Archive for the ‘Skills’ 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.

EP12: A client perspective | Katie Pattison | Hammerson plc

December 5th, 2017

In episode 10 we gained some fantastic insight into best pitch practice from Tony Spong at AAR. Tony’s intermediary experience – seeing the process from a client and agency perspective, got us thinking how useful it would be to involve some clients in our future episodes.

 

So, we finish the year with the first of our client perspective episodes. Katie Pattison has been managing marketing budgets at FTSE100 businesses for 25 years, during which time she has hired agencies of all shapes, sizes, and disciplines.

 

In this interview, Katie shares her experience of agency new business approaches, lasting agency relationships, and her top tips or gaining and retaining clients.

 

As always, we’ll be giving away a copy of Katie’s recommended read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Listen in to find out how to win.

 

We’ve loved producing Small Spark Theory this year and have been overwhelmed by your feedback. We’ll be back in the New Year, chatting with more clients and experts and will be unveiling details of a very special Small Spark Theory event. For more details, sign up for our newsletter here or for more information on improving your agency new businesses effectiveness, please get in touch here.

 

Have a wonderful festive break and see you in 2018.

 

EP11: Negotiation | Hilary Gallo

November 6th, 2017

Whether going into battle with procurement to defend agency day rates, or agreeing the scope of a project for the available client budget – our ability to confidently and effectively negotiate can make a tangible difference to our bottom line.

 

In this episode of Small Spark Theory, I’m joined by ex-corporate lawyer, author and negotiation expert Hilary Gallo. Hilary and I met earlier this year at a Business for Bohemians workshop run by the brilliant team at the Idler.  I realised that his approach, honed over 25 years of solving complex, multi-million pound corporate deals and explored in his book; The Power of Soft, was ideal for the many agency teams I have worked with who continually struggle when faced with the negotiating might of larger client organisations.

 

Luckily, I managed to negotiate my way into Hilary’s busy schedule to find out his top tips. So grab a cuppa and tune in – it’s easier than you think!

 

As always, we’ve got a competition for you and will be giving a lucky listener a copy of The Power of Soft. 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, please get in touch.

 

EP10: The pitch | Tony Spong | AAR

October 7th, 2017

Losing a pitch is just bad news all round. It costs an agency big; in time, money, resource, morale and confidence. So as new business performance improvement goes, there is surely no better place to make tangible impact than in the pitch itself.

 

The good news is that the opportunities for making marginal gains in the way we approach, plan and conduct our pitch activity are not only plentiful but often relatively simple.

 

In this episode of Small Spark Theory I chat to Tony Spong, Managing Partner at the original client-agency intermediary, AAR. Tony’s career has spanned both client and agency roles before settling squarely in the middle, where he has led hundreds of agency pitches. Who better to provide a unique insight on what works, what doesn’t and why?

 

As always, we’ve got a competition for you and will be giving away a copy of Tony’s recommended read ‘The Shallows: How the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember’ by Nicholas Carr.  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, please get in touch.

 

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.

 

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

EP2: PR | Tim Duncan | TDC PR

February 13th, 2017

Raising your agency profile works hand in hand with new business lead generation, but with so many (free) social media channels at our disposal, it’s easy to overlook the impact of a planned and coordinated PR approach.

 

In this episode I chat with Tim Duncan, founder of TDC PR about his PR successes, tips for getting noticed and published.

 

And there’s another competition – we’re spoiling you!

 

You can find out more about TDC PR via the links below:

 

www.tdcpr.com @TDCPR

 

http://sodazine.com/ @SODA_ZINE

 

Tim’s book choice: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

 

Richard Seymour’s Ted Talk

 

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.

Sweaty palms, racing heart, a fear of looking stupid?

October 15th, 2014

For many the thought of presenting, whether in a pitch, a client status meeting or an internal meeting, brings them out in a cold sweat.  And we’ve all sat through sessions where the presenter reads from a script or mumbles through lines on a PowerPoint, which does little to engage the audience nor to sell themselves or their work.

 

Given that the way we present can hugely influence people’s impression of us both as individuals and as a company, it’s a wonder we don’t spend more time perfecting our personal presentation skills. Individuals and teams that are able to deliver relaxed, well-structured, logical and powerful presentations always stand out from the crowd, meaning that having skilled presenters as part of your armoury can give your company that all-important new business edge.

 

The good news is that whether you’re a presenting novice or a more seasoned presenter, there are a range of techniques you can use to help you overcome your nerves, slow down your breathing and avoid the fear of ‘standing up in front of people’, enabling you to consistently deliver powerful and effective presentations.

 

Preparing yourself physically, vocally and mentally, allowing sufficient time for thorough rehearsals and using notes that allow for flexibility rather than reading from a rigid script, will all help in delivering a stand out performance that will benefit both you and your business.

 

Trained actress and new biz supremo Catherine Allison works with Gunpowder to offer bite-size sessions, half day and full day workshops to help individuals and agency teams perfect their presentation skills for client-facing meetings, pitches and beyond.

 

Get in touch here for more information. That wobbly pitch voice will be a thing of the past before you know it.