Archive for the ‘Resource’ Category

EP7: Events

July 9th, 2017

 

Getting in a room together with clients and prospects is undoubtedly the best way to foster good relationships. But creating the opportunity to connect in person, outside of the cut and thrust of delivering day to day project work, or a credentials or a pitch scenario, can be a challenge.

 

Hosting an event, which either showcases thought leadership to your existing clients, or allows you to demonstrate your expertise to a wider audience can be prove to be a highly effective weapon in your new business and marketing arsenal.

 

But where to start? Will people turn up? And what will we say when they do?

 

In this episode of Small Spark Theory, we explore how to make the most of agency events and avoid some of the most common mistakes (a clue, it’s all in the planning)!

 

As always, we’ve got a competition for you and will be giving away a copy of Adam Grant’s Give & Take. So listen in to find out how to win.

 

If you feel inspired to host your own event here are some of the tried and tested London venues we like:

 

Firmdale

The central events team at Firmdale manage event spaces for all of the hotels in the group including Ham Yard, Charlotte Street, Haymarket and Soho Hotel. Plenty of fabulous rooms for private dinners, screenings or larger scale events.

 

Swan at the Globe

With wonderful views across the river to St Paul’s, the Swan can cater for meetings, private dining or larger events. Get in touch with the aptly named Lucy Beer who’ll talk you through the available options.

 

J&A Café

Lovely Clerkenwell space available for private hire for evening events.

 

Jones Family Project

Great location near Old Street, interesting space options and a dangerous cocktail list.

 

Forge & Co

Shoreditch co-working space can cater for a range of events.

 

Riding House Café

The Stables private dining room is a hidden gem for private dining group of up to 14 people.

 

Vinyl Factory Soho

A bigger space for a larger scale event with a central location.

 

 

 

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

EP6: Agency Websites

June 5th, 2017

 

Something interesting happens when you ask an agency leader about their website. Usually a slight shift in their seat, followed by a sigh, a pained expression and a mumble about the site being due for an overhaul. A similar thing happens when you talk to marketing or new business practitioners in an agency, there’s a sense of exasperation or worse, resignation.

 

At a Design Business Association new business event in November, I asked the assembled audience of 60 agency folk, how many felt their website truly represented their agency offer. Just five hands were raised.

 

We’ve heard it all before. This isn’t a new dilemma, and we all know the reasons why so many agencies have a suboptimal website. It’s a perfect storm of lack of time, lack of resource, a focus on delivering client work, creative differences and the search for the perfect portfolio execution. But if we’re not careful, months, then years pass by and what should be a highly effective weapon in your new business and marketing arsenal is undermining the rest of your efforts and affecting the return on any new business investment you are making.

 

But the good news? This is a huge opportunity to make marginal gains. In this episode of Small Spark Theory, we explore the common website pitfalls and how to tackle them. And in true marginal gains spirit, you’ve only got to be that little bit better, engage with one more budget holding prospect to make a difference to your bottom line.

 

 

If you’re not sure about your website, try our quiz, just answer the following with a yes or no.

 

 

1.    Has your current website been redesigned or significantly overhauled in the last 3 years?

 

2.    Do you have a blog?

 

3.    Is your blog a subfolder of your main site (eg: www.joebloggs.com/blog) or a separate, but linked url?

 

4.    Do you update your blog at least once a month?

 

5.    Are there sharing links on all of your blog posts?

 

6.    Is there a twitter feed on your website?

 

7.    Are links to ALL of your social channels active and easily seen on your website?

 

8.    Does your website talk about your people/team?

 

9.    Does it name the senior team/key contacts?

 

10. Are there contact details for named MD, or new business contact?

 

11. Get someone outside your agency (your mum, a neighbour, someone on the bus) and ask them to read the ‘About Us’ descriptor on your homepage. Do they immediately understand what you do?

 

12. Are your case studies up to date?

 

13. Do your case studies make clear the problem that you solved and what you actually delivered?

 

14. Do you track Google Analytics?

 

15. Do you know the primary source of your site traffic?

 

16. Do you update the content on your website yourselves or is it done by a third party?

 

17. Are you using SEO keyword techniques when you upload content?

 

18. Have you ever used Google Adwords?

 

19. Do you have a legal footer on your homepage stating your company registration details etc.?

 

20. Are you happy with your website?

 

 

If you score more than 10 no’s – feel free to get in touch, we can help!

 

Website grader is also an excellent resource to put your site through its paces …

 

This month’s book recommendation is  To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink, listen to this episode for a chance to win a copy.

 

 

 

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

EP5: Lead Generation | The Future Factory

May 8th, 2017

 

Prospecting, cold calling, lead generation. Call it what you will, most agencies recognise the need to supplement the more reliable client and network referrals by investing in generating opportunities with new audiences.

 

And whether this activity is managed in-house, or outsourced to a lead generation specialist, it certainly is an investment; either in salary, in fees and always in time. At best, this activity can be highly effective, delivering sizeable portfolio clients but for every success story, there are untold examples of ineffective prospecting activity.

 

Alex Sibille and Dan Sudron set up The Future Factory 2011 and since then, their team of 30 have worked with over 300 agencies undertaking lead generation and new business training for some of London’s biggest and smallest creative, comms and digital agencies. Last year their clients won new business in excess of £15m through The Future Factory’s work. In this episode, Alex and Dan join me to discuss the common lead generation pitfalls and opportunities for performance improvement.

 

This month’s book recommendation is The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns, listen to this episode for a chance to win a copy.

 

You can find out more about The Future Factory here.

 

 

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

The New Business Equation

July 5th, 2014

Finding the formula for continued new business success can feel like chasing the Holy Grail. A winning streak can so often be followed by a dwindling pipeline, or even worse, an unexpected dip in client revenue. The peaks and troughs seem impossible to avoid, and losing pitches is costly and bad for morale.

 

Meanwhile advances in digital technology have opened up a world of opportunity for agency marketing and new business, yet the ever increasing choice of tools can be overwhelming, time consuming and counterproductive if used inefficiently.

 

How can you market your agency effectively, build a pipeline and maintain momentum? How can you keep on winning?

 

I will be exploring the formula for achieving sustained new business success at a breakfast event exclusively for DBA members on Tuesday 22nd July.  For more details and booking information click here.

The perfect agency new business team

March 27th, 2014

Making the decision to hire dedicated new business resource often marks a tipping point in an agency’s development.

 

But making the right hire isn’t easy. Many times over the years have I heard variations on the sentiment: “Ah yes, we’ve had new business people in the past, they come in, play around with some lists and case studies and are gone again six months later”. Now, whether it is sales people selling themselves into the wrong role or agencies with unrealistic expectations, it is clear that finding the right match is a challenge.

 

So what is the answer?

 

Well, the chances are that we are asking the wrong question. Instead of thinking “Who can we hire to sell more?” we should be asking how our current clients buy from us already and work back from there.

 

For most agencies, current revenue is made up from retained or repeat business from existing clients, referrals from existing clients and network and a slice of ‘new’ new business. And in most cases, those clients have bought services from the senior team. An MD, client lead, creative lead or strategist. They have bought into the people at the heart of the agency and the relationships have grown from there.

 

So, to add more business, it may well be that you don’t need a ‘closer’ at all, because the best people to close a deal are those who are already in the business delivering the work. Perhaps you just need a ‘sweeper’, someone who can free up the time of the senior team by managing the process around pitching or RFIs, or even simply managing the database of contacts.

 

Or, if your pipeline is thin and it is leads you need, then think about specific lead generation resource, either external or in-house and marketing resource to ensure that your website is updated and optimized, your social channels are up to scratch and any content and collateral is doing its job. Some of this resource may even be in the business already.

 

Whoever you hire, make sure there’s a plan, a process and measure as you go. For help with new business planning get in touch.

 

Digital distraction – a force for good?

September 10th, 2013

I was once given some very good advice, second hand from a business coach. The motto was “If you are going to be in the room, be in the room”. This proved valuable advice for me. As someone who seemed always to be juggling too many things at once, the discipline of focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well was something of a revelation. By making lists and prioritising I was able to get things done more effectively, meetings were focused, my productivity soared. And they key to “being in the room” was removing distractions.  Simple.

 

Fast forward 15 years and the game has changed beyond recognition. Much has been written about the evils of this digital age. Our days are an assault course of distractions – from our own needy smartphone tics, to the constant barrage of emails, texts and social media notifications. We are dual screening, checking in, hashtagging our way through life, and business. Many a meeting now takes place accompanied by furious tapping into keyboards and phones while conversation falters, skype connections sputter and die.

 

But. There is a kind of digital distraction that I believe is a glorious force for good.

 

Take Google. A simple Google search can take you off on a journey into the unknown. By beginning to research a company, a prospect, a brand with a few keywords you can helter skelter through all kinds of facts, links, soundbites and unexpected connections.  The more you look, the more you find and the web of information (literally) expands.

 

For new business folk – this is wonderful news. Your clients and prospects need to see that you understand their business, their markets, their people, customers and competitors, and getting the inside track has never been easier, if you look, and are prepared to keep looking, the answers are there in the far reaches of the web. Interviews, shareholder presentations, chairmans statements, annual accounts, LinkedIn job descriptions provide a range of clues – not always facts – but clues that will help you to build a war chest of questions, intelligence and contacts.

 

So make time for the Google breadcrumb trail and embrace the distraction of Google alerts.  Enlist the help of Flipboard and Delicious and set up bookmarks to organise your findings. File stories, set up tags to categorize LinkedIn profiles currently outside your network.

 

The clue you have been waiting for may only be a few clicks away.

How to bring new business prospects in from the cold

February 21st, 2013

The best new business opportunities are undoubtedly those that arise from your network and referrals. But this inevitably needs  supplementing with proactive prospecting. So, how do you start a dialogue with someone who hasn’t ever heard of your or your agency? This month’s guest blogger Alex Sibille from The Future Factory shares her top tips for getting in front of cold prospects.

 

  • Purchase a database of relevant contact details. Or if you’d rather not spend out, LinkedIn and corporate websites should serve you quite well.

 

  • Find someone within your team, or an external specialist, with time to dedicate to prospecting, networking, researching, cold calling, schmoozing and marketing your agency to these target brands.

 

  • Expect approx 10-15 hours focused work to deliver one new business meeting – once you have started to create a pipeline of dialogues and opportunities.

 

  • The first month or so you will be honing your pitch, starting to raise awareness of your agency, as well as researching and building relationships with the decision makers in your target companies.

 

  • Splitting your time roughly 50/50 between calls and emails is a good guide.

 

  • Telephone calls give faster returns, and allow you to probe for more information, but some people are more easily accessible via email.

 

  • All approaches should be backed by a reason to get in touch. Developing this and the background research into your targets should take place over the first month, and then ongoing as you add new targets to your list.

 

  • On the phone, before you launch into a pitch, the first step should be to qualify that the person you are talking to does indeed look after the area you think they do.

 

  • In emails, short and personable usually does well.

 

  • Now and again you’ll be asked to send creds to a cold prospect you’re trying to impress. Ideally these should just be a page or two highlighting your most noteworthy achievements. If someone wants more detail they can investigate your website, or discuss further with you in person. Here is a brilliant example. A video showreel is another great way to convey your agency’s ethos.

 

For more advice on lead generation contact Alex Sibille

Getting fit to win in 2013

January 11th, 2013

As we limber up for what promises to be another challenging 12 months, our thoughts undoubtedly stray to this year’s new business target.

 

Many of you will have returned to your desks last week, armed with a robust and well resourced plan, a handful of prospect meetings in the diary and a pitch or two underway. Well done, keep up the good work. But for anyone feeling a slight flutter of panic at the new business shaped hole in your revenue forecast, read on, help is at hand.

 

First of all it is worth remembering that there is no magic bullet. New business success comes from consistent and focussed activity based on a considered and robust plan. If you don’t have a plan, or have a plan that doesn’t work or isn’t being implemented – see me. Meanwhile there are some non-negotiable basics that you need to address to if you are to get in shape. Ask yourself these questions:

 

1. Your website. Can Google see it? Would someone who doesn’t know your agency be able to clearly grasp what you do within 3 clicks? Is there a blog? When was it last updated?

 

2. Social media. Twitter is great, but don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t cracked it yet, we’ll be talking about that in a later post, but Linked In cannot and should not be ignored. Is your personal profile up to date? What about your company page? And what about everyone else in the agency? Do you and and your team routinely connect with contacts as you meet them?

 

3. Case studies. Are they up to date? Does each one tell a story? Can it tell more than one story? Do you demonstrate results?

 

4. Phone and email. An unsolicited approach from a prospective client is a beautiful thing. However as Recommended Agency Register Director Diane Young observed in the Drum last year, a surprising number of agencies fall at this very basic first hurdle. Does everyone in the agency who could possibly answer the phone know how to to handle incoming calls and take messages? Does the email address or phone number on the website go to a human being. Fundamentally, will any new business prospect be able to have a meaningful conversation with someone at your agency within 24hrs of their enquiry?

 

If any of the points above leave you with more questions than answers, then do get in touch. There is no doubt that 2013 is going to challenge us all, but there is still business out there to win. You just need to stack the odds in your favour where you can.

Show me the money (part one)

December 4th, 2012

Having been a new business employee, employer, client, service provider and recruiter, I have been asked many times over the years to advise on the thorny issue of performance related pay.

 

There tend to be two instances when discussions around commission or “win bonuses” crop up. The first is when recruiting in house new business talent, the second when hiring external new business support, typically a new business or lead generation agency.

 

In both cases, I would urge proceeding with caution. Unless such deals are structured with care, either or both parties will be left feeling short changed.

 

From the outset, a win bonus seems, well, a win win for both parties. The business will only need to pay out having secured extra revenue and the new business person, or supplier will be motivated by the prospect of getting the lead over the finishing line. But this is exactly where the theory can start to break down.

 

I’m a firm believer in performance related deals, but first we need to define performance. New business talent comes in all shapes and sizes, with an array of differing strengths and specialisms. There are a rare few who can single handedly sniff out an opportunity, make introductions, stay connected, concoct the strategy, creative, then lead and close the pitch. More often, you might have a brilliant opportunity spotter, networker or pitch manager but the winning itself is down to teamwork – the chemistry between the client and agency client lead, a cracking strategy, creative work, and ultimately the end of year billings for that client reflect on the performance of many, many individuals across the agency.

 

So when thinking about a win bonus, whether for a new business manager or supplier make sure the bonus reflects the parts of the process where they have influence or control. If they can influence opportunity creation or an agency shortlist, then agree the criteria and reward accordingly.

 

Sometimes there is no escaping a revenue percentage deal. If this is the case then spend time on definitions. Project or first year income? Turnover, revenue, gross income or net profit? Be sure to work through a variety of scenarios until you are comfortable with all possible outcomes.

 

I’ll leave you with the mighty Dan Ariely putting pay and performance under the microscope in this illuminating video.

 

Feeling optimistic?

November 27th, 2012

It’s worth stating at this early point in the proceedings that this is not a self help blog. But if I have learnt one thing over the years of new business practice, it is that all other things being equal: relevant offer, quality work and a good plan; one of the key ingredients for new business success is optimism.

 

Now let’s be clear this is not blind optimism. This is not charging headlong into unqualified pitch opportunities, or projecting new business revenue based on an exchange of business cards at a conference. This is simply remaining positive, optimistic and motivated enough that you continue to do the good things well, day-after-day.

 

Sounds simple? In theory yes it is. But as we all know agency life has a tendency to get in the way. Whether you are an agency head also tasked with generating new leads or you have a role solely focussed on marketing the business to new clients, remaining optimistic every day can be a challenge. Things go wrong. People have disagreements. Technology can let you down. The list goes on.

 

So how do you block this out?

 

I was struck by a recent post by Hunter Walk, observing the behaviours of new starters at Google – or Nooglers as they are known. Hunter describes how:

 

  • New employees are always psyched about the opportunity – they see the glass half-full, brimming with potential.
  • New employees don’t yet know “that’s the way it’s always been done here” – they see processes and limitations with fresh eyes.
  • New employees aren’t aware that “it’s been tried before and failed” so they are able to surface the things you should be doing but struggled to execute.
  • New employees introduce themselves to everyone, because, well, they’re new and there’s no social stigma to it at all.
  • New employees don’t have any political baggage – they give their colleagues the benefit of the doubt.

 

Now, what if you could recreate that optimism, every day, in a new business context? What if you could adopt that new employee mindset? Wouldn’t it just be a little easier to get things done?

 

Tempted? Try it and see.