As we pass the half way point of the year and move into the summer, it’s a good time to remind yourself of the new business objectives you set for the year. Are you on track to achieve these? It’s useful to review progress so far, look at what’s working well – and what’s not – and make sure you’re all set for a strong second half of the year.
The AAR recently reported a ‘positive diagnosis’ for new business, despite a 8.9% year-on-year drop in reviews in the first half of this year. There has been a number of major agency reviews completed by big spenders such as Shell, Camelot, Sky and Asda and momentum has picked up after a very slow first quarter. Advertising and Integrated pitches are down, media remains the same, whilst digital pitch activity is up 11.8%.
We spoke to Fran Brook, New Business Lead at MullenLowe, who shared her experience with us: “it doesn’t feel as though there has been as many new business opportunities in the first few months of this year compared to the same period in 2017. Having said that, the briefs that have gone out have been far greater in value, both creatively and financially. We now have a much clearer idea of what briefs we want to go for during the remainder of the year.”
It appears that clients are looking for more from agencies and the new business market is becoming increasingly competitive. In response, it seems that agencies are becoming more focused on what work they want to win and developing their agency models and structures accordingly. New business success is often about knowing which is the right work to pitch for and committing to this, which is likely to ensure a much higher conversion rate and a more sustainable business.
This was a topic covered at our recent Straight-Talking event which explored how the pitch process can be improved. Charlie Carpenter, Managing Director at Creativebrief, was on our panel and observed that: “agencies are now genuinely more selective about what they pitch for due to a lack of resource and the time that can be involved in a pitch process.”
Whilst the AAR report provides a positive update on the new business market, their Chief Executive Kerry Glazer goes on to warn: “The more significant issue is, however, that a similar sized new business market place is being shared out amongst an increasing number of very capable agencies.”
This can make it difficult for the client to make the right choice and it becomes increasingly important for agencies to stand out. Carolyn Mckeever, Global Head of Downstream Marketing at Shell, shared her experience with us from a recent pitch: “every agency came in and said they could do everything we wanted, across every market, in every possible way, in 4 different flavours. Which makes it very difficult to make that final decision.”
In response to this, many agencies have been reviewing their structure and ways of working, as well as paying more attention to their positioning and proposition. Ogilvy recently ditched Mather to introduce a new corporate identity as they aim to “build a new model for the industry” after streamlining and simplifying their organisation structure.
Whether it’s a formal pitch, or an opportunity without a comparative review, it’s really important to invest time into getting to know the client and bringing to life your approach. Charlie Carpenter, explained that “brands are increasingly making decisions based on approach, strategic thinking, chemistry, people, teams and ways of working.” It’s therefore important to know what you stand for as an agency and make sure this is aligned to a strong understanding of what the client actually needs.
Whilst the summer is often seen as a quiet time for new business, it’s a great time to fine tune your new business approach. Make sure that your objectives for the year are realistic and appropriate for your business – are you going after the right type of business? Then give yourself the best chance to achieve this by ensuring your proposition is relevant to the market today and highly focused. And make sure you have everything in place to deliver on this. By doing this you can make sure you stand out from the rest and maximize your chances of success over the coming months.
Get in touch if you’d like to discuss further.