Our MD Simon Landi has been heading up the good ship Access for the past sixteen years. He's learnt some things along the way and now he wants to share his experiences with you. Read on for insights on what work to pitch for, what being an MD is really like and the advice he would have given his younger self.
1. Access is 17 years old at the end of this month. What advice would you give yourself when setting up a business now?
Be clear why you are doing it - Is it for your ego / for fame / to make yourself rich / to help others / to be the best? And keep reminding yourself why you did it!
Be nimble, be agile and be yourself - Be prepared to change, and change quickly if necessary, without changing yourself, your ideals or your passion.
2. What do you think are the most desirable traits for an employee to have in 2016?
Integrity. Be honest about your strengths and more importantly your weaknesses.
Desire. I interview far too many people who can't talk passionately about a great piece of creative or a clever piece of tech.
Team mentality. We all need to be team players, whether it's a pitch team, a project team, a client team or a dev team; we need to work together to produce the best work.
3. What would be your top advice for someone pitching for new business? Give us three tips.
I’m going to give five, instead of three, as these are the ones I live by.
Do you really want the business? Our team now have a well honed judging criteria for new business based on both the value of the client to us, as well as our potential value to the client.
Have something different and inspiring to say - Pitching is like going out on stage to an audience who have already seen the play you’re about to perform three times, quite often on the same day!
Preparation and Practice - As the old adage goes: Fail to prepare; then prepare to fail. Do your homework, research, testing, planning, audience profiling and then practice, practice, practice - nothing is as enjoyable as a well rehearsed pitch.
Every touchpoint is a selling opportunity - Some pitches are won before you get in front of the client; the Q&A session, the ‘chemistry’ meeting and the correspondence beforehand all provide the client with ample opportunity to make an informed opinion on you and your business.
Take care of the detail - Pay attention to the detail and it will get you noticed; this includes your pre-pitch checks for things such as the wifi code, taking extra cables and connectors and copies of presentations. Find out who's on the panel (use LinkedIn to review their background) - researching the people you’re about to sell something to is so important.
And don’t forget to wear your lucky pitch socks - mine our my West Ham Admiral socks from 1980!
4. What are some of the most inspired books you’ve read on advertising?
Disruption - Jean Marie Dru
Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy
Strategic Marketing Communications - Paul Smith, Chris Berry and Alan Pulford (This book has lived on my desk for years now, I still refer to it everyday.)
5. Any current box set addictions?
Cillian Murphy and cast in peaky Blinders. Image via Pro Tools, with thanks.
Peaky Blinders and I've just started Prison Break again. The new series is currently being filmed for airing in 2017 so I need to remember what’s going on!
6. Tell us about your role. How is a day as an MD spent?
I like to be first in; that way I can attempt to plan out my day before the music starts and the phone rings.
The role (and most days) are a fascinating mix of being 'in' the business and 'on' the business - although my colleagues would say that I spend too much time in the business!
‘In’ the business includes things such as managing existing client projects, advising team members on anything from planning to problem solving, from creative reviews to staff review and being head of new business - no one can sell the business like the owner.
‘On’ the business includes working closely with the other directors and our FD to ensure the business is run successfully, that it grows effectively, and we keep ahead of the curve.
7. You enjoy travelling. Where have been some of your favourite places you’ve travelled to?
Simon’s holiday snap from Santorini.
Santorini, for its pace of life, the hotels nestled into volcanic rock and the sunsets. New York and London for the scale and sheer madness. Tenerife for its familiarity; we’ve been going on holiday there for the past 20 years.
8. Where are some of your favourite drinking spots in Manchester?
My local - The Brook in Sale and anywhere that sells Timothy Taylor 'Landlord' Ale.
9. You’re a big cycling fan. Where’s your next route going to be?
I've just done a lovely cycle around Chester. Soon, i’ll be venturing into the darkest Peak District (to try some proper hills) before doing the TDF to see (and maybe try) a tour stage in Saint Gervais.
10. What’s the best part about being MD?
I don't answer to anyone...except Mrs L, of course.