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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

May 4, 2022

Whether your agency has a fast track growth plan or a more modest desire to maintain the status quo, there are innumerable challenges that can derail even the best laid plans.

Client insecurity or overexposure, floundering new business pipelines or skills shortages not to mention the wider economic backdrop, can all create pinch-points for agency leaders. At each of these moments critical decisions must be made. Those agencies of real scale, with a sizeable exec board have some safety in discussion and consensus, but for the small to mid-size agency owner these can be lonely times. How do you find the right sounding board?

Many listeners of this show will know Daniel de la Cruz. Having experienced exactly these challenges running his own agency, and grown The Agency Collective alongside The Wow Company, Daniel has created Polymensa to provide the ‘non-ego’ board for independent agencies.

In this episode we get together to discuss the challenges of scaling, avoiding the echo chamber and why differing perspectives matter.

Daniel’s recommended reads are: What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz and Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire, and How to Want What You Need by Luke Burgis. Also mentioned in this episode is The First Minute by Chris Fenning. We’ll be giving away a copy of What You Do Is Who You Are, simply listen in to find out how to win.

Read Daniel’s thoughts on the shortcomings of the traditional non-exec director.