Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Introducing the Small Spark Theory Institute

November 4th, 2019

Over the last three years we have received so much wonderful feedback from Small Spark Theory listeners, telling us how they have been putting the advice from the podcast into practice and seeing marginal gains improvements in new business performance. 

In response to this, we have created the Small Spark Theory Institute, providing mentored, online new business and marketing courses. 

Our first course – a New Business & Marketing Bootcamp, is designed specifically for founders of 2-10 person agencies, who want to build workable strategies and plans whilst optimising their results. Over 60 individual lessons and 4 x one-to-one video calls with me, Lucy Mann, we guide participants through setting objectives and a strategy, creating a workable plan, then optimising performance. 

Check out the course dates at and take advantage of special 15% discount for enrolments before 31st December by using the code PODCAST at the checkout. 

EP24: The new business email | Kimi Gilbert | The Future Factory

January 7th, 2019

Dear prospect, my name is Lucy, I’m writing to introduce…….


And so it goes, the new business email, putting the fear into agency folk across the land.


It’s no surprise. For many people, selling isn’t something that comes naturally. And trying to sell yourself, or your agency, in a blank email window while the cursor blinks impatiently back at you, is no mean feat. In my experience, many best laid plans to contact a painstakingly researched list of prospects stall at this point, or we manage to email a few, wring our hands, get no response, swear a bit and then give up.


Sound familiar? Then this episode is for you. Kimi Gilbert is Director of Training & Development at new business agency The Future Factory and trains her team, and agencies of all disciplines, in the art of writing new business emails that work.


Kimi joins me to share her top tips for getting email cut-through, based on years of data and client feedback. If you’re looking for a way to make marginal gains into your new business performance then this is the perfect place to start.


As always we have a competition for you, we’ll be giving away a copy of Kimi’s recommended book: You Are a Message: Meditations for the Creative Entrepreneur by Guillaume Wolf  – simply listen in to find out how to win.


The next Winning New Business via Email course takes place in March, places are limited but you can find out more information or book tickets here.


EP3: Communication and Presentation Skills | Catherine Allison | Master The Art

March 6th, 2017

Sound the new business klaxon! You’ve got an opportunity to meet the prospect of your dreams.

That first meeting, the pitch, the first strategy or creative presentation with any new prospect or client is a huge opportunity to dazzle, yet this last precarious mile of securing the business can so often be derailed by nerves, lack of preparation or simply lack of experience.

How do you become an engaging presenter? How can you get rid of pre-pitch nerves? How can you make the very best first impression?

In this month’s podcast I’ll be exploring how we can make marginal gains with our communication and presentation skills with new business supremo and former actress Catherine Allison, founder of Master the Art.

You can also be in with a chance to win a copy of Catherine’s recommended book: Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority by Caroline Goyder

You can find out more about Master the Art via the below links: @mastertheartltd

Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory

Have you got the X Factor?

November 13th, 2014

As we hit the midway point in another season of warbling wannabes, with Simon Cowell’s shirts unbuttoned to an all time low and the first ‘shock exit’ already in the bag, I’ve been pondering the motivations of our nation of viewers.


What makes us pick up the phone and vote for one talent over another? History shows us the best voices often bounce out of the process whereas the comedic, or those with ‘a story’ stick around for a lot longer. Vanilla just doesn’t cut it.


And what does this have to do with agencies? Well quite a lot as it happens.


The choices we make in business are more emotional than we think. And for clients, where cost, strategy and creativity are equal; it is personalities, relationships and the ‘experience’ that can make the difference between hiring, retaining or referring one agency over another.


If, like most of the agencies I meet, the vast majority of your business comes from referrals you are in good shape. Clearly this means there are some clients and other people in your network who are advocates. They get you. They have made a connection with you that sets you apart from the competition. Their experience of working with you has been positive. They trust you to deliver. Moreover, they know that if they recommend you to someone else, you’ll make them look good by association.


Yet what’s interesting to me is that many agencies do nothing to actively promote referrals. There are no systems in place, little management of client data, not much in the way of account development planning and rarely any process for measurement of client satisfaction. Interesting because 10% more effort here has the potential to deliver far greater returns than 10% more effort in cold new business hunting.


So, if you’ve been pretty good at getting referrals but need more business, think about your X Factor. Find out what it is about the experience of working with you that clients like, the emotional stuff, and do more of it.


My DBA workshop: “Turning Clients into Advocates” takes place on November 24th.


Bespoke Client Satisfaction Programs and Account Development Skills Workshops are available, see me for more information.

Sweaty palms, racing heart, a fear of looking stupid?

October 15th, 2014

For many the thought of presenting, whether in a pitch, a client status meeting or an internal meeting, brings them out in a cold sweat.  And we’ve all sat through sessions where the presenter reads from a script or mumbles through lines on a PowerPoint, which does little to engage the audience nor to sell themselves or their work.


Given that the way we present can hugely influence people’s impression of us both as individuals and as a company, it’s a wonder we don’t spend more time perfecting our personal presentation skills. Individuals and teams that are able to deliver relaxed, well-structured, logical and powerful presentations always stand out from the crowd, meaning that having skilled presenters as part of your armoury can give your company that all-important new business edge.


The good news is that whether you’re a presenting novice or a more seasoned presenter, there are a range of techniques you can use to help you overcome your nerves, slow down your breathing and avoid the fear of ‘standing up in front of people’, enabling you to consistently deliver powerful and effective presentations.


Preparing yourself physically, vocally and mentally, allowing sufficient time for thorough rehearsals and using notes that allow for flexibility rather than reading from a rigid script, will all help in delivering a stand out performance that will benefit both you and your business.


Trained actress and new biz supremo Catherine Allison works with Gunpowder to offer bite-size sessions, half day and full day workshops to help individuals and agency teams perfect their presentation skills for client-facing meetings, pitches and beyond.


Get in touch here for more information. That wobbly pitch voice will be a thing of the past before you know it.

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.


The New Business Equation

July 5th, 2014

Finding the formula for continued new business success can feel like chasing the Holy Grail. A winning streak can so often be followed by a dwindling pipeline, or even worse, an unexpected dip in client revenue. The peaks and troughs seem impossible to avoid, and losing pitches is costly and bad for morale.


Meanwhile advances in digital technology have opened up a world of opportunity for agency marketing and new business, yet the ever increasing choice of tools can be overwhelming, time consuming and counterproductive if used inefficiently.


How can you market your agency effectively, build a pipeline and maintain momentum? How can you keep on winning?


I will be exploring the formula for achieving sustained new business success at a breakfast event exclusively for DBA members on Tuesday 22nd July.  For more details and booking information click here.

The Client/Agency relationship stripped bare

June 26th, 2014

How do you measure your relationships with your clients?


At this year’s Cannes Lions, Tim Leake from RPA presented the findings from his research conducted in association with USA Today. The results make interesting, but not wholly surprising reading. For example – 90% of Agencies believe they understand their Clients businesses but only 65% of Clients believe this to be true.


As Tim points out, “considering we’re communication companies, we suck at communication” The full presentation is here and well worth a five minute read.


Considering that almost every agency, when asked, will cite client referrals as their main source of new business revenue, surely delighting clients, thereby maximising the potential for those prized referrals and safeguarding forecast revenue, should be a priority. But simply assuming clients are happy isn’t good enough. Asking them outright how you are performing, how you could do better and measuring your performance, is brave but necessary if you want to grow.


Gunpowder provides bespoke client satisfaction programmes for agencies who want to get closer to their clients. To find out more get in touch with Lucy Mann.