Earlier this week, on Tuesday evening, we invited clients and partners to join us and celebrate 10 years in business. A few drinks at local restaurant Yia Yia’s, just down the road from our office in Reigate. With life becoming so hectic, and client diaries full, we rarely get the opportunity to socialise face to face with the people we work with nowadays. Something I took for granted in my younger years working for big corporates.
The evening celebration was our way of thanking all those who have supported us and grown with us on this ten year journey. Our small marketing consultancy has survived some rather testing times, and it is partly down to all the amazing people we work with day to day, who have made it all possible. The other part is an unwavering faith in God. I say unwavering with some caution, as there have been many times over these past few years when I have seriously questioned the decision to say goodbye to the guaranteed monthly pay packet!
A leap of faith
Having remained on the fence for most of my life with regards to religion, I came to faith just over ten years ago, when I personally encountered what I now understand to be the Holy Spirit. Shortly after this experience, an idea came to mind - I can only describe it like a seed being planted, to venture out on my own and set up a business. My children were aged just 2 and 4 at the time, so it seemed like a sensible solution to return to work part-time as a freelance marketing manager, to serve start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.
Having spent most of my career in the world of big brands and large corporates, setting up a new business and going it alone felt like a daunting task. I Googled how to do the normal day to day things, like registering the company and learning all the HMRC regulations, and then prayed about all the next steps. I don’t say that flippantly, I regularly pray about everything, including prayers for the team and for all of our clients and partners. Prayer has brought us through some very challenging times, and it’s been at the heart of the business since the very beginning. As I have grown in my faith, I have leaned on the amazing support of Christian business networks, the International Christian Chamber of Commerce and Kingdom Business Pioneers as well as supportive friends.
Growing the team
After three years of working with three different clients one day per week, it felt like the right time to start to grow the business. I met Beccy through a friend from church and it was wonderful to finally have some good company in the office. A fresh perspective on client work and a new set of skills. It was shortly after this the concept of Your Marketing Team was birthed. The idea that instead of simply contracting the services of one part-time marketing manager, a small business could benefit from a whole team of marketing professionals with a variety of skill sets. To build a team around our client’s needs, we could work alongside their existing partners or lean on other specialised freelancers to create a service bespoke to them. We changed our name to Your Marketing Team at the beginning of 2022 and refreshed our brand.
I couldn’t get through a blog about reflecting on the last ten years without mentioning Covid. I recall sitting in our newly painted office in disbelief. On the day lockdown was announced, I called every client only to discover that all bar one of them wanted to stop their regular retained work with us. Working with many small family run businesses, during a very uncertain time, it was difficult to persuade them otherwise. I didn’t try. We all needed to do what we could to survive. We switched to focusing on ad hoc project work and attempted to juggle home schooling (which mainly involved lego building and playing in the garden) with meeting clients needs.
At the beginning of 2020, I wrote a blog about having 2020 vision with a positive outlook on the year ahead. We had built a business with a team of 9 people and just taken the brave decision to move from a small, cramped office into a much larger one next door in anticipation of high growth for the year ahead. In February, I had spent my weekends and encouraged both the team and personal friends to help paint the new office in our bright pink brand colour. An office we then didn’t use for 3 months! It was during this period, I needed to make some tough financial choices to reduce the size of the team and scale down. Face to face contact with each other and clients is important in our line of work, for ideas and creativity, so I took the decision to hold onto the office. Fortunately, because we had moved into the larger space, we were able to return quickly with desks over 2 metres apart.
Never a dull moment
Despite all the ups and down of running the business, one of the things I love about the job is the wide variety of clients we have had over the years, from ground penetration radar surveying services to a wedding dress shop. The types of businesses we support are varied yet the underlying principles of marketing remain the same. Over the years, we have managed to produce 99 different blogs so far about plumbing and heating services, which is quite an achievement!
Clients come with a wide range of surprising challenges too. I recall sitting in the office of a new potential client - an adult themed shop. I wrote down in my notepad that spank pads were the best-selling product, whilst seriously considering if it would be morally acceptable to ask Charlie, our 17 year apprentice, to conduct an SEO analysis of the website. It caused me some considerable stress. Fortunately, they decided not to go ahead with the contract and it was hard lesson in simply learning to say “No”!
Developing new names and brands for businesses are often our favourite projects, although at the time, it doesn’t always feel so easy. A few years back, we were tasked to come up with a new name for an international food distribution company, without using the words global, international or distribution or treading on any competitors’ toes with the selected colour or iconography. A task that involved the whole team at the time, and we were grateful to have each other to bounce ideas off. It has been a pleasure see the Circle Foods brand take shape and watch them grow over recent years.
The next season
Having recovered from the lockdown years, we have entered into another growth phase, with exciting times ahead. Our customer base continues to expand and it is lovely to work with such a varied range of great clients. Office life seems to take on a different theme each day from the small fun details of working out where to hide illustrated mice on a children’s Christmas retail trail to putting together a budgeted 12-month strategic marketing plan for a major UK national landmark. I am looking forward to seeing how the next 10 years unfold and we are all very grateful to everyone who has worked with us and supported us on the journey so far.
‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus..’
Philippians 4.6-7 NLT