Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

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

How to make friends with your inner salesperson

January 19th, 2016

Sales gets a pretty bad rap in the creative industries and it is easy to see why.

 

If we imagine sales people, we tend to conjure up images of caustic Apprentice candidates, young and overconfident estate agents or the photocopier salesman of old. And then there are the telesales variety – no doubt we receive many of the same phone calls – from business directories, conference organisers, offshore SEO teams and the like, using poorly researched, arrogantly presumptive sales techniques. The gaping holes in subject understanding are plugged with the nonsense business speak, bad grammar and clichés that have us hanging up the phone in the first 30 seconds.

 

Yet new business revenue is the lifeblood of any agency – so how do we overcome our squeamishness and channel our inner salesperson to drive our businesses forward?

 

The good news is that whilst the sales stereotypes are very much alive and kicking, none of us have to behave in this way to win new clients. Here are my top tips for generating more opportunities, and winning more work

 

Think relationships, not projects

When we identify a new business shortfall in financial terms, there is a tendency to approach businesses and brands with a ‘sales’ mindset – what can we sell them, are they looking for a new identity, new website, new agency? Yes? No? Move on.

 

But let’s take a step back. For most of us, the majority of our business comes from recommendations, from our network, from existing clients. Those introductions tend to happen when there is already a business need and by being recommended, we come with a seal of approval from a trusted source. In short, we are fast tracking the relationship building process. It is no surprise then that ‘cold’ new business prospecting sees a far lower conversion rate than recommendations.

 

So, whilst we cannot rely on recommendations alone, it is worth changing our mindset about our cold prospecting activity. Instead of hoping to go from introduction to project opportunity to bottom line revenue in one fell swoop, imagine instead that we are simply adding to the network of people who know who we are and what we are capable of. It is the beginning of a relationship, so the pressure is off to ‘sell’ but by routinely meeting new people we start to build up a vibrant network of potential clients.

 

Be interesting

Anyone who has spent any time on Linked in over the past two years will have seen how it has transformed from being a simple ‘Facebook for Business” to a thought leadership platform. This trend is great news for small businesses. Without expending vast marketing budgets it is possible to pool agency thinking and build thought leadership campaigns which extend across a blog, Linked in, Medium, events or webinars. Regularly publishing new content gives our SEO a positive boost and keeping our growing network of contacts updated with news, views and invitations to events means we stay on their radar. Most importantly thought leadership means we stay authentic. As we will naturally write on the subjects we are passionate and knowledgeable about, potential clients are offered an insight into what it would be like to work with us.

 

Look for drivers of business change

The most effective sales weapon in our armoury is research. By understanding more about a prospect: the individual, the company, the competitors and the market, we can begin to have informed business conversations, rather than project discussions. Thanks to Google, research has never been easier and a few well-placed, informed questions will help uncover business challenges and initiate a far more interesting discussion than a simple sales pitch. To that end, where possible I would avoid a ‘creds meeting’, it implies a formulaic show and tell, which leaves little room for broader discussion. I’m reminded of a client/agency speed dating event I attended with the indomitable Richard Williams from Williams Murray Hamm. Whilst most agencies were juggling laptops and presentation boards, Richard, empty handed, simply fixed the clients in his gaze and asked one question: “So what’s keeping you up at night?” We won two new projects that day, no ‘selling’ necessary.

 

Be forensic

Lastly, and this is the boring bit – we need to add in a bit of process. The theory of new business is not rocket science, it really is just relationship building. But it does require time, energy and motivation. Without a plan, and a process for measuring our progress against that plan, we will just get busy with the business of looking after our existing clients. Put in place a simple plan, assign responsibilities then measure activity and results.

 

In short

Take a business card and link in with everyone you meet. Ask more questions and find out about their challenges. Stay in touch, however interested or interesting they may appear at the time – If there is one thing I have learned, some of the best new business opportunities come from the people you least expect!

 

This article was first published in the Design Business Association newsletter.

Selling your agency at the highest price

August 3rd, 2015

This month’s guest post is from Felix Velarde, serial agency entrepreneur, Board advisor and consultant to CEOs. In November last year Felix sold his agency Underwired for the final time. In the past 21 years he has founded and sold several agencies – in fact selling Underwired twice! 

 

Here’s his advice for agency owners considering a sale:

 

So I’ve been involved in more agency dealmaking than most, and I thought I would share with you some thoughts about how to get the highest price when you sell. Get the formula right and you’ll have an agency that potential acquirers will fight over.

 

Client balance

Buyers don’t like risk. The biggest risk is to your agency if you lose a major client. So any client that, if it were to leave, would cause a structural change has to be balanced: 40% really is the biggest you’ll get away with without it being a discount factor.

 

Say you have a client that dominates, at 60% of profit. Your multiple (M) will be based on your EBIT for the remainder on the assumption the dominant client is a major risk. So if your EBIT is £1m all in, you might assume you’ll get M6xEBIT – £6m – yay! Actually you’d be offered something more like M3x (for the remaining £400k EBIT) – £1.2m. Disappointing.

 

In fact, it might actually be worth resigning half the dominant client’s business – leaving you with £700k EBIT at M5x, or £3.5m in your pocket.

 

Once you know what you are trying to achieve it gives you specific sales goals and targets to focus the minds of your account handlers and new business team.

 

Fame

Over the years I have been involved in several agencies that have very rapidly become famous. They all had three things in common:

 

  • They weren’t big, but they were known for doing one thing exceptionally well
  • They got on every pitch list for that one thing, and punched above their weight in terms of their client lists as a result
  • They attracted lots of buyer attention (my last agency received nine offers when it was put up for sale)

 

This requires both tested processes and an appreciation that you can’t really be all things to all people. So you have to be courageous in stating what you do and what you stand for, in unambigious terms. This has two effects: you will get the attention of every client that wants what you say you do, and it will attract every buyer who needs to add your skillset to its portfolio.

 

 

Timing

Timing is of course everything. There is no point doing an earn-out deal at the bottom of your value cycle (which looks like a sine wave). By the time you’ve got your money, there is stil fifty percent more growth to be extracted.

 

Likewise, don’t do the deal at the top – there is no more growth to be done, so your earn-out will add little to your starting price. Let’s say the half way mark between now and the next dip is 2017. You need to get cracking and start optimising your business for sale right now.

 

 

Conclusion

Leadership, especially in the run-up to a sale, takes vision, drive and the ability to lean on others’ experience. There are seven major value creation steps you need to consider, and several critical considerations for selecting corporate partners. Might be time to get in touch!

 

 

 

Spring into action: Making the most of your agency marketing calendar

April 22nd, 2015

As April draws to a close we face an interesting time in the agency marketing calendar. The ski season is over, children are back at school providing a good 10 week window to engage prospects before the summer lull.

 

Those of you with a marketing plan and calendar in place will no doubt be working hard to keep on track and avoid project creep (there are still a few bank holidays to contend with after all) but for anyone just getting to grips with a more marketing focused approach, here are my top tips for making the most of May and June:

 

Plan your content

Whether you have world class thought leaders in your agency or simply an interesting and informative point of view, there is time to plan a campaign.

 

  • Get the team together, agree themes, assign responsibilities, apply deadlines.
  • Once you know what you want to talk about, you can decide how the content can ‘live’ and build a campaign around it. Is it a blog post, a white paper, a video? Or is it several of these things. How will they work together? How can you leverage social media?
  • Your insights should relevant to a one or more prospecting segments so depending on the depth of the content piece, think about how you can offer a ‘first look’ to a selection of key prospects before the rest of the content is published.
  • Uri Baruchin from The Partners gives great advice for thought leadership here.

 

Plan events

Hosting events is a wonderful way to engage clients, advocates and prospects alike, but the biggest reason for failure is down to lack of planning or compromising on deadlines.

 

  • Feed their minds, not just their bellies! Whether you are inviting guest speakers or promoting your own content, tailor the talks, presentations or leave behinds to your audience. What do you want them to remember you for? How do you want them to feel?
  • Mix clients and prospects. It’s good networking for everyone and should help keep last minute drop outs to a minimum.
  •  To get maximum attendance try to avoid the school holidays, which means events ideally need to be planned to take place before the end of June.
  • Invitations should be ready to send out 5/6 weeks beforehand so there is just about time to get something organised now. (Try not to be too ambitious, if the dates aren’t working or you haven’t the resource, plan for early September instead).
  • Sense check dates against sporting events and other industry events – ten minutes on Google will serve you well here.
  • Try not to get caught up agonising over the invitation design – this can be a real deadline killer so keep it simple.
  • If you are sending printed invitations, do follow up by email too. It’s much easier to track and you’ll get a far better response rate.

 

Network

Get out from behind your desk and meet new people. This is a fantastic time of year with industry events and networking at every turn. Use this as an opportunity to pick up new insights and ideas that could help shape your own thought leadership whilst adding new contacts to your network. You can read the Gunpowder Guide to Networking here.

 

Awards

Check award entry deadlines. There a few in June – and you’ve got to be in it to win it!

 

Plan for the Autumn

The next key window in the marketing calendar is September to November. Start planning now and use the quieter, summer months to prepare.