As September unfolds, Agency Hackers members are buzzing about a trio of riveting webinars set to take the digital stage this week.
First up is the eagerly anticipated AI talk featuring Simon Douglass of Curated Digital, who plans to shed light on his innovative use of AI to transform the traditional new business process. Doubling down on this season’s theme of redefining traditional agency approaches, Chloe Taylor will lead a discussion about profitability vs revenue ad Lucy Snell will tackle the art of implementing an effective agency ‘playbook.’
So, grab your virtual seat and get ready to be informed, inspired, and invigorated.
Tuesday 19 September: AI WHISPERS: How We Use AI for New Biz
Winning new biz can feel like a slog sometimes. But Simon Douglass has been able to streamline his usual new biz process using AI, and he’ll be sharing his journey so far in this month’s marketing and new biz mastermind.
“Whenever I do a call with a new lead or client, I’m always tapping away making notes. Now, I can post everything into ChatGPT to summarise what I’ve got,” says the founder of Curated Digital.
“I give it the parameters, and it summarises it into categories – it almost writes the brief for me. Often my struggle is when I do a sales call, I’ve got all these notes and ideas in my head. ChatGPT helps me organise my thoughts.”
Simon started using ChatGPT in December, and in those three months since finding the right use for it within the business, they’ve won more new biz than ever before. He says: “We’re establishing ourselves as a consultancy, and usually, our presentations can be quite wordy; we talk around the subject a lot. What I’ve tried to do is make our approach a little bit ‘less is more’. AI has been really helpful for that.”
By using ChatGPT to organise his thoughts and streamline the process, he’s been able to write statements of work, ICPs and SEO audit templates in far less time. It’s even been useful when it comes to outreach too.
Come along and hear more from Simon about how he’s using AI to win new biz, and how you could use it more effectively too.
We’ve made slightly less profit, but our margin has remained the same on the work we do. That’s interesting because we’ve always been quite discerning about not doing work that doesn’t hit the right markChloe Taylor
Wednesday 20 September: Is It Better to Chase Revenue Instead of Profit?
Do you get a bit too caught up on profitability and margin?
At Quietroom, they’ve decided to change tack completely, and focus on revenue instead. Board director Chloe Taylor said: “If you’re overly focused on profit, the easiest way to increase margin is to cut costs – but you can actually restrict your growth ambitions if you’re just eking profit out of everything you can. With chasing revenue, while it might slim your margins, it’s much more likely to encourage an expansive growth mindset.”
A big factor in their decision to focus on revenue is the fact Quietroom is now an employee-owned trust (EOT).
“We’ve still got to pay off the EOT loan, but once that’s repaid, where can the profit go? There’s no one to give dividends to. We could give it back in bonuses, we could reinvest in the business, we could give everyone a pay rise – and they’re all nice things, but they don’t have the same impact on decision-making.”
Moving away from a focus on profit, and instead looking at revenue, is also a big change to get your head around.
“It takes a lot of mindset shifting,” explains Chloe. “You can talk about growth but get caught up on margin. As a result, you stop saying yes to things because the margin’s a bit lower, or you’re not making as much profit. You just stay the same, and everything is about fine tuning rather than investing.”
“I’d rather spend money and grow the business than have a load of money sitting in our bank account.”
While this has changed the agency’s mindset and created a more positive, holistic approach, this is still a work in progress. However, it hasn’t affected their profitability as much as they thought.
“We’ve made slightly less profit, but our margin has remained the same on the work we do. That’s interesting because we’ve always been quite discerning about not doing work that doesn’t hit the right mark,” explains Chloe. “But a result of everyone doing loads of stuff because you’re investing in growth, there is a lag between your investment and your return – it’s definitely slower than simply cutting costs and seeing your profit go shooting up.”
“You need a long enough timeframe to see the realisation of your investment, and in an agency that’s traditionally been focused on cost, profitability, margin – that’s quite scary. But it’s all about having confidence, trusting the process, and managing our priorities.”
Is this something you’ve considered? Perhaps moving away from a focus on profitability could change how you view the work you do, how you do it, and even your future aims for your agency.
Thursday 21 September: OPERATIONS MASTERMIND: How Can You Create a Process ‘Playbook’ That Sticks?
Trying to document your agency’s processes is harder than it looks – especially as they have to adapt as you grow.
So how can you foster a ‘one version of the truth’ approach that everyone understands, is easy to onboard, and make sure people stick to it? Lucy Snell, co-founder of Cherry said: “It’s quite difficult in our team, because myself and my business partner work in very different ways.
“I think anyone that works with us finds that quite hard, so we wanted to kind of ‘standardise’ it across us both and have agreed working practices. We also wanted to put together a ‘playbook’ for when we work with new consultants – including expectations of what we want and expect from them, how we work with clients, and what clients expect from us.”
After a year or so, the Cherry business ‘bible’ was ready. But trying to get the team to follow it is a whole different story.
“I still don’t know whether people even look at it,” Lucy says.
In this session, we’ll be discussing how to create a process ‘playbook’ for your agency, and strategies for encouraging people to stick to it.
Come along to see if you’re in need of an operational refresh, and hear from others who are battling this problem in real time.
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