The Biz Dev 100: James Cotton, founder and managing director, Onespacemedia

James Cotton: Onespacemedia

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 James Cotton, one of those at the top of their field who work in the UK biz dev sector.

Full name: James Cotton

Job Title: founder and managing director

Agency: Onespacemedia

What were your highlights of last year?

- Achieving a 92% proposal conversion rate.

- Increasing retainer revenues to 35% of turnover.

- Building a client retainer portal to reduce admin costs, deliver increased value and enforce transparency and accountability.

- Repositioning the agency to concentrate on the science, technology, academic and finance sectors.

- Rebranding the agency and building a new website to better communicate our proposition and sector expertise.

What has been your most memorable win - and why?

2012 - Imperial Innovations. Our first listed company. It was one of the most detailed proposals I had ever written and formed the basis for our modern proposal format that consistently delivers 90% conversion.

How would you describe your approach to business development?

By delivering an outstanding customer experience you create advocates who are happy to refer you to other businesses.

I am selective of who we work with and our selection criteria is based on chemistry (will we enjoy working with them?), stakeholder engagement (will we have access to the decision makers?), financial (will it be profitable?), fit (does the project sit within one of our four key sectors?), referral potential (is there opportunity for follow on work or a network effect?), portfolio (will we be proud to have the work/client on our portfolio/roster?), publicity (do we have authorisation to publicise our engagement?).

By ensuring that all or most of these criteria are met we know we can do a great job. We know our clients will be delighted and we know they will refer us. We are lucky not to have to spend any money on advertising or sponsorship and all of our business is generated organically or from referrals.

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

Under promise. Over deliver.

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

Always be honest and always do what you say you're going to do.

What is your new business soundtrack?

Too many to mention

Brands looking to appoint a new agency should look to The Drum Recommends for help. The Drum Recommends offers reviews of agency partners by their own clients to offer insights to the rest of the industry when hiring.

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