Choosing an Agency episode 12 out now – featuring founder of Interesting Content, Suds Singh.
Suds spoke about the importance of transparency and honesty to attract an agency you can trust. He shared his opinion on pitches, awards and what makes an agency a good fit. Alex and Suds also had interesting discussions on how much values really matter, whether clients should look at accreditations of their agency and diversity in agencies.
Episode twelve, series 2 transcript
Alex Holliman: Hello, and welcome to choosing an agency. My name is Alex, founder search agency climbing trees. And I’m here to talk about how to get the right agency to grow your business. So today I’m joined by Suds Singh at interesting content. Alright Suds?
Suds Singh: Yeah, that’s me. I’m good. How you Alex?
Alex Holliman: Yeah. Not bad. So for people who are just meeting me for the first time, could you share a little bit more about who you are and what you guys do?
Suds Singh: Sure. Suds founder of interesting content. We make the most amazing video content for b2b and b2c brands like Hello, which is owned by Colgate they are newest client, all of space in case beauty brands from drunk elephant to Charlotte Tilbury to Rosie Inc. If any of your listeners are makeup fans, I know more about women’s makeup than the average man. Worryingly. And this is, you know, this is after we started working with them, obviously, we also work with the whole load of b2b and tech and Sass companies. Yeah. You know, the list is too long to go into. But we started off specialising in b2b, but we’ve recently started doing a lot of work for b2c, which is a whole different kind of ballgame in a way, but you know, you know, essentially, we do video content, tell stories, create content that’s going to grab people’s attention, and hopefully sell a product or a service or help customers, retain their customers, you know, reduce churn or do advertising by connecting on social media content as well.
Alex Holliman: Perfect. And then so what sort of stuff passes your table, they stay basis, what was your role involve
Suds Singh: My role is sales and marketing. So the face of the brand, couldn’t find anyone better looking. Or worse. With with more hair or less, so you know, I’m bald for the listeners here. Essentially, we I do sales and marketing, getting new leads through commission, our content, write, copy for the website, as well as hiring freelancers look after the operations, finance, marketing teams, and we bring in a lot of freelancers that we have to onboard. So you know, a lot of it’s things like interviewing people to see that they are, who they say, they say they are bringing in freelancers, getting them signed things like NDAs, and little things that you have to do as a business owner. So right now we’ve got our vat due in the next six or seven days, on seven February 2022. So I’m going to do our account for that. So it all sorts of things, all sorts of things like you, like,
Alex Holliman: Absolutely, unfortunately, I do none of the stuff that I absolutely love, though I do some of the strategy. That’s the part that I deliver the most value on in terms of execution these days, it’s none of it.
Suds Singh: I mean, you know, I actually, for the last project we had, you know, as I was saying, just before we started hitting record, January’s been, you know, like, very, very busy start to, for us, and I’ve had to we’re a producer down so that, you know, sort of stepping for animation video that we did for a company to sass company. And I was really hands on. And I actually really enjoyed that. So I might do a few more projects throughout this year. Which, you know, there’s nothing like working directly with the client, and also directly with the freelancers or the creative and actually doing the work. getting your hands dirty.
Alex Holliman: The old magic was still there.
Suds Singh: Yeah. And, you know, I started, like, I was thinking, you know, because you know, when you’re like, I guess when you’re with your team, sometimes you’re very far away from the client as well as what you deliver. And you’re not as hands on as maybe when he first started off. So for me, it’s been, you know, less, I just, I did this project. And he was I got this kind of past I got when I first started the company about seven years ago. So when I was doing everything, essentially, I’m still doing everything now. But you know, it’s less so and you guys kind of different kinds of headaches in a way.
Alex Holliman: And then in terms of before, seven years ago, what sort of stuff were you up to then? Were you working on the agency side or
Suds Singh: No so I was doing some consulting roles. So sales and marketing, I had a bit of a ecommerce background. So I was consulting for a lot of ecommerce companies. And before that, I was working for a corporate company doing sales, essentially, you know, like I come from a very sales focused background, which kind of gave me a lot of insight into what I’m doing and you know, sales, essentially sales and marketing essentially, these are very, very transferable skills, as I’m sure you know. And I thought, you know, if I can do this for myself, then either for somebody else and I can do it for myself. So I took the kind of scratch the itch and and you know, jumped into the entrepreneurial background, or with both feet in little did I know how much exactly hard work tears and hair that you lose.
Alex Holliman: So to get a feel for who you are, Suds if you can fight for people past and present to a meal who would they be?
Suds Singh: You know, Alex, I saw this question but I didn’t, I deliberately stopped myself from kind of making a list, because I wanted to kind of be spontaneous and just give you a tone to top my head. I think you have to be Elon Musk. Because he’s just visionary. And I think in 150-200 years, he will be the one billionaire that people still talk about. Yeah. Christopher Columbus, just because I’m a, you know, studied geography at uni. And he’s been an inspiration because he has he had this thing he’s, you know, people say that he had lots of issues. But you know, he had this thing where he wanted to discover the mysteries of the universe. And I’d love to kind of talk to him more about that. And, obviously, I think last one would have to be Shakespeare because I love the English language. And, you know, he essentially wrote many words in our dictionary. And, you know, we still study his text to this day. And you know, lots of stories that we see on film and TV are so inspired by his classic timeless stories.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. No, no. So you got musk, Christopher Columbus, Shakespeare, and
Suds Singh: It definitely be my mom, because she, you know, I would like to share this with someone I love.
Alex Holliman: Nice. And that I think, is that whole? Yeah, be interesting. See how Elon Musk Shakespeare Christopher Columbus and your mom would get on
Suds Singh: My mom would dominate the conversation. No one would get any word in edgewise. But you know, we’d have good food, my mom would have obviously She’d cook some lovely Nepalese dish dishes. And, you know, like, I think, you know, this kind of combination of people that are people who, you know, will we these names won’t disappear off our kind of common diction or kind of command forget vernacular for a long time. So get those three.
Alex Holliman: Wow. So the main point of this sort of podcast series is to try and help clients get most out of the process of selecting agencies and then working with agencies. And so what advice would you give to clients asking agencies to pitch?
Suds Singh: I mean, you know, there’s two ways you can look at it. One is, keep your cards close to your chest, and let companies come in and pitch their best ideas that are their best budgets. Or you could be very, very transparent and say, you know, here’s our deadline, here’s what we’re intending to do. And here’s our fixed budget. And, you know, if you extend this to a bunch of companies, then you know, you, you know, that you’re not playing this kind of guessing game. Or trying to kind of trick people into kind of getting the best rate, I would say, be very transparent, put everything down in a paper. And, you know, give it to whoever you want to have pitch for his work. Yeah, obviously, in reality, as you and I both know, this hardly ever happens. Usually, it’s a phone call or a sentence email saying, can we have this done in six weeks? And I mean, you could say companies often go for the last best value, I guess, or sometimes they go for the ones who promised to deliver the earth, but they won’t be able to do so you know, all that kind of stuff. So I would say if you’re transparent with the agency, I mean, if they’re very good, then they’ll be able to give you an answer to say, here’s what we can do, realistically, we’re not cutting corners, here’s our fair price, take it or leave it. I think that’s the approach, I would go if I was working in an agency,
Alex Holliman: Perfect. And then I guess, when you first get an inquiry from clients, you help the client. So sometimes, on the client side, it can be tricky to know what information agencies needs. So you will take them through a process of trying to elicit all that information to almost qualify them to make sure that you’re a good fit for that client, and that client is a good fit for your agency.
Suds Singh: Exactly. I mean, I think, you know, if you’ve done your branding and positioning, right, you will attract the right kind of customers through the door. So you know, we tend to work with businesses that are 15 to 25 people plus certain turnover. And, you know, we obviously we don’t tend to work away from small companies that are starting off. But we kind of tried to attract the right kind of client base and you know, that shows in the team that we have as well as our special specialism as well as pricing that we charge, just because if you know, we have worked with, you know, one man band or two main bands before, but we’re kind of really geared up for enterprise level kind of customers. And that’s where we do our best work.
Alex Holliman: And I think sometimes, in my experience of working with owner managed businesses that are relatively small in early stages, the psychological pressure to deliver results instantly, without being able to follow due process can actually derail a project and won’t be will have the chance of actually having an impact and doing your best work. And so sometimes that larger sort of client where the people that you’re working with are less emotionally, like, involved in the whole process, they still want it to be successful. But it’s a different sort of relationship. And so the client gets the different kinds of output.
Suds Singh: Yeah, I think, you know, small businesses, they tend to just not everyone, but you know, they, you know, the wrong thing to do is hedge it, but hedge your bets in one, you know, one thing or expecting a silver bullet from, you know, a new website, or a new brochure, or new video, or whatever you’re trying to do, it’s usually a combination of four or five of these factors. And also a bit of good luck as well, if you are looking into, let’s say, your SaaS based business, it’s not just enough that you have a really great website, and you’ve got good testimonials, you know, it’s a combination of these things that will lead you to success. Whereas a lot of the small companies that we talk to, you know, like, there’s a lady that, you know, was recommended to me the other day, and she is putting all their eggs in this new website that’s going to be launched. And, you know, we just as a, you know, just as a bit of sidenote free consulting, I saw to chat with her to say, look, this isn’t just going to solve your issues, you know, you’ve got to do a whole load of other marketing related activities to get to where you want to get to realistically, whereas, you know, with a bigger company, you know, they, they, they have absolutely no issue, you know, dropping 20k and a podcast or a new video series, and they don’t expect it to return instant return of investment, you know, they expect it to be a one of many assets that will kind of deliver results for them over a long period of time.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. And what we what you find is that the pieces of marketing are the channels, they play hand in hand, and there’s an overall halo effect where there’s, it’s almost like, they work in tandem.
Suds Singh: Exactly. You know, and, you know, you, you and I have both been wrong to know that, you know, if you just expect one thing to deliver you the results, it hardly ever does, it’s usually like a combination of so many different factors that kind of come through, you know, even just to get a simple sale through, you know, last last customer who came in, it was through a piece of work that I did four years ago, and the client still remembered us because they will know, you know, and they followed us on LinkedIn, we never got a chance to kind of talk in between, but suddenly, they just said, Hey, you know, we’re looking to do this, can you come in and deliver this piece of work? Obviously, time was tight, budget was tight, but we’re like, yep, you know, we can do this. But then once you get your foot through the door, you know, you kind of end up working, hopefully, a long, long period of time.
Alex Holliman: Perfect. So something that’s quite close to my heart is thinking about purpose and those kinds of things. How important do you think is for a client about an agency’s values?
Suds Singh: Yeah, you know, I, the cynical person in me says, it’s not important. And I may probably be the first one to say this in your in your podcasts, but what people tend to do is they care about the output rather than the means and the way you kind of achieve that, but, I mean, you know, it could be that just the companies I tend to come across. But you know, if it’s a if you’re being compared apples to apples or pears for pears, then you know, what would distinguish you would be maybe something that you you know, if you’re being compared against agencies, similar site kind of size, price would be the same. I think the distinguished factor is very, very thin margins is in like, not revenue, but it’s like whether they like you or not, you know, and that likability factor is very difficult to hack. You can’t just suddenly wake up next and say, you know, what, I’m going to be likeable today. I think it’s, it’s more like, if you work with someone and you’re open minded, and they are open minded, you know, you kind of attract the same kind of energy that you put out. I think there’s nothing you can do to kind of, you know, get there you know, like I’m from a minority background myself and a lot of our clients happen to be English or from different backgrounds themselves. And I think this isn’t to say you know, if you are from a Certain diverse background, you’ll never be able to kind of belong to a certain tribe. And you know, you don’t end up working with someone, it’s more like, do you get on with someone? Are they a fun person to hang out with? Can you go and have a drink with them in the pub, whereas you know, someone’s closed minded, they tend to be kind of insular. And it kind of teaches you kind of if you work backwards, so if your values are Yep, you know, you’re a fun person to be around, you’re not too you don’t take yourself too seriously. Those kinds of things are little clues to how what the person’s like. So, you know, going back to the purpose driven, if you’re a good person, and you kind of, you know, you don’t drive a gas guzzler, or, you know, you kind of tend to do things in a conscientious kind of way, then little clues about yourself, and you know, how you present yourself kind of come across. And I think that does make a difference. But I think in the grand scheme of things, it’s a smaller kind of signal in longer, you know, like, just one more thing. Sorry, Alex, is if you had a toothache, do you care that your dentist is vegan, for example? Or do that a dentist XYZ? You want that toothache to be fixed? As soon as possible? Yeah. And that’s the kind of thing I think, what do you think?
Alex Holliman: I think it’s interesting, I think that in my experience, values are met by action. And so it’s like you say, it’s like you go around the block with someone a few times on that journey, you’ll get to see actually, who they are and how they are. And you know, how they treat people. And you know, what they think and those kinds of things. And so I don’t believe in and of themselves, they are the sole selection criteria. And very often, what I find is we have a slide where we talk about our values, I think they are important, they’re important for the agency, in terms of talking to staff in terms of this is how we work with clients. So I think internally, they’re really important, because it’s almost like a, if you’ve got a Viking longboat with a big feather at the end, beating the drum to make sure everyone keeps time, I think they’re important from that thing to make, like internally for an agency’s culture. But for clients very often why say, well, I’ll get to the slide of our values on these, hopefully, by the end of this document, you’ll get to feel that some of the values that we say we deliver, or we try and stand up to a meet, we are actually demonstrating that by the work that we’re just about to present to you/
Suds Singh: Going back to it’s more like, if you trust someone to read the journey to you being able to trust someone has to do with Do they seem like a fair person? Do they seem transparent? And do they? Are they honest people, you know, and,
Alex Holliman: And so that I once met someone who said one of his values was be trustworthy. And I sort of take that most people are actually trustworthy. But now you’ve said you’re trustworthy, I then think, well, why wouldn’t he be having to tell me was
Suds Singh: This fair, isn’t it there’s a there’s a, there’s a quote, by think Gotcha Moxie says, if you’re powerful than, you know, the, you know, say that a woman going around saying, I’m a woman, you know, you don’t need to say you’re a powerful person, if you really are, you don’t care about it, you know. And, you know, I think we tend to sometimes see the world from our perspective. So if you’re an honest, and you know, you’re transparent and fair person, you can actually assume everyone is. So you didn’t really have to go around and say, Yeah, you know, I’m this, you know, whereas it’s your actions anyway, you know, like, we pay people, we don’t get interns to work for us for free. You know, we don’t like drive people out. But you know, we pay people on time, one of the things I take pride in is because, you know, I’d rather I’d like to be treated in the way. You know, I treat people in the way I’d like to be treated. So that kind of energy goes up. And it’s those little clues like that you kind of give out even when we’re having this conversation, subconsciously, I think we pick up so I think I disagree with this kind of purpose driven Yeah, you know, where you we shouldn’t be a purpose. It’s more like, just live and breathe what you really are like, and you know, the right kind of people will come to you.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. So, in terms of one thing, also in the last couple of years, we have, so I think in the early stages of the business, we have the primary focus quite sensibly, hopefully is making payroll, keeping the lights on. And then I think that in terms of we’ve done some foundational work, and like you say is, is foundational work in terms of this is what our purpose is. And then we’re going to, you know, the primary focus has to be the services we offer. And so as part of that we started looking into, so we’re based in North Essex, right? And so Essex is very White County, North Essex, even whiter and we’re based in a little village called oz con, where there’s like little old ladies with those buggies that push like they’re shopping to and from the car every day and that kind of stuff. It’s like could not be a sort of whiter sort of area. So we’ve always struggled with diversity. And I think we’ve tried to do some bits and pieces to be more intentional, especially Since pandemics happen so that we can almost recruit outside of our geographic footprint, we started doing stuff where we do like blind CV so that we don’t have, because I questioned myself because I looked at my team, and it was just like a reflection of me. And, you know, I’m, you know, I’m a white middle aged man. And they’re just like a younger cohort of me. And I was thinking, is that for the justification, other excuses or the reasons I’ve just given? Or is there some subconscious bias going on with me that I’m not yet in touch with night, I don’t know. So what we did is we’ve stripped all those identifying features out of CVS that we get in, so that we can then start measuring up and sort of recruiting people based on the actual skills to make sure there isn’t that sort of bias there. So by the time they get through to interview, we can sign ships ship their stuff out. So I questioned this whole piece about diversity inclusion, because what I didn’t really believe is that a team that is, has rich variety in terms of age, race, gender, sexual identity, whatever it is, right? All that stuff, will deliver better work for clients than one that is just like mini reflections of me, because I think when I first started the business, I, my recruitment strategy was based on the facts of could I sit at a desk with a for eight hours a day and not want to stab you. And so I ended up building a team, it was like, the first version of the team that I built out in probably 2016, all specially lads, but they’re just like me, but 20 years ago, all all like going to the pub. And it was just like, it was horrible. There was just there was just something fundamentally wrong. So I had to then sort of unpick that Gordian knot to try and like actually do better. So, I guess I said, that’s in terms of so I, and I recognise that being the age, gender, and then the race that I am as well, I’ve had a pretty easy start in life. Right. So I question I question, I’ve been sort of introspective on this thing. So I’ve got a few questions about diversity inclusion in terms of, you know, whether, you know, if a client finds it important to have a team that is, like, diverse and inclusive, how can the clients sort of check up on agencies, and that kind of thing?
Suds Singh: You know, there’s, I mean, I coming from a minority ethnic background background myself, you know, we have team members in our, in our company who are from Pakistan, someone from Windsor. One of our guys is from Eastern Europe, we have women and men directors. So we got a real diverse group of people. And we didn’t attract these guys through a blind CV, they just came in, through introductions and word of mouth. We even have a ginger actually somewhere. Which is the most the rarest of them. Now, I think, you know, I think it adds value to, you know, like, I was watching this podcast few years ago, and it said, like, if you’re going to the moon, you want to kind of challenge every, you know, when you’re building a rocket, you want every kind of bias to be unturned And question just because if you have as many different kinds of brains in your room, then you will get that diverse group of thinking. And it’s not just the same kind of groupthink that you’ll get. And also thinking of the TV series westwing, you know, the president, he deliberately brings in someone who is opposite party to himself, just because he wanted someone to kind of challenge him and his assumptions. So I think I mean, I’m not going to, I’m not here to kind of argue for the benefits of diversity. And inclusion is, I think, is something which is, which is very good for a company to have. But for a client to kind of check on the, I think it’s more a case of I look, this is a hard one, you know, because a lot of our competitors, they tend to be kind of all men and usually or white men that we’re competing against, not that we’re kind of competing against anyone, per se, there’s enough for market for everyone. And I can honestly say to you, every company that we’ve won, every kind of piece of work that’s coming has been something me and my team kind of, you know, make happen ourselves, you know, no one gave us anything to be honest with you. And I was thinking, you know, lots of people have helped us but a lot of things that we’ve gained and you know, have achieved has been through merit. You know, I don’t you know, I’m not from a middle class, kind of white background, but I did work hard at uni, you know, I worked my ass off to Get my company off the off the ground. And you know, learn from my mistakes. So I think, you know, for clients, you should keep that in mind. But you know, go with, you know, who you think is going to add the best value not necessarily go for someone just because they come from a certain background? You know? I don’t know the answer to that.
Alex Holliman: No, no, I’m not too sure. I’m not too sure if there is one. And I think for me something, if I think about some of the things I feel best about having been in business, it is give people like at the start of their careers, a break and an opportunity, and then to be able to say what that person does with that opportunity. And so I guess it’s just, you know, for me, I think about how I can make that potential opportunity be a little bit more impactful, I
Suds Singh: I guess, this is like, you’re paying it forward, because someone gave me a chance. You know, I think funny, we use Tescos. You know, out of all the biggest companies in the world, you know, I was like, hey, work with us, we have no track record. I pitched you that, you know, I was at a trade show. And I’ll tell you the story, Alex, I was at a trade show. And a gentleman by the name of Jason Terry, who is the CEO of Tesco is at the moment, he was running up here up the Tesco, his clothing brand. And I was at a trade show, he was just about to leave the room, and it kind of worked out or there’s exits, I just went and I said, Look, Jason, loved your talk. I have just started up a company that makes content video like this is seven years ago. We’ve just started the company we have I straight up said to him, we have no customers, we’ve got no track record. But if you give me a chance, we will do something amazing for you. It took me three months to get a meeting with with him because this you know, he’s busy man, he’s in China, I think at that time, went to this boardroom biggest office I’ve ever met I’ve ever seen. And it was like, I went in just me one person. And I said, Jason, look, give us a chance you will deliver something to me. And he put me in touch with the head of is his CMO. And we made our first piece of video content for them. And that was and that gave me such a big boost. Because he was like, Look, we worked with Tesco is one of the biggest companies in the world. And that, you know, opened up a lot more doors for us. And the rest not isn’t history, but you know, there was a still a lot of pain and strife and everything’s go forward. But that’s how things started off.
Alex Holliman: Assuming that confidence to be able to approach him and then actually sort of pitched him and then sort of follow up and then chase through and then walk into that room in your on your own as well. Fair play.
Suds Singh: Yeah, you know, like I What I did actually do was the week before I went to the Tescos store and bought one of the clothing lines. And it was a distinctive shirt, because I wanted to make sure that I actually wear the clothes as a cheeky tip. But you know, it was intimidating, but I knew that you’d be able to see straight through me. So I was just very, very honest with him. And, and he, you know, he kind of, I guess kind of resonated with that. They had nothing to gain from working with us. And you know, we have everything to gain from them. So, you know, I still keep my Tescos club card around everywhere, because you know, a lot of the company and because they gave us a break.
Alex Holliman: Awesome. So in terms of what sort of things can a client do to check up on an agency’s reputation sets?
Suds Singh: Firstly, I think number one is gut feel. Because, you know, you’ve you’ve you must work with a whole load of suppliers and people that you work with, I think it’s gut feel see if they’re kind of trustworthy, you know, when you look into the whites of the eyes, do they seem like they’re like? Things like Trustpilot if you have it or GT reviews, I think this is a clutch. And do the past clients as well. You know, there’s certain clues that you have on the website, you know, if the company is really proud to say the word with whole bunch of companies, you know, is there a testimonial that someone’s left for them? Or is there like a video testimonial, you know, which is what we have not to kind of plug interesting content, but you know, we’re a content production agency. So, you know, sometimes if our clients have been we say, Hey, could you would you mind leaving us a review? And they’re more than happy to do so. But also, you know, like, I think it’s a it’s a mixture between does your gut say Hang on a second, there’s something dodgy here versus do they do they present themselves as being honest, trustworthy, likeable, and you or if you still want to kind of give yourself that extra kind of reassurance and you know, you can always look at the clients they have, and, you know, ask for a reference if you want to. But, you know, obviously, you know, the, the other side of that is, you know, I, you know, if someone comes to me and says, Hey, would you mind giving, you know, give us a reference, I wouldn’t obviously go to just like some random company that we worked with, you know, those pointing to someone who’s got something good to say. And, you know, the, you got to take it with a pinch of salt. So I think it’s a combination of gut feel. references that you can chase up as well as things like Google reviews, and other things as well
Alex Holliman: Absolutely, and I guess, in a creative industry, such as yours, the previous experience, or the latest work, latest projects you’ve been delivering, that will probably attract clients more than some other sort of bits and pieces could be.
Suds Singh: Yeah, exactly. You know, the proof is in the pudding in these things. And, you know, like yourselves, you know, like, I guess the first thing people do is look at your website, and, you know, see if it kind of matches up to what you’re, you know, kind of selling, as well as case studies or if you’ve got an online.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. So what are the signs that an agency is a good or a bad fit for a client?
Suds Singh: I think it’s more your specialism as well. So, you know, for example, we specialise in, you know, predominantly b2b, that’s our kind of real skill set. And, you know, like the size, you know, if you are a, you know, Ftse 100 listed company, you you want to work with reputable suppliers that are for certain size, because, often, you know, if you’re, if you’re working with a gigantic company, they could suck up all of your time and your team’s time. So it may not be right for you, because you’re not just there yet. So sometimes your bigger agencies deserve, you know, what not deserve, they can earn their bucks because of their money, just because they are able to deliver to that kind of scale, because they can service a 500 company, people company, yeah. Whereas, you know, someone like us, you know, our sweet spot happens to be about 25 to 50 to 200 people just because anything bigger than that, we just don’t, you know, we wouldn’t have the bandwidth to go through all the layers. And I, you know, when you kind of one of my mates, he runs a SEO company, and you’re saying, if you’re relying on one company to be more than 80% of your turnover, then you’re you’re in a bad spot, you may make a lot of high turnover, but if they walk away, then you’re kind of screwed. So I think it’s it goes both ways. Yeah.
Alex Holliman: Yeah, absolutely. You’ve got some bad news coming if they’ve got 80%.
Suds Singh: Yeah, exactly. Anyway, they have you by the proverbial balls, if you know, because if, if you know that you’re there, you know, your customer, your suppliers, biggest customer, then you can negotiate terms to your favour. And they’ll have no, no, the it’ll be very difficult for them to negotiate back and kind of stand stand behind because, you know, if, if, if you know, you’re going to walk away, then you know, this kind of, they have no business overnight.
Alex Holliman: So, there’s a lot of award winning agencies around what what’s your take on the woods? That’s what do you think that they are valuable?
Suds Singh: Or, you know, we our work is actually one a couple awords, but we don’t really talk about it on the website, just because I was approached by a major magazine, and I’m sure you have as well, probably the same people who literally said to me, sponsor three of our events, maybe take our magazine advert, and we will, you know, he didn’t person didn’t say directly, but he insinuated, you can win an award as well. Okay. So that’s how you work. And you know, you get a whole load of events that are 1000 pounds ahead per table, and you’re guaranteed a win. So I think you would agree, we have won them in the past. We don’t talk about it just because I believe our work stands up to scrutiny in its own right. You know, it’s always nice to say an award winning business or an awarding agency, because, you know, it shows that you know, what you’re doing and it’s peer recognition. But I personally think that it’s good to have, but it’s not our, you know, our kind of showpiece I’d rather let our work talk for itself. Then, you know, any kind of award that we you know, we we’ve why no one in you know, we may win in the future.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. And I think that there’s, I have a healthy scepticism of them. And, like you, we’ve been approached by the companies whereby we both just pay for the awards basically. And if you
Suds Singh: It’s, I mean, like, we, you know, the clients know that and we know that. But you know, it’s still getting every year, you know, the same kind of award happens at the end of the year, or in the summer, summer, somewhere in South of France, where you’re you, and you’re also like, there’s this kind of bias or this kind of conflict of interests where, you know, are you actually doing a piece of work for your own benefit, which could potentially win you an award? Why actually doing something that will deliver something great for your client, and your clients the one paying you money? But if you were to deliberately make something very emotive, and, you know, with that half iron and award, then, you know, who are you actually working for? Really, you know, I’ve had companies who’ve said things like, you know, this is going to look great on our portfolio, but it may not be relevant for the client.
Alex Holliman: Yeah, absolutely. And I guess sometimes, there is a certain type of client that would enjoy being entered into awards and that kind of stuff so that they can stitch it into their career narrative as well. I think that’s a totally valid valid reasons to have a client is that a commercially like focus and wants to position themselves internally at their company, as delivering great quality work, that award helps them do that. So as the why wouldn’t you help them do it. But
Suds Singh: You know, what happened was, we did a piece of work for this amazing food brand years ago, and our one our won, this magazines, you know, campaign of the social media campaign. And you know, what happened, the first thing that happened was, our client got poached to go to work for another business. Because, you know, the work got recognised, and they were all over it. And we had a whole load of copycats, who actually copied the piece of work that we created. And it wasn’t like copyrightable. Or there wasn’t anything that we could kind of say, this is distinctly ours. Apart from the satisfaction of going to bed thinking, Yeah, you know, work got picked up, or, you know, great artists copy that kind of thing. So, I mean, I think, you know, from a business, I think they’re great to have, but you know, it’s not why I live for, you know, I live because, you know, I’d like to have a like to do big piece of work, be a good person, and go to bed at night thinking yeah, I did alright today.
Alex Holliman: I think so in your industry sets are there, like accreditations that people can get? And are they important? Or do you place a lot of value on them?
Suds Singh: I mean, so just to talk you through it, one of our directors, tour directors got distinctions in masters and masters in film studies, as well as crazy design. We’ve got a couple editors who are, who finished top of the class for editing work and things like colour grading. But we’ve also got someone who kind of taught himself how to do 2d 3d graphic design, and, you know, his work stands up to scrutiny. And the one thing that combines, you know, the common thread between the two is like, they, they come at it from different perspectives. One has a piece of paper, which says, you know, she, she got a distinction from our work, whereas other person actually just worked them through itself through watching YouTube videos and taught themselves how to do 3d design. And, you know, they work together happily. So. I think accreditations are good to have. I mean, personally, I, you know, I’ve got a degree and a master’s in completely unrelated things. And you know, I’m running a video production agency or content production agency. I mean, it depends on what kind of person you are, unless you’re doing brain surgery or something very, you know, flying a plane, if you need to have a piece of labour or is in a creative world, the more diverse things, you know, a way to approach a problem, then the better for, you know, diverse piece of work, I guess, what’s your what’s your?
Alex Holliman: So I’m self taught in pretty much everything I do. I’m not that academic. And so, historically, I’ve always had a place to great stock on people that are prepared to try and get an opportunity, and then take that opportunity on and deliver on it. And so almost regardless, I think there can be some people who have qualifications who feel like then that qualification is enough. They don’t need to have that industry and effort to sort of try and push on. And so I’m not a big fan of that. But as long as people have that sort of personal drive and sort of determination, I sort of think that doesn’t really matter.
Suds Singh: You know, like, well, how you know, when you’re 17-18 you there’s no way you would be able to predict what you’re going to be Interested in when you’re 30-35, you know, 40, whatever, you know, like, I’m that kind of, you know, I studied geography when I was at uni, and I had no idea why it was what I wanted to do with my piece of paper that I’d get in the three years with a load of debt. Whereas, you know, now, you know, my, when I first started in sales, marketing, you know, the, the guy who’s sitting next to me, went to high school dropped out, and he made more money than me, and I was like, I, I’ve got a degree for God’s sakes, I should be getting, you know, always, I think the great equaliser is, you know, the first day you leave the world of academia, you know, reality kind of slaps you in the face, and kind of says, you know, now you’re starting on zero, prove yourself to, to us in the market, or what you worth.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely, absolutely. So was was one that then so what is one of the coolest things that you guys have ever done in a pitch to a client?
Suds Singh: We’re quite team Alex. So they, you know, there’s a classic thing of, you know, we went, I put in this just by myself, I went to pitch and Tescos. And I made sure that I was wearing a Tescos fnf clothing. But, you know, like things like, we pitch to a sushi restaurant. And, you know, we wanted to kind of make sure that they knew that we’ve done our homework. So we ended up going to a sushi restaurant, sat down with the manager and said, Look, tell us about your customers. And we have you know, that this banner to say, you know, we love sushi restaurant, took a photo of it, sent it to marketing manager. That didn’t work. But you know, it was a bit of fun doing it. But also things like, we do lots of video pitches, well, there’s one company actually, they’re still our customer. We, so they sent a picture around to a whole bunch of people. And I thought, okay, I was actually familiar with this, that day, if I remember. I was typing up this proposal. And I thought, you know, and we have a camera office, and I thought, you know, to my colleague, let’s just go out, I’ll just talk directly to the camera. And this will save me a couple of hours of work. You know, we started filming, and just literally as I was about to talk to the helicopter started flying overhead, just purely coincidentally. And I think I started with the crack about how, you know, we’ve hired this helicopter just so that we can get your attention. We were able to kind of just have a bit of banter on the video. Three weeks later, the CEO invited us to her office. And yeah, we’re still working with him. Three years down the line. And actually, we’ve just been commissioned for a new project with them. So it’s more not just one kind of thing that would kind of, you know, go, you know, we there is little things that we take into account.
Alex Holliman: Absolutely. And I think I always approach conversations like that on pitches where, if you’ve got the briefing document, if every agency answers that briefing document, you’ve gained parity with them. And so to try and deliver something above and beyond that, that’s the thing that we always sort of focus on. So sometimes we do that by the quality and the depth and the volume of work that we present. So sometimes, we just deal with a lot of numbers. So sometimes we will just produce an awesome spreadsheet, which looks at profitability return on adspend in an environment, granular level, by different categories, and that kind of thing. So we can show that we are commercially astute and aware. And these spreadsheets, they’re like a work of art, but they’re not as awesome as being able to like shoot videos and that kind of stuff.
Suds Singh: Actually, one couple of things that we have done for existing clients has been so we had an intern who came in and she was really good at doing arts and crafts. So we got home, we went on Amazon, and we’re doing a campaign where we wanted our customers to kind of help us refer us to their colleagues, friends and ex colleagues, that kind of thing and department. So what we came up with was a slogan to help us spread the word so we got these little Nutella spreadable, you know, the ones that you get. We take out the labels, we actually, this is the point. And Sabrina, if you’re watching, she had to stay overnight, putting all these Nutella jars in like hot water. So the labels we would peel off. We went to a printer and actually got one of these QR codes with our website and the tagline was, hey, help us spread the word. And we were I think it was like a 24 pack. So we sent out sent out a whole load of these to our existing clients. And it was a summer so you know, like we got a whole load of messages saying hey, love this, love this campaign. And you know, we still like hear from people that are saying yeah, you know, I saw this Nutella jar, I still in my office or I actually get started you I was hungry one day, so I started eating it, that’s quite cool campaign. Another one we did was, we got a whole load of these disposable cameras, and gave our clients like challenges say, Okay, here’s 50 pictures that you can take. And the best work will get, you know, featured on our website, or we’re making a collage. So we sent off, I think about 10 of these cameras, four or five of them made it back. And you know, it was a wonderful kind of collage of what our customers look like. And, you know, it’s like this kind of research of, Okay, show us your world kind of things, so we could get a better understanding of them. Yeah, we do stuff, fun stuff like that, where, you know, we kind of try and engage our clients. Obviously, we’ve got, you know, we take our clients for like, breakfast, set the zoom, or that kind of drinks, but that’s, you know, ever everyone kind of does that.
Alex Holliman: Awesome. So this has been great. So where can people find out more about you online?
Suds Singh: On LinkedIn, Suds Singh, or interestingcontent.co.uk You can get a hold of me there. But I think from my side, you know, like, you know, how we reached out together Alex, you know, if anyone wants to even just have a chat about sales, marketing, not necessarily about stuff, you know, we do more than happy to kind of pay it forward. And, you know, give advice if I can, or in a beer kind of signing boy, if anyone would ever like to talk to someone impartial, who’s kind of in a habit to give feedback or just have a chat.
Alex Holliman: Awesome. All right. Thanks ever so much for joining me today.
Suds Singh: Thank you so much, Alex, and I look forward to talking to you and coming to North Essex very soon.
Alex Holliman: Excellent. Anytime.
Listen to it now on https://www.alexholliman.com/ or your usual podcast streaming platform.