Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m Anwen Cooper, Founder and Director of Get Fruitful Marketing. I often say that Marketing, Mindfulness and Motherhood are what I’m all about. I set up my business back in 2014 with a young baby, having been made redundant from my job in London while on maternity leave. I’d worked my way up the career ladder in London for almost 10 years and moved back to Kent (where I’d grown up) to buy a house and start a family. I’m also a qualified yoga instructor and enjoy teaching the occasional class (I have a specialism in pregnancy yoga), though this is more of a hobby than a business.
My business is relatively young (3 years now), and I’ve recently started offering a full service from strategy through to campaign implementation. Until recently I had been working alone as an independent consultant with SMEs who wanted strategic support to develop a marketing plan to grow their business, and also running a workshop programme for sole traders, start-ups and micro-businesses. I am now offering to manage the co-ordination of ongoing marketing activity and campaigns with support from a network of trusted partners.
What’s your background/career path?
I’ve always been a marketer, even though at one point I questioned if it was something I wanted to do, having reached a certain level of burnout – which is when I decided to train as a yoga teacher. However, I quickly realised that I just love marketing too much – it’s part of who I am and what I do best. I’ve since used my yoga practice to help me better manage my energy levels.
I always wanted to make money and looked forward to the day when I would be legally old enough to work! I got my very first job in a shop, and through school, during my gap year and whilst studying at university I enjoyed being a shop assistant – working in a bookshop and Lush – the cosmetics store (the brand has been a huge inspiration to me). I found that I loved selling – from a merchandising and customer service perspective – seeing how small changes could make a big impact on the bottom line when we were cashing up at the end of the day.
Whilst at university I was also involved with the student theatre group and enjoyed performing in and directing plays. I discovered the joys of working with a creative team to realise a vision, and engaging an audience. Then I became involved with promoting our productions – producing leaflets and posters, thinking up publicity stunts to sell tickets, and thought – wouldn’t it be great to do this as a full-time paid job!
Whilst at university I also had a part-time job as a Marketing Assistant for a local company and had an amazing Summer job where I ghost-wrote a business book on how to do your own PR.
As my graduation date was looming I started to search for job opportunities and found an advert for a Marketing Assistant at The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, on the university campus where I studied. I was lucky enough to secure the job, with the experience I’d gained from the theatre group and my other jobs. This was a perfect introduction to the full marketing mix – writing copy for brochures, co-ordinating direct mail campaigns and photoshoots, briefing designers, issuing press releases, plus working on fundraising and membership campaigns.
I then moved to London and worked my way up through three more theatre marketing departments until I was managing a small team, with a six figure budget and big sales targets. I then worked for an agency facilitating large-scale collaborative projects with various arts organisations in London from theatre, music and other visual and performing arts. This involved managing big data analysis, market research, and organisational development. I then got a job working for an events company leading a rebrand and creation of a new marketing strategy before going self-employed. I have a strong interest in collaborative working, and for a short time was co-founder of a co-working space too!
Tell me about your agency. What is it you do and what prompted you to start up your own?
Get Fruitful Marketing gives strategic support and fresh insight to passion-fuelled business owners who want to connect more effectively with more customers. I love collaborating with ambitious people to help them develop their vision and customer-focus to their fullest potential.
As marketing has become increasingly diverse, practitioners have become more specialist in specific aspects. As a result there seem to be more and more people selling their specific skillset as the magic solution – for example – just build a new website, get onto social media, create a blog, do some email marketing or SEO and all your problems will solved. But the truth is it doesn’t work like that.
I want to transform people’s approach to marketing, which I believe is both a science and an art, and get them to realise it is also, crucially, about thinking deeply. When you get strategic, you have to ask the big questions. I say that the biggest questions of all: ‘Who are you, and who do you want to become? And Where is the joy and the love?’ are what guide all the work I do with my clients.
When I look at other agencies, they seem to fall into one of three types: PR (and often this is social media now rather than traditional media), digital (usually led by web developers or people with technological expertise in SEO, PPC etc) or design-led.
I haven’t really come across many agencies led by marketing strategists like myself who take a more holistic approach. I am offering to act as an outsourced Marketing Director and provide a bespoke team for SMEs who don’t want the overhead of having this kind of team in-house, but want a higher-level contribution to their strategy that they would get by employing a Marketing Assistant.
What do you think the are most important issues for developing your company culture?
Having a clearly defined vision and values are paramount (of course I would say that as it’s the foundation for all my work!) Get Fruitful Marketing is all about creating greater clarity, confidence, connection, growth and joy through collaboration and applied expertise. I seek out partners and clients who resonate with this, which results in harmonious working relationships and great results.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a women in business?
For me there have been two issues: one is about time – balancing working with having childcare responsibilities, the other about how I am perceived as a (relatively!) young woman in particular. Starting out in business with a breastfed baby with no capital to invest in anything meant that I have struggled to find child-free time to work. When my daughter turned two she started at a pre-school (and we benefited from 15 hours government-funded), and now she is about to start her Reception year so will be full time at school, so the situation has improved somewhat.
I’ve built my business through networking, and this has meant attending a lot of events at breakfast time and in the evenings. With huge support from my Mum and husband I’ve been able to get out to around one event each week for the last 3 years, but it’s tricky making this work round school hours.
When I tell people I’m a marketer and run my own business, they tend to assume (I guess because I look relatively young and am female) that I do social media management. I sometimes wonder if people take me seriously because other people I know offering strategic marketing consultancy tend to be older men in their 50’s and I sometimes wonder if this is what some people expect a marketing strategist to look like, and question whether I have the knowledge and experience necessary, even though I’ve been doing this for the last 15 years!
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share you thoughts on this?
A huge part of making an agency successful is winning new business. As I mentioned earlier, getting to meet the right people means being in the right place at the right time and being taken seriously, which can all be challenging, particularly when you add being a new Mum to the mix. It also takes a great deal of confidence to pitch and negotiate contracts, and I believe that these skills are neither taught nor particularly encouraged amongst women. It also takes a huge amount of energy to launch and grow a business, and when you’re also devoting time and energy to growing a family, the truth is it can be very hard work!
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I have benefited from being a mentor and having been mentored when in employed roles, and for the last three years I have struggled to find someone who felt like a good fit and who would be willing to step up and offer me this kind of support to be honest. Only recently have I connected with someone in this capacity, though I have benefited from being actively involved with a number of other business support networks and coaching.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need? Do you need additional support that isn’t currently available?
I would certainly be interested in joining a group where the focus was more tailored to the specifics of being a female agency founder.
What other female founders inspire you?
Mary Portas is someone who I really admire – for the way she has built such a strong personal brand, the influence she has had on British retail, and the family-friendly working culture she is fostering through her agency. I’m looking forward to reading her forthcoming book about this.
I’ve not met them, but I love what Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler are doing with Digital Mums (as part of my mission is to create flexible part-time work for mums too).
Locally to me in Kent, I think Amy McManus at AM Marketing, Lucy Hall at Avviso Media and Tabitha Beasley at The Marketing Assistant are also doing some great work. Suzanne Howe at Suzanne Howe Communications (one of my early clients) and Liz Willmott at Pentscape (my web designers) are top people too!
What do you think makes a great agency?
For me the best agencies always balance empathising and listening to clients with challenging and leading them forward. Sometimes this means navigating resistance which can be uncomfortable, but the end results should always make it worthwhile and joyful in the long run.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
You need to have a big mission and vision to keep you on track and remind yourself why you are doing this everyday. Starting an agency (or any business) requires you to be motivated by something bigger than yourself to stay the course.