New business is one of those subjects guaranteed to get a reaction from agency owners everywhere. Many will have a nagging feeling they should be doing a bit more, wonder how other agencies manage to land the accounts they covet, have moments of wild inspiration and energy then falter because the day job just, well gets in the way.
Gunpowder’s Lucy Mann has worked in agency new business for over 25 years and has witnessed these scenarios, and many more like them, as an outsourced new business telemarketer, a new business recruitment consultant, in house new business developer, in house head of marketing, and new business mentor across multiple disciplines and agency shapes and sizes.
Regardless of size and discipline, many agencies encounter the same new business challenges, and more and more, the solution is not necessarily an ambitious marketing plan, or expensive sales resource, but instead a forensic application of process and a marginal gains approach to performance improvement.
Gunpowder’s podcast, Small Spark Theory® explores the small changes we can make to our sales and marketing process to achieve better new business results. With contributions from a range of experts, each episode will examine a single element of the process in detail, providing manageable tips for improvement.
Find our more about Gunpowder Consulting, please visit gunpowderconsulting.com
Follow us on Twitter @gunpowdertweets and join the conversation at #smallsparktheory
Music from Jukedeck - create your own at http://jukedeck.com.
Host - Lucy Mann
Producer - Isabelle Jarvis
Editor - Clair Urbahn
EP54: Overcoming adversity | Sarah Yeats | Sledge
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.
EP53: Understanding client context | Jennifer Crowley | Kin + Carta
In the discussions we’ve had on this podcast, and in the work I do with agencies, the theme of walking in a clients’ shoes has been a recurring one. From rethinking our messaging to talk to client needs rather than services, to our approach to prospecting and the way we build advocacy with our clients.
But aside from simply understanding the client / prospect business attributes – structure, revenue model, audience, product and service lines, what we really need to get a handle on is change. What’s shifting for them? Buyer behaviour? The competition? Regulation? Supply chains? What does the change mean for them? I’d argue that a key differentiator in the best performing agencies is having a process for staying ahead of these issues and having more informed conversations with clients, a commitment of time that our traditionally lean servicing models often overlook.
However, as we stand here in 2021 blinking into the sunshine after the dull shock of the past year, there is change that we cannot ignore. Every client business will have been affected on some level from the pandemic, meanwhile the issues of sustainability, climate, diversity and inclusion are rightfully gaining traction. To ignore these challenges as we work together with our clients is missing a vital opportunity.
Someone who has been leading the charge for such conversations is Jennifer Crowley, Client Partner and Digital Sustainability Lead at Kin+ Carta and BIMA 100 Class of 2021.
In this episode we explore the benefits on engaging on broader businesses challenges and understanding shared values, and how, with such wide reaching topics, we can find marginal gains to build better client relationships.
As always we’ll be giving away a copy of Jennifer’s recommended read – Greener Marketing by John Grant.
Also mentioned in this episode:
EP52: Bringing in expertise | Andrew Southcott | Captivate Group
It’s always a good day when someone gets in touch to pitch a podcast episode idea. Even better when that someone is a client.
Andrew Southcott is Managing Director at creative agency group Captivate. Andrew hired me last year to work with Captivate’s new business talent, a move that came as part of a wider initiative to bring in external expertise for advice, support or training on a range of themes across the business.
For me, this is a dream engagement. Mentoring up and coming new business talent is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, but I was interested to explore Andrew’s leadership approach – a growth mindset clearly focussed on development, improvement, and well…. marginal gains!
In this episode Andrew talks us through his experiences of the last year and how a range of experts and outsourced resource are adding value across the business. It’s a fascinating listen, jam packed with great insights and advice.
Breaking with convention, instead of a book recommendation, check out the YouTube channel Ashville Aggregates – for a example of entrepreneurship in action.
EP51: Raising your profile – part three | Ash Jones | Great Influence
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.
EP50: Raising your profile – part two | Laura Hannan | Pitch121
We’ve talked a lot on this podcast about LinkedIn over the years, and specifically the often untapped potential of Sales Navigator.
From the conversations I’ve had with my clients, I know that whilst consistent LinkedIn engagement can deliver fantastic results – for many, finding the time and focus required to create momentum can be a challenge.
Which is why I was intrigued by the service that Laura Hannan and her team at Pitch121 provide.
Laura joins me for the second episode in our mini-series exploring different techniques and resources to help raise your agency profile.
Listen in to hear a how the clever combination of tech, content and highly targeted Sales Navigator outreach is connecting agencies with their audiences, and a wealth of tips for elevating your own LinkedIn presence.
As always we’ll be giving away of Laura’s recommended read; Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers by Tim Hughes.
EP49: Raising your profile – part one | Sarah Paterson | CommsPeople
Many of the conversations I’ve been having with agencies over recent months have centred around marketing and new business resource.
This is good news. It shows that we are looking forward and taking positive action to create better, more sustainable agency marketing practices. In particular, the biggest shift I have seen is agencies recognising the need to prioritise profile building activity, and in turn realising that there is a gap in their existing team skillset to provide this.
Over the coming months I’m going to be focussing on the different ways we can look at building agency profiles and the varying shapes of resource available to help us do that.
To kick us off for this episode, I invited Sarah Paterson, co-founder of CommsPeople to join me in sharing the story of her lockdown start-up; providing flexible support from a talent pool of high calibre communications professionals.
This is an ideal solution for agencies with great ideas for connecting with prospects with relevant content, but find themselves too caught up in the day to business to make it happen.
If you need help defining your audience and content strategy then feel free to get in touch with me here or if you want to discuss a brief for support from the CommsPeople talent pool, you can reach Sarah here.
As always we are giving away a copy of Sarah’s recommended read: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – listen in and find out how to win.
And of course, if you have a new business or agency marketing question for us, or a top tip to share, please get in touch.
2021 Freelance trends
How to manage freelancers
Fantastic advice and brilliant insights.
A must listen for anyone working in agency New Business and Marketing!
The best agency growth podcast
Small Sparks Theory is essential listening for any agency looking to build consitent growth, win the right new business and make the most of their client relationships. Lucy's depth of knowledge and warmth provides a great platform to introduce a fantastic range of guests, both from agency and client side. I find myself referencing it constantly, and regularly dip back in for a second listen to many of the episodes. I really can't recommend it highly enough.
High quality business conversations
Fine range of interesting business issues discussed. Lucy uses her contacts and network to bring a wide range of knowledgeable people to share insights with the listeners. Very easy to listen to and follow. Good book recommendation too and Getting better all the time ! 2021