Despite the economic uncertainties of 2011 it was a year of growth for the Marketing Industry Network, or MiNetwork as the organisation was re-christened when I took over as MD at the start of 2011. During the year more ambitious agencies have joined MiNetwork seeing membership swell to almost 100 agencies across the UK.
January 2011 saw MiNetwork re-launched with a renewed focus on supporting independently owned and independently minded marketing services agencies. That renewed focus saw MiNetwork put the development and growth of agencies at the very top of our agenda with the MiNetwork team working closely with agency owners and senior managers to raise their agency profiles, share knowledge and meet like-minded agency owners to discuss issues, develop new collaborative working relations, create new business leads and to ultimately increase the overall shareholder value in their marketing business.
Exciting new products launched include the Agency Eavesdropper CD, which enables members to share business knowledge through a series of CD audio interviews sent exclusively to all members. MiNetwork has also maintained its close links to The Drum and now works with members to ensure that they have a close relationship with the journalists and are given a regular voice in what is the UK’s fastest growing marketing website. MiNetwork members can also access The Drum’s commercial platforms to ensure their editorial and commercial profile is integrated and communicating key messages to clients and recruits alike.
The year ahead promises more innovations and I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you about how we can help in 2012. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get a date in the diary.
MiNetwork’s membership grew significantly during 2011, almost doubling from 55 agencies to nearly 100 by the close of the year. As 2011 progressed, the membership benefits were refined in consultation with members to ensure that MiNetwork was delivering the services that agency heads needed and wanted to help them continue to build successful businesses.
New members during the year included agencies such as Elmwood, WRG, Freestyle Interactive, Thinking Juice, IAS B2B Marketing, Big Communications, Intermarketing, Coolpink, Kernel, If Agency, Epiphany and Chapter, with many of those opting to join as Elite members to take full advantage of the benefits available.
MiNetwork also continued to push further into London, which saw agencies including leading digital agencies Reading Room and Fortune Cookie, join up as MiNetwork members, further expanding the network’s knowledge base.
MiNetwork’s membership manager Chris Morton said: “The calibre of agencies that have joined MiNetwork in 2011 has really added to the knowledge and experience that now exists within the network and is being shared among members at MiNetwork various events and through our other platforms and products. In 2012 we certainly aim to make sure that through The Drum the profile of MiNetwork members is raised and that they are being talked about in all the right places.”
Mentors & Advisors
Sharing and building knowledge among the membership was at the centre of MiNetwork’s development during 2011 and to that end, MiNetwork expanded its roster of mentors and advisors to offer members the opportunity to build knowledge within their business.
Joining the panel of advisors in 2011 were Rose Lewis of Pembridge Partners, Mark Shipley of Shipley IP and business development specialist Trevor Flannery.
Pembridge Partners is a leading London-based investment advisor which works specifically with creative and digital businesses to help shareholders realise the value in their businesses. Lewis has a background in raising finance for growth and in 2012 will be working with MiNetwork to develop a new programme aimed at those member agencies who want to attract investment to aid their growth and development both nationally and internationally.
Shipley IP is a leading Intellectual Property law firm headed up by Mark Shipley. The year ahead will see Shipley offering Minetwork members a free consultation during which they can identify opportunities to maximise the value of their IP assets.
New business remains the lifeblood of every agency and new business specialist Trevor Flannery joined MiNetwork’s panel to work with members to evaluate their new business strategies and to ensure that they are delivering maximum results. In 2012 Flannery will continue to offer all MiNetwork members a free new business audit to ensure they are in the best shape for new business in the year head.
Networking Events, Seminars and Conferences
In 2011 MiNetwork hosted 24 networking events in cities across the UK, ranging from informal evening discussion panels and roundtables to full and half day conferences.
With new business continuing to be a big challenge as clients continue to cut back, one series of MiNetwork events which proved successful saw panels of bosses from agencies such as Driven, Big Communications, The Union, Coolpink, Multiply and Origin come together in Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Birmingham to discuss their business development strategies.
This series culminated in Manchester, when a panel of client-side marketing directors, including Warburtons and The Dogs Trust, spoke about what they look for from agencies and how they like to be approached for new business.
MiNetwork also hosted three How To Be Social digital and social media briefings which saw a total of over 200 client companies come together in London to listen to presentations from some of MiNetwork’s members, such as MadeByPi, IF Agency, Mediaworks and Fortune Cookie.
Another high point from 2011 was MiNetwork’s Go Global Conference which took place in June and saw marketing agencies that have expanded globally, including Reading Room, Elmwood and Fifth Ring, talk about their experiences to other agencies considering global expansion. They were also joined by UKTI and the China Britain Business Council, who offered advice and guidance on international trade.
The conclusion of MiNetwork’s events schedule was MiAwards – MiNetwork’s annual awards scheme recognising the very best run businesses within the network, held in November in Manchester.
Last year’s MiAwards attracted a record number of entries – more than 170 entries from 65 different UK agencies – the culmination of which saw 300 people gather at the Mercure Hotel in Manchester to see MiNetwork Elite member Freestyle Interactive, based in Warwick, win the Grand Prix Awards, while Lexis PR picked up the Chairman’s Award.
Speaking on how MiNetwork has developed during 2011, managing director Richard Draycott said: “There has never been a more important time for agencies to ensure that their profile is high than now, and it has been great to work with so many agencies over the last year to ensure that MiNetwork members are the people being talked about in The Drum. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline for 2012 to ensure that MiNetwork members and potential members have access to a wide range of services which will help them not just to win business, but to help them build their business and have access to a huge pool of marketing experience and knowledge to draw on as they move their businesses forward.
“2012 will see MiNetwork continue to look to bring more ambitious agencies who are prepared to share the secrets of their success with others. We also have a number of new products and initiatives in the pipeline to help us ensure that our members run the best marketing businesses in the UK, Europe and beyond.”