As part of a new blog series to properly introduce you to the Relevance team, we are interviewing each of our incredible digital marketing experts, starting this month with our new CEO Ned Quekett. Read his interview below.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a dual national Australian/Brit living in Bath. I wouldn’t call myself Australian but hey it’s where I’m from! I studied at Cambridge where I did a degree in Art History, and while I was at university I spent a lot of time in the theatre, doing set design and publicity, and it’s thanks to this that I got my start in marketing. I also met my wife at uni and it was her who actually got me to do my first poster!
My first job was at a LED lighting manufacturer – a company which later became a Relevance client – and it was here that I had a crash course in digital and had to learn everything possible about things like SEO, Email marketing, Social Media, advertising, PR and creative production. After a few years I felt like I needed a change and I became project manager at a creative agency where I supported the delivery of social media and other digital campaigns for a few very big-name consumer brands. The lure of luxury pulled me away from there, however, and it was the opportunity to work in a broader role at Relevance where I would speak directly to clients, advise them on how to perform at their best, and keep them sharp that really excited me. I have had some incredible mentors and teammates at Relevance, who have provided me with a lot of great advice and pointers.
Outside of work I think some of my favourite things to do include country walks, photography, trying out new coffee shops, cooking, and watching YouTube! (whatever niche you’re interested in you can find it, and then the algorithm will unearth some incredible additional content for you).
What are your objectives for Relevance over the next 12 months?
Post-COVID there are still a lot of knock-on effects which many businesses, ours included, are recovering from, and especially in the travel sector there has been a lot of uncertainty around who can travel, where you can go, and what you can even do when you get there. As such, my primary objective this year and going into next year is try and maintain our existing clients as much as possible by providing the kind of services they expect from their dedicated marketing partner – from insights and data all the way through to the high quality performance.
The secondary key objective for the year is to see us develop our service offerings so we are able to offer more creative and innovative thinking to our clients. This began in January with the acquisition of the creative agency Brand Spanking, which brought on board some incredible creative talent that has pushed our design work to new levels already.
Beyond this, the digital landscape is in huge demand and we’ve seen volumes of enquiries like never before. We are doing a lot to try and win new business and expand our roster of clients with brands in other sectors that can complement our traditional strengths in yachting and real estate (e.g. finance, architecture, design, automotive, etc). We have been involved in quite a few large-scale tenders and I am excited to see where those take us.
What are the biggest opportunities facing Relevance, and how do you plan to meet these opportunities?
The biggest opportunity that I see is the widespread pivot to digital that the world has experienced due to COVID, and Relevance is very well-positioned to help businesses with their shifts toward a digital-first marketing strategy. We have been lucky to have such an amazing team in place allowing us to respond quickly to these changing times and this shift in budget has also allowed us to hire some very skilled team members and build partnerships with new technology vendors to ensure we have no gaps in our offering and are able to add some really interesting features to our clients’ work.
Another huge opportunity is the Monaco Blue Fund (Relevance is based in the UK and Monaco), which is a digital support plan from the Monaco government aimed at companies based in the Principality, offering to co-finance between 30% to 70% of business’ digital upgrades so they can implement digital projects that they may have wanted to do for a while but haven’t necessarily had the funds to do so. We’re a dedicated partner for the fund and have been connecting with individuals and companies to support their plans, acting as a partner to support them in the ‘accelerator’ ecosystem which the Monaco government is providing.
We are always eager to create new opportunities for ourselves too and we have just agreed a brand partnership with the exclusive members’ club Adoreum. This club allows us to meet and hear from some incredible speakers from the luxury sector while also being able to contribute our own voice to the conversation around luxury and how to better engage with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals on a meaningful level.
Where do you see Relevance in five years?
In five years I’d love to see Relevance producing fantastic work and results for a wider selection of clients, and ideally be in a position to have another team or two located in Russia, USA, or China.
It’s no small goal to grow an agency, however, and to get there I need to work out what this vision of success looks like and work backwards from there. Asking the team what changes we need to make now in order to reach this end result; how we need to be structured; who needs to be there to coordinate clients or internal operations; and then make a plan of how we can move forward as an engaged, informed team who know how to do the work required of us but without losing some of the unique qualities and values that make Relevance a great place at the moment. For example, if our goal is to win so many new clients, what kind of additional team do we then need to kind of make that happen? And what is the kind of structure that we need to manage that workload efficiently?
I think a lot of it comes down to having better organised divisions of teams at Relevance, as this will ensure that we can deliver better on all fronts. That’s been a big part of my thinking over these past six months now that I’ve been CEO and a key part of my planning moving forward to ensure that we’re in the best place possible for future growth.
What qualities should a good CEO have?
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I think the top things are: being able to be decisive – understanding what the impact of your decisions is, including how much you will hold up other things if a decision is not made, and what the impact of making an incorrect decision might be. But you can’t just make decisions without consulting the team so a second vital quality is to be able to engage with the broader team and understand what’s important to them – this is why I host fortnightly company meetings to engage with the company as a whole, share company news, and invite people to share their recent successes and challenges so that we feel more connected whilst still working remotely.
Another key skill is being able to inspire innovation in your team – at Relevance, this is how we stay agile in response to the constant developments in luxury markets, guiding our clients through these changing times.
What is your philosophy for leading an agency?
The most important thought I have when it comes to leading Relevance right now is being able to engage the whole Relevance team with some quite ambitious goals while trying my best to position every team member to be successful in their role. My philosophy is still developing, but I feel that we cannot succeed unless each individual is empowered with the tools, knowledge, and support to do their best.
What type of corporate culture do you aim to promote, and how do you create that culture?
The culture that we have now, which is really great, is this one that’s very open and honest. It’s this kind of supportive culture I want us to maintain while we grow as a team and develop the innovative ways we can help our clients respond to the desires of luxury consumers.
I believe we can foster this environment by working to encourage learning and inclusivity, and making sure that people have the space to try new things, learn new skills, and be creative. I think this is sometimes referred to as a seeker mindset – where people don’t feel afraid of trying something different or new, because they know the rest of the team has got their back.
What digital marketing trends are you the most excited about?
Having just moved house seeing some of the newer and incredible ways AR is being utilised by furniture brands is tremendously exciting. This continual crossover of digital and physical realities is something that can only serve to improve how people interact with the brands and companies they wish to make purchases from – and people remember the big and the little things that have helped them make better decisions in their life.
What are the biggest challenges to the digital marketing industry right now?
The biggest challenge – and also one of the most exciting parts of digital marketing – has always been and continues to be change. The sheer volume of disciplines, how they interoperate, and the impacts of changing attitudes to user privacy are all areas that as an industry we need to be aware of and respond to in our work. Just because an idea or technique or ad platform worked in the past doesn’t mean it will now or indeed in the future. As such, it’s critical to stay educated and as an agency the challenge to us is ensuring we are able to maintain and develop our internal training programmes, share important learnings, and stay up-to-date with news items to keep our team informed and able to make the best recommendations to our clients – and this is a challenge I’m confident we’re able to meet as we work to stay abreast of developments and are pushing for change.
What advice do you have for companies who are starting out with digital marketing?
For any brand getting started, the best advice I have is to do your research to make sure you really understand your niche. People can always tell if you are unprepared, and so much weight is put upon the way you kind of look and feel online so if you don’t have the right kind of portfolio, product offering, or look, your customers won’t take you necessarily as seriously as you would want to be taken. So, check out the big competitors in your landscape and assess what they are doing that works and where you can do better. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help – the industry is full of professionals who are willing to offer their guidance either for free or a fee!
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our CEO. Stay tuned for our next interview with Relevance’s Creative Director, Frances Martin-Isaacs.