Chris started Aardvark Marketing in the summer of 2005. The company he worked for was acquired by Motorola and he had the choice between another employed job in marketing or an opportunity to try something different on his own. Friends and neighbours said it was a brave decision, but it just seemed the right thing to Chris, although he did wonder if they could see something he couldn’t!
Through his previous employed roles, Chris had worked with many agencies and consultancies and liked the idea of the variety working with a portfolio of clients might provide. “I’m OK with a bit of routine, but I like new challenges too”. Chris believed there was an opportunity to help small and medium sized businesses approach marketing in a more strategic and structured manner, drawing on his experience working in large companies on some of the best-known brands in the UK and overseas.
Chris’ ethos can be summed up as ‘delight the client but be prepared to tell them what they don’t want to hear’. His belief is that all marketing activity is optional, and it needs to justify itself as an investment decision. Understanding their clients’ customers, planning carefully and measuring results is critical. “Our role is to ensure our clients have the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their marketing. “
The biggest challenge at Aardvark is to persuade the businesses they could help to talk to them. Too many businesses focus on trying new ideas or hoping for a ‘silver bullet’ instead of building a robust strategy, implementing marketing activity consistently, and measuring results. Recommendation and referral are key to the company’s success and they devote a lot of time and energy to nurturing their network of introducers. Aardvark have adopted a strong project management approach with clients to improve efficiency and transparency. Today many of their clients have shared access to their project management system as well as getting regular monthly reports and marketing KPI’s.
As the business and the team has grown, there have been changes. Aardvark have shifted their product mix from mainly project work to over 90% retained clients, some of whom have worked with them for 10 years. They introduced the Marketing MOT around 2010 and the Sales Generator in 2014. In 2018 the newest service – Marketing Manager – was started specifically for businesses with more limited marketing budgets yet who need the professional and expert support Aardvark provide. The changing business has been noticed and Aardvark have been recognised with 8 awards for excellence and innovation in the last 5 years. These were awarded for a range of services from marketing automation, social media and content marketing to project management and outsourced marketing.
According to Chris, the secret to success is being easy to deal with yet prepared to roll your sleeves up and do whatever is required. Most important is to help clients get better results from their marketing and achieve their business goals.
Chris Hutchinson met Mark Smith of Lloyds at a networking event over 10 years ago and discovered a shared ambition. Chris recalls their meeting “I liked Mark’s approach to his clients, making the effort to really understand their business. He was either very interested in marketing or was too polite to tell me to shut up!” Mark has introduced Chris to several of his clients, and Chris interviewed some of Mark’s recent ‘wins’ to help him understand in depth how they felt about the decision to switch and the switching experience. Chris was delighted to be asked to support Mark with his Mental Health Marathon.
So, what will happen at Aardvark Marketing in the future? “In the current economic climate, predicting the future is a dangerous game!” says Chris. “As with any service business, we need to keep our sales pipeline moving, finding and converting potential new clients, but not at the expense of supporting our existing clients. As the world of marketing continues to change at an ever-increasing pace, so we need to continue to invest time in understanding the new opportunities and how they might help our clients.”