This summer, BDB marks its 30th birthday. To give ourselves a little pat on the back, we’re taking on beers, bunkbeds and, most likely, bedlam, in the land of Belgians.
No mean feat
It’s not every day you turn 30. And this is arguably even more of a milestone for a marketing communications agency. A number of challenging factors, like facing an ever-growing competitive landscape, fluctuations in marketing budgets and advancements in technology, can cause agencies to close up shop within just a few years of start-up. However, there are exceptional cases where agencies evolve and continue to get stronger over time.
So, how did we get here?
From day one, BDB has sought to help businesses grow globally. Traditionally PR and food industry focused, we learnt to adapt and flex throughout the decades to meet the needs of our clients and grow our market share. As part of our evolving role within the b2b marketing arena, we’ve become a full service, integrated agency and have developed a wealth of experience in a diverse range of sectors, including construction, food & nutrition, engineering, packaging, publishing, science and technology. Today, we can proudly say there isn’t a marketing communications challenge we haven’t faced.
This year, we’ve already been named the UK’s 2nd fastest-growing marcomms agency by B2B Marketing and 5th in the Prolific North’s Top 50 PR Agencies 2017. Here are our top tips to success:
- It doesn’t happen overnight
We’re not going to lie, it’s hard work. But we love it. From travelling overseas to meet our clients, hiding out in our hub to come up with creative ideas, being run off our feet at tradeshows, to relentlessly delivering exceptional integrated campaigns, we strive for excellence in all we do. Developing our reputation as a leading b2b international marketing communications agency has taken time, skill and a lot of commitment.
- Our clients, of course
Without our clients, well, we wouldn’t be here. Some of them have been with us for over 25 years. Listening, providing counsel and delivering on our promises has helped us to retain excellent working relationships. Broadening our skills as a team, and keeping an informed and open mindset, has ensured we continue to meet our clients’ needs. Together, we’ve developed some truly inspiring work to be proud of.
- Valuing each other
It’s all about our people. You can’t have a successful agency without a consistently high performing team. We’re lucky enough to have shaped an entire crew of talented individuals that make magic happen. Actually, it’s not really luck. We make sure that our people are good people; hardworking, caring, sometimes crazy, brilliant and, ultimately, great at what they do, whatever the discipline. As an integrated, full service agency, everyone brings their own unique skill to the table, allowing us to move forward and offer unrivalled support to our clients. Some of our team have been with us for over 20 years, which is testament to our long-term collaboration and team spirit.
Here’s a few things some of our longest standing members have to say about their time at BDB:
Pam Greenway, Finance and Production (office trooper – has done almost every role imaginable)
20 years at BDB
“My career highlight at BDB was harvesting cranberries for Ocean Spray in Wisconsin cranberry bogs. After just 18 months at BDB, I had the opportunity to travel to Boston to meet my client and international distributors. I donned the waders and got stuck in at waist height to rake the beautiful little red berries.
Some of my favourite moments include leading campaigns and winning a series of awards as an Account Director, passing my marketing diploma (funded by BDB), working with a bunch of lovely people and forging some long-lasting friendships. But I’ve had some challenging times too! Working on new business pitches until the early hours, undergoing tradeshow dramas and having to complete photoshoots with crazy ideas. Something I’ll never quite get over was the embarrassment of sending one of my clients to the Shangri La ‘massage parlour’ in Manchester, rather than to the Chinese restaurant we were meant to be meeting at, of a similar name.
I think we largely owe our success to BDB’s founders, married couple Henry & Sue Dixon, who had a vision for the company and successfully attracted the best people with the appropriate skills to deliver BDB’s offering to its clients. We’re good at what we do – testament to this is the number of long-standing clients in our portfolio. Who knows what the future holds, but being flexible and open to new ways of working will no doubt play a big part in BDB’s continued success.”
Céline Lhéritier-Knowles, Head of Production (otherwise known as office Frenchie)
18 years at BDB
“The first thing I’ll always remember is my first interview at the office in Whitworth Street West in Manchester. I was working for a printing group at the time and had a company car. I was nervous about my interview, and to make matters worse I realized I had no change to pay for my carpark when I arrived outside BDB – and I panicked. Thankfully, Pam came to the rescue and reassured me she would sort it, and she did. What a first impression! Gill (the head of production at the time) was extremely worried that this loud and crazy French girl could potentially join her team.
I’ve had many fantastic moments here, from preparing for key client meetings, months of planning and preparing for key exhibitions, overseeing stand builds, to training and developing colleagues. Witnessing the company’s growth to what we are achieving now in 2017 is truly remarkable. The commitment to producing quality products, always challenging ourselves and keeping the clients at the forefront of what we do is one of the reasons I am still at BDB. We’ve always stayed true to our values, true to our clients, suppliers and employees.
I’ve also met some amazing colleagues over the years. I’m so grateful for all the knowledge I’ve obtained and all the moments we’ve shared together.”
Zoe Wilkins, Account Director (Known for excellent German outbursts and knowledge hub)
18 years at BDB
“There are so many moments I’ve enjoyed during my time at BDB. In particular, I’ve loved taking part in trade show activity (stand design, pre-show communications and at-show support), being part of the team that’s Tata Steel’s strategic lead agency in Europe, hosting marketing seminars at external events and meeting / working with such a huge number of talented, knowledgeable and passionate people – within BDB, in my client base and the industries I’m involved in.
Things that make me happy at work:
- Hitting on the big idea
- Meeting businesses I immediately see we could do a great job for and/or feel a rapport with
- The buzz of the pitch
- The way the whole team pitches in when the pressure’s on
- Clients taking the time to thank us and congratulate us on work well done
To what do we owe our success? We’ve learned our trade really well and never tried to be something we’re not. At BDB, we’re fair, honest, transparent and professional. It goes without saying that we constantly evaluate ourselves and make improvements that benefit both our clients and our own business, and we’ll always go the extra mile. Ultimately our team is, excuse the immodesty, exceptional.
In the future, I expect the focus will be increasingly on customer experience and loyalty (not just acquisition). We’ll help more businesses step back and sense check their assumptions and preconceptions when it comes to marketing. The world is changing fast and we must always be sure brands are differentiated, relevant and valuable to evolving audiences. We’ll be there to help in getting marketing and communications more visibility and a bigger voice at board level – something that has improved dramatically in the time I’ve been at BDB, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.”
Keep an eye out for birthday snaps from Bruges on twitter by following @BDBmarketing.
If you’d like a career at BDB, or want to know more about the services we provide, email [email protected]