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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.

Find our more about Gunpowder Consulting, please visit
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Music from Jukedeck - create your own at
Host - Lucy Mann
Producer - Isabelle Jarvis

Jun 5, 2017


Something interesting happens when you ask an agency leader about their website. Usually a slight shift in their seat, followed by a sigh, a pained expression and a mumble about the site being due for an overhaul. A similar thing happens when you talk to marketing or new business practitioners in an agency, there’s a sense of exasperation or worse, resignation.


At a Design Business Association new business event in November, I asked the assembled audience of 60 agency folk, how many felt their website truly represented their agency offer. Just five hands were raised.


We’ve heard it all before. This isn’t a new dilemma, and we all know the reasons why so many agencies have a suboptimal website. It’s a perfect storm of lack of time, lack of resource, a focus on delivering client work, creative differences and the search for the perfect portfolio execution. But if we’re not careful, months, then years pass by and what should be a highly effective weapon in your new business and marketing arsenal is undermining the rest of your efforts and affecting the return on any new business investment you are making.


But the good news? This is a huge opportunity to make marginal gains. In this episode of Small Spark Theory, we explore the common website pitfalls and how to tackle them. And in true marginal gains spirit, you've only got to be that little bit better, engage with one more budget holding prospect to make a difference to your bottom line.


If you’re not sure about your website, try our quiz, just answer the following with a yes or no.


1.    Has your current website been redesigned or significantly overhauled in the last 3 years?

2.    Do you have a blog?

3.    Is your blog a subfolder of your main site (eg: or a separate, but linked url?

4.    Do you update your blog at least once a month?

5.    Are there sharing links on all of your blog posts?

6.    Is there a twitter feed on your website?

7.    Are links to ALL of your social channels active and easily seen on your website?

8.    Does your website talk about your people/team?

9.    Does it name the senior team/key contacts?

10. Are there contact details for named MD, or new business contact?

11. Get someone outside your agency (your mum, a neighbour, someone on the bus) and ask them to read the ‘About Us’ descriptor on your homepage. Do they immediately understand what you do?

12. Are your case studies up to date?

13. Do your case studies make clear the problem that you solved and what you actually delivered?

14. Do you track Google Analytics?

15. Do you know the primary source of your site traffic?

16. Do you update the content on your website yourselves or is it done by a third party?

17. Are you using SEO keyword techniques when you upload content?

18. Have you ever used Google Adwords?

19. Do you have a legal footer on your homepage stating your company registration details etc.?

20. Are you happy with your website?


If you score more than 10 no's - feel free to get in touch, we can help!

Website grader is also an excellent resource to put your site through its paces ...

This month’s book recommendation is  To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink, listen to this episode for a chance to win a copy.