Define Your Client Agency Charter & Build a Great Partnership

Define Your Client Agency Charter & Build a Great Partnership

For marketers to deliver terrific advertising, you generally have to rely on an agency or two.

Typically, this might include specialists in creativity, production, media planning and buying, earned media, and other experts in the business of creativity.

It’s critical for delivering effective marketing communications to get all these players working together as a cohesive unit, seamlessly integrated with your team and each other. Sounds simple, but it’s not.

How do you get your agencies to work well with your team and each other?

I was in New York last week working with a leading retailer and their world-class agencies. A key goal was to define precisely this: the ingredients of a successful working relationship.

An exercise we ran as part of this two-day workshop was to create a client agency charter. A document that defines the nature of how they will work together. My inspiration for the session was the Avis and DDB contract from 1963.

If you’ve studied advertising at all, you will have come across the famous ‘We Try Harder’ work that AVIS and DDB delivered in the early 60s. The platform was and still is a cornerstone of Avis’s communications.

It was built on top of a well-documented contract between the two partners, which clarified their expectations of each other. The contract is reported to have been written by Robert Townsend, then CEO of Avis and has just six clauses:

1. Avis will never know as much about advertising as DDB and DDB will never know as much about the rent-a-car business as Avis.

2. The purpose of the advertising is to persuade the frequent business renter to try Avis.

3. A serious attempt will be made to create advertising with five times the effectiveness of the competition’s advertising.

4. To this end, Avis will approve or disapprove, not try to improve ads which are submitted. Any changes suggested by Avis must be grounded on a material operating defect (a wrong uniform for example).

5. To this end, DDB will only submit for approval those ads which they truly as an agency recommend. They will not “see what Avis thinks of that one.”

6. Media selection should be the primary responsibility of DDB. However, DDB is expected to take the initiative to get guidance from Avis in weighting of markets or special situations, particularly in those areas where cold numbers do not indicate the real picture. Media judgments are open to discussion. The conviction should prevail. Compromise should be avoided. 

In our workshop, we explored this 6-point contract, and there was universal agreement that something similar would help. We set about mapping out the rules of the road for their working relationship.

Not so much a contract but more of a charter on which their relationship will work.

Only time will tell if this is a successful approach. What I can tell you is there was instant engagement with the idea from both client and agency-side marketers.

Could a Client Agency Charter work for your marketing organisation?

If you want to get the most from your brand and agency relationships, try an exercise like this.

Clarify your expectations for each other, define the rules of the road, and see if it helps you foster a fantastic working relationship on which to build a brand with your agency partners.

Image credit: Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Make 2024 the Year of Incremental Gains for your  Agency

Make 2024 the Year of Incremental Gains for your Agency

I talk to a lot of people running agencies. Everyone from small digital shops in the provinces to the leaders of major global creative and media shops, and there’s a universal truth across the board: it’s been a bloody tough year.

There’s some pain in the agency sector, and without wanting to sound too gloomy, it will probably be more of the same in 2024. With the OECD forecasting global GDP growth of just 2.9% in 2024 and the UK, France, Germany and Italy below 1%, it’s a safe bet things won’t get much better anytime soon.

Against that backdrop, I’d like to challenge every agency to consider the impact of incremental or marginal gains.

Take inspiration from Sir Dave Brailsford, who elevated British cycling from the doldrums to world-beating, and feel the collective effect of all the small things you can do that will make all the difference in 2024.

Here are some examples of the little things agencies can do to raise their game in attracting new clients – these are all based on my recent experiences of recruiting an agency for one of my clients:

  1. Put a phone number on your website. Yes, you live in Teams and Slack, but many people still like to pick up the phone. Me included. A virtual phone number costs around a tenner a month. Don’t think, do it. And when someone calls, don’t be a moron. Be friendly and welcoming.
  2. Monitor your website contact form. There’s zero value in having a contact form on your website if nobody monitors it or responds to enquiries. Exactly this has happened to me with at least three agencies in the past month.
  3. Publish an address on your website. You may like being nomadic or hybrid, but client-side marketers want to know you have an office and where it is so they can visit sometime. Even if it’s just an address at a coworking space, it makes you look more credible.
  4. Start building up your reviews. Yes, your prospective clients will check you out online, so get some reviews on your Google My Business profile. Just ask all the happy clients you shout about to write a few words. Simples.
  5. Sharpen your positioning. Make it straightforward on your website what you do for whom, and save everyone a lot of time. I’ve written about this before, but it’s possible to read an agency website and wonder what they can do to solve your marketing challenge.

So there you have it, the opportunity for incremental gains at your agency that will make all the difference in 2024.

Want to know more? Watch Sir Dave’s interview below about creating a continuous learning and improvement culture.

Header image photo by Dylan Nolte on Unsplash

PODCAST: Building Brand Advocates with Kerry-Ann Stimpson

PODCAST: Building Brand Advocates with Kerry-Ann Stimpson

Building brand advocacy is at the top of a marketer’s to-do list, but we rarely think of internal marketing to achieve it.

Maybe we’re missing a trick. What if you could use internal marketing to create a tribe of advocates to help grow your brand? In this latest episode of Through the Line, I’m joined by Kerry-Ann Stimpson, the CMO of Jamaican financial services firm JMMB Group and host of the Internal Marketing Podcast.

In the show, Kerry-Ann introduces her passion for internal marketing and its importance for building her organisation’s brand from the inside out. What is internal marketing, you ask? It’s an approach to using classic marketing and communications but focusing on your employees, not your external audiences. We explore how marketers can create an empowered workforce supported by a strong people-oriented culture that lives and breathes your brand’s values. How powerful would that be for your organisation?

Kerry-Ann is a super guest – passionate, knowledgeable and full of ideas for building a people-centric brand. You’re in the right place if you want to hear a case study from a talented CMO on how to do internal marketing.

I hope you enjoy the show:

Connect with Kerry-Ann here:


The Internal Marketing Podcast

Other Episodes of Through the Line you might enjoy:

Personal Branding Masterclass with Rajen Mistry

Human-Centered Marketing with Richard Hewitt

Social Selling Masterclass with Tim Hughes

Create Your Very Own Personal Creds Deck

Create Your Very Own Personal Creds Deck

I have always found working in the marketing and agency world a fantastic choice of occupation.

Endless career options, bags of innovation and creativity, and most of all, some of the most colourful people on the planet to work with.

But it’s not all roses and sunshine. Oftentimes times, it can be stressful, too. Like when a campaign doesn’t do as well as you hoped, or you lose a client at your agency, or you’re struggling to hit payroll.

You might even get fired, which has only ever happened to me once. The news was delivered over the phone while I was on the school run. I was a bit distracted that day, dropping my son off at the school gate.

When the chips are down, it can help to look back at your achievements. At agencies, we have creds decks that show off what we’ve achieved. Why not build your own creds deck or a brag file, as I’ve seen it called?

I’ve had cause to add to my brag file recently with the feedback I received on my delivery of a digital marketing optimisation workshop:

“Andy was professional and fun to spend my two Fridays with. I wish I had him as my tutor for the first module, and I hope to have him for my last module.

He was clear on what needed to be done, ready to respond to any of my questions, gave a clear idea of how much time (on average) any assessor would have to check my work, took the time to go through our assignment brief over and over again until we were happy with it. He also gave some real examples from marketing that I could relate to and tailored his responses to what I was planning to write about.  

I thought I’d mention that to you as he did a great job, and it’s nice to see someone passionate who cares about how we do in terms of the assignment. He was my first tutor who asked me to stay in touch and let him know how it went. I think your organisation is lucky to have someone like that on board.”

As you might imagine, I was pretty happy with this feedback. The first thing I did (after sharing it with my wife) was to save it into my personal brag file or personal creds deck. The next time I take a career stumble, I can easily find it and give my bruised ego a stroke.

How do you keep a record of the feedback you receive? Have you got a personal creds deck or brag file?

To balance this great feedback out, I also received a comment on my podcast this week…

I love your podcast, Andy. I always listen to it at night as it helps me go to sleep.

I genuinely believe this was meant to be positive feedback.

It made me laugh; in some ways, it’s positive, but I’m not looking to send people off into dreamland with my marketing podcast.

I must try to inject some more energy into the next episodes.

PODCAST: Social Selling Masterclass with Tim Hughes

PODCAST: Social Selling Masterclass with Tim Hughes

60% of the World’s population is now active on social media. It’s probably time we learnt how to sell to them there then.

In this latest episode of Through the Line, I’m joined by social selling expert Tim Hughes to explore the new world of sales. No doubt Tim is an expert in this space. Not only does he run an agency that trains and advises clients on how to sell better online, but he’s also written THE book on the subject. It’s called, you guessed it, Social Selling.

In the show, Tim shares bucketloads of advice for how sales (and marketing) professionals need to shift their methodology forward to get results. The days of cold calling and spamming are long gone, and Tim’s data from social selling shows a significant uplift in conversion rates. Did you know failure rates from cold calling are 98-99%, whereas with social selling, Tim’s data shows conversion rates of 33.6%. How? Listen to the show and you’ll gain some insight into how to sell in this social media age.

For the marketers listening, you may be horrified to learn that sharing low-value content actually extends the sales cycle. You need to help your sales team to be more authentic and use their personal brands to build trust and sell more.

This episode is 39 minutes and 34 seconds long. Surely, you can invest that sort of time to find the secret sauce to greater sales results.

I hope you enjoy the show:

Connect with Tim here:


DLA Ignite

Buy the Book

Other Episodes of Through the Line you might enjoy:

Personal Branding Masterclass with Rajen Mistry

Measuring Marketing Performance with Gabe Hughes

AI-Powered International Marketing with Kate Cox

Prefer to Read? We’ve Got You. Here’s the Full Transcript

Andy (00:00:00) – Did you know that 60% of the world’s population is now active on social media and on average, we spend two hours and 26 minutes per day using social media platforms. It’s no wonder that as sales professionals and marketeers, that the paradigm has shifted in the way in which we engage our audiences. Welcome to through the line with me, Andy Barr. In this episode, I am joined by social selling expert Tim Hughes to have a look at how selling has changed as a result of this rapid uptake in social media and what it is as sales and marketing professionals we need to do to really take advantage of social media. This is not a conversation about purely communications. This is about sales. I hope that you enjoy the show. Tim, good morning.

Tim (00:00:58) – Good morning, Andy. Good to see you and talk to you. Yeah, How are.

Andy (00:01:01) – You doing today?

Tim (00:01:02) – I am excellent. I’ve just come off a I think we actually took four weeks off holiday, so. Or vacation, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are.

Tim (00:01:12) – And yes, it was it was great. And I’m glad to be back. Four weeks is.

Andy (00:01:17) – A nice break, isn’t it?

Tim (00:01:18) – It is a really, really time to actually unwind and and forget about things. This is my second week back. But the first week back, I think I was having problems spelling and having knowing how to write. And you just don’t do those things on vacation. Well, I’ll tell you what. Let’s let’s give you a bit.

Andy (00:01:38) – Of a test now to what you’ve remembered about your world of work. Now that you’re back, I want very briefly introduce you because I know you as Tim Hughes, the author of a fantastic book called Social Selling. But you’re also, I think, the founder of or a director of Ignite, which is a kind of digital transformation agency, sales agency, marketing agency, something in that space.

Tim (00:02:02) – Yes. So my background is I’ve been in sales for 25 years. I’ve worked in corporate, and my business partner, Adam Gray and I, we set up DLA Ignite to really capitalize on this understanding that the world has changed through social media.

Tim (00:02:17) – And what we do is that we transform our organizations to use social media strategically within the business. Today we’re talking about sales, but you can use social media in human resources and in humans. And the whole point of all of this is to strip out cost and make you more efficient.

Andy (00:02:35) – Yes. Yeah. Excellent. Okay. And you’re right, today is very much about sales. And it’s one of those topics that I mean, this is typically more of a marketing focused podcast. And what’s really interesting is I think that one of the subjects that comes up in conversation quite a lot is that misalignment between sales and marketing, certainly from a in a B2B context, obviously. So it’s great to have you on to talk about that and also to have a kind of pick out some of the highlights of your book, which is quite a detailed look at how do we as marketers or sales professionals use social media as a way to find, engage and close deals, I guess? Yes. So social media, I suppose I’ve been around long enough to remember a time before social media and I’m guessing you might have been as well.

Andy (00:03:22) – Yeah, it has changed the world significantly, hasn’t it, in terms of not just, of course, the way we sell, but the way we communicate, the way we live our lives. But in the context of our conversation, it has changed how we sell. It’s shifted the paradigm. What are the main differences between how we sell now and how we sell, let’s say ten, 15 years ago?

Tim (00:03:44) – I think that, you know, social media has changed the world. You know, we switched on the TV and and there will be something on the so-and-so’s tweeted this or so-and-so’s tweeted that. And therefore, we recognize the the fact that now 60% of the world’s population are active on social media, active being the average person now spends two hours, 26 minutes a day on social media. So it’s not it’s not this thing that’s for techies or um, and in terms of what’s changed, I think that there’s now this, this recognition that when we get up in the morning that we we switch on social media, That’s where we go.

Tim (00:04:24) – And the data shows there’s some great data produced by a guy called Simon Kemp. And if your listeners don’t follow him on LinkedIn or they should do, it’s completely free.

Andy (00:04:35) – I don’t think I do, to be honest. Tim So yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s the Kemp.

Tim (00:04:38) – Simon Kemp Yeah. So Simon produces this. Of course there’s he has people that pay for them, but he actually produces it. It’s not gated and it’s completely free. And so all the facts around 60% are from that data. And that came out in July. And I think there’s a there’s a number of changes that have taken place, which. That we now see. Social media is the place that we go to. The data also shows that people under 34 use social media to search more than they do Google. And what happens is that as every quarter goes by, we we see that the figures of people turning to social media for search rather than Google basically increases. And I think that’s because, you know, if I if I type into Google, give me the name of the best CRM system in the world, I don’t get the answer I want.

Tim (00:05:33) – Because what happens is that all the CRM vendors buy the search. Yes. So I don’t I do if I go and say, what’s the capital of Nigeria, I get that. But I don’t if I put in something quite business related. And that’s why when we turn to social media, we know that we’re going to get something. We’re going to get a more nuanced answer about what we want.

Andy (00:05:53) – So I think that’s only going to continue because if I look at my children who are aged ten and almost 13, you know, their first port of call for a search is either YouTube, TikTok or Alexa. So, you know, they’re the world. That’s the future world of work. So, you know, ten years time when they come into the workplace, hopefully sooner then then it’s going to change again.

Tim (00:06:18) – It is. And I and I think that, you know, what we’re seeing is that the Generation Z people coming through are now coming into the workplace and we will see significant changes and they’re going to have changes not just it’s not just about, you know, the debate that we’re doing on we have a podcast called Sales TV where we talk about sales issues and the debate.

Tim (00:06:39) – One of the debates that we’re having is the fact that those individuals don’t live the same values that maybe Generation X do. So then they don’t want to be in an environment where it’s it’s, you know, I work in in sales environment, which is what are you going to sell this month? What are you going to sell this quarter? Why haven’t you sold it? Why did you lose that deal that they just say, look, I’m not interested in any of these questions of yours, I’m going fishing. And and we were actually debating that this week. And, you know, there’s Generation X people going, well, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t recruit any of those people. And you go, well, you you’re going to have a smaller and smaller and smaller talent pool that you are going to recruit from because you’re just going to recruit from old people that don’t understand social media. Yes.

Andy (00:07:26) – Yeah, it’s a mindset shift.

Tim (00:07:28) – Definitely massive mindset shift.

Andy (00:07:31) – So do you think then that social selling obviously it’s it’s the now and it’s the future, do you think that that the majority of the sales professionals have understood adopted this or is it what we kind of as they’re still an army of sales professionals that are you know a bit more old school.

Tim (00:07:50) – When Adam and I started the company back in 2016, we thought we had 18 months before people work this out and and everybody basically adopted it. And here we are seven years later and we’re still talking to people, organizations who think that spam, whether that’s through email, through cold calls or whatever, is the way forward. And, you know, they don’t seem to recognise the fact that the results from those activities are getting less and less and less. You know, HubSpot, who sell email marketing systems, say the email marketing has a 98% failure rate. We see most people doing cold calling has got a 99% failure rate, you know, but going and presenting these at a board level, that should be career limiting. We had a guy, one of our one of our team left one of our resellers and went to another company doesn’t do social selling and at he’s just done his three months just been there three months and sat down with his manager said I’ve been here three months. What do you think? He said Well you’ve achieved more in three months than what any of our salespeople have ever achieved in the whole time of this company, because he’s been using our social selling methodology to get through to people.

Tim (00:09:09) – And one of the other salespeople said, I heard you had a really good review. Can you send me your sales cadences? And and this guy and our person said, sales cadences. What do you mean we don’t? I don’t use sales cadences. I have a methodology that I follow which enables me to get conversations, conversations at scale and conversations at high level. You know, this this, these sales cadences of spam per a person on a Monday with an email spam, a person with a cold call on a Wednesday spam a person on on social on a Friday, you know, these things are not generating anything even though it’s deemed as being best practice old fashioned.

Andy (00:09:50) – Well, let’s let’s look at that methodology then. Let’s look at the, I guess, the key steps of setting up for success in social selling. How do you what do you need? To do to get to a point where you can adopt your methodology.

Tim (00:10:03) – Well, what we teach people three things. The first thing is that you need to look good on social media.

Tim (00:10:11) – So this isn’t this isn’t about you being Kim Kardashian and and showing off. This is about if you think about LinkedIn, there’s 950 million people on there. So therefore, your LinkedIn profile is a showcase to 950 million people. It’s a shop window and they’re walking past your LinkedIn profile every day. And what you want them to go is That’s interesting. I think Tim Hughes could help me. I’m actually going to contact him and see if that sounds exactly what we need rather than, Hey, I’m an amazing salesperson and this is my product and this is my services, which of course what we do is we just run away from.

Andy (00:10:50) – Yes, Yeah.

Tim (00:10:51) – So the second thing is that you need a wide and varied network. So think of it as a digital territory. You’re probably old enough to know, remember business cards. But in effect, what we’re doing is that we’re connecting to the people. And it may be we have to be connected to the people in our accounts. So as a sales leader, if you’re doing any quarterly business reviews with people, you need to be asking people, How many people are you connected to within that account? And what you’ll probably find is that the salesperson will probably say 1 or 2.

Speaker 3 (00:11:21) – I’m that.

Andy (00:11:22) – Guy. Yeah, absolutely. By the way, I still like a business card, Tim. I still do like the feel of a business card.

Tim (00:11:27) – I actually still I actually still like business cards as well. There’s something about having. But the thing is, is that I immediately I will either connect to the person on LinkedIn because then then ultimately the business card stays up to date completely.

Andy (00:11:39) – Yeah.

Tim (00:11:40) – So this it’s important to have a wide and varied network. Now search works differently on on LinkedIn as on Google. It works based on your on your network. So if people so if you’re selling accounting systems which is what I did and someone says I need an accounting system or searching for people that have got that, you need to be in that network. So and let’s not forget that if you’re not connected to the people, you’re invisible to them. The third thing that you need is content. This is not I’m not talking about brochures and brochure where I’m talking about content that people want to read.

Tim (00:12:20) – Because if it’s brochures and brochure where I go to your website for that. Yes. And we know what our brochure says. It says, buy my product because we’re great. And you know, my background is selling accounting systems and every single accounting system vendor goes to the market and says exactly the same thing and says their product is exactly the same. So the only differential that an accounting vendor has is the salesperson. Because we know that all of them will negotiate on price. If you go to them and say you’re £30 more expensive. They say, okay, well, I’ll give you £30 off. Right. Okay. So the only the only thing that you have is your is is the is the sales person and the sales person position on social media. Because what we will do is that we’ll go and look them up. If it’s if it says if their LinkedIn profile says I hit President’s club for the last five years, once I get my teeth into a customer, either I die or they will die.

Tim (00:13:19) – So you won’t go and talk to them? Absolutely. You’re looking for is someone that’s going to say, I’ve been in I’ve been selling accounting systems for it doesn’t matter. I think these are the five things are the key drivers in the verticals that I work. And you go, Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. And actually seeing content content where most importantly the person has written it and content where you go. I think this person actually understands my business and understands the business issues and that’s not the same of putting out Gartner Magic Squares. It says that we’re the top right hand corner because ultimately that’s just brochure where.

Andy (00:13:59) – Yeah, it’s the difference between adding value and sharing your sales promotion, isn’t it? You know?

Tim (00:14:04) – Yeah, yeah. And I don’t like the term value because value is a, is a term which is, which is relative. But you know what, You know, what we’re looking for is we’re looking for insight. You know, tell me something I don’t know. Now, we all have been to LinkedIn and scrolled through it and gone.

Tim (00:14:23) – Boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring. That’s interesting. Yes. Now, all the marketers that I talk to say, yeah, we’re the. That’s interesting. But we know that the billions have been spent on pieces of software to basically take brochures and push them out on social media and what the, what the data shows is that so, so if you share a brochure on social media, you extent you’ve extended the sales cycle by 21%. Is that.

Andy (00:14:53) – Right? Okay. That’s really interesting data, isn’t it?

Tim (00:14:56) – So so, yeah. So you know, now one of the things that we’re able to do or all we do is, is, is social. We’re not interested in, we’re not a, um, a full service marketing agency. We just want to be. Yeah. The master of, of, of a particular thing. So we’re able to spend time doing research. And this research that we’re able to do means that we’re able to investigate the use of social and, and compare it to other mechanisms.

Tim (00:15:26) – And so yeah.

Andy (00:15:28) – So what like we’ve just said, there is essentially average or less than than average poor content actually elongates the sales cycle.

Tim (00:15:37) – Yeah. And think about it, it’s, it’s of course that’s the case because what happens is that people people don’t like salespeople. There’s some Gartner. Was it? Was it Gartner came out? Was it 70? 80% of people don’t like talking to salespeople because we know the way that the conversation is going to go, they’re going to try and, you know, give us 20 minutes and I’ll show you a demo of my product. No, I’m not interested.

Andy (00:16:00) – Yes. Yeah.

Tim (00:16:01) – And so as soon as someone actually starts sharing boring corporate brochure content, you’re just going to go, well, that’s just a I don’t want to talk to that person.

Andy (00:16:12) – Not interested. But let’s go back to your three steps then. So, you know, setting up for, for looking the part on social media. I think the term we most often hear these days is personal brand in that respect, isn’t it? Is looking the part.

Andy (00:16:26) – That’s something that I think everybody can master with a little bit of guidance, you know.

Tim (00:16:32) – So so that that’s just just to there’s a there’s a book that came out quite recently and he called the jolt effect which is jolt effect. Yeah. By Matthew Dixon. Matthew Dixon was one of the authors of the Challenger sale. And basically what happened was that they’ve been able to use data to look at why deals don’t happen. And actually what happened, what what he realized is, is that the traditional playbook of why deals don’t happen actually doesn’t work because the deals don’t happen because people are scared.

Andy (00:17:08) – People are scared.

Tim (00:17:10) – People are scared to make a decision. Right. Because because, because let’s let’s let’s not forget that if we’re going to spend a lot of money, if we spend that money and it doesn’t work, I probably get fired. Well, if we don’t spend the money, I probably keep my job.

Andy (00:17:26) – Yeah, that always reminds me of the old nobody ever got fired for buying IBM, you know, safety and security and buying from a.

Tim (00:17:34) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so, so but but one of the conclusions that he comes to is that you actually need the salespeople need to have a personal brand. They, you know, if you think about it as a salesperson, I’m a new business salesperson. I have to build trust in seconds. Yes. And and I’m and I need to do that on social media. And so does your sales force. In fact, the whole of your organization needs to do it because actually, it’s not just the modern buyer who’s online. It’s the modern job hunter is online and the modern investors online, etcetera, etcetera. So so but in terms of your sales force, your sales force need to be generating trust within seconds. And they won’t do that by having a LinkedIn profile, which is a CV. That means they’re looking for a job or something that says, I’m an amazing salesperson because we’re not interested in talking to those. Yeah, so having a personal brand is critical. I can talk to you about other.

Tim (00:18:31) – So think having a personal brand as a as a CEO startup will get you more funding. There’s research that shows that as well.

Andy (00:18:40) – I’m totally bought into the value of a personal brand and we did a podcast a few episodes ago with a guy called Rajan Mystery, who specializes in working with the founders of startups to build a personal brand that helps them on that journey. So totally. I totally value that. The challenge, of course, is convincing everyone within an organization that they need to spend the time to build and curate their personal brand.

Tim (00:19:01) – But but it should, you know, I mean, in what we teach through our methodology should only take you a day to do.

Andy (00:19:08) – Yes. Yeah.

Tim (00:19:09) – So, so when you say it takes time, surely you have a day to spend working on your personal brand that’s going to increase the company’s turnover by 30%.

Andy (00:19:20) – You are preaching to the converted here too.

Tim (00:19:22) – Why would you not do that?

Andy (00:19:24) – I’m with you. And you know, this.

Tim (00:19:26) – Is you have a mental health day.

Tim (00:19:28) – You say we have a personal brand day. It’s going to be next Friday. You’re going to spend you’re not going to do any meetings. You’re just going to focus on that. And after that, on Monday, we’re going to go back onto our growth trajectory and we’re going to get another 30% increase in revenue.

Andy (00:19:40) – I love that personal brand. That’s something I’m going to bounce around with a few people.

Tim (00:19:44) – That’s cool. I’m going to make a note of that myself.

Andy (00:19:47) – That’s going to be in your third edition of the book. Yeah, I think so. Tell me about The Wide Network, because obviously having a broad reach is important, but I don’t know about you, but I get so many connection, random connection requests, and I know we keep going back to LinkedIn because I think it is probably the most important B2B channel, isn’t it a social media channel? But on LinkedIn I and everyone gets an awful lot of spam connections. What’s the value in that? Is it just to broaden that reach?

Tim (00:20:18) – I think that so I think that what you’ll find is that most most organizations are fixated on interruption marketing, which has been around, you know, for 30, 40 years, which is I, I pitch up well, I interrupt you and then I pitch my products, which is what email marketing, cold calling advertising is, is all about.

Tim (00:20:42) – And it’s and social media isn’t about that. Social media is social media. And and people forget and people don’t seem to realize that people don’t want to be pitched to or spammed. So first and foremost, I think it’s important to say that when someone comes to you on social media and pitches to you or connects and pitches, that is not social selling.

Andy (00:21:08) – No.

Tim (00:21:08) – Okay. It’s spam. So I have a definition of social selling, which is using your presence and behavior on social media to build influence, make connections, grow relationships and trust which lead to conversation and commercial interaction. What we’re doing when we’re connecting to people, it’s about generating a conversation. Yes. And and so what as as what we need to be doing if if we’re in sales, we need to be doing proactive outreach. So we need to be connecting to people in the accounts that we want to influence.

Andy (00:21:45) – Yes.

Tim (00:21:46) – Now, if we take a client of ours, they’ve got 100,000 employees. How many people should I be connected to in BMW? More than one.

Tim (00:21:56) – Probably more than ten. I don’t I’m it’s an open question. Is it? I spoke to a friend of mine in sales and he said, oh, 10%. I said, well, that’s 10,000 people. But but we need to be we need to be connected to be and so linked in call it multithreading, which is about making sure that you’re connected and having more than just one person, you know? So when I was selling accounting systems, the, um, you need to be, you needed to know people in finance, you needed to know people in it, you needed to know people in architecture, you need to be connected to, you know, So, so there was ten, 20, 30, 40, maybe 50 people that you need to be connected to. There’s a supply chain software company that we’re working with that says there’s a hundred stakeholders for every sale.

Andy (00:22:49) – Goodness. Okay. So basically it’s about breaking down who’s in the decision making unit, isn’t it?

Tim (00:22:54) – So and if you think about, you know, the point when there’s a decision and they say, okay, we’ve we’ve selected a shortlist of two, who’s who are we going to pick? You need to be making sure that as a sales person, all the people are putting up the hand for you.

Tim (00:23:07) – So you need to have gone round and had and connected to those people and try to have a conversation with them, not in a by my product because we’re great or here’s my product and that because people will just block you. Yes. But in a conversational way. And what we do is that we teach people the ability to basically to connect to people and have conversations.

Andy (00:23:30) – Yeah. And the value of the conversation is building the relationships with each of those different stakeholders. Yes. So that when it gets to the shortlisting, they put their hand up to say yeah, we want Tim.

Tim (00:23:39) – Yeah. Oh yeah, I’ve spoken to Tim or I’ve seen Tim and I really like his content online. Yeah, they seem like a good company. Yeah.

Andy (00:23:47) – They seem like a good company. That’s exactly the kind of impression you can give across through a good personal brand and also, you know, solid content. Yeah.

Tim (00:23:55) – And that that may be the difference in terms of, of of winning a deal. Absolutely.

Tim (00:24:00) – So so we what we’ve done, we actually have a team of people that are doing cold outreach and we’re now getting a 9% return on that connection of that of of those connections, which is just way more than cold calling or email marketing. Well, if you go.

Andy (00:24:18) – Back to your stats from earlier on, where 99% of cold calling fails and 98% of emails, well, yes.

Tim (00:24:23) – So cold callers who get 1%, we’re getting 9%. But the interesting thing is that we’re getting a 33.6% conversion rate. So whenever you do any cold outreach and you have a meeting, the objective of the meeting is to get a next action. Yeah. And and what we’re doing is that we’re getting a 33%, 33.6% basically next action response. So that just blows out the water. And if anybody’s watching this and they want many more information on it all, if you look at any of my blogs that have come out over the last six, nine months, it will have all that in. And if you want to look at the data, you’re more than welcome to come and analyze it.

Andy (00:25:03) – Yeah, I’ll I’ll put a link to your site in the show. Thank you. So the third piece then is content and this is where you might typically see the overlap between sales and marketing. And marketing generally produces a lot of the content that the sales teams use, and nobody reads that nobody reads. And that’s the challenge, isn’t it? So how do we end up as a marketing community, make sure that we’re fuelling our colleagues in sales and working together in a way that the content we produce, supports their personal brand, enables them to start conversations, connect.

Tim (00:25:37) – And so I would challenge really that marketing should be creating content for salespeople marketing generally, what they do is that they create content, which is very, very bland because it’s about appealing to as many people as they can.

Andy (00:25:53) – Gosh, that’s really painful to hear you say that.

Tim (00:25:57) – Okay, But it’s true.

Andy (00:25:58) – Yeah.

Tim (00:25:59) – Yeah. And and because ultimately marketing has have have a foot in each two camps. One is to basically create a brand and the other is to generate leads in a way they’re basically diametrically opposed.

Tim (00:26:14) – And and so what happens is that you get branded content basically being given to salespeople and say, share that. Yes. And and as we know, actually sharing brochures extends the sales cycle. We also know that people research shows that people come to social media to be social. They don’t come to read brochures. So we also know that if you’re sharing brochures, you’re training the algorithm to ignore you. So you’re you’re in this you’re in this situation where you’re where whatever you do, it’s not working for you. And I think that most people will say, but, you know, if people look at the go back and look at the figures, they’re not generating business from doing that. What what people want and what the figures show is that they want authentic content. Okay? We teach people how to create content, authentic content. Everybody who goes on our course writes a 300 word blog and posts it. And what what we’re looking for is we’re looking for insight. As I said, we’re looking for something.

Tim (00:27:21) – Tell me something I don’t know. Show me that you understand the subject matter. And, you know, a CEO of of ours rang up recently and said he said he said he said, I just posted something. It was the anniversary of his company. 11 years. I said, brilliant. He said, Yeah, I got some business off the back of it. I said, How come? He said, One of our clients rang up and said, Can you get one of our salespeople, one of your salespeople to ring me up because we need to do some more business? And he says, I can’t understand why people don’t put out authentic content. Yeah, yeah. Because every time you do, you’re in the face of your clients on the basis that you have a great profile, on the basis that you’ve connected to the people that you want to influence, which is your clients and your prospects and maybe some maybe some industry influences what you’re doing. So I put out a piece of content every single day.

Tim (00:28:15) – Every single day I’m able to wave at people, say, Hello, I do this social selling stuff. Yeah. Hello. Just getting stuff. Yeah. How often could I ring a client and say, can you buy do you want to buy social selling? I couldn’t ring them daily. I couldn’t ring them weekly before you would basically say, just go away.

Andy (00:28:34) – Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So that’s interesting. Saying authentic content is a term you’ve used a couple of times there. So in other words, Authentic has to be produced by the sales person themselves. So it’s not really a sales and marketing combined effort. Really what you’re saying is marketing should focus on building brand and sales should focus on being authentic and creating connections.

Tim (00:28:53) – Yeah, So, so Mark, the modern marketing, what they need to be doing is that they need to be feeding sales. Probably the ideas in terms of what to create content, right?

Andy (00:29:04) – Okay.

Tim (00:29:04) – So what marketing will have done is created a list of the probably gone to ChatGPT now and, and said, okay, give me the key words.

Tim (00:29:14) – So these are the key words that we want to be famous for. So don’t forget, every time somebody creates a blog, that’s another piece of keyword optimized text on the internet that you have. So if you’ve got a sales team of ten people and they’re all producing a blog a week, you can do the maths in terms of how much you’re increasing your keyword optimized text.

Andy (00:29:35) – Yeah, absolutely.

Tim (00:29:36) – But so what, what marketing need to be doing is going saying right, this week’s keyword is this. What what the sales leadership need to be doing is understanding rather than saying, I’m not having my sales team writing content. What they need to be understanding is that this is modern prospecting, this is digital prospecting. The time that you spend writing the content is actually prospecting time. Why? Because we we’ve got a great profile. We’re connected to all the people that we’re trying to influence and they’re going to go, Oh, Tim Hughes Yeah. Oh yeah. That’s really interesting. Oh, that’s really interesting.

Tim (00:30:16) – That’s really interesting. You know, we’ve got this problem. I’m going to contact them. You know, we’ve got clients that are having that have done all these things and they’ve got people prospects walking across LinkedIn to them and saying, Can you help me? I’ve read your article. I think it’s really interesting. Can you come and help me? And you know, we’ve got clients that are doing multi-million dollar deals because they’re actually doing all of those doing all of those things and joining all those dots. Yeah, and that’s modern digital marketing.

Andy (00:30:53) – Yes. Yeah, It’s really I really interesting because there’s so much in this that. Should improve the relationship between sales and marketing and the performance of sales as a result of them working together in an environment where quite often they haven’t successfully worked together too well. Yes. Could you tell me a bit about. I’m just looking at the club. I’ve got a lot of time, but what I really want to think about quickly is getting the balance between listening and posting on social media, because I think I think the algorithm skews this sometimes, is that you see so much content from the same pool of people and just think, God, don’t do anything other than just posting on social.

Andy (00:31:32) – But I know it’s the algorithm that actually changes that. How do we get beyond the algorithm to listen out to those for those really interesting opportunities?

Tim (00:31:42) – I think that as people mature and start using social media more, one of the things that we teach is that we get them to understand the need for this is about conversation and going out and joining conversations on social or starting conversations. And so that’s going out, finding other people’s content and making comments on it. Not saying this is a great post, but going on there and saying I read your post and doing that, especially of the people that you may be targeting and, and using the because, because as you start doing that, you’ll start seeing more of those posts basically in your feed. We also recommend that if you go to your find somebody who’s posting just boring content on LinkedIn, if you go to the top right hand corner, there’s three dots click on there. You can basically silence them so you don’t see them in in your feed anymore. So for all the marketers out there, I’m sorry, if you’re putting out brochures, we’re all blocking you.

Andy (00:32:47) – We’re never going to see them anyway.

Tim (00:32:48) – It’s a hard life. And but yes, and going out and having those conversations and putting comments and stuff, because then what will happen is that the, the, the algorithm basically will pay you back with that.

Andy (00:33:01) – Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So commenting is as important as posting it. Yeah. Okay. That’s interesting. And those comments presumably shouldn’t be, as you say, great post, but a little bit more insightful response to the content that’s there.

Tim (00:33:13) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. Yes. And you know, if you can read the if you could read the blog, I think that would be great. You know, using a term within the blog. But LinkedIn is looking for comments. The algorithm looks for comments on on posts which are at least a sentence as in not great post full stop. But you know, read your post. Really like the bit about this. Thanks for posting or something like that. They see that as a comment.

Andy (00:33:38) – Got you. Okay. All right. So let’s let’s finish off then just with a quick look at the different platforms because we focus quite a bit on LinkedIn, understandably, because it is such an important channel in B2B, isn’t it? But what other avenues for social selling should people be thinking about?

Tim (00:33:55) – Well, we we recommend LinkedIn and we do a 30 minute training course on on what used to be called Twitter, which is now called X.

Andy (00:34:04) – I was going to say to you earlier, actually, Tim, you said something about tweeting. I thought, is it still tweeting? I don’t know. I don’t.

Tim (00:34:09) – Know. I don’t know what it is. It’s called now, is it? It’s not X, It’s not exciting. I don’t think that’s really. It doesn’t.

Andy (00:34:15) – Sound right.

Tim (00:34:16) – It doesn’t it doesn’t sound right. No. But I think we’re kind of still we’re still calling it tweeting. Yeah. I mean, all of the social media listening tools are still focused on on Twitter or X, as it’s called now.

Tim (00:34:29) – So if you’re looking to build a personal brand, you want to get into the speaking circuit. Twitter is a place you need to be if you’re selling into it. There’s a lot of people from on, on, from it on there. And so, you know, Twitter may be a bit of Instagram, but from a B2B perspective, that’s kind of all you need to focus on.

Andy (00:34:51) – Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Tim (00:34:53) – Yeah. So LinkedIn first. Yeah, Twitter, if you have time and Instagram if you have time. And the thing with Instagram is that you may find that there’s senior leaders are not on LinkedIn, well, they’re not logging into LinkedIn, but they are posting pictures of them walking the dogs in Bushy Park and stuff like that. So sometimes you need to be on Instagram purely because you know, you need to go where you’re where your customers are.

Andy (00:35:17) – Yeah, perfect. That makes sense. And it kind of aligns very nicely with my experiences in terms of what platforms are worthwhile investing time in.

Andy (00:35:26) – Tim, thank you very much for joining me on the show. It’s a short, sharp look at a really detailed subject area that you’ve written a lot about, and your social selling book is is detailed, packed, full of value. So I recommend it to anyone that wants to it wants to up their game in social selling. But if people want to take it a bit further and get in touch, Tim, what’s the best way for them to find you, track you down and and book you for some guidance?

Tim (00:35:52) – Thanks, Andy. It’s been Thanks for having me on. It’s been excellent. I really appreciate it and really appreciate you reading the book and really digging into it. Best place to find me is probably LinkedIn. I’m Timothy Hughes on on LinkedIn. If you do send me a connection request, can you say that you’ve seen me on this podcast? Because like you, I get loads of random people sending connection requests and Timothy underscore Hughes on Twitter and our our website is DLA Ignite and the book’s available on Amazon worldwide.

Andy (00:36:27) – All good bookshops. Yes amazing. Tim, thanks very much.

Tim (00:36:31) – Thank you so much Andy.

Andy (00:36:32) – Yeah, nice to meet at some point. Yes, absolutely. But stay in touch. Thank you.

PODCAST: Marketing to the C’Suite with Rin Hamburgh

PODCAST: Marketing to the C’Suite with Rin Hamburgh

A common challenge for B2B marketers is how to reach a C’Suite audience.

After all, they’re the decision-makers, right? So we really need to get some content in front of the CMO, CFO, CRO, C whatever O, but they are notoriously hard to reach, let alone influence. Thankfully, the team at copywriting agency RH&Co did a little research into the type of content CxOs want to read, which they pulled together into a handy report for B2B marketers. You can download your copy from the link below.

Rin Hamburgh, the agency head, joined me on this episode of Through the Line to take me through the research. One of their key findings was that marketers underestimate the CxO’s desire for things to be simple. They want complexity of thinking presented in a way that is simple and engaging, and tied to the bigger picture. They don’t want you to sell to them, nor do they have time for waffle.

Click below and listen to the show if you want to find out more about engaging the C’Suite with your content marketing.

I hope you enjoy the show:

Connect with Rin here:


RH&Co Website

Download the report

Other Episodes of Through the Line you might enjoy:

Measuring Marketing Performance with Gabe Hughes

Social Media Strategy with Claire Hoang

AI-Powered International Marketing with Kate Cox

How to Hire An Agency?

How to Hire An Agency?

Hiring an agency sounds simple. But it isn’t. Not when you think about the custard soup of firms that make up the agency landscape.

One big melting pot of award-winning, full-service agency partners to help with your marketing challenge.

You know it won’t be straightforward the second you hit Google and your search results are in the billions.

To help get your agency ducks lined up, here’s a 13-step process on how to hire an agency that’ll get you from start to finish. Follow this, and you’ll nail your agency procurement problem in no time.

1. Define a good brief, which must clearly define the challenge you are trying to overcome, your target audience, your budget and how you will measure success.

2. Identify the characteristics of the right agency to create a supplier specification—factors like sector and discipline expertise, size of agency, location, PI coverage etc.

3. Map out your process. I’m assuming you want to run a pitch because most client-side marketers do, and it’s a good way of separating the good from the average. Run your pitch over three months.

4. Put items 1-3 together into a request for information document, aka an RFI. You will use this document to invite agencies to submit their information as part of your shortlisting process.

5. Research a long list of agency candidates. You can use Google, of course, but also talk to your network to get some recommendations, as this will reduce your workload.

6. Contact your long list of agencies and send them your RFI. You don’t want them to pitch at this stage, but submit a short document with their credentials.

7. Review your RFI submissions and form a shortlist of 3-5 agencies you would like to pitch for your business.

8. Prepare a request for proposal (RFP) document. This details the pitch process and the criterion for judging any pitches you receive. Send this RFP to your shortlisted agencies. Let those on the long list know they have not been invited to pitch.

Important: Please don’t ask for lots of creative output unless you want to pay for it. You can assess creativity on past projects. Evaluate how they approach the pitch process, their team’s skill sets, the performance of previous campaigns and the chemistry you build.  

9. Allow every agency to spend time with you and your senior team before they pitch. Use this to get to know the shortlisted agencies better. Coordinate the process well and give every agency a fair crack of the whip.

10. Listen to the pitch presentations. Be kind. Give credit and feedback where it’s due, and assess each presentation based on your criterion. Take notes so you can refer to them when necessary. Ensure you properly assess any case studies presented, they are recent, and the team working on those clients is still at the agency. Check the references provided as quickly as possible. 

11. Contract the winning agency quickly. Make sure you agree on the scope of work and negotiate on the pricing, terms and KPIs. Get the contract signed and sorted.

12. Feedback to the losing agencies. Don’t BS them. They did not all come a close second. Tell them why they lost out so they can improve for their next pitch.

13. Get started with your new agency. They will probably have a kick-off and onboarding process to take you through, and you should follow this carefully. Review performance after three months and iron out any teething problems. Move forward with the agreed scope of work and KPIs, and, for goodness’ sake, invest in your relationship. Always treat the agency team respectfully; I promise this will pay dividends.

There you have it; 13 steps on how to hire an agency to help solve your marketing challenge. We hope you find this useful.

We manage agency procurement for client-side marketers. Get in touch here if you would like any implementing this process.

PODCAST: Measuring Marketing Performance with Gabe Hughes

PODCAST: Measuring Marketing Performance with Gabe Hughes

Have you ever been asked to justify your marketing spending? How about whether your marketing is actually working?

I will be amazed if you haven’t. All marketers need to justify their existence at some point; otherwise, we get labelled with derogatory pap like ‘the colouring in department’. Thank goodness for experts like Gabe Hughes, who joins me on Through the Line to explore attribution and, more generally, measuring marketing performance.

According to Gabe, we should all be able to assign value to our marketing. To do this, there’s a marketing measurement trifecta that includes:

  1. Digital attribution, with positional and data-driven models
  2. Econometrics, aka marketing mix modelling, and
  3. Incrementality or A/B testing

By using these models, marketers can get to grips with the marketing that works at a brand level and also sales performance, including which channels and campaigns are adding value.

Gabe is a true expert on marketing measurement, and, in his time at Google, he actually worked on creating the positional models we all take for granted, such as first-click, linear and last-click attribution. In the show, we cover everything from data being the new oil to the value of different types of attribution models and the pros and cons of GA4. I promise you there is value in this show if you are new to marketing measurement or just want to enhance your understanding of the options available for measuring marketing performance.

I hope you enjoy the show:

Connect with Gabe here:



Other Episodes of Through the Line you might enjoy:

Social Media Strategy with Claire Hoang

AI-Powered International Marketing with Kate Cox

Building Resilient Marketing Teams with Jo Twiselton

Prefer to Read? We Got You. Here’s the Full Transcript

Andy (00:00:00) – How do you like being labelled the colouring in department or the spending department? Not very much, I’m sure. And that’s why it’s really important as marketeers that we get used to and understand how we measure the value that we add to the businesses that we work for. That’s where Gabe Hughes comes in, a true expert in marketing measurement. Welcome to Through the Line, the Agency Squared podcast with me, Andy Barr. In this episode, Gabe joins me to explore everything there is to know about marketing attribution. Well, as much as you can fit into about 30 minutes in which we cover everything from last click to first click to data driven to incrementality testing, and even we touch upon the pros and cons of using the new Google Analytics four platform. If you want to know about marketing measurement, you’re in the right place. I hope you enjoy this show. Gabe, Good morning. Welcome to Through the Line.

Gabe (00:00:59) – Good morning, Andy. Pleased to be here.

Andy (00:01:01) – How are you doing today?

Gabe (00:01:03) – Yeah, I’m okay.

Gabe (00:01:03) – I’ve got my coffee ready to go.

Andy (00:01:07) – The day can’t start without a coffee, can it?

Gabe (00:01:09) – I’m not a morning person, so I need. I need coffee. Yeah.

Andy (00:01:14) – Good, good. But thanks ever so much for coming on to the show. I’m really excited to have you here because we’re going to be talking about performance measurement and ROI. And that’s one of those subjects that I think is always high up on the list of marketeers. How do I show ROI or what do I do to justify the fact that I’m trying to get this budget from my board or the directors or I’ve done this campaign? How do I really know whether it worked? Yes. And if I understand correctly, you’re pretty much the guy that wrote the book on attribution modeling while working at Google, and you’ve got a lot of expertise in attribution and measurement. And that’s what I’m hoping we can have a look at today.

Gabe (00:01:57) – Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it was a long time ago now, you know, the actual attribution modeling that you had in set, I’m using the past tense because course has changed now.

Gabe (00:02:09) – But all those positional models and model comparison tool, they were all patented in 2011 out of London, out of Google in London. And I had been working with a team of analysts and data scientists and engineers there on understanding the user journey to conversion and how could we best summarize and represent that. And also, you know, we identified the problem of of last click. And why that wasn’t really helping advertisers and why it wasn’t helping Google either. And so we we developed and patented the first attribution modeling. And those models are just about hanging on. But of course, we always knew the data driven was coming and we can we can talk about all of that. But yeah, I’ve been immersed in all of that. And before Google I was working for a research company and product development for it’s now part of Kantar and it was and measuring sort of brand performance of digital ads and things like that. So I’ve really been around the houses on measuring advertising and marketing performance and ROI.

Andy (00:03:11) – Excellent. Okay. And I think if we look specifically at attribution modeling, it’s interesting because it’s a good time for us to be having a conversation because the switch over to to Ga4 is just happened, I think it was last Saturday that Universal Analytics stopped collecting data.

Gabe (00:03:29) – Yeah, end of June and people would have seen this horrible sort of countdown on like one of those bombs in a sci fi movie that’s about to go off, you know, forcing you to switch over. Um, of course, the enterprise brands, the, you know, the guys are paying for what you call it now GA 360 Enterprise, the new form for enterprise. They do have another 12 months. So they’re they’ve woken up, they’re thinking about it. And actually, I think what’s happening is that the folks who are on the standard, the free edition, are, well, it’s unfortunate, but they’re kind of guinea pigs serving the, you know, the needs of those enterprise customers who will pick up later. Maybe that’s a bit unfair on Google. They are shipping quite a lot quite quickly And yeah, we approach with four.

Andy (00:04:22) – Yeah I didn’t know there was the two tiers there in terms of who’s who’s carrying on with the universal analytics data. So that’s quite interesting. They’re free edition users are definitely guinea pigs in that respect, aren’t they?

Gabe (00:04:34) – Yeah, that’s right.

Gabe (00:04:36) – I mean, you know, your enterprise customers just they need a bit more time. But also I guess they expect not to be pushed into making a particular decision. Sometimes with these Google releases, they get delayed as well. So it’s possible that will get it’ll get delayed again. But G4 is definitely, you know, the way forward. We can talk about that. There’s a lot there’s a lot to say about.

Andy (00:04:57) – Yeah let’s let’s get on to that. I’d really like to just explore and unpack a little bit the basics of performance measurement for, for marketeers in attributions, one part of it and an important part and I think I do a lot of teaching of SIM qualifications and marketing apprenticeships. And whenever we get to the conversation around attribution modeling, generally speaking, there’s a bit of a blank look on the face of the person looking at me in that either they haven’t come across it or they’ve heard all the different terms, You know, first click, last click, et cetera, but don’t really understand it and definitely aren’t using it.

Andy (00:05:30) – So I think it’d be quite useful just to, I guess, have a 101 on attribute and then to have a look at other ways in which marketers can measure performance.

Gabe (00:05:42) – Yeah, I used to do this kind of gag when I was presenting on on attribution at Google and also elsewhere. You know, I would stand up and I would say, hands up, if you’re doing attribution and, you know, only 2 or 3 people would put their hands up more these days, of course. And then it was a trick question, of course, because you’re all doing attribution. If you’re not doing attribution, then what you’re saying is, I haven’t thought about the particular methodology of attribution modeling and multi-touch. But what, you know, at its most basic form, forget about all of that path analysis. Just think about assigning value to your marketing and saying, this is what my marketing is worth. And you know, even if you’re even on just one channel, you will have different kinds of campaigns. There will be multiple interactions and most, of course, most digital marketers in particular are across now social email affiliate.

Gabe (00:06:42) – As well as search and organic search and all the different categories of search and PPC shopping and all of those things and video and you know, and there’s more. So they have to think about how do these things work together? How do they interact with one another, What is that path to sale and what is each touchpoint worth is kind of implicitly a question, even if you don’t have a methodology for disentangling that and working out what it is, it’s, you know, as you spend money and you make judgments about what’s working and what’s not working, you’re implicitly attributing value to that marketing.

Andy (00:07:15) – Yes.

Gabe (00:07:17) – And last click, you know, is an attribution model. It’s just the default that was always there from the start and will not die. By the way, it’s one of the things that does survive in fall.

Andy (00:07:27) – I really okay, I think it’s probably the easiest one to understand, even though obviously it has challenges.

Gabe (00:07:33) – Yeah, it’s easier to understand and actually it’s the easiest to technically measure as well because it’s, you know, close in proximity and time to the actual conversion.

Gabe (00:07:42) – So it’s the one that’s least likely to lose data in the process. But the one of the ways to to get into the particular methodology of attribution and as I’m suggesting, I like to think in terms of more broadly, how do we measure marketing, of which attribution is just a method. And there are other methods out there that you should consider. But you know, to think about just the multi-touch bit, if you start off by explaining why last click is and I hesitate to say wrong, but why it’s a problematic way of measuring your marketing, that’s quite a good way into it. So the explanation there is, look, you know, you’re trying to measure what is essentially a psychological process that’s going on where marketers are trying to influence people to to buy their product. So there’s a process of, you know, brand awareness, research and consideration. The old the old concept of a funnel. Yeah. Sort of necessary stages that people have to go through before they actually buy something, right? They can’t they’re not going to consider your brand if they’re not aware of it and they’re not going to buy your brand if they haven’t first considered it.

Gabe (00:08:46) – And sometimes these days that happens very quickly, but nonetheless, they go through that process. So what happens in that process is they start from a position of not knowing whether they’re going to buy from you or not, maybe not even being aware of you, and they end up with actually a decision to purchase. So at some point during that journey, they make up their minds, right, about what they’re going to do. Well, with last click, you are guaranteeing that you will catch them at the latest possible moment where they’re most likely to have already made up their mind. And if marketing does anything at all, it should be influencing people before they’ve made up their mind. Absolutely. They made up their minds. So that’s why is to say last click is just too late in the process. Even if you’re a really hardcore performance marketer, last click is just capturing with very few exceptions, People don’t just jump in and buy something without any kind of from a cold start to just buying it completely happen.

Gabe (00:09:43) – But it’s pretty rare.

Andy (00:09:44) – Yeah, completely. And I think in in the way in which we buy things these days, we spend a lot more time doing research before we even get close to contacting a brand, I think. So that the last click, as you say, is is too late almost.

Gabe (00:09:59) – Yeah, we’re researching it. Or if it’s an emotional purchase, you know, it’s something that we’ve become excited about because I don’t know, we’ve seen a an ad on one of the socials for it and we picked it up. Maybe someone’s talked about it. You know, we have an affinity with it. So even for the sort of non rational, emotional or brand driven purchases, there is this warming up that happens. That is the job of brand advertising, you know, which is which is inherently problematic to measure. But again, these are touch points and influences that happened much earlier in the process prior to the actual last moment of purchase, which last click captures.

Andy (00:10:33) – Okay. So if we agree that last click is is interesting but not transformational because it’s a little bit too late in the buying journey for us to really be too concerned, what are the measures or the attribution models that consider earlier on in that sales process?

Gabe (00:10:50) – Okay.

Gabe (00:10:51) – So just as I say, sticking sticking with just the attribution piece, which isn’t the whole story here. So we’re talking now with attribution and with what’s happened to cookies. We are just talking about a series of clicks. So we’re just leaving out influences of, you know, impression based exposure essentially, which you have to measure in different ways. And, you know, with messaging in my company, we have approaches to that. Sticking with the clicks, you know, when it came to the positional models, we started off recommending that people just compare different attribution models. So the first touch, for example, is a really interesting touchpoint for the new customer acquisition. In other words, this is the first time that anyone interacts with you, the first time they visit your site or your app or what have you. That first touch, if you can measure that, even if they don’t buy, if they then come back later and purchase something, we’d have to agree that that first engagement is first impressions count.

Gabe (00:11:52) – Right? So yeah, that that’s an interesting one. It’s completely the opposite end of the funnel. And actually what you used to find with the additional models is if you then did things like linear attribution, which shares all the credit equally or other positional models, they would generally find a value that was somewhere between the first and the last. Because what happens right, is take a simple search example. People do generic searches, right? They search for your category, right and right. So they’re searching for, I don’t know, shoes. And then they decide that they really like shoes from the brand shoe. I’m mentioning them because they’re a client of ours and so they end up buying a pair of shoes with shoe. And, you know, they’ve gone through that process. So that first touch may not be on a shoe ad, It may be or it may just be a generic search that is on a shoe ad, but then comes in to see shoe and they just okay, they discovered it, but then they go and research alternatives.

Gabe (00:12:54) – And then the last one is more likely to be a brand search, which you actually type in the brand name, and then they purchase something. And so what would happen is in last click, obviously the brand search looks like it’s really performing really well. The generic search looks really expensive, but when you start to flip it and look at the other end of the funnel that first touch, you realize that actually there’s credit there that is owed, as it were, to this generic search. That’s a very sort of tedious search example. But once you then expand it to other things, you know, and there are common patterns that come up, right? So you often find that affiliates often do very well on last click, for example. But then, you know, people aren’t using those affiliates necessarily early on, right? They’re again, they’re using search or they’re being influenced by social or something like that. And then the affiliates are there to close to close the deal as they don’t know from money off out.

Gabe (00:13:46) – That’s right.

Andy (00:13:46) – It would make sense. Yeah.

Gabe (00:13:48) – Yeah. Do they really deserve the credit then is the next. Are they really offering incremental value if people are just swooping in at the last minute to find a voucher code, for example? Yes.

Andy (00:13:58) – Yeah, that’s really interesting to think of it that way. And you know, with that last click and the affiliates you’re mentioning there totally disregards all the investment market is making brand I suppose doesn’t it? And all those other Yeah.

Gabe (00:14:12) – All the work to get them interested And then the affiliates swooped in at the last minute and says you know that’s mine takes that commission. I’m not saying that affiliates aren’t good value. And obviously the thing about affiliates is there’s a huge range of different affiliates. So we sometimes find that actually a good content affiliate, for example, can sometimes be quite upper funnel where you’re reading research and reviews. Sometimes that is the first touchpoint. So they’re not all the same. It’s a very broad category. And that takes me to another point about, you know, attribution like this.

Gabe (00:14:41) – I mean, here we are talking about channel attribution, oh, generic search brand search affiliate. But the other thing that happens is once you disentangled, as it were, the sequence of channel interactions that is happening. The other thing you do is you unpack those channels and you look within them and you say, So which specific search campaigns or keywords are involved or which specific affiliates and so on. And within each category, the the methodology just to come back to ROI and measurement is really about moving very simply, moving money into activities that work and away from activities that don’t work. And what attribution is saying is, well, what works then? What is working? How does it work? That’s that’s what it’s asking.

Andy (00:15:25) – And that makes sense. And presumably once you’ve done that analysis, you’ve got some sense as to what is working. You shift some budget over there, then you can test and refine and move things around based on what’s working at the time. So it’s not a kind of one off snapshot.

Andy (00:15:38) – Here’s the result. It’s an ongoing test and learning process. Imagine.

Gabe (00:15:42) – Yeah, I mean, you know, you need that test and learn. I mean, I guess, you know, there is a decision that is generally made about for reporting purposes for for having that conversation with the, you know, the CFO or whatever the rest of the team or to pass on to your agency. Okay. What is our attribution approach that we’re using? You don’t want it to be this sort of technical discussion that just some measurement geeks in the corner talk about. You want to kind of decide what your true North is, what your KPI is, figure out how you’re going to measure it, and then, you know, use that. And in the background, those geeks can worry about whether or not that model is correct. They can validate it. They can worry about different types of tests and measurement, and you can refine as you go, but you can’t get too bogged down, obviously, in the complexity of it because you’ve got a job to do.

Gabe (00:16:28) – You’ve got you’ve got products to sell. But in the end, what you’re you know, the reason why I think there’s still something which is keeps people awake at night is because especially right now, people are struggling. Right? I mean, what’s happening is costs certainly in the big channels, certainly in search, they’re rising faster than inflation. So marketing budgets are being squeezed. ROI is necessarily under pressure. So people are desperate to get control of that ROI and, you know, get a realistic sense of where that ROI is going. And they’re having to work really hard to stand still. And they know those conversations with the CFO, they’ve got to justify that budget. And so they need some measurement that they can really rely on and to explain why, you know, and how this sort of complex multichannel marketing activity works, that makes sense.

Andy (00:17:22) – And if we’re thinking about measurement, I suppose more broadly outside of attribution or position or models, as you’ve called them a few times, you know, what are the ways can we use to understand what’s working and what isn’t working, I suppose?

Gabe (00:17:35) – Yeah.

Gabe (00:17:36) – So just in a last word on attribution. So you get off the positional models and then you’re talking about data driven. So, you know, for a long time it’s been okay. So isn’t there a clever way of assigning credit that is just correct. And so and then and then, you know, then you have data driven. Now there are different flavors of data driven. Not all data driven models are the same. So in a sense, it’s still a hall of mirrors. We actually use custom predictive models because we think they’re the most accurate. So, you know, we use our clients data to predict the sale and then we use that to assign credit. Um, and you can then measure the objective accuracy in a sort of AI approach. Okay. Google has its own baked in, so there’s data driven attribution and then stepping aside from just the, you know, that multi-touch piece, okay, you’ve got to think about the impressions now. So we don’t have these cookies anymore. You can’t factor in, you know, these, right.

Gabe (00:18:32) – Social views and videos and so on. So what do you do about those? It will massively undervalue your social. If you want to experiment with social and you put it through your attribution pipeline, you’re going to get a few clicks. It’s going to look poor and you’re not going to be able to justify that increase investments. How do you justify that? And the answer is. You need a way to measure that impression value. And there are different approaches to this. And they have in common, you know, with a broader problem of how do I measure branding and how do I measure above the line? What if I’m doing, you know, what if I’m doing good old TV or radio, you know, what do I do about the high Street? If I’m a large brand who has a physical high street presence, and how do I think about the interaction between offline and online? And so increasingly, people are turning to market mix modeling, which is sort of made a bit of a comeback.

Gabe (00:19:23) – And, you know, it’s another methodology predates attribution modeling as such, econometric modeling. It’s also known as and this is a methodology that well, it statistically I mean, it goes back to sort of, I don’t know, 50 or 60 or something like that. It really took off in the sort of 80s and 90s because you needed computers to do it. And it’s a very statistical approach. And we’re actually, you know, doing this as well. Now, a number of brands do it to measure really long term trends and the relationship between marketing and those trends. It’s a very, very different approach, if you like. You know, attribution is really close up and tactical and granular and looks at every touchpoint the market makes. Modeling is like a bird’s eye view. It looks at the whole picture. Okay, yeah.

Andy (00:20:14) – That’s interesting. Perhaps you can use the both in tandem. You’ve got. Sorry. Go on.

Gabe (00:20:19) – Well, there was one more. Sometimes people pick up a triangle. The other one you have to mention is of course incrementality testing and AB testing sort of control experiments.

Gabe (00:20:26) – So there’s this sort of, you know, triumvirate, if that’s the right word, you know, think of it as a triangle. The three points on it, there’s, you know, there’s attribution, there’s and there’s incrementality testing.

Andy (00:20:37) – Got you. What are the kind of. Challenges that marketeers come across when they think about how do we start to get a closer view as to what is working in our marketing?

Gabe (00:20:53) – Well, I mean, the basic problem is you’re trying to sort of fix the house and live in it at the same time, isn’t it? So usually it’s kind of like at the point where they critically need the measurement. They haven’t got time to organize the measurement. They’re like, well, oh, we’ve got a decision next week to make about how many millions we should spend on on paid search, you know, whether we’re going to switch our agency or whether we’re going to throw a load of money experimentally at Tick Tock or something. And they’ve not tried it before and they they then need the evidence, but they don’t have the evidence.

Gabe (00:21:30) – And and then if they are then investing in measurement, um, they’ve got the problem of trying to do the measurement while they’re also doing the marketing. So this is why I mean the reason why, you know, AB testing and incrementality testing isn’t more widely used. It’s widely held to be the gold standard, but you’re talking about turning activity off in order to measure it. So here you are, you’ve got big plans to take over the world. You’ve got sales targets to meet, you’ve got marketing budget to spend. You’ve got lots of complex agencies and technology to work with, and suddenly you’re having to basically mess with your campaign activity and not run certain activity in certain locations and wait for complex measurement to validate later on whether it’s worked or not. And so, you know, it’s small wonder that people just go, oh.

Andy (00:22:17) – Let’s just carry.

Gabe (00:22:18) – On, don’t actually bother. I mean, it’s hard to do is I suppose, the short answer and it takes time to set up in advance and marketers are under short term pressure to perform.

Andy (00:22:29) – Yeah there’s there’s always that challenge isn’t there with marketeers is we have kind of we’re trying to achieve things that take, you know 5 to 10 years to do. But we only give ourselves a kind of 1 to 2 year timeline to do it before we think about moving on to a new role somewhere else or changing brands. And, and that I think creates difficulties in all sorts of areas, not least measurement.

Gabe (00:22:50) – Yeah, there’s a there’s a pressure to get results and that is just normal. It’s just the nature of the business. A lot of money at stake. It’s the largest, you know, budget discretionary sort of a lot of companies, you know, their biggest suppliers are like Google and Meta, right? So so people are spending a lot of money. So there’s a lot of scrutiny there and there’s a demand to get results. So it’s this irony that, you know, the best way to sort of get results and optimize that budget is to measure it very carefully and optimize. But at the same time, you know, you just need results.

Gabe (00:23:22) – So the temptation is to throw money and hope some of it sticks, really. So and also just to do whatever you did last year. So changing course and changing tactics is always riskier than just going, well, you know, we did all right. Our ROI might be slowly declining, but, you know, we we can just hang on in there and keep spending money in the way we always have done. And, you know, it should be okay.

Andy (00:23:46) – Yeah, It’s a brave marketer that, you know, really takes it. It goes off at a tangent or takes a big decision to let’s just switch off for a minute, start to build a measurement program so we can assess what works rather than just, well, we’ve always done it this way. Let’s carry on doing it.

Gabe (00:23:59) – Yeah. Know exactly. Exactly. And and then who do you, who do you trust to do that measurement is the other one then. So if you haven’t got the teams in-house then it’s just extra budget to bring in someone like Metta Genie, for example, for independent view.

Gabe (00:24:12) – And so you’ll end up giving it to your agency to figure out or you’ll rely on, you know, out of the box tools like Google Tools and stuff like that. And Yeah. And can you trust them? I mean, you know, the problem is, of course, these these guys are potentially marketing their own homework and they tend to be quite siloed on what they’re doing. Yeah, but you can see why people default to that.

Andy (00:24:37) – Yes. Yeah. It’s the, it’s the, the easiest route to an answer. Whether it’s the right answer or not I suppose is a different question isn’t it.

Gabe (00:24:46) – Well this is it. And actually surprisingly large number of people are just content with an answer. As long as they’re making that target, you know, why rock the boat by messing around with measurement in. On the other hand, you know, you do get success stories. And what happens is people go, okay, we’re going to take a you know, we’re going to take a risk with a new strategy here.

Gabe (00:25:07) – We’re going to move forward. We’re going to measure it as well. It is a way, I think if you are trying something new to provide a bit of insurance, a bit of a fallback, because you can say, look, guys, we’re going to test this after eight weeks. We’re going to review where we’ve got to. If it looks like a disaster, we’ll switch it off. But if it doesn’t, we’ll keep going. And if you bake that measurement into a big strategic movement there, it can become a way for you to actually course correct and and provide a rational basis In the worst case scenario, if it doesn’t work out, you can say, look, you know, we did, we did we did this properly, you know, and you’re not you’re not wasting money because you’re doing it in a sort of methodical, rational way you’ve got control over. Yeah.

Andy (00:25:54) – Yeah. And of course you’ve, you’ve measured some things. So now that, you know, if it didn’t work well, we can go back to where we were.

Andy (00:26:00) – And we’ve tried that route out. We’ve tested something else out to see if it might move the needle and it hasn’t. So we can go back.

Gabe (00:26:07) – Yeah. And you know what with measurement in general, and this isn’t just in marketing, it’s very rare that you get this sort of black and white result of like, Oh, it did or it didn’t work. You know, every cloud has a silver lining, I like to say. So if you look at going back to attribution, if you look at a given channel and you say, Oh, this channel really doesn’t have good ROI, maybe we should cut back. Actually, if you lift the lid on that, what you’ll find is that there are a few campaigns that are actually doing quite well and typically the channel is being dragged down by wasted money on on certain activities. And so actually, you know, this learning is invaluable. And so organizations that get it right get into a test and learn and it becomes part of, um, actually digital transformation to be more data driven.

Gabe (00:26:51) – And we live in a world where data is the new oil, you know, leverage your customer data, leverage your marketing data test and learn and you’re not going to develop a culture that does that successfully by just ignoring the problem. It is a process. So as you start to do it, you’ll make some mistakes, but you’ll learn things and, you know, in the end it becomes a very powerful way of advocating for for your marketing budget. Yeah. And showing that you actually do have control over, over your ROI.

Andy (00:27:23) – Yeah, totally get that. I think, you know, there’s this over the last, what, ten, 15 years we’ve been awash with extra data from all sorts of digital sources as marketeers, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got any better or more effective at marketing because we haven’t necessarily known what to do with that data. And this is where I think someone like you gave can come in and say, Well, this is what that actually means for you. This is what you the changes you need to make as a result of the information that you’re collecting.

Gabe (00:27:50) – Yeah, totally. And that sort of the crucial thing is and again, this goes for any measurement, not just marketing, is it’s no good if you’re not making decisions based on it. Yeah, absolutely. You know, it’s no good if you’re not taking action. So it’s really important to do that, make that leap from, you know, data and analysis to insight and actual recommendations. Yes. Um.

Andy (00:28:14) – Yeah. So if we were to say, you know, if you’re thinking about getting out started with attribution or marketing measurement, you know, plan for the sort of medium to short term and, you know, just get started with some data collection, some simple tests and see what’s working and start to learn and realize that this isn’t an overnight fix. It’s something that takes, you know, 12 months, 24 months or longer to actually start to get some models that you can strategize based on.

Gabe (00:28:43) – Yeah, I think it’s really good advice to not let perfect be the enemy of good to actually just, you know, it’s a kind of user or lose it that’s like your data capability is like a muscle.

Gabe (00:28:54) – You know you need to start using it for it to get stronger and stronger and stronger. So absolutely start somewhere, do something and get involved with Ga4, which which you mentioned earlier, just just, you know, conscious at the time as well.

Andy (00:29:08) – And we really want to talk about Ga4. Yeah, go on.

Gabe (00:29:11) – Well, I mean, it’s interesting because it took us a while to figure this out. But yeah, as I said, you know, really it you’re either looking at or last can actually a lot of the revenue and sales that are reported now in Ga4 it’s it’s defaulting to this Google data driven attribution which we think is better than last click but there’s real question marks over it. There’s a lot of distrust right. Google marking their own homework, as I said. Yeah. Also exactly what’s included, how many touchpoints we think it’s for. We think we look at four touchpoints Google Channel definitions, which aren’t necessarily the ones you would use, and there’s no measure of how accurate it is, but at least it’s not last click where you are relying on Google to tell you what Google is worth.

Gabe (00:29:56) – And that’s combined with changes in in Google’s ad platforms where, you know, now if you if you if you put money into something, you’re not even quite sure what you’re buying. Right? You’re buying a cross search and display all at once. There’s multiple bid modifiers. It’s not clear exactly what you’re buying and you just put more money in and hope to get more, you know, more value out. So so I think it will lead to more people wanting independent measurement and actually something that’s also changed with people on Ga4 standard. Now it’s it’s also including BigQuery, which I don’t know if you know, is the name for the raw data that sits underneath Google Analytics.

Andy (00:30:37) – I didn’t know that. Okay.

Gabe (00:30:38) – Only yeah, it used to only be available to people who are on you know the paid for GA 360 version. They were the only people who would get BigQuery, whereas now everybody gets it up to certain volume limits that are quite generous. So people can actually go into that raw data and try to analyze it themselves.

Gabe (00:30:57) – Now good luck with that because it’s, you know, very, very complicated and so on. And you’ll never figure out how DDR is calculated.

Andy (00:31:04) – I’m not going to begin to think about that game. That’s.

Gabe (00:31:07) – Yeah, but, but what I mean is the data is now available to you. So it is, it is a moment where people can, if they find a way to take more control, whether it’s buying third party tools or whether, you know, bringing in agencies to help them or hiring their own analysts, Increasingly, marketers are being asked to be analysts. And one of the big shifts around Ga4, to be honest, is it’s much more of an analysts tool and a marketing tool, relatively speaking, is a lot more of a requirement for you as the, you know, user to basically analyze your own data.

Andy (00:31:42) – Yeah, that’s interesting. So almost for the average marketeer, ga4, albeit more powerful, is more difficult to get the extract the insights you need to make decisions. So you need an expert in this space to help you interpret it, perhaps.

Gabe (00:31:56) – I mean, it needs, at the very least, you probably need someone to help you set it up. You need a bit of thought into setting the thing up. There’s less reports that are out of the box. Yeah, there’s this sort of report builder thing called Explore, which is a bit like Tableau or something. If you’re not used to Tableau, then you want to find someone who is used to it and really just go, okay, what are we you know, what are we saying here? What are we reporting on here? But sooner or later, you know you’re going to hit these problems I was talking about. Okay. But we’re not valuing whatever it is. You know, sometimes it’s call center sales or sometimes it’s the fact that your website generates leads that are then actually resolved on the telephone if you’re a travel agent. Yeah, Yeah. Or, or the impressions and that whole business about beer. But what’s the value of social? So sooner or later you’re going to realize that it’s just not enough to look at these reports for is actually going to accelerate that because it’s sort of no longer just giving you the answer.

Gabe (00:32:49) – It’s much more. Figure, you know, than it was before.

Andy (00:32:54) – That’s interesting. I think for the average marketeer, that’s going to be an issue unless they’ve got it set up by an expert or they’re able to see, you know, reports and dashboards that they can easily digest.

Gabe (00:33:06) – I mean, I guess, you know, look, it’s already had quite a lot of changes made to it. And there’s like a template library of explore reports you can pull. So I think what will happen as well is a lot of self-help material will appear online already has to a certain extent. Yeah. So if you are, you know, a very small organization struggling, you don’t have the resources, you know, you can’t afford to support or whatever, you can still use this. It’s just a bit of a learning curve. And you know, people are complaining about J4 because you know what? It’s different. And the one thing to say about J4, by the way, is it had to happen.

Gabe (00:33:37) – I mean, they really did need to, you know, sprinkling the whole thing they bought in this a new event based approach, which is the right approach. But it did have to happen. But you know, people don’t like change and it does require just a bit more effort in that setup phase. Yeah, I completely agree.

Andy (00:33:53) – Everyone is afraid of change just on that term event based approach. How is that different to what we had before with Universal Analytics?

Gabe (00:34:03) – Well before there was much more emphasis on page views and sessions, and essentially there were events, but there were different kinds of metrics that sort of ran it. So now everything can be brought back to an event, and an event is, you know, in the back in the day, right? You would literally go from one web page to another. And so but now when you’ve got sort of dynamic Web pages, which have now been around for years, and of course you’ve got, you know, most usage is now mobile, which is much better integrated into Ga4, by the way.

Gabe (00:34:39) – So the idea that of scrolling or clicking or searching and all those individual actions that you take are much more front and central and then you can still work them back to things like users and sessions and page views. So, you know, you can have a page view event or a session start event, for example. Yeah. And the other thing they’ve done that’s quite nice is remember the bounce rate, you know about bounce rate.

Andy (00:35:01) – Yeah, absolutely.

Gabe (00:35:02) – It’s still there, but it’s actually more or less been deprecated for the main reports. And instead there’s a sort of inverse metric which is engagement. So the main measure of users, for example, is active users and these are users to effectively haven’t bounced. So engagement is bouncing, is coming to the site, not doing anything if you like. Yeah, that’s not the technical definition. Engagement is coming to the site and doing something. So it’s a much more positive measure to go, Oh, someone comes and they interact with this site at all. And that’s something we want to encourage and we should be focusing our attention on the active users and not the people who are just leaving.

Gabe (00:35:41) – And so instead of decreasing bounces, you’re now increasing engagement. It’s the same thing, but it’s framed in a positive way.

Andy (00:35:46) – Yeah, I like that. And in actual fact, most marketeers at some point we’ll say an objective is more engagement. So it kind of fits within our vocabulary very nicely.

Gabe (00:35:57) – So it’s the missing metric? Yeah, go on.

Andy (00:35:59) – Do you think then that this move to go forward? Because as you said, there’s been a lot of negativity around it, but do you think overall it’s a positive thing? It had to happen. It’s a useful thing for the industry to have moved on a bit.

Gabe (00:36:13) – I think it’s really it’s really hard to say. I think there’s so many things that have changed. Um, I think that Google could have done a bit more work on creating, you know, just familiar looking out of the box reports that, I mean, there’s things like, I’m sure they’ll fix this, but if you look at total sessions by channel, there’s no there’s no total you know on on that report like some of the basic functionality is just sort of missing all the work seems to have gone into this explore report builder and and that as I say requires you to sort of do a bit of a DIY on it, but it’s already changing quite rapidly and their approach is launch and iterate.

Gabe (00:36:53) – And you’ve got to remember that, you know, Geo Universal Analytics was built on top of all the previous versions of going all the way back to their purchase of Urchin, which was already a good product in 2005.

Andy (00:37:04) – So gosh, is that that was.

Gabe (00:37:06) – They thrown out everything and started again. So at some point they had to do that. Yes. And in that sense, it’s a good thing. I just feel for the small business owners who are so dependent on gate now having to cope with it.

Andy (00:37:19) – Yeah. And somebody I know, an old friend, I suppose our old colleague, he launched a company called Plausible Analytics as an alternative to Ga4. And actually the the Ga4 move has enabled him to ride away and grow his business extraordinarily quickly with, oh, it’s.

Gabe (00:37:34) – A huge opportunity for guys like that. It’s a huge opportunity. I mean, it’s opportunity for us as well. You know, now that you’re forced to use DDA, people are saying, Well, hold on a minute, what is my attribution model? What does it even mean? How does it work? Yeah.

Gabe (00:37:46) – And we’re saying, well, you know, you can have your attribution model how you want it, you can you can do it all custom. You can have objective measures of accuracy and we can help you do that. And we can also help you understand what it means and recommendations and all the rest of it. So it’s a big opportunity for anyone who works in measurement actually. So I don’t know whether or not you’re going to see people walking away. Um, potentially, you know, potentially there will be a bit of a bit of a haemorrhage in the end. I think most people will grudgingly accept it. They’ll ship a few improvements. There’ll be a library of there’ll be a community of support and some templates and everyone will stop grumbling about it. So, you know, let’s see where we are in a year, A year or so. Yeah. Folks have been forced.

Andy (00:38:27) – Forced over. Yeah, no doubt. And I think all marketeers need to remember that, you know, it’s a free product.

Andy (00:38:33) – Right, Exactly. You have to go with what changes are given to you. And when you’re not actually able to influence through paying license fees, for example.

Gabe (00:38:41) – It’s pretty amazing. And actually, you know, you think we all know that Google Search and YouTube are huge, but I can’t remember exactly where I heard this. But, you know, Google Analytics is one of the biggest, if not the biggest hit on Google servers like every website in the world is running. Even those that are running paid for alternative analytics version are usually running, um, standard as well as a sort of free check up amount of hits that Google gets off of. Google Analytics is astonishing and then we are indeed providing this for free. And there we are all grumbling about the fact that we’re getting this incredible state of the art analytics provided to us for free. It’s just like, that’s what we are now.

Andy (00:39:19) – How dare they provide us this amazing service? Exactly.

Gabe (00:39:22) – Yeah.

Andy (00:39:23) – Gabe I think, could carry on talking to you and learning from you for the next couple of hours, but the show length is normally about half an hour and we’re well over that.

Andy (00:39:30) – So I think we need to bring it to a close. But I would love to get your take on are there any kind of resources, books, podcasts, things that you read or listen to that you think that marketeers that want to raise their game in measurement need to look at.

Gabe (00:39:46) – Oh, gosh, you put me on the spot there. Um, wow. Well, we publish quite a lot on our website, so Metagenome and ETG and Icom, we have an insights page where I’ve written quite a lot of things and put out videos and things like that. So you’re welcome to go there. I really think it’s I mean, there’s so much that that’s in terms of free resources that are out there. Some of the larger companies, they have published quite good frameworks this this framework that I’ve talked about. So actually Meta and Google talk about the importance of combining attribution, econometrics and measurement. There’s some serious thinking that goes into that podcast. I don’t know. I mean, for the love of marketing is one that I recently participated in.

Gabe (00:40:28) – I quite like Excellent, but through the line is the one you really want.

Andy (00:40:33) – Do you know what, Gabe? I’ve asked that question so many times and nobody ever says that.

Gabe (00:40:39) – That’s the one you want.

Gabe (00:40:41) – Yeah I like, I like, um, more or less the radio for, you know, I’m quite interested in general data driven decision making and thinking about that sort of stuff. So I like, you know, getting away from marketing. I like that kind of stuff.

Andy (00:40:56) – Excellent, excellent. Gabe, I think at some point I’ll have to get you back to talk more about econometrics and marketing, mixed modelling, because I think that we barely even scratched the surface of that. And it’s such a big subject, isn’t it? But we’re definitely out of time for today. So, thanks ever so much again for coming on the show. I’ve really. The conversation. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sure everyone that listens to this will do so. I appreciate you sharing that value.

Gabe (00:41:19) – My pleasure.

Gabe (00:41:20) – Thank you, Andy. It’s been fun.

Andy (00:41:21) – Excellent. And see you again soon, hopefully.

Gabe (00:41:24) – Cheerio.

Agency New Business Playbook

Agency New Business Playbook

How do you win some new business for your agency? With our agency new business playbook, that’s how.

I must have been asked this question a million times. It’s about the biggest topic on most agency leaders’ minds; just after, why are our margins so low, and how much does a glass of Rosé cost at Cannes Lions?

There’s no shortcut to new business success. It’s a professional discipline, and I doff my cap to those working full-time in biz dev.

But, if your agency is too small to have a biz dev expert on the team, how will you generate enquiries, opportunities and growth?

If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some thoughts on how to ramp up your lead flow. Some of them are simple, and you’re likely already on it. Others take more time, money and deep thinking to get your head around.

Hopefully, there’s something here for any agency to get their teeth into. They’re not all expensive ideas; I know you’re not made of money. After all, you’re running an agency at a time when the economy is screwed, and your costs have gone through the roof.

But before we launch too far into the realms of lead generation, you need to step back and start by defining a set of marketing objectives and a strategy.

You know, the crucial step of planning that comes before the doing of marketing stuff.

So here are steps 1-5 to get you going:
1. Market analysis

Think about what’s going on in the markets you want to target. Is there a lot of growth, M&A, high-profile successes or failures? Is the market dynamic or static, growing or stagnant? How much is spent on marketing and communications by the big brands? How many players are there of a size that would work with a small independent agency?

What other agencies are playing in this space? Is there demand for another SEO, PPC, PR etc. agency in this industry?

Remember, there are 20,000 other agencies just in the UK, according to urban legend. Don’t jump in and play in a red ocean, or you’ll get eaten.

Or, if you’re already deep in the red, where are the little slivers of blue water that you can start to build a position in?

Get to know the markets you want to target well. You will need to be, and be seen as, an expert at solving the challenges of the clients you want to target; get to know their worlds.

2. What’s your vision for the agency?

Yes, you must define a big, hairy, audacious goal that everyone is excited about. Or, to put it another way, you need direction so that your team and target customers know what your agency is all about.

I’ve written about the importance of a vision before but take my word for it; you’ll need some direction if you want to motivate your team and interest your target audience.

3. Define some objectives and a strategy.

With an ambitious and inspiring vision in place, it’s time to work out your steps to achieving your vision. You will need some objectives but don’t be a plonker and make them vague and ambiguous; be clear and make them SMART.

Next, think about how you will achieve those goals, i.e. it’s time to define a strategy. You don’t need a McKinsey consultant or an MBA from Harvard here; just map out some simple stuff.

For example, you might choose a target of £1m in revenue from SaaS start-up companies in the next 12 months.

Your strategy is how you will achieve that target.

So, for example, you might decide to create a brand platform with some compelling thought leadership around how SaaS players can grow their subscriber base using the bullseye framework. Or something along those lines.

4. Nail a strong position and set of messages.

If you use weak, pitiful language like, we’re an award-winning full-service agency that likes to work with our clients as partners, you’re deep into the red ocean madness. Reaching your objectives will be harder than beating Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon (maybe that should now read Carlos Alcaraz).

Get someone awesome to help you define a competitive position and some meaningful core messages for your target audience.

5. Define your ideal customer persona.

Note I mentioned your target audience there. Marketing planning can only be complete with a deep look at who your customer is, commonly referred to as defining your ideal customer persona, or ICP.

It’s the final piece of planning before you jump into churning out comms. Don’t get started without first mapping out what he, she, or they care about and the challenges they need to overcome.

It would help if you validated your positioning and messages with your ICP before you go large with your communications. This validation could be market research calls with target customers or stakeholders.

Now you have a vision, objectives, a strategy based on market analysis, and a positioning statement with clear messages aligned with your target audience.

In a nutshell, you’re ahead of the pack.

I guarantee most of your competitors will have yet to complete any market analysis, and because of this, their competitive positioning will be feeble.

What’s next in the agency’s new biz playbook, then?

Hunting and farming.

Hunting is about getting fresh new leads into the business, going out and catching that wildebeest that’s galloping across the plain, and bringing it back to the cave for your family to eat.

Farming is about tending to your crop and aiming for the best yield, a.k.a. growing your existing client accounts.

They are two separate disciplines. Please don’t mix them up. But do make sure you do them both.

Hunting is where the hungry sales pro gets their kicks. Farming is the skill of a good account director or client services pro.

I will focus here on hunting since client service is such a massive topic in its own right.

You could listen to my podcast with Jenny Plant, all about client service, for some ideas.

Catching the Wildebeast

For those of you counting, there have been five steps to get your biz dev effort up to speed so far. Let’s get that number up to 15.

So, what can you do to catch some wildebeest, then?

Here’s a list of ideas to get you thinking. They are not solutions. I don’t know your business, sales skills, or attitude to biz dev. Some will suit you, and others won’t. But if you’re looking for ideas, look no further.

Remember, they are only ideas. You can take them, use them in part, in full, or create entirely new marketing tactics. Aside from budget and the law, the only real limitation is your imagination.

So let’s crack on with our agency’s new business playbook.

6. Identity Refresh

Looking at agencies is like wading through a sea of custard soup sameness for client-side marketers. Ensure you don’t look, sound and feel like the 50 other agencies you are up against in your competitive set.

Get yourself a distinctive look and feel based on the positioning you defined earlier. This includes all the obvious assets: logo, colour palette, tone of voice, and brand narrative.

Be brave. Be bold. Be distinctive. Stand for something.

Look at Mellor & Smith for an agency with a distinctive look and feel and really clear messaging. I love their ‘underdog brands need underdog thinking’ messaging.

7. Fix Your Website

With your brand spanking new identity designed, it’s time to upgrade your crappy Wix website. I know you have one, and you probably tweak it regularly.

But honestly, what does it say about your agency?

I interviewed marketing procurement professional Tina Fegent recently. Tina buys agency services for a living and quipped about how often she can look at an agency website and come away wondering what they do or how they can help.

Show some guts and let your positioning shine. Go bold or go home. And remember to optimise your site for the search engines, i.e. SEO.

Now SEO is a vast subject, and there are many better places to learn about it than here, so I’ll move on.

8. Content Marketing for Agencies

Your website is only the start. You now need to get some attention on it, so top-of-the-funnel stuff.

You thought you were an agency. That’s bullshit, I’m afraid. You are also now a media company, and content is the name of the game. It’s your best bet for showing your ICP how you can help them to overcome their challenges and achieve their objectives.

Content with some personality also demonstrates expertise, shows off your thought leadership and delivers an insight into what you will be like to work with.

[Edit: I heard Sir John Hegarty suggest we need to think of content more as entertainment to set us apart from the 99.9% of content that is dull. I love this idea. Don’t get lost in the crowd].

Compelling Content

You’ll need to create some compelling ideas to engage your ICP. I like Katy Howell from Immediate Future’s take on this. Listen to my interview with Katy here.

Katy is a ninja at creating valuable content for her target clients and using those assets to start conversations.

With content marketing, you need three ingredients to be successful (on top of everything written above):

A. Some quality content that is valuable to your ICP
B. Channels for getting your content in front of your target audience
C. A system for managing engagement

What format should your content be in?

Here are some of the simplest to most expensive tactics, many of which can and should be front and centre on your website:

  • eBooks
  • Infographics (does anyone still read these?)
  • Email newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Podcast
  • Video

The best advice here is that whatever format you choose, make a plan, be consistent, show up regularly with high-value ideas, and you will get noticed.

And don’t follow the field of dreams philosophy, i.e. if you build it, they will come. You will need to promote the hell out of your content across all your outposts, including some paid media. This includes getting an email newsletter going to distribute your content and staying in your prospects’ inboxes.

9. Blogging Works

I’m a sucker for a good blog post.

Why do you think I have written this 2,891-word agency new business playbook for the leaders of small marketing agencies?

Can you guess who my ICP is? If it sounds like you, get in touch here.

If you have a website, setting up a blog costs next to zero. Just get it done and populate it with value. Answer the questions your prospective clients always have early in the sales process.

Why a blog?

It’s an easy way to show some thought leadership, demonstrate expertise and opinion, attract eyeballs to your website, share valuable content; and the list goes on.

Don’t think. Just do. Okay, ignore the don’t think bit there. Obviously, you need a content plan before you start smashing out words on your keyboard, or if your copywriting skills are a bit lacklustre, prompting ChatGPT.

Remember the point about optimising your site for search engines from earlier? If properly optimised, your blog and all of your content marketing will be great for attracting The Google.

10. Personal Brand

I know. Every single one of you just rolled your eyeballs.

And really, I’m not going to try and teach granny to suck eggs (as an aside, where does this crazy phrase come from?).

There are three primary reasons for creating a personal brand for your senior agency leaders:

A. To demonstrate the personality of your team and give clues for what you’ll be like to work with
B. To distribute all the lovely high-quality content you’ve spent time and money creating
C. To identify and target prospective clients – guess what? They are all also on social media

Let’s cut to the chase; unless you are a social media agency, you can focus your efforts on LinkedIn.

Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and others aren’t worth the effort to sell agency services to marketers. LinkedIn is the place to be and to be seen.

You and your senior team must be active on LinkedIn, sharing great content, commenting on others’ posts and being visible.

There is a lot of great advice on using LinkedIn for lead generation, which I won’t repeat here.

Listen to my podcast with Rajen Mistry on personal branding for some more ideas.

11. Public Relations

With a solid story and great content, it’s time to lean on other people’s audiences. You probably don’t have a massive reach with your content yet.

The best way to reach a large audience without a significant media budget is good old-fashioned public relations. You know, influencing those who influence your ICP, so we’re talking trade publications and online influencers in your niche.

You can do this in several ways, but here’s a simple plan:

A. Research the media your ICP consumes, including print, online, podcasts etc
B. Start consuming those publications and get to know what they care about
C. Begin to engage those journalists on their socials so they get to know you who are
D. Be consistent and persistent, always thinking about how you can add value to their audience

Your goal is to get some coverage in trade publications or mainstream press if appropriate. You could also aim for a guest appearance on a podcast or a speaking slot at a meetup or conference.

There you have it, a very simplistic approach to gaining some traction with the media landscape that reaches your ICP.

12. Events

Hot on the heels of speaking opportunities at conferences, I want you to think about running your own events too. I’ve seen some excellent simple event executions, so don’t think you need to take a booth at MAD//Fest or rent a yacht at Cannes for the annual advertising junket – although you can if your budgets permit.

I’ve recently been attending a simple, bi-weekly event on Zoom called the B2B Marketing Shizzle (EDIT recently renamed to Great Shouts), featuring a guest speaker and Q&A in 30-minute bite-sized sessions.

The founder, a fractional CMO called Ed Davidson, has built an audience of 100+ marketers in just six months. That’s pretty good, given it has only grown through word of mouth. Ed has yet to spend a penny on marketing or content creation. Great work.

Another example is Joe Glover and The Marketing Meetup team, who have created a positively lovely community of more than 40,000 mid-level marketers and agency owners from all over the world off the back of a simple Meetup.

Events come in all shapes and sizes. Find one that suits your ICP and your budget, and get going. If it means joining the FSB or a local chamber of commerce, then crack on, as they come with bucketloads of networking opportunities. There are no barriers to entry.

13. Awards

I’m a big fan of awards. Actually, that’s bullshit. I’m really not.

There are so many awards that it’s hard to know which are worth entering; this is especially true for smaller agency teams with little to no experience in writing a winning entry.

I recently read an excellent article from Chris Hirst (author and ex-agency CEO) about awards rarely being worth the effort and cost, and I’m broadly in agreement. When searching for and hiring an agency, are awards genuinely valuable for client-side marketers? Maybe. Perhaps if the awards are celebrating marketing effectiveness.

That said, an award can be good for team morale, so do your research. If you can find one that’s reputable, respected, and doesn’t cost the earth, go for it.

Don’t spend thousands on it, though, and definitely don’t enter the awards with categories like Marketing Agency of the Year for the South East Region of the UK. These awards have no depth, are about making money for the organiser and are valueless.

I’m often amazed at the awards I see agency owners accepting. Some of you spend more time showing off appearances at awards ceremonies than demonstrating excellent marketing work. Don’t do this. Clients really don’t care if you are The Female Digital Marketing Leader of the Year for Southern England, or some other superficial awards.

They really shouldn’t be a big part of your agency new business playbook.

14. Partnerships

You know I said there are 20,000 agencies in the UK. Well, guess what? They’re not all competing with you. Very many of them will be offering complimentary services to the same ICP.

Say you do digital advertising for travel companies, but you don’t do SEO. Look for SEO agencies working with travel companies that don’t do digital advertising. Can you see how that might make an exciting partnership?

You might even consider buying that agency if you have the resources.

15. Referrals

Last but not least, get a proper referral scheme going. If your clients are happy with your service, get them to support your growth.

You’ll need great relationships with your clients, some excellent case studies and an NPS smashing the +50 mark first. Once you have those in place, get your clients to refer you to their friends and family.

Most agencies grow through referrals in the early days and working through their black book of contacts. It’s essential, but don’t make it your sole focus. It will not be enough.

So there you have it, our agency new business playbook for small independent marketing agencies.

If you’re doing all the above well, your agency should grow, but there’s no guarantee. Hopefully, there are some ideas here to get your creative and strategic juices flowing.

Oh, and there’s a lot more to think about when you start getting leads and opportunities coming your way, such as lead qualification, to make sure you’re pursuing only the most suited clients.

Biz dev for agencies is a specialist skill set that takes expertise, time, and commitment, and I wish you every success.

PODCAST: Social Media Strategy with Claire Hoang

PODCAST: Social Media Strategy with Claire Hoang

Remember social media? It’s what marketers got excited about before the metaverse and then AI stole the headlines.

Despite being out of the limelight, social media is no less important. In fact, as my guest on this show, Claire Hoang, suggests, it’s even more important; many of our audiences are now social media natives. They have never known a world without social media, so it’s no time to lose our heads and focus on another shiny penny. Even if that shiny penny is another new social media platform like Thread.

In this episode of Through the Line, Claire takes me through how marketers can utilise social media to engage their audiences and build their brands. In a wide-ranging conversation, Claire and I look at everything from the importance of native content, supporting organic with paid social, the value of attention, brand building rather than pushing product in an always-on world, and brand safety. We even touch on the need to regulate social media. If you’re in any way involved in social media strategy, you’ll find some value in what Claire has to say.

I hope you enjoy the show:

Connect with Claire here:


Other Episodes of Through the Line you might enjoy:

Marketing to the Purple Pound with Martyn Sibley

Human-Centered Marketing with Richard Hewitt

AI-Powered International Marketing with Kate Cox