Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

EP44: The agency podcast | Isabelle Jarvis

September 14th, 2020

The podcasting juggernaut shows no sign of slowing. Four years ago, when we started planning the idea behind Small Spark Theory I thought we were too late to the party. Yet here we are now and with Apple estimating some 1 million active shows and over 30 million episodes on iTunes (double the figure in 2018), it would seem that audio content is still very much a thing. 

But what about podcasting in a B2B context, and more specifically how does it fit into an agency new business and marketing plan? Is it just a shiny new thing or can it really deliver new business?

I noticed a number of new agency podcasts popping up this year so thought it might be time to explore if and how this channel can add value. 

And who better to join me? Small Spark Theory’s very own producer and editor, Isabelle Jarvis. Izzy has been the driving force behind this podcast since its inception and has gone on to produce, edit and advise on a variety of other shows. 

In this episode, we discuss the need for strategy (spoiler alert – it’s your ideas and content that are important, the podcast is simply a different channel to allow those ideas to live in another format), thoughts on formatting and make sense of the technical implications. 

The recording, hosting and editing tech mentioned in this episode is as follows:

Zencastr

Squadcast

AnchorFM

Libsyn

Buzzsprout

Podbean

Audacity

If you have a great content idea which supports your proposition and marketing strategy, fancy your hand at podcasting but don’t know where to start, you can contact Isabelle@gunpowderconsulting.com

EP42: Design industry outlook | Deborah Dawton | Design Business Association

July 19th, 2020

Regular listeners will have noticed a slight change to our usual programming. A global pandemic has shifted our focus from the very specific, detailed insights intended solely to improve new business performance, to include a more contextual viewpoint. Of course, context has always been important to new business, but with so much change and uncertainty around us, it now seems imperative to broaden our discussion. 

From the very beginning of this crisis I was blown away by the speed with which the Design Business Association team leapt into action to provide a virtual space for discussion, advice and community support. On any given week, agencies (members and non-members alike) could access free webinars to understand the implications of the evolving crisis and tap into expert advice to help navigate a way forward. 

So here we some 4 months on. What have we learnt? And what is the outlook for the design industry? I managed to wrangle some time with Design Business Association Chief Executive Deborah Dawton to find out.

You can find out more about DBA membership here and access the ‘Ask an Expert’ scheme here. 

EP41: Positioning v proposition | Robin Bonn | Co:definery

June 30th, 2020

There aren’t enough podcasting hours to do justice to the agency positioning and proposition debate. We’ve explored this before in episode 13 with David C. Baker and then again in episode 36 with master of the agency messaging, Roland Gurney. 

But with entire industry sectors in crisis and an uncertain economy ahead it has never been more important for agencies to clearly define and signpost their expertise.  So buckle up, we’re going in again!

In this episode we talk to Robin Bonn from Co:definery to get the lowdown on why positioning is dead but proposition is king and the perils of a pivot. Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Robin’s recommended read: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

You can read Robin’s latest musings here and follow his Marketing Week column here.

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. 

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.