkOTgw&hl=en
(The 2008 Advertising Agency New Business Survey is available for download).

Michael Gass Consulting works with marketing communications firms to create a more clearly defined focus and differentiating business strategy that will give them a competitive advantage for new business, a higher-profile reputation, and an improved ability to attract and win the clients they really want.

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