Episode 14 – Gareth Hoyle – Marketing Signals

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Audio Transcript:

VO Guy: 

Hello, and thanks for coming along to And We Have an Office Dog, the digital agency podcast where we talk to agency owner/directors and learn more about what makes them tick. From the things that make them similar, to the things they’d rather have known sooner. Where they’ve had success, and where they’ve learned some hard lessons. All will be revealed, with your host Chris Simmons, the agency host. And he’ll be talking to a different awesome agency person in each episode, asking them four questions and seeing where the conversation takes us over the next 25 minutes. Okay, so let us begin. Over to you, Chris. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Thanks voiceover guy, and on today’s episode we’ve got Gareth Hoyle, the MD of Marketing Signals. Hi, Gareth. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Hello Chris, hello everybody out there in the metaverse yet, or just the standard Internet 2.0 for now? 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

This is just the standard Internet 2.0, but God, that would be good. We should do the next interview in the metaverse, that would be handy. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Indeed we should. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

So Gareth, as with every podcast, the quid pro quo, you get to give us a plug of Marketing Signals. Tell us all about Marketing Signals, where it is, what it does, who you are, et cetera. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Absolutely. How do you say? We generally trade under Market Signals, I like to think of us as three websites, one amazingly talented marketing team. At Marketing Signals, just doing search marketing, focusing on PPC, SEO, and specifically link-building. Amazingly talented leaders across all search disciplines within the business, working with corporate. And probably the M in SME, if I’m honest these days, alongside a few of our own projects. We also run Garethhoyle.com, where we offer digital due diligence. Started as a little side gig for myself, I used to short shares based on Google visibility drops. But now it’s actually quite an important part of our business plan, as it’s so important to buy us and sell us businesses in general. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Whether they come with domains, Facebook groups, websites, et cetera. And then finally we have SEO.im, where we offer link-building and website content for SEO professionals. Usually seen as a safe pair of hands in the gray world of link-building for SEO- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

This doesn’t sound contrived at all. Go on, keep going. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Specifically when you are an established brand with eyes on you, we often see competitor’s target sights we’ve learned links from, so we’re happy with that. So yeah, that is us, and that’s what we do Chris. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Awesome, awesome. And how long’s Marketing Signals been going for? Just try and keep it in… We’ll call it Marketing Signals as a thing, but how long has all of this been coming? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Well, as many of you that have watched my career over the years will know, we’ve had a number of domain names over the years. I personally started working as an SEO in 2005, 2006, I graduated university in 2007 and started taking it seriously sort of 2008, 2009, I would say. So yeah, we probably- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Quite a while then. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… between 12 and 15 years into this journey, yeah. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Crikey, crikey. So if there’s been one big success over the years of running the entire thing, what would you give that success? What would it be? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Well I mean, I could look at it from the amount of money that I’ve made. I don’t think anybody would ever pay me what I’ve generated for my family over the years. Although to be honest with you, money isn’t the focus, it should just be the best and the money will follow. From a business management, agency, leadership point of view, cheesy as it may sound, developing people. I’ve quite an amazing alumni now where people are out there either running their own entities, or they’re at C Suite, at some prestigious marketing agencies. There is nothing I like more than when someone leaves because we’ve developed them as far as they can. And so from a staffing and leadership point of view. But I also… The freedom that I’ve created for myself, I’ve traveled the world on the company MX. I mean, that is absolutely amazing, from LA to Australia and the long way round in between. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

A lot of that’s for the speaking and things like that that you’ve been doing, and clients and things, isn’t it? I suppose that… 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Speaking and sales, which will be the running undercurrent of a conversation with Gareth. Gareth tends to work in the commercial side of the business. But yeah, I think other successes though is opportunity, so the opportunity it’s given me and my children to travel, and do as we wish, and live the life that we do. But also the opportunities that we’ve given to our colleagues both past and present, we make them better at their jobs through training and education and pushing them. And that is a success, if I am pitching against somebody that used to work for me then well done that person, because they’ve elevated themselves to the same level as us. So yeah, absolutely. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

That’s awesome. And I think agencies basically run and live and die on their people, and I know a good few number of people that used to work with you, and most of them are all right. Some of them are a bit weird, but- 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

No, they’re the Welsh contingent, aren’t they? 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

We’ll say no more. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Love your recent mat. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

So if you could go back to, right to the very beginning and talk to currently in university, fresh-faced Gareth Hoyle, what advice… You could go back for like 30 seconds, you’ve got to give yourself one bit of advice, what would it be? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Be unexpected. I think overall, try and become a subject matter expert in a narrow field, but leaving yourself exposed to a wider industry. So for us it was always the link-building and the outsourcing of labor to South Asia, that we [inaudible 00:06:46] differentiation strategy. That subject area and expert, it just creates a clearer story for when you’re going out there to marketplace. And we used to offer website design, we were terrible at it, so we stopped offering it. When you’re not an expert in a field, you don’t attract the right clients, you don’t attract the right staff. So you end up producing what I would consider to be sub-par work that I wasn’t happy putting my name against. So yeah, I would definitely say try and find that narrow… 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Find your tribe, I suppose, within your field. Again, also don’t be complacent. There was a time in 2011 when we were selling directory links, and it was easy, it was printing money, basically. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

I remember the form that you used to have to fill in in order to get those directory links, and yeah. I mean, things have changed, especially there. But I wouldn’t have called that at that time complacency, I would have probably called that, you were catering for a need. However, Google was very aware as to the output of that need. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

It was, and then again, it won’t last forever, I suppose is the… Change happens, clients come and go, staff come and go. There’s nothing you can do about that. I mean, all you can really do is, again, going out to all those aspiring [inaudible 00:08:21], set yourself off on a course and stick to it. It’s not going to be easy, people will try and push you off the horse. I think it was Gladwell in his book Outliers, it said that you’ve got to do 10,000 hours to become an expert. Well, put the hard yards in, put the hard yards in and it will- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… and it will happen. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

I think that’s been one of the themes with quite a lot of the people I’ve talked to so far, is put the effort in and have very long horizons, in the sense that it’s not going to be quick. And throughout that time you’ve had a lot of successes, there’s been a lot of headaches as well. I think you used to have a lot more hair, and so… 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, well if it was easy everybody would do it. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, yeah, quite right. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

So you can’t really complain now. And then if I could go and talk to a younger, more spritely version of myself, I would tell him to not spend those 50 Bitcoin that you bought in 2013, but to- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

God, I don’t know how you’re doing his now because… Poor man. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Well, this is a… You are talking to a man whose life has been fueled by magic internet money, so there are no complaints from this side. But yes, I would… If I was going to talk to a younger, spritely version of myself, fundamentally just do what you’re doing. You’re trying hard, you’re trying to learn, you’re trying to be the best at what you do. And yeah, like I say, expect the unexpected. Staffing, people leave, Google updates, clients leave. So you might think that your feet are well and truly under the table, a longstanding client, then your contact leaves. Your contact’s replacement comes in, maybe he or she already has an agency relationship that they wish to replace you with, so… 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah. I mean, it happens quite a lot, and I think there’s something to be said for expecting to be replaced from an agency’s point of view. If you’re not re-tendering every year or two years for the same gig, then you’re probably going to be shocked when you get replaced. Whereas if you’re re-tendering every couple of years, there’s a good due diligence aspect to that, and it keeps you on your toes. It’s good for the morale in the business to keep winning and re-winning the same client, I guess. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah. I mean, we are never again re-tendering, we’d rather not. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Lots of effort. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

A lot of the time, one of the things I love the most about what we do in search marketing is the measurement, did we make more sales, was the contact form used more often? It is as simple as that. And I think a lot of the frustrations that you will come across in your early days are often out of your hands, so you’ll lose a client when you’ve done nothing wrong. You could have delivered a 100% year-on-year increase, yet somebody in a pinstriped suit and tie decided to adjust the budgets. Nothing you can do about that, I’m afraid. That’s broad shoulders. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

I think that’s one of the biggest aspects of being an agency owner, isn’t it? That you need to know to have broad shoulders you’ve got to be a bit thick-skinned, whether it’s people or business-related. There’s sometimes the, you just can’t do what you need to do because of something out of your hands. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

People, eh? Can’t beat them. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Well yeah, it’s a shame we are them, I guess. But then that’s, metaverse is coming up, and I’ll just upload myself, keep out of the way. So, is there anything that you kind of regret, or wish that you’d done differently, or maybe even sooner over the years? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Yes, two I suppose. I probably should have built a stronger leadership team around me quicker. We’re, as I say, dependent on whether you take the first time I FCO’d a website, or the first time we incorporated a business. We have 12 to 15 years’ experience working in this industry, and it’s only really in the last couple of years that I’ve actually been taking on board things like management training, and building that leadership team around me. I’ve always been very good at delegating work, because I don’t necessarily want to do it myself. I’ve maybe been guilty of having employees that are, “Yes boss,” rather than somebody that actually stands up to me and challenges me. Which is why I like doing… Like your masterminds, Chris. They really do open your eyes, especially at say a… Often a lonely time at the top- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

It can be, yeah. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… where everybody agrees with you whether you’re right or wrong, because they’re scared of challenging you. So yeah, I think there’s… I mean, there was an ill-fated few years, we won’t really talk about where I brought on a business partner and it didn’t work out, and I had to fix all that. But yeah, I think over the last couple of years I’ve matured as a leader, and I think it’s reflected in the team around me, and it’s also reflected in the results and the sort of clients that we’re winning. The other thing that I’d have done sooner, and the late Dan Bell will miss, my spreadsheets. Systems and processes, like the… We probably ran our day-to-day invoicing off a Google sheet for far longer than we probably should have done. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

It’s always hard in the early days, because you never know the… Especially when we were doing the link spamming if you like, we never knew the longevity of the tactics, therefore it’s very difficult to go and put a capital expenditure into an IT system to manage it. So you end up trying to use- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, yeah. You’ll be reworking it all the time, it costs more. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Or you try and use off the shelf, and Zendesk will work for some stuff. But then you find out that you can’t… Oh, and there’s just… It’d be better to build your own, but until you’re 100% confident, or at least 90% confident in what the process actually is, it’s difficult to spend the 50,000 pounds, 20,000 pounds, whatever it’s going to cost- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Absolutely. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… to develop that system. Now we’re in a much more matured industry, although if you read SEO Twitter most days I’m not sure how mature we actually are. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, let’s not go into that. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Our product set is a lot more mature in that we now work off real links, real sites, dare I say it digital BR. And there is a place the leadership teams in marketing… The marketing leadership teams in brands now for SEO, whereas previously it was always a side project for PPC. So again, we can invest in the future, and our systems and processes have never been stronger. And again, install Loom early, and make videos of what you’re doing. You’ll do so many things that you’ll forget, and just having that bid. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Like I said a minute ago, the people is the thing that kills all or thrives in an agency. And like you said earlier, getting the leadership team in and around you sooner would have been something that you’d kind of wished you’d done sooner. But conversely, quite a lot of agency owner/directors are subject matter experts, or really, really good at what they do. Most of them aren’t business owners, most of them have to learn essentially the hard way to run a business. And a huge part of business, especially these days, and I’m not using the word flippantly, but with millennial-type people, they need to feel part of an organization, they need to know there’s progression, it’s not just about paychecks anymore. And being part of that purpose with a long-term view on where I am going to go and where I am now is essential. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

And then equally, following that up with, “Here’s your leadership plan, here’s what’s going on.” But you are accountable to these things, you do need those Loom videos, you do need those systems and processes. And thankfully, in a… Well hopefully, sorry, rather than thankfully, things are a bit more mature in the industry to the point where things won’t necessarily turn on a dime, like they did back in 2012, 2013, 14, when overnight whole sections of the industry were on fire. So having the right systems and processes is essential, having something a bit malleable is essential. But keeping track of everything that you’re doing is a nightmare. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

There are many logins that one requires to run a growing agency. That is just part of like… At least we can measure it, though. I mean, I’m not saying that we go as far as screenshotting people’s desktops every 30 seconds, but I think what the pandemic and remote working has taught us is to actually measure stuff on output, so turn it… David Gilroy always used to speak about this, that going to work isn’t doing your job. Going to work is almost the minimum requirement to maintain your employment. We measure our team on their output, and how efficiently they work, or with what efficacy are they completing the tasks. And with those sort of systems and processes, it just helps us to scale, it helps us to trust the team. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Again, my job isn’t to suffocate the staff, it’s to delegate responsibility whilst providing support on the tactics required to implement the job, if you like. But that’s, yeah, the… That’s what I’d have done differently, definitely those systems and processes that… And I suppose it’s having that openness to change, like the, you can spend six months developing an IT system that you end up deleting because it’s just not relevant anymore. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, exactly. I remember a time when I was thinking, “I can’t keep buying off the shelf solutions. I’m going to have to build this CRM for ourselves,” I think we got about six months into building it before we decided not to offer some of the services that were linked to other things, let’s just delete it, back to whatever the CRM was at the time. People don’t like that who work for you, people need some sort of stability whilst also working in an industry which is really exciting because it changes a lot. But yeah, you’re right, you’re absolutely spot on. On the other side of that then, is there something that you’ve really learned the hard way that’s stung a little bit, that set you up for the future and current success of the businesses? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah. I mean, in 2012 when Penguin hit, we lost 80% of our product set I mean, I do miss selling EDU blog comments, I do miss selling 50 social bookmarks for 19.99, or whatever we [crosstalk 00:19:47]. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

For those of you who weren’t in the industry or weren’t running agencies back then, these were the wild west years to some degree. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

It was all a bit blatant, shall we say. But it worked, so- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, it did, yeah. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… we merely set up our stall, and people kept coming back. But yeah, what that taught me, other than perseverance and resilience, was that what we are selling today isn’t what we’ll be selling tomorrow, it does change. The signals, because again, these are all signals that we’re providing to search engines, whether it’s to content on your page, the markup within your code, or the links on external sites, these are just marketing signals that Google’s looking for. And they will not be static, if you… I have no idea who said this, but I believe that there was a GCSE business studies quote which was, going back to 1997 here, if your business is static it’s going backwards. So you have to be constantly tweaking, changing, trying to push forward. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

And in a world where nobody knows what’s coming tomorrow, it’s an interesting one. One of my friends is a pensions lawyer, deals with a lot of clauses from 1967, 1968. What we do changes in annual cycles, it’s amazing, and I embrace it, and I love it, and that is one of the biggest appeals to me, is that things change, and we’ve always got to be learning, because education was God’s gift to humans, and just embrace it, yeah. You’re going to have to, because if you don’t then this isn’t the job for you. You’ll drink too much wine. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So onto that, not the wine, but embracing it. So if there’s any agency owners just starting out for themselves, or anyone that’s aspiring to compete in pitches against you, what advice would you give them? 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Number one, do it. No-one’s going to do it for you, do it. Whether you do it as a side hustle whilst you’re working in your employment, which I wouldn’t recommend as an employer of digital marketers. But hey, what you do with those 16 hours where you don’t work for me is up to you. And have a goal, and march unabated into the headwinds that you will no doubt face. I think I’ve seen people that have left my employment in the past that have seen the journey that marketing signals are on, but I don’t think they understand the hard graft that goes into getting us where we are, keeping us where we are, because getting there is just the beginning. I am always selling, that is- 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yes, [crosstalk 00:22:51], really. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

… believe it or not. Did you know that we offer certain [inaudible 00:22:55]. But yeah, it’s brilliant that you can do the job, it’s brilliant that you know how to implement an SEO audit. Do you know how to go and get the money to pay for that SEO audit? So hire wealth, and fail quickly. So, trust your team. You hired them to do a job, let them do it. And again, it comes back to the sort of measure and manage, rather than suffocating. If you believe your systems and processes are correct, then you’ve hired the right person to do that, to fill that vacancy, so let them do it. Again, developing that systems and processes, the bits where I got it wrong at the beginning. Maybe not from day one, because you really need to establish what it is that you’re going to offer. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

I remember my first ever website straight from university, called HD Designs. We offered web design, SEO, database design. Luckily we never got any inquiries for our service, because I have no idea what we would have done. I think we just took our university syllabus, made it into commercial pages. We don’t do any of that now, other than the search market insights. So I think the, plan ahead like you said before, have a long horizon. This isn’t a six to 12 month flip it business, it’s going to take you a few years to be established and get your reputation out there really. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Exactly. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

And then the other thing that I would definitely advise people that are looking to start their own agency, run your own sites. So, run them as test beds, run them as side income to pay for experiments that you need to do to try and improve your customer work. And of course, once you’ve got your own portfolio of websites bringing their own income stream in, you’re less reliant on customers, therefore you can start to pick and choose a little bit more. I know that in Marketing Signals when we take on a new customer, we either A, try and see if we can align it with like a complimentary product to our existing client base, or B, if we don’t have a site in that space we’ll look to make a complimentary website to our client so that we can reuse a lot of the data ,a lot of the research that we do, and a lot of the link opportunities. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

There’s occasionally chances for cross promotion, things like that really. But yeah, I think most definitely the main thing that I would say, do it. Because you know what? If you don’t do it, you’ll never know. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah. And if you do it and you do it wrong, like you say, fail quickly, all is not lost and you definitely learned something that you can take back into employment potentially. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

That would probably keep your CV on my desk. Like if I’d seen that you’d had a go and not… And it hadn’t worked out, well number one, you’ve got my intrigue, that I want to know why it didn’t work out. Therefore, there’s every chance that you’ll get to telephone interview stage. And then, based on where it went wrong, it could be a business partner, it could be a change in your domestic lifestyle. And that would decide whether we [inaudible 00:26:12] to the next stage. But yeah, if you don’t do it you’ll never know. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Awesome advice, very good advice, and I think different advice to everyone else in a good way as well. But thanks very much for coming along on the podcast, always good to talk to you as ever, whether it be in-person, in a podcast or in a metaverse. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

In the metaverse. 

𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 (𝗛𝗼𝘀𝘁): 

Speaking of the metaverse, we have a digital agency mastermind in the metaverse at the minute, and if you want to have a look into that look at the Chrissimmance.com website. But until then, hopefully see you there. Either way, on our next episode we’ll have another awesome agency owner/director, and we’ll be asking them the same four questions and seeing where the conversation takes us. So until then, thanks very much Gareth, and I’ll speak to you soon. 

𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘆𝗹𝗲 (𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁): 

Thank you Chris, thank you everyone. 

 

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