The Agency Change Conference
Friday 24 January 2020 / 1pm to 5pm / Shoreditch
New! Download the latest running order (updated 15 January 2020)
How do you change your business while you’re still running it?
Today, most agencies are on some kind of transformation path. But putting your business on a new track can take everything you have… and more.
Come and meet leaders sharing their journeys when it comes to growth, change and transformation.
Here’s some of the people you will hear from. Line-up subject to change.
1. How to transform your agency (in 12 steps)
For the first time in 13 years of running this business I feel like I’ve got a solid plan.
Simon Barbato took a hard look at his agency Mr B & Friends, and realised that what got them here won’t get them there.
Simon plans to take his agency from 40 people and £3m revenue to 65 people and £6m revenue. But to make that happen, things would need to change.
What things would need to change, you ask? 12 things, as it happens.
Simon used a Rockerfeller Institute system to identify 12 “rocks” – a series of strategic priorities to tackle over three years.
- They had to tackle client churn
- They needed stronger project governance (especially to combat scope creep)
- They needed to put a “sales culture” into the business
They’d tackle them one at a time, spending 3 months on each one – adding up to a 3 year change programme.
At Transform, Simon will explain what 12 things he’s changing about his agency. We’ll also ask him how you sustain a change programme across several years.
2. When should you hire “professional” management to take over?
“My job has changed – now I just have to manage all these professional people.
When should you go from everything being run by you… to a “professional management team” taking over?
And HOW do you execute that change?
Ben Reason knows a thing or two about this. He’s run service design agency Livework for over 18 years. But over the last two to three years he’s brought in what he calls “grown-up business functions” to make the agency work better – and less dependent on him.
Now, he’s working on the final piece of the puzzle – finding an MD to replace himself.
“My job has changed – now I just have to manage all these professional people” says Ben.
Ben will talk about transitioning an established agency from a founder to a professional management team – with proper finance, operations, people and commercial teams.
“We made a lot of mistakes along the way. Basically, growth requires bringing in different blood types. You don’t always know how your team will react when you recruit a badass ops director.”
Ben will share the nuance behind managing this transition – and what to watch out for if you want to “professionalise” your agency.
3. How to transform your agency’s proposition
Before, I was speaking to people about their content strategy just to sell them a £10k video.
Tom Hall’s agency was in growth mode. But one day, he sat down to explain Contented Brothers‘ proposition to a new hire…
It was way too complicated. Tom couldn’t easily explain what they actually did – and he was the OWNER.
“I realised we as we’d grown, we had ended up with this muddy and bifurcated proposition that wasn’t easy to articulate.”
So Tom sat down and decided to focus his agency on THINKING (as well as doing).
He says it’s been a huge shift.
“We’d always done strategy for people – but before we just wouldn’t charge for it. It was like doing digital transformation just to sell them a website!”
Now, Contented Brothers is known for creating people’s “content journeys”. They get paid to consult – not just do.
Tom will be at Transform to explain how you can pull off a shift like this – and what it means for your people, your processes and your clients.
It’s not always easy – but Tom says it is worth it. “I feel the energy is back in the building. Our pipeline is full, we’re having interesting conversations, and I’m being asked to speak at events, which is often a sign that you’re onto something.”
4. Grow without breaking
Growth changes your agency. That’s the whole point! But how do you scale without also BREAKING everything?
In 2011, hedgehog was 4 people – but today it has 120 people and is classified as a scale-up, with growth above 20% each year.
We’ll be asking Sarat about how to scale an agency, the mistakes he made along the way – and when to add “grown up” stuff like a Board, General Counsel and non-executive directors.
5. How do you communicate what you do when it keeps changing?
How do you communicate what you do, when what you do keeps changing?
Katie Street works with agencies to develop their sales and marketing angles. One huge part of this is your sales story.
Many agencies are bad at explaining what they do. It’s especially poor when the agency has gone through – or is going through – change.
In this segment, Katie will explain what makes a winning proposition. She’s seen propositions that put clients to sleep – and ones that cut through the noise.
Katie will talk you through how, and why it is important to create a proposition the shows the value you provide to get you the cut through and sales growth you need to win.
Where is it happening?
This event takes place in the Loading Bay at Techspace Shoreditch. It’s comfy, central – and there’s space for small breakouts.