How to Scale a Marketing Agency: Lessons from The Social Element


I recently had the opportunity to appear on Jesse Gilmore’s Niche In Control podcast. Jesse and I talked about how we scaled The Social Element from my office to a 300-strong global company.


The benefits of remote-first

I talked about how founding the business as a remote-first enterprise was key to its success. 

Honestly, when I first started out, I didn’t have the money to splurge on offices; I preferred to invest it in getting the right talent to work for us – and the remote-first model meant that we could source that talent from anywhere in the world. Then, I realised how well that model worked for us.

Our flexible business model also meant that we could reach and work with people who wanted or needed to have a more flexible working arrangement.

The remote-first model allowed me to scale the company quickly and gave us access to global brands.

Fulfilling a niche need

Inspired by the content and online communities I oversaw in my role as Operations Manager at the BBC, and with redundancy money from my last job at Chello, I made the leap and set up a business that would help brands navigate and establish online communities. We very quickly folded the nascent social media sector into our services as the industry grew. 

The first few years of the business were very tough and involved a lot of education around the importance of being on social media (and how to manage a branded presence).

But soon, social media became the place to be, and there were only a few agencies specialising in social, so we found ourselves in high demand, which propelled our growth. And, of course, we started to get a reputation for great work – word quickly got around!

In the podcast, Jesse and I also talk about:

  • The qualities we prioritised when building our team (and the importance of investing in top talent!). 
  • Bringing in consultants to audit the agency and focus on growth and best practice.
  • The importance of learning how to delegate (something that I used to struggle with). One of my philosophies now is to hire great people who are better than me and just get out of their way!
  • Why it’s so important to focus on PR, connect with peers via communities and push past my initial discomfort and practice the art of self-promotion

It was a brilliant and wide-ranging chat that you can watch in full on YouTube or catch up on Spotify or Apple.

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