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News & Views from Alchemis

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


Sales Team round up for July & August and August bird catches the worm

Today is officially the last day of summer, though one could be forgiven for thinking it ended 4 weeks ago based on the weather we’ve been having. Next year, even if UK PLC is in the grip of a double-dip recession, British Airways cabin crew have elected Bob Crow as union Chief and Iceland looks like it’s about to explode I suspect this August’s record of abysmal weather should hopefully mean the phrase “staycation” has had it’s day. I’m undecided as to whether this has been a price worth paying.

The Sales Team had much to live up to in July following a record June for quality new business meetings set. In the end we fell just short of June’s peak with a highly creditable performance that delivered the 2nd best set of results for the year so far. August has been storming though; we’ve bettered June to establish the best set of results for over 4 years.

I know that clients often ask whether August is a good month for new business prospecting and we’ve occasionally had a job convincing them that it is. Most people acknowledge that September-November is a great time for seeing prospects and picking up briefs and will see the benefit of laying the groundwork in August but I often hear “surely so many key decision makers are on holiday, getting through to people must be impossible?”.

This sounds logical but actually we enjoy a higher than average access rate (ratio of attempted calls to actual decision maker conversations) in August. For every Marketing Manager regretting their staycation (hoping this will be the last ever recorded usage of the term) on the soggy south coast there are half a dozen sat in an office but unable to progress full pelt because at least one cog in their wheel is being washed out on an English beach somewhere. Consequently they have the time to reflect on the year to date and what’s required as they approach the final quarter. Crucially, they also have time to take calls and talk to new agencies.

We find Marketing Decision Makers to be particularly frank around this time of year. Regardless of when their company’s financial year runs August seems to be a natural time to take stock of things, which is why so many agency reviews take place in the Autumn.

Prospects rarely criticise their incumbent overtly when they’re on the phone to us but we’re more likely to hear rumblings this time of year, which makes our job MUCH easier.

The irony is that many marketing agencies consider August to be a lost month and chose to take their holidays. The guys in the office holding the fort will be servicing clients and won’t have time to prospect for new business, which means many marketing agencies are missing out on a very fertile period for making new connections. This is where a New Business Agency that is working day-in, day-out on your behalf can be such an asset.

While many agencies have put their new business efforts on ice over the summer we have been very busy indeed. A quick analysis of meetings we have set show that 12% of the FTSE100 and 21 from Top 100 UK advertising spenders will be meeting clients of ours as a result of work over July & August. Not bad considering most of the companies we target would fall just outside of these league tables.

July was also the month for momentous sporting events of course. The Alchemis Rounders Match on 9 July saw the company split into two teams, each under the captaincy of a Director. Three innings and much arguing later and my team emerged victorious. Some special mentions for:

John for volunteering to referee. To describe this role as a poisoned chalice would be a gross understatement. He was still taking stick for decisions made in the 2009 match so that took some courage.

Pete, Dan and Algie for the most outrageous act of cheating; over the course of one innings the distance between bases grew from 20 metres to 40 as they shuffled them further and further apart.

George for almost decapitating two of his colleagues with a wildly struck ball and Amanda and Claudia for bravely taking said baseball in the face in relatively good spirit.

The other sports event of note in July was the world cup. Much has been written about the mockery that unravelled in South Africa so I won’t comment further here but two guys who took more from the tournament than most are George and Richard who each earned a big night out with optional hotel for winning World Cup based team incentives.

So a great few months for Alchemis and our clients. Brilliant though August has been for the sales team I don’t expect the record to last until the end of the year. September to November is usually our strongest period so the challenge is to meet or beat August’ performance every month until December.

By the way, December can be a good month for similar reasons to August but there just aren’t enough working days to be breaking records for absolute performance numbers. Needless to say we we’ll be looking at setting a new high for productivity instead.

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