What I've Learnt: Gareth Hoyle, MD of Marketing Signals
Just over 10 years ago, Gareth Hoyle set up his own web design and marketing agency, MarketingSignals.com, which now provides a variety of digital services.
MarketingSignals.com aims to improve client's use of Paid Search, Paid Social, Digital PR and Content, Blogger Outreach, Technical SEO, Local SEO, Copywriting and Web Design.
He shared with us what he's learnt during a career in digital marketing.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
Lunch. Yes, seriously, lunch.
I take time out of my day for 30-45 minutes between 12 and 2 and eat with my team. It is always good to have a catch up with them outside of projects and campaigns and get to know what makes them tick outside of work. I feel it also lets them get to know me on a personal level rather than just seeing me as the boss. Whilst we are a growing agency, I do try and keep a friendly and accessible culture at all levels.
I buy the office lunch every Friday and we all sit together and talk - all phones are banned! It is so important to take your screen breaks and relax your eyes and brain during the working day. If I am not with the team eating lunch, I am often out with customers or suppliers and building stronger relationships, after all, it will only increase our success rate.
Lunch is important.
What's been your luckiest break?
It is hard to think of just one lucky break that stands out above all others. Here are some things I've experienced that have certainly influenced my way of thinking and contributed to where I am today.
When I was at university, my part-time job was with General Electric and my role involved managing relationships between the UK and US front offices and back office services in India. I learnt a lot about the outsource model, taught myself (very) rudimentary Hindi and confirmed my love for India.
When I graduated from university, I started my first agency, if you could call it that. I noticed that we were wasting a lot of revenue on offshore unreliable suppliers, so I shortlisted a number of suppliers based on very specific requirements and started the process of finding a partner in this new venture. I ended up partnering with a company based in Northern India led by a chartered accountant called Mohnesh Kohli. Whilst I travelled to India a lot during this time period, between 2008 and 2014, I had to trust that my offshore partner was capable, motivated and trustworthy.
Thankfully, he was, and this allowed me to scale the business fast and grow the employee pool to over 100, meaning that within three years, we had seriously boosted our revenue. This experience laid the foundations for the business that Marketing Signals is today.
I do believe also that I was born in what I think is the perfect year, 1980. I have the work ethic of the generation above me, meaning that I've done a “real day's work”, (all people should be made to work in food retail at some point in their life) and I have the internet skills of the generation below me. A winning combination.
What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?
The best investment I have made has to be developing myself as an individual, as well as every member of the teams I've been a part of. We pride ourselves on having strong client relations and that comes down to us being people-orientated. This involves both a financial and time investment.
In the UK, we have dedicated training budgets that keep us on top of our game, ensuring our knowledge is up to date. We train as much in the soft skills of agency life as we do in product knowledge and development.
In India, we send the staff to English lessons. We try to give them tools and knowledge that will better improve their lives, both inside and outside the workplace.
My team generates a large portion of my personal income and delivers amazing results for our clients. Without them, we are nothing. That is the reason why I invest so heavily in my people and their skills.
How would you describe your work-life balance?
I would say that I have an amazing work-life balance. Others may think it is too much and I never turn off.
Agency life can be stressful at times. When work is good, sales are closed and campaigns are running with everyone reaping benefits, I can take time out to relax with my family more. When things are not going as smoothly, I am working very hard to get things back on track so I can loop back round to relaxing with my family.
I am very lucky that my job takes me all over the world, from my annual week in Las Vegas to one-off trips to countries like Germany and Iran. I never seem to start work yet I never seem to stop.
I take my laptop wherever I go. I see this as a blessing rather than a curse. I like to work remotely whilst also enjoying family life at home.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I read a lot. I have just gotten into Audiobooks too. My reading tastes are eclectic and range from true crime to military strategy, financial fraud to business. Reading such a varied selection helps inspire me and provides guidance in all areas of my life.
Even though they may not be directly related to my experiences, I enjoy books that detail people's mistakes, how this affected them, and how they have adapted.
So I don't have one book that I can recommend. I would rather advise people to read about others in different situations and look at how they react and cope. Then try to relate their scenarios to your own.
What does success look like to you?
Put simply, the ability to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, wherever in the world that may be! Success for me is not defined by financial status. I believe that if we are the best in class at what we do, we will get paid anyway.
Maybe we could be more valuable as a business. There's always room for improvement but meeting the demands of clients, whilst maintaining a good working culture is paramount. Happy clients, happy staff, happy family, happy Gareth.