Fake it ’til you make it as…a new business guru

Marketing and new business director of GroupM, Greg Graham, tells us what he really does, in a piece that first appeared in Encore.

What do you actually do?

The role is essentially marketing our agency brands and services helping them win new clients. My main focus is new business pitching and working across all of the GroupM agencies (Maxus, MEC, Mindshare and MediaCom) juggling priorities and deadlines. With my marketing hat on I am talking to journos, conference organizers, event/award planners etc.

What skills do you need to be good at the job?

As well as some circus skills, being a magician may help. I am a qualified executive coach and mentor to various people. Good people skills and keeping calm under pressure are essential attributes for any new business person. Generally you need to be a self-starter, creative, slightly crazy with a great deal of passion, energy, enthusiasm and commitment.

Who are the people you work closest with?

The agency CEOs, management and new business teams plus business consultants, marketing journalists and various new business specialists in the region and around the globe. I am also very fortunate to work with a lot of our rising stars, nurturing, training and developing our best talent. This is a very rewarding part of my role and it’s amazing to see these people grow and develop into the leaders of tomorrow.

Is there any lingo we need to know to do the job? 

Yes, we love a good acronym e.g. RFP (request for proposal), RFI (request for information). Late at night working on a pitch you may need to understand shorthand and the odd swear word.

What does a typical day on the job entail?

The great thing is there is no typical day. Prior to a pitch it can be crazy with rehearsals and coaching. Other days it might be critiquing awards entries, giving feedback or getting out a press release. Then it could be taking a new business consultant or journalist out to lunch. Schmoozing is still alive and well in the advertising world.

What’s the best part of the job?

I get inspired around talented creative people and when you are preparing for a big new business pitch it’s amazing what can be achieved. It’s not always awesome, sometimes it is a lot of blood, sweat and tears and then you don’t win or you lose an important client. Traveling is also pretty good. As I have been with the WPP network for 25 years, I often help out with pitches in various markets. I’ve recently been to Bangalore, India and New York city.

What’s the biggest challenge? 

In pitching, it’s getting to the real client need. Understanding the brief and the actual reason for the review and what politics are involved. The official brief might be all about strategy and innovation however the people that are running the pitch are the procurement department and it’s really about cost savings and cheap commercial terms.

How do you get in to your line of work?

I started in the dispatch department at JWT a lot of years ago but recently I have trained several fantastic interns who now work for us in various countries around the world.

Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham is the marketing and new business director of GroupM.

Encore issue 22This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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