In October, we celebrated our tenth anniversary and have enjoyed looking back on our journey over the last decade…
On 8th October 2013, our Head Tiger Louise Stevenson started Tiger Marketing in her spare room, after ten years in a variety of marketing roles. She says, “I’d always planned to start my own business and thought that then was as good a time as any, and if I couldn’t market myself, then I’d be useless at marketing anyone else!” And so, Tiger Marketing was born.
Louise had always loved tigers; for their strength, beauty and power, and for the fact that all tiger stripe patterns are unique – like human fingerprints, no two tigers have the same stripes. “Our campaigns would reflect our name,” says Louise. “I wanted our marketing ideas to be bold, strong, and unique. Everything we did would be tailored carefully to each client’s individual needs.’
Louise painstakingly built her own website (which she would not recommend), wrote all the content and had her first logo designed – by the same designer who has created our current logo and who we still work closely with today.
Louise had previously worked in marketing roles across the UK but never in her hometown of Worthing, and knew she needed clients and contacts in the local area. So, she joined Business Network International (BNI), where she tested out her ideas, honed her pitching skills, and identified her target audiences and ideal clients.
“As the owner of a small business, you wear many hats: you’re the accountant, the marketer, the salesperson – you’re responsible for everything which is tricky especially if one of these areas isn’t your expertise. Not only did BNI help me gain new clients, but it also connected me with people who could give sound advice on everything from public liability insurance to effective time management.”
Prior to setting up Tiger Marketing, Louise had worked for a large blue-chip company. The MD of that company left at the same time Louise did – also to set up her own business – and so she became our first client.
“My first plan for growing the business was to generate enough work for two people. When I got to the point where I was working round-the-clock, I knew it was time to hire someone. It was a little scary employing my first team member. There must be enough work, and of course you want to be able to offer security. So, my first ‘tiger’ joined me on a part-time basis.”
A year after starting Tiger Marketing, the business moved to an office in Worthing’s Tarring Road. We shared a shop along a little high street which had a finance company below us. It had single-glazed windows so was freezing in the winter and boiling hot in summer. We all had to share one toilet and there was one wall that had floor-to-ceiling mirrored wardrobe doors – not very office-like. Not the most glamorous office and in an even less glamorous location, but a big step forward for Tiger – and it was here we grew to a team of four people. But we’re jumping ahead…
“While it was still just two of us, my fellow Tiger wanted to move from part-time to full-time work, and I wasn’t quite ready to offer that. But by this point, we were working with Michael Jones Estate Agents and had already grown their marketing activity to such an extent that they needed their own in-house marketing team. So my first Tiger left me to join Michael Jones – which was a win-win, as it meant we were still working together, and the transition was seamless.”
Tiger continued to grow steadily, and after Reva (AKA ‘Revinator’ or sometimes ‘Reva Diva’) joined the streak, Louise advertised for another marketing assistant. Two people fitted the role but only one person could have it – so Louise asked our beloved Melanie (AKA ‘Melbot’) if she could wait a couple of months, by which time Louise would have signed more clients and created a role for Mel. True to her word, Louise pulled it off and Mel joined our Tiger streak.
Four Tigers needed more space to prowl around in, so in September 2016, we moved to the newly opened co-working office called Freedom Works at the Mill Building in Chatsworth Road. The office was in the middle of the town centre, had car parking opposite and the added benefit of working in the same building as other professional creatives.
Looking back, it’s crazy how we used to do some things and how far we’ve come… We used to have a whiteboard to track all our client work, with Louise keeping a lot of the knowledge in her head. As the business grew and our work became more complex and diverse, Louise would try and write all the details on the Tiger whiteboard in the smallest, neatest writing. This was evidently not the best method – you’ll be relieved to know we no longer work like this and have indeed digitised our systems.
In 2018, Louise’s mum joined the business doing admin and invoicing. So by this point, there were five of us in a small office – it was time to find a bigger jungle. In May 2019, we moved down the corridor to our current office and had great fun decorating it with a jungle theme – dark green paint, artificial grass, tiger-print wallpaper, and the famous Henry Rousseau ‘Tiger in a Tropical Storm’ painting that we had made-to-measure as a mural on our main wall.
We’d had an era of bright orange, in-your-face marketing, and loved telling clients we’d devise ‘campaigns to make them ROAR’ – but as our clients were growing larger and more established, it was time for our branding to reflect that too.
In 2019, we were doing well as a business, and were poised to grow rapidly – and then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Like businesses everywhere, we had to adjust to a changing world quickly. We gave all our clients the option to pause their contracts with us, so they could focus on looking after their own employees rather than worry about paying their marketing retainer. This was a risky decision, but ultimately, it paid off; every client who paused their contract during the pandemic returned to us when they were able to.
It would be easy to think about the pandemic in a negative way – if it hadn’t happened, we would have grown quicker. But we’re not interested in growing simply for the sake of growing; we’ve got to develop in the right way. Which means hiring and retaining marketing experts who love what they do, and most importantly, who all work well together as a team.
We’re immensely proud of our welcoming, supportive and friendly environment, and maintaining that culture is more important to us than simply becoming a larger business. In the last eighteen months, three more Tigers have joined our streak: KP, our resident copywriter, Tim, our PPC manager, and James, our social media content creator.
Now we have our ‘Chief Tigers’ in place, we can crack on with our ambitious growth plans – in five years’ time we want to be a team of 50 and in ten years, a team of 100.
We’ll be working with larger businesses who understand the value of marketing and have the resources to grow their marketing activity. Going forward, we’re aiming to maintain a split of 60% larger businesses and 40% smaller businesses on our client roster. Of course, many of our existing clients have been with us for several years and our plans for growth include continuing to work with them and helping them succeed.
You can’t write a round-up of your first ten years without sharing a little of what you’ve learned in that time, so here are our top three Tiger tips from ten years in business:
Thank you to all our wonderful clients we’ve been lucky enough to work with us since it all began in 2013 – we look forward to the next exciting decade!
Why pay for one marketer when you can have a full team?Get in touch if you want to be heard