'Step into my office', a new series of interviews powered by The Future Factory and The Drum Network, focuses on the challenges and the opportunities facing agencies this year. We will be taking a sneak peek into the lives of agencies, how they work, what their motivations are and what their thoughts are on the current state of the industry. This week we speak to The Future Factory's very own Alex Sibille, who is discusses getting new business for the creatives.
So, what does The Future Factory do?
We help agencies to win new clients. Either via lead generation, training or consultancy.
How long have you been around?
What makes you different from your peers?
We’re definitely not a traditional sales business. For starters our business development managers work in our clients' offices on a weekly basis. This ensures a genuine passion and understanding of the agency’s work can be communicated to prospects. In addition, our team aren’t paid ‘commission’ for meetings arranged, but instead receive bonuses linked to client satisfaction and new business won.
What have been the biggest challenges over the last year?
For the industry, the speed at which agencies are evolving. Most agencies now have new competitors, and many struggle to communicate to brands what they do and where they fit within their marketing plans and budgets.
For our business in particular, helping agencies to understand the difference between cold lead generation and business development, and then how to maximise the opportunities in these vastly different scenarios.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities over the next year?
For agencies, continued economic uncertainty usually results in an increase in project work (as opposed to retained work). The positive side of this is that it’s easier for agencies to start new relationships and step in where long standing relationships might have dominated previously.
For The Future Factory, we want to grow our training, design and consultancy divisions here and overseas to complement our established lead generation offering. We’ve already delivered several projects in Europe (and even as far as Australia) and have our hearts and minds set on a future office in Amsterdam.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing business development over the next few years?
Marketing automation and social tools have led to a higher volume of low quality business development outreach and B2B marketing. It has and will continue to become increasingly tough to create content that stands out and has an impact. Businesses need to revert to one-to-one, genuinely personalised communications to a small number of people they truly believe are relevant. This takes more time and effort, but when the pay-off can be a multi-million pound account, it’s worth it.
Where are you based and why this location?
Our office is a warehouse style space a 5-minute walk from foodie heaven Borough Market and London Bridge. It was actually occupied by one of our advertising agency clients before us. They were set to vacate just at the same time as we knew we’d be needing a bigger office. We were very lucky to be saved the hunt.
How important is location for you?
We are pretty tied to being based in Central London due to the fact that most of our team split their time between our office and our clients’ offices. As our business has evolved we’ve started working with more and more non-London agencies, but due to the saturation of agencies in London, I’m sure we’ll always need to have an HQ here.
Do you feel the office needs to be quirky and irreverent or simply functional?
An office definitely needs to be more than functional - we spend more time there than at home! I also think it’s important to ‘re-fresh’ the office periodically and move things around, to stop it feeling stale.
Your current clients?
We work for such a broad spread of agencies, from global experiential agency Jack Morton, to a really great 10 person sports marketing agency called MATTA, and a very uniquely structured digital service design agency with its HQ in Finland, called Futurice.
Name a project you were proud of in the last year?
Helping PR agency The Romans to have a kickass first year.
In the last 12 months, two of the agencies we’ve worked with for a number of years have sold for industry leading multiples. That’s really the ultimate success story for us.
The Future Factory is a new business agency, for the creative marketing industry.