The B2B Marketing Awards celebrates the best in business – and Digital Radish is no exception. Transforming their agency mid-pandemic and bringing wellbeing to the core of the business, they won Gold for ‘B2B marketing communications agency of the year.’ Lucy Gillman sat down with co-founder Renaye Edwards to discuss their recipe for success.
LG: To kick off the interview, could you give us an overview of how your agency changed last year and why?
In 2021, we completely changed the success criteria for the agency, putting employee and client happiness first and revenue second. We stopped focusing on profit, and instead every single decision was guided by what was best for our clients and employees. We made a commitment to stay true to what the team enjoys doing, and where we can add real value for clients. That meant keeping an unwavering focus on our niche of high-growth businesses going through big strategic changes, like IPOs and product launches. We also focused more purposefully on our specialism of ABM and brand, which has resonated well with the market, I think largely because of how closely aligned ABM is to revenue.
LG: In your case study you mention that these changes were inspired by Bhutan – the only country in the world to measure itself in gross national happiness rather than GDP. Where did this source of inspiration come from and why was it so important mid-pandemic?
I know, Bhutan is an unlikely source of marketing inspiration. But this is a country with a crystal-clear vision where happiness is prioritised over GDP. This concept stood out to us at a time in the pandemic when, like many people, we were reevaluating what really matters and where our priorities lie. For Lorna and I, that meant redefining what success meant to us and essentially trialling a new way of running the agency where the happiness of our people and our clients is worth more than profit. We’re consistently guided by analytics considering everything from innovation to team development, wellbeing, CSR and work-life balance, which brought meaning at a time when we all needed it and means we can continue to prioritise what’s important to our team and clients.
LG: Conversations about wellbeing came to the foreground during the pandemic. This clearly lies at the heart of your employee engagement initiatives such as the ‘You Do You’ day. How did employees respond to this?
Giving employees a platform to have their say and be heard was imperative at a really tricky time. We increased all our communication channels and surveyed the team quarterly to monitor people’s thoughts and feelings. We then had a SWAT team that executed against the themes these surveys identified. Once employees felt like they were being heard, this process produced a strong vision and purpose for everyone to work towards. We applied that vision in practical ways by introducing perks that emphasised flexibility, empowerment, development and wellness.
Within three months our NPS score hit 100%, and our staff retention rate has remained steady at about 80% ever since. The feedback we’ve been getting on the back of taking this approach reminds us about the value in doing this – it feels wonderful to make a visible difference to our team’s wellbeing.
LG: To expand on that a bit more, where should these initiatives start? Should organisations take a top-down approach or go down a more holistic route?
Of course, every business is different, but in our case it was a holistic approach. Like Bhutan, we wanted to take a more rounded view of progress. We’ve always believed in individual empowerment, and so for us giving the team a real say in important decisions was crucial, and I think without doing that we wouldn’t have seen the results we’ve had. However, I would say that this approach worked for us because we’re nimble enough to act on initiatives quickly. Unfortunately, some organisations aren’t, and if employees don’t see change, then they can become disillusioned.
LG: With an 81% employee retention rate and 100% NPS score, the numbers speak for themselves. It goes without saying that your current employees reacted well to the programme, but what about new staff coming in? Was this something that set Digital Radish apart in the age of the Great Resignation?
Onboarding new employees virtually is always a challenge, especially when you’re trying to get across the family feel we have here. However, I think the personality, drive and dedication of the Radishes have shone through in the one-on-one calls that all new starters have with every person in the company. That’s infectious. The feedback I get regularly from people when they join is that the team seems so motivated, friendly and focused, which makes us so proud.
LG: In the age of WFH, you provided a £200 home office budget and a specifically developed onboarding programme. What lessons should organisations keep in mind when connecting staff as we move step firmly into a hybrid world?
Each person has unique needs and preferences, and we should always take that into account. Some have adapted really well to home working; others need that energy you get from being around other people. The challenge is to maintain a personalised approach while keeping it fair for everyone – that’s the tricky thing. But a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to managing how people work just isn’t going to cut it anymore if you want to get the best out of your team.
LG: To move away from an in-house perspective, 2020 saw financial growth: your client retention was 78% and you created a total pipeline revenue across all clients of nearly a billion. How did you keep your clients happy during the pandemic? What lessons can other agencies take on board?
We were keen on driving change at speed for our clients during the pandemic, so we carved out time for ‘innovation days’ where we’d regularly take a step back and keep pace with the rapid transformations taking place. We introduced lots of fresh ideas to push our clients forward: virtual and metaverse roundtables, more immersive digital experiences, and personalised videos to name a few. Overcommunication was key. We leaned into having very honest, human conversations with clients. One of the unexpected upsides of the pandemic was that these conversations broke down those corporate walls, and that openness was so uplifting.
LG: To round off the interview, what does winning a B2B Marketing Award mean for you? How have your clients and staff reacted?
Quite honestly, we still have to pinch ourselves. B2B Marketing is the definitive authority in the B2B world. The calibre of the judges involved was absolutely phenomenal, and for them to choose us is just incredible. Together with the feedback from our clients, who have been so supportive, it makes us feel as though we’re appreciated and that we’re doing valuable work. I’ve loved to see how proud the team are of both our recent successes and in working here generally, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every Radish who’s been involved in our journey. I’ve also got a special shout-out for some key clients that really stuck by us early on in the pandemic when it was looking bleak, so Applaud, Veeam and BSI: thank you!
Think you’ve got what it takes? You can register your interest for the 2022 B2B Marketing Awards here.