How would you define your role, it is simply about bringing new clients into the agency or is it more nuanced? Please tell us about your responsibilities.
That’s a great question. It’s definitely more nuanced. I define my role as “helping our agency become everything our clients need us to be — before the clients realize it’s what they need.” When we’re able to do this, we win more new business and we better retain and grow the business we have. Then, of course, we have to make sure we’re doing for ourselves what we do for our clients — connecting with people, communicating our benefits and closing the sale.
Where does most new business come from, where does the process tend to begin?
Most of our opportunities are inbound — beginning with a phone call or email from either the clients or a search consultant.
It seems that many clients are moving towards project work rather than the old AOR model. How, if at all, has that changed how you approach a pitch?
Compared to many agencies, RPA is lucky in that the vast majority of our clients and new business opportunities are still AOR or retainer-based. As a large independent, we’re better built for that kind of scale than for projects. When we do pursue projects, it’s important that the effort for the pitch is balanced with the potential upside of the project.
In your opinion, what are the key things a client looks for in a pitch presentation, aside from the work?
Smart thinking, chemistry with the team, and confidence in our ability to help grow their business.
How did you adapt your process during COVID? Were there any advantages that emerged?
I’m sure there were lots of small adjustments, but at a high level, much stayed the same in our approach. The biggest difference is that we haven’t had to spend time traveling. That gives us more time to focus on the work, the thinking, and the presentation. We miss seeing people in person, but “less time traveling” is an advantage I’d love to see stick around.
What are your predictions for agency growth in 2021, where do you see opportunity?
There isn’t anyone prediction I can point to because there are so many different types of agencies out there. I can only speak for RPA. We’re a large, full-service, independent agency — so that colors my answer. We’ve had a pretty strong 2021 already, and I think conditions are strong for it to continue. The opportunities lie in pursuing clients for which we are an especially strong fit:
- Clients who want an agency partner they can trust and develop a long-term relationship with, based on successful results.
- We love helping invisible brands earn attention and turn their business around.
- Clients who want to take a holistic approach to their advertising, rather than managing (and paying for) multiple agencies.
- Clients of a size and complexity that they need the capabilities of a larger agency but want to avoid holding companies.
- U.S. Clients that have both national and local advertising needs. We have many clients like this, and are literally built to service this kind of client.