2021 has been a mad year so far! With the growth of existing and new team members, new services and new clients. Join James, Richard and Chelsea as we discuss how we’re transitioning as an agency to meet increasing demand.
Podcast Agency Growth
In this episode, we’re gonna be talking about agency growth in the last year.
Today, I’m with James and Richie. And we’re going to be having a look back over the last year and how we’ve grown as an agency since the start of the pandemic. Hi, James.
Hi, how are you?
Good. Thank you. How you doing?
Good. Thank you. It’s been about three months since I’ve done a podcast. So how to practice I’m in the wrong chair as well. So Chelsea just had to wake you up. He nodded off for a second.
A little bit. Richard. Richard, you did? When was the last one you did?
I don’t know. While ago, we like to bother to know a little bit more, don’t we and get everyone else involved, which is great. Yeah, definitely
especially seen as a becoming experts as well in different areas that you guys might not be down with the kids and
never too old now. You did a podcast first thing in the morning, we normally need about seven or eight coffees before we can even talk especially me, I think I’m halfway there now.
It’s good, though the team and I are getting more involved doing these. I think it’s what we wanted originally, when we launched the podcast series or the net, which we get more of the we’re the group involved in talking about learning specialist subjects. So I think yeah, it has been weird. Now, were you in charge and sitting in that in the controlling chat saying we’re just being invited in as a win win? Yeah,
we’re just guests on our own podcast. And as we grow subjects of today’s podcast, obviously, but as we grow as well, there’s more and more people with more and more expertise. So
yeah, definitely, I think, definitely with how we’re trying to strategically recruit as well into the business with people and expanding the skill set of as
lots of collective knowledge to share.
So not too much crossover, get people that are like ridiculously passionate about the things that they can become.
Well, there’s been there’s been, like the growth of four already. Yeah, some days. So I
think we just want to have a look back really over, I guess, the last year or so, since the pandemic and some of the changing tides and what’s going on in that external world that has actually enabled us to grow as well and how I guess we’ve been able to help businesses to kind of go into that digital transition. And then as a result, capitalise on that and grow our team as well to Yeah, the
demand has definitely been there, the amount of inbound opportunities at the minute real good opportunities is exciting. And yeah, we need the team to make sure we can get that work out the door.
Yeah, definitely. And I think so looking back then. So last year, I joined in July last year. So
this week, last year, wasn’t it according to the calendar.
Next, already come up to me and told me that I’ve been here a year on Wednesday.
Because he wants to Domino’s pizza or something to celebrate? Probably, it was an anniversary Nick does.
But yeah, read my thinking then since obviously, I’ve been here. And we saw the growth through bringing a new role that was completely new to you guys on board as well, that you’d never had before. And then that transitioned, I guess, into the new services that we’ve created since and Rebecca coming in on board to help deliver those services, and then collaborating with a client as well on those services to which creates an opportunity for somebody else. And then the, the newest role is Tiago who started as a couple of weeks ago, who’s now our apprentice. And
it’s crazy. Really, I mean, I think, you know, last well, 2020 March, everyone kind of assumed there’s gonna be some big disaster. And obviously, like every other business, we went into full disaster planning, and especially James, yeah, mice, my standard was
like zombies, zombie apocalypse, you’re planning for the doors,
theory plan for the worst. And actually, you know, planning for the worst, but is in a really good position, actually, for coming through it in a really strong way. And yeah, I don’t think any of us expected that to you know, in July 2021, we’d be where we are now, like you say, with you coming on board, leading a new set of services has been quite different for us. And we have, it sort of opened up the scope of our inbound leads a bit more. So whereas before we potentially not take on business, because we felt like we couldn’t deliver it in house very well. Now, we can actually do that business with your internal team, which gives us a stronger balance sheet, strong, better profitability, and also more control over those sort of client delivery side of things. And like I said, We’re the new people that have joined Yeah, Rebecca and your team. She’s been a massive asset. I think we all agree. And adding to this sort of new silo relationship where we’re mentoring a member of staff that’s really only working on one client account. That’s been quite an interesting different, yeah, very different roles and for the client themselves, and I think your early days in terms of how that’s going to work out but I think it’s a different if that works out well, and we can create a model. It’s something we can replicate for other clients in the future. Yeah. And like they Yeah, our recent new new starter is it Tiago who’s probably our first apprentice for a while. Yeah, we’ve we’ve had apprentices in the past. In fact, Sam, who works in our development team, he started as an apprentice with us about three years ago, I remember now, we’ve had an apprentice prior to that as well. So we are quite experienced at dealing with sort of the young people mentoring side of things, and Tiago seems to have picked up his job very quickly, actually. And, yeah, we’re looking forward to him supporting the development team in sort of the more technical servery tasks that they maybe don’t like doing very much. And they’d rather just focus on building websites.
Yeah, it’s nice to see the team grow not only the agency growth, through through the previous year, nobody thought we’d grow. We thought we just have to dig in deep and work hard and, and get through this. It’s very unique year we’ve had but yeah, with the growth has been fantastic. I’m looking forward to future growth, and just internal growth as well, the individuals that we’ve got, like John and Nick, for example, they’ve really stepped into them senior positions we needed them to do. John becoming creative director, Nick, senior developer, and it just made sense. They’ve been here a long time. They’re great with the team. And yeah, I think internal growth as well as allowed for us to start focusing on maybe different job roles in the future as well,
I think, I think is always interesting as well, you have that thing where you have too many chiefs and a lot of small businesses. And I think it’s a conscious effort not to get into that as well. So I think, yeah, we’re aware that if you know, more than half the team, or let’s say, manager positions, and really at some point who does the work, and I think, you know, what we think you know, up to a certain number of staff, you can’t really put those levels of people in. And I think we’re just now starting to tip that point where we’ve got enough people that you start to create some element of that kind of hierarchy in the business in terms of who’s in charge of what is there somebody that’s maybe responsible for a certain service area, too, like John taking on the role of creative director, makes him now in charge of the creative output from the studio. And he’s essentially the the check and balance to make sure that things go out. Looking right. And likewise, Nick, from a sort of senior development point of view, is he now sort of taken on that role of, you know, almost controlling how we do things, from a technical point of view, how we build websites, what’s the quality of that, given that sort of more senior technical advice, roles and more junior members?
Carl’s gonna say is pass it on what knowledge now he spent a lot more time passing that down the team, and they’re working collaboratively. And we’ve got younger members of the team as well. So
yeah, I mean, age is always a thing in our industry, I think, you know, we, where we are physically located as well never really lends itself to us finding stuff, recruitment easy. And I think, you know, having will to, say take on younger, more inexperienced staff and have people that have been here a long, longer time to sort of teach them, I think, you know, for us has been a model that’s worked quite well, in the fact that every apprentice that we’ve had before really stayed with us for a number of years after that, so that, you know, sort of really born out the point of having the apprentice, because they’ve always had a job, but there’s afterwards. And I think you’re having people like John and Nick, to lean on and ask questions of and, you know, they’ve been doing the job long enough, they can say, Oh, I did that. Yeah, I’ve done this before. This is how I got around this problem. And and that, that works really well for teaching those people and the particular skill set or the the problem solving element of it, that they need to learn really on the job.
Yeah, definitely. And I think one thing that I’ve noticed as well, just within the year that I’ve been here, I think, since Nick becoming more senior within the team, he’s working really closely with Mike now and making sure that those internal processes and we’re using Gantt charts, I think, for the first time ever, in terms of like the whole website designed for you to development stage and also started to plan in where like, actually, if people do want ongoing marketing support, when can we do it? It’s all starting to come together in a really, really streamlined, well together. Yeah, so it’s not like we’ve got these individualised silos of teams like the design team, the development team in the marketing team, we actively work really, really hard to ensure that it all marries up. Because ultimately, every single product like website that goes out of the door, it has to it has to be pressure tested against all three of the metrics.
Yeah, completely, I think, yeah, as you get bigger, like you say, you run the risk of running into these sort of siloed situations where you either end up pocketing teams together to have sort of one person for each discipline in a team that deals with a particular client, or you end up just to the developers not talking to the designers, and there would be no bridge there. But I think we’re just at that sort of nice size at the moment where everyone still gets on and knows each other and yeah, they can they can work as a team before we get to that point where maybe another five to 10 more members of staff then you suddenly adjust that Bibigo Then it becomes more difficult when
you’re shifting people around the building into different rooms, which is kind of something, we’ve got a huge build in plenty of space. But we want to keep everybody together. So it’s causing quite an issue. Everyone works really well. In the large studio, we’ve got bought at the minute where yeah, we’re at capacity. So we know we never thought we’d come come to this soon, really, but yeah,
it is crazy. Having you know, actually having a lot of space doesn’t mean you got a lot of usable space. And I think that’s the, and I say, you have to think about very carefully where you put people because yeah, you could put everybody in their own room, but it doesn’t really make a good working environment. And so you know, we’re currently looking at how we re purpose rooms in the building to suit them the current needs of the business rather than maybe what they were in 2015, when we first moved into this building. And I think, yeah, that that’s a very active conversation at the moment that we’re trying to get done before the end of 2021, to make sure that we’ve sort of got ourselves in that place where if we add more members of, for example, your team Chelsea, you guys have got somewhere to go, that you can work together rather than be spread out across the entire building, which doesn’t lend itself very well to you at all. I don’t think,
no, definitely not. But I think as well, having that space is quite good. I think the changing nature of the office now is something obviously that’s quite topical about the pandemic. And then thinking about team group as well. We’ve recently, well, from the pandemic, we’ve switched to that flexible working work anywhere work anytime thing. And having these rooms like the podcast studio in the boardroom is like multifunctional rooms now where we can work anywhere at any time lends itself to those tasks that are more deep focused tasks where you don’t want to actually be sat in a massive room of everybody.
Everybody’s hot desking a little bit more now or No, yeah, definitely.
And I think because we have that flexibility is kind of what keeps us agile, and enables us to grow instead of being kind of in this life fixed mindset that we have to like, come in, like be here at nine o’clock
station and work away. Yeah, it kind of
takes away like the kind of task on the nature of it and gives people that, I guess that kind of accountability and that ownership, which is I think as we recruit more into the team, the kind of personality traits and stuff now that we want, we want people that they can take ownership, they’re self starters, and they’ve got the support they’re like, and the support that you guys have given me since I’ve started has been great. And I think we can all agree that I’ve probably come on like leaps and bounds within the year that I’ve been here. But I think accountability and responsibility are traits, I think that we need to start probably recruiting into the team a bit more. So we can have people that don’t feel like they need to come up the chain and like get everything signed off, they’ve actually got that like confidence in themselves to make those decisions that can do the best for our clients. Like with Rebecca. She’ll come team with ideas sometimes and like they’re absolutely spot on and having to wait for me to be around, kind of it slows down that process of actually enabling that to get done for the client. So it’s something that I think we need to probably work on a little bit so we can keep growing at such a good rate.
No, you’re right. I think yeah. I’ve always said to you from the day you started, you know, if you want to do it, just do it. And I know it’s always something that I think when you first started you sort of struggle a little bit with but now and
everybody’s used to be micromanage. Yeah, they just work now we’re a little bit more flexible, and everybody trusts each other to take responsibility. It works.
Yeah, completely. And again, it’s not for everyone, is it? You know, I think some people really thrive on having your very controlled lists of can you do this now then can you do the next job? And other people like the independence of do your things? Right, we trust you. We employed you for a reason, etc? And I think yeah, it’s just finding that balance with the members of staff as we as we growing I think, yeah, when we recruiting now, we’re now looking out for people that are fitting the way that we currently work, let’s say and, you know, and sort of all ties together, really we want the people that are going to deliver for our clients, but also fit in with the culture with the way we work in the office now. Yeah, and all that kind of stuff. But say we’re looking in the right direction, I think, you know, it’s been an interesting year, really, in terms of the recruitment and the Changing Faces within the business. I think, you know, certainly seem to have a have lowered the average age of the staff, especially recently with Tiago joining, he’s only 17 feel really old. But you know, that’s a good thing. Yeah, it keeps everyone on the toes. And it means that, you know, the younger people who have got ideas and ambition, they learn more, they take advantage of the things that we try and offer them in terms of trying to level their skills up. And then hopefully then that all filters through to what we can deliver to our clients, which is more current up to date knowledge and the skills that are suitable for 2021, not 2019, which are completely different. So yeah, definitely,
I think. So. I’m the oldest person you’re actually recruited and I only turn 25 in February. So Just to put that into context, and Rebecca is, I want to say 2324. So not too much younger than me. And then, yeah, Tiago is not even 18 yet. So we’re planning work nights are a little bit tricky. But I think, especially given that the nature of, I guess, the changing landscape with marketing, I’ve worked really, really hard to be able to get my knowledge base up to a level where I’m probably at the same level in terms of knowledge to these people that are kind of 1015 years older than me. But I think where we have an advantages, we’re young, we’re confident, and we’re willing to make mistakes, as long as we fix them quickly. But also, as well, in the digital world, everything changes constantly. And the only reason that we can see that we’re experts in these tools is because we are literally in them every day. And the advantage of being this young gives us the ability to kind of be those digital natives. And everything that is changed subtly, is actually it’s quite intuitive to us because we’ve coped with like these changing algorithms and changing platforms, since the age of like, 12, when we lied about our age to get a Facebook account.
I was gonna say it’s, you’ve kept up with them, you were born into them digital fast moving times. And, you know,
we’re just a bit of an old school with a bit of age where we can remember life before the internet. So it’s not the so so for us, it was like, we had to teach ourselves these kind of things from, let’s say, mid teens onwards, because it just wasn’t a thing before that. And so for us, I suppose, you know, back 1015 years ago, we were sort of in the same position. But obviously now, we’re now at that point, which probably agree, where we just feel a bit too old for some of the technology, we can talk about it, and we can talk about it, talk to clients, and then we go, yeah, we’ve got a great team that can deliver this. So go and talk to these guys.
I think I’ve noticed it because like, a lot of the workshops and stuff that I do have our clients and so I’ll be like talking to them about and I’ll be putting a lot of effort into like a kind of high level like marketing theory, making sure they get all of this, when actually what I really should probably put more effort on is like so this is how you like a post on Facebook. This
is tick tock.
This is this is how you post a status. Put your text in this box. You guys, but some client workshops have been I think I’ve grossly underestimated
that they’ve got the knowledge or Yeah, because I think it’s
that was such a learning curve to me. And
I think that’s that thing where like rather Alright, each I think we probably get that people don’t have that knowledge better than I suppose the younger people do. Yeah. So yeah, someone that 17 Probably can’t comprehend somebody. Yeah, exactly. What’s the technology? They don’t even know Robin thing before broadband? Do you mean like, Yeah, well, I was a modem. I was literally having this conversation with jargon of the day because we were talking about I was sort of showing him through optimising websites for speed. And I was trying to explain to him that the reason why it’s probably more ingrained in me than him is because I remember when the internet was running 50k modems, where you download an image, and it would gradually load on your page
14k, exactly 44 kilobyte download. If you put an image in game over, you’ve got no website.
Exactly. So I was trying to explain to them they actually if you imagine making things for things that were that bad, then whatever you do now is going to be amazingly quick. But obviously he’s never had life without fast broadband. So so he’s like, blown mind can’t comprehend that the Internet would be that slow. Yeah, yeah, actually, a lot of the practices learned 20 years ago, are incredibly relevant today, because they just accentuate how well page
load speed now, isn’t it? The amount of data really, it’s just how quick it loads? Yeah, so So fresh instal thing
completely. So So actually, it’s quite interesting to show you cross generational, let’s say, with the technology of how that actually, you know, how they see it versus how we see it. And yeah, we see now going oh, my god, that’s amazing. They just go, how it is standard. Yeah. And that’s that that’s that technology skills gap that you hear a lot about? Yeah. So the older people struggled to get over, you know, to learn new things. I think anyone over let’s say, 3040 odd, let’s say maybe, who, that’s where, where they remember a lot of time before the internet, and then they had to learn everything from scratch. Yeah. And I think that was and they’re probably the more the clients that you sort of describing where, yeah, we possibly sometimes underestimate their technical ability, sometimes technical knowledge. Sometimes they
don’t want to there’s a reason they’ve came. They’ve come to us for us to do it. Yeah, definitely. Because they don’t want to be living and breathing on social media. We don’t mean James, but that’s just not how we operate. Now. You get a little bit tired of it all. There’s so many different platforms to keep up with all the platforms, it becomes a full time job in itself.
Yeah, I think that’s where having a good model Knowledge alongside like a good kind of current affairs knowledge, I guess in terms of that space will actually help. Because if you’re going to put money into something, you almost want to know that it will actually work
to use it. So you’re not wasting money. We’ve had a lot of that way. So people advertising doing advertising themselves on social networks and just absolutely wasting money left, right and centre. Yeah. Whereas someone with knowledge can come in, save money and get better results. So it makes perfect sense.
Yeah. And I think a lot of the time as well, like, We’ve had clients that have come to us, kind of desperately, really, like they’ve got these like great businesses and these light long standing brands, and they’ve just not done anything digitally, or what they have done just hasn’t been life.
Recently haven’t many big brands that were well and truly aware of, and that digital knowledge is just an apprentice in a cupboard somewhere, trying to help them out. And, and you assume they had a big marketing department to do it. And it turns out that that’s not the case.
Yeah, no one, I think it’s something that they can often find quite daunting. And then they obviously get, they get talking to like other people, and they realise Actually, why is this marketing manager who’s half my age telling me how to like run my business? And it can be quite funny. Sometimes.
The ones still sending out catalogues for people to order from and things. Yeah, and they’ve got and they’ve got the long term relationships with customers. So the business always comes to the door. Yeah, when it comes to stepping into the unknown, that’s where they get scared. And it’s good that they’ve reached out to us to, to help them with that transition, really. And it’s working really well, especially with the clients you’ve taken on board recently there. Okay, so I’ve seen fantastic results.
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s one thing that like in terms of like, as we grow, we want to grow with our clients, and take onboard, like more work and offer work to them that we think will actually
come up with ideas. And it’s nice to have that breathing space. Now, in the past, we necessarily didn’t have that space. And now we as a team, we’re collectively coming up with and approaching clients. We’re proactive ideas, and they’re just saying, yes, it just works. Rather than a reactive approach. The client asked for something, it gets delivered. We’ve made that shift in the last year or so. I do like the proactive approach it makes you makes you feel like I don’t know, you’re coming up with ideas and that their ideas are paid for, in a way, rather than there’s no incentive there if it’s just project based work, but because we’re relationships now, these are ongoing relationships we see and chat to the clients quite often. It makes sense for us to become an integral part of our department, which is
the topic of a following podcast. So we’ll I’ll cut you off. Otherwise, you’ll end up giving away continue
about 45 minutes long. Probably audio is James membership. So no, no.
This was so yeah, we’ll cut this one here and thank you very much for listening. But if you want to get in touch with us, then you can find us on the usual channels or Hello at SEO marketing.com