New Business in 2023: a temperature check

New Business in 2023: a temperature check

Given the ongoing cost of living crisis, the UK economy looks likely to remain below its pre-pandemic level until next year, so it’s encouraging to read the recent IPA Bellwether Report, which reveals that total UK marketing budgets have risen from +2.2% in the previous quarter to +8.2% at the start of this year, the strongest since Q2 2022.

Despite agency appointments falling 32.3% YOY towards the end of 2022 and ad spend falling by 5.8% in Q4 2022, these encouraging green shoots are an indication of UK companies wanting to support brands through marketing activities.

With over a third (36.6%) of the 300 UK-based advertising businesses surveyed in the Bellwether report [1] predicting greater total marketing spend in the year ahead, the outlook for 2023/24 is looking positive, despite ‘change and flux’ being our ‘new normal’ state. Agencies are having to adapt to keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs of customers and are reporting a more slick and effective pitch process – but it’s this flexibility and readiness to react to a fast-changing world which underpins the pursuit of new business required by agencies in 2023.

So how can businesses maintain a successful marketing-led new business pipeline and drive growth in 2023 – in spite of the ongoing challenges?

Pre-qualification is a science

Pitches can be costly and time-consuming; to be successful requires scientific planning. Most agencies will claim to have a robust pre-qualification process in place – tracking and monitoring who they pitch to, which they decline and which they win, lose, draw. In truth, they don’t – and to be successful at pitch, pre-qualification tracking must be prioritised, even engrained. A critical part of our work with agencies and businesses to establish and attract their ideal clients, is pre-qualification, a rigorous but essential process. Not only will it help to justify your pitch spend to your VCs and agency group heads, but it will also help internally to review what you’ve lost and won.

Commit to the pitch

For fruitful new business, this must be nothing less than 100%. If you and your team don’t believe that you can win – or want to win – the client will see straight through you. Set aside anything not related to the pitch and give it everything. As hard as it sounds, by ringfencing your pitch team and taking them off BAU, (treat them as if they were on holiday) they can truly commit the time needed to focus on the client and the brief.

Learn to say no

There’s no doubt the new business market has become more selective – and those agencies who accept that the chemistry isn’t there and that they’re not right for the pitch, should walk away. As tough as it is, it’s the right thing to do. Agencies who say yes to everything have a typical conversion rate of around 40%; those who are more strategic and focus only on their (genuine) strengths can guarantee to push that number up. Always offer them an alternative solution, a partner agency or support from a consultancy. You never know where and when you might cross paths with the client again.

Love your clients

Retention is your best source of new business, so keep existing clients close and invest time in having a deep and empathic understanding of their needs and challenges. Get under the skin of their business and understand what keeps them awake at night. Be curious and add value – always think how best you can support them. Ask strategic questions and using your creativity to be one step ahead.

Find out how our marketing-led approach helps clients win new business, from pipeline to pitch – and beyond. Contact Emma and the team here.






[1] AA/WARC Expenditure Report, April 2023