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Fun, fame, fortune: guiding principles of Rooster Punk, small B2B Agency of the Year 2021

Rooster Punk won ‘B2B Agency of the Year (Small)’ at The Drum Awards for B2B in 2021. For eight years this small team has been a champion of storytelling - get a look behind the scenes of the award-winning agency.

Eight years ago, we made one of those ‘follow your heart’ decisions and set up an agency doing something unheard of in B2B land – storytelling. Back in 2013 there were only a handful of people on LinkedIn who used the ‘storyteller’ moniker in their profile. Today, there are millions. Why the change?

We had a vision for B2B marketing that was beyond talking about speeds and feeds, and beyond the obsession with short-term lead gen. A vision that put customers and employees first and used emotion and storytelling as a way to build meaning and relevance. We wanted to help brands ‘create’ customers that bought into their story, rather than competing in an arms race of factory-line content and martech chasing ‘leads’ to feed the demand-gen machine.

Paul Cash is a creative Entrepreneur and storyteller on a mission to humanize B2B marketing. Recognized as one of the top 20 most influential B2B marketers, he is the founder of Rooster Punk.

James Trezona is a strategist, speaker and co-founder of Rooster Punk, who cares deeply about using the power of storytelling to put purpose at the heart of business and make the world a better place.

We’re driven by purpose: to humanize B2B marketing through storytelling. Our vision is that 21st century business becomes a force for good – with human interests, not greed, at its heart. We believe there shouldn’t be a binary choice between profit and principles, but that modern brands can combine the two in a more enlightened, sustainable economic paradigm.

We have a set of values: Fun, Fame, Fortune (in that order) – meaning that:

  • FUN: we believe that humanizingB2B starts with us – great, positive and open relationships internally and externally

  • FAME: we’re passionate about what we do – pushing boundaries, and helping our team and our clients be bold enough to create great work that has transformational outcomes

  • FORTUNE: this will ultimately create fair returns for us and our clients.

Contribution to Clients' Businesses

In 2020 we have taken our philosophy of Humanizing to some of the world’s largest technology companies:

  • NTT – global brand work for this $20B top 5 global tech provider

  • TCS (TATA) – global brand work for this $23B consultancy – the world’s fastest growing.

We’re just as proud of how we’re helping the UK scale-up community grow – for instance we’ve been working with Currencycloud since 2015 – rebranding them in 2016, and we carried out another major rebrand for them to reflect their new phase of growth in 2020-21 – over which time they grew from 25 to >300 people and have secured over $100m in investment.

Last, but not least, in 2020 we increased our focus on the “force-for-good" side of the business. We believe the urgency around social and environmental change which has always been at the heart of Rooster Punk has become more pronounced – and we’ve been driving incredible results for environmental and socially responsibility businesses like Stryde, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), Views for Change , and ITGL - on average more than doubling the results that they were seeing from previous activities by putting purpose and story at the heart of everything they do.

Client retention

In 2020-21 we had 97% client retention.

Clients are at the heart of our business, and we’ve found that as marketing has become more integrated and complex, and as we’ve grown to focus on bigger challenges, we need a client services team who truly act as an extension of their team.

Therefore, we took the strategic decision in 2020 to treble the size of our client services team (to 6). We appointed a Chief Growth Officer – who has significant ‘c-level’ client-side experience as well as agency side – to head up our client services team to drive not just our growth, but our clients’ growth.

A great example of that is Crowdcube, who we rebranded in 2019. With no additional media spend – just the powerful new story we created for them, “Funding the Wonderful” – they supercharged their team, grew their revenue by 38% in 2020, and have continued to have record-breaking months in 2021.

Creative Thinking

In April 2020 we had a brilliant CD and designer and an amazing pool of freelancers, who throughout the summer of 2020 were flexible and loyal and delivered amazing work.

However, by October 2020 we knew we had to have more capabilities in-house as a mark of our ambition and confidence post-covid, so we hired ECD James Swan – previously ECD at BBH. In 2021 we have added two more experienced designers, more than doubling the size of the team.

In mid-2020 we recognized we needed to invest in a more insights-driven process to help fuel our storytelling creative ethos. We promoted internally a Head of Intelligence to oversee a centralized Intelligence team, whose objective it is to transform our planning, creative, procedural and marketing processes with data-driven insights.

We have now on-boarded intent data, technographic and SEO platforms that have allowed us to develop a myriad of new ROI-driving services for our clients, as well as developing bespoke products such as a 'Digital Maturity' market insights model, customizable campaign reporting dashboards and a brand archetype quiz. This has led to supercharging growth and business opportunities for clients such as ITGL and the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), as well as fueling our own social and web growth as an agency.

This team expanded further in January 2021 when we brought one of our previous superstars back into the business – a brilliant content planner, allowing us to use the insights from our Intelligence team to provide more specific and relevant content to bring our storytelling strategies to life.

Financial Performance

Our plans – like everyone else’s – were impacted by covid. But because of the strategic moves we’d made, we actually grew topline and GP in 2020 – despite a couple of really tough quarters – and put ourselves in a position to bounce back far stronger, with Q1 2021 being our best ever by some margin.

Staff & Community Engagement

In the last year, staff retention has been at 95%. With the onset of covid, we pulled together and really ensured there was a feeling of community and family in our company

Key Initiatives

Paul and James are two of the most inspiring leaders in the B2B industry and have chosen to share their philosophy, rally the industry and challenge the status quo with their book, ‘Humanizing B2B’ (which they wrote in lockdown). The book launched on April 27th 2021 and all the surrounding podcasts and videos are enabling us to challenge the B2B industry and help it grow. From the initial response, comments and uptake, it has definitely had the desired effect: reaching no 1 for sales and marketing for global new release on Amazon.

2020 also saw us rebrand, redevelop our website and create a thought-leadership led marketing strategy which saw our total social audience grow by 25.3%, with LinkedIn growing 52.3%. Direct traffic to our website has also grown 18.8% YOY.

The dreams are now ambitions and objectives – and with a new leadership team we have every faith we will achieve. This six-strong senior team represents all areas of the business and is tasked to provide direction and guidance over the next four years of the business plan.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for B2B. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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