Benjamin Michaelis talks to Business Matters and shares his insights from growing a global digital marketing and innovation agency.
ThinkEngine applies their unique approach to align digital marketing and corporate objectives, such as ROI, to benefit the firm as a whole, not just the marketing. This integrated and thorough approach sees success but is by no means a mean feat …
What products or services do you provide?
We provide our global clients with exceptional tech-driven digital marketing solutions that deliver results. Our services include SEO, PPC, Social Media, Chatbot Development, Digital Strategy & Innovation support.
What types of businesses do you work with?
We are a B2B business, with a typical focus on clients across Financial Services, Property and Technology. However, we have also been fortunate to support a broad range of B2B firms over the years, across a number of industry sectors.
What problem does your company solve?
Our Digital Marketing and Innovation solutions enable our clients to accelerate their growth, productivity and innovative thinking which helps to fast-track their company. When we launched the business back in 2015, we realised there was a gap in the market for a Digital Marketing Agency model which had accountability and transparency at the heart of its business model. Alongside this, we were passionate about embracing the power, productivity and cost-effectiveness of technology. Subsequently we introduced our tech eco-system which supports our clients with immediate access to ThinkEngine’s network of marketing and business development technology and software.
What is your USP?
Our USP is a combination of factors. The first is our real-time working approach, which perfectly aligns with the client expectations. In some instances, our team may be outnumbering the client’s whole marketing team, therefore working at the client’s pace is essential.
Secondly, our team culture and ethos is unique – we call this a team-first approach. We foster a culture to embrace innovation and development where our staff are given the freedom to deliver the best possible experience for our clients.
Thirdly, our tech eco-system provides client’s immediate access to state-of-the-art marketing and business development technology which drives innovation and growth in their businesses.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
ThinkEngine prides itself on an inclusive and diverse approach which thrives with a team-first culture. I believe that our approach to team learning and development enables our staff the opportunity to accelerate their marketing knowledge and careers ahead of industry. In addition, our business has a great focus on trust and transparency, with deep routed values at the heart of our value proposition we have never had this directly challenged. However, the business has experienced major challenges along the way, as every business does, main situations can often be relating to financial matters. Our greatest example was a situation where one of our clients (who owe thousands of pounds to us) fell into administration with no pay back. I can empathise with a business owner/team that experiences a situation like this as you are often helpless, and in some instances, it can be game over for an SME.
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
ThinkEngine has a comprehensive recruitment process which seeks to match great candidates with our fantastic company culture. We really enjoy the prospect of working with anyone who wishes to grow with our business, work with some of the most respected global clients in industry and embrace learning and development to improve their marketing knowledge.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
I believe that giving our team flexibility and choice is important. ThinkEngine has always taken a flexible approach towards this and welcomes a hybrid model. So much so that we have allowed staff to decide where they wish to work and have reinvested into an office and co-working space membership to give them the ability to work how they wish.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
ThinkEngine has built a trusted network of industry suppliers and clients that have worked with our business for many years, establishing trust and transparency at every level. We pride ourselves on continuous development which only builds on these relationships further. Our supplier expectations are the same of that as our team, if you ‘go the extra mile’ for clients, they will not forget it.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
- Don’t take financial risks when you don’t have too – your business cash flow is critical and without it you have the inability to function.
- Don’t overexpose your business when you don’t have to, only take calculated risks when you see calculated returns.
- When investing in new technology and software, look around and see if any solutions allow you to use it for free, rather than paying for it. This keeps your technology and software overheads down.
- Working with good accountants – the importance of supportive accountants/advisors cannot be understated. The advice and learnings that a good accountant can bring could be a game changer for your business.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
Greater initiatives, relief and support which encourage entrepreneurship and SME growth.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
I have always believed that industry competition is healthy for business. In my view it forces business owners and teams to constantly think outside the box and better their performance. In a highly competitive market like the Digital Marketing Agency sector, you must really stand-out to win business.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
ThinkEngine is an ambitious company which has continuously grown year on year, and I only want this to continue. I believe that having a company which can help to accelerate the knowledge, innovate thinking and growth of its team, clients and stakeholders is somewhat a dream already.
The need to keep dreaming big is always in the forefront of my mind and our next set of ambitious, yet achievable targets are there for a reason – to keep our business continuously improving. We just want to be the best we can be.