By Alona Kemmett,
So, Aquamarine is turning three. We’ve been on an impressive journey; starting from outside a beach hut in Teignmouth with just me, to now - about to move into Exeter city centre offices with six staff and over 40 clients.
Its been an adventure involving different staff changes, three different office spaces in both Teignmouth and Exeter. And would I do it again? Absolutely! And have I learned from it? Obviously.
Where Has it Come From?
My previous experience involved running agency teams and managing client campaigns - not managing an ad agency and so I’ve learned from the ground up. All about operations, finance and sales as well as the fundamentals of keeping our esteemed clients happy.
While growth is great, it’s not all about growth for growth’s sake, it’s about ensuring the team and agency grows for the right reasons and not so quickly that we are not able to service our clients effectively. It’s very much a balancing act and one not to be ignored.
Valuable Lessons Learned
What have I learned during the last three years? There are a lot more but here are those that come to mind most prominently:
- Say no – don’t be afraid to push back. If your instinct says it’s not right, then generally it’s not.
- Look at the overall picture – it’s all too easy to look at a snapshot. You need all the information before making an informed decision.
- You can’t please everyone all the time; decide your course and then stick to it.
- Our clients come in the majority from referral – use these channels rather than expending energy and money on other outside marketing. We’ve learned this the hard way, our second year was spent at various exhibitions, both local and in London which cost a lot and did not give us a return.
- Look for opportunities and take them, whether it be for your clients and your own business. PPC is my background but I recognised there was a gap in the market for good social media and copywriting.
- Social Media – stick to the channels that work for you as a business and don’t consume energy on channels that don’t. We’ve dropped Facebook as a result.
- Keep your mentors close – always have friends and supporters who have been in these situations. You can then draw on them for advice.
- Always keep a cash cushion, you never know what’s around the corner. Generally, three times salary should be enough.
- Have great accountants – good ones are worth their weight in gold.
- We believe in inter agency collaboration – why not work with like minded agencies who don’t offer your services? You’re only missing opportunities if not.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Until you’re large enough, you can do all the accounts, manage clients and everything else. That’s what managing a small agency is all about.
To conclude, here’s to the next three years. We’re very positive with lots of new clients (six in May), new staff members (Emma starts next week) and new premises in central Exeter in July.
We’re one of the rare agencies in the south west and indeed the UK who specialise in three different things: PPC, social media and copywriting and we’re proud to be here.
If you'd like help with your PPC, social media, or copywriting, get in touch with us today for a free audit and to speak to our expert team.