Archive for December, 2012

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What a year! As one of my colleagues summarised nicely when I asked him if he’s looking forward to going back home for the Xmas hols – office life has been such that work doesn’t feel like work and enjoying every minute, looking forward to coming into work, means that whilst the holidays are welcomed, he actually looks forward to coming back to the New Year. Music to our humble GM ears and echoes exactly how I feel about this past year.

It’s not been easy. As seems the way in agency life, we’ve had to say farewell to some incredible minds. We’ve been pushed to deliver to some very tight timeframes and expectations. We launched a third team and had the teething pains associated with that. We’ve brought in new players which at our size always means readjustments of sorts. But the net result at the end of the year is one that I couldn’t be happier with.

First and foremost as I reflect back on the year, I can safely say I am working with some of the most outstanding people I’ve had the honour of working with. Whether it’s the thick layer of new comers ranging from Senior staff, inspiring and motivating our clients and staff alike, or solid foundation of colleagues who have been with us for over 5 years still tirelessly driving and moving us forward, the team here in Sydney is without doubt the thing which inspires the most confidence in me for the year ahead.

And it’s been a good year. We’ve won a Webby. Secured new valuable accounts with the likes of ANZ Stadium and Weight Watchers. Launched some great work for The Benevolent Society, Amnesty International Australia, Thrifty, Cochlear to name just a few. Good work goes beyond how thing look and feel – but the strength of those relationships instils me with further confidence that 2013 will be an even better year.

We’ve officially been labelled by the building here as ‘the cool kids’ – a reference to the constant BBQ’s and drinks we have on the terrace and those are the same words I’ve heard two of our clients reference us too. The fact that we’re managing to have fun whilst we go means, as much as possible, that work genuinely doesn’t feel like work. Our last eNPS (staff satisfaction survey) scored us with a corking average of 8.5. I think it goes beyond the fruit bowls and Bondi Fitness sessions and relates to the fact that we now have three teams who are filled with savvy, enthusiastic and passionate people.

Joining a year ago, my vision was to create an office that would stand out within the Reactive group. I leave this week for hols standing firm in the belief that we’ve changed things, together. The foundation created will see us come back for the New Year with vigour and enthusiasm with even greater opportunities to shine over the next year.

As a group our performance and work output has been growing year on year. I think no matter in which continent you sit in the Reactive group, it would not be difficult to take great pride in our combined achievements. Whether forging new frontiers in NYC, continuing to create ground breaking retail work in the UK, leading the way in NZ or part of the amazing down-under success story, I don’t think it’s too difficult to feel that we’re all part of something bigger.

So for now, I bid you all a well-deserved holiday. Rest well and leave assured in the knowledge that we’re in for an even better 2013!

Happy New Year all!

J

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Biz Dev Down Under

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Agency life

I remember when I was handed the reigns to my first Digital Agency years ago – it was probably the last time I felt as nervous and excited as I did. How do you go from the safety of managing internal processes to suddenly having whopping great big $$$ targets dumped on your shoulders … and succeed!?

The weight of Biz Dev was probably the single biggest aspect which, being new to me back then, was an unknown entity. As MD this wasn’t a case of cold calling (hate that term!) but more building and managing relationships with the purse string holders and how to win their trust. So needless to say, a steep learning curve and in some ways one that was recommenced when I moved out to Aus last year given the slight, but not to be ignored nuances in business work ethic out here. So, what have I learnt?

  • People work with People. Perhaps more so than in the UK, people like to know who they are dealing with, before they want to know about the company they are dealing with. A sure way to lose business is rock up to a first meeting with a deck and poor gags to cover the uncomfortable silence when you set up the projector! Be yourself, let it flow.
  • Creds are a drag. Don’t underestimate the combined knowledge your agency has amassed over the years and don’t expect your slick portfolio to be the bees knees – good creative is a dime a dozen. Rather, understand the business problems you / your agency have solved. ROI, conversions, acquisition, creative – whatever it might be. Be clear about the business value you present.
  • Declining an opportunity can be as effective as accepting one. Over the years I’ve pushed the envelope of what my agency can comfortably do … to the detriment of the agency (targets, targets, targets!). The result is almost always poor delivery, poor relationship or poor team morale. Take confidence in what you do do and more importantly what you don’t do. Often this honesty will help nurture longer term relationship which almost always result in a more suitable work coming your way.
  • Be swift, be tolerant. Given the amount of calls I take from recruiters (recruiters take note) the ones I end up working with are those who give me space (I’m referencing all those who pound and keep requesting the inevitably pointless ‘office visit’) and act swiftly when I do turn to them. Act fast by all means, but don’t push – it’s annoying!
  • Let the drinks do the hard work! The sooner you can move from the office to the pub, the better you can get to know who you’re dealing with and what is really important to them. Nothing breaks the ice more and builds trust quicker than getting to know who you’re dealing with and letting them know of the same.
  • Listen, Idiot! If you were a fly on a wall, how do you think you come across? Be aware of yourself and at every point ask yourself – am I listening! The best art of discussion is developing the ability to listen and understand. Talk is cheap, so make sure everything you say has a point and relates to the dialogue at hand. Avoid, at all cost the temptation to say ‘Yeah, that’s great but let me tell you about ‘.
  • Don’t be a one hit wonder. Train your team to think the same when it comes to managing and building relationships. There is nothing more annoying for a client who chooses to work with you and is then met by a lacklustre team who hold very different values.

These are my learnings, would be interested to hear from others out there too!