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New business is the day job

by Matt Sullivan

7 May 2020 13:18pm

Like all businesses, the Havas Media UK leadership team kicked off 2020 by taking a look back at 2019 – constructing a roadmap for how to best tackle this year based on our learnings and experiences.

Looking over the statistics, our new business figures stood out. Not a month went by when we weren’t working on a pitch – whether an RFI or full-fledged response to a brief, in one way or another new business was top of mind... In fact, in the summer we had 9 pitches live at once! Gone are the days of 15-year relationships with clients; a renegotiation of the contract around the edges and another 5 years under our belts. Clients are continually challenged to make savings, push for more effectiveness, prove their marketing efforts and so the lifecycle of client and agency relationships comes under scrutiny on a cycle of 3 years or less.

We had grand plans built around everything we learned last year and even circulated that strategy out to the agency in February. Cue: global pandemic. Covid hit and turned the world upside down. Those new business numbers that simply needed to be bigger year on year, now took on a whole new complexion. And whilst our neat plan for 2020 may have suddenly seemed like pie in the sky, the principal that under pinned it never felt more relevant: Make every day, a new business day.

With heightened competition around what new business opportunities do emerge – agencies will need to make sure that what makes them special, stands out more than ever.

1) So, get your story right – and tight. It’s your DNA. Ensure it is a constant in every decision and action you take. With a large number of pitches on and busy clients, your story must live throughout the lifeblood of the agency. The consistency in your narrative will generate the noise you need to break through.

2) Expose more of your teams to new business. You can only be successful if the whole agency is behind you. No matter your role or your department, we are all in it together and have to be prepared to mobilise quickly. Though people and chemistry ultimately win pitches, the new business foundations of brilliantly executed thinking supported by strong commercial acumen, have to be on point. Don’t wait until an RFI comes through to get everyone exposed to the art that is new business.

3) Work hard with your current clients. Although new business might imply “new” clients, it’s important to think about new business within existing client relationships. They deserve to feel as much heat and fierceness as the clients you’re pitching to. They mustn’t be forgotten during these turbulent times; they must see the hard work and effort every day. And let’s be honest, 3 years is up before you know it – we need to give our clients every reason to decide not to pitch their business.


As an industry, we are going to have to change how we work (not just logistically) and how we support the competitive new business landscape. Those quickest to adapt to making new business the day job, will emerge as the strongest contenders.

Stephanie Marks, Managing Director at Havas Media

Tags

new business
pitching