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Small Spark Theory: a marginal gains approach to new business and marketing

New business is one of those subjects guaranteed to get a reaction from agency owners everywhere. Many will have a nagging feeling they should be doing a bit more, wonder how other agencies manage to land the accounts they covet, have moments of wild inspiration and energy then falter because the day job just, well gets in the way.
Gunpowder’s Lucy Mann has worked in agency new business for over 25 years and has witnessed these scenarios, and many more like them, as an outsourced new business telemarketer, a new business recruitment consultant, in house new business developer, in house head of marketing, and new business mentor across multiple disciplines and agency shapes and sizes.
Regardless of size and discipline, many agencies encounter the same new business challenges, and more and more, the solution is not necessarily an ambitious marketing plan, or expensive sales resource, but instead a forensic application of process and a marginal gains approach to performance improvement.
Gunpowder’s podcast, Small Spark Theory® explores the small changes we can make to our sales and marketing process to achieve better new business results. With contributions from a range of experts, each episode will examine a single element of the process in detail, providing manageable tips for improvement.

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Music from Jukedeck - create your own at
Host - Lucy Mann
Producer - Isabelle Jarvis

Nov 1, 2021

In my work with agencies I witness a great deal of discomfort about the new business process. Of course there are brilliant, natural new business professionals out there who thrive on networking and relationship building, but for many, the possibility of rejection looms large and the process of prospecting or, shudder, ‘selling’, feels wholly unnatural.

This realisation was the basis for starting Gunpowder as a consulting business almost a decade ago and latterly, the understanding that taking a marginal gains approach could ease the some of that discomfort, the premise for launching this podcast.

Hot off the press, Catalyst: Using Personal Chemistry to Convert Contacts into Contracts  is a wonderful new book by Louisa Clarke and David Kean which gets to the very heart of new business. Exploring how our human interactions determine how we succeed and jam packed with actionable tips, this must read manual confirms that being a catalyst isn’t just the preserve of the new business professional, but a set of skills can (and should) be learned by anyone, one marginal gain at a time.

Louisa and David join me in this episode to share their own ‘catalytic’ experiences and pass on their advice. This is an energising listen for anyone who has lost their new biz mojo or simply wants to feel more confident starting, maintaining and growing a professional network.

As always we’ll be giving away of copy of Catalyst, listen in to find out how to win.

Also mentioned in this episode:

How to Win Friends and Influence Profits

Pitching to Win

The Caffeine Partnership


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Carnival of Snackery by David Sedaris