Tag Archives: New Business

Hiring a Business Development Director for a creative agency

July 31, 2014


By Neil Mitra, Dylan Recruitment

The role of Business Development Director is often the only senior level role that is created from scratch with no precedence. A lot of reliance is put on this outsider to help an agency stand out in a saturated and competitive market. They are seen as a catalyst for change, growth and a more predictable and pro-active future.

The first stage of their induction should be to review the agency’s past areas of success.

What makes brands buy into us as an agency? What do we want to do in the future? What do we deliver best? What do we want to be famous for? Where are the strongest opportunities for us? The Business Development Director must figure out what has been driving previous success and how to bottle it.

Essentially those answers will form the basic new “New Business Strategy”.

Developing internal relationships should be the second stage of the induction period. Business Development Directors thrive on knowledge. The more they know the more likely they will be successful. They need to be allowed to ask questions across the business and work with talent from client services, planning and creative. The Business Development Director should identify and work with the people who have a natural flair for showcasing how awesome their agency is. Luckily agencies are full of characters so these are usually not hard to find!

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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.

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August 22, 2013


In the world of new business and business development, your website is one of the key components that can really make or break your success. With it being the main point of contact for an individual who is unfamiliar with your agency, first impressions really do count. No matter how good your email, phone or face-to-face conversation, if your website doesn’t clearly communicate who you are, what you do and how you do it then it can be a stumbling block to say the least.

Agencies spend a remarkable amount of time debating the intricacies of their proposition and how to make themselves sound different and better than the rest; words like ‘creative’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘innovative’ are fast losing any sort of impact whatsoever. The golden rule, as with many things, is to keep it simple – avoid jargon and buzzwords like the plague (we’ve ranted about this previously and I’m sure we will again). A good example is Holler, here’s what they say about themselves:

“Holler are a creative agency that prioritises engagement over advertising. Put simply, we get people talking about your brand.”

Next, once you’ve nailed how to describe yourself, have a little think about how you present yourself. You can go for a big and glitzy website or a tried and tested method (the never-ending scroller seems to be the look du jour), but if in doubt, again, just keep it painfully simple.

Whatever form your website takes, there are really only 3 vital elements you need to include:

– a homepage (preferably with short, introductory video content)

– a clients / previous work page (including the challenge, solution, outcome format for each campaign or project)

– an ‘about us’ page (with something about your history, team and contact details)

Endless pages describing how you work are not necessary – let the work itself and the results do the talking for you. If you want a blog then go for it, but make sure it adds value.

That modern-day phenomenon, the fear of missing out, is pretty appropriate to what we’ll call ‘website overloading’. The fear of missing out any minute detail of your agency can result in a confused and text-heavy presentation – remember that most people really don’t care enough or have the time to read 5 pages about your approach to social media. Simplicity implies confidence.

So, in the interests of illustrating how to keep things simple, here’s all of the above in 3 bullet points…

– Define your proposition almost as if describing what you do to your mum (but not your gran – patronising is bad).

– Keep your website free of clutter and to the point – 3 or 4 key pages is really all you need.

– Use videos effectively as, when done correctly, they’re simply more engaging than text.

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The philosophy behind good tweets

February 19, 2013


By Charlotte Thomson


Seth Godin, marketing wizard and commentator, has always maintained that in this new era of selling to consumers- deceit and manipulation are no longer paramount. To spread an idea, some information or a concept, it must simply be remarkable and flourish. He cited 20 reasons as to why people share ideas in one of his blog pieces. Here are 5 that are entirely applicable to engagement in the social realm:

Because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.

Because it’s funny and laughing alone is no fun.

Because I can use the idea to introduce people to one another, and making a match is both fun in the short run and community-building.

Because your idea says something that I have trouble saying directly (AA, a blog post, a book).

I spread your idea because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.


The same spread/share factors clearly apply in striving for engagement in the social sphere.


It is not only brands that have to adopt thisendless quest to generate interest online and cause it to spread- but the agencies themselves that call these brands their clients.


In advertising and displaying themselves in the social sphere- agencies should endeavor to display the very same panache ingarnering support online as they can do for their clients, and one of the more obvious ways to assess this is by having a peruse of their Twitter accounts. Look for the tweets that startle you, inspire you to research, compel you to share, make you laugh and make you feel like you’re an appreciator of something worthy, and, even brilliant.

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Best creative agency twitter accounts

February 18, 2013


Twitter may not be a direct source of new business for agencies, but it’s a business development tool not to be ignored.


An agency’s social media output should be thought-provoking, original and insightful.


The agencies we feel are doing it best:



(23,939 followers. 3,752 tweets)



(1,797 followers. 1,329 tweets)



(927 followers. 516 tweets)


Others doing it well:



DLK Lowehttps://twitter.com/dlkwlowe


The Red Brick Roadhttps://twitter.com/TheRedBrickRd


Proximity Londonhttps://twitter.com/proximityLDN


Brave Londonhttps://twitter.com/BraveLondon







And how do they do it well? Their output is a mixture of industry news, intelligent insight and opinion, current affairs and humorous ponderings. The very best agency Twitter accounts have an aspect of unpredictability in what they say, which keeps an audience coming back to discover, and feel that they are in on something novel and forward-thinking- which is exactly how an agency should want to be perceived.


We focused on twitter accounts for the simple reason that output via Tweet is quick, concise and should be impactful and interesting.


Those doing it not so well


We found that a vast majority of agencies use social media, especially twitter, for pretty unsubtle self-promotion. Of course, that’s one of the functions of the medium, but pummeling followers with news of account wins, team news (“it’s Vicky’s birthday! #cakefun” “Jack has been wearing lots of pink this week! #questionable”) and employment opportunities might keep the team in the loop, but isn’t really going to engage a wider audience, and it is unlikely to generate much sharing/re-tweeting in the sphere.

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An agency proposition needn’t use jargon to be credible

January 29, 2013


Buzz words are a necessary evil in marketing… or are they? To be honest, I personally think it’s the fastest way to tell if someone is a bull sh**er or not. If you aren’t able to explain your agency proposition in a clear and concise way to your mum, then it needs work!

This niggle of mine has been studied by psychologists at New York University which found that “statements of the very same content were judged as more probably true when they were written in concrete language than when they were written in abstract language”. The study used a number of experiments to test the impact of linguistic concreteness on subjective truth.

One of the most successful agencies we have worked for was a design agency. They specialised in packaging design for alcoholic drinks. They were one of the most successful agencies internationally in their field. That is how we described them. We didn’t describe them as market leading cross-disciplined brand truth detectives, igniting purchase decisions by delivering the goose-bump factor and category disruption.

If the purpose of a proposition is to explain to someone what you do / what you offer, make sure yours delivers to the brief. This is no less important in business development, when you will be taking your agency proposition to people who do not know what you do. When the default response to a cold call might be “no thanks” you need to be sure you can elicit a “I need an agency that does that” as quickly as possible.

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Lifestyle business or aiming to sell?

December 11, 2012


By Bryan Wilsher, Business Consultant – Ideation, Chairman at BEcause, and ex CFO of Loewy Group.

Lifestyle business or aiming to sell? This is one of the first questions I ask the agency owners since it shapes the whole approach to how they will want to see the business developed. If it is to sell – typically identified by the owners as “in 3 to 5 years time” – it is then essential to understand just how much they want to see in their pockets!

This guides quantifying how aggressively profits (& revenue!) must grow to achieve that sale price. And that informs the discipline, professionalism and investment the agency has to put into both business development and their new business efforts; this being a key part of a comprehensive business review that will deliver benefits to the agency. The cost of an agency review / health check? Budget £5,000 to £8,000.

A review and follow up guidance to make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals can cover areas including finance & tax planning, HR structures, client contracts & profitability, risk assessment and IP creation, as well as a look into how growth is planned for and what new business strategy you have in place for delivering to targets.

Whatever your aims, remember that you need to ensure the ‘fun factor’ remains – there’s nothing better than looking forward to heading into work and, few things worse than dreading it!!!



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Office wall illustration by James Ward

November 12, 2012


This weekend we left the keys to our new office in the trusted hands of illustrator James Ward.
This is what we had the lovely surprise of finding on our walls this morning!


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View from the team – Kimi

October 15, 2012


Why Being Completely Outsourced Doesn’t Work 

Outsourced consultants aren’t as accountable as those who have a genuine relationship with you.

A New Business Manager is more likely to set up unqualified meetings if they don’t feel any accountability. Let me put it to you this way: Imagine having to spend the rest of the day sat next to the director who, just an hour earlier, you had sent to Slough to meet with a Marketing Executive at a business that’s gone into administration (sorry for the hyperbole but you get the picture). A pretty awful situation that makes a tongue-lashing over the phone pale in comparison.

If you can’t hear your Business Development Manager on the phone, how do you know what they’re saying about you and your agency?

Having access to their CMS system is fine and well but reading a few lines about how a conversation went is nowhere near the same as hearing the conversation yourself firsthand. Having a New Business person work in your office at least part of the time ensures they are talking about your agency the way you want them to. It also means they are part of your agency’s culture and soaking up the ethos, thereby putting them in an even better position to represent you on the phone.

 Day-to-day bits and bobs are faster face-to-face.

Juggling diaries, talking through warm leads and upcoming meetings, chasing you for creds and other info…It all happens much faster face-to-face.

Totally outsourced New Business Consultants don’t have the same sense of loyalty.

One of the questions we get asked most often is whether our team share leads with each other. In a word, no: They don’t. The reason for this is because each one is genuinely gunning for their agency. Admittedly, we’re not as integrated as a full-time member of staff, but 3 days a month is plenty of time for water cooler banter, tea rounds, team lunches, and cigarette breaks, all which make consultants feel like they’re in the club.

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September 21, 2012


Why Working In House Makes All The Difference

As a relative newby to the world of new business I’m obviously still very much learning and things can take a little while to make sense. However two things are for sure, communication is key and know your client!

What better way to get these down to a T than to spend time in an agency office, learning their ethos, getting to know the people that make it happen, and adjusting to their music tastes…nothing like 90’s classics to get you through a Thursday afternoon!

Thinking about it, if we didn’t spend time in our clients’ offices when would we see them? We’d just be some ghost that occasionally pops in for a catch up meeting. All other communication would be over the phone and by email and that’s just not the same as face to face. Business development is a tough game and has to be approached as a partnership!

As much as I love The Future Factory HQ, personally I like a change of scenery, it keeps me excited and enthusiastic, two things that I’ve learned go a long way when trying to stand out from the crowd (and a very big crowd at that). When I’m sat at my desk in a client’s office the buzz and excitement I see feeds through me when I’m speaking to prospects, and any questions or queries can be answered in a matter of seconds.

On the soppy side it almost feels like a reunion when returning to The Future Factory HQ after a couple of days away!

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September 14, 2012


Creativity & new business

In the world of new business, e-mail is your unsuspecting nemesis. Used by so many but loved by so few, this modern day format of communication so oft relied upon can be a real pain for the precise reason above.

In 2010, over 294 billion emails were sent every day. That’s 2.8 million every second. How on earth does any creative, PR or digital agency stand a chance of bursting out from the masses of Viagra deals and offers of shady international banking services that clog up the average email users screen – let alone from any of it’s competitors?

Fret no more as here are your answers:

1.     Choose your subject title wisely. Don’t use your agency’s name you dufus – anyone can see that from hovering their mouse over your email for one second, which is most likely what they’re going to do if they’re even thinking about clicking. This is your first point of contact so use your imagination, maybe look at their recent campaigns and try to think of something related? Anything a bit out of the ordinary is much more likely to gain a read rather than “My Agency Introduction”.

2.     Do your research. Look at who you’re sending the email to. See whether they or their brand has been mentioned in the trade press recently, scout their LinkedIn for previous roles, even take a look at their Facebook if it pops up. You might think that’s a little far but “if it’s in the public domain, it’s all fair game!” (Trademark pending)

3.     Don’t be a robot. Copy and paste emails can be spotted a mile off – even if you try and personalise them a little with a nice couple of sentences either side. The best responses I’ve had have been from emails written from scratch in a casual and conversational tone. At the end of the day you’ve got to remember that it’s a human on the receiving end of that email address.

4.     Have a sense of humour. Similar but different to the previous point and entirely dependent on what kind of a person you’re talking to. But cracking the odd joke can’t hurt your chances – if you can sneak in a few brand related wordplays and one-liners you might at least get a chuckle out of them to provoke a response.

So you’ve sent your crazy emails and got nothing back – now what? Think outside of your computer screen. Hell, maybe even go knock on their door (the brand this is, not the human!). Write a poem, post a letter to them or paper-aeroplane it through their 2nd story window, whatever it takes to show just how keen you are to have a chat with them!

New business is a tricky concept in itself, partly due to the fact that you are marketing to the marketers. They think they know every trick in the book and if you can gain even the smallest element of surprise and catch them off guard, you never know you might just get a response!

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View from the team – Charlotte

August 30, 2012


Why research makes all the difference

Knowledge is power. And, let’s be honest, makes you sound good.

When embarking upon lead generation: if you fail to know what you’re talking about, prepare to hit the pile with the rest. It’s wise to stock up on ammunition to reel-in the big fish you’re talking to.

In the pursuit of new business, it’s tempting to go hell-for-leather on hitting up your contact list and reeling off your spiel. Practiced spiels about your offering are fine, but don’t expect to sound any different to anyone else if your conversation doesn’t contain any engaging snippets, or insight into the brand you’re after.

The Internet is a marvelous thing and allows you to:
Look in trade press for recent news on the brand- what they’ve been up to, what they’ve failed at, what they’re yet to try.
Peruse Linkedin to get a gist of the background of your contacts (they enjoy French cinema, hairless cats, and the advantages of stunt-based PR to cost-effectively leverage brand awareness.)
Look at competitor brand activity- what are their rivals up to? Should they be doing it? Or should they be running a mile from it? And, chances are that if their competitors have found a marketing formula that works, they are going to want a piece of the action.

The ideal situation is that you read up, find a nugget of information, and strike at a pertinent time that resonates with your contact.

Don’t worry about sounding too much like a stalker; the Internet has given everyone the unbridled power to potentially look like a stalker. Use this power to impress!

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