One membership covers your whole agency. You and your whole team can take part in all these sessions with an Agency Hackers membership.
Every month your agency's team leaders can join sessions aimed at creative, sales / marketing, client services and operations leaders.
Upcoming live sessions
These sessions are for Agency Hackers members. If your agency isn't a member yet, please join here.
EOS AGENCIES: HOW'S TRACTION WORKING FOR YOU?
So many agencies use the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Find out how different businesses have found their own groove running on EOS.
Today, a surprising number of agencies use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to run their business.
It’s an off-the-shelf operating model that tells you how to create a vision, how to set your values, and how to make sure you have the right people in the right seats.
- This session is for agencies that are running EOS already to compare notes on how they're sticking to it.
- But it's ALSO a good opportunity for agencies that are curious about EOS to sniff around and find out whether this is something that will help your business.
If you always feel like you’re making it up as you go along this is a great session to attend.
GREEN GROWTH: IS THE 'CLIMATE CRISIS' PART OF YOUR OFFERING?
Could you be missing an environmental angle in the services you offer clients?
Lots of agencies are interested in tech for good.
But what if you could apply your agency's existing products and services for a green cause?
Digital Detox has created the 'Green Report' for Vodafone. Through research, focus groups, analysis and insight gathering, the agency calculated Vodafone's carbon footprint and looked at its digital pollution contribution.
It found all kinds of ways within Vodafone’s company culture right through to end users, there was much more that could be done to reduce their carbon footprint and increase sustainability.
In this session we'll hear from Digital Detox's co-founder and MD Liam Snelling how the project happened – and what it's meant for the agency.
This is a story about addressing the "climate crisis". But it's also a story about how you can apply your agency's existing skills for the greater good.
Should your agency have a people director?
Making sure your people are happy, feel informed and are progressing in their roles consumes an obscene amount of clock cycles in an agency leader’s brain.
So in this session we’ll talk to two agencies that have invested in a People Director role – despite being under 50 headcount.
We’ll hear how it can be a difficult role to get right.
- “I can’t be everybody’s best friend because I sit on the management team and I’m very close to the CEO” says Mizzy Lees, Mr President’s People Director.
- “But equally I can’t be too senior because I don’t want to be unapproachable when people need me. It’s a role that kind of sits apart by itself.”
While it can be a lonely role – it’s also a vital one.
“Being people director is not just HR procedures" says Mizzy. "In agency life, people are our biggest assets. They’re our biggest cost. Their brains and creativity is literally our product. If they’re happy and fulfilled and progressing, they’re going to do a brilliant job.”
Rub virtual shoulders with fellow creative heads and
Join our monthly catch-up for creative people.
- How is your studio managing?
- How are you managing pitch situations?
- What's working when it comes to creativity and fresh thinking?
Join this session and tell us what you're seeing.
COACHING SURGERY: HOW IS YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM GETTING ALONG?
Take some time to think about your top team's relationship in this group coaching session with Martin Palethorpe.
How is your leadership team getting along right now?
Are you all on the same page, or not even in the same library?
In an agency, the relationship between your senior team is critical. Even at the best of times, the top team doesn’t always rub along. But now we aren’t all together every day, problems are even more pronounced.
In this session, Martin will share his perspective on the critical elements of high-performing team.
He’ll also facilitate an open group conversation, providing practical input on specific challenges from the group.
This session will:
- Give you the time and space to reflect on your own team
- Increase your awareness of your specific challenges
- Wake up to the importance of your team’s effective functioning
- Gain insight about what you can do, and how you can develop
DO YOU WANT TO
BUILD AN AGENCY EMPIRE?
Lab founder Jonny Tooze has turned his agency into a group of agencies. He'll talk you through his thinking.
What's going on with agencies building groups?
He's gone all-in on a group structure. (Now, Lab is no longer the name of the agency – it's the name of the group.)
In this session we'll ask Jonny what he's been up to, and get him to share the thinking and the wisdom behind it.
- What's the benefit of a group structure? (Why not just build one big agency?)
- How do these deals work behind the scenes?
- What infrastructure do you need so the cake sticks together?
This will be interesting if you can see a group structure in your agency tea leaves.
HOW TO START (OR EXPAND)
YOUR AGENCY IN THE USA
Ever thought about opening your agency in the USA? 3SidedCube is about to do just that.
Ever thought about starting up in the USA?
3SidedCube is about to do just that – and Sophia ‘Puff’ Story has agreed to share her experience of setting up a brand new business in Chicago.
"For eight years, about 60% of 3SidedCube's revenue has come from the USA" says Puff. "So five years ago we flew to New York to look at setting up a US arm."
But they decided NOT to go ahead.
"We agreed that we weren't ready. It was far too expensive for us at the time, and we weren't confident we could do it."
Instead, the team spent a few years getting their UK business spick and span.
Now their business is in great shape. They have a super-clear niche, and 70% of their overheads are covered by recurring revenue.
In this session Puff will explain her journey towards getting a USA business off the ground.
- Picking a city. They chose Chicago – not New York. We'll hear about why. (It's not just because Puff can live near the Home Alone house.)
- The opportunity to stand out creatively. "In their comms – whether it's email, on the phone, or just the look of documents – it just feels like how it used to be 10 or 15 years ago."
- Navigating a more formal culture. "Clients follow processes much more than in the UK. It's hard to pick up the phone and have an informal chat sometimes."
We'll also cover picking a visa, finding a network, and – yes – turning on the ol' British charm.
This is a great one if you're interested in adding a USA dimension to your business.
In 2014, advertising agency Lean Mean Fighting Machine sold to M&C Saatchi.
One of its co-founders Sam Ball will tell the story of how they sold, and what happened next.
There’s interesting advice here if you’re thinking of selling your agency – particularly if you might end up as part of a larger business.
We’ll talk about:
- Preparing to sell
- Presenting a clear story
- Being part of a larger firm, earn-out headaches and more
Sam will share his experience moving a challenger agency into a larger business. You’ll find out what happened when they moved into Golden Square with M&C Saatchi – and why he eventually quit.
There’s also important advice for agreeing an earn-out.
"When we knew we were going to sell, we really gunned for the financial targets. Before, at the start of the year – we weren't that hard on ourselves. But once you decide to sell it's remarkable how you hit those financial targets."
HOW TO WIN WHEN YOU RE-PITCH
Hear some hard-won lessons about preparing to re-pitch for an account. Strategy, chicanery and skullduggery – it's all here.
Why is re-pitching so much harder than pitching?
Sarah Jennings is CEO of Oban International, and she shares an interesting story from a previous agency – where she learned some valuable lessons about pitching when you're the incumbent.
"A few years ago we had a sizeable client served by a dedicated team" remembers Sarah.
"We had a really strong relationship. We used to run quarterly client reviews, with a six-monthly NPS and we scored nines and 10s all the time. We were on great terms with the client. We thought in all honesty we were probably a shoo-in."
It didn't go that way. This is a story that covers:
- The disadvantage you're at when you re-pitch
- How you can be outmanoeuvred by the other side
"The whole thing was a pickle from start to finish" says Sarah. Alarm bells started to go off when the competitor pulled some VERY sneaky moves.
In this session we'll explore the problems of re-pitching as an incumbent. This is a really interesting session to attend if you have a re-pitch looming.
HACKING DIRECT MAIL FOR
FUN AND PROFIT
What if you could get new customers by sending them stuff in the post? Scribble Mail's Lee Callender shares some ideas...
Have you thought about direct mail as a way to get business?
Lee Callender's business Scribble Mail lets you send people handwritten cards and letters. (It's a great service – they have a team of professional 'scribblers' who sit down and write each one by hand.)
One way Lee likes to win B2B clients for his service is by sending out personalised videos.
"We'll direct mail them a card with a link to a video. It's me standing in front of the camera, delivering a personal message and pitching for a meeting."
But here's the clever part: "As you watch we get a notification – and at that point we actually get on the phone to them. 'We sent you a link to a video, have you had a chance to watch it yet?'"
Lee reports that it's working really well. "That got us Center Parcs. We only sent out 30 and we've had 9 really good conversations off the back fo that campaign."
Join this session and hear about this and other interesting ways to reach customers through the post.
MONTHLY CFO SURGERY
Hired-gun CFO Deepa is here to answer your agency finance questions. Drop in and get a grip on your money.
If you're not in charge of the money, the money is in charge of you.
When it comes to finance, little hinges swing big doors. Seemingly small choices have far-reaching consequences.
Deepa Shah is a portfolio CFO to several agencies. She runs a monthly CFO surgery for Agency Hackers members, where you can get ad-hoc advice on a range of finance matters.
Drop in and sleep better at night with some of your finance questions answered.
WHAT DOES A
CLIENT SUCCESS DIRECTOR DO?
Every agency wants to 'move up the food chain' with clients – and retain them longer. Could the roving role of a client success director be the answer?
Mark Connolly has a job you don’t see in every agency.
He’s the Specialist Works’ Client Success Director. He has no upselling or cross-selling targets but instead, he has an ‘access all areas pass’ – and a standing brief to keep clients happy.
Mark has agreed to take part in an Agency Hackers session where he’ll tell us about his role – so you can decide if it’s something your agency should implement.
There’s lots to talk about in this interview – but one interesting aspect is that Mark’s role allows the business to keep a close eye on how clients are feeling.
They have a robust ’triage’ process that’s activated when specific symptoms present, which we'll talk about.
The Specialist Works is an agency that’s gone all-in when it comes to client happiness, so we’re grateful to Mark for lifting the lid on his intriguing role.
Mark says: “Because I have no revenue targets, I don’t need to be selling incremental services or products to our clients. Because of this, I have an honest and intimate relationship where the clients will tell me “that proposal sent yesterday wasn’t good enough.”
HOW TO COMMUNICATE WHEN
YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT
What if to get what you wanted you needed
to be better at listening?
For years, Kevin Taylor ran Greater Manchester Police's hostage and negotiation team.
A graduate from the FBI’s notorious training programme, Kevin delivered negotiator response in the most extreme and challenging situations:
- International kidnaps
- Barricade sieges
- Suicide interventions
Now Kevin runs Crimson Peak – which helps agencies with their communication skills.
He says it's NOT about knowing what to say.
"It's a complete fallacy that negotiators talk people out of situations. They don't: they LISTEN people out. Because when people talk – clients, members of your team leadership, whoever it may be – they give away things that they didn't mean to give away."
"Their tone and energy, how their voice modulates, where it drops off when disengaging – if you are tuning in you hear so much more than just the words."
Kevin has agreed to lead a session on communication skills for agencies.
This will be interesting, because if you're focusing on connecting with clients and moving up the food chain – this is the skill to develop.
QUESTIONS THAT BUILD
LONG-TERM CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS
Hear how client pulse checks and candid questioning can help you retain clients for longer.
Tim Ferriss says: "A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have."
Annabel Dunstan helps agencies measure and manage their client relationships. It involves asking pointed questions to find out what clients REALLY think about the agency people they work with.
In this session, Annabel will share some client feedback war stories from her decade of asking candid questions.
"There was one case where a senior account director had done a tremendous job of 'PRing' themselves within the agency" says Annabel.
"Yet when the client feedback came back, they had been misleading their leadership team – mistakes were being covered up and the board was completely unaware."
"Two of the clients that fed back to me admitted that if this individual hadn't moved on, they were seriously considering putting it out to tender."
In this session we'll find out what agencies get RIGHT – and what ANNOYS clients the most.
This is a great chance to ask questions and share the challenges you face with clients.