Tag Archives: lead generation

Which CRM systems are best for agency new business?

July 24, 2014


We often help agencies set up a CRM system to manage their lead generation and new business pipeline.

Our favourite is Highrise:



It starts at US$24 per month for 6 users and is simple and pleasant to use. Anyone can get their head around it super quickly. It is made by 37Signals and in the 3 years we’ve used it, we’ve never had a single problem or glitch with the software.

The only downside is that you can’t export business development reports for board meetings. The pretty basic reporting can only be viewed within the system.

Others worth a look:


Nimble integrates social listening, which can sometimes provide the extra bit of insight to fuel a new business approach.


US$15 per user per month.


Pipedrive is probably the most visual which is a big plus for some people. It is also probably the most basic. Again not a bad thing for some agency requirements.


US$9 per user per month.


Nutshell prides itself on its detailed visual reporting.


US$15 per user per month.


Podio combines project management & CRM. The customisation take a bit of effort to set up, but does mean you can tailor this CRM system to your needs.


US$9 per user per month.


Insightly can be popular with agencies who use Google Mail as it synchs pretty seamlessly with contacts and emails.


From US$7 per user per month.

The likes of Zoho, Sugar, ACT! and SalesForce have all been tested and found to be clunky, slow, expensive and often much too complex for agencies’ lead management.

Happy spring cleaning of your data and getting organised!

If you’d like a helping hand from The Future Factory team, please get in touch.

Leave a comment...

Ensuring a good first impression of your agency to new business prospects

February 28, 2013


If you’re going to start trying to lure new clients to your honeypot, here are a few things to check and/or get ready before you begin.


1. Google your agency name.

Are you easy to find?! Is there any bad PR that comes up?


2. Get your website up to date – the fewer the words the better.

Some examples of agency websites we like:


An easy to find client list, and a one sentence, jargon free proposition, will make visitors happy.


3. Check your company LinkedIn profile.

Are all your team on there? Are your proposition and contact details up to date?


4. Now and again you’ll be asked to send creds to a cold prospect you’re trying to impress. Ideally these should just be a page or two highlighting your most noteworthy achievements. If someone wants more detail they can investigate your website, or discuss further with you in person.

This is a brilliant example:


A video showreeel is another great way to convey your agency’s ethos and a worthwhile investment.



5. Make sure your team have all had a quick briefing on how to answer incoming calls. Make sure they always sound cheery, professional, and helpful. If they can’t help the person, make sure they take a message rather than relying on the prospect to ‘call back later’.

Leave a comment...

Pitching guidance on procurement-led pitches & e-auctions

August 23, 2012


As much as no one enjoys it, we’re seeing the agencies The Future Factory work with being confronted with e-auctions and procurement-led pitches more and more often.

Agency teams still seem to be finding their feet in whether to even enter into such pitches, and if they do, what to expect.

Helpfully, the IPA has released new guidance to agencies and clients regarding procurement-led pitches and, specifically, the use of e-auctions.

You can download the one pager here from the IPA’s website.

Leave a comment...

Marketing Awards Calendar 2012

August 14, 2012


The Marketing awards season is coming up, but how many have your agency gone in for?

For a comprehensive list of the awards you should be considering, and the submissions deadlines, download The Future Factory’s recommended list and calendar of dates here.

A few of the key awards  have their entry deadlines for 2013, this side of Christmas, so get planning early if you want to make your agency famous next year, and make the job of new business that little bit easier.


Leave a comment...


May 29, 2012


When The Future Factory first start working with a new agency we are primarily targeted to open doors with brands.

We are confident that the meetings we arrange are of a higher standard that other new business agencies (over 50% of our meetings are with Directors or Heads of Marketing / Comms / Digital) however at the end of the day, the longevity of our agency relationships is (understandably) determined by ROI.

So, whilst approximately one third of meetings lead to live opportunities, how can agencies ensure that they also convert longer term new business opportunities?

This is where lead generation becomes business development.

There should be a focused and ongoing effort to develop and ‘farm’ these long term relationships as, provided your new business strategy has ensured you have attended qualified meetings with brands relevant to your agency’s growth plans, there should be a high likelihood that each of those brands will  be spending sizeable budget on marketing support within the next 18 months.

It may not be enough just to be front of mind at the right time – this is a term used a lot in the agency world. Rapport and a relationship should be developed over time.

Agencies are prepared to do purely speculative marketing and profile raising techniques to get their names in trade press a handful of times a year. Although thought leadership, commentary and general PR are all very valuable tools, they are a relatively slow (and un-targeted) way to generate new business.

Instead, try focusing your marketing efforts on the brands you already have a profile with – the brands you have met face to face.

– Watch what that brand is doing over the course of a year and react to it. Don’t just rely on a generic phone call once every three months. Combine it with relevant information which shows you genuinely do care about and want to work with the brand.

– Invite the contacts you have met with to your new business events.

– Organise a round table with people you have met who have related challenges.

– Write a thought piece relating to the sector insights gathered through several new business meetings.

Of course the above can also be adapted and used to support cold approaches.

My main point and advice to agencies is not to use lead generation businesses to churn through brands, purely seeking immediate new business opportunities. These are definitely plentiful when you’re having a high volume of new business conversations every week, but when considering your agency marketing plans, a strategy which focuses on the relationships you already have is the smartest way to leverage your new business activity.

Leave a comment...

100 Creative Collateral Ideas

May 4, 2012


As the saying goes  – you can always tell a cobbler by his shoes (because they have holes in the sole). Take note marketing agencies and your own promotion, especially when prospecting for new business.

We work in a creative industry, so whether you’re a digital, PR, marketing or design agency, your collateral and case studies should be presented in a creative and memorable way!

Although new business development largely relies on relationship building, along with strong case studies and relevant past experience, there’s no excuse for dull and formulaic collateral. Lead generation can be made easier if the prospect remembers your name, portfolio, branding or showreel.

We’ve collected 100 beautiful and creative examples of ways in which businesses have presented themselves – see the examples below, and more on our Pinterest – click here.

If you’d like to speak with any of our senior team about how we help agencies stand out and have new business success, give us a call.

Leave a comment...

We’re speaking at Digital Shoreditch! Business Development tips for digital agencies.

May 3, 2012


Summit Day – Friday 1st June – 12.30

We’re speaking on the final (and best) day – Summit Day – 1st June. We’ll be on at 12.30 with a quick fire 5 minutes of top tips for winning new business, followed by a 1 hour Table Top Session between 1pm and 2pm which will be a more intimate Q&A session.

Open to anyone with tickets for the day. Digital Shoreditch is the festival celebrating the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of East London and Tech City. The festival runs from May 21st to June 1st 2012, includes talks, showcases, competitions, workshops, open studios, exhibitions and parties that will engage, inspire and celebrate the cream of the digital crop.

Over the two weeks the festival is bringing together outstanding local and international talent. With themes for each day covering a range of topics from what’s next in digital and play to funding, capital and brands to innovation, design and new ideas.

Leave a comment...

Are your team turning away new business leads and potential new clients?

April 30, 2012


A good portion of my time every week is spent contacting creative agencies for The Future Factory’s own business development. I tend to be contacting Business Development Directors, as well as Managing Directors – the same people that a client who was interested in talking to you about engaging your services would want to speak to.

Most of the time I get hold of the person I’m looking to speak to, and I get to have some very interesting and fruitful conversations.

Often enough however, before I get through to a senior team member, my call is very badly handled.

Now understandably I am in essence making a sales call, so yes the account teams and receptionists who take my call and block my approach may be doing the right thing, but none seem to check whether I am an inbound call from the agency’s dream brand client. I am after all saying that “I’m calling regarding new business”.

Despite this I am often told:

“They’re not here”

My name is not taken, they don’t offer to take a message, they don’t ask if there is anyone else who could help with my enquiry.

Sometimes agency phones ring out with no answer at all.

Other times I’m told there is a no names policy within the agency, so despite the fact that I’m calling regarding “new business”, I’m told I can’t be put through to the relevant person, or be given an email address for them.

I don’t seem to be the only person who has experienced marketing and communications agencies potentially making their job of business development a whole lot slower than it could be.

In this article, Diane Young, Director at the Recommended Agency Register, describes her experiences of trying to get through to agencies over the phone and via their websites when she didn’t have an existing relationship within the company.

Make sure you check your website against her points and brief your team on how to handle inbound calls and potential new business opportunities.

Leave a comment...


April 2, 2012


I came across this article on Creative Boom posted by Katy Cowan and thought it would be worth sharing as I hear myself preaching allot of the same points.

Farming new business contacts is hugely important, especially when you have a regular or solid lead generation process. Many creative agencies find it hard to justify spending the time needed to keep front of mind with prospective brands. If you do invest and formalise this process you will reap the benefits. Check out Katy’s tips below…


Clients are like plants. You have to keep watering them if you want to see them grow. This means you have to ensure they’re happy and well-served by having regular contact with them.

As all good relationships are based on strong communication, it’s crucial you keep the contact chain open. Because if you don’t? Well, a client will feel neglected and is likely to take their business elsewhere.

But how do you stay in touch without becoming a stalker? How do you ensure you have a healthy relationship without hassling anyone? Here are my top tips on how to successfully keep in touch with clients…

Create a database

Before you do anything else, create a spreadsheet detailing all of your existing clients. Type in their names, phone numbers, email addresses, Twitter accounts… anything that will help you stay in touch. Add notes about how they like to be contacted, i.e. some might only like telephone communication while others might prefer email.

Get personal

When creating your database, throw in a little ‘intelligence’ about each person, i.e. listing what they like and something about their personal life… for example, Client A is married, has two children called Bertie and Matilda and on Sundays she goes running in the Peak District wearing nothing but a banana suit. This means that whenever you contact a client in future, you can ask about their families or outdoor pursuits to add a personal touch.

Go with your gut feeling

If you’ve not spoken to a client for some time and you get that gut feeling they might be thinking about you, pick up the phone and call them. Do it before you even get that gut feeling. Because if you sense that a client is wondering where the hell you are… you’ve probably left it too late.

Arrange meetings

Nothing beats face-to-face communication, so arrange regular meetings with clients to keep your relationship strong. Ensure your meeting etiquette is spot on, i.e. be punctual, smartly-dressed and professional. Greet clients with a firm handshake, smile and look them in the eye. If you’re having a lunch meeting, don’t rush your food and always remember table manners.

Have a blog

Blogging and writing about your own expertise is a great yet indirect way to stay in touch with clients. You’re showing your customers that you can solve business problems and that you know what you’re doing. Blog on a regular basis and then share your articles via regular e-newsletters or emails to keep in touch.

Send regular e-newsletters

Informing clients about your work, recent testimonials, case studies or even sharing blog posts through a regular e-newsletter or e-mailer is a great way to keep the contact chain open. Set something up through an online service like MailChimp and fire out campaigns on a weekly or monthly basis – whichever you feel is appropriate.

Leave comments on their blogs

Another great way to stay in touch without going overboard is to leave smart comments on your client’s blog or own articles. Make sure you use correct spelling and punctuation and say something really interesting. It will capture your client’s attention and impress them.

Make use of Twitter

You know that weekly #FF on Twitter where you recommend people to follow? Give a friendly recommendation to your clients, so they know you’re thinking of them. They’ll appreciate the support and you’ll stay well and truly on their radar.

Connect on Facebook

Most businesses have a Facebook Page these days, so make sure you ‘like’ your client’s and regularly stay in touch with them by responding to their updates. It will keep you in the loop.

Get in touch on LinkedIn

To continue strengthening your relationships, find your clients on LinkedIn and connect with them. Once connected, make sure you regularly update your own profile so clients can see what you’re doing. Add positive posts about your business and recent successful projects you’ve completed.

Show sincere appreciation

Whenever a customer hires you, gives you a referral or does something to help you overall, don’t forget to thank them and show your sincere appreciation for their generosity or custom. Your loyalty is just as important and acknowledging their business is the best way to keep a client relationship strong.

Send out the odd marketing tool

Last but not least, the most obvious way to stay in touch with clients is by sending out marketing things like postcards, Christmas cards or even gifts like key-rings or fridge magnets. However, not every client will appreciate this kind of approach, so use your discretion and try and come up with fresh and interesting ways to market yourself. For example, I got a free mug from Warrington design firm Future once and still use it today. I’m not one of their clients. They simple wanted some exposure on Creative Boom and it worked! Do the same with your own clients to successfully keep in touch.

Leave a comment...


January 25, 2012


Business development is a strange old beast, We should know, over the years our senior team have managed the process and worked closely with around 50+ creative agencies. It never gets boring, and why should it, every agency / business is in a different position and each have their own personalities within.

Whether you’re planning on exploring different new business agencies or developing a team in-house, we’ve identified some of the most important factors, which you can influence, and which will ensure a business development drive delivers ROI.

1. Positive attitude and ambition

New business isn’t all a numbers game, but a volume of calls will ensure faster results. This job takes some energy, and even the most enthusiastic person can start to feel deflated by the whole task if the people they’re delivering results for aren’t behind them 100% with lots of interest, passion and excitement.

We’ve found that agencies with the right resource and ethos approach any prospect meeting as an opportunity. Using information provided to prepare thoughts, ideas and generally impress.

2. Focus

The clearer you are about what your agency does, what brands you want to work with, and what you’d like to do for those brands, the faster you’ll penetrate your dream companies and get appropriate work. If you don’t know what you want, don’t expect someone new to your business to hit the nail on the head straight away.

Proposition is one thing but internal politics is often over looked. Each senior member of your team need to be focused on one goal.

3. Time

You should be inputting on which brands are being targeted and why, on an ongoing basis. Keep your eyes on the look out for brands who could do with your magic touch! What would you do for them if you had a blank brief? What do you think of their recent work? Let them know! If you get the opportunity to meet with a relevant decision maker, whether there’s a live opportunity or not, find the time to start building a relationship with them and convincing them why they should be working with you on their next project.

4. Profile

You’re a marketing agency – get the basics right for yourself!

Your web presence and credentials should be up to date, clear, simple and concise. At the same time, make sure you make yourself memorable and take the opportunity of a decision maker looking at your collateral to impress!

Consider how to position yourself as a thought leader within the industry you want to grow your client base, through PR and your own social media.

5. Partnership

If working with a new business agency, treat the relationship like a partnership, in which you both take equal level of interest, you both input equally, and ensure you are both on the same page in terms of direction, focus and desired outcomes.

Leave a comment...


December 13, 2011


Stylist magazine has kindly asked The Future Factory’s Managing Director, Alex to take part in one of their Lunchtime Masterclasses on Friday 16th December at 1pm.

The class encourages budding entrepreneurs to take part in a Q&A session with successful business women. Everyone at The Future Factory is excited to be part of this and proud to have Alex’s face splattered allover the stylist.co.uk and the magazine itself.

Click here for a biog and what to expect.

Leave a comment...


November 7, 2011


–    Be targeted
Before anything else, draw up your hit list – the 30 companies you most want to work with. This is your starting point and allows you to remain focused and motivated in a way that working through a list of 200 companies, won’t.  Working with a small target list will make it easier to keep up to date on news relevant to your target.

   Know your competitors.
It is important to know where your agency sits in the pecking order, and to be pragmatic about the clients you want to target. If you’re going after the biggest clients in your industry, would you be confident pitching against your most successful competitors?

    Be organised.
It seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people fall at this hurdle (although, that shorter list will help). When you send an email, follow it up on the phone! If posting collateral, follow it up on the phone! There’s a pattern, and it involves the phone. If you’re asked to call back in six months use your calendar, or a simple CRM such as HighRise, to set a reminder, and follow up in four.

  Be personal.
Rapport is important – people want to work with an agency they like, and vice versa. Your company may not be the frontrunner, but if your competitor lacks interpersonal skills, you’re still in with a shot. This goes for all forms of communication. Being informal and interesting will make you stand out from the crowd – and avoid template emails, they are a real turn-off.

Don’t be scared to show your sense of humour. One consultant helped win business from a confectionary company by joking with the Marketing Director about her least favourite flavour of their sweet and how sick it made her feel. She made herself memorable and just two weeks later, received a global brief.

   Utilise every tool in your toolkit.
What is a worker without their tools?  The telephone, email and your lovely personality are your primary tools so make the most of them.

After these comes social media. LinkedIn is a professional platform, so make the most of it. In the last year, over 50% of our new business came through LinkedIn. Pimp your profile and contact the decision makers you want to work with via direct messaging.  Think laterally. If you can’t send an invitation to someone, look at which groups they are part of, and join the same ones – you will then be able to send your invitation.

–    Involve your team
It’s important to build a new business ethos among your team. Ask them who they’d like to work with and get them thinking about new business. You’ll be surprised how often your employees’ personal contacts work in the companies you want to target. Think six degrees of separation…

–    Keep an eye on tender websites
A short but sweet tip is to keep an eye on tender websites. There are many to choose from and they target businesses of all shapes and sizes. In recent weeks I’ve seen an advertising tender for Eurostar and even tenders for baked beans and crayons.

   The boss isn’t always your best bet
For a number of reasons, the most senior person in the company isn’t always the best person to carry out lead generation. I once came across an MD who had everyday experience rubbing elbows with celebrities but was hopeless at cold-calling. He could have confidently chatted Marc Jacobs’ ear off, but what about Mary the Brand Manager at Company X? Forget it.

Find someone sociable with the gift of the gab – combined with hunger, drive, and intelligence. They’ll put a much-needed oomph behind your new business drive. Consider placing the responsibility with a junior. It can be a very positive exercise, stimulating enthusiasm and creativity, especially if you position the role as being at the forefront of growing the company

Leave a comment...