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.

Awkward.

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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Who gets your vote for this year’s BD100?

The UK’s 100 most influential business developers, The BD100 recognises the talent – in-house and consultant, managers and foot soldiers – leading the charge in marketing agency new business and business development.

Upfront is proud to be a founding partner of this year’s annual BD100 List, which ranks the UK’s top 100 business developers – it’s a showcase of the brightest talent driving client-agency relationships in UK marketing today. We shine a light on the skills, the pitches, the wisdom and the techniques of the best in the business – of business development.

Step 1: Nominate

Nominate or get nominated for this year’s BD100. Who in the business development world deserves to be on The List? Who has impressed? Should it be you? Click here and answer seven quick questions before midnight on 31st December 2017 to make your nomination.

Step 2: Pitch

What’s your pitch? We ask nominees to upload a short, punchy pitch that explains their business development successes from 2017. Share your pitch on social with the hashtag #TheBD100 so that peers, fans and friends can vote for you.

Step 3: Get Voting

Get voting. Anyone can view all nominee pitches on our live TINT. The pitch that impresses most – give it your vote, and help to shape this year’s BD100.

The Big Event

To celebrate the UK business development community, get ready for a stylish London bash in early 2018. Meet your peers, find out who made The BD100 List, and get your hands on the complete first edition of The BD100 book.

Click here to find out more and get in contact if you’d like to get involved.

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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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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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Aligning Marketing and New Business: Why is it so Difficult? 

Having a strong reputation and winning new work is the backbone of any business, and it’s no different for creative agencies. But winning new clients is tougher than ever, which is why marketing and new business activity needs to perform and get results. So why do so many creative agencies limit their growth potential by not aligning their marketing and new business activity?

Kerry O’Connor – Consulting Partner at Tonic Partners, a Marketing consultancy for creative businesses – shares her experience and recommendations on how to get it right:

What’s wrong with the current way?

A lot of the issues stem from a misunderstanding of the different functions of marketing and new business. Marketing is the identification of new audiences, what they need and how to sell to them. New business is the selling part, with the team on the front line, building relationships and persuading clients to buy. The role of marketing is often devalued, but both should be recognised as a means to increase revenue.

The next challenge is talent. Most agencies don’t have dedicated resource in these roles and where there is, it’s often not the right skill set. Agencies either don’t know where to find the right talent, or worse don’t even realise they need it. Where there is resource, these departments (or often individuals) work independently with a silo mentality. Their plans are not aligned to the agency’s growth strategy and commercial objectives, nor are they are led by a clear market positioning.

The consequences are clear; huge inefficiencies, duplication of efforts that aren’t driving sales, and money wasted on underperforming resources. Worse still, there’s the danger of not having enough business because there is no platform for growth.

An integrated approach and it’s value

So what’s the alternative? A joined up team with complementary skills and a clear direction, focusing on activities that will have the most impact and influence. A consistent use of positioning, voice and messaging across all activity means more impact, more motivation, and more business. When aligned, marketing and new business can support each other; communication activities can help the sales cycle by adding value in slower lead generation periods, and the new business team can inform content generation by feeding in insights from conversations with prospective clients.

It takes commitment

Achieving this it boils down to three things: process, people and content, all wrapped up with a lot of commitment.

Get your ducks in a row

Before you do anything, take time to understand your agency’s growth strategy and positioning so everyone’s clear on the best opportunities to increase and generate revenue. Create one fully integrated plan, with activities carried out simultaneously, aligned to commercial objectives with common goals.

The focus shouldn’t be just reaching new clients, but retaining existing ones. We all know it’s easier to win business from a current or old client than it is to create a new relationship from scratch. Use content to engage with existing clients; open up a dialogue and gain a deeper understanding of their ambitions and challenges.

Embed marketing and new business in your culture; from inductions, to success stories. Make it part of everyday business life. Winning business and building reputation is everyone’s responsibility, so establish a culture where the whole company is the driving force.

To win in the marketplace, first win in the workspace

Invest in talent; you need the right people in the right positions. Define roles with clear responsibilities and objectives; these are specialists. Your sales team are relationship builders, engaging with decision-makers about key issues; they need to be knowledgeable, confident, with bags of discipline. Your marketers need to be content and digital experts and PRs need to understand the media landscape, know what makes a meaningful story, and have their own little black book of contacts.

Whether you’re outsourcing or building an in-house team, talent is fundamental to success. And once you have your team in place, you need to keep them; ensure they receive the training, development and guidance. All of this is made much easier when it’s driven by strong leadership; figureheads who believe in marketing and new business and spread the word.

Content is still king

The driving force for marketing and new business performance is quality content, amplified through communications channels and lead generation. It’s an integral part of the programme but not easy to crack. It takes time and effort to come up with good campaignable ideas that work. You’re asking clients to take time out of their busy days to engage with you, so you need to demonstrate that you think and deliver differently.   

Ensure your content is driven from your positioning, and that it’s multi-purpose so it can stretch and be tailored for different audiences, sectors and regions. Develop themes and perspectives which are outward-, not inward-looking; addressing clients’ issues and needs, and linking to your offer, skills, achievements and people.

Understand all channels but only focus on those with influence. More than likely you will be short on resource and budget, so start small and build up. And just because we live in a digital world, don’t rely on digital alone; remember the value of face-to-face.

Overcoming obstacles

Of course there are barriers. The first is getting buy-in from your leadership team. Speak their language, focus on results and commercial benefits. The other is resource; there’s never enough people or time, so have a clear focus and reduce objectives. Come up with ideas that you can drive through everything. You can’t do this alone so lean on others in the business. Build strong relationships with leaders and internal teams so everyone understands the objectives, process and value of getting involved. Reinforce the benefits so others want to contribute. If you don’t have enough internal resource, consider partners, mentors and external help who fit with your culture and add value.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it

One size doesn’t fit all. Expect it to be a challenging journey. Commitment and momentum will drive success.

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The Drum Pitch Perfect: Key Insights From The Day

On Thursday 28th September 2017 the Drum hosted it’s annual New Business event, Pitch Perfect. Upfront was in attendance for a day focused on helping agencies to win new business and share ideas to perfect your pitch to help you clinch that all-important client.

With an impressive speaker line up and a wide range of topics covered, here are our highlights and key insights from the presentations on the day:-

The day started with the Drum’s Managing Director, Richard Draycott providing a warm welcome and setting the scene by talking about the impact of wider economic factors on agency new business and – keeping those in mind – the importance of getting this right.

Apply empathy to understand decision makers emotional triggers

The first speaker to take to the stage was Tom Head, Director at Lab, who soon had the room talking to each other as he focused on the importance of taking a human approach to new business. Tom went on to discuss behavioural psychology and apply Lab’s classification of Monkey (how it makes me look), Lion (how it works) and Dog (how it makes me feel) to look at different drivers in client decision making, highlighting the importance of empathy when pitching and understanding emotional triggers.

8 Essential elements of any new business plan

Next up was Jody Sutter, Owner of The Sutter Company and a Business Development consultant who specializes in working with leadership at small to mid-sized ad agencies. Jody talked about the importance of having an annual plan to align expectations and allow you to prepare for, and measure, what can be a chaotic process. Jody shared her 8 essentials elements of any new business plan:

1) Start in the marketplace – understand industry trends and who your competitors are (now and in the future) so you know what you are up against. Don’t just think about things from your own agency perspective, but also consider the impact of changes in the marketplace on the brands you are targeting.

2) Performance – based on your agencies performance, make sure you know your current performance ratios to help you understand what you will need to do to achieve your targets. How is the company performing on new business? What is the split between reactive and proactive opportunities? What is your current pitch conversion rate?

3) Goals & benchmarks – strategic and financial. How much can you rely on organic growth? What is your likely attrition rate? What focus is needed on prospecting un-identifed new business – and what are timescales involved? Jody urged caution to make sure you account for annualised revenue and plan for what happens if you have a slow first quarter.

4) Meeting the goals – how much will you need to pitch to achieve your growth targets? What is reasonable sized client and what will it take to win them? Make sure you budget for new business and support required. Based on feedback from the audience, this is something many agencies aren’t currently doing.

5) Your team – who’s on your team and what do they do? Is it just you? What kind of agency are you? Jody shared a few typical examples: ‘Natural born hunters’, ‘natural born promoters’, ‘small team / multiple hats’, ‘CEO / Chief Sales Officer’, or ‘it’s your job, keep us out of it!’ Make sure you keep roles well organised and  play to your strengths.

6) PR and marketing – does your positioning serve you? How are you telling your story? Make sure you have a joined up plan, which you can email Jody for a template she is happy to share. Make sure your website is working for you. One particularly useful tip was to experiment with blogs which can feed into thought leadership.

7) Operations – what staff, tools, processes and materials do you need to ensure you are effective? How are you finding intelligence on prospects, and how are you tracking progress?

8) Executive summary – written last, goes first. You need a concise summary to your plan, use it to your advantage to highlight the key information from your plan.

Jody finished up her session by advising the audience to start planning NOW to make sure you can get out the gate fast in 2018.

Weave price and value into your proposal

Paul Williamson, Managing Director at Sports Ink, shared an interesting case study around the successful pricing for the 2012 Olympics and the success they enjoyed growing revenue through clever pricing. Paul went on to apply best practice to agency new business and in particular, the tender process. Paul recommended that agencies need to weave price and value into the process and not just have it as the last slide.

The importance of having purpose and thinking like a brand

After lunch, Lena Robinson, Co-Founder of Kiwi Gray had everyone fired up and motivated for the afternoon with her presentation, which looked at how to win before you pitch. Lena was quick to highlight the importance of thinking like a brand, rather than classifying yourself as an agency.

There are over 22,000 agencies out there so you need to have a clear purpose to stand out. A passionate Lena made it clear that purpose has to be lived and breathed by everyone – and to do this, you need to understand why you exist as a business. Don’t just talk about what you do, people are more likely to buy the reason why you do it. And the good news is that businesses with purposes make more money!

Lena went on to explain that this should come from the heart to ensure authenticity. With this comes both power and vulnerability, which is needed for true engagement. Be honest and open and stand up for what you believe in. Then share this through blogs, events and every conversation. Applying this to the pitch process, Lena felt that when responding to a brief, agencies often hold back as they don’t want to say the wrong thing, but a client will want you to guide them and help them identify what they really want. If you stay true to your beliefs you are more likely to win the right type of clients.

In summary, be brave, stick to your guns and remember that new business should be everyone’s responsibility.

#bringonthebrave

Panel Discussion: how to ensure you are Pitch Perfect

It was then time for a panel discussion hosted by Steve Antoniewicz, Head of Consultancy at the Drum. Steve was joined by Greg Roberts, Head of Business Development at JellyfishJulia Fontaine, New Business and Marketing Director at Soul, Pete Gomori, Creative Director at Reading Room, Sasha Rae Russell, Business Development Manager at Banana Kick and Matthew Crissey, Sales Manager at List Partners Inc, to discuss the perfect pitch.

The discussion started by looking at how to prepare for a pitch: Greg highlighted that one of the biggest challenges for agencies is to free up time of the key people who need to be involved. To manage this effectively, Greg shared the process at Jellyfish, where for each pitch they will allocate a pitch lead to facilitate resource internally and a Strategic lead to focus on the pitch story.

Julia agreed that finding people’s time in the process was a key challenge, not just from your team, but the client too. Julia highlighted the importance of building a relationship with the client along the way (pre-pitch), as if you thrown in without having met the client your chances of success are low.

Pete also talked about the importance of getting to know the client and making sure you have done the maximum to understand them. This isn’t only based on your experience of meeting them, but doing your research. Making sure that you (and your team) have read their annual report, watched their videos, looked at their twitter feed. That way you can get a feel for what they are likely to respond to and make sure everyone is looking beyond just saying their bit.

Sasha agreed that it’s all about relationships and discussed the importance of understanding your clients specific requirements and finding ways to bring this to life for them in your pitch. Matthew then took on the conversation to apply this theme in relation to pre-pitch prospecting. Matthew highlighted the importance of using data and intelligence to help you know when and why to reach out to the right person – and using company insight and triggers to inform your approach and ensure relevance.

When it comes to pitching, the conversation moved on to delivery and whether you should practice dramatic theatre. This split opinion and Pete urged people to be themselves – think about how you come across and remember a pitch is not the same as a presentation.

The panel then discussed what happens if you don’t get the result you were hoping for. If you have built a relationship with the prospect you should ask for feedback and try to ensure as open and transparent as possible. Sometimes it can be a good idea for a CEO or Owner to ask a stakeholder for blunt feedback to get past the stock answers of ‘cultural fit’ or ‘close second’. Then try and understand what you could have done better.

If you do mange the perfect pitch and are lucky enough to win the business, also ask for feedback so you understand why.

Thanks to the Drum for a great day and some really useful take outs. Hopefully some of these will help you to perfect your pitch against the other 22,000 agencies out there.

Good luck!

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Planning for Growth: Key Insights from Upfront’s ‘Straight Talking’ Seminar

On Tuesday 19th September, Upfront hosted a breakfast seminar looking at how to plan and manage agency growth as the latest instalment of our ‘Straight Talking’ series. We brought together Founders, Owners, Managing Directors and Business Developers from a wide range of agencies to discuss the topic of growth.

Together with our impressive speakers and guest panel – which included Ian Farnfield, Mark Barber and Mary Keane-Dawson – we explored how agencies can plan, champion and create the right culture for growth and how to tackle the pressures and common barriers that can arise when expanding your business.

Ian Farnfield, partner at Creative Business consultancy Tonic Partners, shared his first hand experience as CEO of running two Global Brand agencies and provided a thought provoking presentation on how to plan for growth. Ian stressed the importance of minimising the ‘Reality Gap’ between ambitions and actions for growth. Ian highlighted the three critical elements involved in achieving this: the clarity of ambition, a clear action plan for growth and commitment to action.

The Clarity of Ambition

Agencies must outline their ambitions and clarify why they want to grow. Agencies need to understand what they want to grow, is it momentum, reputation or sale? Then look at what’s needed: clients and revenue, profitability and value. And think about the timescales involved, quickly or long term?

Action Plan for Growth

It’s then important to turn your ambition into action.

Where are your best opportunities to grow clients and revenues? Agencies must decide whether to continue with the same type of work or concentrate on new sectors or different types of work, stay in their home markets or go international, etc.

The next step is then to construct a plan on how to win that business. Look at what business development and marketing activities are required and understand whether you have the expertise and resources to implement properly, or identify what additional skills and support do you need to add.

You will also need to understand how the pursuit of growth may impact on your existing business. What does this mean for your cash flow and margins and will your senior management team be able to deal with the distraction of growth in their day-to-day activities?

An action plan should include all key actions and activities and have clear measures of success. This should not be constrained by the annual results cycle, you need to develop a plan that covers the period you are interested in and ensure your targets are practical and focussed.

Commitment to Action

Ideas and strategy plans are great, but a CEO has to decide if he/she, the team, the company really care about achieving the growth ambition. Nothing will happen without commitment to the end goal and the correct attitude to the task. Key questions you have to address:

  • Does everyone understand the plan?
  • Are all the key people suitably motivated and incentivised?
  • Is the ambition at the core of the day to day business?
  • Are there simple measures in place to assess progress?
  • Is the business agile enough to adapt to stay on track?
  • Are the management team prepared to make the tough decisions?

Growth can change cultures, attitudes and commitment, both positively or negatively.

Next up, Mark Barber, Strategic Communications, PR, Marketing and Business Consultant, shared his experience within both independent and global agencies and his insights into working with some of the UK’s most recognised consumer, b2b and media brands. Mark reinforced Ian’s sentiments that agencies need to build a culture where the entire team is focused on new business, it is everyone’s responsibility, from the receptionist to the CEO. The commitment to the overall ambition of your agency must be inherited by everyone within your business. Your people should know and understand the action plan and should be suitably motivated and incentivised to reach your goals. The agency ambition needs to be at the core of your day to day business.

Mark also stressed the importance of clearly defining the type of business you are looking to win in the short, medium and long term. Think creatively and build and nurture relationships with each of these targets and make sure you understand their business.

Mary Keane-Dawson then took to the floor to share her experience as a digital maven and entrepreneur, with a proven track record of growing and scaling companies shared her experience gained from roles at WPP, Steak, Reform, Collective, Ogilvy and now TMG PLC’s Global CEO of Performance Media.

Mary discussed some of the challenges when achieving rapid growth and how important it is to make sure that, operationally, you are set up to manage this. Mary shared her experience at Steak who went through a tremendous period of growth in a very short space of time and the importance of getting the right processes in place to sustain this.

When planning for growth, many agencies will have exit in mind. Mary shared her experience of growing and selling 3 different businesses. Mary advised caution for those looking to sell to a network, as it can result in loss of agency identity and culture. The hard work often starts after you have sold and client opportunities are not as free flowing as you would expect, with other agencies just as likely to copy your offer as provide referrals.

International expansion is often another big focus for growing agencies and the audience posed interesting questions around how to manage this. The panel shared their collective experience of operating in different countries where there was a big difference to the approach to work and time outside of it. The cultures in different countries can differ greatly and it was recommended that you should be careful not to simply try to recreate the same as you have in the UK.

In summary, to achieve the right type of growth: you need to know what you want to achieve, plan for it and be mindful of the different challenges that each route will present, and then make sure everyone is fully committed to it.

The final message from all the speakers was that you also need to make sure you have fun along the way and enjoy the journey!

To find out more about how your agency can plan for growth, please get it touch.

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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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Straight Talking with Tonic and e3 – Event Takeaways

Yesterday Upfront welcomed a fantastic array of representatives from a diverse cross-section of agencies to hear two fantastic speakers discuss the importance of a joined-up approach to business development, marketing and communications.

In a packed room at The Zetter Townhouse, we were treated to talks from Tonic founder Kerry O’Connor and e3 Business Director Miranda Glover. The day’s presentations were moderated by our very own Guy Edwards, Director of New Business at Upfront.

Kerry’s presentation highlighted the consequences of not aligning an agency’s marketing and new business teams, and spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well! She then gave us insightful tips on the process, talent and resources required to implement a successful new business and marketing strategy.

Miranda followed with a wonderful, working example of how e3 is moving into a new business culture. Taking David Bowie as her inspiration, Miranda delivered a rousing demonstration of how e3 have developed a strategy, much like the one described in Kerry’s previous message.

One thing that really stood out as key, in both presentations, is the need to make new business part of the agency culture and having the right people, in the right roles, to maximise their potential and drive new business:

In Kerry’s words: “your team has to buy into the [new business] process for it to really work. Embed New Business in culture and encourage people to get involved.”

This was echoed in Miranda’s talk, as she encourages agencies to “look at the talents you have within your agency and exploit them! It’s good for your business culture, and good for your employee satisfaction.”

Both presentations were packed full of insight, and we will be posting a full breakdown of the top-tips from both, very soon.

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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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