Francesca: So, Matt, when you and Chris started the company, did you expect it to be where it is nearly 10 years later?
Matt: We’ve always been really aggressive and ambitious with our plans, so I would say we thought it would be even further down the line than where it is. What we’ve realised is that, when it comes to particular clients, you have to take them on the journey with you, so you can’t move things as quickly as you want to, but that’s not a bad thing.
Francesca: As 2017 has been such a big year in terms of growth, what would you say was your stand out moment in the last 12 months?
Matt: 2017 was just seeing how much our team have individually progressed, from people that have just joined as graduates through to people who have been here 7-8 years. I’ve physically seen people grow in confidence, stature and knowledge and it’s been absolutely brilliant to see.
Francesca: You mentioned at the AGM on Thursday that 70% of mergers fail or don’t really succeed. What was it that made ours such a success?
Matt: When I found out the stat – it varies between 60% and 82% which is why I quoted 70% – the first step was doing our research. Mergers tend to fail in three areas. The first is not outlining a strong vision, because we knew that the first thing we did was to put one together; a long-term vision about where we wanted to get people to go. The second point is the immediate short-term plan, so we created a plan called L.E.D – Listen, Excite, Deliver. We made sure that we listened to people from both companies – and really it was three companies because we merged in Guava as well – then we had to get them excited, but then we had to deliver. The third point, which is the bit we were weakest and slowest to do was actually releasing the action plan. So, once we got that action plan out everything was super speedy – but if you check my LinkedIn Article all the details are there.
Francesca: *laughing* I’ll make sure I link it! So, going into 2018 then, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for the company and what are you most looking forward to?
Matt: Tough question… I think the biggest challenge will be how we change the perception in our own minds and minds externally of what we are. All we have done is really add on business level consultancy and data but there are clients and staff that will know us, for example, for SEO or PPC or Affiliate or Data or Consultancy, which means we’re competing with a lot of the big six agencies but also people like Accenture and Deloitte. The research data shows that we’re competing strongly and winning business in all those areas. But we need to make sure that our staff believe that we can deliver. Then we need to educate our existing clients that there’s been a change of what we do. New clients understand but for existing staff and clients it’s a mindset shift. The biggest challenge which it always is every year, is a communication challenge.
Francesca: Definitely. And what you’re most looking forward to?
Matt: I just absolutely love it when someone here achieves something that they didn’t think they could achieve. I don’t know if I can quote people directly, but Liz Partridge used to hate public speaking. She hates me for it, but I’ve pushed her to do loads and now she’s brilliant at it. Or someone who didn’t see themselves as creative, they saw themselves as more data but then they started using data to be creative. Or someone who was creative and didn’t see themselves as a data person and suddenly they started using data to justify why they should do a creative campaign. Suddenly you see that sense of satisfaction in their eyes — that’s what I’m excited about.
Francesca: Keeping that in mind then, what would be your focus or main goal for 4Ps going into 2018?
Matt: The focus for 2018 and main goal, which is our mission and has always been, which is personal, client and agency growth. So, we’ll focus on developing our team and our team will develop our clients and we will therefore grow. So, it’s not to focus on growth, it’s to focus on personal growth and client growth and that will lead to agency growth. The numbers will take care of themselves.
Francesca: Cool! So, to summarise post-AGM, what do you think are the most important things we need to keep in mind going forward?
Matt: It’s the fact that 2017 was an amazing successful year for a merger year, the absolute focus for a team is around our staff which is around their one career and how serious we need to take that. The key points that come from our senior management team are empowerment, let people make mistakes, growth of clients and be seen. We lead in all fields, but we just don’t tell people about it. Sometimes we’re doing some amazing Artificial Intelligence work, and someone will say to me “do you know anyone who does Artificial Intelligence?” And I’m like well we’re a world leader – we’ve just failed in telling people about it. But the plan is there, the budget’s there, we’ve got the team to deliver it, there’s nothing that can stop us this year, we just need to get out and execute it.