2020 – Tough times don’t last, tough teams do!

Holy f**k, what a year it has been. 

So, it’s that time of year where I find myself reflecting on what’s been and furiously trying to switch off while planning for the next year. Normally I save this for the Christmas party following a bottle or two, but as we know a lot has changed this year, so here goes.

What a rollercoaster of a year it has been, and this is officially the last time I’m going to use the word ‘unprecedented’ in a sentence. The world around us has changed at an incredible pace, but I could not be more proud of the way the StrategiQ team has coped, supported each other and delivered.

When we first went into lockdown, I organised a session with Sue Firth, our resident Wendy from Billions, on “resilience”. We spoke about creating a toolkit for handling pressure and uncertainty, and the fact that it’s normal to be scared or fearful of the unknown. Well, I think we’ve all graduated and now have a Swiss Army knife for the future in what has been a resilience crash course.

 

Inside and outside of our agency, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and those around me, and I’ve seen the best of a lot of those people, which has been incredibly rewarding. I genuinely believe that when you are in the trenches, you build strong relationships with people.

I won’t mention the obvious ‘C’ word, but what has been clear has been the importance of the digital marketing industry during times of uncertainty. The digital landscape is definitely an exciting (and sometimes scary) place for brands of all shapes and sizes, and this year has been no exception. 2020 has really highlighted the preparedness, reactiveness and impact that integrated digital marketing can deliver to support and keep industries moving forward.

The team has worked tirelessly to relieve the anxieties of businesses, stay ahead of the curve and focus on opportunities. As a result, we have been fortunate enough to be able to deliver success for our clients and agency during 2020.

It’s easy to look back and focus on all of the challenges and the uncertainty, but with so many milestones and achievements to reflect on, I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge just a handful of my highlights from the past 12 months.

Opportunity from chaos 

For all of us at StrategiQ, the pandemic offered an opportunity to choose how we wanted to reshape our company, and that included providing opportunities for the wealth of marketing talent who suddenly found themselves without a place to call home.

If you’ve been following us on social media, you’ve probably noticed that the StrategiQ family has grown significantly this year. We’ve said some sad goodbyes to a couple of the gang, but we’ve also welcomed a record 12 new members of staff to the team this year. 

Our expertise campaign was focussed on our values, growing our delivery capabilities and getting the right people into the right seats. Our client services team has been bolstered by the addition of Hatii Shuttleworth and Jordan Bambridge, while our social media and email teams have welcomed Sophie Coe, Leah Crabtree and Lauren Oliver. We have also appointed Dafydd Lewis as head of strategy.

We’ve further developed our data and insights team with the addition of Josh Crawford, while Phillip Pratt finally joined our ever-growing SEO team. However, we haven’t just focused on marketing delivery. The need to expand our development team has seen us welcome two new fantastic developers, Roshan Gurung and long-term friend of StrategiQ, Dan Long

Further strengthening this department, we’ve benefitted from the arrival of Charles Salmon who spearheads the quality assurance arm of the production team, ensuring everything we build is to the highest of standards.

We’ve also seen a number of promotions with Becky Evison and Roisin Ryan-Self heading up our new marketing co-ordination team and Charlie Taylor assuming responsibility for the new client marketing performance team. All of these roles and teams will be key as we build for 2021.

 

Demonstrating impact 

On the subject of web development, this year the team has launched a record 22 websites! We wouldn’t expect you to scroll through all 22 of them, but here are a few of my favourites to feast your eyes upon:

The team has had to work their socks off this year, much of it from home, but this hasn’t slowed the pace or impacted the onboarding of many wonderful new relationships and new journeys we’ve begun this year. 

StrategiQ has secured many new regional, national and international clients including Thomson Reuters, Greene King, The University of Suffolk, State of Digital, Ipswich Building Society, Business Systems UK Ltd, The University of Essex, AAE Technologies Ltd, Generator Group of Companies and Masterlord Estates, to name but a few. 

We’ve seen a keen interest in our digital approach over the past year, and it’s become evident that there is much more of a focus on value and impact. When there is a deep understanding of objectives, definition of a clear strategy, delivery of the appropriate channels and most importantly a partner in your corner with your growth at heart, you can enjoy success even in the most challenging times.

Sharing our expertise

At StrategiQ we always strive to be better. By refining our processes, researching new ideas and developing our skill sets, we collectively achieve more than we or our clients ever believed possible. As such we’ve continued to grow our network and build our partnerships (even if limited to Zoom calls), ensuring we can deliver the best for our clients. We partnered with leading platforms such as Zeplin and ContentKing, as well as strengthening existing relationships with partners such as Mailchimp.

Seeing the team live and breathe our values, persevere and in many respects thrive has been amazing to watch. Sharing a hunger for knowledge, the team launched Power Up, a weekly reading club for StrategiQ team members. Unlike traditional book clubs or reading clubs, Power Up encourages everyone to read any form of written material, whether it’s books, magazines or journals, then write and share what they took away from it; it even prompted me to write a piece on the Stockdale Paradox.

In addition to this, the team have fully embraced video to share their expertise. Topics covered by our team have included:

Awards

It wouldn’t be an agency round-up without mentioning some awards, would it? This year we were honoured to be ranked in the Tech East 100, a brilliant initiative shining a light on the dynamic digital tech ecosystem in the East of England. 

StrategiQ was ranked number seven in the world at the Campaign Best Places To Work 2020. Despite much of the year spent working from home, it was the company culture and team camaraderie that shone through, and this resolve is absolutely a contributing factor as to why we are ending 2020 with positivity and a spring in our step.

Lastly, we were overwhelmed to be named Business Of The Year at the Suffolk Business Awards, especially considering the calibre of our fellow winners and finalists. It’s a fantastic reward for the commitment and attitude of every member of our team, all of whom care deeply about our clients’ businesses and navigating them successfully through these testing times. We are excited for the next phase of our growth and working with yet more fantastic clients.

Onwards to 2021

The final part of reflection, and arguably the most important, is looking back at the impact we’ve had on our clients. It’s been a challenging year for so many, but seeing how we’ve grown their businesses through the brands we create, websites we launch and marketing we deliver is what drives us, and will continue to underpin our growth and success. This is all about being relentless, focusing on growth and not dwelling on how tough it has been. “We’ve got that in our toolkit now.”

As a leader, I know it’s going to take energy to drive and inspire the team to achieve even more, and as an agency we have to do the same for our clients. We all have an important role to play in helping to drive growth back into our economy. Now more than ever, organisations need to be clear on their values to engage their people, have a strategy to drive revenue, and processes to maintain the growth. 

In summary, we have built an amazing team who do an exceptional job delivering our services, regardless of the challenges that surround us all. We are really proud of our colleagues, their hard work and accomplishments throughout the year. 

As we move into the next phase of our journey, we are committed to building a sustainable business and continue to employ, nurture and develop the best talent in the country, while continuing to open up and develop our services to deliver impactful results for our clients.

Thank you to everyone – clients, colleagues and partners – who have been a part of this fantastic journey. 

Happy Christmas, and here’s to 2021… we’ll most definitely see you all next year!