Success in the new year hinges on our ability to understand and predict the current and future market conditions around our business. For agencies, the last year and a half have brought near-constant change and amplified some of our most difficult challenges. Notably, new business development is the challenge many face right now in order to rebuild their revenue streams.
For years, business development has been an exercise in waiting for word-of-mouth and referrals to work for your agency. The hope is that if you do good work, it will be recognized by others, and they will then in turn reward you with more work. While this does happen, in an environment like the one we have in 2021 and 2022, waiting on others just is not going to cut it. In order to proactively build back our revenue, we need to understand what trends are affecting our business and how to take advantage of them for our own gain. We see three major new business trends happening now, and the first is all about people movement.
The Great Resignation
We Are Rosie recently did a study and over 63% of their survey participants said that they plan to make a job change before the end of this year. This is probably of no shock to anyone running a business right now, as we have all felt the sting of employee churn in one way or another. Whether it is an employee leaving your agency or a valued client contact leaving a brand you work with, employee movement has been near an all-time high.
What is key about this is understanding that this movement, while disruptive to almost every area of your business, is also a massive opportunity.
Disruption is good for new business
The biggest indicator of a brand about to go through an agency review are CMO shifts. Change. Disruption. You know what follows a CMO shift in those reviews? VP, Director, Brand Manager shifts. All of those people moving around signals changes within brands and each new person that steps in to fill the open roles left by the leaving employee brings their own new preferences for partners. Each (no matter how small) employee disruption within a brand brings a new opportunity to network, learn, and eventually partner to solve that brand’s most pressing challenges.
With disruption comes opportunities to proactively drive the type of word of mouth and referrals that your teams need and want to increase your overall revenue. The key here is to be proactive in driving those referrals and not waiting around like in years past. That proactivity comes from creating a simple networking process in place for all of your key executives. If there is no process, then we know it will not get done. Networking almost always takes a back seat to things like client work and new pitches, so if you are not committed to dedicating time and energy to this practice, then it will surely be a short-lived fad within your firm.
Core Network Activation (as we like to call it) is as simple as:
- Dedicate 15 minutes every morning to your networking outreach.
- Create an immovable calendar block, so that culturally you commit to doing this every day.
- Within that 15 minutes, the plan is to do 3 points of outreach, 5 minutes each.
- Each outreach will be a simple, direct message simply to stay visible in a time of isolation.
- Comment on their brand’s latest news, check in on that vendor you always work with, if you have known them for years – ask about their family
- Be proactive in your referral request:
- “Who do you think would be interesting for me to know?”
- “You know our best clients are similar to you, who comes to mind that you think I should talk to?”
At Catapult, Core Network Activation is something that we do every day for ourselves and our clients, and it is key to kicking up dust on conversations that may have gone dark or reigniting a spark that died down when life got in the way of a client we were trying to work with. The key here is that with all of the movement and disruption that The Great Resignation is bringing to brands (and agencies alike) your new business plan has to be one that takes advantage of that disruption. Not every proactive new business outreach has to be a cold one. There are plenty of warm opportunities out there if you take the time and energy to cultivate them.