Are you looking to sell your creative agency, or looking to acquire one?

You need to strap yourself in because it’s gonna get bumpy.


You take on board the wisdom contained in the next 60 minutes of my interview with Adam Rubins, who’s experienced the highs and lows, the mental stresses and strains of the agency sales process and lived to tell the tale.

Not only that but he’s built a new business around helping agency owners avoid the common pitfalls of selling or acquiring a creative agency.


  • Hollywood
  • The future  of TV streaming
  • Mental welfare at work
  • Wearing masks
  • The value of new business to your agency’s price tag – which is useful because this show is sponsored by new business development platform The Advertist!
  • How to make your agency more attractive to a buyer
  • Agency employment laws
  • US and UK agencies –  divided by a common employment language

And sharing an office with Sean Connery

Adam’s LinkedIn profile here:

Now, Next Why Linkedin profile here:

Now, Next Why web site here:

All of us at The Advertist invite you to check out The Fuel Podcast, where we pull on the experience of leaders of companies in a variety of sectors with loads of fantastic interviews, tips and tales.

To check out this episode of the podcast click here.

Lawman Kevin Taylor once had to negotiate for his own life with a shotgun shoved in his face. He’s also had to negotiate for other people’s lives too, because he’s been at the sharp end of hostage negotiation for decades.

These days, he prefers the cut and thrust of boardroom to the perils of policing but the skills translate to the business and sports worlds, where he’s paid to help parties achieve a win.

Negotiation is one of the foundations of the new business world but most of us have no training in the art – we just make it up as we go along.

And without knowing how to get the best deal for you and your prospect, you’re always turning up to a gunfight with a banana.

Spend the next hour and a bit listening to one of the UK’s best negotiators, spreading the wisdom about the subtle art of negotiation.

All of us at The Advertist invite you to check out The Fuel Podcast, where we pull on the experience of leaders of companies in a variety of sectors with loads of fantastic interviews, tips and tales.

To check out this episode of the podcast click here.

Don’t think he takes new business lightly. Jeremy Davies is one of the UK’s most accomplished new business practitioners and it should be noted he’s also a gifted comedian too. Is there a link? Jeremy gives us all a lesson in how to improve our pitching.

Also Jeremy Davies explains the link between punchlines and benefits.

All of us at The Advertist invite you to check out The Fuel Podcast, where we pull on the experience of leaders of companies in a variety of sectors with loads of fantastic interviews, tips and tales.

To check out this episode of the podcast click here.

How to ensure you protect your agency by existing on more than just the odd referral

Referrals are by far and away the best and lowest-hanging fruits in terms of new business.

What better than using the warm glow of success from a previous job to attract the attention of another client?

A referral is an endorsement of quality and many agencies rely on leveraging the past for the future.

There are some downsides however.

If you only rely on referrals for your future, the biggest potential negative by far is the drag on creative innovation.

As a small business owner myself, I know that keeping all the plates spinning restricts your ability to devote time to developing new skills and products. As an agency, if you’re doing the same – or similar things – for one client after another, then you might be highly skilled in one direction but come up short in many others.

In short, you could be living in an echo chamber and not even realise it.

This is why it is essential to have two strings to your new business bow; one for referrals and one for exploration.

Probing new channels or markets is an essential skill in new business development. Many agency owners are hesitant to deploy this because it is viewed as resource-heavy. It’s not easy devoting time and money to courting new clients in new markets.

You have to prepare a whole new set of materials, for one thing.

Sometimes you have no track record or direct experience or credentials or (gasp!) referrals.

You have to get used to handling objections and answer a lot more questions than usual.

You need data, and lists, and insight and research.

But as you stand at the bottom of the mountain, looking at the summit, think about the view from the top, not the effort to get there.

Think about how a whole new sector of clients will stretch your agency’s skill set. Think about how many new and different referrals you will be able to sell from. Think about how many new and different awards you might be able to win.

But above all, think about how much more resilient you will make your agency against the winds of change.

Because a bit of new business NPD now will yield rich rewards further down the line – even if you’re able to identify what areas you DON’T want to target in future and why.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive process, but it is necessary in order to protect your agency from what you can’t see coming.

Speak to your friendly new business manager or new business development agency, or even invest some time yourself and get the right tools for the job.

Just don’t rely just on one form of new business and expect it to be never-ending.

Keith Smith is the Managing Director of The Advertist – the UK’s only unbiased, independent platform for agency new business intelligence.

The Advertist offers agencies of all sizes access to fresh, GDPR-compliant data and insight that enables productive and informed new business conversations.

Lucy Snell, Co-founder of Cherry Business Consulting takes us through the problems, advantages and pitfalls of outsourcing your most valuable job function – new business development:

You recognise that you need external support with your new business drive but how do you decide between appointing a freelance new business consultant to work on your business development or whether to hire a specialist new business agency. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both which I’ve listed below.

  1. Cost

A new business freelancer will typically cost less than hiring a new business agency. Usually agencies have overheads such as offices and staff that they need to cover. Having said that agencies are able to charge more because of the breadth and depth of experience of their combined team which I’ll go through in the next point.

  1. Breadth of experience

With a freelancer you are accessing the experience of just one person whereas when you are working with a new business agency you have access to the wider team experience. Usually within the team they will have worked for similar agency to yours and will have targeted the sectors and markets you are looking to approach.

Often agencies are structured so that you have a more experienced person developing the new business strategy and then a junior person implementing the campaign. I believe though that the execution needs to be strategic too. You only get one chance to impress. Emails need to be tailored and personalised (more than just by changing the name) and when you are on the phone to a senior marketing officer, you need to be able to demonstrate knowledge of their business, their challenges and the market that they operate in. A more junior person may struggle with this.

  1. Holiday cover/maternity leave cover

Sometimes this needn’t be a massive issue as with adequate notice you can find someone to cover for holiday period or maternity leave however it’s worth bearing in mind that when you work with a freelancer, it’s up to you to work this out but when you are working with a new business agency they will provide seamless cover so you don’t have to worry about it.

  1. Person working on your business

People buy people, creative agencies often wheel in their most impressive people for pitches and then have other more junior people running the accounts. It can be the same for new business agencies. Just make sure when you are deciding who to work with that you ask to meet the person who will be doing the day-to-day implementation for you. Do you like them? Do you trust them to represent your business and brand in the way you want them to?  Also find out about staff turnover rates. The most frustrating thing I hear from creative agencies owners is that they spend ages briefing someone and getting them up to speed for them to then leave 3 months down the line.

  1. Process

Some new business agencies, typical those with larger teams to manage, will have more rigid processes in place and will want to agree a fixed amount of time to work per month. This may be exactly what you need however some creative agencies need more flexible support, they may need help on different areas of new business, they may not know what they need and it might also be better to scale time up and down throughout the year according to key buying periods and holiday periods. Think about your agency and what you need.

  1. Time to manage them

Some freelancers may need more support from you and you might need to allocate more time each week to manage them. This will really depend on the seniority of the person you choose to work with. If you work with a new business agency, they will have someone managing the team, someone who knows how to motivate and incentivise sales people. Usually however a good, experienced freelancer will be able to manage themselves.

I hope these points help you decide what it best for your business. My advice would be to consider all options, meet with 3 or 4 different providers and then use your gut feeling to decide who to work with. Get that backed up by references and get them to meet your team and ask them what they think before you make your final decision.

Lucy Snell can be found at

The PRCA recently hosted an important business development event surrounding the issues of new business and Brexit.  Panel participant Matt North, Director at HCA Ltd has shared his insights that will help inform readers with their new business development strategy.

 Over the last 20 years, we’ve found new business to have one particular archenemy; uncertainty. It makes people very risk averse and they have a tendency to stay with what they know. No decision can feel far safer than the wrong decision. As such, decisions are generally delayed in the hope that more clarity is just around the corner.

What this means for new business is that you need to put a much more robust case for switching and nurture opportunities for longer.  Procrastination is driven by the nature of the market, rather than the nature of the individuals you are talking to. Therefore don’t lose faith in them and be supportive and reassuring rather than getting frustrated.

In your targeting you should be much more focused on your niche credibility – not who you could work with but who you should work with. Reflect that in your messaging to show impact and outcomes, not processes and philosophies.  This will always make new business more effective but is even more important when there is uncertainty in the market.

However Brexit plays out, uncertainty will eventually disappear. Once people have a clearer idea of the future they can then start putting in place plans. Those that have continued to invest will be the beneficiaries when the pipeline they’ve built quickly starts to move. Those that wait before pushing on with new business, because the market is tough, will miss the changeover when it eventually comes.  This is a time to be positive and efficient with the way you do new business, not give up and wait to see. Do that and it’ll all be too late.

Matt North, HCA Ltd