The Biz Dev 100: Lydia Smith, new business director, M&C Saatchi London

Lydia Smith

Welcome to The Biz Dev 100, powered by The BD 100, which aims to recognize and celebrate important role played in the media and marketing industry by those who source and bring in new customers and keep the fortunes of businesses on track.

Below is Lydia Smith, one of those at the top of their field who work in the UK biz dev sector.

Name: Lydia Smith

Job Title: new business director

Agency: M&C Saatchi London

What were your highlights of last year?

I was promoted to New Business Director in 2017. It’s a role I am extremely proud to have, after starting four years earlier as a New Business Executive. I have benefitted from the meritocratic culture within the agency world - hard work does pay off. Since then I have identified how we can streamline the new business process and a go to market strategy to ensure that a well-established agency brand like M&C Saatchi can continue to compete in the ever-changing marketing landscape; I like to mix science with creativity and continuously test and learn against a strategy. Numbers do not lie. This year we moved from eighth to second place in the AAR New Business Report in Campaign for top new business agency in the UK.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

Each win is as memorable; that feeling never goes away. However, you never forget your first. The Financial Conduct Authority was the first pitch I led on and we were appointed after chemistry via a phone call. The team were ecstatic, and it was the first time I had felt the winning team buzz and I was hooked. That feeling stays with me with every win - our recent Legal & General win will see the Agency creating Legal & General’s first major consumer campaign after a competitive pitch. A big new Client with big ambition shows the fantastic talent that I get to work with and kick-started our New Business year.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

Progressive and without doubts. I think chutzpah is an essential skill in any business development, fear of being rejected is like Japanese knotweed in new business. You have to believe in your Agency and that what you are bringing to the market is going to genuinely help your Client / Prospect. If you hand-on-heart believe this, then doubt is eliminated because you know you can add significant value to their business. This attitude is underpinned by knowing your agencies capabilities and strengths inside & out, and knowing where your agency wants to be in the next three years.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

When you're saying ‘yes’ you’re also saying ‘no’ to another potential pitch. Know what your ideal Client for your agency looks like so you can spot the red herrings. Do not get distracted and keep your eyes on the prize.

What would be your number one tip to anyone starting in business development?

Embrace every challenge and become a master of each; no task is too small in business development. It’s all part of the puzzle. The content of your submission or pitch could be amazing, but if you miss a print deadline or do not proof properly you could be crossed off the list. Good is not good enough – you need to be outstanding in all areas in New Business.

What is your new business soundtrack?

The Great Escape 2018 playlist on Spotify – a playlist of new music from new artists that is unpredictable; I am always open to the discovery of the new. Our own learning and development never stops.

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