Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

EP54: Overcoming adversity | Sarah Yeats | Sledge

July 12th, 2021

I’ve said many times that the people in business I admire the most are independent agency leaders. And over the past 18 months, as our industry, largely populated by small businesses has rallied against such unforeseen challenges, my admiration and respect has deepened.

Through all of the conversations I had with agencies during this time I was aware that it was surely those in the events sector who had been dealt the most difficult hand. 

In this episode, I speak to Sarah Yeats, Managing Director of events agency Sledge, to understand what happens when your projects are cancelled and your pipeline disappears. 

I’ve called this episode ‘overcoming adversity’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s about leadership, resilience, communication, but most importantly, the power of relationships. 

Listen in to find out how to win a copy of Sarah’s recommended read: Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende.

EP51: Raising your profile – part three | Ash Jones | Great Influence

April 6th, 2021

There are so many reasons for me wanting to do an episode on personal brand.

Let’s go back to the beginning. At the start of my agency career, I worked mostly with ad agencies. This was in the 90s and honestly – it was dazzling. The high profile exit of Maurice and Charles from Saatchi & Saatchi to set up M&C Saatchi, Dave Trott setting up Bainsfair Sharkey Trott then WCST, Trevor Beattie making waves with Wonderbra and FCUK, and so it went on. Everywhere you turned there were names.

I’ve often said that to a degree, the rise of digital and social media has evened out the playing field from an agency profile point of view, allowing everyone a share of voice if they get a good plan in place. However, there has seemed a notable lack of high profile individuals in quite the same way as we had before. With so much noise – was it just too hard for anyone to cut through?

For me, that changed when Social Chain founder Steven Bartlett catapulted on to the scene, transcending industry trade press, appearing in mainstream media and attracting over 2 million followers online. All by the age of 27. (Not to mention taking the company public).

To help me understand how that happened, and what we can learn from it, I’m joined by Ash Jones, part of the founding team at Social Chain and founder of Great Influence.

We talk about what it takes to create a personal brand, how to cut through the noise and how to manage imposter syndrome.

As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Ash’s recommended read – the newly published Happy Sexy Millionaire by Steven Bartlett.

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!