Agency Owners: You Can’t Put Your Creatives Into a Business Development Box

“We’ve recruited agency new business people for years with limited degrees of success.”

Here at Catapult, we hear this statement more times than not. As the agency owner, naturally you are determined to ensure your business reaches revenue goals and brings in new clients consistently but do you have the right person overseeing your new business efforts? We often find that this critical role is passed to whoever has the extra bandwidth at the time, often your creatives.

Personally, I speak from experience. Straight out of college and having just landed my first job at a full-service marketing firm, I was deemed with the enormous responsibility of handling the marketing for the agency, assisting with the marketing for clients, and managing all of the agency’s new business. Can you see where a problem or two may have occurred with this model?

What I realized first-hand, and what many agency principals are starting to recognize more, is that you can’t put the job of three different roles on one person. If you want to grow your agency’s revenue and enable a successful new business process, don’t let your creatives get overwhelmed with trying to be someone they’re not- a salesperson.

Here are 3 key reasons why you shouldn’t make a creative responsible for new business:

  1. Business Development requires a particular type of person:
    The function of agency new business has been called the “most dangerous job in an agency,” due to the stress and pressure appointed to this critical role. Like any sales role, the job is mentally and emotionally draining, and finding someone who can handle the ups and downs is challenging.  When looking for someone to successfully fill this position, search for a hunter- someone who is self-motivated, resilient and quota driven.Creatives, however, don’t develop as much joy from extrinsic motivators such as money, recognition or other rewards. Creatives are driven by intrinsic motivators, meaning they work out of sheer passion regardless of the prize. Placing your creatives in a business development role not only takes away their excitement but keeps them from producing their best possible work for your agency. It’s truly a lose-lose situation for everyone.
  2. Marketing and business development go hand-in-hand, but they are different.
    The most successful agencies are able to understand the difference between sales and marketing, and most importantly, the significant results created when they are combined. In fact, organizations with proper alignment between sales and marketing teams achieve 20% revenue growth on average annually.Your agency’s creatives can play a significant role in the business development process. Creatives can create targeted lead generation campaigns that produce qualified inquiries for your agency. Leveraging channels like PPC, social media, email marketing and direct mail can deliver leads that can then be passed to your new business team to pitch and close.
  3. There are only so many hours in a day
    To my example above, if you have one person managing the marketing for the agency, assisting with the marketing for clients, and managing all of the agency’s new business efforts, there isn’t enough time in a day for these areas to each be executed well.  In addition, switching between complex tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time.Time is money, and if you’re looking to build a successful new business program, you need to have someone 100% dedicated to business development, not someone who can only give it ⅓ of their focus.


While creatives shouldn’t be running your new business program, they can absolutely contribute in their own way. Creatives are on the front lines of your agency work every day; let them help explain the value. Pull them in on prospect calls occasionally to help win over prospects farther in the funnel. Aside from the occasional tag-team, understand that creative work is what they know and love. Keep them in their lane – creating phenomenal campaigns for your clients.

Are you throwing new business work on the shoulders of your creatives? Learn more about how you can put your creatives back to doing what they do best while Catapult New Business builds and maintain a consistent new business program for your agency.

Erynn Laflamme

As the Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, Erynn works directly with the Catapult Sales team to execute targeted campaigns that generate qualified leads. With a background in agency new business, she delivers a unique insiders perspective on the challenges agencies face in regard to business development.