The Biz Dev 100: Kat Renshaw, business development director, Ear to the Ground

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.

Kat Renshaw

Name: Kat Renshaw

Job Title: business development director

Agency: Ear to the Ground

What were your highlights of last year?

2017 was a phenomenal year. We got to work on some incredible projects and welcomed a number of fantastic new partners into the business including - Beats by Dre, npower, MBNA, Asics, England Golf, Canterbury and CWC 2019. However, a big highlight for me was establishing Ear to the Ground as a heavyweight in sport and music; revered by our peers and respected by the industry. Last year we focused all of our efforts on driving forward our proprietary Fan Intelligence offering. This delivered more briefs from clients requesting that we work with them on a higher strategic and creative campaign level. As a result, these relationships have grown with the success reflected in the results that we deliver for our clients. I am extremely proud of everything that we achieved in 2017. So much so that in December I put the team forward for Agency of the Year at the largest commercial sports award in the world. On 8th February (2018), we received the news that we have been shortlisted alongside five other agencies. For an agency of 30 people, it’s a significant achievement to be in the running for such a prestigious accolade. On a more personal note, having only joined the agency in September 2016 my biggest highlight has to be setting up the agency’s first official business development department. Prior to my arrival, new business and marketing had been successfully led by our founder and now chairman. It was a big challenge but also a great privilege to take on this responsibility and help the business generate an £1 million increase in turnover and reach a record annual profit at the end of 2017.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

‘Wins’ last year came in many forms. Whether it was getting up at 3:30am to drive the team 200 miles to a competitive pitch presentation or successfully pitching our Fan Intelligence Network to deliver an award winning campaign with great sales figures for the client. Each ‘win’ has its own unique story of success. However, there is one that stands out for me in terms of showing the benefit of the new business development department. As one of my first tasks when I joined, I decided to go through the company’s CRM database with a fine-tooth comb to see what opportunities where available. It took weeks of going through previous emails and conversations and updating records to see who the team had spoken to over the past year and filling in the gaps. I spotted one meeting that had happened 12 months ago and from the reading the notes, the relationship was very cold now but definitely worth investigating as this was a dream client and we had so much to offer them. To cut a long story short, we secured a second meeting and it went really well. Although there was no relevant opportunity at that time, we kept the relationship going over the next few months through various marketing communications. We then received news that we were invited into a pitch process to work a fantastic campaign which demonstrated the perfect crossover of sport and music: our perfect brief. Following a successful activation, we were then asked back to another pitch which we won and are now working on a retained global basis and loving every minute.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

I like to think I have a different take on business development when compared to the more traditional approaches. Before entering into my first BD role several years ago, I worked in PR and marketing. I was taught to think like a marketer and find the story so that people would take notice. I have carried this through into my roles within business development. By creating an overarching marketing strategy at the start of the year, I promote key messages about the business through various channels and activities to either generate leads, or generate fame to ultimately generate leads. Lead generation is very important, but I don’t see BD as a pure sales function. It needs an engine. It needs a strategic plan. I’ve had countless interviews with people who spout bullsh*t about their 10,000 great relationships on their LinkedIn profile. Good for them. I don’t see BD as a bragging game and I’d rather be known for being strategic, personable and considered. Great salespeople are those who can build relationships. When I started at Ear to the Ground I hired an ex-recruitment consultant to join my team and drive lead generation. Best decision I ever made. You need someone who understands how to sell, but more importantly, you need someone who wants to build relationships. Finally, to be successful at business development you have to put aside your own ego and promote the expertise, skill sets and personalities within the business. These are your greatest assets. So get out there and use them.

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

"Put yourself in their shoes" It’s simple and straightforward but it guides me through everything I do. It has helped me step outside of my role on many occasions to produce something that is not primarily a profile boost to the agency, but that is worthwhile to the client. When approaching a new client, preparing a piece of marketing collateral or simply writing an award entry, I ask myself: “If I was the client, why would I care, why would I read this, why should I speak to them?” It stems from the fact that I hate being sold to and I am sure it is the same for clients and brands. So I like to look at things from their point of view to see how we can speak to them in a way that will not only get noticed but add considerable value to their current challenges.

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

“Long-term strategy always trumps short terms sales” Don’t limit yourself and try to understand the bigger picture. Develop a long-term strategy which nurtures clients to unlock stronger relationships and helps generate growth. A new business pipeline in ‘agency world’ takes about three-six months to come to fruition so as long as you are proactive and eager to leverage any opportunity in line with the overarching strategy, the pipeline should always be quite healthy.

What is your new business soundtrack?

This is tough, but because of this line “Change the game don’t let the game change you”, it would have to be: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Make the Money.

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