Inbound VS outbound strategies

Just before Lockdown 2.0 we hosted November’s episode of The New World of New Biz webinar, sponsored by Just After Midnight. Our Founder Katie Street was joined by yet another fantastic line up:

Rachael Smith, Head of Proposition at easyJet

Andrew Nicholson, CEO & Co-Founder at Kulea MA

Alex Price, Founder & MD of 93digital

The importance of agency relationships

Rachael started off the conversation by saying the pandemic has helped her see the importance of agency relationships. She now values them as they helped her stop being internally focused and act as a branch into the outside world.

As a business, easyJet were one of the first to see the impact of Coronavirus, after countries closing their boarders, and grounding their fleet, and the agencies Rachael works with supported her and the team, pivoting, being flexible and offering innovative solutions.

Rachael thinks it’s important for agencies to know “what’s the need state of my client?”, understanding the need can enable you to offer the right services. Katie agreed and said this should shine through in your messaging, “If you can lead your outreach around how you can pivot and change that’s the key to success”

Outbound strategies

Katie asked the group “What have you done to attract new clients?”. Alex talked about how 93digital being a niche agency have previously been lucky to have been an inbound content led business in the way they attract new leads e.g. through organic search and SEO. Alex then went on to say that they have been experimenting in outbound tactics, including LinkedIn, as well as personalised emails vs sending out cold emails, “we’re finding a balance between quantity and quality”. They use SEO tools to see where prospects are ranking and reach out to them with a message that they can help them increase their position in Google, “we gather some insights that might open the door” said Alex.

Andrew said that inbound is less effect these days as there is so much clutter out there. He also talked about not using gated content, “produce that fantastic inbound content, but don’t put it behind gated content” since Covid-19 he said agencies need to be more helpful and give out information freely without making them jump through hoops to get it. He said agencies need to “build trust and support” by adopting a content strategy where you give away freely and improve your market perception.

Rachael said, “Show me don’t tell me, show me what you can do, what your product is, tell me something about my business that I don’t know, where I can’t go about my day job without your support”.

Commercial models

With the way of the world at the moment, the group discussed commission structures and whether agencies should be remunerated in a different way to make it easier for brands to commit. Agency partners that recognise that budgets have been cut should offer flexible resourcing said Rachael. Andrew said that he is talking with prospects about ‘success fees’, and how they could be more profitable for agencies in the long run, “it de-risks it for everyone”.

LinkedIn vs email

Rachael shocked the audience when she declared that she gets 50 messages a day on LinkedIn! However, she still loves the platform, saying that she likes to be able to see connections and personal interactions, although she doesn’t like the invites to things and groups that she’s invited to join. Rachael suggested it must be hard for agencies to cut through using LinkedIn and thinks that emails are better if the outreach is cold. Her advice to agencies is “if there is a link there, use LinkedIn, leverage your relationships and leverage your network’.

When writing copy for outreach Katie suggested “Be personal, happy, help them with a problem”.

Industry experience

The discussion moved on to whether agencies need to be able to demonstrate their experience in certain sectors when talking to potential new clients. Rachael said that she joined easyJet with no airline experience, and worked across many different sectors when working at Omnicom, she said culturally/the services they offer/objectives they have are all going to be different and it wouldn’t put her off taking on an agency with no airline experience. She said the most important thing to do is just listen, “listen to your clients”.

Alex highlighted that not having experience of working with a particular industry can actually help you as an agency, gives you a bit of competitive advantage, as you can bring insights in from elsewhere, and also there aren’t any conflict of interests.

It can however be reassuring though for brands to work with agencies that have experience in their industry, but Rachael said agencies need to “be clear with what you are a specialist in”.

Katie told the audience not to be afraid of entering new markets, and “don’t think the sectors that are struggling at the moment don’t need you, they need your help, we’re seeing more results for our clients with the sectors that are most effected by covid-19 and need help from agencies”. 


Q: We give freely to our existing clients, but struggle getting this to new clients especially now that people aren’t in offices. We used to send things, but there’s not point taking that approach now. How do we send them insights?

A: The main answer that the panellists gave, was data, you need to have good quality data! Andrew said that LinkedIn is often up to date, and there are not many platforms where people go and update their data freely so it’s a great option. Other data sources both Katie and Andrew suggested using were:


ALF insight

LinkedIn Sales Navigator


Andrew also suggested using 3rd party tool Neverbounce to help cleanse any existing data you may already have.

Q: One of our biggest challenges recently has been losing out on work because they want a ‘here’s one we did earlier’ agency. How can we bolster our rhetoric to explain why this isn’t the most value? Clients hire us because we’re agencies but then they don’t trust us or micromanage…

A: Katie answered the question saying it’s understandable that clients are nervous and are looking for reassurance more than ever but “do you really want someone who has done it before, as you’ll just get the same?”. Andrew said it’s good practice to cross pollinate ideas, learnings and skills for example if you have experience working with an airline you can take your knowledge and apply it to hospitality. Rachael said that it’s important to understand the archetype of your client and who they want to be, leverage how you can help them using your experience.

Q: With most businesses going online, is data driven creativity becoming competitive as field to excel in?

A: Andrew took to the stage for this question saying “AI is killing creativity, it becomes creativity by numbers” this is one of the consequences of data, it takes away the human side. Andrew said that we need to be careful using machines to iterate, as we could be missing out on significant opportunities and ideas.

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 take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am, you can sign up here for free to join the next one.

By Whitney Sharp
4th November 2020
5 minute read