Five reasons why Tayburn has just posted its best results in a decade



The Drum Network article

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April 29, 2015 | 5 min read

When the team at The Drum Network learned that Tayburn had just posted its best financial results in a decade, I was invited to write a blog outlining the five key factors that I felt had most contributed to our recent success. Here’s what I came up with:

Tayburn's marketing director Richard Simpson.

Clear direction and purpose

The expression: "if you fail to plan, then plan to fail," maybe a cliché, but a key aspect of Tayburn's own brand journey has been the creation of our vision and the values exercise that saw every member of the agency involved in defining who we are and what we should expect of ourselves and each other. It's about ensuring our work is remarkable while we have fun along the way. This was all underpinned by a clear vision and direction of travel.

Burning boats

Tayburn has been around a long time and was a pioneer back in 1979. Having a specialist design agency was unusual at that time and over the years we were entrepreneurial enough to develop teams that looked at specific design disciplines. As the world changed, the marketing communications industry changed and this required re-focusing on the growth areas, namely, brand strategy, digital and marketing technology and campaign communications. It also meant focusing on fewer sectors, namely, financial services, education and food & drink. To use an analogy, whenever the Vikings conquered a new land they would burn the boat so that they couldn't go back home. How about that for focus? At Tayburn, we've been burning boats over the past year or so and saying no things that aren't right for the direction we are headed or projects that don’t recognise the technological changes and the pace of change that we have experienced in the market.

Right people, right seats

As part of this refocusing in line with our new vision, we had to look at the structure within the agency. It could be argued that it was quite siloed and we weren't creating opportunities for our colleagues nor did the structure support our offer for new clients. By deploying a simple formula based on our values and incorporating the roles that the business needed, we created a structure that had the right Tayburners occupying the right seats. This brought a lot of change and change is very hard but it's empowering our people to do more and it gives us all an opportunity to grow and develop as individuals and as a business.

We're practising what we preach

Very often agencies can be accused of being "cobblers bairns": we can be so busy delivering creative strategies and ideas for our clients that we don't take the time, nor make the investment to market ourselves properly. Over the years Tayburn hasn't always made that investment in marketing activity and while our financial performance was good, it was sporadic. This past year we have developed a cohesive plan that drives client referrals, creates events and speaking opportunities, builds partnerships, maximises our networks, generates content and utilises the creative skills we have right across our business. It takes time to realise the investment, but it's well worth the effort.

Where's the urgency?

Finally, and in some ways this is the most important factor, you have to ask yourself where the urgency is? If you have planned to do something and haven't got round to it, why is that? Tayburn's ownership changed in May and that brought a more entrepreneurial mindset that encouraged growth and calculated risks. It also brought operational changes to increase the frequency and sharpness of important internal meetings around sales, marketing, clients and finance.

Richard Simpson is marketing director of Tayburn.


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