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Expert advice – all wrapped up

With Christmas fast approaching, we asked our Wise Men and Women of the DBA Experts Register to share some top tips for your business in 2017.

Time to change your approach

“Do you slave over every tiny detail of a new business presentation working into the early hours to ensure the content is spot on?”

“What a client actually notices most when meeting an agency for the first time is body language, attitude and team dynamics. Instead of agonising over the content, encourage your team to master the art of open body language and to present with energy, confidence and passion. You’ll make more of an impact.” Catherine Allison, Master the Art

Make ‘challenge’ your word for 2017

“Internally, challenge why you do things a certain way. So many ingrained approaches in our industry are crying out for re-examination. For example, conventional notions of agency ‘new business’ have become outdated. Old approaches are not working anymore. Externally, aim to challenge your clients in some way, large or small, every month. Being a responsive, keen agency is great but it’s proactive challenge that builds truly consultative partnerships.” Jonathan Kirk, Up to the Light


Knowing when it’s right to part ways with a client

“This might seem surprising from someone who teaches client satisfaction and retention, but my New Year’s suggestion is to consider firing some. Do any of them demand free creative solutions in re-pitches? Do they provide the right work? Do they generate enough income? Do they pay their bills on time? Is the relationship (mostly) hassle-free? Do you actually like working with them? No? Then it’s time to let them go diplomatically.” Shan Preddy, Preddy&Co

Embrace the freelancer

“Many still think of the freelancer as an expensive necessity. But now that all the really good senior designers are freelancing we have to embrace them and re-think the financial model to include them as collaborative partners. So work out your project profit, deduct the freelancer’s share and accept that your share is what’s left. Remember a senior designer employee on £50k costs you £253 per day!” Gary Baxter, Lightbox 

The power of your Mantra

“During times of uncertainty it’s all about having true grit, determination and remaining confident in your product offer and positioning. Creating a mantra that captures in a heartbeat the very essence and spirit of your agency’s core belief is of value because it cuts through to the behaviour and standards required. All great teams have a mantra in times of need. They don’t panic, because they are; “Steady Under Fire.” What’s yours for 2017?” Rod Petrie, Rod Petrie Coaching

’tis the season

“I frequently meet talented sensitive creatives who’ve been slowly stripped of their joy by critical leadership, unconscious communication or lack of praise and recognition.

In this turbulent world, why not put JOY top of your list for 2017? Have the courage to ask for feedback, compassion to truly listen and commitment to increase joy in your studio. Your people and the world will be more joy filled because of you.” Emma Collins, Collins&Co 

Take a step back

“Christmas is the ideal time to take a step back and consider what you want from life. What will success look like to you? After all, the ultimate purpose of any business is to help its owners achieve their personal goals. So, identify those goals, and make it your resolution to ask your team, accountant, and other advisors to help your business deliver what’s important to you.” Ifan Lloyd, IDH Accountancy


Distractions cost money

“Every time you are distracted – it takes approximately 23 minutes to get back to the task you were taken from. A group were asked to review their daily emails – over 35% of what they received was useless; 12% was considered immediate; balance could wait. Notifications and emails are spamming our lives and staying in control is the key to your maximum productivity. Don’t let them distract you.” Mark Lawrence Saunders, Agile Non-Exec Ltd

My new business advice for 2017? Stop selling.

“There’s a reason why most agency business comes from referrals or existing clients. You have a far better chance of converting opportunities where you already have a relationship (your existing client) or a tacit relationship (a referral). So for your next new business meetings, instead of selling, take the pressure off and just listen. Think of this as just hello and the start of a relationship and the work will follow in time.” Lucy Mann, Gunpowder Consulting

Nurture positivity

“2017 is set to be a year of change. Change can often bring out negative behaviour if it is not managed correctly. But if you implement an open and honest forum, employees will feel safe to discuss their concerns. By nurturing this atmosphere and developing a positive culture you’ll maintain motivation and results through this uncertain period.” Aliya Vigor-Robertson, Journey HR

The foundation of good business

“Find out what your client wants, then give it to them, on time. Deceptively simple, but it is the very foundation of a good business that gets repeat work and referrals.” Jack O’Hern, Wright Vigar

With thanks to the DBA Experts for their contribution.


Image credits: © Yuliya Pauliukevich


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