Chris Simmance (00:53.215)
Hello, hello, hello. Thanks. Voiceover guy. I’m very pleased to have two agency leaders on the podcast. So we’ve got Collette and Vicky from context marketing consultancy. See, I’ve got it right guys. Welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?
Vicki Robb (01:03.834)
Very well, thank you. How are you?
Chris Simmance (01:08.939)
Really good, really good. We just, before this, before the recording, just talking about holidays. Now my head is on the beach. So let’s see how we get on. How are you doing Colette? You’re not on the beach. Whereabouts are you based?
Well I’m sort of on the beach, so I’m based in Bournemouth. So the beach is about seven minutes walk away from my house, so I’m very lucky that I get to see. Exactly, yeah.
Chris Simmance (01:25.318)
Chris Simmance (01:29.827)
That’s close enough to say you live at the beach. That’s close enough. And Vicky, are you seven minutes or eight minutes from the beach or further?
Vicki Robb (01:39.183)
more like an hour depending on the traffic. So I’m Winchester, so I walk out the door to fields and too much mud with my spaniel most of the time.
You get best of both worlds with us.
Chris Simmance (01:48.803)
That, that, that’s, I mean, spaniel. I mean, you’ve, you’ve immediately, yeah. I was going to say you’ve immediately perked my interest because just as we started recording, we had an office cat and now we definitely have a spaniel office dog, similar to Steven. Um, so first of all, um, if you don’t mind giving us a little intro to yourselves and then to the agency, that’d be great. So Colette, who the heck is Colette?
Vicki Robb (01:52.415)
Vicki Robb (02:02.509)
Oh crikey, let’s not get too deep on that today. So I’m Collette Masadeliano, so I’m co-founder and director of the Context Marketing Consultancy. So I have come through all sorts of different in-house roles throughout my career. So probably over 20, 25 years, I hope I look younger than that makes me sound. Doing all sorts of things from email to social to…
Chris Simmance (02:14.832)
right up to director, my latest role was a director of digital engagement for a large charity. So that’s where my background was. And then working with Vicky on context marketing consultancy, and we’ve been doing it for probably a couple of years now.
Chris Simmance (03:01.823)
And so Vicky, nice segue into an introduction there. So crack on.
Vicki Robb (03:06.531)
Yeah, hi, I’m Vicki Robb. I’m the other half of the co founder and director of context marketing consultancy. And I had slightly less time than Colette spent in marketing a little bit younger, which she always hates me saying. I kind of started sort of events offline marketing, moved more into generic and covering everything marketing.
And also now looking at kind of customer experience and how that can impact some of the marketing effectiveness that we’re sort of gonna be speaking to you a little bit more about today, hopefully.
Chris Simmance (03:46.703)
Nice one. And how long has the agency been going? You say a couple of years or so?
Vicki Robb (03:50.699)
Yeah, so, yeah, just actually just had two year birthday. So, yes. No, we actually missed the opportunity. Maybe we’ll do it the weekend.
Chris Simmance (03:54.669)
Woo, did you have a cake?
Chris Simmance (03:59.651)
There’s always reasons to have cake. So just do it for Friday or something like that. And how do you typically like split your accountabilities in the running of the business? Is there one of you more on one side of the business than the other?
Vicki Robb (04:04.996)
We will do that instead.
Vicki Robb (04:16.347)
That’s a good question. Go on, can I have it over to you because I saw you were going to jump in.
I think it really depends on what our clients need and want really. I think some areas work to more of our strengths and some, you know, we enjoy certain areas more than others. So we have a split of clients, you know, that we might be able to work on. Some of it requires both of us to kind of input on. But the great thing about us is we’ve worked together before when we were in-house on several different occasions.
So we really know how each other works. So it doesn’t matter whether one of us is working with a client or other, we know how each other think and feel about certain things. So I’m probably slightly more involved with kind of some more of the strategic holistic side of things. But that doesn’t mean to say that Vicky doesn’t do that as well, I think it just depends on kind of who we work with. And also kind of, it’s really important to us to know who we gel with, you know, we are quite informal, chilled kind of people.
Chris Simmance (04:49.089)
Chris Simmance (05:07.84)
Chris Simmance (05:14.271)
It’s really about building that partnership with our clients as well. And obviously if, you know, Vicky strikes a rapport with somebody or I do, either when we’ve been networking or through our connections and they want to work with us. Actually, it makes more sense for us to work together and then maybe bring the other one in and then maybe bring somebody of our team in as well. So I think it really, in the world of SEO and digital marketing, when you can say it depends, it depends in our agency as well, you know, it kind of depends on.
Chris Simmance (05:34.156)
Chris Simmance (05:45.377)
the situation and the needs and the wants of kind of who our clients are.
Chris Simmance (05:50.687)
That’s awesome. And, and over the last few years, what do you think has been one of the biggest successes that you’ve seen in running the business as you are and together as well?
I think one of the biggest successes that we’ve had working together is we’re really able to start making an impact in the people that we’re working with in how they’re looking at things. We so often see that things are quite siloed. And actually when we’ve worked with some of our clients in the past, one in particular I’m thinking of is in the arts and heritage sector. We have been able to go, okay, so.
Let’s look at how everything works together and it’s not just about marketing. It’s not just about ticket sales and it’s not just about, you know, if people are inquiring about how do we get there or whatever, it’s about how it all works together and actually seeing how marketing is much more embedded in, um, into kind of the whole process about how everything works. It it’s really satisfying. It’s why we wanted to start kind of working together and working as a consultant, you know, consultants together with our clients.
Chris Simmance (06:37.844)
it’s what we found we were missing when we were in house. So that for me feels like that’s a real success of kind of us working together.
Chris Simmance (07:08.127)
And Vicky, beyond remaining friends with Collette, what do you think has been one of the biggest successes from your perspective running the agency?
Vicki Robb (07:16.579)
Yeah, I think that when we sort of set out to build context marketing consultancy, what we were finding in house was that actually by default, marketeers sort of become custodians of customers, purchases and buyers. And I think very often once a lead comes into an organisation, it then becomes about how can we sell, how can we sell to these people and get their money? Very few organisations then look at kind of,
Chris Simmance (07:42.263)
Vicki Robb (07:45.699)
retention strategies and actually where there could be a value exchange between themselves and a customer. And I think actually speaking to clients and some of the clients that we’ve worked with, it’s actually about changing their motivation for the way that they do marketing. So we’ve had clients come to us and say, look, can you help us put a new website in place that obviously works a little bit better than some of the ones that they had in post-previous? And we’re like, actually, yes, we can.
But as a standalone channel, how else can we put the building blocks in place behind that, that help you become data-led, customer-centric, and start to see where you can add value and actually monetize some more of that customer journey for those businesses as well.
Chris Simmance (08:34.495)
Yeah, I, I’ve seen that on your website. You’ve got your kind of three core pillars, uh, discover, uh, hang on, discover, transform, retain. Am I getting that? Yeah. So, um, that, I think one of the things that agencies typically, um, misunderstand the things that, uh, and it’s not as simple as that, but are things that are as simple to convey as that into, uh, to potential clients. Um, you can, you can convince a client much better if they understand what you’re selling.
Vicki Robb (08:43.558)
Chris Simmance (09:04.067)
Because often it’s an invisible intangible thing. So if you say, you know, doesn’t matter what the service you pick, there are these three core strands to it. We discover the stuff, we work it all out. We do all of the discovery. We then transform it from where it is to where it wants to be. And then we retain the customers. It goes through retention, blah, blah. They’re going to go, oh, this makes a lot more sense than we’re a data driven marketing agency or something similarly put.
Um, did you, was that, was that a, um, an early thing that you, you adopted? Is that something that you’ve always done internally? How, how did that come about? Because you are amongst a few. When I say that I’ve looked at hundreds of digital agency websites and very few make it clear, like how you do what you do in succinct words.
Vicki Robb (09:52.431)
Well, that’s a good thing, I suppose, to start. But also, so what probably gets both of our goat going a little bit, and we could sort of go on, we won’t go on, for a little while, is sort of a marketing funnel. Everybody knows what marketing funnel is. Everybody uses that terminology. But if you visualize a funnel, you have people coming in the top and funneling straight out the bottom again. And actually, for return on investment, for lifetime value of customers.
Chris Simmance (09:53.575)
Yes, yes, oh yes, absolutely.
Chris Simmance (10:16.288)
Vicki Robb (10:22.251)
it’s not a particularly good model to use. So actually starting to investigate some more of the customer experience and how that can determine your marketing effectiveness as an organization. CX looks at customers as a circular model. So you have different touch points throughout somebody’s life cycle with your organization. And it means somebody can enter in at any point in one of those touch points, but the idea is you retain them in a circle.
Chris Simmance (10:48.707)
Vicki Robb (10:52.3)
So you lose the visualization of people coming in the top and falling out the bottom. And we’re just trying to sort of map our services to match that customer journey.
Chris Simmance (11:02.379)
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Simmance (11:21.083)
On it. You buy a voiceover from Fiverr and he keeps coming back. Sorry to interrupt you there. Um, so you’re going back a couple of years, you two have got a relationship for longer than a few years, um, is there something that you would give? Um, if, you know, if, if you popped back in time to speak to, uh, you, just as you’re starting the agency, what, what advice might you give yourself, um, based on the things you’ve learned in the last few years?
Vicki Robb (11:25.207)
I think it’s really important just to start. I think I get quite bogged down in some of the detail sometimes and I want things to be just right. And I think sometimes I listened to something recently and it was like, you have to have a bad first draft and do a bad first draft and just get out there and optimize and refine it. And I just thought to myself, if I could have done that ages ago, right? When we were starting.
Chris Simmance (11:57.591)
The amount of conversations Vicky and I had about what does this landing page look like? And, you know, does this particular wording work? And I personally got really hung up on that side of things because I wanted the things to be perfect. And I think things won’t be perfect and things aren’t perfect now. And I’ll look back in two years time and Vicky and I have the same conversation and go, why did we worry so much about stuff back then? So I think it is just really, can that get out of your head?
Chris Simmance (12:40.139)
You know what you want to do. You and Vicky have got a great concept and you know how much you want to help other organizations the way that we’d wished we’d had that help when we were in house. So just get on and do it and stop getting hung up on it and just really go for it really. Because yes, there’s too many conversations about landing pages.
Chris Simmance (12:55.958)
Chris Simmance (12:59.704)
It’s very hard when it’s yours.
Absolutely. It’s very hard when it’s yours to look away from the need for perfection. But I often advise the agencies that I work with that initially done is better than perfect because you can ship done and it’s good. If it’s good enough to go out on as a just it’s done, then that’s fine. Refine later, make it perfect later. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a pile of to do’s or a pile of in progress.
What about yourself Vicky? What advice might you give yourself going into this, this two person founded agency?
Vicki Robb (13:38.351)
I mean, to be honest, it would probably be very similar and that to do list still very much exists. We haven’t got through the to do list, but I think it is just about getting it is about getting out there. I think the reason that we set context marketing consultancy up and we sort of touched on it a little bit earlier is that we’ve worked mainly in house throughout both of our careers. And it’s kind of the same things that keep coming up where there’s
sometimes not enough importance put on marketing through organisations, it’s hard to demonstrate value and ROI to sort of senior board members and things like that. And I think actually it’s just starting to get that message out there. And actually, I would say one of the areas that we’ve also kind of been putting off is pushing sort of our opinion and voice out onto sort of LinkedIn, other B2B channels, because I think once we speak to people, we’re just like…
Oh, actually, okay, what we’re saying is resonating. And maybe it’s about having that confidence to do that a little bit sooner as well.
Chris Simmance (14:43.659)
I will tell you for free that fear never goes away even after you start doing it. And I’m on episode 140 something recording of this podcast and every single time I go into it, I think, I have no idea what I’m talking about and they’re all going to know it, know it as well. And every time you write a post on LinkedIn, you know, someone’s going to have an opinion. Hopefully they don’t have a negative one that they air publicly, but you just have to get on with it. It’s a painful part of.
Vicki Robb (14:47.471)
Chris Simmance (15:12.467)
of doing this thing, as long as you’re, as long as you know that what you’re saying is absolutely correct from your perspective and you can back up things with experience or, or case studies and things like that, you know, you know, what you know better than anyone else does, because you’re the people that started context marketing consultancy and you know, your customers well enough. Is, is there something that
Um, like from day one that you did, you’ve implemented into the business that has kind of stood you in really good stead or you’ve, you did it first time you’ve ever done it and it was the right decision.
I mean, we’re very structured. So I’m gonna break this down into a couple of areas and probably Vicky will break it up into two furthers. So from a business perspective, straight away putting a platform in place like Kasana has actually been key to our success working together and working with our team because we know exactly where we are, we project map and we do all of that side of things. So actually, you know.
Chris Simmance (15:55.907)
We don’t work in a silo, which is our biggest, which has always been a big bugbear and it happens in every marketing team and it happens everywhere where everybody’s working on their own things and it really helps give that transparency and it has helped our internal success. And I would say externally, we started, once we started working with some of our clients, we realized that we were having conversations and we’re having conversations individually with lots of different people. And we’re like, actually what…
Chris Simmance (16:32.312)
everybody needs is a workshop. And everybody says workshop and everybody recoils in horror where you’re like, Oh, no, I’m gonna have to be in a room and I’m gonna have to ask to, you know, input and put sticky notes on a wall and things like that. And people hate the idea of it. But we’ve run a couple of them now and we’re doing more and we’ve got more booked in and, you know, we actually find that getting everybody in a room and, you know, not massive groups of people, but actually having those open conversations and doing it, you know, we found have started to be really beneficial and have actually been able to help.
Chris Simmance (17:14.86)
So when we talk about discover, which is one of our sort of product areas, if you will, it’s not just discovering what your customers are thinking about your brand, but actually it’s what internally you’re thinking about your brand and do you know where you’re going? Are you aligning your business goals with your marketing goals? And do you know who your customers are? Because if you think you know who your customers are and actually what the reality of who they are is, that could be very different. So actually we’ve embraced the workshop.
Chris Simmance (17:26.802)
Chris Simmance (17:43.468)
And again, you know, it’s not perfect and we are adapting our style of how we do them and every client needs something slightly different from us as well.
Chris Simmance (17:56.311)
curious about the workshop, please tell me you do a really awkward icebreaker at the very beginning though, like corporate style icebreaker.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, Vicky’s very good at doing the icebreakers and throwing really random questions and trying to get people to do it. We did one where, you know, you had to do whether you like, say, cats or dogs. And if you like cats, you went from one room and dogs to the other side of the room. And then how long have you worked there and things like that. And just moving people around. People were bumping into each other. We were like, we are not doing that one again. That just doesn’t work.
Chris Simmance (18:28.703)
But yeah, we’re trying different styles. And if anybody wants to reach out to us and say, hey, we do this like spraker, it really works. We’re always open to kind of other people’s input and stuff like that. But we do like a bit of chat. So we do try and make sure we do chat. Three, two truths and a lie is always a good one because you learn quite a lot of interesting stuff. It’s one of the ones that Vicky and I did when we first met 10 years ago, I think, when we worked in house.
Chris Simmance (18:43.176)
Chris Simmance (19:00.407)
That same tactic is how I get one of my nephews to tell me what he’s done at school. Vicky, what about you? What’s the one thing that from your perspective, you know, you’ve set up and on day one, it was the right move. What’s that for you?
Vicki Robb (19:17.667)
Well, Collette’s stolen mine because she always now normally takes Mick. Asana is the first thing that comes out of my mouth every single time. So she’s taken that one. No, I think as well, what we’ve tried to put in place is the building blocks that support our own customer journeys. So when we’re dealing with businesses, so actually we brought in sort of CRM platforms and things like that fairly early on, because actually we were just like,
Chris Simmance (19:42.22)
Vicki Robb (19:45.571)
We want to be practicing what we’re preaching to other people. And it’s about actually the retention of our own clients as well, and how we can add value to them. So yeah, it was mapping business, business journeys through HubSpot. And we have sort of the email platform as part of that as well. And actually it’s like, just ensuring that everything that we’re telling our clients, we are actually putting into place as well.
Chris Simmance (19:53.098)
Vicki Robb (20:14.251)
which has been quite a good one that we’ve stuck to I think.
Chris Simmance (20:17.483)
I think, um, practicing what you preach gets harder and harder over the years, but way more rewarding if you actually stick to it for sure. So I’ve got two final questions for you. We’re going to start with you Colette. First thing that you comes to mind, best thing about working with Vicky.
Chris Simmance (20:38.976)
Vicki Robb (20:40.335)
It’s true, it’s true. Yeah.
Maggie, Maggie the dog is a bit, no. I, oh, this is a bit gushing, isn’t it? But I find Vicki really inspiring to work with. I think that I can have conversations with her and go, I’ve read this article or I’ve listened to this or I’ve just spoken to this person and, what do you think about that? And sometimes she’s like, that’s amazing, but have you thought about it from this perspective? Or she’s like, that’s rubbish. Do you remember when we had this conversation?
Chris Simmance (21:04.067)
It’s really important to work with people that bring out the best and the worst in you. And I think Vicky does that for me. And I think we really work hard together to make sure that we have a balanced partnership. And I know that I found the right business partner for me with her.
Chris Simmance (21:17.972)
Chris Simmance (21:30.975)
That’s awesome. Now, Colette, just remember that the next question is going back to Vicki in a second. What’s the worst thing about working with Vicki?
There’s nothing terrible about working with Vicky. No, there you go.
Chris Simmance (21:43.292)
Ah, there you go.
Vicki Robb (21:45.38)
When the Spaniard was not there, that’s what she said.
precisely. And so we, we get on really well. We love a chat. We love a walk. And sometimes a bit of banter and are you know, where we’re trying to be focused, we can lose that focus and something potentially a conversation that could take maybe an hour might take three hours because we go down different sidetracks and stuff like that. We always get it done. But, but yeah, but because we get on so well, and we are great friends as well, you know, sometimes the chat
Chris Simmance (22:08.82)
Chris Simmance (22:20.039)
Yeah, a future politician Colette and Vicky favorite thing about working with Colette.
Vicki Robb (22:26.507)
Yeah, because we worked together before, I think, our previous working sort of as colleagues, we really formed kind of a very good way of working with each other. And I think that things that I bring collect them balances completely the other way as well. So it’s we have a very similar way of thinking that often is quite different to how a lot of other people in marketing teams and organizations would approach sort of marketing effectiveness.
Chris Simmance (22:42.091)
Vicki Robb (22:54.543)
customer journeys and that sort of thing. But actually some of the things that I’m unable to do, collect picks up and vice versa. So I think it balances itself out kind of really nicely. And I’m sure you’ll sort of appreciate as, as you start growing from kind of smaller to slightly bigger, it’s things that you end up having to pick up sort of. So we joke now that I’m kind of finance ops and HR director and collect sort of more marketing and sales director of our own business. And.
Chris Simmance (23:22.531)
Vicki Robb (23:23.807)
it kind of works out quite nicely that one of us is able to pick up something and the other one the other thing.
Chris Simmance (23:28.871)
Yeah, it’s an inevitability eventually that one of you has to be the numbers and one of you has to be the colouring pens and things like that. And you can be both from many levels, but one has to be accountable for those things. And you know what’s coming up Vicky, what’s the worst thing about working with Collette?
Vicki Robb (23:46.383)
the worst. I actually thought she was going to say about me that she doesn’t like me putting everything in Asana because I then chase her for every little red thing that she’s late on. And in our previous role, we used a project management platform called Wrike, and I used to be able to give her a red flag every time she was late on something. So I think now she just sneaks in and changes the date whenever something of hers goes red.
Chris Simmance (23:54.336)
Chris Simmance (24:09.771)
Brilliant. I mean, you can’t hide from accountability in Asana and ClickUp and Monday and all those things. You just can’t anymore. Um, so someone’s come up, come along and knocked on your, your office door. Um, they’re thinking of starting a new agency for themselves. It’s going to be a, um, uh, co-founded partnership as well. So they’ve, they’ve come to you guys and they want to ask, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them?
Vicki Robb (24:16.609)
Chris Simmance (24:36.725)
as they start their agency. Vicki, what’s your advice do you think?
Vicki Robb (24:41.327)
We did Brighton SEO a few weeks ago and ended up going to an agency leaders dinner and we had the most incredible conversations with some really great people. And actually, I wish we’d done that sooner because I think sort of making friends and sort of connections and things with people that are other agency leaders. You learn so much stuff. You learn different things that you maybe hadn’t thought about.
And actually some of the area of our business now is looking at moving into support in other agencies with how we can put sort of marketing strategy in place with them, if that’s maybe an element that they don’t offer. And I now wish I’d started looking at networking with other agency leaders kind of a long time ago.
Chris Simmance (25:18.267)
Chris Simmance (25:29.019)
Yeah. And, and, and genuinely, and this isn’t a plug, this is exactly why I started the community part of the OMG center. Um, there’s 475 agency leaders in there at the minute. Um, sometimes it’s quiet and sometimes it’s busy, but it’s that kind of ability to support each other when you need it and things that I think, um, it does help because there’ll be someone who runs, I don’t know, a PPC firm and.
they need some support on exactly what you do or vice versa, and they know where to go because there’s someone that they can trust. What about you, Colette? What would be your piece of advice you’d give someone as they’re knocking on your door?
I think I have two words really, honesty and expectation. I think you need to make sure that you lay out your expectations of what you expect, not only from your business, but actually what you expect from each other. I think that’s really important. You can go, okay, I know I wanna get to this many staff or this many clients or this amount of money, which is something that we’re not really kind of, we don’t look at it in that way. But actually,
Chris Simmance (26:19.981)
you need to sit down and have an honest conversation about what your expectations of each other. You know, I expect you to, and it’s not like a to do this, like I expect you to do X, Y, and Z, but actually I expect you to, you know, when you say you’re gonna do something, you do it. And if you’re struggling, you know, you say and you have this conversation with each other if you’re not gonna be able to kind of do it or whatever. So I think lay out your expectations with each other and be honest. And if there’s something that you don’t like or you don’t wanna do, you’ve got to have that.
that trust with each other. And if you start that out right from the beginning, and if you need to sit down, go for a glass of wine or go for a beer and sit in a pub and just have it quite informal and be like, okay, so let’s write it down. Let’s just kind of have a list of all things. I want this and I don’t want that. I think that’s gonna put you in really good stead.
Chris Simmance (27:26.087)
Yeah, absolutely. And, and, and I’ll, and just to add to that ever so slightly, um, yes, it’s awkward and it sounds a bit scary, but ratify it with a shareholders agreement. They’re, they’re not, they’re not really worth the paper they’re written on for the most part, um, because, you know, if you want to wriggle out of something, you can pretty much do it, but it’s a good way of saying, I definitely agree with the, whatever it is that we, you know, around decision-making, around, uh, how to exit, cause at some point in time, things will change.
And, you know, Vicky, you might decide to move to somewhere across the other side of the world and it just makes it hard to run the agency together. And because you’ve got an agreement around how you handle shares and things like that, there’s no awkward conversations and no painful things that would happen. Or, you know, someone else wants to come into the business as a way of valuing shares and things like that. All that sort of stuff is, it takes the awkwardness away from, from it and keeps it very much more official nature.
If you are co-founders listening to this, or you’ve just starting out thinking your co-founders get a shareholders agreement, it takes a few hours to sit down and do it because the vast majority of them it’s boilerplate and you change the numbers and the names at worst. That’s what you should be doing. But that’s the boring bit out of the way. Vicky Collette. Thank you so much for, for coming on the podcast today. It’s been great to talk to you. And hopefully we’ll be talking in about a year or so as time in season two to find out how.
the last year of running the agency had been for you. Thanks very much for coming. Brilliant. And in our next episode, we’ll be speaking with another digital agency leader to hear their story and the lessons they learned along the way. Thanks very much for listening.
Vicki Robb (28:57.255)
Thank you so much for having us on. Thank you.
great we look forward to talking to you then.