Archive for the ‘Marginal gains’ Category

EP57: How to lead an agency | Steve Parks | Convivio

October 4th, 2021

We’ve talked a lot about leadership on this podcast, and rightly so. Sustainable new business performance starts with a growth mindset and that has to come from the very top of an agency.

No matter how many people I speak with on the topic of agency leadership, every conversation brings a fresh perspective. And none more so than this conversation with Steve Parks of Convivio.

Earlier this year Steve and I were both named as “Inspiring People” in the BenchPress report from The Wow Company, something we were both so chuffed about that we reached out across the internet for a for a virtual high five. Our resulting conversation was so interesting that I knew I wanted to get Steve to chat on here.

In this episode we explore the wider role of agencies, high altitude leadership, the many hats of an agency leader and a window into the world of a private investigator!

Of course, we are giving away a copy of Steve’s recommended read: Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization by Niels Pflaeging, simply join in the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram using #smallsparktheory and we’ll pick a winner.

Further reading and listening:

What are agencies for? https://www.convivio.com/blog/what-are-agencies-for/

Too many hatshttps://www.convivio.com/blog/too-many-hats/

Your day at the tophttps://www.convivio.com/blog/your-day-at-the-top/

The Agency Radar Reporthttps://www.agencyradar.io/radar/

The Convivio Agency Leaders podcasthttps://www.convivio.com/podcast/

Bench Press Agency Inspiration Report

EP56: New business leadership | Claire Humphris | Iris

September 6th, 2021

Earlier this year, Claire Humphris was named CEO at Iris, the agency she co-founded with five other colleagues in 1999.

Iris now numbers over 1000 people across 17 offices worldwide. As agency breakaways go, it is a perfect case study. But of course, what interests me is the new business story. Claire has spent the past 7 years leading the agency’s global new business operations, driving growth across the network and winning some of the agency’s biggest integrated pitches.

In this episode we get together to discuss new business leadership and culture, the importance of the marketing calendar, marginal gains and making your own luck.

As we shape up for the final marketing and new business push of the year and begin planning for 2022, this is just the inspiration you need.

As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Claire’s recommended read, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight listen in to find out how to win. 

EP52: Bringing in expertise | Andrew Southcott | Captivate Group

May 6th, 2021

It’s always a good day when someone gets in touch to pitch a podcast episode idea. Even better when that someone is a client.

Andrew Southcott is Managing Director at creative agency group Captivate. Andrew hired me last year to work with Captivate’s new business talent, a move that came as part of a wider initiative to bring in external expertise for advice, support or training on a range of themes across the business.

For me, this is a dream engagement. Mentoring up and coming new business talent is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, but I was interested to explore Andrew’s leadership approach – a growth mindset clearly focussed on development, improvement, and well…. marginal gains!

In this episode Andrew talks us through his experiences of the last year and how a range of experts and outsourced resource are adding value across the business. It’s a fascinating listen, jam packed with great insights and advice.

Breaking with convention, instead of a book recommendation, check out the YouTube channel Ashville Aggregates – for a example of entrepreneurship in action.

EP48: Habits | Clare Rees

January 12th, 2021

It’s safe to say that for most of us, 2021 arrived without the usual fanfare, excitement and expectation but instead, with an exhausted sigh and a resolution NOT to have any New Year resolutions.

Let’s be clear, the ambition and optimism are still there, but big fat goals can feel meaningless when we are surrounded by so much restriction, distraction and uncertainty. So what can we do?

In true Small Spark Theory, marginal gains style, for this episode we wanted to focus on some small stuff. Some helpful, positive habits. The things that can help us put one foot in front of the other, to keep going and stay motivated, even when we don’t feel like it.

To help me unpick the subject of habits I co-opted my long-term colleague and Small Spark Theory Institute co-founder Clare Rees. Clare learned a thing or two about forming good habits when taking on the mighty challenge of writing a novel, so has a great perspective on how to take small steps, avoid procrastination and keep our motivation strong.

As always, listen in for the chance to win a copy of Clare’s recommended read: Atomic Habits by James Clear – you can also download the first chapter here. 

We also have some questions and tips from our fabulous listeners. If you have a question or hot tip and would like to contribute to an upcoming episode – please get in touch.

Also mentioned in this episode:

Stephen Covey’s seminal 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Liz Wilde

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.