Best strategies for finding new business – making human connections

On Tuesday 7th July, we held our third session in The New World of New Biz webinar series, which is sponsored by Just After Midnight. Joining us where three amazing panellists:

  • Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO at Takumi
  • Cat Hartland​, The Head of The Drum Recommends
  • Jessica Myers, Client Director at Future Publishing

Our Founder, Katie Street lead the conversation to find out what brands are searching for from agencies, the importance of ROI, and the best strategies for finding new business as well as retaining it.

Making human connections

Mary Keane-Dawson, CEO at Takumi kicked off the conversation by saying “uncertainty is very bad for business, and we are living through an incredibly uncertain time”, and people don’t know which way to turn, but suggested we are all duty bound to give clients advice and guidance and “find ways in which they can connect with their consumers and their audience in the most effective and authentic way at this time”. Mary went on to say, “I would encourage everyone on this webinar to really think about making human connections with their clients and with their audience”.

Katie, Founder at Street agreed and said it’s important to understand the business needs of your target audience and said, “from a new business point of view, we’re focusing on how we can help and how we can respond to their needs”.

Behavioural change

Understanding the motivations of your audience was discussed during the session and Mary said that we’ve been seeing behavioural change which normally takes three to five years, happen in a matter of 12 to 14 weeks which is difficult for clients to keep up with, especially when taking a product to market. Mary said, “we as an industry are duty bound to be thinking of inventing new ways to connect”.

Shift in the services brands are searching for

Cat Hartland, The Head of The Drum Recommends, spoke about The Drum Recommends, and how it helps brands to discover agencies because it’s based on client reviews. She shared some really interesting insights with the group, where typically their audience search for services such as brand advertising, creative, copy writing, but Cat said “unsurprisingly we’ve seen an immediate shift, almost to the day of 24th March (when the UK went into lockdown), where other services started to creep up the leader board”. She went on to say that digital strategy, PPC and SEO searches were increased, showing they were an immediate tactic which brands switched to. They have also seen an influx of searches for web design, and web build as brands are adapting to the needs of their audience.

Cat also said, “one of the biggest trends that I’ve seen are the old school RFP processes almost being ripped off and thrown away because people need help they need it now and they quickly need to find partners that they can trust”.

Best strategies for finding new business

One of the questions that was asked from a participant was ‘What are the best strategies for finding new business where there is a lack of confidence?’. Some of the answers the panellists gave were:

  • Weekly insight bulletins
  • Producing a white paper with real insight to produce inbound enquires
  • Stay close to your clients, and provide them with insights and opportunities
  • Build confidence and start conversations with new brands
  • Utilise good data
  • Provide your prospects with information that they can use to do their jobs better
  • Be opportunistic, brands need you more now that ever
  • Network with purpose

Retaining business

Katie asked the panel another question from the audience ‘Do you have any advice to retain the business you do have?’ Cat answered the question with, “Rule number one is just to continue to communicate with your clients your wider services, and the new business stuff is always a motor that should be running”. Cat also said that when new work comes through, it’s easy to stop the new business motor running, “but then you’ll end up with gaps in your pipeline, and you’ll end up having to start again which isn’t always easy”.

All about the ROI

The panellists discussed the importance of brand purpose, but how agency success is all going to come down to ROI. Mary said, “We really do collaborate as much as possibly can with our clients to deliver solutions that actually deliver results, because that’s one thing that we are going to hear more and more about now, it’s all about the ROI”.

Jessica Myers, Client Director at Future Publishing said “obviously for the past 10 years or so we’ve all been talking about how brands need to operate with purpose you know there needs to be a purpose behind the brand, whether it’s sustainability, whether it’s empowerment whatever that is”. Jessica then went on to say “I totally agree with what Mary is saying, I think the ROI is stronger than ever, I believe, it’s going to come down to that. We don’t have the crystal ball in terms of what’s going to happen with budgets. And if it is about selling stuff, then who knows if that’s going to be part of their strategy”.


Katie discussed the importance of diversity with the group, and that brands are asking “how diverse is your agency, what’s the percentage of male to female ratio and your leadership”. Agencies need to be able to respond to these questions with strong answers and communicate this to their prospects and clients.

Katie went on to say that she believes innovation only happens when you have diverse people who can think differently, and this comes out in the way you respond to client briefs. Katie said, “Now is the time to become more diverse and innovate and actually most brands who want agencies that can help them represent that I think, that, I’m hoping is going to be something really good that comes out of all of this”.

Cold Calling

One of the questions in the chat during the webinar was ‘it was hard to cold call before this (pandemic) so how are you doing it now?’ Jessica responded “it’s the oldest thing in the book but don’t give up, you just have to, I was always brought up in my career on this. So, if you are contacting someone, don’t let it just be oh ‘hi’ I’m introducing myself, it has to be something that is of interest to them”.

Be curious and deliver magic

Towards the end of the session Mary said, “you’ve got to have a winning attitude” and to not be afraid of rejection. She went on to say “I believe that as long as you are curious about your clients and their business. As long as you share wisdom and that can be insight, or your or your experience the experiences of people that work in your organisation or the lens that they look through, and you can get, then you can deliver the magic”, she continued, “that will actually activate in a curiosity that wisdom, then you can’t go to wrong, you’ll find people who want to speak and work with you”.

If you weren’t able to make the webinar or you’d like to watch it back, here’s the video recording:

The New World of New Biz webinars are held on the first Tuesday of each month on Zoom at 11am, click the link here to join us.

By Michaela Dudfield
16th July 2020
5 minute read