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Absolutely. In fact, it is crucial to the success of your new business efforts to make sure everyone is doing Business Development.
Business Development is a mindset as much as it is a practice. It’s not about mailers or cold-calling or even writing an RFP or managing an agency review. It’s about curiosity. It’s about identifying opportunity. And it’s about establishing and cultivating relationships. These are skill sets that almost everyone has on some level or another. (We have Google, Wikipedia and Facebook to prove it.)
So what now? How can we get people to put these skills to use for you and the Agency? Well, I would start by talking with them. Everyone. Not just VPs and up. Give people an invitation to contribute. Tap into their passions. Get to know what they’re jazzed about. Get them to identify a client or a category that interests them. Once you do this, you may be surprised how they stay on top of research, looking for opportunities to attack. If they are vested and feel like they have the ability to make a difference, they will.
Something else to consider: you may want to use the guise of Business Development to open up creative thinking to the agency at large. Give people an opportunity to do something they don’t normally do. Work on a client they don’t currently touch. Push people to challenge the status quo and think of ways to create buzz-generating programs for existing clients. This can breed some healthy competition. And if you’re lucky, it may result in organic growth opportunities and more firepower in attracting prospective clients.
For example, at Deutsch we started an initiative that takes existing clients and puts their business through an accelerated new business machine (two weeks max). It’s completely voluntary and anyone can work on it, regardless of level or department. The briefs are loose and consist of only three requirements: 1) make sure to stay on brand, 2) make sure it leads to buzz-generating work, and 3) make sure it makes business sense. All other handcuffs are off.
In our last initiative we had 12 teams, comprised of people at all levels and from a range of departments. Over a hundred ideas were presented. In fact, one of the directions ultimately led to the thinking that became the strategic foundation for the brand.
The fact is people want to help. And you and I both know that we could all use the help. You just have to involve and empower the agency to do it. I’ve made it sound easier than it is, but if you can do it I truly believe you and your agency will benefit.