Come Round is such a fun concept – tell us something about the man behind the brand.
I used to be an in-house lawyer for EMI Music. Either a bored lawyer or a bad lawyer, I eventually gave in to my creative side and quit my legal career to devise various projects within EMI - everything from creating the UK’s first ever mainstream mash-up album to setting up EMI’s Brand Partnerships department. Well and truly bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, I then left EMI to set up a business to harness the power of online & offline word of mouth. And that’s how Come Round was born.
Social media influencers have really changed the marketing game – how did you come up with the Come Round concept?
At EMI, we were forever trying to get direct to our consumers. We weren’t. We’d make an album, sell it to an ever-reducing list of record stores, who would ultimately sell it to a music fan. We desperately needed to have a direct relationship with that music fan.
Having spent my latter ‘post-lawyer’ years at EMI working with a wide variety of well-known brands, I had the benefit of seeing how other sectors and businesses were tackling the ‘direct to consumer’ challenge. One day (on a slow bus journey home), I began thinking long and hard about the most ‘direct’ and genuine relationship a brand could have. That’s how I came up with the idea of running a series of parties themed around a product to create genuine and honest word-of-mouth (the most trusted form of marketing there is). I figured you can’t get much more direct than being in people’s homes and workplaces!
Come Round is not your typical start-up, how did you go about funding such an unusual concept?
Come Round was self-funding from the start, with everything run (by me and me alone) from the spare room at the top of my house. There would have been no sense back then in hiring staff and renting offices. That can (and should) all come later once the business has been proven and it’s turned from being just a concept to an actual revenue-generating business.
Social media marketing has become indispensable for most businesses, what are your top 3 tips for using social media marketing to grow a small business?
Create relevant content about your area of expertise. Become known as the experts for your field
Ensure your networking circles are large but relevant. Quality beats quantity
Post something regularly and network regularly. Don’t stay hidden!
Marketing strategies have really changed over the last few years; we’re now in the age of the online word of mouth recommendations. What do you think a great marketing campaign will look like in a few years’ time?
In the area of influencer marketing that we operate in, we’ve witnessed major changes in a relatively short period of time. It’s gone from being about bloggers (who happily blogged away for free as a hobby), to those bloggers being elevated to celebrity status (and requiring payment), to micro-influencers (bloggers with a lower following than the celebrity bloggers). And don’t forget the offline influencers who are incredibly important when chatting at the school gates, water fountain etc.
Offline is where it’s at in terms of increasing someone’s likelihood to purchase a product. So, I believe that a great marketing campaign should embrace all of these individuals as they all have something unique to offer. Combining offline influencers with online influencers produces a truly compelling and incredibly powerful mix when it comes to generating word-of-mouth recommendations and brand advocacy.
What do you know now that you wish you had known then?
Be patient and don’t panic (I’m a born panicker). It takes time to grow a business.
How do you unwind and appreciate your success?
Running my own business means I have a better chance of getting the work/home balance right. So unwinding these days means being involved more than ever in my daughters’ lives and doing family stuff more easily than when I was working for someone else.
If you could give one piece of advice to young entrepreneurs – what would it be?
Go for it! I wish I’d started my own business sooner. That said, I often think that if I had tried to launch Come Round sooner I would have been lacking the skills and experience that I picked up during my previous career. I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason and so I guess starting the business when I did was, with retrospect, the right time to do it. That said, from an economic point of view, starting a business during the worst recession in recent memory probably wasn’t ideal. Then again, to have come through that and actually grown the business during a recession is a great comfort.
You’ve organised parties for the likes of Lego, Justin Bieber and Dyson – what is the most memorable party you have organised?
Our first ever campaign in 2010 - for the Twilight movie series - is the most memorable as it’s the one that got to us to where we are today. For any marketing agency, the success of your campaigns are critical to win new business with – this is even more the case in the early stages of a business. Our early campaigns were like dominos in that one well executed campaign led to another, which led to another and so on.
When you started pushing the business out there, how did you get the big brands to work with you?
I started off by approaching people within the industry which I knew best (the music industry). I deliberately set out to prove the business to that music industry and then broaden out to other entertainment sectors and then ultimately to food, drink, electronics, retail, fashion - which is where we are today.
You’ve had quite a lot of success so far, what are your plans for taking Come Round to the next level?
Staying ahead of the curve and keep delivering successful campaigns that exceed our clients’ objectives. I’m incredibly excited to be driving the business into new sectors and countries and making brand advocacy and word of mouth really happen for our clients.