Agency Story: Paul Ince, LikeMind Media

Paul Ince

What’s your name?

Paul Ince, aka BizPaul

What does your agency, LikeMind Media, do?

We’re a content marketing company that generates leads and sales through the content that we create for clients.

What were you doing before you started your agency?

I worked in the MSP (managed service provider) space, mainly focusing on CRM (customer relationship management) and creating content to help educate businesses in the benefits of the technology. That would be blogs and other article based content, video and early social media!

What inspired you to start your own agency, rather than simply freelancing or working elsewhere?

To begin with, I was freelancing. The business actually started as a tech solution to help analyse social media data. Like the majority of tech startups, it failed. I needed funds to keep it going. I knew social media and how it worked, and through doing the work on the startup, I knew a lot about how it technically operated. It became clear there was a gap in helping people understand how social media could be used to promote a business so I offered consultancy to teach. Ultimately I got busy. Starting with employing a couple of students, I gradually grew the team and then got people to specialise.

What were the HARDEST things about starting your agency?

I didn’t really feel like I started an agency, one just developed. I don’t actually like the word “agency”—it conjures up images of slimy leaders treating their staff poorly. I know not everyone is like that.

So, I guess, the hardest thing for me was actually realising that what I was doing wasn’t going to work and to pivot to offering consultancy.

What were the BEST things about starting your agency?

It took about two years before I realised that I had something and about five before I felt like it was the right decision and we could be taken seriously and compete.

Does your agency have a “point of difference” (or did it at the beginning)? How has that evolved?

We have our own methodology which we use to identify content gaps and create content to fill them. It uses technology and is heavy on research to create higher quality content that performs better. As a matter of principle, we act as though we are part of a client’s business. There should be minimal barriers to working closely.

What’s your staff structure? How many do you have, and what are their positions? How did that evolve?

We have eight staff. Aside from me, I have a content team who make up the majority of the staff and create the content. Then I have a client services leader to ensure quality is high and delivery is on time. The rest are admin or our own marketing. Everyone is on the books. I use a couple of external people for things like bookkeeping and some admin. Roles have evolved as the need has.

What have some of your favorite projects been and why?

I love our work with a wallet company as it involves many different elements: Social shopping, gaming influencers, ads, collabs.

My team have done some clever things for quite traditional companies. A highlight is a YouTube video for a gas spring company firing watermelons over their factory. The LOLs!

Any big fat failures you’re willing to share?

I’ve accepted work that, in hindsight, I shouldn’t. In the end you learn what not to do, but I think you have to learn that. You can hear people say it all the time, but unless you get burned you won’t change.

What do you wish you knew before you started your agency that might have made things easier at the beginning?

Networking is probably the best thing you can do. Much more than relying on your own social media to get you work. You need to talk to people and become known. Give more free talks to those organisations that are super connected to businesses: chambers of commerce, local government initiatives etc.

What’s your advice for someone starting an agency?

Don’t focus too much on a niche. Plenty of people say it’s important to niche, but we saw in the pandemic that that can lead you exposed if that sector gets into hard times. Keep your options open and give people choice. Have patience and faith.

If you weren’t running your agency, what do you think you might be doing instead?

I would definitely be on TV.

Paul Ince @BizPaul
CEO of LikeMind Media - content marketing company
Founder of MarketEd.Live - UK creative marketing conference
Co-host of Humans Exhaust Me - an award-nominated podcast about current affairs

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