For our final webinar of 2021, we reflected on how new business changed in the pandemic, our learnings and how we can go into 2022 with a winning new business strategy!
This session covered:
We kicked off the December webinar with a discussion around finding success within the pandemic and how our panel managed to attract new business despite the odds. Tracey Barber, Global Head of Brand at The Brooklyn Brothers started the conversation by sharing that as budgets were being slashed, their team realigned to the wider conversations in society and emphasised the importance of not having all your eggs in one basket. “Marketing needed to be so aligned to the cultural pulse of the nation of the world… They had to come up with ideas on a more limited budget. So earned advertising really attracted quite a lot of attention during the pandemic and we saw our opportunities increase by 300% in 2020 and 2021! But that’s also because we didn’t have all of our eggs in one basket. We had an end-to-end business development strategy and plan and a more consultative selling approach, which meant that we weren’t reliant on just one part of our plan to deliver results.”
Katie Street, Founder of Street Agency, then shared the importance of solving not selling, especially during the pandemic when companies were coming up against unique problems. “If your agency is truly helping them solve one of those larger problems that they have at scale, and certainly within the pandemic, a lot of that has been around money – it’s been around resource and speed. Brands need help from agencies to get them there faster, more efficiently or in a more cost-efficient manner.”
Patrick Awty, Managing Director at The Smalls, also saw their business thrive in the pandemic and reinforced that agencies can come in and offer support and certainty during uncertain times. “If you can give them certainty or a greater certainty in a really uncertain situation, I think that’s a really powerful play.” Patrick also shared that diversifying who they are looking to work with also helped them continue to grow in the pandemic, “[diversification is] actually a lesson we’ve taken onboard as a business going forward and actively look for ways that we can now diversify ourselves post-pandemic as well.”
Adam Street, Global Account Director at User Testing, rounded up the initial conversation by sharing how their business saw a slight shift in direction with many accounts looking to use their software for behaviour and consumer insights, rather than for UX and digital testing, which opens up a whole new market for them. “We saw a lot of people last year where, traditionally, UX testing would say, ‘show me an e-commerce journey’, move to analytics teams saying, ‘we want to understand how people’s shopping behaviours are changing during COVID’, and that doesn’t involve showing them anything digital!” Going forward Adam believes that this “opens a whole new audience for us!”
Finding leads is often a challenge for our New World of New Biz audience, which was made harder during the pandemic, so Katie asked our panel how they find new leads. Adam kicked off the discussion by sharing how leads have changed, and their shift to nurturing existing accounts. “My personal learning from the way I worked during the pandemic was, it was a lot easier for me to do business with my existing customers than it was to try and do new business because a lot of the new business I was trying to do they actually put blockers on… Through the pandemic I’ve gone from selling mainly new business, to what some people would consider more of account management but actually, in big organisations, there’s a lot of room to grow.”
Katie agreed with Adam, and added that Street is imminently set to launch gateway products. “Not everyone out there can afford or initially wants to work on a retainer basis, so we’re launching products that will enable us to work with them on a product basis.” She then explained that throughout her career really big wins are rare and it’s more successful to have less expensive offerings to get a foot in the door which could later turn into a larger opportunity. “That really does help because they get the experience of working with you, and if you really are brilliant and are able to help them, that one project can turn into lots and lots. It’s a mind shift.”
The panel then discussed whether their leads come from inbound or outbound, and what they find the most successful. Patrick shared that for The Smalls it is 50/50 but their unique offering and reputation has brought them some great opportunities. “We have a reputation based on a community angle, which is a little bit unique, so we do get inbounds from people looking specifically for that. We’re super flexible because of our size and because of the way the business was set up.”
Tracey then explained that similarly to The Smalls, The Brooklyn Brothers also lead with their reputation which means the majority of the leads are coming from inbound enquiries. “We’ve really invested in our reputation which has driven our inbound, and our Agency of the Year awards have also helped with inbound. We’ve seen a shift for the past two years, prior to that the inbound was around 20%.”
Adam rounded up this part of the discussion by also sharing that his inbound vs. outbound is also 50/50 but offered insight into how the size of business affects whether they are inbound or outbound. “I think the learning is that for the smaller businesses we see inbound and the larger ones we tend to do a lot more outbound. I think it’s because the marketing lands very well with a lot of online first, businesses are much more digitally savvy and UX makes more sense. Those larger and more traditional businesses are still starting to get their head around what this whole UX thing is, and because of that they might be smaller teams and we have to do more work to widen the reach within those organisations.”
With an extensive network of senior marketing professionals, Tracey shared 2022 trends she has learnt which agencies can take forward into the new year. Traditionally agencies have worked with brands on a retainer basis, but moving forward brands are more focussed on projects, “we’re seeing a slight shift where some of those retainers are reducing a little bit in favour of projects. That gives the client their consistent team but more flexibility to dial-up or scale back.” She then shared that previously you would have expected large companies to work with large agencies, this is now also changing, “size doesn’t matter anymore… Some of those bigger accounts which were previously not working with smaller agencies like ourselves are now open to us and we’re getting involved.”
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