Stay Ahead with February’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Here are February’s Movers and Shakers we recommend that you keep an eye on:

Virgin Holidays has appointed Amber Kirby as Marketing & Customer Experience Director. She has moved from Wallgreens Boots Alliance, where she was Global Brand Director; Skincare + Boots Brands Health and Beauty.

Louise Robertshaw has moved to London’s Air Ambulance where she has taken the role of Director of Marketing & Communications. She was formerly Head of Marketing and Communications at The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Mathieu Garcia has left Ralph Lauren where he was Vice President of Marketing. He has moved to Dr. Martens Airwair as Global Marketing Director.

Group Lotus have hired Conor Twomey as head of PR. He has moved from Mitsubishi Motors where he was General Manager of Press, PR and Events.

Colm O’Dwyer from General Manager of Weetabix On the Go to Commercial Director, UK & Ireland of Weetabix. Since he joined in March 2016, the brand has grown to be worth more than £20m for the first time.

Revlon have appointed Michele Adorni as Regional Marketing Director, EMEA. She has moved from Elizabeth Arden where she was former Marketing Director.

Debbie Klein has moved from The Engine Group where she held the position of Chief Executive Europe and Asia Pacific. She has joined BSKYB British Sky Broadcasting where she has become Group Chief Marketing & Corporate Affairs Officer.

Mr and Mrs Smith have appointed Julian Diment as Chief Growth Officer. She has moved from Honeybee where he was Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer.

Danny Barrasso has left New Look where he was Managing Director. He has been replaced by Mark Axon. This change has come at a time when the business is undertaking a review and is believed to be considering the closure of up to 60 of its stores.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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Stay Ahead with January’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

Dr Oetker have promoted Riccardo Panichi from Senior Brand Manager to Head of Marketing for Cake and Dessert.

Sarah Shakery has joined Ted Baker as Global Head of Ecommerce. She has moved from Wolverine Worldwide where she was Director of Ecommerce UK & Europe.

Estee Lauder have promoted former UK PR Director, Melanie Jones to Consumer Engagement Director. They have also appointed Georgie Dawson as Head of Brand Communications. She has been promoted from PR Manager for Aerin Beauty.

Sharry Crammond has left Southeastern Grocers where she was Executive Vice President, Marketing & Communications. She has moved to Marks and Spencer where her title is now Marketing Director for Food and Hospitality. Robert Weston has also changed position within Marks and Spencer from Brand & Marketing Director of Food and General Merchandise to Marketing Director or Brand and Customer.

Photobox have appointed Mark Singleton as Chief Marketing Officer. He has moved from Paddy Power Betfair where he had been for six years and held the position of Marketing Director.

Anicka Wintle has joined Burberry as Senior PR Manager. She has moved from Modus where she was Senior Account Manager.

Dawn Topham has moved from Weetabix where she was Head of International Marketing. She has joined Costa where she has become Head of International Marketing. This move comes at the same time as the coffee chain’s pledge to become more environmentally friendly by reducing its plastic usage.

Renault have promoted formed Brand Communications Manager, Ed Preston to Head of Marketing Communications.

Fever-Tree have appointed Vince Lawson as their new Director of Brand and Creative Consultant. He has joined from Cenzo where he was Marketing Director and Brand Consultant.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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What makes a great New-Business person?

Newbiz folk play a big role in paying your salary or securing the exit you’ve dreamed of, so let’s take a moment to celebrate the best and explore your options.

Years ago, I went into an important internal meeting as a newly-joined New-Business Director and was met with confused faces from my new colleagues. Soon, one of them, with the kind of embarrassed reticence we Brits excel at, asked why I was in the room.

I explained that the meeting topic was a fundamental pillar of my job description. This, it turned out, was news to them.


The fact that I‘d been through a whole bunch of job spec iterations with the CEO before I joined – which he apparently hadn’t shared with anyone else – is actually beside the point. The reality is that unlike, say, a creative director, client service lead or head of strategy, there isn’t a generally accepted beginning and end to what a new-business person does.

The territory is fairly clear – helping win stuff. Pitching, marketing, lead generation. RFPs, awards, events etc. The level of responsibility is guided by experience, so people soon unpick what they lead vs. manage. It does get a bit murkier when you look at genuine decision-making authority, for instance over branding, pitch strategy or developing existing clients.

But the bigger issue is about fit. I’ve met hundreds of new-business people from a wide range of agency, consulting and technology businesses, from global networks to start-ups and independents getting ready to sell. They come in all shapes and sizes, with different skills, backgrounds and perspectives.

More to the point, although we’ve moved on from the bad old days of “welcome aboard, here’s your phone, now piss off and make the magic happen”, new-business folk do plug different gaps, solve different problems and gel with different groups.

So why do 99% of new-business job specs still look basically the same – even if you’ve got a decent headhunter in the mix?

In a nutshell, because CEOs don’t know what they need.

  • Do you need a lifelong new-business pro or T-shaped practitioner in your agency’s discipline?
  • Re-inventor of your model or spinner of existing plates?
  • Creative marketer or super-connected PR whizz?
  • Hungry lead generator or thoughtful new-business strategist?
  • Behind-the-scenes RFI engine or front-of-house client charmer?
  • Meticulous completer-finisher or get-shit-done force of nature?

And that’s just personality and skill-set. What about tailoring your search for business maturity, immediate priorities or level of seniority? Or new-business model. Or different remuneration models. Or outsourcing options.

No wonder it’s so hard to get right. Unrealistic expectations abound. Hiring becomes a ‘journey’ and chemistry – important though it is – tends to trump meaningful fit. Or you want to believe you’ve found a silver-bullet ‘unicorn’, but they soon inevitably disappoint.

Defining new-business hires involves asking yourself soul-searching questions – not least about what skills already exist in your business, what other senior people want to do less of and whether you’re prepared to give real authority.

You still have a fighting chance if you try to decide all this after they join. But if you never have this debate at all, you’re doomed to repeat the whole costly, credibility-sapping cycle again soon.

So as a starter for ten, check out the BD100 – an annual initiative to find the UK’s 100 most influential business developers. Nominations close on the 31st Jan – so crack on with that – then we can all start checking out the entries and seeing what makes the cream rise to the top.

You can also get involved on Twitter via @The_BD100 and #TheBD100.

Good luck to everyone who gets nominated. And hats-off to any agencies who find their perceptions have been changed.

Written by Robin Bonn, the founder of Co:definery – a New-Business management consultancy.

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10 Tips to Make Sure You are Ready to Win Big in 2018

New Business wins can often be down to good timing and a bit of luck. However, to ensure you are regularly winning the right type of business, you need a clear focus and the right resource and tools in place. By ensuring that you have a robust Business Development strategy and everything in place as you start the year, you can make sure you are well set to win big in 2018 and help drive your agencies growth.

Here are our top 10 tips to make sure you are set to fly out the blocks and lay the foundations for a successful year ahead:

1. Review and Reflect

How did you get on with new business last year? Make sure you take time to understand where your wins came from: new business, inbound or referral? What is a typical lead time for you and when has business been won? Calculate your pitch conversion rate and look at what you are you doing well, and more importantly, where you can improve. Collect feedback on pitches you have lost to avoid making the same mistakes and up your game. You will be more efficient and smarter if you commit to developing your approach.

2. Set Your Goals

Make sure you understand what success should look like. Clearly define your Business Development goals for 2018 to ensure you know what you want to achieve. How many clients are you trying to win? What type of clients? Make sure this matches your commercial goals which will usually be dependent on fame, fortune and fit. Once you’ve defined these goals you will understand how many clients you are looking to win and at what value. You can then work backwards based on reviewing performance from this year to project what you will need to put into the programme to deliver on this.

3. Get your targeting right 

Take time to get your targeting exactly right. The best thing about new business, is that you can choose who you want to talk to. Take this opportunity to make sure you choose brands that you really want to work with, match up with your new business goals and fit your agency sweet spot.

4, Make sure you have tools in place

Tools such as our own new business tool, Upstream will provide you with all the data and insight you need. Making sure you have a  highly segmented data with the latest decision makers for your target clients, contact details, new hires, incumbent agencies, technology being used and latest news will make you far more effective. Other tools such as Hubspot or Act-On can help you track prospect engagement with your content and identify future leads.

5. Develop a Campaign Plan

Once you are clear on who you want to target, work out when is the best time to approach them. This will largely depend on the sectors you are focusing on and the type of business you do. What industry events are taking place, when the busy times are – and when planning takes place. We recommend planning a calendar of campaigns throughout the year to give you a clear focus and approach each sector at the right time. Then look at what content you will have to maximize the impact of this – new client work, case studies, events, awards, industry reports, etc.

6. Make sure you have a good CRM system 

Salesforce may be a bit heavy duty for many agencies, but with great free tools available such as HubspotCRM and other cost effective solutions as Pipedrive, there really is no excuse to still be using excel! Then make sure you have it configured to help you effectively manage and report on your new business targets.

7. Read up on GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the biggest change in data privacy regulation in two decades and comes into play on 25 May 2018. You will need to take into account best practices as you build strategies to communicate with prospects and provide a robust data management system to track engagement and honour ‘opt outs’. By refining data and ensuring that your messaging is targeted and content is relevant, you will put yourself in the best position not only to comply with the GDPR legislation, but stand a much better chance of building relationships with prospective clients in the future.

Click here to find out more about what it means to B2B.

8. Keep up to date

The start of the year is a good time to catch up with suppliers, partners, professional bodies and intermediaries. Make sure you have everything up to date and you are top of mind with each of them going into the New Year. It’s also a good idea to review your supplier listings on different sites, whether it’s your agency profile on Creative Brief, Drum RAR, Econsultancy or Figaro Digital, make sure these are all providing the best representation and giving you the greatest chance to drive new opportunities next year.

9. Set Milestones

Business Development often takes time to see tangible results. It’s therefore crucial to set clear and measurable objectives along the way to keep you on track. Understand what needs to go into the pipeline in terms of effective conversations, engagement and meetings to carefully manage your activity to keep a regular flow of progress. And clearly define your pipeline stages to help you project future new business success.

10. Invest in your future success

The landscape is rapidly changing and you are competing with over 30,000 agencies. Business Development done well can be the difference. Make sure you have the right team in place and understand where you need to invest in training and external expertise to support their success.

And if you need some help?

We would enjoy the opportunity to discuss this with you in more detail and share our experience and insight, please get in contact if you’d like to chat further about how to approach Business Development in 2018 and how we can help.

Looking for help with your business development brief? Click here for our handy guide to briefing your development partner.


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Stay Ahead with December’s Movers & Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers & Shakers. Each month, our data and insight team at Upstream provide a monthly round up of the new appointments to help you stay ahead.

William Grant & Sons has promoted Gary Keogh to Regional Marketing Director, EMEA. It was also announced that Caspar MacRae would be replacing Keogh as Marketing Director. These roles come after the decision to give the company an “organisational shake-up”.

Kellyn Smith Kenny has left Uber where she was Vice President of Marketing. Kellyn has moved to Hilton Hotels Corporation where she’s been employed as Chief Marketing Officer.

Asahi has promoted former Innovation Manager, Laura Mitchell to Director of Brand Marketing.

Debenhams has welcomed Steven Cook as new Managing Director, Fashion and Home. Cook has joined from Holt Renfrew, Canada where he was Chief Merchant, Senior Vice President, Buying & Merchandising.

Paul Brennan moves from Thomas Pink to join Dr Martens as their Digital Marketing Manager.

Shazna Virmani has joined Avado as Global Head of Marketing- B2B. She has come from CCH Tagetik where she was Head of Marketing UK & Ireland.

Nicola Clarke has been appointed Senior Corporate Communications Manager- Global Brands at Walgreens Boots Alliance. She has joined from Unilever where she was Global Communications Manager for Personal Care.

If you would like to keep up to date on the latest movers & shakers as they happen each day, then you can stay ahead with our data and insight platform Upstream. Click here to find out more.

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Developing your Agency Content Strategy: Key Insights from Upfront’s Workshop Series

Last week a group of agency leaders, strategists, marketing and business development directors discussed the importance of content to business development and explored some of the challenges they are experiencing in the face of so much competition.

Agencies are feeling more than ever how tough it is to win and retain clients and believe that using content to build relationships and engage with prospects and existing clients is key. However, we’re in an age where content is practically inescapable, so it needs to be compelling and useful to cut through the noise. Agencies are competing for share of voice and with clients so short on time and under pressure, they need to demonstrate that they think and deliver differently to competitors.

One of the biggest challenges agencies are facing today is time and resource. Without these two elements it’s hard to come up with quality content that’s really going to mean something. To find some useful solutions, the group shared their experiences and tips on how to develop and use compelling content for business development.

Understand your agency ambition, positioning and goals

Kerry O’Connor, Partner at Tonic Creative Business Partners, advised that before you even start your content strategy you must consider the three following factors:

1) Understand your business ambitions and commercial objectives.

2) Have a clear market positioning. There’s much confusion around positioning. It isn’t just a decorative explanation about what you do, it’s about your ambition and offer, created with specific clients in mind. An important element when exploring your positioning, which Andrew Ryan, Head of Brand & Partnership at The Big Kick explained, is realising that you may not be the right agency for everyone as well as understanding what makes a good client for you.

3) Always have the end game in sight and make sure everything you do has a goal attached to it.


Jack Williams from Atomic London explained how people don’t want to just be told about you anymore, you have to be one step ahead in knowing what your client’s issues, challenges and needs are. O’Connor agreed adding that content needs to be outward looking not inward (this is a big mistake that many agencies make) and it must link to the agency’s offer, skills and achievements to get traction.

Create fluid content plans quarterly and make sure your plans are targeted. Quality over quantity always. Start small and build up. Test formats and frequency.

Give yourself a reason to produce the content in the first place – perhaps through an event which forces discipline. O’Connor emphasised you should always multi use your content by spreading it over various platforms – tailor for different audiences/sectors/regions but also have themes which are relevant to all sectors.

Inspire your team

Bigger agencies have the luxury of having a wide range of skills within their team and designated strategists. If you’re a smaller agency however, you might have to be realistic about the skill set you have internally.

It can be a difficult task to get your employees to see content as a priority if it doesn’t fit in with their direct role and there isn’t a genuine interest. Make business development, and content as a result, part of the culture and overarching business goals so your employees don’t see it as an ‘add on’ to the job. Have a good angle and show people internally that they can do and write about what they love. For those who are nervous about writing, there are always ghost writers. Ideas come from everyone so don’t let lack of writing confidence deter getting involved.

Put a process in place and create guidelines to make it easier for everyone to contribute. With limited resource, ensure you have a clear focus. Reduce your objectives so they’re achievable – focus on the right things/be selective.

 General tips

– Although there was some debate around the value of sending mass mailers through tools such as Hubspot vs. having a very personalised targeted approach, it was the common consensus that whatever your approach is, always try to find a way to make it feel organic and natural.

– Content should be based on research (desk is fine) and insight, not salesy. It’s a door opener and the start of a conversation so you don’t have to say everything.

– Be provocative – don’t be afraid of giving your opinion of what you’d like to see changing.

– Consider video content over written and when you have longer copy pieces break up the words with signposting, visuals and infographics.

The danger of not creating content or getting it wrong is that you are wasting money on under performing activities and fundamentally, not getting enough new business!


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Getting your Targeting and Tools Right: Key Insights from Upfront’s Workshop Series

Upfront hosted the second in our breakfast workshop series taking place in the run up to Christmas. Today’s session focused on some of the areas that will be vital to agency success in the period ahead. We brought together a wide range of agencies to make sure everything is covered on senior management ‘To Do’ lists to ensure they get off to a flyer in 2018.

Together, Chris Finnegan Senior Business Development Manager at Upstream and Jody Osman, MD of Upfront led the discussion on getting your targeting and tools right, sharing first-hand experience and key elements that need to be addressed and considered. Key topics and insights included:


There’s many myths & much fear mongering surrounding GDPR at the moment. The lines between B2B and B2C are certainly blurred.

Perhaps one of the biggest causes of this confusion is that GDPR is still in draft form and with much to be confirmed. So, what do we need to be thinking about and actioning now to protect ourselves from the impending enforcement to be set on 25th May 2018?

Two key sources to keep an eye on are the DMA & ICO, which will help expel any of those myths keeping you up at night.

Ultimately the issues boil down to security and protecting citizens’ personal data. We explored some of the techniques we should all be utilising as a best practice to ensure this security; such as keeping your data base up to date, your approach relevant, and transparent communication – explored below.

It is important to look at how you process data, make sure it’s up to date and secure, and that everyone you employ is kept in the loop. Some CRM systems don’t have the privacy levels you need so you may want to look at that; but ultimately, it boils down to how you manage those systems – keep everything you are doing clear and log every conversation you have with people.

From a b2b perspective, ensuring you target people with a legitimate interest (whereby you’re providing valuable information surrounding their industry) is a crucial factor when approaching companies. However, you must remember to give a clear opt-out option and honor this, something people are often too casual with this. This approach will eventually work in your favour as you’ll have a much leaner and engaged database. The same rule applies for newsletters –  you might want to consider that it’s better to have 100 people who want to read your newsletter than 1000 who aren’t interested at all!


Often when prospecting new clients, it can be easy to fall into the trap of trying to offer every service possible to any company available. Before you start targeting new business, put together a list of what your company can offer to the market and its strengths. Then ask yourself, “why would someone buy from us?” From there you can start to create an ideal customer persona. Identify where you’ve had previous successes – look at certain industries / sectors or job titles and build from there.

Another way of defining your audience is to look at who your competition are working with. Don’t be afraid to speak to their clients and ask why they chose a competitor. Find out what part of the service they get most value from and what they would change or improve.

Additionally, Chris Finnegan explains that within his experience, “Social Selling” can be a really powerful technique that helps you understand and target the right type of customer and how to contact them at the right time. Social Selling is a way of interacting with yours and your companies’ social network to engage customers and bring them value through your own content and insights.

Tools & Platforms

Data & Insights

– Finding the right contacts for different job roles can be a big challenge and many platforms provide a one job title fits all solution. Upstream delivers a more bespoke approach and helps subscribers focus on getting the right people and the right job roles too.


Pipedrive is a much cheaper alternative to Salesforce. It has a two way integration making it great for tracking engagement.


Hubspot pros: It’s a one stop shop of all the tools in one. Its use of keywords helps to maximise content and it’s also simple to use on the CRM side. Having everything in one place makes things a lot easier and you don’t have to think so hard about what you’re doing because it will prompt you. Cons: It can be expensive and requires a big investment in time and content.

Communigator: was suggested as a more cost-effective option than Hubspot.

Marketo: Provides you with a large suite of tools.


WARC: Cost effective tool for developing content. Very consumer focused and great for providing the research and information which could surround your reports.

Contently: Find freelance content creators easily.


To finish off this morning’s discussion (and the last of the pain-au-chocolat…) we discussed the value of hosting events and how to overcome some of the challenges surrounding them. Hosting an event for your agency is a great way of generating leads, but it can sometimes be hard to get the ball rolling if you’re unsure of where to begin. Planning and executing is also a time consuming exercise if you don’t have a dedicated member of your team to work on it, not to mention attendance drop-outs which may cost you valuable resources. There are ways to overcome these challenges:

– Make sure your content is interesting. Use popular industry themes that people don’t necessarily know about. Events work in the same way as content does, finding the snags and interesting pin points.

– Target the right audience relevant to your topic of conversation. This will generate interesting discussion and get people back to your next event.

– Utilise your partnerships and contacts to save on cost. There’s always a way to get others to contribute – whether it be with the venue, the speaker or the industry topic.

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Developing your New Business Strategy: Key Insights from Upfront’s Workshop Series

On Tuesday 5th December, Upfront hosted the first in our breakfast workshop series taking place in the run up to Christmas. Today’s session focused on some of the areas that will be vital to agency success in the period ahead.

We brought together Founders, Managing Directors and Business Developers from a wide range of agencies to make sure everything is covered on senior management ‘To Do’ lists to ensure they get off to a flyer in 2018.

Together, Adam Graham Co-Founder of Kiwi Gray and Jody Osman, MD of Upfront led the discussion, sharing first-hand experience and key elements that need to be addressed and considered when planning a new business strategy. Key topics and insights included:

Coping with Growth

With thousands of agencies across the UK and many competing for the same client base, dealing with growth can be a challenge. There can be a fear that the work you are completing can become commoditised. If an agency moves from production to strategy this can leave a gap between reality and ambition. Adam Graham advises that this is much more that a secular issue – an agency’s entire marketing strategy needs to change if you want to reach a new audience. In order to become more strategic, a CEO/Director needs to be developing a relationship with more senior level in order to get more exposure to budgets – however this covers a wide range – from elevating your content, to the events you attend. Put your work in front of business leaders by switching from The Drum to The Financial times. He stresses that most of the time agencies are sitting back waiting for opportunities when in reality they are right there in front of them. He illustrated this with the recent example of Toy R Us – why was no one talking to them two years ago about a shift to digital?

Jody Osman advises on the importance of investing time when thinking about agency growth. Don’t be too ambitious when planning if high growth targets will ultimately be detrimental to the agency as you have to take on wrong type of work. The targeting needs to be refined and there needs to be commitment from the beginning with the understanding that it does not happen overnight. If you are going to invest time developing a relationship, it’s with the type of client you want to work with. Nothing will happen without commitment to the end goal and the correct attitude to the task.

Building an agency culture

Next we talked about ‘The Power of No’, in order for an agency to shift and grow away from its current state, change needs to come from the top. For example, when a brief comes in of large value – a senior decision maker needs to decide – is this who we are? Is this brand one that will fit within the new agency culture? To do this a stringent checklist should be put in place which keeps the end goals for the agency top of mind. One way to obtain a shift in agency culture is to be transparent and open with the whole team. If the whole business buys into where the business is headed, then there is a sense of purpose and direction. Staff will feel more valued and therefore lead to them being much more committed to the agency.

Be brave and act like a brand

While agencies are helping thousands of brands across the globe engage with consumers by developing clear, meaningful, brand propositions, they’re often guilty of forgetting they too are a brand – an agency should have a clear brand positioning and differentiating story.

It’s vital that your agency has a clear proposition and story, with over 20,000 agencies competing in the UK to win business.

Brands need to understand why you exist, what you can do to help them and why you are different. Knowing who you are and how to communicate that story authentically will help you to retain your existing clients, cut through the noise your competitors are making, build long lasting relationships and ultimately win your dream clients.

As an Agency proposition expert, Adam Graham explained why developing your agency’s proposition is crucial to your business development strategy and why brands (even agency brands) with purpose tend to do better commercially and socially than those that don’t.

Founders must be brave enough to be honest about who they (the agency) really are – ultimately you are communicating and doing business with people – your new clients need to trust you and your team. Tell your story, answer a clients challenges and be authentic. This will make sure they remember you and when they have work, they will come back based on remembering your message. ‘Bore the brand to death with your differentiating story’, by living and breathing what you say is what will make people want to work with you, which ties in again with the importance of company culture.

New Business is everyone’s responsibility

Make it everyone’s responsibility and there will be little room for lack of success. New Business is not someone’s singular responsibility but a culture within the company. Recognise what your staff are good at – where their skillset lies and you will then have a team that can support different divisions. The importance of joining up new business and marketing teams has never been so important.

The role of content

The role of content now places a crucial role in business development. One piece of content can bring to life challenges brands are facing while positioning an agency as an expert on that topic.

The group shared tips and it was recommended that you must be creating 3000 words a month as an agency, however this is where we should be clever and re-use/re-purpose content. If you interview a brand director – video the interview, turn it into a Q&A blog post, a video, a LinkedIn post etc… Maximise the channels you use and when you release these so in your quieter periods you are never short on content.

This is a topic we will be further exploring later this week as we look at how to develop your agency content strategy. Click here if you’d like to join us and be part of the discussion.


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What does the GDPR legislation means for agency new business?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018. Whilst many may not have been aware of it until recently – it was actually first adopted in April 2016 – it’s difficult to miss it now with countless articles in your inbox and on your LinkedIn feed.

There’s a lot to take in, with a lot of focus on the threat of huge fines. This has meant a lot of conversation, speculation, confusion and concern as people try to understand what it means to them, what they need to do about it and how it will impact their business. Our role is to support agencies with business development, marketing and data, so we have been taking this very seriously for some time now and looking at what this means to agency (B2B) new business. 

To help make sense of it, we have been carefully monitoring updates from the likes of the ICO (who will be responsible for enforcing GDPR in UK) and the DMA (who have been lobbying for businesses to retain their ability to market themselves to other businesses) and recommend that you do the same. We also consulted Lecturer in Law at the University of Hertfordshire, Henry Pearce, to help understand the implications of  GDPR legislation and look at practical recommendations.

This article helps summarise some useful insights we’ve gained along the way:

It’s not all about big fines

GDPR replaces the Data Protection Act and is similar in many ways, so if you are already compliant with the DPA you are off to a good start. GDPR requires that personal data (any data that can be used to identify an individual) be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner and used for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes. The data should be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the specified purpose, accurate and up-to-date and processed in a secure manner.

Accountability is a cornerstone of GDPR; which puts increased importance on how you manage data across your business. You must be able to show how they comply with its principles and be able to demonstrate that you have effective policies and procedures in place. Here is a guide from the ICO detailing 12 steps to help prepare your business.

Yes you’ve probably read about the potential fines (up to €20 million) but it’s important to keep a sense of perspective. This open article from Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner at the ICO, writes that focusing on big fines makes for great headlines, but thinking that GDPR is about crippling financial punishment misses the point.

How does this new piece of legislation apply to B2B marketing?  

The Direct Marketing Association issued the following advice in relation to B2B:

“When dealing with employees of corporates, that is limited companies, LLPs, partnerships in Scotland and government departments, the rules for telephone and direct mail are the same, opt-out. When emailing or texting, you do not need the prior consent/opt-in from the individual. You can therefore send them a marketing email/text as long as you provide an easy way to opt out of future communications from you.

For any B2B marketing communications, regardless of channel, the content must be about products and/or services that are relevant to the recipients’ job role. This situation will not change under GDPR. These rules for email and text messages come under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and this will not be affected by the implementation of GDPR.

What is important to remember when emailing or texting corporate employees is that where personal data is used for marketing, for example a work email address, they have the right to prevent their personal data being processed for direct marketing, which is why you must provide a way to opt out of future communications.”

Whilst most of the obligations under the DPA apply to firms carrying out B2B marketing related activities, there is currently one notable exception to this. At present, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), mentioned above, specify that B2B email marketing and similar activities would not have to obtain the express opt-in consent of any individuals whose personal data were involved in said activities to satisfy the individual consent ground for legitimising the processing of personal data under the DPA. Therefore, in the context of B2B marketing activities involving personal data, if individuals are given the option to opt-out this is sufficient to establish consent.

According to the DMA, under the current rules B2B marketers are subject to fewer regulatory requirements than B2C marketers. This is because Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) focuses on protections for consumers. Marketing to corporate employees via electronic channels does not require consent under PECR. These differences have led to confusion in the B2B marketing industry as to how they’ll be affected by GDPR.

They also provide the following useful summary:

10 things B2B marketers need to know about the GDPR:

  1. The GDPR applies if an organisation is processing personal data
  2. B2B marketers use personal data and therefore the GDPR will apply to them too
  3. Corporate email addresses and other contact details are personal data
  4. In fact the GDPR definition of personal data is broad and includes cookies and IP addresses
  5. The GDPR does NOT state that organisations need to obtain an opt-in consent for their marketing
  6. The GDPR lays out 6 legal grounds for processing personal data. All are equally valid.
  7. B2B marketers will be able to make use of the legitimate interest legal ground for their marketing activity in most instances.
  8. Legitimate interest is a subjective legal ground so an organisation must justify their activity and consider the privacy risks for data subjects
  9. Consent is black and white. It is a yes or a no. However, it is a robust standard which may be hard to achieve. If it is, the ICO have said legitimate interest might be the better choice.
  10. GDPR is the overarching framework but there are specific rules for the marketing sector from PECR, which is being revised and will become the ePrivacy Regulation in the future

Click here to read more from the DMA.

Possible changes to the ePrivacy Regulation

Concern was raised in late 2016 when a leaked version of the Commissioners proposals stated B2B marketing via electronic channels would also require a prior opt-in consent. This would mean any marketer wanting to email corporate employees would require opt-in consent, a huge change and challenge for the sector. However, the DMA announced in January with great relief that ePrivacy fears for B2B were averted and the EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Andrus Ansip, had advised that the final version of the Commission text would soften many of the clauses that could have had a significant negative impact on B2B marketers.

The ePrivacy Regulation is still being debated by the EU Parliament and Council so there is a long way to go and nothing is set in stone. In a recent meeting with a leading MEP, Marju Lauristan, responsible for the ePrivacy Regulation, DMA Group CEO, Chris Combemale, raised this very point and explained the potential damage to industry. Marju agreed that the Parliament’s intention wasn’t to unnecessarily restrict B2B marketing.

This continues to be discussed and on 5 December 2017, the European Council released a consolidated version of the ePrivacy Regulation which summarises the work done so far in the European Council as a basis for its future work. The consolidated version also outlines that further internal discussions will be necessary with regards to articles 6, 7 and 8 on a number of elements, namely:

  • as to whether, and to what extent the grounds for processing proposed by the commission need to be completed by additional grounds;
  • in relation to certain grounds permitted under GDPR, keeping in mind the specific nature of the electronic communications data; and
  • on the issue of the protection of the end users terminal equipment and the need to find a balance between ensuring proper privacy protection without undermining legitimate business models.

This suggests that it is still about finding the right balance between protecting privacy, whilst not unnecessarily restricting business. The final proposal to the ePrivacy Regulation is expected in the summer, as currently stated by the German government. However, it may not be until mid / late 2019 that this comes into force.

Do you have a genuine and legitimate reason for contacting someone?

The 39-page document published by the ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office offers guidance around GDPR Consent.  Within it there is this statement regarding ‘legitimate interests’:  “Legitimate interests: if you are a private-sector organisation, you can process personal data without consent if you have a genuine and legitimate reason (including commercial benefit), unless this is outweighed by harm to the individual’s rights and interests.

The concept of a “legitimate interest” is expansive, and it has been established by EU courts and regulators that it is wide enough to encompass activities such as marketing and other business development-related endeavours.

To justify that a legitimate interest applies, businesses will need to:

  • Put a clear focus on who they are targeting and why. Ensure that your messaging is well targeted and directly relevant to the person you are communicating with.
  • Refine what you already know, taking into account best practices when building strategies to communicate with prospects .
  • Build a plan for robust data management (CRM) system in order to track engagement and honour ‘opt outs’ and make sure their database is up to date.

This is all best practice we have always recommended as part of an insight driven and well managed contact programme. By doing this you are not only putting yourself in the best position to comply with the GDPR legislation, but to encourage ‘opt ins’ and engagement with your campaigns and content – and more likely to build long lasting relationships with potential clients.

Please get in contact if you would like further help understanding GDPR and how to prepare for this.


Please note that this article is written from Upfront’s point of view and understanding of GDPR and changes to PECR (which is still in draft as of the publication date of this article). The information herein does not replace qualified legal advice, and should not be takin as such. Please consult with legal experts if you would like further clarification.

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Upfront Breakfast Workshops: Get Ready to Fly out of the Blocks in 2018

At this time of year many of you are busy putting your plans together for the year ahead. Or if you are mid-year, you’re probably using Christmas as a checkpoint to assess your progress and work how to get the most out of the rest of your year. With this in mind, we’ve organised a series of workshops covering some of the areas that will be vital to your success in the period ahead.  These will be practical, interactive sessions where we’ll share ideas and discuss specific issues and challenges you may be facing.

We have lined up expert partners to share their experience, tips and best practice over breakfast. They will be on hand to discuss any questions you have and help you make sure you everything ticked off your ‘To Do’ list to make sure you get off to a flyer in 2018.

Taking place in early December at The Albion (Farringdon), we will be covering the 3 following important topics:

1. Developing Your New Business Strategy
Tuesday 5th December, featuring Adam Graham, Co-Founder of Kiwi Gray

You’ve got your story, now what? There’s an art and science to building a pipeline of quality opportunities. This session will explore how to build a cohesive strategy that:

  • makes the most of your marketing ecosystem
  • focuses your prospecting towards those more likely to convert
  • ensures your commercial objectives will be the driver
  • your marketing will become more effective
  • use of your budgets and resources becomes more efficient

Click here to register your place at this workshop

2. Getting Your Targeting and Tools Right
Wednesday 6th December, featuring Chris Finnegan, Business Development Director at Upstream

Do you know who you are targeting? Why? How and when? This session will help you to provide focus to all your Business Development activity and how you manage it. We will explore:

  • how to define and identify your ideal target clients
  • recommendations for data and intelligence resources and tools
  • best practice for contacting people (GDPR)
  • how to manage your data and CRM sources
  • how to drive inbound and outbound leads with automation technology

Click here to register your place at this workshop

3. How to Develop Great Content
Thursday 7th December, f
eaturing Kerry O’Connor, Partner at Tonic Creative Business Partners

Why is content so important to Business Development? We will be looking at how good content can help drive your Business Development activity. Including:

  • how to identify subjects that will work for you
  • the challenges of developing great content
  • deciding on format and presentation
  • how to use content for maximum impact

Click here to register your place at this workshop

These workshops are perfect opportunity for any new business focussed professionals who are looking for extra insight to help put the finishing touches to their plans for 2018 and would welcome the advice and support of industry experts and peers.

Come and join us and tap into our experience over coffee and breakfast. And get yourself set to make sure you fly out the blocks in 2018.

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