18 months ago ADLIB moved offices, refreshed the brand and expanded the team. That was us settled and focussed for the next few years. Or so we thought.
18 months on and we stand here today with a newly formed ‘change and digital transformation’ ADLIB team, we’re increasingly receiving calls from outside of the South West asking for help, so are also expanding our ADLIB service offering geographically. In addition, less than a year ago, we launched our sister company enable, a specialist sales recruitment business that’s taking the world by storm.
The foundation of this success is twofold. First up we’ve worked hard to develop our employer profile, the result of which has been a stream of seriously good potential employees and recruiters knocking on our door that want out of the industry norm. Secondly we got ahead of the game identifying where growth opportunities sat, so when the right people came along we are ready to move fast.
The result of which means, we’re going to be moving offices again at the end of the year. Thankfully it’s only a corridor away and a space that is large enough to house both, ADLIB and enable, with the capacity to grow out both teams at pace.
In theory we should be good then for the next five years. That said, never say never….
Why have a dedicated change and transformation team?
ADLIB started out servicing the creative and marketing industries 16 years ago. Digital was a long way from where it is today. SEO, PPC, social, programmatic, UX for example were things of the future (or at least in their infancy). People didn’t buy much online, there was no such thing as an iPhone and mobile marketing was basically SMS.
Back then two out of three ADLIB people had worked within marketing and digital agencies (coupled with a good stint in recruitment beforehand) so we were well positioned to develop our proposition and get our heads around what clients were calling for as emerging skill sets became more and more apparent. To this day we’ve been genuinely interested and fascinated about the sectors we operate in – that bit makes the world of difference to be successful in ADLIB and for ADLIB to be successful in the market place.
Fast forward to July 2017 and ADLIB’s offering has continued to evolve in line with the demand for specialist skills – for example those working within eCommerce, user experience, interface design, digital marketing and technology – Importantly, without losing focus on the wider marketing and creative roots that help build us.
And that’s where our digital transformation and change proposition comes in. Over recent years, we have increasingly placed candidates stemming from digital marketing, creative and technology orientated backgrounds in to clients with a need for digital transformation and change. We’ve seen these candidates make the move due to their understanding of digital technologies and platforms, their experience and ability to collaborate and work with designers, experience teams, analysts, developers etc. and the underlying desire to play a role in the development of a digital product or service with purpose.
How we’ll deliver it
To help achieve our ambitions and meet market demand we’re delighted to welcome Alex Cosgrove into the ADLIB team, who will be tasked with heading up the growth of our change and digital transformation team. We’re a collaborative bunch and given the natural exchange of candidate skill sets between our teams, we’ve never been better placed to attract and deliver the goods. From high growth scale ups through to global businesses.
In addition to Alex and to support our growth, we’re also delighted to welcome Ryan Barnes who joins our user experience recruitment team and Hannah Biggs, who expands our technology offering across the South West. Both will be working with our existing teams and Alex.
Growth is great (If you get it right)
Growth is great; it’s also not easy to get right and we don’t just mean making the figures stack up. Our impending move will mean integrating two companies into one space, the outcome being improved efficiencies, better communication channels and enable (no pun intended) even more opportunity. What was 20 or so people is going to be close to 30 in a few short months. Culturally, we have to engage each and every one of the team and champion how we’ll collectively make this a success, embracing the change and opportunity.
This wasn’t on the agenda a few months ago, now it’s a reality.
You might have heard already that it’s all systems grow here at ADLIB. If you’re a small business owner, growth is also a hot topic for you at all times for certain.
‘Getting more customers’ (and more of the right type of customers) is constantly on your mind, also generally growing your business quickly. We’d like to share some pieces of wisdom from Cheryl Crichton that could help you with this.
Cheryl on the challenge of how to do it without wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work, or when you don’t have a budget the size of a small planet:
Where to start
The things I most commonly hear from small business owners is ‘How much will it cost and where do I start?’.
By acknowledging that there’s even a starting point in the first place is half the battle and you’re probably doing lots and lots of things to get your business growing already: creating fantastic products and services, designing great brands and employing awesome people.
Of course, this is probably costing you time and money already. The real question is, how do you market all that on a less than gigantic budget?
Well, being accredited at Watertight Marketing, I believe you can put in place lots of ‘baseline’ and affordable (and sometimes free) activity that will help attract customers and influence their decision to buy from you. In other words, increase your customer numbers.
Four starter steps to affordable and doable marketing
Step 1 – Evaluate: Review how your current marketing is already supporting the customer’s decision making. You can do this by looking at the questions below and giving yourself a score depending on how well you’re doing for each of them. These questions are also on my website.
Step 2 – Prioritise: Once you’ve identified where you need to plug in some marketing, prioritise your enabling projects. An enabling project could be any project that knocks out any of your leaks like a design, digital or data project. On that note, I would also strongly recommend starting at the bottom of your customer’s journey (i.e. what you need to do to support customer loyalty first). This is a technique strongly advocated by Watertight Marketing.
Step 3 – Shop around: Not everyone can afford Saatchi and Saatchi to help get the message out there. I would recommend investing a bit of time talking to a variety of specialist (freelance or otherwise) and in the right order.
By that I mean don’t talk to a web developer about your shiny new website before you’ve worked out your marketing strategy. Your website needs to support your strategy not inform it. I see this quite a lot – people doing things the wrong way around and being left with a website that, while looking fantastic, does not support the sales cycle. Make sure that’s not you, otherwise you may end up doing it again.
There’s also some great ‘skills swapping’ schemes out there, so maybe you could swap what you do for some marketing? Food for thought.
Step 4 – Get your brief right: This is one of the simplest ways to ensure you don’t waste money – if you don’t say what you want, you won’t like what you get. Also, just because you ‘want’ something in your marketing plan, be prepared for a marketing professional to challenge you on that. You might in fact need something entirely different.
There’s a free download checklist at Watertight Marketing here on how to write a marketing brief. Please help yourself.
The questions to ask yourself
So, on to those questions*. See if you can answer yes or no to the questions below. Score yourself from 0-10 on how well you think you’re doing these things (or not). You’ll quickly see where there might be ‘leaks’ in your marketing which in turn may give you a list of those that are in need of addressing in a priority order:
- Do you have consistent customer communications that proactively address any service needs that a customer may have, and that keeps your business in their minds?
- Do you have a structured approach to communication with your new customers as they settle into a relationship with you which demonstrates that your service is consistent with the expectations they had?
- Does your visual and written style have a personal touch that’s friendly and allows people to make an emotional connection with your business?
- Does your business offer a coherent set of products that lead helpfully from one to the next, with the inclusion of a stepping stone that allows people to understand what it’s like to be a customer before they are one?
- Is there a clear way of educating, or helping your buyer educate, anyone who could veto the purchase decision?
- Are you systematic about signposting some sort of proof against every promise or claim that you make?
- Do you have a steady stream of relevant information that invites people to find out more?
But it’s not all sweetness and light
This type of approach to business growth can’t be done quickly – sometimes you just have to slow down to speed up. I’ve seen marketing transformations that start with this process (the questions) take up to two years. But with brilliant results, so well worth the wait.
However, if you really do want fast, you need money, and lots of it, but beware of the pitfalls:
- Buy quick buy twice – if you rush the brief, you may not get what you expect.
- Buy cheap buy twice – if you skimp on expertise, use the wrong type of expertise (or worse attempt it yourself), you may also end up paying twice. Make sure you shop around and be mindful of ‘specialist’. If you want a marketing strategy and speak to a PR specialists, all you will get is a PR strategy. Don’t get me wrong – there’s room for PR in all marketing plans, just remember it’s one line of your marketing plan, not the whole deal.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew – My ultimate advice is don’t run before you can walk and spend wisely – use the best people you can afford. In other words, use a pro because an amateur could cost you double (see my favourite quote from oil rig fire fighter Red Adair – ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur’.).
Try not to feel overwhelmed by the marketing mountain on the horizon. By tackling your priorities in the right order, and with a bug dollop of common sense, calm can be instated. I promise.
About Cheryl Crichton: With extensive experience in branding, design and advertising, Cheryl helps growing businesses stop wasting money on marketing. She’s always looking forward to her next challenge and sees her role as simply looking after clients and giving them good marketing advice. She is a Chartered Marketer and accredited to work with the framework, tools and techniques of the award-winning small business marketing book Watertight Marketing by Bristol author Bryony Thomas. * I have 6 more questions that feed into this exploratory stage of marketing planning. If you’d like to know more about the others, please feel free to ask.
Matt has worked in content creating environments of all shapes and sizes including digital service and experience departments, brand editorial, journalism, video, and advertising.
Now, Matt, in an attempt to capture some of the wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are “5 stand-out things” you’ve learned, while working within ‘Content’.
- Unless you’re Pixar or Aardman or something, small teams produce better creative work than big departments. I can get better work from, say, a team of 3 or 4 with rounded skills than I can from a broader department of specialists. Far more often than not, the pace is better, the dynamics are better, the chemistry is better.
- Creative work takes on a life of its own when it’s out in the world. It’s not yours any more. (Don’t let your bottom lip wobble like that). It gets interpreted, re-contextualised, mashed up and cut adrift. Plan all you want for how you would like it to be, but it almost certainly won’t pan out as you thought. But that’s OK.
- Done is better than perfect. Creatives and content people agonise over the fine details before they release their babies into the wild. But course correction is a valuable skill in itself, arguably even more valuable in this digital world. Keep moving, keep creating, keep going. Don’t get paralysed by a flawed pitch for perfection.
- You should see live performance and theatre as part of your job. Magic can happen in those times. Letting your ideas breathe by exploring them in conversation, riffing in pitches, giving pretend Ted talks in the mirror, whatever works. Giving them air can give you the momentum or angle you need to make your idea truly memorable and often, quite frankly, understand it properly yourself.
- The ability to spot a brilliant idea is at least as valuable as the ability to generate great ideas yourself. You have to be constantly hyper alert to the world around you. You’re both a sponge and a spike. Keep a dream-catcher handy and your eyes, ears and tongue peeled.
Thank You Matt.