Archive for the ‘Marginal gains’ Category

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.  

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. 

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 of the most 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

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.

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.

 

EP24: The new business email | Kimi Gilbert | The Future Factory

January 7th, 2019

Dear prospect, my name is Lucy, I’m writing to introduce…….

 

And so it goes, the new business email, putting the fear into agency folk across the land.

 

It’s no surprise. For many people, selling isn’t something that comes naturally. And trying to sell yourself, or your agency, in a blank email window while the cursor blinks impatiently back at you, is no mean feat. In my experience, many best laid plans to contact a painstakingly researched list of prospects stall at this point, or we manage to email a few, wring our hands, get no response, swear a bit and then give up.

 

Sound familiar? Then this episode is for you. Kimi Gilbert is Director of Training & Development at new business agency The Future Factory and trains her team, and agencies of all disciplines, in the art of writing new business emails that work.

 

Kimi joins me to share her top tips for getting email cut-through, based on years of data and client feedback. If you’re looking for a way to make marginal gains into your new business performance then this is the perfect place to start.

 

As always we have a competition for you, we’ll be giving away a copy of Kimi’s recommended book: You Are a Message: Meditations for the Creative Entrepreneur by Guillaume Wolf  – simply listen in to find out how to win.

 

The next Winning New Business via Email course takes place in March, places are limited but you can find out more information or book tickets here.

 

EP22: Rethinking Client Experience | Nick Phipps | Rawnet

November 5th, 2018

I’ll admit it, I’m slightly obsessed about the experience that clients and prospects have when they work with (or are considering working with) an agency.

 

Just as customer and user experience is now paramount for consumer brands, of course the the same rules apply for B2B. There will always be other agencies who can deliver a comparable service for a comparable price, but it is the experience of working with an agency which will influence selection, keep clients coming back for more and generate referrals. But hang on a minute – isn’t that where chemistry comes in? Well yes it is, but chemistry isn’t scalable, or reliable for that matter. What I’m really talking about is the end to end experience and the processes we can put in place to truly delight clients and prospects, beyond the delivery of great work.

 

And yet rarely do we take the opportunity to truly put ourselves in our clients or prospects shoes, to understand just how user friendly we really are. Our reporting, meetings, emails, websites, project management processes and more are all fertile ground for identifying marginal gains.  

 

This is an episode I’ve been wanting to make for a while so I was delighted when Nick Phipps got in touch from Rawnet. In true, “physician heal thyself” style, Rawnet are in the process of applying the customer centric principles and strategies they use for their clients’ businesses, to their own agency. We got together to chat about how it’s working out.

 

And we have another competition for you. You can win a copy of Nick’s recommended read:  The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson – just listen in for more details.

 

EP19: Planning for exit | Tony Walford | Green Square

July 25th, 2018

Right at the beginning of this podcast series we talked about the importance of setting objectives for growth that in turn, guide the new business & marketing plan and activities. But what if those objectives include a sale or exit? We need a different level of planning altogether.

 

In this episode I am joined by Tony Walford – founding partner of Green Square and one of the leading M&A and corporate advisory voices in the marketing communications, media and tech sectors.

 

Tony offers advice on what agency owners need to plan and prepare for, including the often tricky process of demonstrating ROI to clients (awards are critical!), why incentivising your staff is essential, along with key attributes in client relationships that are attractive to potential buyers.

 

Mentioned in this episode are:

 

The Diagrams Book by Kevin Duncan

Sad Men by Dave Roberts.


Details on the Green Square Ascension Day can also be found here.

 

Not only that we have our monthly competition! Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Tony’s recommended book ‘Sad Men’ by Dave Roberts.

 

Just in time for the holidays, this really is a really is the perfect sunlounger episode,  so put your feet up and kick back with a G + T. Stay cool gang.

 

EP18: Small Spark Theory Live Part Two

June 29th, 2018

Small Spark Theory Live was recorded in front of a live studio audience at White City Place in May. In Part One, we were joined by agency board advisor Felix Velarde and Joanna Brassett, founder of Studio Into to discuss the challenges faced by agency leaders at various stages of growth. 

 

In this, the second of two episodes recorded on the night, we gain a client perspective by speaking to Head of Marketing and Creative for Dishoom – Sara Stark. Sara discusses her experience of working with agencies and offers advice for approaching potential clients, along with invaluable tips for a building successful client / agency relationships. (Hint: send Sara flowers!) 

 

As always we have a competition for you. Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Sara’s recommended read: Winning in Your Own Way: The Nine and a Half Golden Rules of Branding by Robert Bean.

 

Thanks again to our lovely co-hosts YCN, everyone at White City Place and to photographer David Townhill.