Art & Commerce: Think Differently

In the quest for new business, some tips from a pro
Eisaman, Johns & Laws spanned 50 years, and for most of that time, generating new business was the responsibility of at least one person. Because we started as a small retail shop in Southern California with no accounts, we seldom forgot the importance of finding new clients. In time, we grew to become a successful agency–and how we produced new business played a major role.
Do agencies need long-term new-business plans? Certainly. But we, like many, would start a new program then dismantle it because too much manpower was chewed up in day-to-day account service. So I learned to search for new business in a less time-consuming way–each and every day.
I tried to think new business when reading the daily newspaper and the trades (now you can surf the Net). I also looked for advertisers with whom we could do joint promotions involving one of our clients. It’s an ideal way to get acquainted, even if the gig doesn’t come off. (For instance, a promotion between our Chevrolet Dealers client and Suzuki motorcycles helped us win the national Suzuki account.)
Also, if an existing client is high on your agency, ask if they could make a new-business introduction on your behalf. (Again, our Chevrolet client knew dealers in other markets and was pleased to help.)
When your agency makes news, call the trade publications and update them. Then ask if they’re aware of any accounts about to go into review.
Another great source of new business: media reps. These folks often know who is looking. (Pennzoil, our largest account, came to us with the help of a media rep.) Make sure your media people are in the new-business loop, too. Encourage them to give the outside reps your client list and tell them the agency is always looking to add good clients. Our initial contact with Kahlua came through our media department.
Since clients are invited to media functions that agencies attend, look for a chance to introduce yourself. But how are you going to meet people having lunch at your agency’s table? Work the room. It’s also important to maintain good relations with media folks if you expect them to help you with new business. We all have a bad habit of accepting media invitations then not showing up. That doesn’t make friends in the media.
Remember, a new-business lead can come from anywhere: creatives, accounting, the receptionist. Hold staff meetings at least twice a year for the purpose of showing your work–to all departments. It’s good for morale and a chance to tell them new business is important.
I was always surprised I had to push agency people to attend trade shows. These conventions are invariably interesting–and you can’t help bumping into propective clients.
Regarding new business, agencies fall into two broad categories:
1) Shops whose work is so distinctive clients come to them. 2) Shops that get good referrals but don’t have the luxury of running day-to-day without someone–the more, the merrier–thinking new business.
Once people get into the habit, the business of new business takes a few minutes a day, sometimes, only an hour or two a week. K
Joe Eisaman
co-founded Eisaman, Johns & Laws Advertising in Los Angeles. Before its sale in 1996, EJL helped build strong brand images for clients
such as Pennzoil, Kahlua, Neutrogena and Chevrolet
dealer groups.

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