Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ 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.  

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. 

EP35: Agency awards | Stef Brown | On Pointe Marketing

December 2nd, 2019

Whatever your planning cycle, at this time of year we are naturally drawn to consider our goals for the year ahead and begin shaping our marketing calendars.

And as agency awards can take up such a considerable amount of time, energy and budget -it seems only right that we apply our marginal gains scrutiny to understand how to maximise our return on investment.

In this episode, I get together with agency awards expert Stef Brown. Stef has clocked up an enviable win rate over the years, supporting all kinds of agencies to land their most prized gongs.  

Join us as Stef takes us through her top tips – from prioritising awards schemes, creating winning entries and publicising our wins.

We’re giving away a copy of Stef’s recommended read: A Smile in the Mind, listen in to find out how to win.  

If you are looking to take control of your agency new business and marketing planning in 2020, check out the Small Spark Theory Institute at www.smallsparktheory.com 

EP34: Northern agency focus Phil Gripton | Waypoint Partners

November 7th, 2019

For a variety of reasons I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country more than usual this year, speaking on behalf of the Design Business Association in Manchester and Leeds and joining the Agency Collective at events in Bristol and Edinburgh. 

It’s given me the opportunity to talk to agencies outside of the London bubble and better understand some of the differences and similarities around the perennial challenges and opportunities for growth. 

So it was a pleasure to get to chat with Phil Gripton for this episode. Phil is a partner at growth advisory firm Waypoint, supporting agencies in the North of England and Scotland. His experience spans three decades of growing, running and selling agencies, as well as buying agency services in a number of client-side roles. 

Phil shares his top tips for maximising agency performance – from boosting profitability to shaping up for acquisition. 

We’re giving away a copy of Phil’s recommended read, Invisible Powerby Ken Manning, Robin Charbit, and Sandra Krot – 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

EP32: Benchmarking performance | Peter Czapp | The Wow Company

September 1st, 2019

Almost every agency owner I meet will, sooner or later, ask the question “how does this compare with other agencies?” They could be talking about any number of measures; marketing investment, pitch conversion rate, client retention, or new business resourcing to name just a few. And I understand why this question is important. Running an agency is not just hard work, even with the best laid plans, it can be unpredictable. Clients, budgets, the economy, technology, opportunities, skills, services, resources are all shifting all of the time, and amid all that change, it can be hard to measure success without context.

One of the resources I will often reference in response to this question is the Benchpress Report published by The Wow Company.  I invited Peter Czapp, co-founder of The Wow Company and The Agency Collective, to join me for this episode of Small Spark Theory to discuss his findings from the current report, and to dig a little deeper into the trends and correlations behind the wealth data collected over 7 years of agency benchmarking. 

We’ll be sending one lucky listener a copy of Peter’s recommended read, the ever popular With Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns, simply listen in to find out how to win.

You can find out more about the Benchpress statistics on cash flow, new business, and how agency owners spend their time here and statistics on pricing, profit, and the impact of artificial intelligence on agencies here. You can also access Peter’s webinar sharing the latest benchmarking trends for agencies.

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.