Monthly Archives: September 2017

TLA chosen for International Business Festival launch campaign

We have been chosen as one of three UK businesses to feature in the launch campaign – including a short film – for next year’s International Business Festival.

The film was shown at an exclusive launch event held in London last night, which was attended by the Duke of Cambridge. Prince William was officially confirmed as the festival’s patron for 2018.

International Business Festival launch

We were chosen alongside production company Zut Media (which also shot the film) and biologics organisation Absynth to be the faces of the launch campaign as the organisers look to build excitement and interest for the 16-day festival.

Ambition, innovation and growth

The promotional film, which we’ll share with you soon, will appear across a wide range of media leading up to the event. It tells each company’s story of ambition, innovation and growth as well as discussing our hopes and aspirations for the International Business Festival.

Our founder and CEO Anton Hanley was interviewed for the film and was in London for last night’s launch. Speaking to The Business Tribune about TLA’s involvement, he said: “Prince William was really interested in the company and asked whether we were using AI within our platform, so I explained about our chatbots we use to speak to customers online,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting any of the attention that’s come with being part of the Festival’s campaign so it was a surprise when I arrived here, picked up a leaflet about the Festival and saw myself on the front.

“It’s been a really good evening and it’s nice to be from a Liverpool business with ambitions to grow and being aligned with a major Liverpool event that also has ambitions overseas.”

Prince William International Business Festival IBF

‘Ingenuity, drive and commitment’

The Duke took to the stage last night to discuss his decision to support the festival.

“I am pleased to announce my patronage of the 2018 International Business Festival; an event held in Liverpool on behalf of Britain, bringing together business people from around the world,” the Duke said.

“The UK’s prosperity relies on its wealth of innovative and ambitious small and medium-sized businesses. Whenever I have had the chance to meet the people who run such enterprises, I have been struck by their ingenuity, drive and commitment. They demonstrate the best qualities of our national character.”

The International Business Festival takes place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool between 12-28 June 2018.

Preparing for GDPR: Documentation of consent

In the latest in our series on GDPR, we look at one of the key aspects of the regulation: the documentation of consent.

In order to comply with the EU General Protection Regulation, companies will be required to keep a wide range of documentation. According to the ICO, the following bad and good examples provide an indication of the level of documentation of consent you will be required to maintain:

BAD: “You keep the time and date of consent linked to an IP address with a web link to your current data-capture form and privacy policy”

GOOD: “You keep records that include an ID and the data submitted online together with a timestamp. You also keep a copy of the version of the data-capture form and any other relevant documents in use at that date”

On a recent webinar, The DMA said that ‘relevant documents in use’ could, for example, refer to a telephone call script. As a lead generation company that manually qualifies leads via telephone calls, this is highly applicable to the way we work. Plus, as we introduce a more omni-channel approach to consumer communication, this would then extend to transcripts of online communications using channels such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc.

Consent documentation in lead generation

For some companies, this documentation of consent is potentially a high bar to meet. Depending on their technical infrastructure, they may be relying on a third party hosting/website company to implement the means to capture the correct timestamps, etc. at the point of data collection for example.

As a mature player in the industry, this is a low bar for TLA. All of our website assets are built and managed in-house, and enquiries are recorded in secure databases. This means that we fully in control of how we record this information, including text and policies that were seen, and the user’s choices. Where consent is gained in a telephone call, we use robust call recording technology, and our QA team are constantly checking for quality and compliance.

We are currently building a compliance portal where partners will be able to access complete and transparent audit trail information, showing the entire customer journey through our processes as well as providing access to call recordings.

Other documentation solutions

For a straightforward web-based data capture form, simple software solutions have entered the market, but these are not without limitations: for example, something that takes a screenshot of the enquiry form at the point of submission creates technical and storage overheads, and ultimately leads to non-database storage of data, which in itself creates risk. This approach also only covers a small part of the consent process in a more complex user journey.

With the progression of technology and changes in consumer habits, we are embracing new ways to communicate with our consumers. Many prefer an interactive enquiry rather than fixed, form-based approach and we are currently trialling our latest chatbot technology that engages with consumers through conversation in order to generate enquiries. Again, because these are built in-house, and feed directly into our own systems, we can obtain and record consent in these systems in a way which third-party software solutions could not.

Keep an eye out for more details of some of our latest tech innovations, as well as GDPR-related articles, via the News & Views.

Bill Lawrenson, business intelligence manager, The Lead Agency

New starters join TLA’s London team

Following our recent growth in Liverpool, we’re delighted to announce two new arrivals in our London office.

TLA London
Frankie (left) and Irina (right) join the team.

Frankie Sartori has joined the business as head of sales for our higher education business The Study Network.

She joins from global education media provider TES, where she managed media agency partnerships. Her remit at The Study Network will be to build relationships with universities, other higher education providers and publishing partners.

Our CEO Anton Hanley said: “Frankie is an important addition to The Study Network team. Her experience and contacts will be a great asset as we look to grow the brand and forge new partnerships within the industry.”

Joining Frankie in London is account manager Irina Ashakhanova, who joins us straight off the back of graduating her English Literature degree from Bristol University.

Irina will be working on the automotive team, helping to manage relationships with car manufacturers and their agency partners.

We are recruiting for a number of digital jobs in London as well as our head office in Liverpool. Check out our latest vacancies.

TLA secures FCA authorisation

We believe doing right by our clients and consumers, which is why we took the decision to pursue and have since achieved our FCA authorisation.

Traditionally as a business, we have focused our conversations with customers on the product. For example, in automotive, we talk about their vehicle of interest. But increasingly often, a customer’s starting point is what they can afford, and how they are going to purchase.

Although our role is often that of lead generator on these campaigns, being FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorised gives us more flexibility on what we can speak to customers about, and allows us to gather more relevant information. Gathering more information in turn allows us to better qualify the customer, and ultimately means we create higher quality opportunities for our clients find their next customers.

In addition, we can broaden the types of campaigns we can take on. The QA framework we have in place means that we are set up well to ensure compliance with the regulatory framework of the FCA.

Highly professional

To assist us with the process of seeking FCA authorisation, we engaged Peak Consultants, a specialist in helping companies seek FCA authorisation.

“It was a pleasure working with The Lead Agency during the application process,” commented Peak director Mark Tumblety. “Their approach was highly professional and the senior management team demonstrated an eagerness to get things right and clearly wanted to enhance their customer proposition.”

Many companies see the process and ongoing regulation of FCA status as a ‘tick-box’ exercise, but we are working to embed principles such as Treating Customers Fairly into the very fabric of our business.

Preparing for GDPR: What can companies learn from the Equifax data breach?

Following our recent post about GDPR and the UK’s Data Protection Bill and in a continued effort to help companies prepare for the new legislation, we’ve turned our attention to a major data story from the US.

Following on from Yahoo’s one-billion record loss, and the hacking of 200m US voter records, data company Equifax has now acknowledged the loss of 143m consumer records.

The loss included data that could be very valuable to criminals who want to steal people’s identities, such as addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers. And to add insult to injury, Equifax is a data company that offers an identity theft product as part of its portfolio.

So, other than improving and testing data security, what lessons can companies learn from the breach?

Lessons to be learned

The first point is one of basic PR. The full details are not known yet, but it appears that the breach was discovered on 29 July. Six weeks before it was announced it to the public.

Once the public was made aware, consumers were told to call a hotline number or directed to a website for information. People who tried the hotline complained that they waited a long time to get through, and were then told to visit the website. The website presented an offer of free signup to a year’s identity theft protection.

This offer could seemingly mitigate some of the risks of the data breach itself. But legal experts sounded a note of caution when it was discovered that the T&Cs of the sign-up prevent the consumer from suing Equifax. This has been seen as by some as a cynical manoeuvre to mitigate Equifax’s own losses. By Friday, Equifax stock had lost 14% if its value.

GDPR and data breaches

One of the biggest impacts of GDPR is the reporting of data breaches. We don’t know when Equifax reported this breach to US authorities. But, under GDPR, a breach that is ‘likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals’ – including financial loss or loss of confidentiality – must be reported to the ICO within 72 hours. If the data breach poses a ‘high risk’ to the rights of individuals, those concerned must be informed directly.

Failure to notify a breach can result in a fine of 10 million Euros, or 2% of turnover.

How to prepare

Once companies have taken steps to protect their data, what can they do to prepare for a data breach?

The first thing is to identify breaches: ensure that staff know what a breach is, and create a culture where people aren’t afraid to report something that looks like one.

Once the breach is identified, having a plan to deal with it is as imperative as any other part of a disaster recovery plan. Ideally, the procedures to be put in place should be brief, easily accessible, and include templates for statements to the media.

In summary: take all steps to prevent breaches; identify them as soon as possible if they do occur; and have a plan in place to deal with them.

Bill Lawrenson, business intelligence manager, The Lead Agency

Five new arrivals for the TLA development team

We have welcomed five new additions to the TLA development team.

Stephen Donaghy (technical team lead), Lehasa Moloi and Geraint Taylor (both senior developers), Joshua Duxbury (developer) and James Van Den Houdt (junior developer) have arrived to strengthen our programming department.

Stephen has made the move from Amaze, Lehasa from GB Group and Geraint from Redrow Homes. Meanwhile, Joshua has joined us rom Scan Computers and James has made the switch from Carfinance247.

developer jobs Liverpool
New teammates (From left to right): James, Lehasa, Geraint, Stephen and Joshua.
Identifying the right people

“We’ve been working hard to identify and recruit the right people to help us take the business forward and believe we’ve made five exceptional additions to our development team,” said Ed Clark, our chief technology officer.

“The experience they have earned at respected digital agencies, specialist software companies and in-house development teams will help us to enhance our proprietary platforms and websites as well as explore new technologies to create opportunities for consumers and companies to connect.”

We’re hiring for a number of digital and tech positions across the business. Check out our latest vacancies.

TLA CEO nominated for top entrepreneur award

We are excited to announce that our CEO Anton Hanley has been nominated for the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

The awards exist to acknowledge the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain. It features multiple categories that are split across five cities representing different parts of the country.

Anton has been shortlisted in the Scale-up Entrepreneur of the Year category for Manchester (North West) which focuses on entrepreneurs that have led significant growth for their company.

Anton Hanley - The Lead Agency‘Strength and diversity’

Creator of the Awards, Francesca James, said: “We have been inundated with some incredible entries this year, and all shortlisted applicants should be extremely proud of themselves! This year has seen a record number of entrants and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the strength and diversity of applications.”

“We cannot wait to celebrate entrepreneurship across Great Britain with them, and put a spotlight on the incredible talent within the British entrepreneur ecosystem.”

Now in its fifth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards has celebrated some amazing entrepreneurs over the years, many of whom are now household names. Past winners include David Buttress of Just Eat, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, James Watt of BrewDog and Alexander Solomou of TheLADBible Group.

‘Entrepreneurial spirit’

Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship at NatWest said: “I want to thank all of the entrepreneurs who entered this year and congratulate those who have been shortlisted, I look forward to seeing them at the regional finals.”

“It is clear that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and NatWest is thrilled to be able to support these awards to celebrate success with the businesses that are the lifeblood of the UK Economy as they start, scale and succeed.”

Team TLA take to the road for Macmillan

Around two months ago, we decided we wanted to take on a challenge to raise money for the brilliant team at Macmillan Cancer Support.

After much discussion, it was decided that one challenge wouldn’t quite cut it. Instead, we identified three endurance challenges for various members of the team to take on.

The Manchester Half Marathon and full New York marathon are still to come, but the first of our challenges – a three-day cycle from London to Liverpool – begins today.

Day one

Ready for the road

Hours and miles of training have been clocked up since the cycle was announced and the team are fit and raring to go. (You can check out more pictures on our JustGiving page, which is now up to an amazing £2,959!)

We’ll add updates to this page over the next few days. You can also check out their progress via our Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Good luck, team!

TLA cycling team
Team TLA (from left to right): Michael, Alban, Alex, Anton, Neil, Tom, Ed and Abel.

And they’re off…

TLA cycle - London

It’s been an eventful start for the team, with Alex the first man down (but thankfully and unsurprisingly back up) and a couple of early punctures. The team are making good progress though and even managed to take in Wembley along the way.

Time for a refuelling and bike swap stop for the team…



40 miles in and the team are finding it tough. Thankfully, it’s time for lunch!

And they’re back on the road…

Next stop, Banbury in Oxfordshire. Looking good, Abel!

They’ve made it!

A great but challenging day of cycling saw Team TLA clock in a whopping 151.7km / 94 miles. No wonder they’re ready for ‘refreshments’. Great effort from everyone on the team. We’re looking forward to seeing how you get on tomorrow!

Day two

Today’s journey will see the team ride from Banbury to Telford. This is probably as good a time as any to update you on our JustGiving total. We’ve raised a brilliant £3,069 for Macmillan Cancer Support! 

Thank you to everyone who’s donated. It means a lot to us and contributes to an important cause.

On the move

Neil and Michael have been capturing the early the action from the road.



After a tough 40km in the rain, the team stopped briefly for a well-earned rest and snack before taking on another steep climb. Conditions aren’t great and there are reports of saddle soreness(!) but our team have got what it takes.

Taking its toll

Michael lets us in on the impact of life on the road…

“One and a half days in and some of us are dealing with the ride better than others.”


The kindness of strangers


Team TLA have reached Catshill in Bromsgrove, where Mark and Sharon from Duncombe’s Butchers have kindly made a £20 donation to our cause. Thank you so much, both. Rumours that Michael (pictured with Mark) was in there looking for a pie have yet to be confirmed.

Are we there yet?


After a great day’s cycling, the team are enjoying one final break before a 20km stretch to reach Telford. Think about the refreshments, guys!

Day three

Here are the highlights from a third day on the road for Team TLA.



They made it!


  • 240.6 miles;
  • 17 hours, 20 mins and 24 seconds of moving time;
  • 9005ft of climbing;
  • 2 flat tyres;
  • 192 litres of water;
  • 1,365 bananas; and
  • 7,256 flapjacks

…Team TLA rode into Liverpool along the waterfront and completed their journey at the iconic Liver Building.


A big well done and congratulations to our riders – Alex, Neil, Anton, Alban, Tom, Michael, Ed and Abel – and a special thank you to their support duo, Emma and Jo.

Our team found it tough but a lot of fun and hugely rewarding. In the words of Abel, “It was an unforgettable experience.”

Next up, Manchester…

The cycle was the first of three endurance challenges for Team TLA. Next up is the Manchester Half Marathon, which takes place on the 15 October.

Thanks to our riders, we’re well on our way to achieving our target of £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. If you’d like to donate, please head on over to our JustGiving page.

Whatever you can give will be gratefully received by us all. Thank you.

Life in tech – Kristian Brown, email marketing manager

Considering a career digital marketing? Our email marketing manager Kristian Brown discusses his role in our Life in Tech series.

What was your route into the industry?

Economics and Business Studies Degree at university followed by voluntary work and then full-time work in a range of marketing positions.

Kristian Brown - The Lead Agency

What do you day-to-day at TLA?

My role involves a mix of reporting, analysis, budget management, working with external suppliers and some more creative tasks like email template building and Photoshop work. It’s also a must that I keep up to date with current and future trends in the email marketing industry, and see how they can be adopted within The Lead Agency campaigns. Compliance and email suppression is also important, along with responding to customer queries.

My job is much more than sending emails. Emails require a lot of data management, building multiple creatives to test to different segments, copywriting, analysis and reporting. I’m constantly striving the make the emails perform as best as possible – testing copy, calls to action, layouts, colours and much more. Then there are the service emails to work on and I also get involved with the landing and thanks pages.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I’m proud of every email I design! But for me, working in email, it’s the little wins when you test campaigns. Finding what works for your audience and extracting the best possible performance you can from the email, one test at a time.

What change would you like to see in your profession?

Playable videos within email, common email coding concepts, common platform and device support.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Rapha emails always inspire. Definitely the best designed emails out there.

What are you passionate about?

Simplicity. Don’t over complicate emails. Keep them clear, simple, and they will do the hard work for you.

What’s your favourite thing about working at TLA?

My team – go digital marketing! We work really well together, share the same values and goals.

For more on joining the digital marketing team, take a look at our current vacancies.