If you have every wondered what it’s like at the sharp end of new business development for a successful agency, then look no further than The Advertist’s Q10 series. This time, grab a coffee or hot beverage of your choosing and sit back while Mr Mike Friend of Honchō takes his turn in the spotlight to give us an alternative take on how to keep the new business wheels turning, while possessing one of the cheeriest and most positive dispositions in the industry.

Take it away Mike..

What inspires you to go to work every day?

Discovery. You never know what you are going to find out there. I love walking into a business for the first time and exploring their world. I love finding out the little pieces of the puzzle, the depth of the problem and then sitting with my team looking at this maze to find the solution. It reminds me of The Wire! Ha. McNaulty and the team thinking, how are we going to crack this?

What has been the most pleasant surprise you found once you started working at Honchō?

Coming in from a large London agency, it’s been awesome to be part of a smaller team of 25 who are able to move and adapt with much more agility. Zero red-tape.

How does your ideal day at work go?

I’m not one of those “I’m up at 6am, gym, seize the day types I see on LinkedIn”. In fact I would say my routine was a lot more focused on knowing myself, knowing when I am on a hot streak and then trying to maximise it. I am lucky that my agency, Honchō, embraces flexible working to free me up to do this. For example, Monday morning before 10am I am complete rubbish, but Friday afternoon or Sunday night I often feel the most productive. I believe this has been the biggest change in the world’s working habits, and for those of us in Business development, we have to adapt to this. Customers want to look at your solutions in a time that suits them, rather than to ‘book a call at this time.’

What channels do you really love working in and why?

I am heading up our Automotive division for Honchō and I love it, the rate of change and the new technology for the future completely blows me away. The prospect of autonomous fleets and solar especially, future cities, the list goes on.

If you had one piece of advice to give someone thinking of getting into the world of new business, what would it be?

You have to actually like, or better love sales and want to be in it. A lot of people fall into it, hate it and don’t succeed and that’s because they never had the love for it. Don’t put up with a sales career, instead go do something you care about. As Jim Carey said, “it’s better to fail doing something you actually do love, rather than failing at something you never cared about.”

What do you do to switch off from work?

I play basketball twice a week in two different teams in the North west, and I adore the game. I completely switch off from anything: no thoughts, just movement. Its meditation for me.

Who inspires you?

Greta and all the young people protesting about Climate Breakdown; they are fighting for the future of our planet. When I was that young, we were fighting for someone with an ID to buy us some cider.

You’ve got to take a brand new prospect to lunch anywhere in the UK. Where would you go and why?

Love this question and a big part of me wants to say Nandos, ha. But, no maybe a tandem skydive, followed by a few beers. Forget the food. Let’s do something that makes us feel alive.

What has been your proudest moment so far working at Honchō?

Our rebrand to Honchō. It takes massive guts to rip up a very successful agency brand in iThinkMedia after 10 years of trading and start again. That’s what Chris Ailey, our owner did.

Where do you want to be in ten years time?

Retired, having built a legacy business division of Honchō Automotive.

If you would like to be the subject of an intense grilling of these proportions and you think you can stand up to the scrutiny, then please let us know by emailing us and submitting your details. We’ll be in touch soon.

In all of the confusion of what the role of the CMO is, we seem to have forgotten the one thing marketing is supposed to do; shift boxes.

There’s a lot of navel-gazing being done in the marketing industry about what exactly IS a CMO?

Just when we all thought we had a firm grasp of the new, digitally-enhanced, omnichannel lead marketing role, the powers that be decide to switch it all around again like some crazy 1970’s kids TV quiz show.

Now we hear that giant consumer brand owners like Coca-Cola, Unilever and Mars are redefining the role of a Chief Marketing Officer, to include oversight of content and messaging. And that’s just one example. Coca-Cola scrapped its global CMO role late last year and Johnson & Johnson’s first-ever global CMO Alison Lewis departed last month, as the company retired the position.

In a world dominated by TV, CMOs were necessary for fine-tuning a message through certain media channels, but the role has become less top-down, more flat, involving content distributions that touch upon a variety of different departments in any organization. The role today is more empowered for analytics and feedback.

So I’d like to propose another responsibility that seems to have been neglected in recent times; sales.

As a CMO, how often do you listen to the feedback from the sales channel and if you do, does it ever influence the campaigns?

The old role of Sales & Marketing Director was designed to have a balance of, well, sales and marketing. But can a sales & marketing director, sit with, under or alongside a CMO?  I doubt there are many companies that can afford that kind of bandwidth, so most will just settle for a CMO at the top because it sounds better.

Even Unilever admits that they are suffering from fatigue when it comes to the marketer’s description of ‘Brand Purpose’ and it all seems – to under-informed people like me – that marketing is talking itself into a tailspin – Green-washing, purpose-washing, cause-washing, woke-washing et al.

Marketing has gotten a bit too up itself and that’s where brand experts like Martin Galton, Greg Jordan and Tim Hollins come in. These three chaps form The Beehive, which they stress in not an advertising agency but more of a creative hive. They’ve just begun publishing a book called ‘How to avoid brand bullshit’, which gives lead marketers and CMOs nuggets of advice that they may have forgotten in all the rush to be liked or socially correct.

A couple of their mantras are particularly relevant here: “Dog food is for Dog Owners – make sure you really know who you want to talk to and why,” is one example and “If your category doesn’t make sense to ordinary folk, it’s crap; no matter how smart you are,” is another.

Sometimes with marketing the more you think about it, the harder it gets. So do the simple things first.

Most of the time, the simple things involve analysing the sales channel; looking at what makes the product sell and what will make it sell better.

Great marketing involves listening to the sales feedback and adjusting the pitch, tone or proposition accordingly.

Take a case in point from the masters of long distance selling – Canon. There sits a company with a highly extended sales channel, involving a myriad of different vendors and third parties. Among its most successful vendors is Creative Systems which provides best-of-breed imaging products and service solutions to businesses.

Matt Wingham, a director of the business also takes responsibility for heading up the sales. Has done for years and he’s well known in the industry for plain speaking, no-nonsense client communications; it’s what makes him special. He recalls Canon presenting him with a product called the Image Press – a fancy piece of kit, pitched at print shops and high volume users for books and brochures. “It was a great product but it was competing against a Xerox product that was less than half the price, consequently, sales were almost non-existent,” he said.

“We went back to Canon and told them that if they sold the system without all the ‘added-value’ accessories, cut the price and aimed it at advertising agencies and high quality studios instead, it will sell. So they did. And it did; it flew off the shelves.”

I’m not advocating for all CMOs to start interfering in the sales channel but it’s important to remember that the folks in the field are often the best form of a marketing antenna you can get.

Without that valuable, free feedback, most CMOs will be forced into making assumptions or to cherry-pick data to fit the narrative, but the best, most assured way of staying a CMO is by making sure that your product sells.

Keith can often be found making trouble on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ukkeithjsmith/ )