Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

EP54: Overcoming adversity | Sarah Yeats | Sledge

July 12th, 2021

I’ve said many times that the people in business I admire the most are independent agency leaders. And over the past 18 months, as our industry, largely populated by small businesses has rallied against such unforeseen challenges, my admiration and respect has deepened.

Through all of the conversations I had with agencies during this time I was aware that it was surely those in the events sector who had been dealt the most difficult hand. 

In this episode, I speak to Sarah Yeats, Managing Director of events agency Sledge, to understand what happens when your projects are cancelled and your pipeline disappears. 

I’ve called this episode ‘overcoming adversity’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s about leadership, resilience, communication, but most importantly, the power of relationships. 

Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Sarah’s recommended read: Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende.

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

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 

EP21: The New Business Leader | Jemima Monies | adam&eveDDB

October 11th, 2018

Earlier this summer, Jemima Monies, Head of New Business & PR at adam&eveDDB wrote an article in Campaign about why new business leaders need to fight harder to be heard.

She closed the piece with a rallying cry to the industry to “value new business people’s opinions, invite them to speak out and elevate them within your agency management teams”.

Reading this, I realised that so far in the Small Spark Theory series, whilst we’ve been speaking to a range of industry experts about elements of new business process and agency growth challenges, we have yet to give a voice to any new business practitioners.

So I’m delighted that Jemima could spare the time between pitches to come and chat. In this episode we discuss the importance of new business culture, what makes a great new business person, the power of momentum and ice cream.

With an enviable new business record, adam&eveDDB has now clocked up four years as Campaign Agency of the Year. Since recording this episode, I visited my local cinema and between trailers, the agency’s John Lewis / Waitrose “Bohemian Rhapsody” ad  finished to spontaneous applause from the audience. By my reckoning they’ll be holding that top spot for a while yet.

As always you can join in the conversation on twitter @gunpowdertweets #smallsparktheory.

EP9: Culture | Katz Kiely

September 6th, 2017

The people part of our business can so often get overlooked in our efforts to generate new business. Yes, we might think about chemistry once we are faced with a pitch opportunity but beyond that, our thinking tends to get muddled when we consider the power of our people to drive referrals and introductions. There might be an expectation that this will happen, or an unspoken, mild resentment when it doesn’t, but the reality is that only a fully engaged, motivated and inspired workforce will act as true ambassadors for your agency.

Your culture is more than the Friday beer trolley, jolly Facebook page or annual karaoke / bowling / pizza night. It’s the glue that binds your people together with guiding principles, a way of working and a desire to succeed for the greater good of the business.

It’s the bit that truly makes your agency bigger than the sum of the parts. And for those agencies that really get it right, it’s the bit that will turbo charge new business.

In this episode of Small Spark Theory I chat to Katz Kiely. Serial entrepreneur, technologist and organisational change ninja, Katz shares her experience of culture and the way people work together, from agencies to start-ups and the UN.

This is one episode you will not want to miss!

As always, we’ve got a competition for you and will be giving away a copy of Katz’s recommended book ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely. So listen in to find out how to win.

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory

This episode was recorded at Cameo Productions.

For more information on improving your agency new businesses effectiveness, get in touch with Lucy Mann.

EP8: Productivity | Robert Kelsey

August 17th, 2017

So far in our Small Spark Theory podcast series we’ve been exploring the ways we can make marginal gains in our agency new business and marketing performance. We’ve discussed the tweaks and improvements, the tips and tricks that can help us perform better, and see a better return on our time and money.

So far so good.

But even with clear objectives, effective planning, brilliant processes and all the communication skills we have discussed, our best efforts can still be undone by a lack of productivity.

How many times do we find ourselves finalising a pitch deck in a cab on the way to a meeting, scrabbling to submit an RFI seconds before the deadline or simply looking at our new business pipeline and knowing we just haven’t implemented enough of the plan to generate sufficient new opportunities?

Most of us will be familiar with the feeling. The procrastination, indecision and ultimately – paralysis.

So why does it happen? And what can we do about it?

In this episode, we talk to best-selling author Robert Kelsey. Founder and CEO of a successful London PR agency, co-founder and deputy chairman of a leading entrepreneurs’ think tank: The Centre for Entrepreneurs, Robert’s books: “What’s Stopping You?“What’s Stopping You Being More Confident?” and Get Things Done” have sold over 100,000 copies and being translated into 10 languages.

Spoiler alert: The answer to our lack of productivity is rather more complex that we think and requires some honest self-appraisal. The good news is, a tidy workstation and good stationery are still very important. We’re stocking up on nice notepads and post-its right away…

As always, we’ve got a competition for you and will be giving away a copy of Robert’s book “Get Things Done”. So listen in to find out how to win.

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory
For more information on improving your agency new businesses effectiveness, get in touch with Lucy Mann.

EP4: Agency Growth Planning | Felix Velarde

April 3rd, 2017

For agency leaders, managing the day to day business of client and staff needs whilst staying focused on a clear growth trajectory can seem an insurmountable task.

Whether you are looking for a high value exit, attempting to break through the turnover ceilings of one, two five or ten million or simply want to avoid the boom and bust revenue rollercoaster, this podcast episode is for you.

Agency growth expert Felix Velarde has founded, grown and sold agencies many times over and now works as a consultant and mentor focusing on strategy-driven growth and agency scaling. In this episode we discuss the need for differentiation, building superstar teams, and power of planning and process.

This month’s book recommendation is The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick M. Lencioni – as always we’ll be giving away a copy – tune in to find out how to win.

You can read more about Felix here.

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory

EP3: Communication and Presentation Skills | Catherine Allison | Master The Art

March 6th, 2017

Sound the new business klaxon! You’ve got an opportunity to meet the prospect of your dreams.

That first meeting, the pitch, the first strategy or creative presentation with any new prospect or client is a huge opportunity to dazzle, yet this last precarious mile of securing the business can so often be derailed by nerves, lack of preparation or simply lack of experience.

How do you become an engaging presenter? How can you get rid of pre-pitch nerves? How can you make the very best first impression?

In this month’s podcast I’ll be exploring how we can make marginal gains with our communication and presentation skills with new business supremo and former actress Catherine Allison, founder of Master the Art.

You can also be in with a chance to win a copy of Catherine’s recommended book: Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority by Caroline Goyder

You can find out more about Master the Art via the below links:

www.mastertheart.co.uk @mastertheartltd

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory

Introducing Small Spark Theory™

January 24th, 2017

For many years now I’ve had the opportunity to observe new business performance in a wide variety of agencies and regardless of size, or discipline of agency, the challenges are remarkably similar. There are familiar patterns of success, ebbs and flows of revenue, euphoric wins and debilitating disappointments.

And I’ve become fascinated with those patterns, the formulas for success, the reasons for failure and a little obsessed about how we can become more effective in our marketing and new business endeavours.

Increasingly, the solution is not necessarily an ambitious marketing plan, an expensive sales resource or brilliant marketing idea (although that never hurts) but instead a forensic application of process and a marginal gains approach to performance improvement.

This brand new podcast series, Small Spark Theory™, explores the small changes we can make to our sales and marketing process to achieve better new business results. In this, the first episode, we set the scene for the using marginal gains and think about how to get some solid foundations for growth in place. Oh, and there’s a little competition too. What more could you want?!

With thanks to Matthew Syed for audio extract permission. Matthew’s book, Black Box Thinking is available here.

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory

Fortune favours the brave

December 15th, 2016

This small consultancy, Gunpowder, turned 4 last month.

 

I’m not sure quite where the drive to start the business came from. 12 years before I had launched another business, this time in recruitment and with the backing of an agency group and sadly, within two years of our millennium launch, the post-9/11 downturn, and subsequent recruitment freezes hit us so hard we reluctantly took the decision to close. Failing was painful. I made staff redundant, my pride was hurt. I vowed never to do that again.

 

But I did, and 4 years on I’m still here. What I’ve learned during that time; from my own experience and that of my clients – is that nothing good or exciting comes from getting comfortable. As cliched as it sounds, moving outside one’s comfort zone, really is where the magic happens.

 

For many of the agencies I work with, the leaders are owner managers. They are practitioners; creatives, strategists, technologists, more frequently introverts than extroverts. For them, much of the sales and marketing process falls squarely outside their comfort zone.

 

Discomfort at contacting complete strangers with a business proposition, a dislike of networking or fear of public speaking are all common – instead, we retreat to the environments and behaviours which are less challenging, more comfortable. And yet left unchecked, that discomfort becomes a very real barrier to growth – for example, relying on our network alone for new business referrals is easiest, but unless we keep adding to that network, connecting with new people and sharing our knowledge and expertise, the network will in time diminish and the referrals grind to a halt.

 

I’ve talked before about the importance of using a marginal gains approach to fuel new business growth and many of these small improvements mean testing our boundaries, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

 

I’m going to be exploring this is more detail next year in Gunpowder’s brand new podcast series; Small Spark Theory ™ which launches in January, but in the meantime, here’s a little taster of top tips and recommendations to fire you up for 2017:

 

  1. Making first contact with a prospect – The Future Factory are experts at generating new opportunities for creative agencies. Even if you don’t need a full lead generation programme but just need help taking the first step – the team run excellent workshops on how to write better prospecting emails. Get in touch with Kimi Gilbert to register your interest.
  2. Networking – It needn’t be daunting. Reframe how you think about it by reading our guide here.
  3. Presenting – If you find yourself fumbling through pitches and presentations then help is at hand. Catherine Allison founder of Master the Art is an expert at helping hone your personal presentation skills.
  4. Asking clients for more – Moving from supplier to trusted partner, means rethinking your client relationships and client planning processes. Get in touch for details of our Account Development Skills workshops.
  5. Team up – There’s safety (and savings) in numbers! Collaborating with a like-minded business or team who have complementary skills to host events or other marketing initiatives can feel a lot less daunting and will make your budget go further.

 

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. Here’s to small acts of bravery in the year ahead.

 

Further reading:

 

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers

 

Give & Take by Adam Grant

 

To Sell is Human – Daniel Pink