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Call us for a chat on +44 (0)20 7836 3678 or email Amanda Francis


Why we can all learn a new business lesson from Bear Grylls!

New business practitioners are like politicians and each “knows” the best way to approach business development. This manifests itself in much gesticulating and posturing to highlight why one approach is better than another to canvass the agency electorate with their manifestos. The reality is everything has a place, and rather than squabble over the best approach or ring the death knell for any given discipline, agencies should be working with clients in order to maximise each route to market.

If you strip sales and new business back to the bare bones, the fundamentals remain the same as they always have. The right offer to the right people at the right time is the basic formula. The reality is it doesn’t matter how you get to those people, as long as you do to give yourself a chance.

Cold new business has to be built on a targeted, yet volume driven approach to maintain a level and momentum of opportunity. To do this, quantity and quality of data and information, managed and utilised in the right way through a smart database is key. However, sales is all about competition and endurance. OK, it is not a direct comparison to extreme outdoor survival, but there are some similarities.

“The appeal of the wild for me is unpredictability. You have to develop awareness, react fast and be resourceful” – Bear Grylls

This certainly applies to a telephone based approach, where each prospect is different and unpredictable and you need to be agile and aware to ensure you quickly understand their needs from the call and give them what they require.

However, this agility is also important in identifying relevant leads and prospect companies outside of a targeted data list. Awareness and speed of reaction are vital in developing and converting new business and there are a huge number of opportunities available in everyday life if you look hard enough. This is way outside the boundaries of the trade press. Yes, it is worth reading, but rarely are there any genuine opportunities to be gleaned. This is about using your wits and intelligence to spot an opportunity from a conversation with a client, friend or prospect, a newspaper article, picking up new brand names from supermarket shelves or seeing new advertisers on the tube. Our largest single win to date (£2.3m) originated from an article in the Evening Standard.

Picking up a lead in this fashion provides an additional motivation and a genuine reason to contact that prospect. This injects interest and makes you different from other approaches, providing a higher chance to get into a conversation. Success tastes all the sweeter when it happens and it can create shorter-term opportunities.

We recently laid down a company-wide challenge to identify ad hoc and opportunistic leads over the course of two weeks. This resulted in:

  • 26 identified leads/opportunities
  • 6 meetings
  • 12 on-going conversations
  • 1 business conversion, with 1 more looking promising

The metrics here in terms of access, conversion, opportunity and win rates are significantly higher than a pure cold calling campaign. However, given we work across all marketing disciplines, we are always going to have a relevant client for any opportunity identified, so you can’t rely on this approach as an individual agency. The volume of opportunities simply would not be there. It should, however, be part of your lead sourcing mix, alongside a higher volume driven strategy. It also offers the chance to get everyone in an agency interested in new business and sales.

Identified were opportunities across all marketing and sector spectrums, with examples being:

  • A new gin launch
  • West Ham stadium development
  • A new drug program in Africa to combat heart disease
  • Numerous employee engagement opportunities through CEO change, IPOs or redundancies in large corporates

There are so many traditional sources available that are open to everyone. Identifying something that is not on a data list, lateral thinking and quick reactions to pick up the phone and see it through will potentially provide that ad hoc opportunity that comes to fruition. It has for our clients.

Some of our favourite examples:

Source: Sunday Times Business Section
Prospect: Secret Escapes
Key information/opportunity: recognise the importance of marketing and advertising and are aiming to spend £15m

Sunday Times Business Section – Secret Escapes

Sunday Times Business Section – Secret Escapes

Source: Tube advertising
Prospect: Bonhams
Key information/opportunity: Bonhams appear to have worked on the brand and are strategically reaching out to a different/new audience. We felt their competitors should be doing the same and that provided an opportunity

Tube advertising – Bonhams

Tube advertising – Bonhams

Source: Evening Standard
Prospect: Royal London
Key information/opportunity: Employee engagement/internal communications angle based on poor internal PR

Evening Standard – Royal London

Evening Standard – Royal London

Source: Evening Standard
Prospect: Bunny Chow
Key information: An opportunity for a food branding or interior design agency

Evening Standard – Bunny Chow

Evening Standard – Bunny Chow

Source: Sunday Times Business Section
Prospect: Two Chicks
Key information: A growth company that could be interesting for food marketing or social agencies

Sunday Times Business Section – Two Chicks

Sunday Times Business Section – Two Chicks

Source: Tube train advertising
Prospect: Treatme
Key information/opportunity: A new advertiser. This could indicate a growth company, but also offers opportunity for a consultancy to assess the effectiveness of this tube activity for them

Tube train advertising – Treatme

Tube train advertising – Treatme

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