It’s hard to believe, but September marked the end of the first year in business for Realise Agency. Just where does the time go?!
Before we’ve even blown out the candles on our birthday cake, we’re already planning our next year and looking back on what’s been a very busy and exciting past 12 months working with a fantastic and diverse range of clients.
We’ve been challenged by many tests that small businesses and consultants face in their first year, but we’ve been able to achieve great results for clients, whilst in the background setting up the business, marketing materials and everything else that needed to be established.
We’ve had the pleasure of working on some fantastic projects over the last year, highly aligned to our skillsets. Now felt like the ideal time to take stock and review our progress over the last 12 months; a process which I’d strongly recommend for any business at a key milestone, and at least annually. I wanted to take a deep-dive into how we’ve been spending our time, for which type of clients, and which project types we’ve been working on the most. 12 months on from the original business plan, I also wanted to review what’s worked well, where improvements may be needed and set the direction for the next year.
I embarked on trawling through some of our 60+ projects and set about reviewing and categorising each. An arduous process perhaps, but the visibility that such a task opens up to a business is well worth the investment in my eyes. We decided to share this with you as Realise aims to be open and transparent, inspired by brands such as Buffer and Moz. We also hope it will help open the doors on what we do every day as you get to learn more about us and our expertise. Plus, who doesn’t love a good piece of data analysis!
Firstly, one of the most interesting pieces of reporting looks at the split between our various income categories. For anyone running a business day-to-day, it can be easy to be so focused on delivering great work that taking a step back can often reveal a few surprises you may not be expecting. The project types breakdown over the past year was approximately as I had anticipated, with the main topics matching our service offering very closely.
As our work is often very personalised, created bespoke to what we perceive our clients will gain most benefit from, categorising our projects in this way was challenging. However, there are some similarities in approach and process for most of our work. We’ve now defined this into a three-step process that runs through all of our jobs and helps sets us apart from others. For example, we’d never be able to skip Stage 1 (Research & Define) in good conscience, given that we see solid research, strategy and objective setting as being pivotal to the success of the work.
Our focus on the bespoke approach, rather than an ‘off the shelf’ services, is something that has meant we’ve previously resisted presenting ‘packages’ on our website, even though clients were asking for them! However, given that much of our work now includes industry and competitor research, digital audits, strategy and creation of a marketing plan of various types, this is a new service that we’re pleased to launch based various tiers of service level. It took a bit of a leap for us to whittle things down to selected packages, but we expect it to make things easier for clients who prefer to select their requirements based on investment and work in this way. It doesn’t mean that we’re dropping the bespoke approach though, as this is still built in to the way we work.
Looking at our main two audience groups was an interesting task, revealing an almost perfect 50 / 50 split between work via marketing and advertising agencies and projects working directly with clients. We also work with consultants and small agencies, which we included in the ‘agency’ category. Much of our agency work is based on a seamless relationship where we can work as part of an agency team, or as an external digital consultant, and projects tend to come under the account / project management, consultancy / research and social media categories above.
Client Source of Referral
We’ve been very pleased to receive a number of projects referred to us via existing or returning customers and within our previous networks, together making up the highest referral source. Like many small businesses, we admit that we can struggle to keep our own website updated (even though we fully understand the benefits!), but referrals via social media, and LinkedIn in particular, have proved excellent for us. Our expanding network of recommended partners also continues to provide mutually productive relationships.
Business Sector / Category
It’s been no surprise to see a solid mix of B2C and B2B projects in our sector analysis, but the influence of the retail sector on our client base is one we had certainly underestimated. This, together with our growing focus on the events and entertainment industry and continued B2B clients, will undoubtedly make up much of the focus moving into 2016.
It’s been a fantastic start to our consultancy first year and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all our clients past and present. We look forward to continuing to work with many of you in the future.
We’ve given our website a fresh lick of paint to celebrate our birthday! We’d love to hear your feedback on our new site or how you’ve found working with us – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like an insight into how we can help your business, drop us a line for a no-obligation chat.