Glassophobia and how to conquer it

Glassophobia and how to conquer it

As an agency owner or freelancer, presenting and presenting well is a necessary part of the job.

The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population. The underlying fear is judgment or negative evaluation by others.* 

If you are one of these people then to be successful in your job as an agency leader you really need to learn to overcome this fear. 

If you feel comfortable speaking then there are ways you probably can improve.

Why is presenting so important?

Well, it is because as an agency leader you have to be able to communicate well in a variety of  different situations.

Networking / Selling

The onus on sales often falls on the agency owner. Whether that be in a networking scenario where you have to communicate an elevator pitch a short amount of time (either 121 or publicly); or you are in front of a customer explaining what you can do for them, describing your services and the value that they will receive.

Presenting is all around delivering your messages in a concise, clear and understandable way.

Internal communication

If your an agency with a team (or a single person business with external suppliers) You will need to be able to communicate effectively to these audiences.  This includes:

  • Making sure that they understand the vision for the business; 
  • communicating your messages within team meetings; 
  • articulating in 121 discussions and reviews 

Pitching

This is the one area that is the most discussed within the agency world. Pitching is part of the sales process, a vital part. It is the difference between winning business and losing business.

Being able to pitch effectively is probably the single most important presentations that you will do as an agency owner.

Formal Presentations (education) 

A key way of increasing the visibility of what you do as a business often involves doing formal presentations. this this is a great way of educating your audience with what you do and the value you provide.

If you are afraid of presenting then this is a key area that you are missing out on.

How do you get over glossophobia?

There are many aspects to being able to deliver effective presentations as there are many ways to overcome the fear.

The biggest fear is brain freeze – the fear that you will completely forget what you are going say – this triggers the ‘what will people think of me’ anxiety and immediately you go into fight of flight mode. 

A big party of this fear can be overcome by learning (and practicing) various presentation techniques.

  • Relaxation techniques 
  • Breathing techniques 
  • Projection techniques
  • Audience engagement techniques 

What we say or how we say it

There are many research studies on the impact of verbal versus non verbal communication. One is upto 93% impact for non verbal communications in giving an effective presentation. 

Whatever the figure the ability to impact an audience by what you don’t say cannot be underestimate and this is a key skill to be able to deliver great presentations. 

Practise makes perfect – In many respects this is absolutely true in the world of presentations. This is a key way to overcome any fear you may have. 

Help is at hand

Over the last few years we have had some wonderful presentations on this subject (that are available for members in the portal) from experts such as: 

Sally Hindmarch at Partners With You (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyhindmarch/). Those at Agency Local Summer Social this year received a copy of her book in the ‘goody bag’. 

And Andrea Pacini (https://www.linkedin.com/in/apacini/) from Ideas on Stage 

In August 2022 we have Andrea coming back to talk to us about 3 steps to effective presentations covering:

  • 3 key success factors for effective presentations
  • Powerful techniques for developing a compelling message
  • A simple method for high-impact presentations 

Link to book here (free to Agency Local members) 

Make Presenting a priority 

I recommend that if you want to be a successful leader of your business then you make sure that presenting effectively is a key skill that you have in your armory. This will really help you to be successful in your business life and to take your agency to the next level. 

 

* https://nationalsocialanxietycenter.com/2017/02/20/public-speaking-and-fear-of-brain-freezes/

Is Collaboration a key part of your agency sales strategy?

Is Collaboration a key part of your agency sales strategy?

Sales or new business continues to be the number one challenge for marketing agencies of whatever size. 

Why is this? 

  • There is a huge amount of competition for marketing services
  • Most agencies are firmly in the ‘sea of sameness’ with their positioning
  • Agency owners on the whole are not trained sales people
  • Trained sales people do not always deliver the goods
  • Sales is hard – really hard!

The vast majority of agencies rely on word of mouth or referrals for their lead generation. This can be a very effective strategy especially when you are a small agency or a freelancer however when you grow you need a steady stream of leads and prospects. 

It is at this stage you need to develop multiple streams of lead generating activity. 

The majority of agencies’ sales activity is a direct approach – following either inbound or outbound strategies to attract and find new customers. These approaches are very sensible and done correctly will deliver leads and enquiries. These strategies can be very time intensive and potentially costly. 

There is another way. 

Through collaboration and partnerships. Working together with other businesses allows you to leverage their activity (and them yours) for mutual benefit. 

Effective partnering can bring you a steady stream of new opportunities, leads and sales. As these come from a ‘trusted’ source in the prospects mind you are already way ahead of the game, especially when compared to traditional sales methods. 

If you are an SEO and social media agency then look to partner with non competitive but aligned businesses. For example web designers, web developers, brand designers. Services that your clients would be looking for. This way you can pass opportunities between you. 

Difference between a collaboration and a partnership

These words are often used together however they mean very different things. In a collaboration, each operates independently and has complete control over the individual resources they bring to the table. In a partnership, however, there is more of a co-mingling of resources and a separate structure is developed to oversee or manage the engagement.

We are mainly talking about collaboration here – loose agreements to refer opportunities to each other. Often collaborations that work well together can then become more formal partnerships. 

How do you establish a collaboration strategy? 

Last year I worked in collaboration with 20 other experts to create a book – How to be a 6 Star Business. This was a great example of partnership – people working together to produce something that was bigger than the sum of the parts. 

My chapter was entitled …. Wait for it ….. ‘How to be a 6 Star Collaborator’!  

In this chapter I outlined the following basics of effective collaboration and these are the cornerstone of establishing a collaboration and partner strategy. 

  1. Develop a Partner Mindset 

It all starts with mindset. You have to be open to giving and receiving opportunities to each other. Have a mindset that is always on the look out for opportunities for others.

2. Ask the right Questions

Get curious – really understand what the other party wants and needs. This way you pass opportunities that are worthwhile. 

3. Find your Community 

Communities are really important. This is where you find your fellow collaborators. Choose communities where the people you want to work hang out. In agency world there are a number of Agency communities such as Agency Local where you can find your future collaborators. 

4. Be clear on who you serve (and who you don’t) 

When establishing collaborations then make sure that everyone understands who your target audience is (and as important, who they are not). This way you will get opportunities that match the audience you want to serve. 

5. Be Vulnerable Be Open

It serves no one if you paint the rosy picture you want them to see. Be vulnerable be open – you will find that you build much stronger relationships this way. 

6. Build Trust 

Being open and vulnerable will contribute to building trust. Trust is based on competence and character you have to build both. 

7.  Agree on a common purpose 

Discuss and agree where you both play, the areas you can collaborate. Strong collaborations develop when both parties have similar goals and purpose this way they both parties are motivated to work together. 

Do you need a formal agreement? 

I am often asked if you need formal agreements in place. My view is that collaborations work well when they are loose, informal relationships. However they can become more formal over time – however this is then heading into the partnership territory. 

Relationship, relationship, relationship 

For collaborations to work and continue to work it comes down to relationships. Be prepared to put some effort into building and most importantly maintaining relationships. Keep in regular contact (again this is where communities come into play). Have regular discussions – explore new opportunities etc. 

Summary 

As ever in life and business, success is not dependent on one thing. It is the same with your agency sales. Do not rely on one source for leads. Develop multiple streams to deliver a constant flow of leads.

I would strongly urge you to add a collaboration strategy to your sales mix as this will reap you untold rewards and could possibly be your most effective way to generate new business.

If you would like to discuss this or other business topics then please get in touch.

Pricing For Agency Businesses

Pricing For Agency Businesses

Some truths about agency pricing

Pricing is one of the most important elements to think about in your agency business. 

Why? Get your pricing wrong and you don’t have a business – simples. 

It does not matter if you are a solo agency, a small agency or a bigger agency. Yes, some of the dynamics are different – solo businesses have less overheads to consider – however you charge incorrectly and your business is in trouble.  

Charge too low and then:  

  • you are working for peanuts 
  • you don’t cover your costs 
  • you have no flexibility to do a bit more 
  • bottom line – you are not profitable 

How do you work out what to charge?

This is the sixty four thousand dollar question! 

The majority of agencies charge based on time. Why? Mainly because it is the simplest way to calculate a price. How long does this task take multiplied by an hourly rate / day rate. 

Both these factors are open to miscalculation. 

Estimates are often out – just the definition of the word means an approximation. Often this is taken by the customer as an absolute (mainly because it is presented this way). Estimates do not allow for scope creep unless you factor in a buffer amount – which then is perceived as being too expensive. 

Hourly rate / day rate 

Now here is a biggie!! There are many ways to calculate this. 

One way is to take what you want to earn and divide the number of days you work (calculate this on client work which will not eb all of your time) = a day rate. 

This is often tainted by what you perceive to be the Market rate – what are your competitors charging. Personally, I don’t give a whole lot of credence to this as you will always find someone to do something cheaper if they look hard enough. 

Cost Plus 

Also an estimation but for larger agencies this is a more robust way to calculate. This estimates the time involved to deliver the job, including all the people involved – senior people, account manager, technical delivery, project management etc – then add in proportined overheads – office costs, travel costs etc. This gives you a base cost. 

Then add on the margin you want to make – 25% / 30% / 55% ….  That is then the cost to the client. 

Value based pricing 

This is much harder to work out which is why most agencies do not price this way and do not work for all agency services. This is a pricing calculation based on the upside to the client – i.e. the value (or impact) you will be making. 

For example if you are running a campaign that will result in an100 new sales and each sale is worth £5,000 profit to the client. That is £500,000 worth of impact to the client. So now you know this – why would charge X for campaign strategy, X for design, x for execution etc totalling say £8,000. Based on the customer upside you could charge £15,000 or £20,000 because the client will see the value that you are delivering and this is a fraction of the upside, however more importantly you have increased your margin by over 100%. 

Understand your audience 

This is a key determinant of any pricing calculation. 

If your target audience is funded startup’s – you know they have money to spend on start ups. If your target audience is small provincial cake shops then their budgets will be a lot smaller. Both need branding, both need websites, both need social etc however you will not be able to charge the cake shop the same as the funded start-up. 

This is where the value of niching comes in however that is another whole topic. Knowing your audience’s ‘propensity to buy’ does have an influence on what you can charge. 

Presentation of pricing 

There are so many ways to present your costs and pricing, in fact there is a whole psychology of pricing that can come into play. 

It also depends on your overall approach to pricing during the whole sales process. If you don’t talk about pricing until the end and your costs are way off the mark – then you have wasted a huge amount of time. 

Qualify budgets up front – you may not get to know an exact budget however if you understand what rough areas you are working in then you can discover if you are aligned. 

The easiest way is to present a ‘project cost’ – a price for the overall job. Presenting a total price can often look expensive. Breaking it down into different elements can make it clearer to the customer what makes up the total. However it does open you up to negotiation – “we don’t need a project management cost – we will be managing the project internally”. 

Offering different payment terms can be an effective way to present pricing. “It will be a total of cost of £20,000 however we can spread the payments over 6 months” this often helps fit in with businesses cash flow and makes, what seems to be a large cost upfront, much more manageable. Be creative!

Productise services 

This can be a very effective way to present pricing. This can also help with the value pricing proposition as it can clearly demonstrate what additional value you get at a higher price. 

Set up comparison tables for your product – the Gold Silver Bronze strategy. Gold is the full ‘bells and whistles’ and priced extremely high. Bronze is entry level and priced accordingly. Silver is the most attractive (highest value for the price) and is the one you want people to buy and psychologically is the one that everyone chooses. 

These ‘products’ can be used for discussion to really determine what the client wants. Then you work out a specific ‘special bundle’ just for that client.

It’s not all about pricing!

Although this article is based on pricing – it really is not all about pricing when a client chooses to do business with you. 

People buy from people – relationship and trust are vital factors in business development – and elements that you cannot put a price on. If you build strong relationships and the prospect trusts you then pricing becomes less important. They have bought into you and not just buying a product or service. 

Your brand is essential – the famous quote “your brand is what people say about you when you have left the room” is so important. It is what others say about you – references, testimonials, case studies, referrals are all crucial. 

Pricing is only one dynamic. For example if a prospect has an ‘urgent’ job to be done but does not want to compromise on the quality of what you deliver – then price becomes immaterial. 

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Pricing is a huge area and one that needs special attention. If this has stimulated you think about your pricing and how you present it and you feel it has raised more questions than solutions (an understandable outcome!) then I would be very happy to discuss this with you in more detail. 

Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Agency Workplace

Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Agency Workplace

You can help make a difference.

We have a real challenge in the workplace generally around mental health – how to approach the subject – how to deal with it – how to avoid it. This is also true in the marketing agency world.

There is no getting away from it – it is a difficult and sensitive subject. We are dealing with human emotions here and normally very strong and powerful emotions at that.

As a community I believe that we have a responsibility to address this challenge, and I would like as many agency owners (Agency Local members and non members) to come together to discuss and work through the challenges.

Mental Health operates on three levels:

1. Agency Owner – Being a leader of a business (however small or large) can have a big impact on you personally. The responsibility, the challenges, the impact on time and personal life. Your own personal health and wellbeing is imperative.

2. Workforce – As an agency owner you have an obligation to look after your employees and your workforce. Often Mental Health issues are not overtly visible, sometimes the culture means the workers do not feel comfortable to open up, they don’t want to be judged or to be seen to be weak. You define the workplace – it is upto you to create the right environment.

3. Others around us
Mental health is just you and your workforce. It applies to everyone around you. In business terms – others you interact with – colleagues, suppliers, partners, associates as well as you friends and family.

Agencies handle this area in different ways. I believe that there are four types of agency workplaces:

Ignorance – Are not aware of the impact of mental health on themselves, their workforce and their suppliers and partners – they simply don’t know about it or address it in any way.

Ignore – Are aware of the challenge and situation but choose to nothing about it

Intention – Have realised the situation and that it is an issue but don’t know how to deal with it.

Action – those that are taking steps to create a safer workspace where the issue is in the open

Unfortunately there are not too many in the later category. Our aim is to move Ignorance and Ignore into a state of Intention and to move those in Intention to Action.

May is Mental Health awareness month and in the UK we have Mental health Awareness week in May 9th – 15th.

At Agency Local we are dedicating the month of May to this subject and we have 4 objectives:

Raise awareness of mental health and the issues around it
Have the open discussion to increase understanding
Highlight practical ways to help yourself
Create guidelines to help agencies on the journey to creating the right workspace

This needs to be more than awareness, more than discussion – it needs to be focused on Action.

That is why at the end of May I hope to publish Guidelines for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Agency Workspace.

We have lined up a series of events on each Thursday throughout May. We have invited knowledgeable people to come along and share their knowledge and expertise.

I need your help, in terms of your input, your ideas, your views and your knowledge to work with us all to shape this agenda.

I would like your participation at as many of the events as possible.
I would like you to bring along other Agency Owners to join in the discussion
I want to hear your thoughts and views

We have the following calendar of events

5th – Round the Campfire – Special event to hear real life stories and discuss triggers and causes.
Awareness of the impact of Mental Health challenges.

 


12th – Ask the Expert – Self care and personal wellness
Talks from four experts on looking after yourselves.

 


19th – Insight Event – Creating the wellbeing workplace
Keynote speakers will be talking about how we can create the right environment within our agencies.

 

26th – Workshop – Developing the Wellbeing guidelines for the agency workplace
The output for the month – we need your input to develop guidelines and best practise.

Lindengate – Charity Lindengate Mental Health Charity,
The Special events will be open to all. The normal Agency Local events that are chargeable to non members will remain chargeable however 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Lindengate.

We will be asking all members and non members to make a donation to support this charity.

Why Lindengate?
Firstly they are an amazing charity in the Mental Health space.
Secondly, Agency Local Member and longtime supporter, Owen Hughes and his wife, Charlie are cycling London to Paris to raise money for Lindengate so we will be supporting them and the charity. Charlie, also works for Lindengate. So it’s a win – win – win!

Just Giving page to make a donation.

We look forward to you participating and helping to make our sector a stronger and healthy area to work.

More information can be found here.

Improving your  Agency performance  through marginal  gains  and forming new  habits

Improving your Agency performance through marginal gains and forming new habits

Habits are the compound interest of self improvement

This quote is from the book Atomic Habits which was the March book of the month at the Agency Local Book Club.  

As agency owners and leaders, continuous improvement should be at the center of your business. 

Why? As businesses we need to be constantly adapting to our environment to the external factors that have an impact on our business. We have seen this in real time recently with CoronaVirus, now with Ukraine war leading to high inflation. 

Adaptation is different to continual improvement. I see continuous improvement as being what you do internally within your business 

  • making improvements in how you run your business (efficiency), 
  • how you improve the service you deliver (customer delight), 
  • how you become more purpose led business (sustainability) 
  • how you manage your teams how you develop your culture (creating a great place to work), 
  • how you improve your skills as a business owner (leadership) 

These are just examples of areas of continual improvements that you can make in your business. 

James Clear, in his book, highlights that if you want to change something then you need to make it a habit. Easier said than done right?!

Making small adjustments – consistently delivers big change.
We are all under pressure in business to set clear goals. These are our destinations, it is where we want to be and what we want to achieve. Interestingly, often winners and losers have the same goals! In a sporting analogy if you think athletes have the goal of winning the gold medal, only one person can win it yet the whole field in the final has the same goal.

“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”
So it’s not only about the goal, it’s about the journey, it’s about the systems, processes and actions that you put in place to achieve that goal. It all comes down to action and constant action at that. Doing one thing regularly, day after day, week after week, month after month – then you will see improvements over time. 

And for an action to be constant it needs to become a habit. 

“Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
If you look at marginal gain theory – this is all about making small incremental improvements which on their own are unnoticeable however when put together they compound and become significant change. This is the power of habits. 

Clear sites as an example the British cycling teams – which were nowhere in any competition at the turn of the century. 

Brailsford became Performance Director in 2003 and he brought in the concept of small improvements – marginal gain – the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do. 

We saw the first British winners of the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in 2012 and 2013 and Team GB’s went on to win an astounding 32 Olympic medals from Beijing, London and Rio, including 20 golds. 

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
As an agency owner, where is your business on the path you want it to go? Do you have a clear vision of where you want it to go? Are you seeing improvements in key metrics? Are you developing new habits to create that marginal gain?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions then it may be time to get a coach or a guide that can help you establish a clear direction for your agency, and to decide what are the areas in which you need to form new habits.