During this month’s New World of New Biz, we discussed what changes you need to make to become more profitable this year. Our Founder, Katie Street was joined by:


  • Rob Sandbach, Managing Director, Indiespring
  • Mike Lander, CEO, Piscari
  • Andy Brown, Founder, etc Advisory
  • Marta Kowalska, Procurement Consultant, Booking.com


The following was covered in the session:


How to introduce different pricing models


The webinar started with a discussion about how you can introduce different pricing models. Rob Sandbach, Managing Director, Indiespring, led the conversation by explaining how for a design and build agency like his, traditionally you would expect a large upfront investment in building the project followed by a retainer thereafter to support and maintain. He stated “We’re far more interested in that longer term partnership and we’re pretty open and transparent with the clients that it’s going to require investment. After day one, pretty significant investment in fact, over the lifecycle of whether the project is usually more investment, day one onwards and then before we launch. We’re moving to a model where we offer the client a retainer, with a 12 month minimum at £20,000 a month and we’re effectively doing the development costs.” Rob then explained how this model has benefited his agency by allowing them, to not only win new business, but also get the client and themselves in the mindset of ongoing improvement.


Marta Kowalska, Procurement Consultant, Booking.com, then added to the conversation by putting focus on the word budget. She stated, “You might have a case that someone needs to spend the budget but then you have the flip side where someone does not have the budget upfront for the big project.”


To finish off the conversation Katie Street, Founder of Street Agency and Tanba, discussed how creativity and flexibility within your pricing models is important. “You have to be able to give that flexibility and I think that goes back to you being a little bit more creative with your pricing models as well. Not just being fixed in you’ve got and really think about how you’re going to price things that’s going to be valuable for you and hopefully profitable but also ways that clients are going to want. Especially when you’re in a RFP process that really helps you show up in the right way and makes you more desirable to purchase or to work with because you’re showing that flexibility.”


How to approach the upfront discovery phase


The panel then went on to discuss the importance of the discovery phase. Katie started off by saying “Having spent years working in a design and build in various design and build agencies it is really hard. Not all clients are willing to pay for that upfront discovery phase because they’re in a competitive tender. You’ve got to convince the client and often we would invest in a competitive pitch scenario.”


Marta then added that “There are two major things, remember that you don’t have to participate in every pitch that comes along. If you feel like the brand isn’t mature enough for that project, value your side. Don’t take it, know what you’re going for. It’s just ultimately going to end up in disappointment on both ends when this project just goes downhill. So I would say two things, look into the RFP and whether you really want to participate, if there is no flexibility and you see it’s going to go downhill I would just say step away from it.”


Katie followed by saying “You’ve got to assess whether it’s worth your time investment to go for something if you don’t think that they’re going to give you enough information because otherwise you’re quoting blind”.


Andy then concluded by saying “There’s a couple things I’ve done recently with clients, is to charge for the strategy phase. The clients will often bring you an answer, it’s quite often better to go back and say ‘is this the question because that might not be the answer. You should be asking a different question, not giving us that answer.’ To do that is to charge for that phase but then to discount it back in after.”


How to sell value, not time


Following the discussion of how to approach the discovery phase, the panel then went on to discuss how to sell value, not time. Andy Brown Founder, etc Advisory, started off the discussion by saying “If you think of yourself as a design and build business, you’re thinking of yourself as one solution. I think the point is there are two solutions, there’s design and build. Design and build are looked at very differently on the spectrum, the sort of ‘do for me’, ‘help me think’ and ‘think for me’ scale. Build is right down there on the ‘do for me’, it’s all about price. But the design or the strategy, or the thinking that’s up there with the ‘help me think’ and ‘think for me’ it’s really valuable. So, if you think about your service prop as design and build you’re selling a kind of homogenised service and it’s very difficult to charge for value. If you think about where you really put your value into the process that’s in the strategic thinking, into the creativity. No one is going to pay for account management, but everyone is going to pay for project management. Procurement people will buy value if you demonstrate that is the valuable bit, if you try and homogenise everything together.”


Mike Lander, CEO, Piscari, then added “On the point of account management vs. project management. I can’t tell you how many conversations with agencies that I have where I say I’m not buying an account manager. I expect you to be organised around the relationships with me as a stakeholder but project management or programme directors, absolutely.”


How to deal with the “covid hangover”


To finish off this month of The New World of New Biz, the panel discussed how recently brands are going to be experiencing a covid hangover for a significant number of years, and whether this is something that is largely impacting buying decisions and are there other current macro issues playing a part?


Katie began by saying, “There are so many things at play at the moment. Buyers/consumers are worried about their own finances, there have been more baskets abandoned than ever before because people are worried. Yes it’s covid but it’s an overhang from everything that’s going on in Russia and the impact that that’s having across the world, such as petrol costs which then impacts how much it costs to import stuff and move things around the country. So, I think there is something bigger at play and every agency needs to be aware of that right now and aware of how that impacts clients.”


Marta then concluded saying that “The Covid hangover is an interesting one because for some brands Covid was actually a booster. So, you’ll see brands that have had amazing growth, some have had hiccups and some have just taken this time to re-access what they want and once things opened they went full on. So, I think really the key here is to understand the position of the brand and what they’re looking for. Some may take it for an opportunity to grow but then understand that they require more flexibility to scale down if things change again. That’s why we’re looking at 3, 6, 9 month contracts and moving to campaigns rather than retainers. This is a different reality, just try to understand the other side here and then we can grow together.”


Katie rounded off the topic in agreement with Marta by adding “It’s about having that flexibility and different models that you can take out to the market to help them in the right way and in a way that isn’t going to be scary for them to purchase. Sometimes for me a big change has been doing more smaller projects, that makes it easier for people to start working with us. We can show how busy we are and hopefully they want to move on to working with us more which inherently happens.”


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