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Martin Meadows

Managing Director

Is it just me, or is anybody else feeling cautiously optimistic about the rest of this year?


Like most of the country, I watched the Prime Minister’s recent unveiling of his lockdown roadmap with great anticipation. Not only because of the long-awaited freedom it will bring to mine and everybody else’s personal lives, but also because of the excitement that’s bubbling here at Workhouse for the things we have in the pipeline over the next 12 months.

The last year has naturally presented us with lots of new challenges, but also new opportunities at the same time, and taking a step back to write this has reminded me that there is a lot to be positive about for the rest of 2021 and beyond. So, what are we excited about after covid?


New challenges, new opportunities


Firstly, as an agency that’s worked with brands in the built environment for the past 28 years, we’ve been fascinated by the behavioural changes in audiences accelerated by covid and how these translate into new and different marketing challenges. The same rules don’t necessarily apply anymore, which demands real creative problem solving that tests our skills as marketers.


Using creativity and technology to solve these problems is what we do best, like helping luxury bathroom specialists Sanipex Group to take their world-class showroom experience online, and this will continue to be a key focus for us as we work with our clients in the built environment to navigate the new world – a hugely exciting challenge.


I think the pandemic has also highlighted the importance of knowing your audience inside out, and we’ve had the opportunity to get even closer to them, scrutinising changing behaviours and attitudes across our clients’ sectors. This is especially important for brands with dual faces, such as those with both trade and retail offerings, and something our teams are continually finding innovative ways to solve for our clients.


Generally across the industry, covid has made brands and marketers more acutely aware of what’s really important, which will hopefully light the touchpaper for a real focus on sustainability, the environment and helping humanity to win the even bigger fight against climate change. We need the innovative thinking and same sense of urgency that was applied to the covid pandemic applied to climate issues as well.


Building for the future


We’ve learnt a lot of lessons over the last year, but the biggest one for me has been to embrace change, not be afraid of it. 2020 was the year that nobody could have ever predicted, but we’ve come out of it in better shape. We’re more agile, efficient and flexible than we’ve ever been, and we work harder on collaboration because we’ve had to adapt. All of this will undoubtedly help to make us a stronger agency.


As a leadership team, we made a conscious decision to continue investing in creativity, technology and people throughout the pandemic to reap the benefit in the future. This has set us up with the solid foundations we need to come out of lockdown fighting and thriving. Building agility and flexibility into our own roadmap out of lockdown has been crucial to that.


On the recruitment front, it’s been interesting to see how covid has been a leveller for our industry in terms of attracting talent from the city agencies. We’ve made two senior hires from agencies in Manchester over the past 12 months, and this has given us fresh insight, vision and impetus that reaffirms our status not only as Lancashire’s best creative agency, but a top North West agency in our own right. That recruitment is continuing as we look for top creatives to join our busy design team.


Part of this attraction for new talent has been our location. Ribchester is a beautiful and rewarding place to work (when we’re not working from home), and it’s a real point of differentiation for us. It’s part of who we are and how we work, so it’s reassuring to see that even after 28 years, an agency in Ribchester can work with clients all over the world, from the USA to the UAE. If anything, covid has only reinforced our belief that location is absolutely no barrier to working with global clients.


Keeping a start-up mentality


One of the most exciting things for me about the coming months is that even after 28 years in the game, Workhouse is still an agency that thinks, acts and feels like a start up in everything we do. The fact we are independently-owned at the size we’ve grown to is an important part of that, and it gives us a significant advantage. It means we have the security and stability of an established business, paired with the mentality of daring to be different and try new things.


It means we can comfortably reaffirm our reputation for being the built environment specialists while still pursuing projects with brands we’re passionate about, from vodka to yoghurt and cheese (and lots of things in between). It gives us the freedom to follow our beliefs not numbers, test and learn, be braver and bolder. This start-up mentality will be taken one step further this year as we explore innovative technologies to help our clients engage with their audiences in whole new ways. Watch this space.


Finally, I’m excited as always to continue developing fruitful relationships with our clients to help them achieve their objectives, to help us grow together. There’s a reason we have worked with valued clients such as Stax Trade Centres and Crown for such a long time. It’s because we believe that building long-lasting relationships are the key to continued success, and it’s firmly rooted at the heart of who we are as an agency. I’m sure I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say I’m excited to see where these relationships take us next.

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