So, what do novi.digital do?
We are a data-driven digital marketing agency. As an award-winning company, we help our clients to grow their business online in real terms – attracting increasing numbers of visitors who are more likely to become customers and/or clients. We utilise all available data to cut out unlikely customers and eliminate any roadblocks that stop visitors ‘converting’ into customers.
We keep our eyes on the bottom line and we keep in close contact with our clients to make sure all our efforts are focused on the areas most beneficial to the client.
What’s behind the business idea?
Too many digital marketers often took shortcuts and misled their clients, focusing on short-term results, with a number of digital agencies tarring the industry with smoke and mirrors. We set about in 2009 to change the landscape; we believe in long-term growth that supports our clients as people, lets our team enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they do good work, building friendships internally and with our clients, by putting the focus initially on ‘why’ we do things, rather than how.
Our success – including financial success – comes from our priorities, and that means putting people first, whether this is the client, their customers or brilliant team here at novi.digital.
Was it hard becoming a business owner?
The things in life that are worthwhile are rarely easy. With this said, when times have been hard (and it’s been 8 years since starting the company in 2009, so there have been some tough times along the way), I’ve taken time out to remember why I began the company. I wanted (and still do) to create an environment that creates satisfaction, purpose and happiness.
For me, becoming a business owner wasn’t ‘hard’ per se, there was just a lot of learning along the way. The most important thing I found was to remember to take enjoyment in the learning process. It’s not always about the end goal, although it is important to have one, it’s about the journey and taking a moment to enjoy the adventure, to look around you and to be thankful for those that have dedicated their time and efforts to the cause.
For me personally, I pride myself on being resilient, so whilst there have been times that are more challenging than others, I’ve always remembered to dust myself off and persevere onwards.
How did you recruit your employees?
More recently we have worked (and still do) with an excellent recruiter called Mandy, but not everybody reaches us through her!
When we review CVs, we’re looking for a good foundational knowledge connected to their job role, but we’re also looking for flexibility, dynamism and a willingness to learn new ways of thinking (we say this, because don’t copy our competition – that only leaves your clients treading water, always one step behind). If someone seems to have a wide skill base and a willingness to commit, they reach our interview shortlist.
The interview does include a quick check to make sure they are what they say they are, but we’re mostly looking at their work philosophy. We have a conversation; although we have to have some formalities, we want to know what drives the individual. Do they want to build relationships? Do they want to commit to projects? If they do, they should fit in.
If the candidate proceeds past this point, we bring them in for a trial day. Now they have an opportunity to really showcase their abilities. They’re given real-world scenarios and data to see how they would perform. Most importantly we ensure that they fit with the culture and our team.
We realised a long time that if we were to succeed we needed to create jobs around the people, rather than finding people to fit a mould.
I like to remind people that no-one works for me, they work for themselves to create a better company. Although I am the MD, I focus on the vision, the growth strategy and representation of the company publicly, the team are what makes the company so strong.
Most importantly, my personal trait I look for is ‘potential’
Was there a breakthrough moment?
More than one! Moving from a small office with a small team to one with room to grow stands out, but the big confidence builders have always come with clients; when I’m talking to a potential client who’s approached us and they’re one of the biggest or the biggest on our books, it’s always a reminder that we’ve grown, and that we’re on the radar of successful businesses who believe we can boost that success.
I’ll also point to November 11th, 2016, when we rebranded from SEO24/7 to novi.digital. That had been in the works for over a year, but it was a very proud moment for me and the team – we all persevered to make the idea and reality and we now have a company everyone can believe in.
How is the company doing?
We continue to grow and have each year since 2009. In fact last year saw one our biggest growth years, having achieved over 60% growth on the previous financial year. We’ve done this by taking on more and larger-scale clients with a brilliant team that’s growing in size and continually striving to improve their knowledge, experience, and skills.
Perhaps we could have grown faster with a sales team, but we outright refused, we wanted to grow organically, continuing to focus on quality of service throughout.
Our more recent growth has led us to restructure our organisation chart, and the three managers have been enthusiastically putting new ideas into play and laying the groundwork to grow even further, with our aim ultimately to be the UK’s leading data-driven digital agency.
Do you have any regrets?
I don’t believe in regrets. It’s important to learn from your mistakes or you’re just going to repeat them, but I look at how the company started and I look at where we are now and I’m more than satisfied with the path that took us here. Within our company, the aim is to always better tomorrow than you were yesterday, today is about learning.
If so how did you overcome them?
Always take the time to look at things that have gone wrong and be honest about what you did that led you there. As the business owner, founder and director, I have recognised that no mistake can ever be blamed on one individual person. It’s always important to reflect and consider how I could have done things differently and I can help to improve the learning of our team.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
We put people first; the client’s people and our own team. The data is essential to what we do, but interpreting it takes an expert, and shaping it to fit our clients’ mission and goals takes a close working relationship and a passion to help their success.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
When our clients see the difference we’ve made, understand how it happened, and thank us, that’s the best. But we also love to see the enthusiasm a client develops when they start to notice improvements. The best clients are those that listen. We ensure that we listen to our clients’ requests and the relationship works best when it is two-way communication. Our face-to-face meetings are brilliant, as we educate and inspire the clients to grow their business via digital means.
If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?
There are dozens of ways to be a short-term success, but not many to keep that success building as the years go by. You always need to plan for the long term – be aware how rapidly-changing technology may change your business. Be ahead of the innovation curve; be an innovator
Finally, Aaron what is your favourite biscuit?!
I’ll apologise in advance, as it’s not a biscuit, but it’s got to be a flapjack, every time! It’s the one thing you can always rely on at the top of a mountain, to keep you going.