EP35: Agency Awards | Stef Brown | On Pointe Marketing

December 2nd, 2019

Whatever your planning cycle, at this time of year we are naturally drawn to consider our goals for the year ahead and begin shaping our marketing calendars.

And as agency awards can take up such a considerable amount of time, energy and budget -it seems only right that we apply our marginal gains scrutiny to understand how to maximise our return on investment.

In this episode, I get together with agency awards expert Stef Brown. Stef has clocked up an enviable win rate over the years, supporting all kinds of agencies to land their most prized gongs.  

Join us as Stef takes us through her top tips – from prioritising awards schemes, creating winning entries and publicising our wins.

We’re giving away a copy of Stef’s recommended read: A Smile in the Mind, listen in to find out how to win.  

If you are looking to take control of your agency new business and marketing planning in 2020, check out the Small Spark Theory Institute at www.smallsparktheory.com 

EP34: Northern agency focus Phil Gripton | Waypoint Partners

November 7th, 2019

For a variety of reasons I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country more than usual this year, speaking on behalf of the Design Business Association in Manchester and Leeds and joining the Agency Collective at events in Bristol and Edinburgh. 

It’s given me the opportunity to talk to agencies outside of the London bubble and better understand some of the differences and similarities around the perennial challenges and opportunities for growth. 

So it was a pleasure to get to chat with Phil Gripton for this episode. Phil is a partner at growth advisory firm Waypoint, supporting agencies in the North of England and Scotland. His experience spans three decades of growing, running and selling agencies, as well as buying agency services in a number of client-side roles. 

Phil shares his top tips for maximising agency performance – from boosting profitability to shaping up for acquisition. 

We’re giving away a copy of Phil’s recommended read, Invisible Powerby Ken Manning, Robin Charbit, and Sandra Krot – listen in to find out how to win. 

Introducing the Small Spark Theory Institute

November 4th, 2019

Over the last three years we have received so much wonderful feedback from Small Spark Theory listeners, telling us how they have been putting the advice from the podcast into practice and seeing marginal gains improvements in new business performance. 

In response to this, we have created the Small Spark Theory Institute, providing mentored, online new business and marketing courses. 

Our first course – a New Business & Marketing Bootcamp, is designed specifically for founders of 2-10 person agencies, who want to build workable strategies and plans whilst optimising their results. Over 60 individual lessons and 4 x one-to-one video calls with me, Lucy Mann, we guide participants through setting objectives and a strategy, creating a workable plan, then optimising performance. 

Check out the course dates at www.smallsparktheory.com and take advantage of special 15% discount for enrolments before 31st December by using the code PODCAST at the checkout. 

EP33: Listening |Catherine Allison | Master the Art

October 4th, 2019

Throughout this series we have been exploring the notion that by focusing on relationships, rather than a smash and grab for revenue, we build a more sustainable new business pipeline.

So in this episode I wanted to explore one underused skills in building relationships. Listening. 

Catherine Allison, founder of Master the Art is a trained actress and new business practitioner who works with teams and individuals to help build confidence and gravitas.    

Catherine joined us back in episode three to talk more broadly about how we can hone our presentation and communication skills. In this episode we got together to talk specifically about listening – the benefits of active listening and some simple steps to make sure we are all making the most of our conversations, either with new business prospects, our existing clients, even out teams.

As always we have a giveaway for you. Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Catherine’s recommended read: Do Listen by Bobette Buster

EP32: Benchmarking performance | Peter Czapp | The Wow Company

September 1st, 2019

Almost every agency owner I meet will, sooner or later, ask the question “how does this compare with other agencies?” They could be talking about any number of measures; marketing investment, pitch conversion rate, client retention, or new business resourcing to name just a few. And I understand why this question is important. Running an agency is not just hard work, even with the best laid plans, it can be unpredictable. Clients, budgets, the economy, technology, opportunities, skills, services, resources are all shifting all of the time, and amid all that change, it can be hard to measure success without context.

One of the resources I will often reference in response to this question is the Benchpress Report published by The Wow Company.  I invited Peter Czapp, co-founder of The Wow Company and The Agency Collective, to join me for this episode of Small Spark Theory to discuss his findings from the current report, and to dig a little deeper into the trends and correlations behind the wealth data collected over 7 years of agency benchmarking. 

We’ll be sending one lucky listener a copy of Peter’s recommended read, the ever popular With Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns, simply listen in to find out how to win.

You can find out more about the Benchpress statistics on cash flow, new business, and how agency owners spend their time here and statistics on pricing, profit, and the impact of artificial intelligence on agencies here. You can also access Peter’s webinar sharing the latest benchmarking trends for agencies.

EP31: A client perspective | Julia Howe | 20th Century Fox

August 6th, 2019

With 30 episodes under our belt if feels like the right time to get another client perspective on all things new business and the client and agency relationship.

Our guest this month is Julia Howe. Julia has enjoyed a globetrotting career on both sides of the client and agency fence, and is currently EVP and Co-Head of Global Marketing at 20th Century Fox.

Julia joins us from LA to share her first-hand experience of how agencies really can make a difference when prospecting, pitching and nurturing their client relationships.

Let us not assume that the agencies who are pitching for, or working with behemoth global accounts such as Fox are getting everything right! If ever there was an episode of Small Spark Theory to truly highlight now paying attention to the small stuff and focussing on performance improvement really counts – this is it.

As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Julia’s recommended read: Deep Work by Cal Newport. Just listen in to find out how to win.

EP30: Rethinking Procurement | David Meikle | How to Buy a Gorilla

July 1st, 2019

We’ve touched on the subject of procurement over a number of episodes in this series so far, and it’s a topic I wanted to come back to and delve a little deeper. 

Much of the time I deal with small to medium sized agencies, all specialists in their respective fields, many of whom are working with large brand owners with significant purchasing power. Such accounts can be transformative for an agency looking to grow – the opportunity to do the kind of work that is high profile enough that in turn, it will attract more, equally prestigious new work. But these relationships are not without risk. 

In this episode I chat to David Meikle, consultant and author of How to Buy a Gorilla, about the relationship between marketing, procurement and agency, and how to create value.

Listen in to find out how to win a copy of David’s book.

Also mentioned in this podcast are:

Win Without Pitching and Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

Implementing Value Pricing by Ronald J Baker

Take a Stand for your Brand by Tim Williams

Buying Less for Less by Gerry Preece and Russell Wohlwerth

EP29: Fear | Hilary Gallo

June 2nd, 2019

This may not seem like the most obvious episode for what, to all intents and purposes is a podcast providing practical tips for making marginal gains in agency new business and marketing.

However, when we consider many of the activities involved in attracting and winning new clients – the outreach to new prospects, networking, hosting events, speaking engagements, let alone pitching and negotiating – so many, for many of us, induce fear.

And left unchecked, these fears can either disrupt our performance, or worse, stop us doing the things we need to do to keep our businesses thriving.

We first met  Hilary Gallo back in episode eleven when we discussed negotiation. Since then Hilary has been studying the subject of fear, and more importantly, how we can hack fear to our advantage.

Listen in to find out how to win a signed copy of Hilary’s latest book Fear Hack.

EP28: Client Development Part Two | Jim Hawker | Threepipe

May 1st, 2019

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about client relationships recently.

Generally speaking our growth objectives will start with the financials – the revenue goals, the profit margin targets and the scale those numbers will then afford us – the extra bodies, extra offices, extra services – or even exit!

This focus on the numbers is essential but we should quickly translate these targets into the kinds of relationships we need to add into the business. Adding lots of clients who deliver short term revenue is what keeps us on the hamster wheel, whereas building strategic relationships, allows us to build not only sustainable revenue but that holy grail that comes with true advocacy – referrals!

We talked a lot about the theory of client development with Iain Johnston in episode 26 of Small Spark Theory, and in this episode we return to the subject with Jim Hawker from Threepipe.

An independent, owner-managed digital agency of 90 people delivering SEO, PR, social, search, display and creative, Threepipe are hot property. At the time of writing, they have been shortlisted for the Holmes Report Digital Consultancy of the year and have achieved 20% growth for the third consecutive year, with 20% margins. Impressive stuff.

Jim and I discuss the practical implications of client development planning, relationship building, client satisfaction, motivation and much, much more.

Listen in to win a copy of Jim’s recommended read The Four by Scott Galloway.

Pivot, Scott’s podcast with Kara Swisher can be found here .

EP27: LinkedIn | Alex Low | Digital Leadership Associates

April 3rd, 2019

“Whatever you do from here, even if you choose to ignore everything I’m about to tell you, please be good at LinkedIn.”

 

This is a phrase I have repeated many times during my engagements with agencies over the years, and one I stand by now more than ever.

 

LinkedIn has become an incredible tool to support new business, but in many cases, agencies are only just scratching the surface of how they can leverage the platform to expand and engage their networks, whilst showcasing expertise.

 

And since the introduction of Sales Navigator, I’ve been searching for a true ‘super-user’ to join me on the podcast and really get to grips with the functionality on offer. So it was fitting that through LinkedIn, I found the brilliant Alex Low, Head of Social Selling at Digital Leadership Associates.

 

Having spent many years working in property, recruitment, management consultancy and law, Alex now advises a wide range of professional services businesses, empowering fee earners, business development and marketing teams to leverage the power of their networks to drive better, more relevant business conversations through social.

 

So if you’ve been wondering how to get started with LinkedIn, or how to unlock the next level of network engagement – this episode is for you.

 

We’ll be giving away a copy of Alex’s recommended read: Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine by Gerd Leonhard just listen in to find out how to win.

 

Also recommended in this episode are:

 

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark 

 

Salim Ismail on Exponential Organizations

 

 

For more information on how to make the most of LinkedIn you can see the full collection of Alex’s guides here.