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Agile Marketing: How one software company harnessed burst marketing expertise for exponential growth

Agile Marketing: How The Access Group Harnessed Burst Marketing Expertise for Exponential Growth

Accessing marketing expertise to drive massive growth.

Growing a business organically year on year is amazing, growing at a double-digit percentage rate year on year is exceptional. When you add growth by acquisition onto that number as well, it’s clear that the business is a rocket ship!

It’s this exceptional growth journey that The Access Group is currently going on.

The Access Group

The Access Group is a leading provider of business management software and solutions to mid-sized organisations in the UK, Asia Pacific and soon to be North America too. They help more than 47,000 customers across a range of industries from HR, Legal and Finance through to logistics and even software that supports the charity and not-for-profit sector.

Their innovative software solutions help streamline everyday processes and provide efficiencies for customers that result in material productivity gains. They provide real-time insights that help businesses act instantly and accurately with data at their fingertips, embedded into their operations.

The Access Groups mission is to give their customers the freedom to do more

The challenge: Growing pains

Any business growing this quickly is going to be an incredibly dynamic and exciting environment to work in but rapid growth like this creates its own challenges, particularly in terms of resource planning, prioritisation and the constant variance in the skills and expertise required to execute everything at such pace and at a continually high level.

It was exactly these challenges that led The Access Group to approach us at The Inspired Marketing Group (iMG.).

Karen Dales, Enterprise Resource Planning - Marketing Director explains:

“When you bring in a new acquisition, or get presented with any sort of rapid business growth opportunity, the resource you need to get that up and running is often not the same resource that you're going to need in six months’ time when it becomes BAU”

“having the opportunity through The Inspired Marketing Group to put short term expertise onto an opportunity is really quite powerful.”

“You will always need to have the foundations of a really strong team of permanent talent, that has to be at the heart of any kind of growing organisation, but there's a lot of logic to boosting that, with specific skill sets as and when you need it.”

“When you explained the iMG. model, it was like a light bulb moment. Yes! That's exactly what I need. I need that flexibility. I need access to that range of specialist skills but I’m not sure yet that I want to make a long term financial commitment to all of them.

How we helped: Burst marketing support

We provide a subscription based, outsourced marketing function. We have a multi-disciplinary community of marketing experts that can drop into our client’s businesses exactly when and where they are needed, with no long-term commitment from the client.

The Access Group now calls us their ‘Burst Marketing Team.’ When they get a spike in demand whether that’s a new business acquisition or a market opportunity that they need to jump on, they get in touch. Our first engagement with The Access Group was to support a recently acquired New Zealand based cloud-based Inventory Management software company, called Unleashed.

Karen Dales explains “(we) wanted to explore doing something a bit different, but we didn't have the resources in the current team. The acquired business didn't have the resources in their team either and we certainly didn't want to impact business as usual as we wanted any activity to be net new business. And, recruitment for permanent roles can take three to six months to do properly.”

“My first thought was the more traditional contractor route. It's something we've done before and it’s been relatively successful. But again, the time period is difficult with that, because my experience to date has been that the better contractors tend to want longer contracts. But for shorter-term contracts it seems to be a market that, as a contractor, has never typically been attractive.

There are a lot less contractors wanting a couple of days over a short period of time. They are harder to find and that's why I came to you, because I knew you could do shorter-term contracts.”

As part of this initial assignment with the Access Group, iMG. provided a small team for 3 months who first developed a marketing plan focused on cross selling the newly acquired software to existing customers. The team then executed that plan, delivering content and collateral via Marketo, working with the Access marketing teams in the UK and New Zealand which allowed both of those in-house teams to focus on their business as usual priorities.

In this way the iMG. model really stood out for Karen. The ability to get the exact skills she needed on a short-term basis, with flexibility of when and where that resource could be brought into the business and all delivered under one procurement contract.

Karen explains: “Being able to react in the short term, but still have an assurance of quality, was very much the driver. That, and how quickly you could get people into our business.”

The impact was so strong that the initial 3 month term was extended to 3 days a week for another 2 months with the scope broadened so the IMG team could also begin to look at new customer acquisition strategies, longer term content creation and amplification and even creative.

Flexibility built in

The iMG. model and its diverse community of experts offers complete flexibility to clients, just like The Access Group. When their marketing plans change focus, or priorities shift then they can simply swap out one type of specialism and bring in other specialists to deliver the task in hand.

“I've never thought that this model would actually be possible. And, I’m still quite amazed how you can balance it all. We probably haven't chopped and changed the skill sets quite as much as I thought we would but the flexibility is great. And, we only really commit to three months at a time, which is brilliant for me because it just completely de-risks the process and gives me the opportunity to try out new things and to dive into opportunities.”

“As we talked in more detail about how it all worked, another big driver for me was that I'd have to do a lot less vetting of candidates directly. There's a lot less of my time needed in reviewing CV’s. So, I can focus my time on other initiatives, or the permanent roles that we’re recruiting and taking my time to find the best possible talent to join our business.

“Being confident in your background has enabled me to do this . I know you wouldn't suggest anyone to me that you wouldn't recruit yourself. And, I know your standards are high. That level of security for me of bringing someone into the business even short term is really quite immense. It's hard to measure.”

“I’ve seen your work. I know your quality of work and I know your level of thinking. The fact that you're taking away, or significantly de-risking something that could be high risk for me is brilliant.”

Doers as well as thinkers

At its core The Inspired Marketing Group combines strategy with actual delivery. All community members are ex-client-side marketers who are used to rolling up their sleeves and delivering. All of our community have taken the plunge into creating their own businesses and are doubling down into the area of marketing they love and are fanatical about.

Fanatical is also one of our core values. We love marketing and we only accept experts into our community who are passionate about their field of expertise. We love working with people who have passion, people who are great at what they do and crucially can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

With now over 60 iMG. Community members skilled in every aspect of marketing, we help our clients access talent fast.

“I can say to my stakeholders and the board. “Yes, great idea. I'll get onto that.” rather than saying “great idea. Give me a couple of months, so I can recruit someone, and then we'll start.” It’s just a completely different scenario.”

One of the things at Access that I've always loved is we're not a particularly hierarchical company, everybody gets on with their own job. So, we need experienced marketers that can do strategic thinking, good stakeholder management and then get on with writing some copy or creating a new piece of content. And they need to do this with a strong background in digital marketing and not be afraid of diving into our Marketing systems themselves. We want the end to end piece. And that’s the sort of people that you're attracting into your community. That's definitely what I've seen in the people that we’ve brought in, which is exactly what we need.”

The Access Group continues to work with us across multiple divisions as well as in their central team as we support them with a team of experts to help them deliver best in class digital marketing activity in a massively dynamic and complex business, but that’s a case study for another day...

If this is your first venture into outsourcing some of your marketing challenges we've created the ultimate guide to hiring a freelancer.

We're ready to chat when you are. Tell us a little about your current marketing headache here and one of our co-founders, Dave or Rich will be in touch to schedule a free intro chat to see if we might be able to help you.


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