On 23rd October, our founder Sarah and the growing Full Mix Marketing team were featured in an article in the EDP The Business. Read here
You must fight your corner and prove yourself, says marketing agency boss
She’s worked her way to the top and recruited someone who knows her best of all – her husband. Caroline Culot spoke to Sarah West, managing director of Full Mix Marketing in Norwich
Sarah has refused to be held back, gained the highest possible set of qualifications in her field and is now the boss of a marketing agency with a £200,000 turnover.
But it’s not always been easy. She said: “The attitude towards a female boss is changing, you still see less women in senior roles than men and there is this ‘once you’ve had a family’ attitude which can be a barrier. I’m very outgoing and pragmatic so I’ve always been able to fight my corner. I’ve always been ambitious and always wanted those senior roles.”
I worked in jobs where I had to report to a board which gave me confidence so it’s never held me back. But I’ve done things to prevent me being held back like becoming a chartered marketeer, there are very few people with this qualification.
“In the past I have gone into businesses like engineering and manufacturing and there has been a scepticism that I wouldn’t understand the technical part of it and you have to prove yourself. But the client is the technical expert and we are there to interpret what they are doing. I go into these businesses and they may say ‘Oh, it’s a female coming to see us,’ but by the time the meeting is over I know they are happy for me to deliver the marketing they need to grow.”
Sarah, 39, who grew up in Norfolk, always knew she wanted to go into an advertising or marketing role, studying business at City College Norwich and going on to do a degree in marketing followed by a chartered post-graduate diploma, also in marketing before a further two years studying to become a chartered marketeer. This is the highest qualification in marketing, awarded according to experience and qualifications. It also requires 35 hours of study every year to retain the qualification – Sarah has been chartered now for a decade.
Sarah saw the potential of marketing long before many others – historically it was deemed something businesses could do without and often the first thing to go when making cuts. But Sarah realised how it could make a difference to a business and before starting her own agency, worked marketing for the law firm which ended up representing Formula One boss Max Mosley in a major court case against a tabloid newspaper back in 2008.
Sarah went on to become the marketing manager for local holiday firm Hoseasons before making a big lifestyle decision when on maternity leave in 2016.
“I realised it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a leap and set up my own marketing agency.”
“There was a need for a type of agency which delivered all elements because it had become very fragmented, digital was taking off, a lot of agencies were digitally focused and on the other side you had art school graduates starting marketing agencies which were design-led.
“I thought there was a need for a marketing agency that sat in the middle. It was a leap, a lot of people who start businesses don’t do it from scratch but I did, I left my job, and when you start a business, you have a goal of getting your first client then you want the salary you were on before, then you have goals and ambitions to grow the business.”
By her side as her business partner throughout has been husband James West – marketing actually brought the pair together when he was a business advisor working for a firm that was one of Sarah’s clients.
The pair decided to push Full Mix Marketing offering a strategic marketing service which was results focused and by 2017 they were able to move ‘from working at their dining room table’ at home to an office in the Cringleford Business Centre, Intwood Road in Norwich. After this came the need for staff, with four currently employed and a bid to recruit two more.
So, how does it work being a married couple?
“I would say it works very well, for a lot of people it wouldn’t, but you have to have a dividing line, you have to know when is the time to talk about work and when isn’t. We work very long hours, we are a young and ambitious business and we want to grow.
“There is lot of competition, some people think in business it’s enough to build a website and people will come but it’s like having a shop in a cul-de-sac; if no one can see you they’re not going to walk past.
“No matter how good it is that someone is making or doing, in order to stand out you need marketing. And whereas marketing used to be the first thing to go, now it’s something that’s too critical for a business to lose.”
By Caroline Culot, EDP Business Team, Archant, 23/10/19