How to grow a creative business? Art of New Business London event Nov 25th

27 Oct

You are invited to join The Art of New Business for an all-star line-up in London at BL_NK on the evening of Nov 25th. The event is sponsored by our friends at training company The Amber Group.


Nov 25th, 6.30 -11pm
BL_NK, 37 East Road, London N1 6AZ
£50 + VAT

Buy your ticket here

To say we’re excited to have such an incredible line-up of speakers would be an understatement. Bring all your friends. The content of these talks will interest anyone working at a creative agency.

Our speakers are:

Ian Millner, joint global CEO and founder of Iris Worldwide

In 1999, Ian got together with some friends with the ambition of creating a global marketing agency that did extraordinary things and that could be a real alternative to the advertising-led ‘super groups’. Today Iris Worldwide have over 20 offices around the world. We think it’s fair to say he’s achieved his goal!

Andrew Stephens, founding partner at Goodstuff Communications

“The little agency with a big heart keeps on punching well above its weight and made a strong case for why, it should retain its crown of Media Agency of the Year, sending in the best submission of any media shop”
Campaign Magazine, School Report, 2013

Laurence Green, founding partner of 101 London

Laurence co-founded 101 in January 2011. One of the industry’s most respected planners, he was previously co-founder and chairman of Fallon London, twice named ‘Agency of the Year’.

Laura Jordan Bambach, creative partner at Mr President & D&AD president

It’s not as easy as we’d like to find a woman at the helm of a successful creative business, but when it comes to Laura, often described as a ‘digital female icon’, you get about 10 women for the price of one. In addition to her work at Mr President (“the most kick-ass integrated agency in London”), Laura is D&AD President and co-founder of SheSays.

Wesley Ter Haar, founder of MediaMonks

If you’ve been to Cannes’ advertising festival, there’s a good chance you’ve been to the MediaMonks party. Wesley founded MediaMonks in 2001. His aim, “to wage war on a mediocre digital industry”. He’s worked tirelessly (and done an amazing job) of growing the company into its current (but apparently not yet final) form.

Agenda for the night

6.30 – 7.00pm drinks, nibbles and networking
7.00 – 7.05 hello from Karla Morales-Lee, co-founder of The Art of New Business
7.05 – 9.05 agency growth stories
9.05 – 9.45 Q&A
9.45 – 11pm More drinks, and a little dance around if you’re so inclined

Introducing our sponsor, The Amber Group

The Amber Group specialises in training, coaching, HR and agency development services. They offer modular-training sessions grouped around the needs of early entrants, managers and leaders working within an agency. Their clients include Ketchum, Freud Communications, 3 Monkeys, Ledger Bennet and Volume.
As former agency consultants, they have first-hand experience of agency and people challenges. They believe in interactive and practical learning, delivered in half-day sessions to fit in perfectly with your busy agency life.  
For more information on their services visit

Back from maternity leave

30 Jul

Hello all!

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. As you may already know, I’ve been on maternity leave, but, being as ambitious as I am, I haven’t been able to do nothing, so over the last few months, and coinciding with my mother moving near us (thanks Mum!), I’ve been dipping my feet back into the ‘new business water’.

From the start of September my maternity leave officially ends (I realise I’m totally reinventing what maternity leave means here!) and I’m excited about what the future holds.

As an update, over the last couple of months I’ve been:

- hosting our last Art of New Business event at Karmarama

Winning new business event

Speakers at our last Art of New Business event at Karmarama in London included Richard Robinson from Oystercatchers, Natalie Mead from OMD, Neil Costello from Aviva and Patrick Jubb from Jaguar Land Rover.











- organising our next London new business masterclass that will be happening on August 18th with leading growth expert Kevin Duncan

- running some ‘winning with difference’ workshops that help agencies uncover their difference and create a growth plan that feeds from a reworked winning positioning

“We wanted to grow our business faster but were unsure where to best focus our efforts. In just two intensive sessions Karla asked us the tough questions, checked our responses against what our customers thought, shook us up and focused us with clear suggestions and direction. Hours after our second session was over, we had a business development and marketing plan in place and were getting it done.”
Paul Smith, Director at the Amber Group.

- working with AfroditiKrassa to reposition their business, redesign their website and drive creative initiatives that attract the right clients to Afroditi’s business

Designer Afroditi Krassa

Afroditi Krassa is a designer specialising in interior design. We worked with Afroditi to identify her difference as creating ‘category-defining design’; such as the creation of itsu and Dishoom.

- giving a talk at Shoreditch House for a She Says event organised by Emma Sexton, founder of Make Your Words Work, on ‘the art and science of pitching’. The presentation I gave at the start of July has been viewed nearly 500 times on Slideshare

- redesigning my website (which should be live at the beginning of Sept)

- oh, and I went to Cannes for Cannes Lions…strictly business of course!

Cannes, Cannes Lions, party at Havas Cafe









A good friend of mine Helen Weisinger recently said to me that, “if you want something doing, ask a busy person”. That’s me!

And for those of you who love a baby pic….this is a photo of Grace, now nearly 11 months old. She’s awesome.

Details of next new business event for agency business developers on April 28th in London

10 Apr

At The Art of New Business our focus is on finding new ways of winning new business, and giving support and advice to business developers. We run events in London, Manchester and Bournemouth for new business executives, managers and directors working in the creative sector. For each event we select speakers and panelists who can inspire our network to think differently about what they do and how to do it.
Our events are held in great venues, and we supply light snacks and a cash bar so our guests can enjoy the evening without a rumbling tummy or dry mouth.

April 28th, 2014
6.30pm – 10.00pm
Only 80 tickets available!

Karmarama, 20 Farringdon Road, London, EC1M 3HE
Tickets £65 + VAT

The role of winning new business can be high-pressured and lonely. Adding to our normal line-up of amazing speakers and panelists, we’ve decided to introduce a new concept to the networking part of our evenings.
Our aim is to help you meet your peers, people who can empathise with your challenges, as well as to put you in contact with senior business developers who can offer guidance from a different perspective. More details below.

6.30 – 7.10pm: Networking, drinks and nibbles
7.10 – 7.15pm: Welcome from Karla Morales-Lee, co-founder of The Art of New Business
7.15 – 7.45pm: Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers, ‘What Clients REALLY Want’
7.45 – 8.15pm: Natalie Mead, Managing Partner – New Business and Marketing at OMD UK, ‘How to win a pitch using NLP techniques’
8.15 – 9.00pm: Panel discussion: your chance to ask a panel of experts questions on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to winning new business. In addition to our speakers, panelists at this event will include Neil Costello, Head of Marketing at Aviva, Patrick Jubb, Global marketing director at Jaguar Land Rover and Mark Clark, Partner at new business consultancy JFDI.
9.00 – 10.00pm: Networking

Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers
What do Clients really want from an agency?
Strategic leadership, creative excellence and operational discipline are usually top of the list, but in an increasingly complex agency landscape is this enough? How much time & energy should you put into understanding your client and your client’s business and is this really relevant in winning or retaining a piece of business in the face of shrinking margins and higher expectations?

About Richard
Richard is managing partner of Oystercatchers, the industry-leading management consultants specialising in high performance partnerships between brands and their agencies.
Richard has worked internationally with The Coca-Cola Company, domestically with McDonald’s restaurants heading adult and family marketing, and before Oystercatchers with Publicis Worldwide where he tripled the size of the agency’s P&G business in EMEA whilst leading Publicis Groupe’s African expansion in parallel. In addition Richard has worked for Carlson Marketing Group, and gained extensive brand experience including Scottish Courage, Scottish & Newcastle Retail, PepsiCo, Britvic Soft Drinks, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Hotpoint and Orange.
Away from work Richard is the resident brand expert for Channel 5 News, a director and trustee of The Ideas Foundation and a regular commentator in the media. Richard is a chartered marketer, fellow of both The Royal Society of Arts and The Royal Geographical Society, a business leader of The Marketing Society and has previously been a board member of both the European Association of Communication Agencies and the International Agencies Council.
When time allows Richard is a remarkably slow marathon runner (London, Edinburgh and Tresco) and in 2012 created the highly-acclaimed Mount Everest expedition to fulfil ‘The Olympic Games Pledge’ for Great Britain as part of the London 2012 Olympics.

Natalie Mead – Managing Partner – New Business and Marketing OMD UK
How to win a pitch using NLP techniques
Agencies know how to engage with their clients logically in a pitch, but how many of them really understand how to engage their clients emotionally as well? Using three magic letters – NLP – Natalie will help you explore how to create an emotional advantage at pitch critical times.

About Natalie
An agency’s brand is its voice. Natalie leads and develops both the new business and marketing functions of OMD UK, overseeing the ways in which the agency communicates its brand, products and services to clients, media partners and the wider industry.
Natalie’s experience spans both client and agency side, specialising in the technology sector. Having worked at MSN, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts, Natalie has spent considerable time working with industry-leading brands in a constantly evolving marketplace. Her previous agency roles at i-level, Carat and Manning Gottlieb OMD have all contributed to Natalie’s expertise in the new business and marketing sphere, and she brings this vital experience to the OMD UK team.
As a qualified NLP practitioner, cognitive hypnotherapist and coach Natalie is passionate about using these skills to ensure people realise and release their true and full potential both personally and professionally.

Support networking
When you arrive out our event you will be given a name badge and a sticker. That sticker will be one of four colours.

Yellow – executive level
Blue – manager level
Green – director level
Red – group/board-level

During 6.30 – 7.00pm and 9.00 – 10.00pm we encourage you to do three things;

1. Find someone with the same colour sticker as you and discuss the following topic,

“My biggest challenge in my current role is….”

2. Find someone with a colour sticker working at a level above you and ask the following topic,

“Based on your experience, what piece of advice would you give someone working at my level?”

3. Let us in on the conversation and win a free pass to our 2014 evening events in London.

In the room will be a big broken heart with ‘love’ written on one side and ‘hate’ on the other. Pick up a card and write a thought from your conversation and attach it to one of the sides depending on whether or not the insight on the new business role & process was positive or negative.
We’ll be putting the cards in a hat and giving a free pass to our 2014 London events to whoever we pull out, so don’t forget to write your name on the note!

Recommended event: IPA/ISBA Good Pitch Week, London, Nov 2013

29 Oct

Clients are from Mars, Agencies are from Venus

Discover the most effective ways to market your agency to prospective clients at this event hosted by The Art of New Business (TAONB), a business I co-founded with Sarah Bradley in 2012. The event is part of The Good Pitch Week.

Over 60% of participants in TAONB’s recent client survey said they are bombarded so frequently by agencies trying to sell themselves that it impedes their daily work. As one client put it: “if that’s the way they market themselves, how can I trust them to market my business?”

TAONB exists to re-educate agencies on a better way of marketing themselves and prospecting for new business.

My business partner Sarah Bradley will share full results from the client survey and a global agency survey which asked respondents which new business tactics work best and where most of their new business opportunities come from.

The panel, made up of Richard Robinson, Managing Partner, Oystercatchers; Zaid Al-Qassab, Managing Director, P&G Beauty and Media Guru at Movember; and Emma Harris, former Director of Sales and Marketing, Eurostar will then discuss the best way for agencies to get on a client’s radar and audience members will have the chance to join the debate.

This event is part of Good Pitch Week, a series of events organised by the IPA and ISBA for clients and agencies. Good Pitch Week will examine and encourage good pitch practices and inject new thinking into The Good Pitch initiative.

This event will be held at the IPA, and will take place from 6pm-9pm. Tickets cost £45. If you are an ISBA member, please contact them to book your ticket.

Book your ticket here.

Advice on how to win new business, London event Sept 17th

9 Sep

This event is a rare opportunity to gain insight and inspiration on how to win new business from a leading author, client and new business experts.

The Art of New Business represents  ’challenger thinking’ in the field of agency new business. We believe new business is an art, not a numbers game.

Watch our two minute event trailer here


17TH SEPT 2013

6.30 – 10PM

(Talks will be given between 19.00 – 21:00 pm with networking before and after).
Buy tickets:


Thanks to our sponsor Jimmy’s Iced Coffee who will be serving yummy White Russian cocktails to guests on arrival! Our famous pork pies will also be served along with other snacks to balance out the drink.

6.30pm – 7pm: drinks, food & networking
7.00pm – 7.05pm: welcome from Sarah Bradley
7.05pm – 7.35pm: David Kean, The Caffeine Partnership
7.35pm – 7.40pm: Sarah introduces Pecha Kucha session
7.40pm – 7.50pm: Vince Medeiros, co-founder, The Church of London
7.50pm – 8.00pm: Rob Morrice, CEO of Stein IAS
8.00pm – 8.10pm: Matt Rice, co-founder of Sennep
8.10pm – 8.20pm: Ben Callis, Creative Director of Sapient Nitro
8.20pm – 8.30pm: Ben Tallon, Ben Tallon Illustration
8.30pm – 9.00pm: Panel discussion
  • Daryl Fielding, Brand Director, Vodafone UK
  • Charlie Carpenter, MD, Creative Brief
  • Debbie Morrison, Director, ISBA
  • Helen Kensett, Founder, Convince UK
  • Sarah Bradley, Co-founder, TAONB

9.30pm – 10.30pm: Networking



A diagnosis from the Pitch Doctor – what it takes to win pitches today.
David Kean, Co-Founder of The Caffeine Partnership

David is acknowledged as one of the world’s most authoritative business development practitioners. He has worked with agencies & professional service companies to help win some of the biggest pitches of the past few years including, UPS, Cisco, Audi, International Hotels Group and Citizens Bank. He’ll share insights into what makes a winning pitch, how not to miss signals from clients, the role of creativity & theatre and what it takes to deserve victory.


The rules of Pecha Kucha is that each speaker is only allowed 20 slides and that each slide changes automatically every 20 seconds!

The theme of the session is “creative selling – ideas for getting noticed”.

At TAONB we like to showcase people and businesses who raise awareness of what they do as a result of applying a strategic and creative approach to winning new business.

Clients feel bombarded by agencies selling their wares to them over the phone, email and across social media, so when an individual or agency takes the time to understand their needs and connect with them in bespoke ways they can really stand out from the crowd.


Building a brand strategy for your agency

16 Jul

The Agency as a brand

Your agency needs a brand to meaningfully differentiate itself in the market – does it have one?

It’s July, which means it’s nearly September, the time of year when agencies start to think about their new business plan for the year ahead.

I’ve seen quite a few new business plans in my time, so I can pretty much guess word for word what yours will include. More than likely you’ll start with an outline framework that looks something like:

1. Financial objectives
2. Target clients
3. Marketing strategy
4. Timings and budget

In section three, you’ll probably include things like:

“We will focus on getting more Twitter followers”
“We will attend industry events”
“We will create a bi-monthly newsletter telling our clients about the projects we have worked on”
“We will enter awards”

The problem is, 99% of new business plans are identical from one agency to the next. What gets you in front of clients is different to what helps you win the business.

Let me ask you a question. Have you written your brand strategy for the next five years? If you haven’t, your new business plan is useless.

Over the last two and a half years I have been hired by a number of UK agencies to facilitate workshops that inspire their new business strategy. As an opener to those workshops, I present five or so examples of agencies who have reached ‘brand status’ and what I believe to be the hidden secrets of their success in doing so. Agencies brands have a purpose, principles and positioning that never change over time, even though their tactics and products do.

Sound simple? It isn’t. Building a brand is a long-term, ongoing commitment.

Let’s take Interbrand as an example.


“We want to be the agency that convinces companies to see brands as valuable business assets (rather than just logos)”


1/ Change the dialogue
2/ Redefine the meaning of brand management
3/ Lead the debate on understanding brands as valuable assets


Best global brand studies
Branding studies
Papers & articles


Founded 1974
In 2012 Interbrand stated it had 42 offices in 28 countries around the world

How can you start?

Firstly, conduct an analysis of your brand and the market, or even better, hire someone who can bring an outside perspective (just as client’s hire branding agencies). Secondly, allocate a brand development budget to fund brand building initiatives that are going to grow your business and your agency’s brand now and in the future.

A look back at the last six months of The Art of New Business events

22 Mar

The new business process is at a tipping point

On April the 18th we will host our fifth Art of New Business event at LBi’s offices in Shoreditch. As April will mark six months since our first event, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our journey and recount what motivated Sarah Bradley and I to set up The Art of New Business, an organisation that represents challenger thinking in the field of agency new business.

Before Sarah and I met for the first time at the Hilton Hotel at London Euston in November 2011 we both knew we shared something in common. We had read each other’s blog posts, followed each other on Twitter and read each other’s LinkedIn profiles. No one had introduced us or suggested that we should meet; we had found each other based on a shared passion, attitude and way of thinking.

We both firmly believed that the way agencies went about prospecting for new business was alienating the very clients they wanted to engage with, and as a result, an industry that was valued on the basis of its ability to help brands using its marketing and creative expertise was essentially digging its own grave.

More times than we cared to admit in our personal careers we had witnessed management at agencies pitch a big innovative idea to its clients in the morning, only to sit through an internal new business meeting in the afternoon where topics like cold calling to make meeting appointments were being discussed and approved. It seemed to us that agencies weren’t applying the advice they were giving their clients to their own marketing.

When we would question it, people would laugh and say “cobblers shoes syndrome” it’s just something “that happens in agency life”. As if that’s how it’s always been and so it will always be.

Given a brief from a client to attract more customers for their brand how many agencies would present that pitch, “we think you should buy an untargeted list of people and then cold call as many of them as you can, asking them if they want to buy your product? Or failing that, send them a mailer with a picture of your product on it with your company’s telephone number on it so they can call you”?

The answer, of course, is none I hope(!), so why do so many agencies fall into the trap of marketing themselves this way? This was just one of many questions we wanted to address.

One thing we knew no one in our industry would ever disagree on is that new business is the life blood of an agency. With over 17,000 agencies in the UK alone, each with at least one person responsible for bringing in new business, we were convinced there had to be audience open to discussing how to do new business better.

The Art of New Business was born.

Our strategy was pretty straight forward. Our aim was to:

1) Bring new business people together so they could share what they thought and felt about the role and the way they were expected to do it.

2) Find out who out there was doing things better and different and ask them to share their knowledge.

3) Ask clients for their thought on the way agencies prospected and pitched to them so we could build a case for change.

In the first instance, the best way to do this seemed to be to create a series of events in the UK for anyone charged with bringing in new business for their agency. To date we’ve held two events in Manchester and two in London with our third London event scheduled for April. We took the decision from the start that we’d share whatever learnings we took from the events using Twitter and Facebook as well as blogging and creating a community group on LinkedIn.

Even though we thought that The Art of New Business was addressing a definite need in the market (and we haven’t even mentioned the lack of focus on training, development and support for those tasked with bringing in new business for their agency), we are utterly overwhelmed by the number of new business people who have emailed and called to thank us for setting the events up, indeed, a number of high-profile new business directors in the UK and overseas have contacted us to congratulate us on starting a conversation that should have probably started quite some time ago. Your encouragement and support fuels what we are doing no end.

In addition, we could not have predicted how many authors, new business experts and industry leaders would willingly give up their evening to stand in front of the audience and share their knowledge and insight for free, their only motivation being to inspire others. A particular favourite of ours so far were the fantastic presentations on our Pecha Kucha night, videos of which can be seen here.

Lastly though, and probably the biggest surprise of all, has been the request for involvement that we have received from client-side marketers. The stories they’ve told us are of sometimes shockingly bad agency approaches, but horrible as these stories are, they serve to motivate and drive us on, because they support what Sarah and I already knew when we set out this journey – new business is at a tipping point. 10 years from now the way clients find and select agencies will have changed radically. In fact, it’s already changing.

If you want to find out how and what to do about it, sign up to be a friend of TAONB on our website and come along to our next event in London or Manchester.

Guest post: Agencies as Curators, Not Just Creators. By Tim Williams, Ignition Consulting Group.

7 Jan

It’s time for agencies to understand their new role not just as local staff managers, but as worldwide talent managers.

In the pre-Internet economy, talent and resources clustered around companies that hired and cultivated people who provided a particular class of services. Professional service companies, including advertising agencies, are a classic example. Agencies have historically been hired to provide “creative services” for marketers.

But because the internet has enabled creatively-talented people around the world to contribute ideas – solicited or not – to an exceptionally wide range of problems, from science to business, there’s a new dynamic at play in the world of marketing communications firms. Crowdsourcing – using the internet to solicit the thoughts and work of talented people around the word – has become a valuable new source of ideas and problem solving for companies ranging from software developers to manufacturers.

Not just creation, but co-creation

Several popular websites are successfully engaging the power of distributed creativity on behalf of some big-name marketers. Crowdspring, GeniusRocket, and 99 Designs generate tens of thousands of submissions from hundreds of thousands of both amateur and professional designers, art directors, and writers from around the world.

Crowdsourcing allows – indeed, encourages – marketers to bypass agencies altogether. But agencies need not stand by and regard this phenomenon only as a threat. By embracing the ability of the world wide web to solicit and deliver creative ideas from across the globe, agencies can stop defending their position as the exclusive creators of content and also adopt a role as curators.

An agency curating the best content on behalf of its clients is like a museum curating the best art on behalf of its patrons. While some museums and galleries have exclusive relationships with selected artists, they also curate the work of other artists. These are not mutually-exclusive ideas.

Unconventional “agencies” like Victors & Spoils – built on the crowdsourcing model — have been in the news lately for securing some important assignments from some notable brands (such as the iconic Harley-Davidson). The business model of firms like V&S is built on what they call “mass collaboration,” and its redefining the way “creative” gets done in the 21st century.

Not just crowds, but experts

Related to the concept of crowdsourcing is “expert-sourcing,” where only professional talent is employed on behalf of the marketer, as modeled by innovative firms like Ideasicle. Founder Will Burns describes their approach this way:

“We have assembled an award-winning team of Ideation Experts from tier one agencies and clients around the world to ideate around your business need. We can give you access to this because of a custom-built, proprietary technology platform that makes it incredibly easy for the Experts to absorb the video briefing, post ideas in time-deferred ways and then riff off, and build upon, each other’s ideas. It’s not crowd sourcing, its expert sourcing.”

Given the options for creative development that transcend the agency’s own creative department, agencies really have three basic choices when it comes to content creation:

An organization called The Future Foundation was commissioned by the IPA to study the future of advertising agencies. In a fascinating report titled “The Future of Advertising and Agencies – a 10-Year Perspective,” one of the predictions is that agencies will become “content collaborators,” not just content producers. Citing this as one of the important dimensions of agency evolution, the report observes:

“If agencies don’t take these opportunities there will be tremendous implications in terms of their relationships with clients, their remuneration packages and their very existence.”

The point is that marketers will crowdsource and expert-source whether agencies do or not. Much better to be ahead of this curve than behind it.

Tim Williams leads Ignition Consulting Group and is author of the books “Take a Stand for Your Brand” and “Positioning for Professionals.”

Update from Hunter & Farmer

31 Oct

Can you describe your agency in two words? Are you reaching out to potential clients in new and exciting ways?

We’ve recently repositioned creative agency We Are Acuity as ‘frontline marketeers’. We helped them to see that at their core what they do best is help national brands sell more through their sales outlets or franchise network.

Together we’ve redesigned their website, begun to build a social media profile, hired an SEO specialist and created a quarterly publication called Frontline Thinking, a book that contains insight and interviews on how to increase sales and retention by optimising a brand’s frontline communication.

We’re also bringing together friends and suppliers of the business on a regular basis in order to let their network know they are valued and to facilitate networking for their contact’s businesses.

Your network directly impacts your success. The more you help them, the more they will want to help you.

When we’d defined the new positioning we reached out to two target clients in order to test it. One was a major high-street retailer and the other a well known automotive manufacturer. We got meetings with both of them.

Of course a meeting does not a relationship make, so we’ll be working together to build those first contacts and the others we make into ongoing relationships.

We’ll be tweeting, sending out DM, networking, entering awards – the whole shebang! That’s what it takes nowadays. There are no shortcuts to growth.

We’re actively targeting automotive companies (they’ve been brand guardians to Citroën UK for the last 12 years), so if you’re involved in that sector, you might like to check out their website: or follow @weareacuity. They’re LOVELY people to work with.

What else are we up to?

Coming soon, a gallery space at 1 Baltic Place just over the bridge on the canal of Kingsland Road. We’re helping the massively creative Accept & Proceed turn their office into a showcase area for collaborations :)

Do you work client-side looking after design? Why not join nearly 300 other design-heads in the discussion around meaning-centered design by joining a LinkedIn group we set up of the same name. MCD is the name of the approach our client Precipice Design are pioneering. Their best case-study to date came from a client finding out about them as a result of joining this group. We’ve been working with them for nearly two years and have introduced them to many, many brands.

Next months we’re doing workshops with Everyone Associates and 101 London. Exciting!

For those of you who missed our first Art of New Business event on the evening of October 10th you can read a review of it from Campaign here. To attend the next one in London on Jan 17th, email expressing your interest. If you’re based up North, there is an Art of New Business event in Manchester on the evening of November 27th which you can buy tickets to now here.

New business doesn’t have to be boring. It should identify your assets and bring them to life.

We believe in the power of ideas. New business is an art, not a numbers game.

If you need someone to help you find your difference, get in touch to discuss how we can work together!

What is the art of new business?

17 Oct

The Art of New Business

New business is an art, not a numbers game.

Many people say, “new business, it’s not rocket science!”. Actually, Business development is a lot harder than it used to be. More on why here.

The truth is, most agencies do exactly the same thing and aren’t meaningfully differentiated from one another; they haven’t spent anytime at all outlining what they want to achieve and how they’re going to achieve it. That’s a big opportunity for the agencies that take a different approach.

Content is king and marketing is moving from outbound to inbound. These changes affect agencies as much as brands.

My belief is that new business isn’t a numbers game. It’s an art.

The numbers game strategy:

Cold-call at least 500 decision-makers in a week in the hope of getting some meetings.
Send regular blanket untargeted emails and direct mail.

The reality of that strategy:

Cold-calling certainly gives you a chance of getting some meetings but, if we consider that thousands of agencies are taking the same approach, you have to feel sorry for the marketing director’s PA who has to field those calls on the other end.

Research into prospecting practice carried out by Acquire reveals that of the seventy client-side marketing professionals interviewed, 70% were sceptical of cold telephone approaches, with a further 21% expressing a positively hostile attitude.

Phil Rumbol, ex- marketing director at Cadbury’s said  at the recent Art of New Business event in London that 90% of DM he received was un-targered, uninspiring and went in the bin.

You don’t need meetings, you need new business. There’s a difference.

What is the art?

It’s marketing, not selling! Marketing being the creation of demand, selling being the converting of that demand. Far too much of how agencies do new business falls into the ‘selling’ camp.

Marketing 1o1:

1. Set a goal (make it a big, hairy, audacious one)
2. Define a strategy
3. Decide on the actions you are going to take (your tactics)

A clear direction is vital.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, how can you decide how to get there?
If your customers don’t know what you stand for, how will they decide if you are right for them?

Knowing what makes you not necessarily different but definitely better is absolutely crucial to increasing the amount of high-value new business you can win (and decreasing the amount of effort and time it takes you to find and win it). If you know what you do (and more importantly what you don’t do), you can start to build a clear profile of your ideal client.

Once you have narrowly defined who your target audience is you can start to define a way of describing yourself that fits with the needs and desires of that audience; you can start to see potential ways to market yourselves to them, such as what events to attend that they will be at and the type of blog posts to write that they would want to read. For many of my clients, we design our own events around their core expertise.

If you have a clearly defined value proposition, you have the makings of what I call “The Internal Agency Brief”. This is a brief that the whole agency works together to respond to, it states who you are targeting, what the objectives of the brief are and the brand personality & expertise you need to bring to life. The brief is put together in response to an audit that I conduct for my clients consisting of internal and external interviews based upon key questions. These interviews ensure all stakeholders contribute to an articulation of the agency’s brand proposition. After all, new business is a culture. The more people behind the cause the better.

Once the tactics are brainstormed and agreed in response to the brief I work with my clients to manage the plan to ensure momentum continues. I proactively make the connections needed to get where they want go. Who those are depends on the goal!

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