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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

Aug 9, 2022

There is no doubt these are troubling times. As the economic storm clouds gather, we are all bracing ourselves for some pain in the months ahead as marketing spends come under pressure.

But what concerns me most is the timing. For most of this year, I’ve witnessed agencies juggling an influx of projects, finally unlocked after the stranglehold of the pandemic, with the twin challenges of resourcing and post-Covid working practices.

Inevitably, when all hands are to the pump to deliver and bill client work, even the best laid new business and marketing plans fall by the wayside. And now, more than ever, this cannot happen.

So before we head into the most important window in the new business and marketing calendar, in this episode I share the best advice I can give to any agency, struggling with resource, knowing they are neglecting the pipeline and worried about the forecast six months from now.

Of course if you want to talk in confidence about any of the issues raised in this episode, please get in touch at

Referenced in this episode:

Rory Spence at Wow Company

Blair Enns on pricing

Kelly Molson on marketing

IPA Bellwether