So, what does CHC Digital do?
CHC Digital is an inventive, honest and commercially creative agency specialising in three core areas: website design & development, digital marketing and search engine optimisation. All three interlink.
As an agency, I believe we are unique in developing solutions that consciously leverage and cross-pollinate the opportunities presented by each of these areas. We pride ourselves on our customer service and profitable results.
When was the company first established?
I started CHC Digital from my kitchen table seven years ago. It was originally called Ausen Design. I had been working with Dragons’ Den Star James Caan designing and developing all things digital and print. Working in an exceptionally entrepreneurial environment inspires imaginings of going it alone.
Dreaming big, I took the opportunity to have my own ‘Dragons’ Den experience’ and pitch my start up to James. Excited and full of enthusiasm, I presented my idea to him, to which he came back with a swift “No”. But then, he said something, which I treasure to this day: “You don’t need my backing, you can do this. What you need to do is stop worrying about who your partners are and get out there and make some money.”
Someone who knows the luxury world better than most is serial entrepreneur, Charles Finch. Charles has a little black book that most can only fantasise about, from A-list celebrities to the most famous brands on the planet. He was looking to make the most of digital and we decided to create a new business together, Charles Harrison & Co – or CHC Digital.
We focused on working within his network and enjoyed some fantastic projects. After a couple of years, Charles decided that he was going to focus on what he really loved and offered me CHC Digital. An extremely kind gesture, one I am continually grateful for.
Was there a breakthrough moment?
We started as a website design agency and the trouble we found was that even if we created an amazing website, winning every award under the sun, the impact to an already successful business was difficult to quantify.
This is when we started to look at the digital puzzle as a whole, the nucleus of which is of course your website. However if no one sees it but your mum, you’re in for a difficult time.
What we developed is based on understanding what people do on the Internet. The first stop was social media – we, as internet users, upload a treasure trove of information about ourselves; that post about your latest holiday, or your dismay at the state of our political situation are all snippets of your personality and interests. What we have done is develop a means in which we can collate all of this information and chop it up into useful information.
We can determine what a business’ customer looks like; what are their interests, opinions, jobs etc. Then we can match social media profiles against these target demographics. Then we can approach this selection of people on behalf of our clients and interact with them, we call it community building and, on average, we develop a targeted community at around 12,000 followers a year.
By developing a content marketing strategy, we can successfully drive this community to our client’s site. As we have carefully selected them and qualified them with our content, they convert into customers. This is the key breakthrough for our business, we not only develop fantastic websites but we drive customers through the door.
How is the company doing?
Like all businesses there are highs and lows, it’s like a roller-coaster – hard work, slow but exciting on the way up and bloody terrifying on the way down! All you can do is hold on, work hard and make sure you’re going up more than your going down. I am happy to say that we have managed to achieve more ups than downs.
The most exciting of recent achievements is the launch of our very own newspaper Faraday. Printed at tabloid size, we distributed 10,000 copies for free at 10 central London tube stations. We love digital; but we also love tactile tangible things and we don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Faraday shows readers how they can use technology to benefit their everyday lives and even make the world a better place.
We have also been regularly speaking at the Chelsea FC Foundation to support businesses in the digital growth, off the back of this we will be releasing a “how to” book and running a series of courses to help professional get the most of their digital activity.
Do you have any regrets?
Not really, there have been countless mistakes. I have said to myself hundreds of times “I wish I had done that differently” but if you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never learn how to handle these situations. There’s a quote by Paulo Coelho “a mistake repeated more than once is a decision”. So although I would love to know what I know now and go back and relive a number of situations, the only reason I can deal with these difficult situations is because I have learnt from my mistakes. We fail in order to learn, bit corny, but I see the truth in that.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Three things: Our relationships, excellence and we care.
The most important part of what we do is our relationships with our clients. We need to be trusted to deliver, whether it’s a tweet or a new website. We focus on excellence in what we do, every element of our approach is thought out and scrutinised to ensure we are at the top of our game. However, none of this really matters unless we genuinely care about the success of our clients business, we are not simply going through the motions, it’s about making a real difference. It has to be a mutually beneficial relationship, if its not a “win win” then it’s a bad deal and we don’t work like that.
We have developed a mantra off the back of this thinking “Wouldn’t it be nice if your digital space put a smile on your face?” What matters most is that you enjoy your digital presence because it’s making your life better.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
There is a quote from one of our clients which I feel sums this up: “Of all the web designers we approached you were the only one who really ‘got’ what we wanted. The result is the fabulous website you have designed for Flying Colours. I am like a kid with a new toy and cannot stop clicking on it” – Duncan McRae, Flying Colours.
What advice would you give yourself now if you were starting a business?
James was right, go make some money. Cash flow is the biggest killer of businesses, so be slower to spend and work harder to bring it in. Sales are vitally important to build but always remember to look after what you have. Most importantly remember to enjoy your successful moments.
Finally, Harrison what is your favourite biscuit?
Full moon, half moon, total eclipse – the humble Jaffa Cake, just because of that advert!