Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

EP57: How to lead an agency | Steve Parks | Convivio

October 4th, 2021

We’ve talked a lot about leadership on this podcast, and rightly so. Sustainable new business performance starts with a growth mindset and that has to come from the very top of an agency.

No matter how many people I speak with on the topic of agency leadership, every conversation brings a fresh perspective. And none more so than this conversation with Steve Parks of Convivio.

Earlier this year Steve and I were both named as “Inspiring People” in the BenchPress report from The Wow Company, something we were both so chuffed about that we reached out across the internet for a for a virtual high five. Our resulting conversation was so interesting that I knew I wanted to get Steve to chat on here.

In this episode we explore the wider role of agencies, high altitude leadership, the many hats of an agency leader and a window into the world of a private investigator!

Of course, we are giving away a copy of Steve’s recommended read: Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization by Niels Pflaeging, simply join in the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram using #smallsparktheory and we’ll pick a winner.

Further reading and listening:

What are agencies for? https://www.convivio.com/blog/what-are-agencies-for/

Too many hatshttps://www.convivio.com/blog/too-many-hats/

Your day at the tophttps://www.convivio.com/blog/your-day-at-the-top/

The Agency Radar Reporthttps://www.agencyradar.io/radar/

The Convivio Agency Leaders podcasthttps://www.convivio.com/podcast/

Bench Press Agency Inspiration Report

EP56: New business leadership | Claire Humphris | Iris

September 6th, 2021

Earlier this year, Claire Humphris was named CEO at Iris, the agency she co-founded with five other colleagues in 1999.

Iris now numbers over 1000 people across 17 offices worldwide. As agency breakaways go, it is a perfect case study. But of course, what interests me is the new business story. Claire has spent the past 7 years leading the agency’s global new business operations, driving growth across the network and winning some of the agency’s biggest integrated pitches.

In this episode we get together to discuss new business leadership and culture, the importance of the marketing calendar, marginal gains and making your own luck.

As we shape up for the final marketing and new business push of the year and begin planning for 2022, this is just the inspiration you need.

As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Claire’s recommended read, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight listen in to find out how to win. 

EP55: How to scale at speed | Felix Velarde | 2Y3X

August 9th, 2021


In 2017 I interviewed Felix Velarde for this podcast to discuss agency growth planning. It was our 4th episode.

Lots of people got in touch to talk about that episode and the way Felix delivered such a calm, pragmatic approach to a subject that frustrates so many agency owners. How do you grow, and just as importantly, how do you sustain that growth?

Later that year, Felix mentioned over lunch that he’d been approached by an agent who had heard the podcast, and suggested he write a book about the process. Fast forward to 2021 and I’m delighted that Felix is back to discuss that very book: Scale at Speed: How to Triple the Size of Your Business and Build a Superstar Team.

This book is such an invigorating read, whether or not you are in a position to take on the full 2Y3X programme that Felix and his team deliver, it is full to the brim of practical tools and advice to motivate anyone to switch up their growth plans.

We always do a book giveaway with each episode but Felix has kindly agreed to donate 10 signed copies to listeners. Simply listen in to find out how to win.

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.