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Podcast episode 6: Marketing resource for outrageous growth.

We talk to Karen Dales from The Access Group about life at one of the fastest growing businesses we've ever seen. And how to plan resource for that scale of growth.

Transcription Episode 6: Accessing short term marketing talent.

We use AI to record and transcribe our podcasts, so while we give it a whizz through to make sure there's nothing shockingly wrong, the below is our verbatim conversation so it might get a little odd to read in places...


David Coghlan, Richard Johnson, Karen Dales

David Coghlan 00:04

Hi, everybody, and welcome to this is Episode Six of the Inspired Marketing Group podcast. My name is David Coghlan. I'm one of the co founders, and I'm joined as always by Richard Johnson.

Richard Johnson 00:15


David Coghlan 00:16

And anything Rich else, you always do that. And for this episode, we are joined by former colleague and client of Inspired Marketing Group, the excellent marketer Karen Dales.

Karen Dales 00:41

What a lovely intro, Dave, thank you very much. Nice to be here.

David Coghlan 00:47

No, no problem. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for joining us. Really appreciate your time. And, yeah, appreciate you're busy. So do you want to just give us a quick who you are, where you've come from and what you're doing now?

Karen Dales 01:00

Yeah, sure. So as per the introduction. My name is Karen I am presenting today from my little office, little village where I live just south of Nottingham. And I've lived in a couple of different places outside Nottingham but mostly around the kind of South Nottingham Midlands area. And I live here with my partner Dave, and are two quite loud basset hounds Rosie and Lola. And so that's me here. And yeah, I've been working in marketing, scarily, now for 22 years. Don't do the back maths.

Richard Johnson 01:36

So you started when you were 30, i mean when you were eight then did you

Karen Dales 01:38

Well yeah I was about 13? Yeah, yeah. teenager? I started young. Yeah, I started. Yeah, crazy. 20, 22 years ago. And that's post University. So yeah, you can kind of you can kind of do the math from there really. Oh, and yeah, so I currently, obviously worked for you guys at Experian and that is quite a long time ago now. And I now work as a marketing director for The Access Group. I've been there for over four years now.

Richard Johnson 01:39

Tell us about The Access Group. But so obviously, we know lot about you but tell us what do you do?

Karen Dales 02:11

What do we do? So we are first and foremost, we're a software provider. And we until about 18 months ago, we were very much a UK software provider. But we've expanded hugely over the last 18 months internationally. So we now sell in AsiaPac quite strongly, we've got parts of our business in Australia, New Zealand, and we sell into The States and parts of AMER as well. But probably predominantly our growth has been in Asia Pacific, which has been fascinating. But yeah, we're fundamentally a software provider, we provide software to, I'd say small and medium sized businesses, we do sell to larger organisations, but not into your sort of top enterprise and very much kind of mid market, we sell a range of solutions that support businesses do what they do so one of our straplines is actually freedom to do more. So we sell your sort of fairly standard business software solutions, like financial management, HR, payroll, some really nice digital leanrimng and development tools. But we also specialise in helping certain sectors. So we've got a big presence in health and social care, and a whole range of software that we provide there, which helps carers in larger organisations but also domiciliary. So when people go around to people's houses, there's a little app where they log their hours, log the notes. So really quite sort of practical, informal, and really valuable, especially at the moment services. We also work in hospitality, recruitment, and we do quite a bit of what you call supply chain, which has been a very interesting area over the last 18 months. So we've seen huge, we've actually seen, you know, quite huge growth in that area. So as more retailers have turned to selling their goods online, you kind of see the nice, shiny internet upfront. But what then goes on behind the scenes is really quite complex and is 100% supported by software. So you place your order on, say, Amazon, Amazon kicks through to the retailer, the retailer have to see of they've got the stock, and they have to get the stock to the warehouse and they have to get it out to you as a consumer. So that whole process behind the scenes is super important. And then as you probably know, as consumers, I think our expectations are higher now than they were pre Covid. So if your package doesn't arrive tomorrow, you're like, Okay, guys, come on. Amazon can do better than that. So expectations around that kind of service delivery are really, really high. So that's one of the areas that I work in specifically. And yeah, I've seen phenomenal growth and a real range of customers from quite large retailers and big third party logistics companies to somebody working on their own where they've created something bespoke that they sell at potentially quite a high price, low volume and the whole range of stuff really So, yeah, that's very, very interesting. And pharmaceutical companies actually is another area, we work in production management. So yeah, lots of stuff. I could go on

David Coghlan 05:11

Wow. So i guess the last 18 months for Access must have been unbelievable. And I guess, a real shift in terms of where you may be used to make a bunch of money. And now where, you know, it's shifted, like you said, with with that sort of move to digital.

Karen Dales 05:27

Yeah, although it's a similar sector. So we have been impacted, so we'd sell software in the hospitality sector. So obviously, that's an area that has been impacted. But actually, it's also it's gone in waves. So as the hospitality sector comes back online, again, software is helping all these businesses, you think now you're going to buy it all on an app, everything is software based. So there are sectors have definitely seen, so the peaks and troughs over the last 18 months. But nearly all the businesses we support have seen an increasing need for software, specifically software in the cloud. So SAS solutions, which is what we specialise in

Richard Johnson 06:07

A random one for me Karen and you may not be able to answer because it's not particularly your sort of division. But you mentioned pharmaceuticals, and have Access played any part in the Covid kind of rollout

Karen Dales 06:23

it hasn't been directly. And it's probably fair to say that the pharmaceutical organisations are quite still quite long restrictions around how much they can talk about in terms of what they produce and where they produce. But there are a number of companies that we work with, that we know have been involved in that process all that far as to say our software is specifically linked to it. But yeah, we definitely know there's been a few pharmaceutical companies that we've worked with that have been involved in some way. And actually the other one, we've come across as a couple of companies, manufacturing organisations that started producing PPE. So we have we have had that with our customer base as well which is quite interesting.

Richard Johnson 07:01

I was gonna say about PPE it's the hidden stuff in terms of distribution, the manufacturing of that you probably don't know you're involved in it, but you are.

Karen Dales 07:09

So yeah, we did do one customer case study and I can't remember the name of top of my head. But yeah, they definitely flipped some of their manufacturing, I think from some sort of specialist automotive parts or something into into PPE, on mass production. So yeah, there has been quite a lot of interesting stuff going on and changes over the last 18 months.

David Coghlan 07:30

And how has Access sort of adapted, obviously, as your clients change then their needs change? What's that meant for you folk in terms of?

Karen Dales 07:39

I mean, I think it's fair to say one of the things that I like about Access, we've always been a fairly informal companies like we've been fairly digitally focused anyway, as a business. So we've always had an amount of flexible working. Because we've grown to acquisition, we've got lots of buildings kind of all over the place. So you sort of policy of where you work has always been fairly flexible and informal. And people have popped up in that office, and then up that office, we've always been all laptop based. So actually, for us, the flip wasn't, I think we managed to flip within about a day. I think are probably a few roles that maybe weren't laptop based, but predominantly, we're all pretty mobile anyway. So in terms of working, that wasn't too much of a flip, I think how we worked with clients has probably changed. And as our sales team would have more insight on that, I guess their roles are probably some of them that have changed the most because they would have been out and about it's all digital. Now we do a lot of stuff through video. And actually the feedback is that that's that's been pretty successful. So it's not that they won't go out and see clients again, but it definitely won't be to the scale that we saw before.

Richard Johnson 08:49

How have you personally found sort, I know you said that you were quite remote in the past, but how have you personally found managing teams remotely?

Karen Dales 09:03

Funnily enough, managing the team part that that hasn't been particularly challenging? So I say we know know each other, but we've had new team members coming in that kind of direct management and direct working groups for me works really well physically, you've got as much ability to sort of interact, you get plenty of time with them. That side I think, has worked quite well. The bit that I think we've missed is the more informal chats, informal working and the wider network. So my direct network who I I've got several groups that I work with on a regular basis, and those relationships have probably strengthened and grown and we've worked really effectively. The ones I miss are maybe the people I don't know quite so well or the people that I don't have work to do with and I'm not on a project for anything specific, but it would have seen them around the office or would have said hello, have a little chat those informal relationships are the ones that I've seen a lot less of and I think I think missed, that's the thing I think you'd get from having an office being able to go in different people that maybe you wouldn't necessarily have a reason to have a meeting with, you get to have that chat with. And that's the one thing with digital, you tend to have to almost have a reason to have a conversation. And taht's a bit different.

Richard Johnson 10:19

That's really interesting and to be honest i've not really thought about that. And so I guess one thing when you were talking, then it's almost like, there's not really a danger of you becoming siloed. Because you're networking across a big business, but potentially your execs almost not having those coffee machine conversations, because like you said, You've got a reason for a conversation with somebody you just can't bump into them.

Karen Dales 10:45

Yeah, no, I think I just I don't think this is actually it's a more social thing than a work thing. So I think if they have people they need to speak to, they will reach out to their network. So I don't think impacts day to day work. It's very much the informal sort of relationships, but I guess they're the ones that you also can't necessarily put the value on straightaway. So you know, I mean, you know, you've worked in worked in the industry for years as well, those informal relationships can sometimes be as important as the formal ones. And so I don't think it matters, what job you've got, or what level you're at. I suspect that similar for everybody, especially probably in a large organisation, if it's a really small company, and maybe only 20 people, you probably all speak all the time, but you get into those bigger organisations. And yeah, I mean, I have colleagues I worked with in divisions I worked in when I first started, and I still love catching up with them. But actually, I haven't really done that. You're busy, you think, oh, maybe drop them a chat. But it's definitely not the same thing as the informal relationships that have changed a bit. And that's probably the bit that I so I've started going back to the office in June, we did sort of a trial basis of very small numbers of people and I volunteered to go in, it certainly won't be every day. But I was looking forward to that being back in a sort of professional environment and nice office, and just talking to a few people that I wouldn't necessarily speak to day to day, and it has it has been really nice,

Richard Johnson 12:14

A beautiful new office as well.

Karen Dales 12:16

We have got a very nice new office. So that definitely helps. If it was one of the older buildings, I'm not sure the appeal be quite so much. But yeah, we have got really a really beautiful new office that was built. I think it was finished around March, April time. So actually timing wise, quite good. Not quite the Big Bang opening that was planned. But I think that will still that will still come maybe October time.

David Coghlan 12:41

What's what's the plan for the business to move, move backwards to the sort of, forward plan,

Karen Dales 12:47

Very slow, slow, hybrid, working flexibility, all those things. So there'll be no pressure for anyone to come back until they feel comfortable. Obviously, so much of it is dependent on regulations as well. So you can kind of have a plan. And then as the regulations change, it all changes. So the building is built on sort of a hot desk, it was never meant to be 100% capacity, it was always going to be around hot desking. But obviously you're not suppose to share desks i think that's part of the regulations. So we're quite dependent on on that really, but yeah, very much a phased approach. And and then I think the view is we will follow effectively about hybrid working model. People that want to come into the office will do so I suspect two or three days a week. Yeah, but it will be very, I think it'll be a very gradual return, there won't suddenly be a big bang. Maybe Maybe after Christmas, I don't know, it's really hard to say because it's just so dependent on what happens around us. I've certainly learned over the last 18 months that you do certain things you just can't plan for. So we'll see.

David Coghlan 13:51

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, yeah.. Who knows? Yeah, like you said, with your business? It sounds like it was almost set up to operate like this, anyway.

Karen Dales 14:01

Yeah, we were we were certainly we were certainly geared up pretty well. Yeah. Pretty well, it wasn't it wasn't too difficult for us to kind of pivot that fairly quickly. But I suspect lots of businesses were in or we know a lot of businesses in different situations. So yeah, it's certainly been a test of the IT systems over the last 18 months.

Richard Johnson 14:24

I'm gonna ask a question about your career actually. And obviously, we work together experience. And you mentioned the word there, which Dave talks about it a lot. And I absolutely attributed that to a VC backed business. Okay. How have you found working for a VC backed business compared to almost like a traditional shareholder corporate market experience?

Karen Dales 14:49

Quicker, really. So "pivot" your right and basically that means changing in a day. And that's basically really what it means. So yeah. pace, pace of change, and also openness to trying new things. So I think because of the, and i don't really know because i've only really worked for Access as a VC backed company so I don't know if that's all VC backed companies or particularly Access, it's definitely a really strong kind of trait of Access to the classic kind of fail fast kind of scenario. So they're always open to trying things. It's always about, you know, here's an opportunity. Let's have a go at this. But yeah, but it's all really super quick. Our favorite expression is, how can we do more? So that's great. That's really great but let's see, if we did this, could we do more? So that's Yeah, that's kind of the motto at the moment. So yeah, I enjoy it. I like the pace. And I like being in a growth organisation. I think that comes with a level of a bit more freedom to try things, try different things, and try out new opportunities. Yeah.

Richard Johnson 16:08

I think you're underselling the word growth with Access. We've been working with you probably since early February, and may have a little tick bar. And it's like every time you purchase the business and put something out, I'm just like, another one, another one, another one, another one. I think you're you're double figures in five months

Karen Dales 16:28

Yeah i kind avoided that slightly, because I can never quite remember the numbers. And I'm really, really, really supposed to know those numbers in my role. But yeah, I mean, we're double digit organic growth. And then when you add in the acquisitions, to put Yeah, probably plus 20%, up to 30%. growth. So yeah, huge. And, and it will either be all the different types of growth, which I think is really interesting. So sometimes we'll add a whole new sector. So this year, we launched the Access legal division, so kind of a whole new separate sector. And then obviously, international, for us has been huge. Over the last year, we've bought some really quite substantial size businesses over in New Zealand and Australia. And yes, we do expect that to continue, I think, for the next few years.

David Coghlan 17:19

I guess Yeah, question kind of related this sort of how do you plan for that? How do you resource it? How do you, you know, assemble a team to support these acquisitions and this growth?

Karen Dales 17:31

Yeah that has probably been, when we were talking about, you sort of asked me about challenges. And that that is one of the big ones because you can't plan entirely in the way I would have done before. So I kind of remember the old days, when you'd probably restructure the team maybe once a year, at best, you might have a look at it midway through the year. And it was a whole process. And there would be lots of discussions and PowerPoint Org charts etc etc, and there'd be a big announcement and everyone would move around. And yes, that doesn't work at all, we've constantly asked, so our exec team are really good to our board are really good. They're very experienced, they've all done this before. And they're constantly pushing us to always recruit for a year, to two years ahead. So whatever you think now, go for the best talent go for the best experience. And, and that's and that's actually really empowering. So it's great to be told, actually, yeah, you're not restricted by budget. Not to say there isn't a budget. But that isn't the main factor. Whereas I think when I've been recruited before, it's always there's a budget line to work so that it's more go and find our future talent. And then we'll discuss what we need to do about that. So yeah, that definitely comes from them. But it's always trying to go for that when you are doing the recruitment. But I think that, you know, that does need quite nicely to why we started working with you because, and I thought about this, because it's not just about and myself and Lucy Lebeter to talk about this. So Lucy and the lady in Access that you've been working with quite a bit, and we've talked about this, and why we think the model works and actually how we think it will evolve because when you bring in a new acquisition, or actually any sort of business growth opportunity, the resource you need to get that up and running is maybe not the same resource that you're going to need in six months time when it becomes BAU so actually having the opportunity to put resource on to either an opportunity or a part of the business that you're kind of just working out really and trying to figure out and get to know if you've dived in and started recruiting permanent heads left, right and centre, you probably wouldn't get the right people. You might do it for need that you have now but you might not have in six months time. So I think you still need to have the foundations of a really strong team of talent that has to be at the heart of any kind of growing organisation. But I think there's a lot of logic to boosting that, with specific skill sets as and when you need it, which is, you know, it's a great segway into what you guys do. Because when you explained your model, it was like that light bulb was like, yes, that's exactly what I need. I need that flexibility. And I need all those different skills, but I can't afford to hire five people. So yeah, I think that the sort of rate of growth that we're looking at, actually this, this model really is ideal. Because you actually couldn't resource to that future, either. I don't know what size we will be as a business or division in six months time I can I can give you a sort of approximate percentage number but whether that's been growth internationally or growth to the sector, that part I wouldn't know. So, yeah

Richard Johnson 20:43

It's really interesting Karen, because actually, some of the best ideas are so obvious. And actually, when we sat and talked about this, we talked about how you describe the core team is something actually is probably a nice way of, of sort of outlining that is, we've all been in marketing for so long, you have a set team and a marketing plan, which completely changes so you write it in July, that's the start of the year. And then two months, you've ripped up and start again. But can't, shouldn't rip up a team and start again. But those needs ebe and flow. And that's mine and Dave's lightbulb moment where we were like, and it was driven by what we needed is client side marketeers. There's your core team. There's the marketing plan, three months in, we're changing, right, we now need to drop in that skillset. I don't know how long we need them for and that's what the model does. And we always speak to loads of people about it don't we Dave and they are like I just wish i would have thought aboutthat. And it was just like, it is so simple, but it's effective. I personally think,

Karen Dales 21:48

Yeah, I think because one of the things I think it's interesting with a marketing plan, because I was thinking about that. And I think we've evolved from that as well. We don't really. So we anchor ourselves on KPI so I am literally doing the finishing off the plans. Now we start our new financial year today, actually, first of July, we're FY22. Happy New Year. But I'm trying to so I'm just writing down all the targets and everything now. And actually, in terms of plans, we will always produce short term plans because you need to demonstrate to people what marketing you're doing, they're generally three, three months max. Really, the idea of an annual marketing plan is completely gone. We just anchor ourselves on KPI so my plan will effectively be a set of KPIs for each core areas of business that I want to monitor. And actually, for me, that's all are probably really want to know, in terms of what activities are happening, the team will update various stakeholders, the people like to see what's being done. But in terms of sort of that planning control, I think it's all KPI based now really, and mostly digital.

Richard Johnson 22:50

And I think that's the right way of doing it. But I think you'll be surprised still how many people produce their year plan, Excel, this is what I'm going to be doing, and actually never gets done.

Karen Dales 23:04

I will just say there are people in the team that definitely still have an Excel that they map out themselves. And that's fine, because that's how you manage your time. And I've definitely got a few PowerPoint decks that I will often have there just as a, because you've often got to present your thinking and really planning. I think it's monitoring KPIs, I mean, you know, you've put a lady in with us recently Emily, she's come on as one of our digital product owners, which is a new role for Access. And, and we're finding with the probably slightly lower value, higher volume SaaS products that we sell, we need to be checking in I mean, we talk about an annual plan. It's not even a monthly plan. We're checking in every few days on those stats, and we're making changes live, as we see things. One page isn't converting or maybe put some new copy on there. So yeah, the model is changing more and more. And I think SaaS the more people are moving online and buying online and being used to doing everything online, that model will just become stronger, actually. It will do those sorts of changes. We're beocming more like B2C than ever before.

David Coghlan 24:09

That's exactly what I was just about to say we've we've placed a couple of people I think, very recently, like this week, A lady we placed into your team who's got a ecommerce background. Yeah. And we we had a conversation with her in terms of you know, Access growing so fast that the transactional online. Don't worry about it being b2b. And I've hammering this bloody drum for years in terms of it person to person or human to human, not b2b or b2c. And I think what we're really seeing, and again, it's probably driven by, you know, the macro stuff going on digitisation demands consumer demands, and just people demand of want it now. Yeah. But yeah, like you said, b2b marketing is not dead, but it's definitely moving in terms of being more human.

Karen Dales 24:57

Yeah, becoming more and I think probably Yeah, the three of us talked about this in the past that is everything. We've probably talked about this back at Experian. But I think that is one thing that COVID has accelerated is that connection of the two because everybody does everything online. And actually, that whole thing, you as a human, you as a consumer, you're the same person, the person that does goes into work and does business. I think without realising that shift online, that has probably been quite immense. So you don't want the hybrid working in different ways of working. Actually, whether you work in an office or at home, that may be won't change quite so much. But how you want to buy the services that you need in your job or in your role? I think that probably has changed more than we've realised, yet actually,

Richard Johnson 25:45

Do you think the mindsets actually changed quicker because of the circumstance? If you think that you get up in the morning, you get dressed, you go to work, and you're potentially a different person in an office. Because everybody has been working from home for the last 18 months. If we were to, you know, old school send you some direct mail now, you're recieivng it in the same environment as Karen Dale's who's who lives in her home. And you think the mind shift has happened? Because we're not sort of putting our life in boxes in terms of work and home.

Karen Dales 26:19

Yeah, I don't know. Yeah, I think we won't none of us will actually know how much it's impacted. What we do and how we think probably for another year, I think it'd be one of these things, we're still really kind of in it, aren't we? So I think it'll be another year before we look back and really see the changes. But yeah, all of the above. But one thing I have definitely noticed going back to the office is it's definitely more casual. So people have had an insight into people's home lives. You know, I've made the point or effort to try and get ready ish for work every day, because it's something that I like to do. However, there's jogging pants around with slippers, or flip flops, that sort of thing. And I think going back to the office, I don't think a formal office environment so much will come back. I think it will be slightly more casual in a nice way. Not just dress code, but I think everything has become a bit more relaxed. People have had to relax. Yeah. With people having to do the home schooling. Yeah, just generally, I mean, everybody now is kind of used to those interruptions on the calls and no one minds. And it's actually quite nice part of the day really guessing who's going to get the interruption first. And who is going to be

David Coghlan 27:32

A really nice observation actually, which I hadn't really sort of clocked but like you're saying, You're right, you know, you can see this is my study my picture of my kids on the walls. That sort of, yeah, but it goes back to that human to human thing right. So even as colleagues, you know, especially when we were all that Exeprian, it was, you know, suits, shirts, seeeing sales directors or account directors. It was all really formal, well it wasn't really formal it was a good working environment, but it was definitely business mode. Yeah, and it's interesting. Yeah, you're right. I'm not sure it will go back to that.

Karen Dales 28:18

No, London is one that interests me. And that bustle of London. So I have been down to London once and it was far from dead. But there certainly wasn't that bustle. And I don't know, I think that's one of the cities that it's very much TBC how far that will come back. I mean, obviously, like the office that we've it's a lovely new office it's on a Science Park. So generally, you know, you're not commuting with public transport is not the same as being in the city centre. There's lots of green space around it. Lovely big building. It's quite a different feeling I suppose to getting on a tube train? I mean, I don't think anyone can yet imagine? I mean, can anyone actually remember what it was like to get on tube train at eight o'clock in the morning? I mean, that right now, you just can't imagine that happening. Can you? Wedged in against the door? With the door shut.

Richard Johnson 29:07

I got in my car and drove to see Dave last week, week before? I was like, I hate this. I literally hate it. Queuing on the A610 I was like, what! There is no traffic on my landing.

Karen Dales 29:21

Yeah, you see the thing is you say about the driving so far, I've noticed the traffic isn't quite as bad as it used to be. But and it quickly comes back for commuting annoyance for the first few times. I actually just like getting in my car and going out. I mean, it was in the summer. So it was quite nice. I'm not sure how I feel in January. But but I think it's about variety for me. So for me having five days in this office is too much. So I'm here at the weekends. You know, I'm very lucky. I've got a lovely office here. We live in, you know, really nice, nice places. It's a nice environment to work in. I've got everything that I need, but I just like a little bit of variety. So to get in the car go out a couple of days go and buy coffee gone go and buy lunch out is a nice balance with having the freedom to work from here as well and maybe do something before you start work or start earlier finish earlier kind of thing. So I think that's the one thing that Covid will will help more people embrace. It's that kind of flexibility and variety. I don't think it's all one way or the other. I think it's a combination. And everybody's different. Everybody has different personal preferences. So that's what we want. Certainly that's the model that we are anticipating that we will go to and as I say for Access is not a massive step. We were relatively flexible before. I think that just takes it one step further really.

Richard Johnson 30:44

I know we've touched on this about sort of the working relationship we have between The Access Group and The Inspired Marketing Group but I'm just interested to understand. Obviously, when when we first have a conversation about potential opportunities in February, you clearly had a choice over the the traditional recruitment model and the traditional contractor model. And then using our kind of set up and I know you kind of touched on it. But it would be good to understand the thought process.

Karen Dales 31:13

I mean, so as I say, it was probably the biggest driver to start with was speed. So we had this acquisition coming in, there was an opportunity, we wanted to explore doing something a bit different, but we didn't have the resource in the team, they didn't have the resources in their team. And we didn't want to impact BAU, we wanted to do it as net new. And recruitment, still, for permanent roles probably takes about three months to do it properly. And actually, I'm a big advocate of doing it properly. So it probably shouldn't happen in less in a shorter timeframe. And, so yeah, so my first thought was sort of more traditional contractor work. It's something we've done before and relatively successfully. But again, the time period is difficult with that, because my experience to date has been that your better contractors tend to want the longer contracts. So if you offer 12 months, you get some really good people, but the short term contracts, it was always a market that I think maybe as a contractor it was never typically attractive in the past. So there were a lot less of them, harder to find that kind of thing. So I think that's why I came to you, because I knew you'd sort of touched on the fact that you would probably do more shorter term contracts, we haven't really gone in it into any detail. But when we did, it was absolutely that. So it was it's that short term, being able to be short term, but still have the quality, because I think that's the thing I used to I would have been worried about with some of the older models, that is perhaps those shorter term contractors, well they just weren't necessarily available the short term contract people with the type of skill sets that we were looking for. So yeah, I think as we said, I think the first role we looked at that was very much the driving point. And then as we talked in more detail about how it all worked, obviously a big part for me, going forward is also that I'd have to do a lot less vetting, there's a lot less of my time invested in reviewing different candidates. So I can focus my time perhaps on other initiatives, or the permanent roles that were recruiting and taking my time with that and doing that as thoroughly as possible. But then, because I know your guys background. And I know you wouldn't suggest anyone to me that you wouldn't recruit yourself. And I know your standards are quite high. That level of security for me of bringing someone in is really quite immense. Actually, it's quite hard to measure. And, it would be interesting to get Lucy's perspective, and maybe we should have asked her because as i say we've worked together before. So I intrinsically have seen your work. I know your quality of work. I know your level of thinking. And actually I think Lucy's has gained a similar level of trust in you fairly quickly. So as I say, it's hard for me to say how much is my knowledge of you in the past versus my knowledge and experience of you in recent months. But yeah, definitely the fact that you're taking away you're basically de-risking something that could be high risk.

Richard Johnson 34:07

And recruitment is a massive gamble. Isn't it in the fact I suppose one thing again me and Dave always talked about was flexibility. When marketing plans changed so you can swap out your resource. So you have a content writer today, you can have a PPC specialist tomorrow.

Karen Dales 34:29

And that's amazing really., I actually hadn't really thought that would be possible. I've never thought that would actually be possible. And I still actually I'm quite amazed how you kind of balance it all and as it is, we probably haven't chopped and changed the skill sets quite so much. But it's definitely those shorts terms and we only really commit to three months, which is brilliant for me because it yeah, it just completely derisks it gives me the opportunity to try out new things and to dive into opportunities and be able to say My stakeholders and the board. Yes, great idea. I'll get on that rather than saying, Yeah, great idea. Give me a couple of months, I can recruit someone, and then we'll start, you know, just it's a completely different scenario. Yeah, you can kind of imagine that doesn't ever, that's not going to work. It's really not going to work anymore. But yeah, this is a great solution. And I guess, so I don't know, from your, from the contractor side, I've not really asked them, but I'm assuming they get a similar level of comfort that they know there's enough, you've got enough clients. And it's kind of that management, I guess that you guys are doing a kind of resource. And even Yeah, I mean, I'm kind of curious as to how... it feels like it'd be quite hard to manage that. But it doesn't look, you don't make it look like it's a lot of work. So I don't know how is that balancing?

Richard Johnson 35:50

We're like the swans Karen, I was pedaling furiously, but on the top we're gliding. I think to be honest, and not to kind of give away too much of, you know, the secret sauce. Is that our USP is we don't we don't traditionally contract with the old traditional contractors, these people for argument's sake, are like yourself, marketing director, done it for years, and then said, You know what, I really just want to focus on this part of marketing. So I set up my own copywriting business, or I set up my own PPC business. And actually what we do we contract with, with ex, all ex client side marketers or people who do the do. roll their sleeves up and have done it for years before, but are running their own business. And what they get on their side is that they're traditionally, not looking for five days a week for 12 months, because they have their own client pool. What they're looking for is almost lead generation. And they're either they can't do it because haven't got time, or it's not as effective as they want to be. And our simple model is, you or whoever will provide as a brief, we need this skill set. We go out to our community and say, we've got these copywriters, these SEO specialists, we contact them and say, have you got a day a week for the next three months to work for The Access Group? And they say, yes, no, or I don't really want to work with that business. Not that anyone's ever said about, by the way. But that's how it works. So, in effect we fill their time as well. So, it's all you know, we have lots of conversation, but people are like, yeah, I really want to join the community. Can you find me a contract, which is 12 months, five days a week? And it's like, no that's a job? That's not what we do. We offer short term, expertise, you know, Elaine we placed in, she's doing very well by herself. I've got down a half a week spare. Great. So, we filled that time.

Karen Dales 37:54

The other thing that I've noticed is everybody plays. So, you sort of touched on it there. But I think this, this is the sort of people that you're getting, is they do strategy and doing so most of the things that I would need doing, especially if it's a sort of a quick opportunity we want to explore, I need someone that can think about it for themselves, but I also want them to probably get on and do it. I mean, 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. And, that's a sort of, we actually want, you've kind of almost hit the nail on the head, we want that experienced marketer that can do the thinking and can do the sort of positioning of what they're doing. And we're actually getting write a bit of copy might get into the email system and put it together does a little bit of design, we kind of want the end to end piece. And I think they're the sorts of people that you're attracting whether that was intentional or unintentional. But that's definitely what I've seen in the people that we're bringing in, which is exactly what we need.

David Coghlan 38:52

100% And again, that's sort of our sort of client side, marketer community is exactly for that reason, you know, that they used to run in teams, managing teams doing the do as well as sort of presented to stakeholders, managing people. So, and yeah, that was that was intentional on our side. Because, and again, you know, we can help de risk our community because we've got breadth for clients. So, we've got, you know, SME clients, we've got one of our SME clients, I think we've changed the team for him every single month, as we've sort of tested and adjusted stuff, so. But again, you know, folk are happy because they'll be doing a day a week for him that we do two days for another client and, you know, so we can and they're sort of de risked like that. But yeah, brilliant. Really, really glad to hear that it's working for you. And yeah, really appreciate your time. That's gone so fast. But, really good insight from the sort of from the client side. So, thank you for that Karen.

Karen Dales 39:56

No problem.

David Coghlan 39:57

So yeah, so that's done. Thanks very much. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching, I hope you've enjoyed it and if you work in a high growth business whether you're you know, mid corporate like Access or if you're a VC backed startup then you want to work with us You want some capacity to help you get going then have a look at the website. The Similarly, if you're a client-side marketer and you want to jump out, go freelance, really do something you love, work on the beach, work from your home work from wherever. Then again, visit the website slash join and then you can have a chat with Rich and I will get you go. Thanks very much guys appreciate time and let's see what my next one.


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