Observations from the latest addition to the Search Star team: Ryan Webb, CRO Director

During my 17 year career I've worked in and alongside a few different digital marketing agencies. It is fascinating to see the different ways agencies work. The buzzword rich copy on the agency website sounds great, but is that really what goes on behind closed doors?

In my first week at Search Star I've spent my time sitting in on meetings and discovering the internal workings and culture of Search Star. Being the new boy this is probably the most objective I’ll ever be about Search Star, so I thought I’d make a note of some of the stand out points that struck me, in comparison to how I've known other agencies work…

Take responsibility for your actions

A good agency is accountable for its actions and genuinely tries to do its best for your business, and that certainly seems to be the case here. The team structure is very simple. Each client is closely looked after by a team member whose job is to make their digital activity as effective as possible on a day to day basis. They speak to clients regularly and justify everything they do directly. The head of that team has overall responsibility for the direction and strategy for that client and shares information and challenges with the wider agency. There is no account management layer to gloss the results up and get between the doers & the client.

Having a small number of people who really understand the client and deal with them directly is important. There is no blag, no sales speak and no shrugging of shoulders. Everyone knows what needs to be achieved work together to meet the targets. Simple and effective.

Trust, chemistry and building relationships

How will you find your next agency? How easy is it to choose the right group of people that you can have faith in to do their very best to achieve your goals? Most clients choose their agencies partner through direct experience & recommendations. They then want to meet the agency staff they are potentially going to be working with not New Business Directors.

Search Star has no sales team or New Business Director. The vast majority of new business comes by referral and the MD & Account Directors meet prospective clients. From the start building lasting relationships and trust with new clients is the imperative. Contracts are not front-loaded with costs or set up fees and key decisions are made with long term success not short term agency revenue in mind. The team put in extra effort and go beyond the minimum because they want to do well for their clients believing that the agency will see the return in the long run. As they say: treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.

Intelligent thoughts and insight (not just results)

Weekly reports are useful. Pivot tables and dashboards are great. But, isn't it really the interpretation and the meaning behind the numbers that is of real value?

Simple and effective reporting of key metrics across all channels at Search Star means the team has ample time to focus on examining the stories behind the data. I'm yet to witness an occasion when a report has been sent to simply tick a box. If value isn't added, the report isn't sent. The teams are experienced in their specialist digital areas as well as having broader knowledge across the digital marketing disciplines.

Training & career development is impressive with team members eagerly hoovering up Google exam passes, as well as a significant investment by Search Star into the Google Squared online accreditation scheme.

Be transparent and straightforward

I think we've all heard agencies trying to blag their way through conversations. They blag because they are unprepared or under pressure to sell, or a combination of both. How great it would be if you could be confident what was being said was accurate and honest?

During a meeting at one of the world’s largest media owners we asked them to confirm (in front of a client) what the advantages of using part of their technology stack was. The media owner’s response was that it was essentially designed to make life “easier for you as an agency”. Given that its use would have a cost to the client it was dismissed by the agency. The Search Star team were looking for innovative ways to improve client performance, not ways to automate and kick back!

Stick to what you’re good at

Search Star has a strong belief and confidence in what they are good at: PPC, Biddable Media, Analytics, CRO and Training. Interestingly they have an equally firm understanding of what they are not. I've seen us advise clients of better placed specialist digital marketing and web development providers three times in my first week.On top of all this, they have happy clients, the team get on well and enjoy working here! I'm looking forward to a very happy future as part of the team.