05 May 2019

We Are 10! Happy Birthday To Enlighten

By John Hogg

On May 5th, 2009 I took a brave decision and set up Enlighten IC.  Having spent 16 or so years in-house running marketing departments, teams and campaigns for banks, accountancy practices and law firms, I set up Enlighten IC in the offices of Tughans Solicitors where I had previously been the director of Business Development. 

I have a lot to thank Tughans for in the early years, because not only did they allow me the continued use of my office (in other words, no rent to worry about for the first year!), but they also became my first client.  An initial three day a week retainer for twelve months allowed me to take that first baby-step into the world of business knowing I had enough coming in to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head.

Roll on a year and I took the next big step and rented some office space in the City Centre and landed my first big tech client, Cable & Wireless Worldwide.

Finally, I felt I had a bona fide business and that it just might work out…

The Why

In the early days a lot of friends and ex-colleagues would ask me why.

“Why John, would you give up a salary, job security and a great job when you’ve worked so hard to get there?”

I suppose to some it was a risk and I suppose in reality there was an element of risk involved. For me, however, it was freedom and it allowed me to build something worthwhile and do something I’d always dreamt about doing.  It was also the cut and thrust of winning my own clients and earning their trust that I could deliver what I said I could.  This has always been one of the core tenets at Enlighten.  We have always been of the mindset that we ‘must’ deliver results for our clients.  

Not to put other agencies down but when I was in-house I always got frustrated that they wouldn't come around to our side of the table to understand more about the strategy we were trying to execute.  It is relatively easy to come up with a campaign but if there is no over-arching strategy or a rationale for why you are doing something then you could be accused of just delivering a series of pretty pictures.  

At Enlighten we like to take strategic approach to everything we do.  We love to get on the other side of the table with our clients, and if they will allow us, we love to work with them on getting their strategy right too. Feel free to download a copy of our Strategic Roadmap For Growth.

The Vision

When I set up Enlighten I set out to build an agency which took a strategic approach to everything we did and one that was also noted for the quality of our work.  I have always admired McKinsey as a business which is known for its 'smarts' and have strived to build Enlighten as an agency were clients say we ’get it’.  

This is one of the main reasons we have specialised in the legal and tech sectors as these are the two sectors where we understand the most and where we have the most experience.  We have worked with numerous law firms over the last ten years and working with tech clients such as Cable & Wireless, Vodafone, Sopra Steria and Orion Health, we know the tech sector well too.

Ten years ago I wrote down three words which would become the values I felt Enlighten must hold as we developed and grew in the future. These values were and still are:

Progressive - we are always looking for new and innovative ways of doing things and have invested heavily in becoming a HubSpot partner to remain at the cutting edge of growth marketing.
Pragmatic - we are down to Earth and like to think we are ‘real people’ who get on well with our clients.  We tell it how it is and don’t try to sugar coat anything.  If there is a simple way of going from A to B rather than a more expensive path for our client, we will take the simple, pragmatic approach every day of the week!
Passionate - we absolutely love what we do and are passionate about delivering results for our clients.  Let me say this again, “We absolutely love what we do for our clients and get a real kick out of doing it!

I believe these values still hold true at Enlighten and that we live and breathe them everyday.  Ten years on I can really see how not only do we need to live by these values, but our client relationships are also much stronger when we work with clients whose values match ours.  The more we have grown and matured this is one of our biggest learnings in business.  In other words, you must stand for something and you must seek out clients who have the same values and mindset as your own - otherwise there will be a lot of pushing water up hill!

The Reality

I am proud of what we have achieved at Enlighten.  We have worked hard on our own strategy and ‘eat-our-own-lunch’ when it comes to the marketing methodologies we employ for our clients.  We’ve also become a certified HubSpot partner, the world’s leading growth platform for marketing, sales & service tools.  We focus exclusively on the legal and tech sectors and are proud to work across the UK and Ireland (and coming soon to the USA!)

It hasn’t been easy but I keep telling myself that if it was everyone would be doing it.  We love what we do and have developed some excellent solutions and methodologies to help our clients achieve a return from their marketing.  One example of this is our TLC model which basically breaks our client work down into whether or not they have a Traffic, Leads or Client problem.  You can see this in action on our Growth Calculator.

We have evolved over the years into an online agency helping clients to win more work online.  We still do some offline work, particularly design and video work, however this tends to be in support of the online content we are building for our clients.

The reality is that our three values - Progressive, Pragmatic and Passionate are all still there.  We believe we are bloody good at what we do and get a real kick out of doing it.  Yes, we are Progressive and always looking at new and innovative ways to market our clients businesses.  Yes, we are definitely still Pragmatic and will call a spade a spade when it needs to be done, and Yes, we definitely still have the Passion for what we do.  

The Next Ten Years…

Over the next ten years I would like to see more growth.  We could be accused of hiding our light when it comes to what we do so over the next ten years I would like to see our client base in the UK and Ireland more developed and our first move into the US.  This will require a much bigger team and who knows, perhaps an office State-side to act as a base for our growth there.

And Finally…

It would be remiss of me to end this blog without saying a few thank yous.  Thank you to our great clients for allowing us the opportunity to do what we do for them.  Thank you to our wonderful team for rolling up their sleeves and for growing and evolving with us on this journey.  I would also like to say a special thank you to Victoria, my wife and business partner, for sticking with me and for believing in what I have been trying to achieve.  So much so that Victoria joined the team herself in 2015 bringing with it over twenty years of experience in the tech sector.

So here’s to the next 10 years and beyond.  Whilst no one knows what these years will bring, what I do know is that whatever happens it will be met with the same passion and drive that existed back on day one when I set up Enlighten.  No matter the issue, no matter the assignment, I won’t rest until we have developed a solution and put in place the right strategies to achieve the objectives our clients are striving to achieve.

Feel free to get in touch and drop me a line.  Whether this is about your reflections on your own journey in business or perhaps your observations on how we have grown and evolved over the years?  Get in touch.  I’d love to hear from you.

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