Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

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.

EP30: Rethinking Procurement | David Meikle | How to Buy a Gorilla

July 1st, 2019

We’ve touched on the subject of procurement over a number of episodes in this series so far, and it’s a topic I wanted to come back to and delve a little deeper. 

Much of the time I deal with small to medium sized agencies, all specialists in their respective fields, many of whom are working with large brand owners with significant purchasing power. Such accounts can be transformative for an agency looking to grow – the opportunity to do the kind of work that is high profile enough that in turn, it will attract more, equally prestigious new work. But these relationships are not without risk. 

In this episode I chat to David Meikle, consultant and author of How to Buy a Gorilla, about the relationship between marketing, procurement and agency, and how to create value.

Listen in to find out how to win a copy of David’s book.

Also mentioned in this podcast are:

Win Without Pitching and Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

Implementing Value Pricing by Ronald J Baker

Take a Stand for your Brand by Tim Williams

Buying Less for Less by Gerry Preece and Russell Wohlwerth

EP25: Agency Thought Leadership | Pip Stocks | Brandhook

February 15th, 2019

I’m calling this episode ‘thought leadership’ for the sake of brevity, and SEO but in reality this is about so much more.

 

Pip Stocks runs Brandhook, a Melbourne-based brand and customer experience consultancy.

 

Over the last four years Pip, and Brandhook, have owned the conversation around “Closing the Gap”, understanding how brands can get closer to their customers in an era of increasing digital disruption.

 

I’ve followed the progress of Closing the Gap, as a series of presentations, blog posts, editorials, a podcast, numerous speaking engagements and a book. It has been a masterclass in agency thought leadership campaigning I have referenced to my clients again and again.

 

Pip joins me to talk agency positioning, service innovation, thought leadership campaigning and dodgy nineties fashion.

 

You can see more about Brandhook and check out the new platform, Hearsay.

 

Kara Swisher’s podcast is Recode Decode

 

As always we’ve giving away a copy of Pip’s recommended read, Small Data by Martin Lindstrom. Listen in to find out how to win.

 

EP23: The Christmas Cracker

December 13th, 2018

Just in time for Christmas, we bring you a very special episode of Small Spark Theory.

 

Across the series, we have asked all of our contributors to share the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career, so we thought we’d take a wander through the last two years of episodes and pick some of our favourites.

 

So grab a cuppa and a mince pie, and tune in to hear from Felix Velarde, Hilary Gallo, Katz Kiely, Sara Stark, David C Baker, Alex Blyth, Robert Kelsey, Tony Spong, Jemima Monies, Dan Sudron, Katie Pattison and Blair Enns.

 

If you fancy a little more inspiration, check out David’s book The Business of Expertise, Hilary’s new book Fear Hackand Blair’s practical guide to Pricing Creativity.

 

As always, we have a competition prize. We’ll be giving away a 15 minute timer from The School of Life, simply listen in to find out how to win.

 

Merry Christmas, we’ll be back in January with more guests and more news!

 

EP22: Rethinking Client Experience | Nick Phipps | Rawnet

November 5th, 2018

I’ll admit it, I’m slightly obsessed about the experience that clients and prospects have when they work with (or are considering working with) an agency.

 

Just as customer and user experience is now paramount for consumer brands, of course the the same rules apply for B2B. There will always be other agencies who can deliver a comparable service for a comparable price, but it is the experience of working with an agency which will influence selection, keep clients coming back for more and generate referrals. But hang on a minute – isn’t that where chemistry comes in? Well yes it is, but chemistry isn’t scalable, or reliable for that matter. What I’m really talking about is the end to end experience and the processes we can put in place to truly delight clients and prospects, beyond the delivery of great work.

 

And yet rarely do we take the opportunity to truly put ourselves in our clients or prospects shoes, to understand just how user friendly we really are. Our reporting, meetings, emails, websites, project management processes and more are all fertile ground for identifying marginal gains.  

 

This is an episode I’ve been wanting to make for a while so I was delighted when Nick Phipps got in touch from Rawnet. In true, “physician heal thyself” style, Rawnet are in the process of applying the customer centric principles and strategies they use for their clients’ businesses, to their own agency. We got together to chat about how it’s working out.

 

And we have another competition for you. You can win a copy of Nick’s recommended read:  The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson – just listen in for more details.

 

EP20: Agency Revenue Models | Erica Wolfe-Murray | Lola Media

September 2nd, 2018

Finding an alternative revenue model to the billable hour, is a topic we touched on with Erica Wolfe-Murray of Lola Media, back in Episode 14, as we explored the subject of an agency’s intellectual assets, and returned to in our episode on pricing creativity with Blair Enns.

 

And as we head into what is arguably the most important three months of the year for agency new business, we are delighted to welcome Erica back to Small Spark Theory, for a dedicated episode on agency revenue models. Based on her experience across multiple industries, Erica takes us through how we can think more creatively about what we sell and and how we sell it, and how to create multiple, and more importantly, scalable revenue streams.

 

All this and more is available in Erica’s brand new book, Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Easy to Use Advice for Business Growth, which will be available from January 2019, and get this… you can win a copy too! Listen to this episode to find out how.

 

We’ve been getting a lot of love for Small Spark Theory over recent months, which is heartening indeed. If you’ve been listening in and enjoying what you hear, please do leave a review on iTunes, it’s really quick to do and would make our day.

EP17: Small Spark Theory Live Part One

June 13th, 2018

On a balmy evening in early May, we took to the stage at White City Place to host Small Spark Theory Live along with our friends at YCN. This was an opportunity to bring together some of our previous podcast contributors, some new guests and an invited audience of agency founders, leaders, and new business practitioners.

 

In this, the first of two episodes recorded on the night, we hear from Felix Velarde – back by popular demand following our growth planning discussion in episode 4 last year – together with Joanna Brassett, founder of Studio INTO. Since 2011, Joanna has been building a global design research and innovation business and over the past 5 years has been implementing Gunpowder’s Small Spark Theory philosophy. Felix and Joanna joined me to explore the challenges facing agency leaders at various stages of growth, from prioritising new business and marketing activity, getting to grips with cold outreach, when to delegate and when to hire.

 

Special thanks to our co-hosts YCN, the super team at White City Place, photographer David Townhill and to Ugly Drinks, Propercorn and ABInBev for providing our drinks and snacks on the night.

 

EP16: Pricing Creativity | Blair Enns

May 2nd, 2018

Following the success of the Win Without Pitching Manifesto, Blair Enns’ much anticipated book – Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour was published earlier this year.

 

I’ll admit, I was worried how this transformative approach to pricing would fit into this series, where we explore how we can implement small changes to our sales and marketing toolkit and processes, but rest assured, as Blair explains in this episode, there are changes you can make today that will reap tangible rewards.

 

I know I say this every time but this is one episode you really won’t want to miss!

 

You can hear more about mastering the value conversation in Blair’s discussion with David C Baker in this episode of 2Bobs.

 

Blair and David will be reprising their new business summit for one time only this summer for the DBA. You can find details of tickets here, but be quick, this is likely to sell out fast!

 

We have a phenomenal prize for one lucky listener, tune in to find out how to win.

 

Also mentioned in this episode Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

 

 

EP:15 Social Media | Alex & Claire Blyth | Red Setter

April 9th, 2018

Anyone who has been to one of my talks, listened to Small Spark Theory or worked with me on increasing new business performance will know my feelings on LinkedIn by now. I stand by my well-worn edict “if you do nothing else, get to grips with LinkedIn” and will continue to do so, until such time as the platform implodes, or is superseded.

 

But what about the rest of the social media maze? Making the connection between social channels and new business results is troublesome for many and even when we think we should get involved, it’s easy to then lose momentum and enthusiasm.

 

Late last year the team at PR & new business agency Red Setter examined the social media presence of 200 agencies and interviewed 50 agency leaders and a range of experts to understand the barriers, benefits and secrets to winning at social media.

 

I invited Red Setter founders Alex and Claire Blyth into the Pod to find out about the results of their study, and get some top tips for our listeners.

 

You can download their report: The Guide to Agency Growth through Social Media here.

 

As always we have a competition! We’re giving away a copy of Alex’s recommended read, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Listen in to find out how to win.

EP14: Intellectual Assets | Erica Wolfe-Murray | Lola Media

March 6th, 2018

Let’s be honest. These are uncertain times.

 

Even those agenciy owners who are highly proficient in keeping the new business pipeline bubbling, will probably have had a heart-stopping moment or two over the last 18 months. An unexpected decision by a client, the surprising cancellation of a new project after the green light has already been given, or as one observer recently described to me – client paralysis.

 

So far in the Small Spark Theory we’ve been examining all the parts of the sales and marketing process to understand where we can make marginal gains.

 

But understanding not only how we sell but, what we sell, has never been more important.

 

In this month’s episode, we chat to Erica Wolfe-Murray, of Lola Media. With a unique mix of experiences from finance and the creative sector, Erica is an established thought leader on the subject of business growth through creative use of IP.

 

This is our first eye-opening episode from Erica who’ll be joining us later in the year to discuss revenue models.

 

As always we’ve got a competition and will be giving away a copy of Erica’s recommended read: A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin. Listen in to find out how to win.