The PRCA recently hosted an important business development event surrounding the issues of new business and Brexit.  Panel participant Matt North, Director at HCA Ltd has shared his insights that will help inform readers with their new business development strategy.

 Over the last 20 years, we’ve found new business to have one particular archenemy; uncertainty. It makes people very risk averse and they have a tendency to stay with what they know. No decision can feel far safer than the wrong decision. As such, decisions are generally delayed in the hope that more clarity is just around the corner.

What this means for new business is that you need to put a much more robust case for switching and nurture opportunities for longer.  Procrastination is driven by the nature of the market, rather than the nature of the individuals you are talking to. Therefore don’t lose faith in them and be supportive and reassuring rather than getting frustrated.

In your targeting you should be much more focused on your niche credibility – not who you could work with but who you should work with. Reflect that in your messaging to show impact and outcomes, not processes and philosophies.  This will always make new business more effective but is even more important when there is uncertainty in the market.

However Brexit plays out, uncertainty will eventually disappear. Once people have a clearer idea of the future they can then start putting in place plans. Those that have continued to invest will be the beneficiaries when the pipeline they’ve built quickly starts to move. Those that wait before pushing on with new business, because the market is tough, will miss the changeover when it eventually comes.  This is a time to be positive and efficient with the way you do new business, not give up and wait to see. Do that and it’ll all be too late.

Matt North, HCA Ltd

The PRCA recently hosted an important business development event surrounding the issues of new business and Brexit.  Panel participant Dan Sudron, owner of The Future Factory has shared his insights that will help inform readers with their new business development strategy.

Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball when it comes to Brexit or the following months and years beyond it.

If we can learn anything from previous economic disruption, Brexit and the aftermath will accelerate trends that have been bubbling away for the past couple of years and bring back some old ones…


No surprises here, there will be a resistance to sign on the dotted line, with favour towards measurable projects and campaigns (as it has been going for the past few years). The fact is, the marketing mix is more complicated and fragmented than ever; long term relationships do and will continue to exist but a more pragmatic and entrepreneurial approach to a client relationship needs to be taken. Any business owner can have empathy towards a flexible approach to service providers and the brand / agency relationship is no different. From a new business perspective, it promotes promiscuity towards anyone who can provide better solutions to problems, which could be seen as an opportunity. When it comes to client relationships, everything is to lose, but everything is up for grabs! To use one of the favoured words of 2018, it will be the year of the hustle… far from scary, if you have your account management and new business mix right it is exciting, and the winners will be capitalising on the rough terrain of the business battlefield rather than being complacent with the relationships they have built and managed over the past couple of years.


At its worst, in the recession a decade ago there was, as you would expect a move toward a more stringent procurement process. There was a little hint towards outsourced procurement services, which is when you know things have really gone to shit. I don’t think it will get that bad, but it is worth making sure that you feel you are in a good position to manage negotiation effectively and also have a specific creds documentation tailored to procurement people.


Over the last year we have seen an increase in new business opportunities for Central European agencies, namely Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, and this will continue but shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to doing business as it doesn’t seem to have been for our clients over the past 6 months. It would be naive to think the agency landscape isn’t evolving in other European countries to capitalise on this trend, but having spent some time speaking to agencies in different countries I can say with some confidence that, generally speaking, they don’t have the strategic or creative heritage nor the experience dealing with the brutal new business environment that exists in the UK. No matter what happens to the UK, we are known for, and have developed an industry which is internationally recognised to deliver best in class creative and strategy for brands.

Looking at the next 18 months and beyond broadly, this is not the time to sit back and take stock, wait to see what happens or rely on your current network to deliver. This is the time to put thinking, hours and budget towards new business. Graft around prospecting, account development and marketing will give you some level of comfort and control of your pipeline (which at times will feel like a leaky bucket). If you don’t, the agency down the road will.

This is a time to prepare. You need to make sure your current team is primed and in tune with new business, an ethos and understanding around it is the difference between an exciting agency through hard times and one that is flailing.

Training around how to capitalise on relationships past and present is advised as well as a true understanding of an agency proposition.

When it comes to outsourcing; dedicated, specialist new business support, with no distractions and a real passion for the craft can’t be a bad thing. Sure, budget comes into play but the resources, skills and hierarchy of team that comes with an outsourced new business model equates to much more, deliver results much faster, and with much less risk than taking an individual in-house. And if you do decide to take someone on in-house for the first time, it is worth seeking help to audit your business and help you set KPIs to make the most of your new recruit (or understand who that person could/should be)


As long as you have data partners and process that fit the bill GDPR doesn’t prohibit new business…. Except for Germany which has some of the most stringent data laws in the world. Brexit might reduce or negate the impact of the more severe e-privacy laws that were due to be put into place in 2019 but only time will tell. Generally speaking, the heightened awareness of data privacy has done the job of tightening businesses systems and processes relating to it.


We are all getting used to the movement of young and old people alike. Investing in workplace culture, perks and visions is important but there is a general trend towards job hopping if you are a business in a cosmopolitan area. If your workforce has a multi-national makeup, which if it is in London it almost definitely will, we will have to see where Brexit takes us and the timescales attached to it.

Dan Sudron, Owner, The Future Factory

Two things drive the UK stock market and investor confidence: Fear and Greed. Either one has the ability to send prices and currencies tumbling which in turn erodes confidence.

Seasoned investors will tell you that as a business owner, you need to look past the short-term bumps and keep focused on the long-term strategy of your business, but what if the event or events are protracted and wear down on confidence both in the City and for your employees?

Brexit’s effects have already chipped away at day-to-day commerce and employee’s lives. Whether it’s simple things like the price of petrol or a sausage roll at the high street bakery, or more major things like mortgage interest rates. Left to fester for long enough, the nation becomes weary and despondent from hearing all the negative back and forth over the stalemate caused by Brexit.

It’s hard not to get political over such a big issue as Brexit but there is a clear lesson to be drawn from the chaos; leadership is directly connected to confidence. Politicians managing the Brexit deal are simply not confident of their ability to see through something that they fundamentally do not believe in.

Likewise, your workforce won’t feel confident if they think that you don’t have a plan in place to help secure their long-term future.

New business becomes harder to win and the marketing industry retrenches and pulls back from plans because it lacks confidence. Marketing budgets are an indicator of market confidence.

Your role in new business is to help restore confidence and there are many ways to do this, but one surefire way to help build confidence in your new business activity is to Add Value.

Adding Value

The long tail of new business development gets even longer during low-energy times caused by events such as Brexit. Budgets are scaled back and only those imperative projects get underway.

Adding value to existing activity by knowing what your prospects are doing and why, is crucial. In your limited opportunities to engage a new business prospect, instilling confidence by demonstrating you are aware of what needs to be done and what projects are underway is a surefire way of letting your prospect know they are dealing with someone who can add value. If not now, then later. This means delivering on your promises. If you schedule a call, do not miss it, even if they do. If you schedule a meeting, get straight to the point, acknowledge you know their time is limited and give them facts, numbers and as much proof as you can deliver. Who wants to leave things to chance in a downturn? These uncertain times are a perfect chance to hone your ability to convey a sales point in a concise and direct manner.

Adding value might also mean extending opportunities to prospects by including them in ongoing activities that may benefit them. A rising tide floats all boats and inviting them to a networking event you are already going to might help build a case for your pitch. This doesn’t mean trying to be their friend but it does mean helping them do things that help their business will reflect well on you further down the line.

In new business, you can afford the time to shore up existing prospects and making each-and-every outreach meaningful. Make every interaction count by adding value to the transaction. Stand out by being helpful and it will pay dividends at a time when all your competitors are doing is shouting like a carnival barker on a street corner.

Keith Smith – Owner of