Note: The post that you're about to read below is a slightly edited version of a company-wide memo that I wrote for all staff members at Brew. As an agency, we've always strive to be transparent about the way we operate, and to publicly share our vision as an agency.
Hopefully this letter below would provide some insights for your business as well.
Here's the full letter below
It's been a long time that I wrote a company-wide memo, but given the growing team size at Brew and the incredible work you've done, I believe it's essential that we acknowledge all the significant milestones that we've had this year, and outline the plan and vision ahead for us.
For those who may not be aware of Brew's roots, this agency was started around ten years ago with a then-partner and I. We grew, just like any marketing agency would...trying to land major big accounts, and we did successfully. We've worked with household brand names such as Qatar Airways, 3M, Unilever. At our biggest agency headcount, we had over 40 staff on payroll, a 2-storey office in Geylang spanning 3,000+ sqft.
But it was a terrible business model. For the very simple fact that being in the agency business, clients come and go. This means that revenues would fluctuate every month, but costs would either grow or remain fixed.
In August 2015, we had the chance to be acquired. There were offers from 3 big companies – one of them from within the WPP network, another from Kingsmen (a listed company here), and the last one which we eventually signed with. I won't name that company for legal reasons, but old-timers at Brew would know.
A few months into the acquisition, we realized we weren't happy being owned by a parent company. The amount of stress that my then-partner and I felt daily was so insurmountable, and he even suffered a stroke. He was 29 years old then.
So I've taken steps to reverse the acquisition. Long story short, Brew is now independent and wholly-owned by me, and I couldn't be more proud of this decision I've made. I've always told people that 2017 (the year that I took over Brew again) was a year of trying to turn things around. And I think we did OK, with us winning a small Excellence in Marketing award by Nov 2017. Marvin was in town too!
2018 was trying to grow it a little more... and we acquired more clients thanks to the HubSpot partnership.
2019 has been fantastic to us too, and I'm very grateful to every one of you who has contributed to our collective success. In fact, we've crossed several milestones this year that I feel everyone should be proud of:
- We refined our agency's service offerings to focus on four key areas: Lead generation (through media buys), Content marketing/SEO, Marketing Automation and Social
- We (or maybe I) have learned to focus client acquisition efforts better on specific verticals that we tend to do well in; B2B, Education, Finance. Admittedly, this "focus on verticals" is still a work in progress, since the Singapore market is tiny compared to most places around the world
- We got awarded the HubSpot User Group leader in Singapore and had our first event in October. Check out the event video here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl4cFVN37wU&t=
- We've earned HubSpot's Platinum Status – This may not mean much to prospective clients, or even to you. But I believe that the martech space is going to be huge in the coming years, and I'm positioning Brew to be the forefront of this trend
- Riding on that… the more prominent name in martech aside from HubSpot is Salesforce, which we've also partnered up this year.
- We've let go of some of our pesky clients as well. Rarely do agencies let go of their clients, but I'm sure everyone can agree that there's no point in taking on that kind of stress level in exchange for a pesky client!
With all that in mind, I believe we've done some brilliant work in the last couple of years, and this is largely credit to how you've been serving the clients (often going the extra mile) and the values we believe in together:
- We serve only the markets that we know well (B2B, Education, and Finance). Will we turn away businesses that don't fit these verticals? I'd say maybe, maybe not. If it's a business that we know we can serve well, we'd be silly to turn them away.
- We operate where each of us are incentivised on every client project. This model contradicts how a typical agency would run where staff are all paid a base salary and are eventually forced to do things, not in the interests of their clients. But I'm confident that this model will continue to work, as it has done so for the last three years.
- We're all veterans in our field of work. We don't outsource, nor do we hire interns or junior people for our client work. And we never will.
- We work remotely, which I believe has made a lot of us happier.
- Most importantly, every one of you now has a direct ownership and responsibility for every client project.
Moving forward… what's next for us? More importantly, what's in it for you staying around?
First -- Brew wouldn't be where it is today without your contribution. So if there's something you'd to learn or a project that you'd like to do more of -- please write to me directly. We can always discuss this further, and if there's a budget required for it, I'd assure you we can find a way to make it happen.
Or if there are tools/software that we need to buy to make your lives easier, please let me know as well.
As for Brew, the trend data is showing that martech is growing in this part of the world, and I foresee us doing more in this space. In addition to doing what we do well, we'll be leaning in more towards development/system integration work, along with sales enablement. That also means climbing up further in the HubSpot and Salesforce ecosystem.
I'd also think while inbound marketing is perceived as a top priority for a lot of marketing folks… intelligent outbound marketing through technology would be super effective. I've been doing a little bit for ourselves (by cold emailing prospective clients), and we got some traction so far. If you're interested in learning more, feel free to read this blog post
But alas, like everything else in life, change is the only constant. Nonetheless, I'm confident that we have what it takes to have another big year ahead.
So thank you for being part of this journey with Brew and I really look forward to brewing more with you in the coming years (lol).
Lastly – please join me in congratulating Stelly, who will be giving birth to a baby girl in the next few days/weeks!
Have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!