EP44: The agency podcast | Isabelle Jarvis

September 14th, 2020

The podcasting juggernaut shows no sign of slowing. Four years ago, when we started planning the idea behind Small Spark Theory I thought we were too late to the party. Yet here we are now and with Apple estimating some 1 million active shows and over 30 million episodes on iTunes (double the figure in 2018), it would seem that audio content is still very much a thing. 

But what about podcasting in a B2B context, and more specifically how does it fit into an agency new business and marketing plan? Is it just a shiny new thing or can it really deliver new business?

I noticed a number of new agency podcasts popping up this year so thought it might be time to explore if and how this channel can add value. 

And who better to join me? Small Spark Theory’s very own producer and editor, Isabelle Jarvis. Izzy has been the driving force behind this podcast since its inception and has gone on to produce, edit and advise on a variety of other shows. 

In this episode, we discuss the need for strategy (spoiler alert – it’s your ideas and content that are important, the podcast is simply a different channel to allow those ideas to live in another format), thoughts on formatting and make sense of the technical implications. 

The recording, hosting and editing tech mentioned in this episode is as follows:

Zencastr

Squadcast

AnchorFM

Libsyn

Buzzsprout

Podbean

Audacity

If you have a great content idea which supports your proposition and marketing strategy, fancy your hand at podcasting but don’t know where to start, you can contact Isabelle@gunpowderconsulting.com

EP43: Business planning for agencies | Deepa Shah | Lab Eight

August 10th, 2020

One of the biggest challenges we face for the remainder of 2020 and beyond is undoubtedly our ability (or inability) to plan ahead.

Almost daily, we are bombarded in the news by a roll call of redundancies, rumours of regional lockdown, interspersed with “is it a V, U, W or ‘swoosh’?” predictions for our economic recovery. 

The end of furlough, Brexit (oh yes), and the prospect of a Covid resurgence over the winter all paint a picture where the only real certainty is uncertainty. And yet, if we are to survive and thrive, plan we must. 

So where to start?

This is the question I put to my guest, founder of Lab EightDeepa Shah.

Deepa is a vastly experienced, multi-award winning agency CFO and a fresh new voice on the agency growth advisory circuit having launched Lab Eight in April this year, exactly as the pandemic struck. 

Deepa shares her advice for where we should be focusing now, and how to plan ahead. 

It’s worth noting good proportion of the guests on this podcast are people I have known and worked with for many years throughout my career. They are the experts I have turned to for advice again and again, who can be relied upon for their deep knowledge of a specialist subject.  

Then there are those who have been recommended to me and others (mostly authors) who I have simply stalked until I could persuade them to join me. 

Deepa is someone who first appeared on my LinkedIn radar at the beginning of the year and quickly became a regular fixture in my feed, adding a constructive and positive commentary to the most interesting of threads. Aside from her insights on her specialist subject – Deepa’s use of her network and LinkedIn as a platform has been a masterclass in how to launch a consultancy. But perhaps that’s an episode for another day. 

In the meantime listen in and find out how to win a copy of Deepa’s recommended read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

EP42: Design industry outlook | Deborah Dawton | Design Business Association

July 19th, 2020

Regular listeners will have noticed a slight change to our usual programming. A global pandemic has shifted our focus from the very specific, detailed insights intended solely to improve new business performance, to include a more contextual viewpoint. Of course, context has always been important to new business, but with so much change and uncertainty around us, it now seems imperative to broaden our discussion. 

From the very beginning of this crisis I was blown away by the speed with which the Design Business Association team leapt into action to provide a virtual space for discussion, advice and community support. On any given week, agencies (members and non-members alike) could access free webinars to understand the implications of the evolving crisis and tap into expert advice to help navigate a way forward. 

So here we some 4 months on. What have we learnt? And what is the outlook for the design industry? I managed to wrangle some time with Design Business Association Chief Executive Deborah Dawton to find out.

You can find out more about DBA membership here and access the ‘Ask an Expert’ scheme here. 

EP41: Positioning v proposition | Robin Bonn | Co:definery

June 30th, 2020

There aren’t enough podcasting hours to do justice to the agency positioning and proposition debate. We’ve explored this before in episode 13 with David C. Baker and then again in episode 36 with master of the agency messaging, Roland Gurney. 

But with entire industry sectors in crisis and an uncertain economy ahead it has never been more important for agencies to clearly define and signpost their expertise.  So buckle up, we’re going in again!

In this episode we talk to Robin Bonn from Co:definery to get the lowdown on why positioning is dead but proposition is king and the perils of a pivot. Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Robin’s recommended read: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

You can read Robin’s latest musings here and follow his Marketing Week column here.

EP40: Agency leadership | Sally Henderson

June 7th, 2020

Across the world, leadership is under scrutiny.  

Citizens are looking to their politicians, employees are looking to their employers. Amid continued uncertainly, everyone needs direction and reassurance. 

So what does good leadership look like? Does it change in a crisis? And how can agency leaders look after their teams, and their own wellbeing, as we move from the challenges of lockdown to this next phase of the pandemic?

In this episode we explore these questions and more with Executive Change Mentor Sally Henderson.

Sally has worked with leadership teams at some of the most influential agencies and brands across the world. She joins us to share her top tips for leading with clarity, confidence and authenticity. 

As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Sally’s recommended read: Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, also mentioned in this episode is Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

You can find details of Fearless Fuel, Sally’s peer-to-peer leadership round-tables here

EP39: Maximising cash | Michelle Cook

May 7th, 2020

Over the past six weeks I’ve been speaking to lots of agency leaders. Those one-on-one conversations have highlighted to me, just how many variables there are determining how agencies are able to weather this extraordinary storm. 

Aside from agency size and structure, services, client sector focus, and the deeply personal experiences of managing pipeline, clients and teams whilst either squashed together with, or isolating without family, there is the issue of cash. 

In almost every case it is the agency’s cash position going into this crisis that determines how able they will be to emerge. Cash provides time. Time to think, to adapt, to respond. 

So as we move into this next phase, and negotiate anew with clients and prospects, how can we maximise our cash? How do we make sure we still get paid for our ideas and solutions?

In this episode, I talk to Independent Financial Director and cash flow specialist Michelle Cook. We learn how Michelle has harnessed Just-In-Time methodology used in manufacturing to revolutionise cash management and her top tips for invoicing, negotiating terms and avoiding payment delays. 

This is another perfect example of how small changes in our processes can deliver marginal gains. 

We’ll be giving away a copy of Michelle’s recommended read The Innovation Book: How to Manage Ideas and Execution for Outstanding Results by Max Mckweown. Listen in to find out how to win. 

You can find Michelle on LinkedIn here. And if you want to discuss a new business challenge, you can book into my diary here.  

Pricing update March 2020

March 31st, 2020

Our industry is facing challenging and uncertain times. We know that every agency leader is having to make their own, individual decisions about how they respond based on their particular set of circumstances.

To enable us to support as many agencies as possible who are looking to use this time for new business and marketing planning, we have taken the decision to introduce special pricing* for the New Business and Marketing Bootcamp for a period of 3 months – until June 30th. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. 

If you’d like a one to one discussion about any specific new business or marketing challenges, feel free to find at time in Lucy’s diary here.

Stay safe

Lucy

EP38: The first new business hire | Dave Corlett

March 2nd, 2020

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about small agencies. Typically, those with headcount up to 10/12 and/or annual revenues under £1m.

It’s worth pointing out that this band of agencies makes up an increasing large proportion of the UK landscape. But regardless of their specialism, at this size, effective new business resourcing is a common challenge. Whether the goal is steady growth or revenue maintenance, often the numbers simply don’t warrant a dedicated new business recruit and good external lead generation resource can be out of reach.

It was this thinking that prompted the launch of the New Business and Marketing Bootcamp – designed specifically to provide leaders and founders of this type of agency with the tools to create effective new business and marketing plans and take control of the process.

But what about when you break through that threshold and are ready to hire your first in-house new business talent? Our industry is littered with war stories of new business hires that that were at best ineffective and at worst, damaging to the agency brand. And for new business folk, there can be wildly unrealistic expectations to manage.

So how to get the balance right? For this episode I chatted to Dave Corlett from Workbrands. Having spent 12 years in new business development roles, Dave shares his insights on making new business roles stick, the importance of collaboration, communication and how to stay competitive.

If you are running an agency and considering your first new business hire or starting out on your new business career – this is the episode for you!

Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Dave’s recommended read: Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age.

Details of the New Business & Marketing Bootcamp can be found at www.smallsparktheory.com 

EP37: New agency models | Emma Sexton | MYWW

February 3rd, 2020

There is no doubt there has never been a better time to rethink the way that agencies deliver their services to clients.

With endless technology options, flexible workspaces, and an increasing supply of freelance talent, the barrier to entry is lower than ever for budding agency founders.

So far so good. And yet I’ve met so many founders of small, start-up agencies who are reticent to show their size or ‘virtual’ status for fear of putting off potential clients.

For this episode, I met with the multi-tasking design thinker and doer Emma Sexton, CEO of MYWW™, creator of the Inside Out Awards and co-presenter of TalkRadio’s Badass Women’s Hour.

I wanted to find out how Emma has perfected her remote-first agency without compromising on ambition. Are clients willing to try something new? Or is there still safety in size?

Tune in to find out more and be in with the chance of winning a copy of Emma’s recommended read: The Courage To Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga.

EP36: Agency messaging | Roland Gurney | Treacle Copywriters

January 6th, 2020

For marketers, brand positioning, proposition, messaging and tone of voice are no less fundamental than a visual identity. However, as we’ve discussed here before, for agencies –  largely SMEs and often without dedicated marketing resource – finding the time to achieve clarity here, let alone implement change, is a challenge. 

Back in episode 6 we talked about maximising agency websites and touched on positioning copy and about us pages. We dug deeper into agency positioning the following year when we talked to David C. Baker in episode 13. There’s so much more to say about messaging so I was very happy to stumble across the Treacle Copywriters blog (thank you LinkedIn) full of no-nonsense advice for agencies.

In this episode I talk to Treacle founder Roland Gurney about the common messaging pitfalls and the opportunities for agencies to express their difference.

We’re giving away a copy of Roland’s recommended read: Cashvertising by Drew E. Whitman. Listen in to find out how to win.