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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Wharton

Marketing at an Experience Design Agency

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

#3 of the lessons learnt series


My career journey so far has been a wonderful and challenging learning experience. Here’s some lessons I learnt along the way that may resonate with your current situation and influence your existing or future marketing strategy.


The opportunity to join a startup and use my experience in the technology sector to drive the growth of the company from a senior leadership position was too tempting an offer to miss. I joined a boutique, Experience Design Agency which aimed to transform businesses through research and design, supported by the right technology. With a headcount of 13, the incredible team of designers, researchers and technologists had the ambition to push the boundaries of experience design from servicing clients from Ringtons to Bernicia.


Interestingly, there is huge overlap with the time I spent at a Global Digital Product Studio and Global Technology Consultancy. Here’s four learnings at Head of Marketing at an Experience Design Agency.


Prioritisation

Going into a startup where there hadn't been a senior marketer before meant that I was starting from the beginning. In some ways this was brilliant, because I could put my own stamp on things, but when the Board and C suite are expecting demonstrable impact on the business as soon as possible you can feel in a pressured position. This is where I could use my previous experience, and the impact I'd made to reinforce the importance of creating a strategy to drive long term growth rather than jumping straight to implementation.


Customer Insights

During the process to secure a multi million pound contract, the customer requested client references to help them make a decision. This was an excellent opportunity to gain insights on what we were doing well, the perception of how we worked and also what we weren’t perfect at. The references the company received resulted in a closed deal but also positive feedback on individual members of the team, which was used in the employer brand work stream and highlighted areas we needed to improve on.


Process

Starting from the beginning is scary, and it can be overwhelming. With limited resources and the pressure to deliver results quickly meant that I needed to decide which were the most pressing processes to implement. Working in collaboration with the rest of the leadership team, it was agreed that new business, client experience and employer brand were all extremely important. From my previous experience, I was able to adapt tried and tested processes to suit the operational model of the business and deliver the strategic priorities of the business including refining the lead nurturing process and event strategy.


Continuous learning

Being part of the senior leadership team meant that I got more exposure to the inner workings of how to (and not to) run a small business which enhanced my business acumen. I was also exposed to different leadership styles which led me to seek out books, podcasts and webinars on what it means to be a great leader, and ways of working to demonstrate this which I used in my day to day activity.


What’s next?

Unfortunately, due to appalling financial mismanagement, poor leadership and loose morals, the company went into liquidation. Never one to not learn from my mistakes, I wanted to know more about the financial side of running a business so I worked in collaboration with an accountancy firm to demystify Companies House and get a clearer picture on the levels of financial risk at a public company. You can read that article here.


Being a leader while running a marketing function was a huge privilege and learning curve. Being able to craft a strategy from scratch was influential in giving me the confidence to take everything I’ve learnt from being a marketer in tech to launch my own consultancy and help other business owners and CEO to grow their businesses.


Want to know how I got here? Read about my previous roles and learnings at a Global Digital Product Studio and a Global Technology Consultancy.



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