19 Dec

The 4 Commandments of New Business

Written by Molly Elvin, Edd Weller, Nick Sadeghian, Rebecca Jones and Harry Hancock, members of the Lead Generation and Brand Partnerships teams. 

As we bust into the roaring 20s, ambition and growth are hot on the heels of gym and diets as popular ways we resolve to make our time on this planet more meaningful. If you’re an agency hoping to grow in a noisy marketplace, the team here at new business consultancy Ingenuity have put their heads together to reveal the 4 commandments of new business which will help you make sense of the initial stages of planning for success in 2020.


  1. Know yourself


It’s easy to start on a new biz journey dreaming big – winning huge six figure clients and briefs in a matter of months. But getting a share of increasingly squeezed brand budgets is a challenge and knowing how and where to set your expectations is key. Sure enough, any new biz professional can book meetings for meetings sake but knowing which ones will add true value to your pipeline is crucial.


By knowing one’s agency and oneself, you can really get under the hood of what a good client might look like. Every agency can dream of working with the FACEBOOKs, Nikes and Apples of the world, but for most, these dreams are not grounded in reality. Think about the brands that would be as excited to be in a room with you as you are to be with them. Once an agency understands what type and size of client to look for, the rate of quality opportunities will increase. Unfortunately, large briefs don’t grow on trees. Being willing to consider smaller projects or retainers for initial appointment, will allow you to build true relationships over time and grow the scope of work or brief organically and much faster than from cold.


  1. Know your prospect


On the subject of relationships, as budgets shrink in a tumultuous economic environment, it’s become increasingly difficult to get brands to part with their marketing cash. One way Ingenuity adapts to this, is to make sure that we aren’t grouped in with the crowd. Our outreach is about the person we’re talking to not just about the brand.


Knowing your prospect is a lot like getting to know a new friend. Ask yourself, what do they like? What are their priorities? And what makes them tick? Looking at their online presence – including LinkedIn and thought leadership activity – is the key to getting insight on what they’re really like. Drawing on this will make sure your comms tap into what they are truly interested in alongside their biggest professional challenges. Giving them a call to congratulate on a recent award, product release or cool activation never goes amiss either.


The most important quality a new business manager can employ is empathy, as this will help you effectively penetrate the day-to-day challenges of the individuals within a marketing department.


Whatever approach you’re most comfortable with, remembering it’s a real person at the end of the phone and not just an anonymous brand will help you go from cold to warm.


  1. Know your brands


It’s one of the most well-known laws of new business, but brand marketeers receive 100 requests a day to meet or chat to talk about whatever new zany trend agencies are clinging to these days and the truth is it all sounds like white noise, (purpose anyone?)


Realistically, unless you work for a big-name agency, your credentials aren’t going to be the thing that sets you apart from the other 30,000 agencies in the country.


Your outreach should always be relevant to the brand you’re targeting – grab their attention with personalisation, identify their industry challenges via research and insight, then prove that you can and have solved those challenges in the past with your credentials. It’s often down to language!


For example, many FMCG brands are struggling with HFSS (products that are high in fat, salt and sugar) regulation in advertising, so demonstrating an understanding of this from the outset will help you nail that Mondelez meeting!


Side point – as I was writing this one of our account directors sent a picture of his baby using a certain FMCG challenger product and sent it to the founder using the above formula. They now have a meeting scheduled next week.


  1. Know your tools


The prospects you want to meet don’t want a coffee and a chit-chat. You need to offer something of value.


Events are a great way to engage employees, clients and brands alike – creating a collective of thought-leaders, agency champions and gold list brands, all in one room, with varying, but productive agendas.


With a clear understanding of your agency proposition, stand-out content and a solid strategy to establish yourself as a thought-leader, you will attract like-minded prospects who you will be able to build long-term, fruitful relationships with.


Format is key. If you want to talk about demystifying incubation in pharmaceuticals, your best bet is inviting a small, select group of innovation and brand leads to a roundtable discussion. If you’re a bigger network agency looking to bring together prospects old and new, whilst launching products and content over the course of an afternoon, then a bigger conference at a lavish venue and a few drinks may be bang on the money.


A top tip to finish – Eventbrite has a nifty feature in which you can ask your attendees a question or allow them to divulge their challenges before they even enter the room. Get them thinking about their motivations to attend and their desired outcome or takeaways. Tailor your Q&A to answer those brands burning questions and you’re on to a winner. What better excuse to follow up effectively…


These four commandments will give you a great basis to form your new business plan. It’s about knowing and understanding your proposition, your value and then communicating that to the right people in the right way. Sounds straightforward enough but we’ve been doing this here at Ingenuity for almost 15 years. Whether you need help on the structure, the collateral or just who to talk to, we’re super keen to hear about your ambitions for 2020.


At Ingenuity we understand the wider agency and brand relationship. With insights gained from years of experience and having worked with the best-of-the-best on both sides of the brand-agency relationship, we can help facilitate viable partnerships that last. If you’d like to learn more from our insights or want to gain a clearer view of the agency-brand ecosystem, contact Duncan on newbusiness@ingenuitylondon.com for more information.