Why I spent £15,000 I didn’t have with a marketing agency I hadn’t used before

Business Insights

During the pandemic of 2020 we took the bold step to launch a new business. It was a business that saw a gap in the market. The opportunity that the pandemic afforded meant that we had the time to develop an idea and work on it. The idea was a simple one – to create a single place where people could find checked, reviewed, and trusted cyber security companies. Whilst we knew there was a market, and even managed to gain early adopters, the question we had was - how to reach our target audience?

This is where you enter the situation of the chicken and the egg. You need customers to make money, but you need money to advertise and get customers.

Many small companies and start-ups don’t invest in marketing. There’s an evolution that most companies take; start with an idea, share that idea with their community, and if they are lucky, they get early adopters. They then rely for a time on word-of-mouth.

This has limited success.

Then they start to take their social media a bit more seriously, and work on their LinkedIn profile, copying what they think looks good. If they have some funds, they’ll dabble perhaps with Google ads but will invest too little over too short a period, and when they don’t achieve instant returns will write it off as a waste of time. Usually, their marketing will stop there, and they’ll bump along with organic growth via that same word-of-mouth.

We didn’t.

Here’s what we did:

  1. We created our brand; what we stand for, how we differentiate, what are values are.
  2. We applied professional, thought-out design to our brand.
  3. We created a website based on the brand and crafted it for ultimate SEO. We took every learning resource we could and applied the best practice.
  4. We ensured our creatives were on point and top of their game.
  5. We aligned all our social media to best practice and brand.
  6. We waited for the money to roll in.
  7. It did not.
  8. We dabbled with Google ads.

What became apparent was that we needed a marketing agency and a marketing campaign. This is where the fun started, as the market is awash with companies that promise the earth. We found a marketing agency that aligned with our values, brand, and ethos, but equally as importantly was demonstrating ROI for customers whilst providing great content.

Over many months we followed them, engaged with them and, truth be told, were probably fell victim to their marketing.

At this point we contacted them to understand the services they offered with a view that we needed a marketing strategy. Now, when you have money, this probably feels cheap to you, but a quote of £5,000 to create a strategy when we had no money was a big intake of breath moment. Had it not been for their ongoing marketing we probably wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith. But after getting to know them, and them getting to know us, we did take that first step and committed. It was about building the relationship, the rapport, and the trust. I’m not going to say we were comfortable with spending money we didn’t have, but we trusted the process and we trusted them.

From that we were able to see some significant quick wins that generated an immediate ROI, as well as having a short- and - medium-term strategic plan.

What we knew was that we really needed to invest now in proper marketing, and to action the points of the plan and what we instinctively knew to be needed. After several months when money started to come in and confidence was growing, we engaged them again with a budget of £10,000 for a marketing campaign as a first spend. We’re not naïve and know that the long-term and ongoing costs are going to be substantial, but we’d rather that than just spend £100 on Google ads and think you can run a marketing campaign on a shoestring. With £10,000 of initial investment, we’ll have creative content, video content, and a manged marketing campaign targeted at our audience on the platforms on which they engage.

So, in conclusion, the reasons we spent money we didn’t have with this agency were:

  • They created their own content and fantastic marketing.
  • They were different, engaging, human and approachable.
  • They spent time to get to know us and build a relationship.
  • They delivered what they said they would.
  • They continued to engage us even when it was not clear if we would invest further.

Want to know who we chose and who we’re investing with? Click here: https://allowlist.io/allowlist/knowlton-marketing/

Author: Stuart Barker, ALLOWLIST Director and Founder