Perfecting your Pitch

Pitching is the lifeblood of the agency world, however, it can be challenging and takes a lot of hard work to get right. For most agencies, there is always room for improvement, whether it’s working out the right opportunities to go for, developing your pitch, or improving your conversion rate.

Taking place on Wednesday 20th November in London, Pitch Perfect is the annual conference produced by The Drum which will arm you with a new business plan, tools and ideas to win over new clients by the end of the day.

Industry experts will help you build on your current agency business development knowledge and skills and connect with others who have great ideas on how to clinch that all-important client. This will include Diageo’s Chief Procurement Officer, Janelle Orozco, Ballantine’s Head of Brand Communications, Josh McCarthy, Cube3’s CEO, Karl Barker, Kate Bosomworth, Chief Marketing Officer at M&C Saatchi and Pip Hulbert, CEO at Wunderman Thompson. 

Also on the line-up for the day will be Upfront’s Managing Director, Jody Osman. Jody will be joining a panel with Paul Hammersley (Managing Partner at Harbour) and Sera Miller (Co-Founder, Fawnbrake Collective) to discuss Collaboration. Hosted by the Drum’s Editor, Stephen Lepitak, this will look at how when agencies join forces they can become more powerful.

Business Development is top of the agenda throughout the day, with the focus on helping to build on your current agency business development knowledge and skills, as well as connecting you with others who have great ideas on how to clinch that all-important new client win. 

The theme will continue into the evening with The BD100. Following the success of last year’s event The BD100 is back to shine the spotlight on great Business Development. The night will feature a panel discussion, awards and networking as we recognise, celebrate and learn from the best in the business of business development.

We would love to see you at Pitch Perfect and The BD100. Please do get in contact if you’d like to attend either or both events – as partners, we have a 10% discount code we can share with our clients and connections. 

Click here to find out more and buy your tickets.

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Panellists for this year’s BD100 announced

Your votes have been pouring in to crown the top 100 business developers of 2019 as part of the BD100, in partnership with The Drum. Once the online voting is closed, the top 20 nominees from the BD100 will then progress to judging, where it will be decided who will be crowned this year’s Business Developer of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and more

For those of you anxiously awaiting the results, we can now reveal that the winners will be announced on November 20th, following The Drum’s Pitch Perfect conference. The evening event, taking place at Atmosphere Venues in Westminster, is a chance to celebrate the hard work of the business development community, meet your peers and make valuable industry connections. Get your ticket here. 

As well as revealing the new BD100, we are delighted to announce a panel discussion with some of the leading lights in business development, including last years’ BD100 Business Developer of the Year, Fran Brook, who is currently New Business and Marketing Director at Crispin Porter Bogusky. 

Joining her on the panel is Julian Douglas, Vice Chairman of the VCCP Partnership. Julian was previously at BBH, TBWA, Grey London twice, and WCRS. He has worked on some of the world’s most famous brands and campaigns, from Audi to Zipcar, Barnardo’s, Levi’s, Lynx, Avis, O2, Nationwide and his beloved Manchester City Football Club. 

Also confirmed is Ian Millner, Co-founder and Global CEO of Iris. Ian founded the agency back in 1999 aiming to create an alternative to the traditional agencies. 20 years later, Iris is a growing global innovation network that specialises in helping clients understand and respond to future opportunities and has over 1,000 people in 17 locations working with clients such as Samsung, adidas and Starbucks.

Completing the line up is Rose Bentley Director of Clients & Strategy at Propeller Group. Rose’s career has spanned marcomms, management, business development and coaching across Europe, the US, The Middle East and India. As Global Head of Business Development and Reputation at Wolff Olins, Rose helped expand the consultancy’s global network, increase its new business conversion, and create a global marketing platform embracing content, social and events. 

Chaired by Robin Bonn, founder of agency management consultancy, Co:definery, the panel will share their thoughts on the future of business development and what business development learnings we should take into the next decade, as well as provide tips and tricks for getting ahead. 

To hear the panel and to find out who will win the top spots in the BD100 2019 – buy your tickets here

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The Drum’s Pitch Perfect: 5 Key Take-aways

On Thursday 13th September, Upfront’s Senior Business Development Manager, Jessica Milham attended The Drum’s Pitch Perfect event for a day focused on sharing ideas, knowledge and skills to perfect your pitch and clinch that all important client.

Here are Jess’s key insights from the day:

Think about qualification

It’s my job to ask all the right questions and ensure we are qualifying the right opportunities for agencies. However, Peter Czap, Director of The Wow Company, gave me a fresh perspective of how we can be qualifying who you want to work with. It really stuck with me, it’s important to sit back and ask yourself questions such as: Who do you REALLY want to work with? What do you want to be famous for? What can you be the best in the world at? Those were only a few out of 21 questions and most of these we do ask, but it was more of the way in which you can ask these questions which really stuck with me. There is definitely value in constantly asking these questions.

Create a culture of winning new business

This was a theme throughout the day which carried into The BD100 evening event and being a business developer, it resonated with me. If you work for an agency, do you have the whole agency striving to win new business or do you find that BD activity is purely down to one person?

If it’s the latter, well, you really need to question why. Surely everyone working for the agency should be just as passionate about the success of the business. New business should be everyone’s business.

Put everything into a client’s perspective

There was a fabulous client workshop including speakers such as Anna Stark, Head of Marketing at Sloggi and Adrian Cutler, Account Director at Microsoft. It got me thinking about how best to approach brands – how can you make it more personal or interesting? The panel shared lots of interesting approaches that stood out and where agencies can add value, rather than just sell. Kristal Ireland, Head of Ecommerce and Retail at LNER explained that one agency she remembers that invited her to join an online book club, where people share their latest read across the industry!

Your client isn’t just your client

A running theme throughout the day was around how you should work together as team and focus on collaboration. Initially mentioned by Josie Cartridge, Customer Director at River Island, she referred to her agency Studio Blvd as her partner and the way they work is a collaborative process. They have an honest, open relationship and when something works, you celebrate together… When something isn’t quite right, you sit down and work out how you’re going to fix this.

Get out more

Having reflected on a fantastic day, it’s given me time to realise the value of getting out and meeting people who are working towards the same goals as you. Of course, it’s good to meet potential new clients, but it’s just as valuable to meet potential business partners, mentors, coaches, talk about best practice and share the highs and the lows of new business.

This year Pitch Perfect partnered with The BD100, an initiative aimed to recognise The UK’s most influential business developers. Upfront was proud to sponsor this event which provided a great platform to shine a light on the business development community and share experience and insight with a fantastic panel discussion – click here read the highlights.


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Great Opportunity to Get in Front of 350 Brands Before the End of the Year

Upfront is delighted to announce that it is an official partner of Figaro Digital’s Winter Digital Marketing conference, taking place on the 6th December 2017 at The Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park.  Providing a great last opportunity to get in front of brands before the end of the year.

The event will see 350 senior-level marketers coming together to explore, discuss and debate the sharpest insights shared from brands and agencies who are shaping the future of digital marketing. The day will feature more than 20 in-depth keynote presentations from brands, agencies and technology providers. The line up already features TUI, LinkedIn and John Lewis, with plenty more to be announced over the coming weeks. Click here to find out more.

This cross-industry event will cover the full spectrum of digital marketing; exploring the evolving relationship between brands and consumers, as well as key steps brands can take to build a more robust and long-term relationship with their customers.

The full day agenda is broken down into four main pillars;

  1. Transformation
  2. Innovation
  3. Contextualisation
  4. Customer Experience

We have keynote speaker slots available as well as the opportunity to share some fast learning with Figaro Digital 21s, allowing you to:-

  • Raise the profile of your agency
  • Capitalise on new business and networking opportunities at the event
  • Receive dedicated post-event comms aimed at maximizing engagement and opportunities with potential leads
  • Speak alongside high-profile brands
  • Join us for a complimentary lunch and evening bar for networking opportunities

If you are interested and would like to find out more about the speaking packages available, please do get in touch. We are also happy to share our insight into how we have helped agencies take a joined up approach and use the event platform to drive new business success.

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Does good new business start at Cannes?

There has been plenty of conversations about the value of Cannes Lions this year and whether you can justify the cost of a €32 Chicken Sandwich on the Croisette – and the thousands more that a trip can often cost an agency.

Whilst the focus of the week is to recognise creativity and sharing knowledge, there is also a big focus on networking. With BrainDating, Accenture’s bump and Connect wrist bands, plenty of action is focused towards making connections. We’re always interested in meeting new people, so Upfront went along this year and got talking to people to find out how they got on.

Jon Reid, Business Director at Set Live, the agency behind the unmissable YouTube beach experience at Cannes, knows first-hand the impact the event can have: “Each year we help Google to stand out at Cannes and we know how important this is to their business. However, if you are going to meet potential new clients it can be difficult if you don’t have an established presence there”.

Whilst Cannes brings together so many senior Marketers from across the world, conveniently into one place, you are competing heavily for their attention. “We had a range of exciting meetings lined up with high profile CMO’s who were all keen to meet us at Cannes, but it is always hard to actually tie down timings as there is so much going on and so many competing priorities. However, it’s been a great way to start a conversation”, Jon explains, “[…] and for many they will have experienced our work first hand if they made it down to the beach”.

Nick Stephens at Brand Experience Agency, Ignis, went for a more spontaneous approach. Armed with a networking pass, Nick managed to meet a great range of potential prospects by striking up new conversations around the hotels and beach bars of the Croisette: “I just identified who I wanted to speak to and went and found them. I was particularly keen to speak to the guys at the Weather Channel who have just been bought by IBM Watson. They ended up inviting me on their yacht, which was a great way to get to know them!”.

Miranda Glover, Business Director at digital agency E3, who received a nomination for their AI virtual assistant work for Arthritis Research, and won a commendation for a strategic report in the AdMap Prize, found the talks invaluable at Cannes: “The Cannes experience overall was extremely informative and inspiring. I went to lots of talks which gave me a great perspective on the future of our industry.” Miranda described Business Development happening by osmosis and feels confident that relationships will develop over time: “I met some great influencers and creators at the events and sure we will meet again, but Cannes doesn’t really suit a quick-fire agency pitch, instead we all want to assimilate knowledge and make new connections whilst we are there and then come back to it.”

One sure-fire way of getting people’s interest is to host a high-profile welcome party. Leading social analytics platform Crimson Hexagon did this to great effect with Twitter, at their Cabana right next to the palace. For the remainder of this week, the cabana served as a base for their meetings, while their executives worked the ground at partner events like WPP Stream and the Facebook VIP party. Marian Cramers, Director for Global Network Agency Growth at Crimson Hexagon, was particularly pleased with this third edition of Crimson @ Cannes. “I feel we have really established our brand and presence here over the years, people acknowledge our place in the ecosystem and we had many more C-suite and senior prospects and clients passing by. The relaxed space of the cabana and garden area also means they stay for quite a while, and we can have very open conversations about procurement procedures or changes within their org. Conversations we’re very unlikely to have anywhere else than here in Cannes!”

Overall, it may be difficult to justify the cost of Cannes as simply a New Business exercise. However, if approached responsibly and combined with meeting clients and gaining insight, then it still has an awful lot to offer and a great opportunity to meet a wide range of people in a relaxed environment.

We felt there is a lot more that the organisers Ascential can do to foster networking and introductions at Cannes to help make sure people get the most out of the week. For instance, no-one I spoke to got much out of the BrainDating app. Users found that it required far too much time and effort to organise anything and felt it would be better to make it easier to match people on relevant topics of discussion.

It certainly helps if you are doing something at Cannes or at least have a focal point to orientate meetings around. The YouTube beach was great for this and so was Crimson Hexagon’s Cabana. Hosting your own party is a great way to get people together and crucially, collect their contact info. And just being at Cannes you are likely to connect with like minded people, especially if you proactively introduce yourself to as many people as you can.

Apparently great stories start and continue at Cannes Lions. From all those that we spoke to during the week, lots of good conversations start there too. The question is now whether those good conversations will continue beyond Cannes? If they do and turn into new business, then it will certainly help to justify a return next year!

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Figaro Digital Marketing Conference 2017

Upfront is delighted to announce that it is an official partner of Figaro Digital’s Flagship Summer conference following our previous success as partners during last year’s conference. Taking place on the 20th July 2017 at The Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park, this is an event not to be missed!

The event sees 500 senior-level marketers coming together to explore, discuss and debate the sharpest insights shared from brands and agencies who are shaping the future of digital marketing. The impressive speaker line up includes more than 20 in-depth keynote presentations from brands, agencies and technology providers, such as Head of Global Digital Communications at GSK, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation at Channel 4, Marketing Director of The Telegraph Group, Digital COO & Head of Experience from Lloyd’s Bank and many more!

The focus of the day will be innovation. Brands are committing more time, dedication and budget than ever before to innovation. This is due to the increasing customer expectations and the drive to adapt to a changing landscape. Digital innovation is at the forefront of most businesses strategies, and agencies will need to cut through the noise in order to connect with these brands.

We have keynote speaker slots available as well as the opportunity to share some fast learning with Figaro Digital 21s, where you will be speaking alongside the likes of BT, Pret and Mondelez on topics ranging from how to go about creating an internal agency culture to the importance of listening to your customers through social media and utilising feedback to create brand purpose.

As an Upfront partner you will:

  • Raise the profile of your agency alongside the Upfront team
  • Capitalise on new business opportunities through Upfront’s joined up approach
  • Receive dedicated post-event comms aimed at maixmising engagement and opportunities with potential leads
  • Speak alongside high-profile brands such as BT, Pret Mondelez and more!
  • Join us for a complimentary lunch and evening bar for networking opportunities

If you are interested and would like to find out more about the speaking packages available, please do get in touch.

We would love to welcome you on board, but spaces are filling up quickly, so don’t miss out!

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2016 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference – The Future of Digital

On 30th November, a heady mix of marketers, influencers and the like gathered at the Royal College of Physicians to discuss the year’s trends and hear about new technologies and strategic trends shaping the future of digital marketing.

The 2016 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference was a huge success, bringing together an esteemed panel of speakers across a range of sectors to discuss their insights and predictions for how everything from content marketing, social media strategies, AI and big data will influence digital marketing in the New Year.

It was a packed itinerary, so we decided to pull together some of the top insights and takeaways from the day:

Think about your customer

A marketing strategy focused on customers problems, motivations and needs may seem like a no-brainer, but this will play a huge roll in how we look at marketing for 2017. Truly understanding customer needs feeds into all areas of marketing from product development, UX and consumer engagement – all leading to increased sales and a greater digital brand presence if done right.

Robert Crook from Travelex advises to ‘pick apart your customer problems into their most granular parts to find out what motivates people’.

Authentic, transparent marketing is important now more than ever says Anna Whitehouse, creator of Mother Pukka, who reminds us that consumers are savvy to inauthentic marketing, so it’s imperative that your marketing strategy stays true to brand proposition, creating content that will genuinely engage with customers.

UX has never been more important

In the same way that customer-centric marketing focuses on the needs of your consumer, providing clear, accessible and optimised user experiences for consumers is a key if you want to stay ahead of the competition, retain users and engage with new ones.

Not only will it help to enhance your brand proposition, communicate your message more effectively and serve your customers more efficiently, but certain elements to UX like opt-in forms, privacy notices and the infamous cookies law will become the law of the digital land, according to the GDPR.

Steve Henderson at Communicator talks about the responsibility we now have to think about how we can give our customers a genuine choice, providing information that clear and accessible when it comes to their privacy and online experience.

To respond to that need, brands like Communicator and Curated Digital are developing ways that brands can re-imagine these engagement elements of the online experience (like these surveys) in order to promote engagement for data gathering tools that are often ignored or found to be an irritating element of customer’s UX.

Content is the present – and future – of marketing

Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute; as a forward-thinking marketer, you know there has to be a better way.

You guessed it – that buzzword you’ve been hearing all year – content marketing. Simply put, content marketing, which includes social media and distribution, is there to help your customers find the information they need.

While many were sceptical around how content marketing could really take over traditional marketing, brands like Schneider Electric and Shazam stand behind this method, discussing how a strong content marketing strategy can help increase sales, save in cost and resources and encourage engagement with better customers resulting in brand loyalty.

Giuseppe Caltabiano with Schneider Electric emphasised that when developing content, more isn’t always better. Learn how to re-purpose and re-promote your content to save you time and resources. He recommends a Big Rock approach, which is essentially ‘a substantial piece of content based on the idea of becoming the definitive guide to a conversation that you want to own’.

Big data is just a pile of nonsense unless you know what to do with it

Having mountains of data isn’t the sole end goal anymore. Sure, it’s a start, but as Elizabeth De Freitas at Hitwise displayed in her presentation ‘5 Ways To Know Your Competitor’s Audience Better Than They Do’, making sense of all that data can be used to unlock incredible marketing opportunities, campaign strategies and hidden competitive advantages.

She recommends learning from your most successful competition, comparing your results with the wider industry, unlocking incredible hidden market opportunities. From there, you can understand what kinds of content your customers consume and when, which will help to feed into your content marketing strategy.

Richard Summers at Crowdcat melds creativity with big data in order to understand the brain to solve real world problems. With only 1 in 4 million of our thoughts actually making it to consciousness, understanding how people consume ads will help to shape a strategy that can help change the buying outcome and deliver consistent, measurable performance.

AI might be more human than humans

AI may be a source of stress or excitement depending on how you look at it. One thing’s for sure, understanding the capabilities of AI will help your business to determine if its right for you.

It definitely was for Havas. Executive Digital Director Lisa De Bonis shared their experiences with EagleAi, and how AI and big data were able to predict the 2016 Presidential Elections, now known as the night AI predicted human behaviour better than the humans.

One thing is certain. It’s not a matter of one or the other, as both Lisa and Phrasee’s CEO Parry Malm confirmed. At this point (at least) AI should be seen as a complimentary use of technology to be embraced in order to learn what it can do for us and marketing strategies moving forward.

Parry Malm of Phrasee recommends working within a limited data set when using AI for email marketing. He’s utilised artificial intelligence to generate and optimise response to your emails through marketing language science in his entertaining presentation, ‘Marketers, Watch Your Back: Here’s AI That Can Write Better Email Subject Lines Than You…’

The big takeaway?

We live in a world where it can be argued that technology changes faster than our capacity to learn it. Rather than jumping on every technological bandwagon, agility should sit at the heart of your business strategy.

What we mean by agility can be broken down into three steps:

  1. Understanding what options are available in the current market, how they’re being used, by who and who of those are doing it well (and possibly more importantly, who’s not doing it well)
  2. Assess which channels or tools will best serve your business strategy to produce the best insight and value for your business
  3. Implement those channels and tools with a simple process that ensures compliance and business success

Follow those steps 1-3, leaving room for changes and adjustments as needed. Because if this year’s taught us anything, it’s that we must be agile in order to successfully respond to the transient nature of today’s market.

To that end, if we took away anything from the conference, it’s to be open (yet critical) to what’s new, to be agile in understanding how to incorporate that into your marketing strategies and to be relieved that bots aren’t going to take over our jobs – at least yet anyway.

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The Importance of Your Agency Brand to Attract New Business

Upfront recently hosted a packed breakfast seminar, looking at the importance of your agency brand. Together with guest speakers including Lena Robinson (Kiwi Gray), Tony Spong (AAR) and Ameet Chandarana (Digital Consultant), we explored best practice and discussed how agencies can develop their brand to help attract new business and give their business development activity purpose.

Here are some of the insights and recommendations shared during the morning:-

There are over 20,000 agencies in the UK, it’s tough to stand out and agencies are failing to differentiate themselves. It’s important to remember that clients do not spend much time looking for agencies. The key is to bring awareness, tell your story and message in a way that will stand out

The truth is that most agencies sound the same. From “we are an integrated agency specialising in…” or “award winning”, to the “we are a new breed of marketing agency…”

Often the question from the client is the same – “Tell me again, what is it that you actually do?”

The typical answer agencies give to this question is then to list all of the services they provide. Tony Spong provided a comparison with Chilli. It’s not about the list of ingredients, its about the one magic ingredient. It’s not just what you cook, but the way you cook it.

A well articulated brand helps you communicate something much larger than the sum of your ingredients.

Brand Purpose: Why do you exist? What do you excel at doing and how? Understand your “why”, have a framework, and everything will flow.

So how do you build a framework to develop your unique story? Your proposition statement (DNA) needs to include the Why (how you see the world), the How (the way you think) and What (your capabilities). How you flex these is how you compete.

The importance of the narrative: keeping this consistent to make it easier for the client to keep tuned into what you’re saying. A narrative makes it easier to understand what goes in, and what comes out. A narrative is your story – what you can do and no-one else can.

Surprisingly, most agencies do not have brand guidelines. By working on your brand proposition and following its guidelines, your agency’s communication will be consistent and you will stand out by having a distinctive personality.

Brand Essence: Build an authentic story. One that is true to you and no other agency.

Brand Promise: Always deliver what you say you will. This is why it’s important to focus on your core skills. Having one too many is likely to damage your brand promise.

Brand Reputation: Make sure your marketing and sales strategy are aligned.

No matter how small or large your agency is, it’s important to have a business development strategy. Make realistic goals such as the number of wins you want to have in a year. Involve all your team in writing content. Motivate them to write about their expertise, their opinions or insights. Remember to keep a consistent message on every medium and to plan for delivery.

If you would like to find out more about the speaker and would like help telling your agency story, then get in touch.

We also heard about some of the ‘dos and don’ts’ for agency approaches. Click here to hear what they are.

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Figaro Digital Summer Conference

Upfront is delighted to announce that it is an official partner of Figaro Digital’s Flagship Summer conference. Taking place on the 14th July 2016 at The Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park, this is an event not to be missed!

The event sees 500 senior-level marketers coming together to explore, discuss and debate the sharpest insights shared from brands and agencies who are shaping the future of digital marketing. The impressive speaker line up includes more than 20 in-depth keynote presentations from brands, agencies and technology providers, such as the Community Editor of The Economist, Head of Product from The Trainline, Customer Insights, CRM and Loyalty Manager from Virgin Holidays, Head of Digital from Domino’s and many more!

Personalisation, automation, content and context will all be hot topics on the day. The two-track conference will focus on how you can apply this to build a more robust and long-term relationship with your customers.

The event is an opportunity to meet and connect with other leading industry thinkers and a chance to build a more innovative and efficient marketing toolkit. Recent delegates include the likes of Adidas, Pizza Express, Adobe, L’Oreal, Nokia, Ocado, Starcom MediaVest and Universal Music, to name a few.

If you think your brand or agency would benefit from a speaking slot, then please get in touch to discuss potential options to best suit you. It is an opportunity to position yourself as an industry expert and thought leader, allowing you to raise your profile through knowledge sharing to brands and agencies.

Early bird tickets are available now. Contact Leiley in our events team if you would like to attend, get involved, or just want to find out more.

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Join O2, Paddy Power and Channel 4 at the Figaro Digital Conference; 26th November 2015

The next Figaro Digital conference is set to take place on 26th November in London – and Upfront is once again delighted to be a partner. The line up is already looking impressive with  Telefonica O2, Channel 4, Standard Life, Paddy Power, Time Out, Rufus Leonard, Tempero & Branded3  all speaking on the day.

The full-day event brings together experts from a whole range of disciplines and industry sectors to provide the latest insights and issues shaping digital marketing.  View the full line-up of currently confirmed speakers here.

Figaro Digital conferences have become a key part of our contact strategy for a number of our clients. We’ve found it can provide a great opportunity for agencies to meet and engage with potential clients. Speaker opportunities provide a great way to demonstrate your expertise and experience – and we have already seen a number of big wins as a direct result of clients presenting at previous conferences.

Please get in contact if you’re interested in speaking or attending this.

See you there.

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