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Mr. Mitchell Caplan

Why New Business is Everyone's Business

I was at the recent ANA Conference and (surprise!) found myself at the bar before dinner. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by about a half dozen of my favorite people: the CMO's and Business Development Directors of some of the best and largest agencies in the business.
These are people I highly respect and admire. The agency business is tough enough, but being in the bull's-eye of arguably the most stressful and challenging part of the business is in my opinion one of the hardest jobs. These folks are great at what they do, but manage to also be some of the best people (and friends) you would ever want to have.
As I looked around at the group I realized that this group of people had become another one of the "communities" I belong to. We all speak with each other on a fairly regular basis (sites like Facebook and LinkedIn have only accelerated this), sharing, when we can, information about pitches, prospects, consultants, and the general business of new business.
One of the reasons I've been lucky enough to be at all successful at business development is because of what I’ve learned over the years from this group of professionals and others in the same line of work. Now, of course, it’s a highly competitive group. We all want to win all of the time. But all of the members of this community have always been open and fairly transparent about sharing best practices and insights when there would be no harm to their own firm.
It's an unusual state of openness among competitors. But I also think there is a genuine understanding that new business is a tough gig, so we all want to see others succeed (when it doesn’t come at our expense). In many ways, I think we all feel a responsibility to help each other when we can, as this is one of the toughest jobs you can have in the advertising/marketing business.
Part of the 4A's Mission is as follows:
"To improve and strengthen the advertising agency business in the United States by counseling members on operations and management, by providing the collective experience of the many to each, by fostering professional development, by encouraging the highest creative and business standards, and by attracting excellent people to the business."
That is in essence is the spirit of this blog. What you'll find here is commentary and suggestions from some of the best in the business. No state secrets, just a continuation of the spirit of the "community" that I described above, and the "counsel" that is a basic tenant of the 4A's Mission. One that benefits all of us, while allowing for us as an industry and as individuals to be the best we can at what we do.
As Chairman of the Large Agency New Business Committee, I encourage all of you, regardless of the size of your agency, to contribute to this blog, and to participate in what we hope will be a highly beneficial conversation about new business.
Now, did anyone hear anything about that pitch for… ;-)

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Well Said

Glad to see the blog and thx to you and all the other initial contributors; you are right, it is never an easy gig and the only people who really appreciate it are those who have been involved in it in some way before. Will certainly make a habit of coming back here to share and commiserate.

Eric Hyman, JWT CET Practice, Atlanta
Posted by Mr. Eric Hyman (Wednesday, November 05, 2008 3:22 PM)

A Client "at the bar"

I was also at the ANA and happened upon "the crew" at the hotel lobby bar.  A very lively bunch who seemed to geniunely like and admire each other.  But for a bunch of new business pros, i was a bit shocked at how much they spoke to each other vs. other conference participants.  Maybe it was just the timing or the influence of libatious spirits, but i didn't find them to be very open to outsiders. 

There was one person though - much more outgoing and open.  Like a bright light - almost a silo of light surrounded by darkness.  It was hard not to notice them.

Well, lesson learned for them all.  I'm an A level client that would have welcomed the introduction had it occured.  And to think my account is now in review with none of them participated.  A loss indeed.

Dr. X
Posted by Mr. Matt Weiss (Thursday, November 06, 2008 3:19 PM)

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