Our friends at The Wow Company have launched BenchPress 2023. With agencies of all sizes participating, BenchPress is the largest survey of independent agency owners in the UK. 

It’s the perfect opportunity for Bristol Creative Industries members to benchmark themselves against their peers and build a picture of the latest trends impacting agencies across the country.

Improve your agency’s performance

By taking part this year you’ll be able to compare yourself in several key areas:

You’ll discover what the top performers do differently – insights that have the power to transform your agency.

Agency benchmarks you cannot get anywhere else

Sooner or later, almost every agency owner will ask the question – how does my agency compare with others? Each year, BenchPress answers this question by surveying hundreds of agency owners. Everyone that takes part will receive a copy of the full benchmark results plus the chance to secure free early bird tickets to the launch event in March. If you haven’t seen a report before, here’s the 2022 report.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete so grab yourself a cuppa and get started.

Complete the survey

One of the big benefits of Bristol Creative Industries membership is the ability to self-publish content on our website. We’ve seen lots of great content published in 2022 including some brilliant business advice. Here are the 20 most popular advice posts of the year.

Want to publish business advice on our website and make the top 20 next year? Become a member of Bristol Creative Industries.

 

1. The role of brand architecture in Facebook’s rebrand to Meta

Written by JX Branding / Joanna Xenofontos

Click below or read the article here.

The role of brand architecture in Facebook’s rebrand to Meta

 

2. Why video is vital – the power of video in a Google search

Written by Varn

Click below or read the article here.

Why video is vital – the power of video in a Google search

 

3. Sneaky sexism: Sexism in advertising still prevails

Written by Adapt

Click below or read the article here.

Sneaky Sexism: Sexism in Advertising Still Prevails

 

4. 10 ways to create a successful personal brand

Written by AMBITIOUS

Click below or read the article here.

10 ways to create a successful personal brand

 

5. How to write a creative brief

Written by Fiasco Design

Click below or read the article here.

How to Write a Creative Brief

 

6. The break up: Is Gen Z dumping social media?

Written by saintnicks

Click below or read the article here.

The Break Up: Is Gen Z dumping social media?

 

7. 10 tips to fix your pitch

Written by Ginkgo Business Development

Click below or read the article here.

10 tips to fix your pitch

 

8. The positives and negatives of remote working

Written by Synergist

Click below or read the article here.

The positives and negatives of remote working

 

9. The advantages of becoming a B Corp: 9 reasons you should do the ‘impact assessment’ now

Written by Ryan Webb Consultancy Ltd

Click below or read the article here.

The advantages of becoming a B Corp: 9 reasons you should do the “impact assessment” now

 

 

10. Ten things the Flourish creative team learned at TwitchCon Amsterdam 2022

Written by Flourish

Click below or read the article here.

10 things the Flourish creative team learned at TwitchCon Amsterdam 2022

 

11. 5 ways to develop your brand in 2022

Written by AMBITIOUS

Click below or read the article here.

5 ways to develop your brand in 2022

 

12. Read this before you hire remote devs

Written by Tom Fallowfield (Ugli)

Click below or read the article here.

Read this before you hire remote devs

 

13. Why performance marketing without a performance mindset isn’t enough in 2022

Written by Armadillo

Click below or read the article here.

Why Performance Marketing without a Performance Mindset isn’t Enough in 2022

 

14. Is email marketing dead? Not even close

Written by Turnhouse Marketing

Click below or read the article here.

Is Email Marketing Dead? Not Even Close…

 

15. It’s time to upgrade to GA4

Written by Adapt

Click below or read the article here.

It’s Time to Upgrade to GA4

 

16. Why networking is key in PR

Written by Carnsight Communications

Click below or read the article here.

Why networking is key in PR

 

17. What does the Green Claims Code mean for PR campaigns?

Written by AMBITIOUS

Click below or read the article here.

What does the Green Claims Code Mean for PR Campaigns?   

 

18. Can Artificial Intelligence replace our creative team?

Written by saintnicks

Click below or read the article here.

Can Artificial Intelligence replace our creative team?

 

19. How to spot greenwash in sustainability reporting: A beginner’s guide

Written by Future Shift

Click below or read the article here.

How to Spot Greenwash in Sustainability Reporting: A Beginner’s Guide

 

20. Embracing change is the only way to survive

Written by Episode Two

Click below and read the article here.

Embracing change is the only way to survive

 

Want to publish business advice on our website and make the top 20 next year? Become a member of Bristol Creative Industries.

 

The track was steep, half grass half loose rock. It had peaks and troughs and was designed to keep hatchback cars like ours at bay. Our suspension was low to the ground due to the camera gear we’d crammed in the boot. Thud, scrape, rev, thud, scrape, rev. We zigzagged up the path. This was not how we’d imagined our first bee hunt. Either side of us were broccoli fields, freshly sprouting, the ocean visible just over the far hedges. Cornwall has an ability to take you from the known to the unknown very quickly. We drew into a small National Trust farm where the team from Buglife International, an organization ‘protecting the tiny things that make the world work’, were gathered. Their giant bee nets poking from their backpacks and binoculars hanging from their necks.

We were here on a very specific mission to find and film one of the UK’s rarest bees, the Large Scabious Mining Bee. This mining bee, amongst others, is a focus point of a county wide conservation project called The North Cornwall B Line that’s creating pollinator corridors stretching the length of the South West of England. A solitary mining bee lives, as the name suggests, by itself, they usually live in burrows, instead of in a hive, eighty percent of UK bees are bees of this kind. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some of them, the nomad bees, lay their eggs in other bees’ nests, they’re the cuckoo of the bee world. Solitary bee populations, like most insects in the UK, are plummeting. We used to have 4 species of scabious bee in Cornwall, we now only have one… and it’s only found on the location we were visiting today.

Bees are fast, unpredictable and small – that makes them a hard subject to film. We were lucky in a way that our bees feed on a single flower and are isolated to a small patch of land, that should narrow the hunt down. We were told in advance that we’d be lucky to see any bees let alone get any film of them. Their numbers are so low, and their activity governed strictly by the wind and temperature, that it was a complete roll of the dice. We did our final checks and packed a large antique magnifying glass into our back pocket before setting off on our way. 

We followed the team into a swathe of seeded grass freckled with wildflowers. Looking back you could see the old farm land we drove through to get here. A patchwork of dark brown earth with lines of well behaved vegetables. This is Cornwall, next to no trees, 75% managed for agricultural use and 8% is urban area. It comes as no surprise then that breeding birds and mammals are found in only half as many places as they were 30 years ago, butterflies are found in even fewer places. Though this may make you despair, there is plenty of hope. Nature hangs on in the most unexpected places. Looking across the fields you see wild shrubby hedge rows and triangular islands of life where three fields meet, safe from the plow. It’s so easy to see what people mean by islands of biodiversity and when they speak about the need for wildlife corridors to connect them up. 

As we walked, butterflies of all kinds fluttered inches above the sward, weightless, beating, still. Evidence of regenerative work was everywhere to be seen. Baby saplings, 10 trees thick, ran along the furthest field margin that backed onto the sea cliffs – a site of specific scientific interest (SSSI). “They told us trees couldn’t grow here… too windy they said… They look perfectly good to me. We’re trying to give the landscape a little shelter and to increase the width of the shrub from the sea cliffs to the meadows.” said Nick Holden, a National Trust lead ranger and our guide, Nick continued, “The fields we were walking on used to be just like the broccoli fields down below. It’s taken years of seeding and regenerative grazing to return the meadows to what you see now. There’s plenty more work to be done, mind.”. As we walked Nick spoke to us of the different wildflowers that had been sown and how their roots permeate to different depths. A technique often used to kickstart the development of health topsoil. 

“Well here we are”, Nick gestured for us to walk through a final gate into a sprawling broccoli field. Behind the gate the land dropped away revealing Godrevey headland. The famous lighthouse stood framed between two sea cliffs and the beach stretched to the West. It was beautiful. “Not much is it” Nick said, we noticed he was staring down to the ground to a patch of wildflowers no more than 5 meters thick. This thin belt ran the length of the broccoli field. The Buglife team had already got their nets out and were walking along this patch as if they were looking for a dropped coin, legs straight, back bowed, concentrated. “This is the spot, if you’re gonna have any luck finding the bees it will be here” Nick put a hand out and invited us to take a look.

Little blue flowers littered the margin, their delicate frames improbable against the sea winds. “So this is the field scabious” Laura said kneeling down beside the plants. Laura is head of the North Cornwall B Line project and was the person who had invited us to the bee hunt. “We spent all last summer collecting seeds and have started a makeshift nursery in Paddy’s garden,” Laura pointed at Paddy, the lead Entomologist (an insect expert), as he wafted his net across the verge. Laura continued, “We have well over 500 seedlings now which we’re hoping to plant across the fields you just walked across, the idea is to connect this small patch of flowers with another patch further down the valley”. Solitary bees face a challenge in our great expanses of farmed landscape. Unlike their social friends the honey bees, who will often fly up to distances of 5 miles to find food, solitary bees will fly no further than 200 meters from their nesting sites. You can imagine how easy it would be for an unsuspecting farmer to remove a small corner of scrub, just like the one we’re standing in now, and in the process remove a nearby food source, stepping stone or final stronghold. 

There would be two approaches; the stake out, in which a person sits, camera on tripod, aiming at a patch of flowers in the hope of a bee encounter, then there’s the run and gun, where a cameraman, camera in hand, runs along the verge opportunistically poaching a shot here, a shot there. We began with option one, camera steadfast, tripod engaged. Then we waited. And we waited. And we… “Oh bee”, shouted Paddy from the bottom of the field, the net swooped twice, figure of eight style, paddy, knee deep in a sea of blue, flung the net over his own head to inspect his catch. He reappeared holding a small translucent tube in his hand, he had a bee. The bee was the size of a one pee coin, jet black, with two huge balls of bright pink pollen on its legs. It was perfect. I felt a sense of wonder, how could I find something so new, so rare, amongst a place that looks so normal. I was hooked, part by the search for the next bee and part by the idea of what else could be here.

We spent the rest of the day foraging for bees and butterflies. In total, 8 Scabious Mining Bees were seen. The image of Ollie, our cameraman, and Adam, his assistant, leaning into a hedge, Ollie holding a camera, and Adam pressing a magnifying glass to the end of his lens will forever stay in my mind. Wildlife can do that to people, it draws you in, strips back the rubbish and brings out the inner kid. Throughout the day we were reminded by Paddy just how uncommon it was to see so many bees. The thing is, this was year two of their project, with the first load of new scabious flowers already blooming. Conservation takes patience, conservationists don’t speak in days or months, they speak in years, and this project was two years in the making. There’s the councils, the big organizations, farmers and private landowners, there’s the experts, the volunteers and the staff to keep it ticking. It takes all of that, for days like today. 

After a series of interviews amongst the bees, we set off on our journey home. Laura told us about the national B Line project taking place and how the North Cornwall project was a small part of a much bigger initiative. In total they aim to engage 150,000 hectares of land, that’s over 210,000 football pitches, across the whole of the UK. That’s an area roughly the same size as London. What’s most amazing about it is they’re doing all of it without owning any land. This is about people sitting down with other people and saying “we have a plan… are you in”. We left the day feeling optimistic about the future. We’d seen our bee, now we needed to make a film to tell their story. 

 

Link to film on Vimeo

 

Studio 31 offers serviced artistic office space in Bristol and provides a stimulating environment and community for people involved in creative industries. All of our office spaces are rented out to businesses and individuals whose work fits our ethos. With artists, jewellery makers, magazines publishers, web designers, film producers and more all working under one roof, Studio 31 has to be one of the most inspiring and creative communities in which to work in Bristol.

Located within a grand, grade II listed building overlooking the stunning Berkeley Square, all of the studios are light and airy. We’re usually full, but a space has unexpectedly come available – enquire now before it’s snapped up!

Why is Studio 31 special?

14 offices over 3 floors in a stunning period property with kitchens and bathrooms on every floor

Weekly communal cleaning

Rent is all-inclusive

Fantastic Bristol location

Creative community of inspiring, like-minded individuals

30% off Square Club membership

Secure bike storage

24/7 access

Dedicated maintenance team

 

Find out more by contacting the team on 0117 322 6635

In November 2022, the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – just one year after the COP26 conference that brought global leaders together in Glasgow to discuss the catastrophic effects of climate change and what can be done to reverse or slow them.

Following last year’s conference, COP27 aims to advance global climate talks and action, and will focus on the impact of climate change in Africa, which has been flagged as a content disproportionately vulnerable to floods, drought, and extreme heat.

But what changes have we seen since the pacts and promises of COP26, are world leaders really taking action, and what do we hope will come from COP27?

Positive change in Africa

Looking at the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report, and with COP27 taking place on the continent, it seems likely that the crisis and investment needed to reverse it will be discussed. The report suggests that $30 to $50 billion would need to be invested into climate adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa each year over the next decade.

This money could create job opportunities and help develop the economy while still focusing on sustainable and green recovery.

Clearer aims and responses

One of the most-used phrases to come out of COP26 was “constructive ambiguity”, which is often applicable in discussions around climate diplomacy. Many people were left feeling world leaders had failed to come up with any new or meaningful agreements, and that the Glasgow Climate Pact was littered with ambiguous language unlikely to inspire global action against climate change.

This year, we hope fresher ideas and clearer goals will be put into effect.

Pressure on less responsive nations

The UK, for its political flaw, does have strong ambitions when it comes to renewables and reducing emissions, including the 2050 net zero targets. But the same can’t be said for all nations, and some merely pay lip service to these kinds of goals.

One such country is Egypt, where the conference will be held, which has no set target to reduce its emissions and has been ranked “highly insufficient” in its climate action. Perhaps hosting COP27 will put more onus on Egypt, and other countries without clear climate goals, to take action.

Blame on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Certainly a prediction rather than a hope: it seems unlikely that at least one missed, dropped, or failed target won’t be pinned on the invasion of Ukraine. Devastating and with wide reaching global effects, there are no doubt numerous global climate goals that have been affected by the war. But for many European countries, it has also put the need for renewables into a new light as they can no longer rely on Russia for fossil fuels.

Politicians are now in the unenviable position of seeking alternatives while needing to be seen as working to keep energy prices low and still prioritise the environment. Will COP27 be the catalyst for new, greener energy solutions? Or will they just be moved into new regions?

Turning pledges into plans

In November 2021, 151 countries offered plans to decarbonise their economies at COP26. Now, only 11 nations have actually updated those plans. In May this year, G7 – the group of the world’s richest nations – committed to “achieving predominantly decarbonised electricity sectors by 2035” in a statement echoing promises made in Glasgow. This year, we want to see these plans taken a step further and developed into concrete climate pledges.

Greater input from China 

Xi Jinping did not attend COP26 and is unlikely to be present at COP27, which coincides with the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. But as a huge contributor to environmental pollution and the second-largest economy in the world, the country’s role at the conference is crucial, whether its leaders are there in person or not.

Now, as more countries become actively involved in climate talks, it’s less likely China will get away with keeping themselves out of it. And, since the nation generally aligns itself with developing countries despite its impressive GDP, will Europe and the US continue to finance climate action in poorer countries while allowing China to take a backseat?

A review of the climate situation

It sounds obvious, but with the ambiguity of COP26’s talks, plans, and pledges it’s hard to predict what results would come from a review of the past year’s efforts. Will they look at the effects of their pledges this soon, or will the emphasis be on ‘non-linear’ change and instead look more closely about additional needs that have arisen from a year of unpredictable upheaval?

We won’t know exactly what will happen in Sharm El-Sheikh until November. But what we do know is that there is a 42% chance that the global temperature will increase by 1.5°c. We know that carbon emissions after Covid hit their highest levels ever – 36.3 billion tonnes, and increase of 6% – in 2021 despite greater emphasis in global news and politics about the need for reductions. So we can only hope that yearly conferences will, eventually, help keep world leaders accountable and on track to enforce the changes the planet needs to survive.

Learn more about what we do now, by contacting [email protected].

Written by Ella White.

Your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds are all bursting with agency growth stories. And why not, despite the world’s current troubles, 2022 is predicted to be a year for growth for marketing agencies.

The global advertising agencies market is expected to grow to $383.67 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8%.

But as you know, or may have learned from past experience, growth needs to be safe and sustainable. So, what does safe growth look like for your agency, and are you ready? In this article, we offer advice on how you can plan to grow your agency the right way, and the data you need to make this happen. 

 

Where are you making and losing money? 

This is the first question you need to ask yourself, and you need to be confident that your answer is accurate. Because growth doesn’t come naturally with more work, we’re assuming you want to grow your profits as well as your resource costs. So don’t look at which clients give you the most work, but delve into which client and project types give you the most profit.

If you just get more work blindly, and this work turns out to be less profitable, then you could find you grow your turnover but not your profit. And you’ll create a bigger agency with more resource costs, more resources to manage, more projects to juggle, and more risk but no more profits.

 

Set a financial plan

Look at what ‘growth’ means to your agency? What do you want to turnover, how much of this should be profit, and what resources do you need to get you there?

You know what type of clients and projects you’re after, and the profit these have generated in the past (because you looked into which were most profitable!). So you should be able to set some realistic financial targets. Along with some accurate expectations on the volume of work you’ll need to deliver, and the resources you’ll require.

It’s not about hiring the best people. It’s about hiring the best people IF they have the skills you need. Resource mix is everything. Using data to drive these decisions is the only way you’ll grow in a sustainable way. Otherwise, you could get into a cycle of hiring and firing, or chasing work that isn’t your most profitable, just to keep people busy.

 

Use factual data to drive your growth

We’ve touched on some pretty big questions above, what clients are profitable, what are realistic growth targets, what are you turning over vs profit, what roles drive the most revenue and what your resource mix should be for maximum profitability. You can’t answer these questions without data.

Data needs to help you prepare for growth. Continual, solid growth takes more than some big client wins. Data will help steer the bigger questions, like what type of agency you are. Data is the backbone of your roadmap for growth, and your way to continually evaluate your success.

 

Don’t put off getting the right agency management system

You need to start collecting data, now. Agencies often put this off until they’ve already grown, but if you wait, how did you plan your growth? Real-time intelligence from an integrated system can have a transformative impact on your agency.

If your current system can’t scale, or you don’t have one, it’s time to invest. You’ll gain facts on what’s working and what’s not and you’ll get visibility on crucial metrics in core areas including:

Getting this data, so you can manage your agency as efficiently and profitably as possible is the key to growth.

 

Get visibility on project progress

As we’ve mentioned, growing your agency is not just about getting more work. You can’t bring in a new chunk and just hope it’s profitable. If it’s not, and there is a lot of it, your profits will head steeply in the wrong direction!

Make sure you can see, preferably in real-time, whether projects are on track budget and timescales-wise. Without this visibility overserving can spiral out of control and hiccups evolve into big issues. You can also lose your grip on calendar bookings as work runs over, causing delays on other tasks and stopping you from effectively managing resource capacity.

 

Get on top of your pipeline and resource

You need a stuffed pipeline and crystal clarity on when work is landing so you can plan your resource accordingly. Being able to look ahead clearly and plan your resource means your teams are kept on chargeable work, and you don’t have use expensive freelancers when you have the skills in-house.

The skill of managing resources effectively intensifies the more projects you run and the busier your calendar bookings become. Plan ahead and keep the relevant people informed about what’s coming up.

Effectively managing your pipeline also helps you manage client expectations. If you know what work is coming up, and how likely it is to land, even better if you can tentatively schedule it, then when the clients give a project the green light, they won’t be waiting so long for delivery.

 

In summary

We hope this piece has given you some valuable advice on how you can start planning your agency’s lasting growth. If you would like to know more about how Synergist agency management system can give you the data and visibility you need, why not check out our website.

 

 

The B Corp Certification is a powerful way to build trust and value for your organisation. Being a B Corp means that you are honestly committed to creating real environmental and societal benefits.

Andy Hawkins from Business on Purpose joined us for a recent event to explain how and why you should become a B Corp. He was joined by Bristol Creative Industries members Ryan Webb from Ryan Webb Consultancy and Nick Dean ADLIB who are at different stages of the B Corp process. Dan Martin summarises the advice.

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations, known as B Corps, are businesses that balance purpose and profit. They sit in the middle of the three Ps: people, profit and purpose. “They all have one single unifying goal; they want to use their business as a force for good,” Andy said.

The B Corp certification process is very thorough with businesses assessed for their impact on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

As explained on the B Corp website, a company’s entire social and environmental performance is measured. “From supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification verifies that a business is meeting high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.”

There are currently over 4,700 companies around the world that are B Corps. They operate in 155 industries and are based in 78 countries. You can find all B Corps in this directory.

Several BCI members are B Corps include ADLIB and Skylark Media which announced it has been certified this month.

Here are some other Bristol-based B Corp businesses:

Bristol B Corp businesses

“There is frankly nothing to stop anyone saying on their website that they are absolutely amazing”, Andy said, “but when you see ‘B Corp’ you know the company and its claims have been externally verified.

“Being a B Corp means that you need to be publicly transparent so you have to put out a report every year that says what you have been doing.

“There is also a legal change to your company articles at Companies House. You go from saying ‘we are a company and we’re in business to solely make a profit’ to ‘we are in business to make a profit, but we’ll also make decisions through the lens of people and planet’. That legal change is hugely important.”

What are the benefits of being a B Corp?

Supporting people and the planet is the obvious and major reason, but there are several other business benefits too, including:

People want to work for and buy from a purposeful company.

“Being a B Corp helps you to attract better staff and those who share your vision, values and purpose”, Andy said. “It will also help you retain staff. We’ve heard a number of anecdotes from people who’ve been approached by non-B Corp businesses offering them a few thousand pounds more pay but they’ve decided against it because they would rather stay with a B Corp that shares their purpose.”

It can help if you’re seeking funding or investment. 

“For an investment company or venture capital investor, backing a B Corp means a huge part of their due diligence is already done,” Andy said. “It reduces the onboarding, and de-risks the investment.”

It can help grow your brand.

A 2021 survey of B Corp businesses in the UK found they had average growth of 25%, compared to just 5% for all businesses.

How do you become a B Corp?

To be certified as a B Corp you are assessed on six areas:

You are scored points in each of the areas and to be certified as a B Corp you need to score at least 80 points. Andy aims to get his clients to score at least 85 points so there is “a little bit of wiggle room as once you go through the audit process, you might be marked down on a couple of questions”.

To assess your own company you can use the B Impact Assessment tool.

B Corp assessment

Andy said the B Corp assessment can be “a bit of a forest to navigate” with between 150 and 200 questions to answer, but there is support out there such as that provided by his company, Business on Purpose.

Even if your score is well below 80, the assessment is a useful exercise as it highlights how ethical your business really is and what you can do to improve.

The assessment is free to use but once you submit it, you pay a one off submission fee of £250 (+VAT).

You application will then be audited to check if you meet the requirements and the 80 points minimum score.

Once certified, you pay an annual fee which is calculated based on your company’s total revenue. The minimum is £1,000 for businesses turning over up to £149,000.

BCI members share B Corp experiences

Ryan Webb started his conversion optimisation business in July 2021. He is currently a ‘Pending B Corp‘, the status for young start-ups, which shows how new, one-person companies can get involved in the B Corp process.

“There are a whole bunch of policies, processes, measuring energy use etc, that you’ve got to have in place as a B Corp,” Ryan said. “The advantage of having that for any well run organisation is great, but going through it is a great sense check that you’ve got them in place for the right reasons. Getting started ASAP is the best way to approach it. Just get stuck into it.”

“Another key part of the B Corp approach is that it helps to understand what’s going on in your supply chain, both from a client and a supplier perspective.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised about the positive impact of some of my suppliers, such as accounting software firm Xero. I’m now much more committed to using Xero, more than just because it is a useful accountancy platform but because they are also making an effort to do some good for the world as well.

“Understanding that supply chain is becoming increasingly important from a procurement perspective too. For me as an individual wanting to work with some bigger organisations, the accreditation of B Corp demonstrates that I’ve gone through that process and my supply chain has been rigorously checked as well.”


Bristol recruitment company ADLIB became a B Corp in 2019. Managing director Nick Dean shared some of his lessons from going through the certification process:

“We became carbon positive. Many people are very afraid of that and can’t get their heads around it. I would say don’t worry as there is lots of help out there. There are organisations such as Ecologi or Spherics that will work with you and implement systems to analyse your carbon use and help you offset it effectively.

“Becoming a B Corp was a big component in ADLIB becoming 100% employee owned. If you are considering your future exit model and if you are authentically driven by what B Corp stands for, employee ownership is a very good vehicle to achieving it. B Corp love it. You get around 32 points which is a considerable amount of your worker score. Employees love it and and for you personally, you’ll love the tax benefits!

“Employee ownership has played a huge part in helping us attract purpose driven employees. For businesses bringing in B Corp retrospectively, you might go through a level where some people get it and some people don’t. It might take a few years until everybody is 100% behind you, but it is incredibly worth it. Three years in, every one of our employees authentically care about people and the planet because they’ve been hired in or have gone through the journey with us for that reason. It has built an incredible belonging and culture in the business that helps to drive the business’ performance.

“We have massively increased our out costs, but that’s not a negative. We do a huge amount of charitable giving, we do match donations, we sponsor the Grassroot Activators Programme in Bristol, we’ve significant increased our maternity leave, we’ve put a significant bonus in place. That has all driven a far higher performance. The level of employee we’ve been able to attract has helped to drive the performance. We’re in the best position that we’ve ever been. You can see it come through in the people who we’re attracting and who are staying with the business for a long time.”

You can read ADLIB’s full B Corp impact report here.

If you’re a BCI member and you’re a B Corp, let Dan know.

Substack has dominated the mentions on social media platforms, especially Twitter, in recent months. It’s taking the world by storm, quietly and subtly, as users choose to disseminate information using their own personal newsletters. But one of the big things about Substack is who exactly has signed up to use it.  

First things first, how does Substack work?  

It’s a publication platform that allows its users to publish newsletters direct to subscribers. There’s a paid option so content can monetised. As well as words, you can add images, sounds, link out to social media posts and more.  

For as little as $5 per month, a user can subscribe to written work and podcasts from the likes of rockstar Jeff Tweedy; esteemed food writer, Emily Nunn; former NSA agent turned scandal-soaked whistleblower, Edward Snowden, DC comic writer Scott Snyder, literary legend Salman Rushdie, and even the most notorious man in British politics… Dominic Cummings.  

The best way to describe Substack is MailChimp x Patroen. The email build aspect of the platform is a familiar process to many. It also has 1,000,000 subscribers as of November 2021, each paying subscription fees to access content from their preferred authors. 

Taking the written world by storm 

One of the positive aspects of using a publishing platform is that the author has ownership of their content. And can charge access to their content.  

Lex Sokolin’s fintech analysis, blockchain, AI and neobank newsletter is one of the top subscribed. The BowTied Opossum has hundreds of monthly paying subscribers and shares knowledge of all things digital.  

As of February 2021, Substack’s top ten authors were making $20,000,000 collectively per year. Its seed capital is in the hundreds of millions, its growth figures constantly on the rise and all of this with only 5%-10% of its members being paid subscribers. There is huge potential for growth.  

The platform was created in 2017 by Chris Best, the co-founder of messaging platform Kik, developer Jairaj Sethi and former PandoDaily reporter Hamish Mckenzie. There are similar Substack platforms to choose from. Ghost claims to be open-source, independent and funded 100% by its users. Their business model promises brand control, greater API integration, greater customisation and zero commission. 

The year of change 

You may have noticed that many media outlets and brands are ramping up their newsletter content. Larger companies have their own dedicated teams to look after newsletter production. As a result, Substack has come under fire by many outlets for its business model.  

This kind of reaction was also placed at the feet of Facebook when it started getting a little big for its boots in the early years. But now every media channel in the world has a Facebook presence…   

The Substack model does offer opportunities previously ignored, and the growing audience shows there is an appetite for this type of curated content.  

And with Facebook losing users and stock plunging, people are looking for new ways to consume media. The rise of TikTok has sucked audiences away from the established platforms as people tire of them. Substack can provide personalised news from content creators who resonate with their audiences.  

Perhaps though the only thing that could stand in the way of the growth of Substack are the media giants themselves, Zuckerberg and Pichai. Because, according to an article from Vox, Substack does not have any contractual lock-ins that will stop its writers from bolting to competitors. And both Google and Facebook are hot on the heels of Substack. 

How can marketing and PR use Substack? 

There is a clear pathway for consumer-facing brands to adopt Substack into their activities, while also expanding into new revenue streams. There is also a place for B2B activity here. There is an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, paying to receive emails, so from a content perspective, they’re getting something right.   

We need to apply it to our industries. Look at the content they’re providing and see where you offer something of interest. Don’t try and charge for a Substack letter from the start. Especially with B2B, as the audience could be put off.  

Agency-side, the debate is a little different. Creating a paywall for your deepest darkest insight is what agencies do after all.   

But marketeers can still take away some of the principles of Substack and use them to enrichen their entire content experience. We’ll say that again, people are PAYING, to receive emails.  

 

 

There comes a time when you just have to bite the bullet and just immerse yourself in a project. As a self-taught developer this is something I’ve learnt over the years. Initially when I started out I was enrolling on a lot of online courses, getting enthused about a new programming language or data science course and then life gets in the way and never ever completing the course.

In the last few years, I’ve become a bit more confident in my ability to learn as I go, and if I’m unsure about something to seek help from the wider community.  I’ve launched several side hustles and most recently decided to re-learn Python by buying a SaaS business. What this does is throw myself in the deep end and forces me to put into practice some of the stuff the courses are teaching.

Taking on someone else’s sidehustle when they’ve created a SaaS from scratch does not suit everyone. There’s going to be a lot of discovery and playing detective, but once you get over that steep learning curve and start making commits improving on existing functionality and filling in some of the gaps it becomes very rewarding.

So my advice to anyone thinking of starting a side-project but doesn’t feel totally confident in the chosen tech stack, I’d say just go for it. The best way to learn is by doing!

Janusz Stabik from Digital Agency Coach here!

I recently caught up with Brad Farris of Anchor Advisors to chat about the links between your confidence and the performance of your digital agency.

We spent a little over half an hour unpacking how, as the owner of the business, your confidence influences the performance of your agency.

I’ve plucked out six key take-homes from our conversation to get you on your way to boosting your confidence, winning more leads, and growing your agency.

1 — Confidence In The Pitch Room — Delivering a sales pitch with confidence.

The first area you can practice improving your self-confidence is within the pitch room. The majority of agencies who win their sales pitches understand that their prospective clients are buying results, rather than processes, and as such — their pitches always lead with a direct, measurable benefit to the client.

“No one cares about how you do something unless they know it’s going to make a difference for them.” — Brad Farris

They deliver this claim with confidence and support it with facts and evidence in their ability to deliver exactly what the client needs to grow their business. This power and confidence resonates with the client and leaves no room for doubt and the deal closes more easily.

Brad summarised this idea nicely when he said — “We have to lead with the transformation that we’re going to make, and then people might care about how we’re going to do it.

The actionable item? Start your pitch with an Executive Summary that illustrates what you do, the results you deliver and the investment required. Deliver this Executive Summary with confidence and watch your win rate grow.

2 — Confidence In Your Pricing — Positioning yourself in the market appropriately

At Digital Agency Coach, I see some digital agencies within the UK that serve local businesses and are charging less than the average living wage for their expertise. This is particularly common in start-ups, where new agency owners are suffering from a combination of imposter syndrome and price competition.

As the founder of a new firm, it’s not uncommon to be daunted by what you see in the marketplace. When you’re up against established agencies with a portfolio of big-name clients and an impressive team, it’s easy to think the only way to compete has to be on price, and you end up charging next to nothing.

Most agencies start off from this position of low confidence and wait for a moment of validation where they earn the merit that will allow them to charge an appropriate fee.

Ask yourself how you can take that leap sooner rather than later, and price your services and your products as a reflection on the value they offer.

3 — Confidence In Your Market Positioning — Be disciplined in the projects you chase

Most agencies who consistently pitch well and regularly land new clients have taken proactive action before they’re even in the pitch room.

If your digital agency is tightly positioned and you’re only targeting clients within your niche, you have the opportunity to deliver your insights and expertise with confidence and ask your prospective clients smart, leading questions that demonstrate your domain expertise.

“If there are (services) that people are asking for that’s not really in their wheelhouse, they’re saying no to that. Because they know they can’t walk in there with that same, ‘knock it out of the park every time’ kind of voice.”— Brad Farris

If you’re not playing within your niche, you’re speaking to a broad spectrum of clients and you’re unable to offer that same level of confidence and conviction within your pitch, and nothing seems to stick.

Positioning your agency correctly begins with asking where your expertise and passion are. Once you have this cemented, all else falls into place and your knowledge and enthusiasm is conveyed in the quality of your work.

4 — Confidence In Your Expertise — Knowledge is power

In this episode, we talk about building confidence in your expertise, for both your personal brand and your agency’s brand.

When you’re confident in your expertise and you’re pitching within your niche, you’re able to listen to your customer in a different way. If you know the market, the industry trends, best practices and benchmarks like the back of your hand, you can respond to those unspoken fears and unknowns from your client.

If you’re confident in your knowledge and understanding, you’re able to be present in the room to listen and ask deeper, more insightful questions which demonstrate you know your client’s industry as well as they do.

This forms a deep connection and level of trust between you and your client, and they’re likely to pay a premium for your service because they know you have the level of expertise required.

Alternatively, having confidence in your expertise could mean building your own personal brand and sharing your opinions, perspectives and insights. This could be as simple as publishing regular thought leadership pieces on your blog or creating a monthly newsletter to open up opportunities for conversation.

5 — Confidence In Your Capabilities — Understanding your limitations

Brad and I spoke about the importance of understanding and respecting the limitations of both your agency and yourself.

If a prospective client makes it known that they’re looking for an agency partner with specific expertise that you don’t have, be honest and say you’re not the right fit for them. If you know you won’t be able to deliver what the client needs, then it’s best not to continue the conversation.

The client will appreciate your transparency and the confidence you have in where your expertise lies. They might decide to change tack and go on to buy a different service from you as a result of your honesty, confidence and willingness to say no will change the power dynamic.

Put simply, don’t sign your agency up to deliver something you’re not good at.

When it comes to building confidence within yourself, you have to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Know where you can add value to your own business and where outsourcing or delegating certain tasks will improve your productivity.

If you know you’re not great at managing your calendar and you have a fear of letting people down as a result of a potential mishap, allocate your diary management tasks to someone else and eliminate the chances of you making mistakes. By doing so, you’ll eliminate feeling discouraged and unconfident as a result.

Outsourcing tasks that aren’t within your remit, gives you the space to do more of what you love and what you’re good at, giving you a better sense of job satisfaction and self-confidence.

6 — Finally, Confidence In Your Team — Understanding your team’s capabilities

If you’re the agency owner, chances are you’re not the one working on the deliverables — you’re working with an exceptionally skilled team to get the job done.

If you’re pitching to a prospective client, understanding your team’s capabilities and being confident in their ability to deliver on your promises once you’re back at the office is key to building trust and repeat custom from your clients.

Make sure you invest in your team and equip them with the best resources, training and skills to deliver the projects you’re promising to your clients. Avoid the pain of making a commitment to your clients and then being fearful of the ability or capability of your team to get the job done.

To Wrap Up, Here Are Our Top Tips For Building Confidence As An Agency Owner

1 — Practice making big promises to yourself.
Even outside the office, if you’re committing to rising early and working out each day — you’re boosting your confidence levels, just from achieving something and accomplishing a challenging task before the day’s begun.

2 — Take existing clients and start making bigger promises to them. Use these comfortable, established relationships to practice making your big, bold promises. Identify a metric from within the current service that can be improved and make a commitment to your client. Regularly achieving these ‘little wins’ will give you the confidence to make similar promises and commitments to prospective clients.

3 — Practise Ikigai — Ikigai is a Japanese concept combining your Passion, Mission, Vocation and Profession to create a real sense of purpose or direction. If you’re happy and fulfilled in your work and you’re skilled and passionate about what you do, this will shine through in the quality of your work. If you genuinely love what you do, your clients will buy into this authenticity.

Are You Convinced?

Your self-confidence can influence the performance of your digital marketing agency and if you’d like to find out more about how you could improve yours, Watch The Full Video or Get In Touch with the team at Digital Agency Coach and one of our consultations would be delighted to help.