Paul Stephen is CEO of Sagittarius, a digital agency with offices in Kent, London, Leeds in the UK and more offices in Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Dubai. The company was founded in 1979 to grow a global agency that helps brands grow with digital strategies. Their strategies include multiple marketing and operational digital transformation projects. Everything from digital marketing, web platforms to personalization and AI.
About your company
3 Colours Rule: What has been the source of success and what led you to it?
Paul: By focussing on specific sectors and services we have become leaders in our field and grown 350% in 4 years.
3 Colours Rule: What has been your business strategy to grow year on year?
Paul: To retain 95% of existing customers and grow their revenue by 20% for the following year. Then add on 30% through new business. We also put up all our prices by 5% each year.
3 Colours Rule: How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
Paul: In a service industry it is difficult to be truly unique but by focussing on niches, an agency can become ‘famous’ for something and therefore the ‘go to’ agency for certain types of work.
3 Colours Rule: What do you differently as a business that other companies in your industry do not?
Paul: We try not to be ‘all things to all people’ and increasing turn away work that isn’t a good fit for the agency. This enables us to focus on what we are good at, build a team that is specialist and genuinely good at what we say they are. It is not just a marketing strategy. We also use our global team to create a competitive proposition that combines a mixture of skills and locations.
3 Colours Rule: How do you ensure your UX experience exceeds your client expectation?
Paul: Our UX team combined with our Data and Analytics team work hard to ensure we research, prototype and test to ensure we use as much insight as we can to make considered business and design decisions. This then often becomes an iterative on-going Conversion Rate Optimisation programme.
Branding & marketing
3 Colours Rule: At which stage branding and marketing became important for your company growth?
Paul: As an agency that has branding as part of its heritage, we have always understood the value of a strong proposition (inward and outward facing). In recent years a strong and consistently applied brand, brand messaging and agency culture have been essential contributors to our growth.
3 Colours Rule: What has been your most effective marketing strategies?
Paul: We run a strong events program to help build our reputation and voice of authority in the sectors we specialise. This has resulted in several brands coming to work with us by preference rather than through a pitch or RFP process.
3 Colours Rule: How does your company maintain brand credibility?
Paul: We continue to have marketing activity that reinforces our voice of authority to our existing customers as well as prospects. It has to be relentless and consistent. At a detail level, we work hard to make sure all collateral adheres to some quite strict brand guidelines.
Forecast and trends
3 Colours Rule: What lessons have you learnt and how would you now do things differently having been through the process?
Paul: I would choose to specialise and focus on as few things as possible. As a younger entrepreneur, I tried to spread my risk by offering a wider range of services. As a result, we prevented ourselves from winning the best projects or clients as we weren’t considered the ‘best’ at anything.
3 Colours Rule: How do you believe your company is changing the way people do business?
Paul: Our work with clients is genuinely transformational. It not only transforms many ‘old’ processes and tools to more customer friendly and efficient using digital tools but equally we are training and up-skilling teams within companies too.
3 Colours Rule: What do you believe will be the trends in your industry?
Paul: I think both agencies and brands alike need to know their audience and be clear about their proposition. Being relevant and more personal is core to this but doing it at scale is difficult to do. This is where I believe machine learning, marketing automation and AI can help. So I think all industries will be augmented marketing and operations with elements of machine learning.
3 Colours Rule: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Paul: I love what I do and I want everyone who works for Sagittarius to feel the same. If we are all passionate about what we do day-to-day then we will want to do our best and then everyone wins.
Sagittarius has managed to occupy a niche and build a successful business. For Paul Stephen, the most important thing is to specialize in a few areas in order to become an expert in them. If you want to know more about them, check out their website.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can elevate your business go check out our website 3 Colours Rule.