Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

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.

 

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

The Gunpowder Guide to Getting Noticed: October 23rd 2014, London

September 11th, 2014

So your agency is doing some fantastic work. You have a bunch of brilliant people who have an insightful approach to client challenges. You feel as though you have something genuinely intereresting and different to say.

 

So far so good.

 

But how do you make yourselves heard? How to you get your press releases published? How do you drive more traffic to your website? How do you grow your audience and elevate your news above the agency chatter?

 

Gunpowder is delighted to welcome two fantastic speakers to a special breakfast event on Thursday 23rd October in London.

 

Carol Lewis, Commissioning Editor at The Times and Cara Whitehouse, Head of UK/Europe at Reload Digital will be sharing their thoughts, from getting coverage in the broadsheets to boosting your online profile. We’ll look at what makes good content, where you should focus your time and what on earth you should be doing with Google Plus.

 

Places are limited so grab a ticket at the event page here. See you there!

Account Development Skills Workshop: October 10th 2014, London

August 28th, 2014

If you’re starting to think about revenue forecasting for 2015 and looking to make more of your existing client relationships then here’s some good news – Gunpowder’s Account Development Skills Workshop is back by popular demand for an open class this Autumn.

 

This half day workshop is designed for project managers, account managers and account directors from agencies of any size or discipline.

 

An interactive and informative morning, attendees will learn techniques for gaining greater understanding of client’s businesses, identifying opportunities for growth and creating workable account plans.

 

Full details can be found at the event page here or feel free to get in touch with any questions – bespoke in-agency workshops are also available for larger groups.

 

This is what some of our previous delegates have said:

 

“I think the session was a great way of arming you with the right tools to make farming clients that bit easier. I definitely left the session feeling empowered rather than feeling like I had been dictated the “right way” to do my job. Thank you.”

 

“I found the workshop extremely beneficial and was very pleased that the skills we learnt could be developed on once we left.”

 

“I really enjoyed being made to think about my clients business from a different perspective”

 

Hello I’m Lucy, pleased to meet you…

July 9th, 2014

Last month a group of brave souls gathered together in a Shoreditch basement to face their networking fears at the Gunpowder Guide to Networking.

 

Challenging our preconceived ideas about working the room, elevator pitches and generating leads, we explored new techniques for making lasting connections, while speech and drama coach Steve Livermore spirited us out of our comfort zones to examine how the relationship between our body language, voice and energy impacts on the persona we present and the critical first impressions we make.

 

Want to know more?

 

Download a copy of the Gunpowder Guide to Networking or get in touch to register your interest for the next workshop.

 

Gunpowder Guide to Networking: June 10th 2014, London

May 21st, 2014

Does walking into a room full of strangers make you feel uncomfortable? Do you find the pressure to ‘work the room’ too daunting? Fear not, help is at hand.

 

The Gunpowder Guide to Networking rolls into town next month and takes a close look at the factors at play in a range of networking situations. Drawing on psychology, sociology and actor training, we will discover what our voice, body language and persona say about us and explore new techniques for building confidence and connections. You’ll leave with practical tips for making introductions, keeping conversations going, and following up after the event.

 

With a master’s degree from Central School of Speech and Drama in Actor Training and Coaching, our course leader Steve Livermore is a director, lecturer and workshop leader with over 20 years’ experience in theatre, performing arts and recorded media. He has directed classical and contemporary texts, pop promos, short films and TV commercials and worked on a wide range of production sizes; from small scale studio theatre pieces to international advertising campaigns.

 

Check out our event page here for more details and ticket availability.

 

Canapé anyone?

Changes to LinkedIn Company Pages and what it means for you

April 10th, 2014

Over the last year I have been encouraging my clients to make the most of LinkedIn, and in particular, not to overlook their Company Pages.

 

One useful feature of the Company Page was the Products/Services tab allowing a business to break down their offer into specific services, then for each of those services add related content, weblinks, contacts and best of all – recommendations.

 

However, as is the ever-changing nature of our beloved social channels, LinkedIn removed the Products/Services tab in April this year.

 

So what does this mean for you?

 

There are now two options for sharing information about your products and services:

 

Option one is to simply to use the company updates. These updates work the same as your individual profile updates, but posted by an administrator from the Company Page. The updates appear in the newsfeed of any page followers.

 

Option two, a Showcase Page, is a subsidiary of a Company Page and will allow you to post content on a particular service offering – however as the Showcase Page is essentially a newsfeed, which will have its own followers, you should have a plan for regularly uploading related posts before you commit. If this isn’t practical then I’d recommend sticking with company updates for now.

 

You can see an example of a Showcase Page here, and more information on the changes here.

 

Sound confusing?! Please get in touch if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to help.

 

 

Account Development Skills Workshop: April 29th 2014, London

March 10th, 2014

New business is hard work. There are no shortcuts, no magic bullets, no secret quick win formulas. Converting cold contacts into paying clients requires resource, dedication, process and patience.

 

And in the day to day delivery of client projects, growth opportunities within existing client relationships are often overlooked. Even the most brilliant client teams can lack the new business skills or confidence to unlock new revenue opportunities.

 

Yet, armed with the right tools, client service teams can build profitable and enduring client relationships, promote referred business and ultimately relieve the pressure on cold new business acquisition.

 

Gunpowder’s Account Development Skills Workshop is designed for project managers, account managers and account directors from agencies of any size or discipline.

 

An interactive and informative morning, you will learn techniques for gaining greater understanding of your client’s businesses, identifying opportunities for growth and creating workable account plans.

 

Visit our event page here for more information and ticket availability.

 

How LinkedIn are you?

November 29th, 2013

In the decade since its launch, LinkedIn has grown to a whopping membership of 259 million. This is no flash in the pan social fad. It is now an accepted, practical and highly valuable new business tool.

 

So why is it that so many agency execs are still woefully negligent of their LinkedIn presence? Well I’m going to presume it is for all the same reasons as the slightly off message and search-unfriendly websites, the out of date case studies and those other  irritating tasks that get sidelined in the face of real, revenue generating client work.

 

Except that all of these things are revenue generating. But because they don’t represent immediate chargeable time, we kid ourselves that we will do or delegate them later, and another month, or year passes by.

 

Meanwhile LinkedIn continues to evolve, providing an increasing number of options for you to keep your hard won network easily engaged.

 

Unsure where to start? Here is Gunpowder’s checklist for pimping up your profile:

 

  1. Start with your company profile. Is everyone in the team connected to the right company page? You’d be surprised how many senior agency managers are linked to an altogether different business, if this is the case it’s easy to update but embarrassing if left unchecked. I recently happened across two founders of a highly creative design studio who have both inadvertently linked to the page of an IT services company by the same name. The IT company branding is so far removed from the design company aesthetic that the any new connections would be seriously misled.
  2. Update the products/services tab of the company page. This will give you the opportunity to showcase particular disciplines and link directly to corresponding pages on your website, you can add videos, images and best of all, your clients can recommend those individual services either with a simple ‘tick’ or a written testimonial.
  3. Don’t forget the branding. Company pages now have a range of image upload areas which will allow you to keep your profile visually on brand. Use the edit button to explore the options and check out company page for POSSIBLE for an example of a well optimized agency page.
  4. Make sure the social panel on your website and/or email signatures include a link to your LinkedIn company page.
  5. Now look at your individual profile. Provide a personal summary
  6. Add a professional headline. This doesn’t need to be the same as your current job title but a more descriptive headline that will help you appear in relevant search results.
  7. Ensure that your description of your current role, chimes with the agency positioning. This is particularly relevant for established businesses who have evolved their proposition over time. Keep it current and joined up.
  8. Keep up to date with your connections. Don’t be shy about connecting with people after a first meeting. It is perfectly acceptable. Just remember to add personal message where you can.
  9. Lastly, give recommendations and endorsements. You’ll be surprised how many people will automatically return the favour.

 

Need help managing your agency marketing? Get in touch to find out how Gunpowder can help.

Show me the money (part three)

October 22nd, 2013

We all know the importance of credit checking clients, especially in the current economic climate. But at what stage should you do this?

 

Julie Fawcett from Heart Business Consultants gives us her advice:

 

Many companies wait until they have won the business and are about to sign the contract before checking the credit worthiness of the client. But what happens if the check shows them to be un-credit worthy? Would you ask for payment up front? Or turn down the business? What if the client is unwilling to pay up front? Wouldn’t it have been better to know all this at the start, before you had dedicated all that time to the pitch?

 

Wasted time is not the only consequence of this scenario. You may damage your company’s reputation by declining the work as the client will certainly feel like you wasted their time and now they have to either start the pitch process all over again or face an awkward conversation with their second choice about why they would now like to proceed with them.

 

And don’t forget the cost of lost opportunities. What work might you have won had your pitching efforts been focused elsewhere?

 

To prevent this from happening to you, introduce a credit check to your ‘to pitch or not to pitch’ criteria. It takes less than half an hour to do and it could save you a lot of heartache further down the line.