Each month as part of our GO! Figure content series we will be spending time speaking with agency owners and leaders to get their opinions on a different topic directly affecting our industry.

This month for our Agency Q&A we sat down for a chat with Rachel Gladwin, Managing Director of Beattie Communications and focused on the future by speaking about planning and prepping for 2020.

 

GO!: Hi Rachel. First off, for the benefit of our readers could you please tell us a little about yourself, your experience and your role at Beattie.

RG: I am the Managing Director at Beattie, an integrated communications agency operating across the UK, Ireland and North America. I offer a bespoke communications consultancy service to a variety of household name clients and head up Beattie’s operations in the Midlands and North of England.

With over 20 years’ industry experience, my agency teams and I, based in the heart of Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham bring a wealth of knowledge and creativity to all our projects. I  joined agency founder, Gordon Beattie’s leadership team six years ago and surround myself with super-successful people with a strong desire to make a positive impact.

 

GO!: This month’s GO! Figure topic is focused on how to make sure you are prepared for a great 2020. What are your predictions for your industry for 2020?

RG: Look to China as there are some very exciting trends emerging. WeChat for example is China’s billion-user messaging app, just behind Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger.

Owned by tech-giant Tencent, it offers more than messaging, allowing its users to do everything from payments to wealth management to booking flights and hailing a ride. From major supermarkets to the smallest of street vendors and taxis you can pay for things with WeChat almost anywhere in China. The main aim is to keep users connected to one ecosystem and this is key.

TikTok is something we see our ‘tweenagers’ obsessed with, but as well as being the perfect time-waster it gives an exciting window on rapidly shifting youth culture and insider memes.

The app is filled with people recording themselves dancing to popular songs and editing their videos to often hilarious effect. There are more than 500 million users, and new trends and personalities pop up every day. It’s filled with groups and communities built around specific niches like gaming and comedy.

Future trends will see the audience being the star of the show. Content will be remixed and anyone can be a creator or a curator by making their own edits using music and filters. TikTok is relatively new, especially to the business world and as such is not nearly as saturated as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

It’s not for every brand but understanding what makes TikTok ‘tick’ is a crucial first step into marketing to Gen Z, the notoriously difficult-to-market-to generation group which is becoming more important as they gain a foothold in the economy.

 

GO!: December is notoriously a slightly unusual month for a lot of agencies. What does the month look like for you and your team?

RG; Since joining Beattie in 2013 I can honestly say there has never been a let up in client work or business development in December. The pre-Christmas wind down is a myth in my experience and for many of our clients this is one of the busiest periods of the year.

We work with brands in hospitality, retail, property and food & drink. Christmas really is make or break, meaning our campaigns are usually at their height and we’re running full speed into the New Year.

We have also secured some of our most lucrative new contracts at the turning of the year. In keeping with the energy of my boss and mentor Gordon Beattie, who reportedly needs very little sleep! We are a hive of festive activity across the entire Beattie network and find the holiday period to be an incredibly productive time to land some of our best work.

 

GO!: Likewise, December is the month when a lot of agencies typically review the year just gone. Is this the case at Beattie?

RG: In terms of the financial cycle at Beattie, December will see us nearing the end of Q2 and with half year results firmly in our sights we will already have a strong indicator of what the current financial year will bring.

And what a year it’s been so far with us adding £2m of new business as well as clinching a merger with David McCavery and his serious PR team in Ireland. So far it’s been the most exciting and successful time for new business in our 34 year history. We have a vision to continue expanding across the country and whatever 2020 brings I’m sure we will grasp the right opportunities in our path.

 

GO!: At this time of year what are your key priorities as an agency to make sure you are all set for a great 2020?

RG: At Beattie we have always given ourselves ambitious growth targets. I think that’s why we’re still doing the business and are able to weather anything the financial climate throws our way. Each year we unveil a challenging Group business plan and each Managing Director creates their own individual set of goals and a strategy for exceeding expectations every financial year.

We rubber stamped these plans during the warm Summer months and spent a leadership session with Gordon and Laurna Woods, our Group CEO, at the Beattie Training Academy out in Spain, sharing and refining every detail.

This means that by the start of 2020 we are already well on our way towards success. Our senior managers are also supporting us and have their own 100-day ambitions in place for exciting new projects and services to be launched in 2020.

With an entrepreneur sat at the helm of our business we are constantly diversifying and reinventing ourselves in order to offer more services under one roof. We have heritage and stability but are always evolving and progressing. Gordon and Laurna are leaders that are not afraid of taking a risk and making a change, we set a goal and chase it.

 

GO!: At Beattie how far in advance are you planning your own new business and marketing activity?

RG: I would say we have an ‘always on’ approach and we are in the enviable position where most new business comes through years of reputation building, word of mouth and from our existing network of clients, former clients and staff, who have gone on to do amazing things.

That said we are always looking to start conversations with brands who might not have a prior connection to Beattie.

Gordon and Laurna are very generous with their time and act as business mentors for a raft of individuals and businesses, from start-ups to established brands that have stood the test of time. Each year Gordon pens a motivational book ‘Thought for The Day’ which is full of illuminating marketing ideas, business insights and stories of inspiration.

We also create lots of video and podcast content that we hope are useful resources. By giving away a little of our time and expertise we hope businesses will keep us front of mind when they have challenges to solve.

 

GO!: How does the culture at Beattie feed into your new business strategy?

RG: We feel like a family but play like a team with stars in every position. Our dream is a simple one – to attract the best briefs and talent in the industry today.

 

GO!: What does a good January look like for you and your team?

RG: As December is notoriously busy we tend to work remotely between Christmas and New Year, picking up urgent tasks and ensuring clients who have any urgent crises have support throughout the festive period.

Come January we are all well-fed with batteries fully charged and usually come back to the office with a new sense of purpose and an exciting workload! This January we will be launching a number of new initiatives for the Beattie Group so I’m looking forward to it being a very exciting time.

We are also set to sign a number of significant contracts and once the ink has dried will be sharing some very exciting names joining the Beattie portfolio in 2020.

 

GO!: And finally, what would your advice be to your agency peers of how to maximise their time in December with the aim of getting the most out of 2020.

RG: I believe agencies should consider how to refocus and redefine their offerings to become indispensable. What clients really want is strategy, ideas and expertise. What can you offer that few others in the market can rival? Take a long hard look at your clients and consider whether you are falling into the trap of being dependable.

“Yes you work weekends, work late, meet deadlines but are you going beyond the request?”

Preventing extinction is about having a backbone, more risk-taking and more proactive thinking. We are in the business of effectiveness not efficiency. Clients want to see marketing results that align with the brand’s marketing and business goals. This means gaining a better understanding of business metrics around sales, revenue, customer satisfaction and retention.