January 2024 StrategiQ Strategy Conference

18 min read by Bonny Williams 19 Jan 2024

While our September strategy conference saw blazing temperatures, our January conference was blessed with the magic of a sprinkle of snow and centred around the realignment to our ‘One Team, One Agency, One Strategy’ focus to deliver integrated value and continue brilliant work into 2024 and beyond.

What the day lacked in degrees Celsius it made up for in enthusiasm and motivation for the year ahead. 58 great marketers descended on The Bobby Robson Suite at Ipswich Town Football Club. Some seasoned strategy conference goers, some new StrategiQ faces, others keynote speakers and guests for the day, all with one thing in common, a hunger for motivation and a readiness to seize 2024 with both hands.

The Venue

Ipswich Town Football Club, the home of an exceptional team and currently a symbol of the power that motivation, grit, dedication and determination can have. The club, on track for back-to-back promotions, has demonstrated this season that it is possible to exceed expectations and deliver exceptional performances when in the presence of great leadership, a clear and ambitious strategy, strong belief, and above all, exceptional people working together towards a clear goal.

With that, we refer you to our StrategiQ mantra: 

Attitude is everything.

“True excellence comes from attitude. From genuine passion and unwavering tenacity. From a culture of collaboration. From ambition, endurance and accountability” 

With a palpable high performance and collaborative atmosphere, Ipswich Town Football Club was the perfect stage, we think, for our strategy conference to kick off 2024.


With performance and achievement at the front of our minds, we first looked back and reflected on a great year, 2023. Keiran’s editing talent and wit brought a hilarious injection of energy to start the day with his “2023 Wrapped” video, as well as shining a light on some incredible achievements.

With the theme “One, One agency, One strategy” focus, the CEO’s welcome kicked-off the day by recentering on our vision to be a destination agency for clients and talent, and our belief that it’s always strategy. 

Reminders of commitments made in Q1 kept us aligned to the key deliverables we will encounter on this journey. It also allowed us to celebrate our wins and ensure transparency about key areas of focus into Q2 and beyond. For instance, improving clients’ experience of our marketing performance reporting was a key commitment made for Q1 and we were treated to a dedicated session by Russ McAthy surrounding just this – we really are observing the journey in action.

Breakout discussion time throughout the day ensured collaboration and honesty with all team members getting involved and being listened to. This collaboration and teamwork is grounded in our company values of courage and honesty. 

Annual Awards

The high-performance context was the ultimate stage for our CEO and CPO, Andy and Sarah Smith to give out our StrategiQ Annual Awards. This year’s deserving winners were painstakingly selected from the pool of exceptional talent we have here at StrategiQ: these winners are those who have proven over the last year that they are prepared to go above and beyond and exude StrategiQ values in their attitude and their work.

So without further ado, the winners are:

Dean Shepherd – Rising Star  – “a person who might be new or has shown significant progression in 2023”

“His ability to navigate through projects seamlessly, earning him the nickname ‘octopus’ for his multitasking prowess, is nothing short of remarkable. It’s evident that Dean’s dedication and skill set have contributed immensely to the smooth functioning of the team.”


Josh Crawford – Client Impact award – “for consistently driving results, creativity or performance for clients”

“Through his deep insights to perfectly set up metric maps and reporting to in-depth experiments, Josh gets involved in pretty much every client that comes through our business and always leaves a positive mark.”


Louise Goodthorpe – People’s Champion – as voted for by everyone in the team, our annual MVP

“Louise consistently shows up for her clients and her colleagues, adding that special “Louise magic” to everything she touches – from pitches, to presentations, to rebrands, to tone of voice work and so much more. In 2023’s January Strategy Conference, Andy spoke about true leadership being “the shadow you cast” and Louise has such a positive shadow on so many people in the business, beyond which I think she realises.”


Dale Olorenshaw – Marketer of the Year – “for showing and delivering excellence in their speciality across the agency and for clients”

“Dale always finds the time to ensure his team’s inputs to pitching are stellar. And he does all this whilst crushing client work and keeping our clients happy. A true embodiment of one team, one agency, one strategy.”


Charlie Taylor – CEO’s Champion

“Charlie has had one of the toughest roles in the business. Leading the biggest team with all the challenges and changes that’s thrown at him, onboarding new clients and leading some of the agency’s largest clients. He turns up organised and focused to every Director’s meeting and makes an impact. He’s living proof that age doesn’t have to define your impact at a senior level.”

A huge ‘congratulations’ goes to all of our highly deserving winners and those who were shortlisted, “you’re all bloody marvellous. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here” (Andy Smith, CEO)


Delivering World Class Work, at Pace – A Masterclass

The theme of ‘teamwork’ was up next with a gripping session from Creative Director, Ash who aptly centred StrategiQ within the world of pit stops and chequered flags, proposing that our structure as an agency is operationally similar to that of teams within Formula One.

While the F1 fans in the room couldn’t believe their luck, there was a quick crash course for the rookies to get up to speed and then we were immersed into the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix where Max Verstappen was leading but Lewis Hamilton was vying for an 8th world title.

With this premise in mind and viewing Lewis Hamilton as our client we saw how, within the space of approximately 20 minutes, 8 people and departments across two different countries had discussed, decided, activated, reacted and executed a tactic that won their driver and team the Grand Prix. 

To do so they employed real-time; data analysis, risk assessments, competitor analysis, and behavioural science tactics to get a competitive edge and used contextual and historical information from past failures (in this instance the Budapest Grand Prix), to inform their decision-making. The thinking was then backed up by excellent execution in the form of a world-class pit stop where every single individual performed to their very best.

Agency life is fast-paced, not quite ‘200 mph an hour’ fast, but the similarities and learnings we can recognise, not just in the operational structure but the relative comparisons we can draw are highly insightful. 

Some of these included:

  • Perseverance is key – it took Mercedes F1, 4 years of struggle before they were capable of operating at this level

  • Learn from past successes and failures – how can we bring in specific examples to our decision-making to help us act with more certainty

  • High performance is when every single person executes their role to a high standard

  • You don’t always need a say – the race director trusted his team and their capabilities and led without interfering

  • A clear strategy can win even if it seems unlikely.

The key learnings: have a clear strategy, do your job brilliantly, communicate effectively… and don’t drop a metaphorical wheel nut!

Breakout discussions revealed just how well these learnings resonated with the team and provided a well-received perspective on matters such as effective communication at pace and distance within the post-COVID hybrid world of work in which we operate. Feeling more unified as a team than ever before, it was time for a break, refresh and maybe just a few Red Bull Vs Mercedes discussions ahead of the afternoon’s sessions.

Marketing Value Reporting with Russell McAthy

While the High Performance teamwork session was indeed a tough act to follow, Russ McAthy, CEO and co-founder of Ringside Data had no difficulty, presenting his highly insightful session about everything data, analytics and ultimately, value.

Russ conveyed how, in its most simple terms, data is just information gathered through observation, measurement, research or analysis. While it may be the case that “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data” (The Economist, 2017) he emphasised how data is not intrinsically valuable. In its raw form, data poses questions but data insights provide value. Therefore context and storytelling are paramount when sharing data whether internally or externally.

Stepping back from work and seeing it from a fresh perspective is key, and the application of a highly advanced analysis tool can help us in this process… Russ’s very own “give a S**t index”. Or, to you and I, “what does the client actually care about and how can we best tell them?”

This method is and will be paramount to all StrategiQ reporting to ensure the most effective storytelling and value reporting. Framing is a matter of presenting a particular interpretation to tell an impactful story. Often the best way to do so is by using “Big f***ing numbers” (Russ McAthy, 2024). With our teams performing so effectively and delivering such excellent work it is imperative that our clients understand the value we bring but that we as an agency also appreciate our own value and therefore convey our “Big f***ing numbers” confidently, in black and white.

In addition to the confidence and clarity that Russ equipped every individual with throughout his session, our performance and reporting teams will continue to work with Russ closely so we can continue to know our value and most importantly, show our value.

Our next quarter and beyond

The purpose of the strategy conference was to provide clarity of direction and allow us all to leave inspired, motivated and engaged. 

It’s fair to say that the room was brimming with motivation and an eagerness to apply all of the valuable takeaways. 

But, first we looked forwards, the focus for the next 12 months can be summarised as the development of six categories: 

  1. our purpose
  2. goals and business model
  3. performance and measurement
  4. people and organisation
  5. product and process
  6. promotion and marketing. 

The targets and actions are clearly integrated into a plan for the year ahead, driving us ever forwards towards our vision of becoming the destination agency for clients and talent.

While we like to think big, and will continue to do so on our journey towards our vision, a profound takeaway from this conference is the impact that thinking a little smaller can have. That excellent execution from every individual within a team is what world-class performance is made of. While we continue to produce “big f***ing numbers”, boundary-breaking work with AI and extensive R&D, we also commit to do the simple things brilliantly. Because after all: 

“A driver can be talented but a team will win you titles” (Ashley Thrower, Creative Director, Strategy Conference, 2024)

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