By George Hawwa, Growth Director
August 11th, 2021 marks five years since our social media agency, Attention Experts, started. In what has become known for Attention Experts staff as ‘Attention Experts Day’ or ‘AE Day’, it symbolises a milestone in an industry where the average business shelf life is 18 months. As the founder of the business, I’m very proud of what we have achieved in that time.
The business itself started from scrappy beginnings. It started after I was being approached by companies to help them with their social media marketing on a paid contractor basis, after I sold a business I had built entirely through social media.
I had 12 companies I was helping, and I decided I might as well start an agency. I called a friend at the time to help me out, and with $250 we happened to get some more clients by making a few phone calls and employed our first staff member, then away we went.
Since that frugal time, we have become Australia’s most 5 star rated social media agency and a known leader in what we do. There have been many lessons learnt, and many challenges overcome. I think the Attention Experts story is as much about the challenges as it is about the success.
So here are 3 key learnings from building this business.
1. Celebrate your story and the business personality
The Attention Experts story is a unique one. The story has come about through the people who have built this social media agency. With that, in turn, it has created its own personality as an entity. Attention Experts as a business has its own look, feel and tone.
The Attention Experts personality when you are around it, is about being genuine, warm, down to earth, reliable, ethical, adding value, being selfless, taking ownership and aiming high. It is someone you’d consider making a groomsman or bridesmaid at your wedding – it is reliable, won’t be too out there during the speeches and is just a good egg.
Through that, the clients we attract are generally aligned with these values and find us attractive due to the people in the business embodying these personality traits.
Our most successful staff are also these types of people. I remember a partner of ours when they first walked into our office in Sydney, paused before he shook my hand, looked around, took a deep breath and said ‘wow, I love it’. At that time we had a small office of around 79 square meters and around 7 staff, so he definitely wasn’t in awe of our size. I could see and feel what he really meant, he loved the vibe and feeling the warmth you get when you walk into Attention Experts. As we have grown, we still carry this.
The personality of our social media agency has a direct causal link to the growth of the business. I actually can trace, statistically, where I think we have lost our personality and where we have strengthened the great things about us and see stats decrease or increase accordingly.
2. When things are tough, double down
In the five years at Attention Experts, I would say at least once every year of those five years, I would turn around and go – okay, things are looking pretty tough.
- In year 1 – cash flow was a big problem, and I had to count every cent I was spending to keep the business there, while hiring more people and trying to acquire new customers.
- Around Year 2, I was dealing with building a team-culture after realising I had hired the wrong people to grow the business.
- Year 3 was transitioning away from the wrong people I had hired, and trying to swap out the team to new people, without losing morale or growth in the business.
- In Year 4 we were putting final touches on team hiring practices and then COVID.
- Year 5 was further COVID lockdowns, lower business confidence in the economy and growth challenges as we grew around 100% in accounts under management in 12 months.
Through each one of these challenges, we doubled down. We didn’t settle. When we had an off moment with a client, or a bad hire, we tried to rectify it quickly. Sometimes it meant a total upheaval of that part of the business. We sought to make it better. And we succeeded every time.
3. Know your strengths and don’t bother with anything else
Our strengths at Attention Experts have always been two things:
- Proficient knowledge of data towards social media becoming a strong ROI channel for businesses.
- Business acumen and knowing our potential client or existing client.
We don’t pretend to be what we are not and we are very certain of what we know. This is what our clients love and the feedback we receive. If we don’t know something, we’ll bring in a very able partner in that area, whether it’d be video editing, photography, or other forms of digital marketing away from social media. And we become specialists in what we do know, which is data-led social media marketing campaigns that lead to ROI.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, we are proud to be a notable industry leader in our space. Our future is looking bright with some amazing growth plans in the works. The next 5 years will bring its challenges and we’ll still be learning.
The beautiful thing is, Attention Experts is no longer just about its founder or its founding story, it is now also about where it’s going and the people who will take it there.
On that note…Need help with your social media marketing? Contact us today and get in touch with one of our experienced consultants!