The past year has been a formative one for Hughes & Co. We are the little company that could, taking on big clients, going head to head with large agencies in major markets and managing to keep our heads above water. We are founded on a few key concepts and that has led us down some incredible paths that have seen obstacle after obstacle, but we have persevered with all of our might. I know I am making it sound like our journey was particularly trying, it wasn't. It has been fun, it continues to be a wild ride and we thought that we would shed some light on 2013, a year of challenge, change and triumph.
When Hughes & Co. began it was a tiny little firm that was one person large. Exactly one person, and that person was me, Allie. I thought I would call my sole proprietorship Hughes & Co. to sound larger, making me sound more legitimate when larger contracts came along. Well, the plan worked and the result is an embarassingly self-inflating company name for the business that built the job of my dreams.
When things got busy I turned to some of the most talented and ambitious people I know, my friends. We were all under-employed recent graduates from Universities across Ontario and we all had big dreams. Some of those people joined up right away and some of them continue to freelance for H&C when we find ourselves a bit over-extended. To have a network of people that have my best interest at heart available to me in crunch time is the extreme advantage of the agency that could. We are very very lucky.
Today we are a core team of three, a little smaller than you might remember us. Well, we made some choices and we decided that this is where we fit most comfortably.
Staying Small (Sort Of)
In 2013 we made the choice to tackle marketing with a fresh methodology that has a lot of old school marketers shaking their heads (they say in disbelief, we knows its confusion). So, when we made the choice to be a small agency we decided we wanted to work with our dream clients. We tell you a bit about how we make sure of that here. So our dream clients are who we have. Our criteria are:
- Fully Committed
- Great Boss
- Capable of Paying
That is it. Those are the key elements that we consider when we are weighing the negatives and positives of adding to the Hughes & Co. family. It is a great way to do business, and it enables us to bring on retainer clients that are large enough to sustain our agency and see each member of the team and our subcontractors thrive. It makes sense. We don't want every client, we want a small family of exceptional clients who have companies that we believe in and can feel awesome taking to market. That is a rewarding career in both senses of the word. When our clients are making money, we are making money and that kind of reward is found with focus and excitement for the subject matter. We have learned that it is good business.
One of the most exciting changes of the year was finding HubSpot and committing to the Inbound Marketing methodology as a success model for our business. Here is a snapshot of what this methodology has done to change everything for us.
Signed Up July 2013
Attended Inbound 2013 in August
September 2013 we got 4 leads
October 2013 we got 12 leads
November 2013 we got 17 leads
December 2013 we got 31 leads
As of today we have enough leads to keep us busy sifting through potential clients, and in fact we have an announcement in January about a new member of our inner circle that makes the sort of in the staying small header make a bit more sense. We can't keep up with the potential incoming business... what a wonderful predicament to be in. Our clients are benefitting from the same, which is why we said the whole "when they are making money, we are making money" bit, because the lead pipelines are filling up thanks to their whole-hearted commitment and willingness to let us take the reigns.
Expanding Our Reach
This year is a really big one for me because I have also invested in another business that was a client. They are onto something great, and now I can say that we are onto something great. The business is called FeedbackLive, and I feel like I have to tell you because I preach honestly economy and in a video a little while back I brought this company up at a conference. At that conference I said that they weren't a client, well that changed. I also said that I have no stake in their success, that has also obviously changed. This universe works in funny ways, doesn't it?
I do want to give you some details on the business, because it really is quite fascinating. It is a real-time feedback service mostly used in the hospitality industry. As in, when you are dining out (for example) you can use the application, found by a QR code or short URL, and provide your feedback for the experience. Awesome for the consumer because it is quick and easy and facilitates the use of technology with which we are intimately familiar. But it gets better. The manager on duty has the opportunity to instantly respond. So, if you are loving it, they can delight! If you are not loving it, they can leap into action and make sure that they turn it around.
So, this company is going to grow quickly and we are all working hard on taking it to the level that we want it. It is going to be a very exciting team to be a part of and I can't wait to work some marketing magic to bring some dazzle to the online presence.
This past year has brought the core of our team even further together in a few different ways. We have Carly back in Southern Ontario which is a really exciting change for all of us. Some agencies will tell you that having offices all over the place makes them bigger and better, and we simply don't buy it. We have clients all over the world, and our team works best for them when we can closely collaborate as the H&C core. We host meetings in the digital realm, but it is fun to hatch creative eggs with the team. In the interest of keeping the good times rolling we are getting an official home for this dynamo company. Some of you may have heard already that we were on the move, but things got a bit slowed down when a freak accident resulted in a slow burn of the building we are moving into. Good news, we are back on track and it looks like February is going to be the month that we move in. We will post more on that soon.
Another thing that brought us all a little closer was the shared experience of a tough 2013. We had some trials and tribulations, each member of our team suffered profound loss in their families or groups of friends. It was a rough year and we had a lot of weeks where we were down one as another tragic event took place. Should I include this in the blog? I think so, because we worked hard as a team to get through it all and look at us now. 2014 is around the corner and we are all ready to make good things happen for our clients and it is going to be a year for the ages. Our growth plans are aggressive, as usual, but we have some new things to announce as the year begins.
So that is, in a nutshell, what we've been up to. We look forward to keeping the blog rolling in 2014 and promise even better information than what you're already sinking those chompers into. This little agency that could has quietly been working on some big projects and we hope that you smile just as wide as we do when we release the info.
Happy New Year,