Happy Birthday to Brevity!

Reflections on a decade as Director of Brevity Marketing by Kaia Vincent

2010: it was the year ash from volcanic eruptions in Iceland brought European air travel to a standstill. Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement, Jonathan Ross revealed he was leaving the BBC and child benefit was axed for higher-rate taxpayers. It was also the year I took the leap to start Brevity Marketing.

May 2020 marks Brevity’s 10th anniversary. Exciting plans for a quintessentially British afternoon tea party within the elegant lawned gardens where our Hampshire office is located have, unfortunately, been scuppered by lockdown. But we’ll celebrate in style soon.

My goals – then and now

Certainly, my aspirations for Brevity have changed quite dramatically. When I stepped into being a business owner in my thirties I felt I had something to prove. Build a company, have a big team and be a substantial player in the agency field.

Today, I have more perspective of what I want to get out of life. Business growth is still on the agenda, but work/life balance is equally as important. Health, wellbeing and taking a greener route now take precedence over wealth.

Déjà vu! Full circle, a decade later

10 years ago, when I was visualising where Brevity would be in 2020, little did I anticipate that I’d be moving my ‘office’ back to where it all started – a spare bedroom! It’s no Farleigh Wallop country estate, but after the initial shock of the lockdown measures, I’m rather enjoying the extended time at home.

Talking to various clients reveals that this feeling is generally shared.

Whilst I miss the team and family interaction; the lack of busy rush hour travel, noisy roads, and chem trails in the sky are welcomed changes.

My 12-month review article this time last year was called a ‘change is as good as a rest’ and that still rings true today, perhaps even more so.

For those of us that are fortunate enough not to have caught COVID-19, or to be going through huge financial stresses, lockdown does deliver a time for reflection; planning for how to come back with renewed vigour. Have you been thinking about how to make positive changes to your business and lifestyle?

For myself, it was a path I’d already started to take…

New year, new 4-day week

As the Brevity team of marketing and PR experts has grown, I’ve stayed true to a goal I’ve had from the start: to provide a working environment where everyone feels equal and respected, and where work is well balanced with lifestyle.

But, at the end of last year, I felt that although I was achieving a quality work/life balance for my team, my own weeks and weekends had no balance. It was all work, rushing around and no ‘me-time’. Friday nights comprised of flaking out on the sofa and falling asleep. Life wasn’t much fun. I always had a long ‘to-do’ list but the things I wanted to achieve personally never got off the ground because, the truth is, Brevity had become too much part of my life.

I wasn’t practising what I preached…

Around that time, I’d been reading up about the benefits of a 4-day week. However, squeezing full-time hours into four days didn’t appeal to me so I decided that we would trial reducing our hours from January.

The story of Brevity’s new working week hit the headlines of the local media – and had lots of social media likes and positive comments too.

That extra day out of the office has been a godsend. Firstly, the business hasn’t suffered due to the working hours lost. I’m more energised, enthusiastic and obviously much more productive when I’m at work because I feel like I’ve had a proper break and feel raring to go on Tuesday morning (my first working day of the week).

The Brevity ‘office’ (albeit a virtual one at the moment as we all work from home) remains open five days a week so there are always team members on hand to support our customers and deliver a consistent marketing service.

Team expansion – empowering others doesn’t mean losing control of your business

Part of my goal for last financial year was to bring in an account manager and grow the PR department to ensure we could meet demand and deliver a consistent service during our growth phase – and we’ve achieved both.

Samantha Alderman joined us in January and now manages several accounts for Brevity. She has over 15 years’ experience working in digital media and marketing and over her career has worked with well-known clients such as Warner Bros, Sainsbury’s & Cadbury.

Sam’s new style and energy has been welcomed by our clients. It means that Brevity can be more responsive and I don’t have the day-to-day responsibility for managing activity across every single client account,

It’s really important as a company owner that you’re not recognised by yourself or others as ‘the business’. Clients want a team of marketing and PR specialists – not just one person. Yes, it’s hard to relinquish control and I’m still getting used to that part (sorry Sam!), but to give responsibility to others is part of the process of building a successful business. If you hold everything too tight and wish to make all the decisions, then you’ll never grow past a certain size.

An expanding PR team that all started because of my ‘feet’

Along with our new energy and expertise, another aspect of Brevity that has flourished is our PR team, now including three members.

Joining Jenny Legg and Naomi Greenwood, Ruth Lumley started at the end of 2019 as PR Manager. A journalist for 18 years, Ruth has already achieved some fantastic coverage for our customers, including a news item on ITV Meridian News.

PR has been a surprising growth area and not a path I would have thought we would end up taking when I started Brevity. Our ability to adapt into this area of communications came about from being introduced to Jenny several years ago by my reflexologist. See – you can develop business connections and new opportunities at any time.

A vast majority of our clients now utilise PR in conjunction with marketing activities to build awareness and authority for their business. From news articles in trade press and newspapers to media stories on news and radio – SMEs should really be adopting the positive benefits of investing in quality editorial and media relations as a strategy for business growth.

Taking the path of self-discovery…

Another change for 2020 was shifting the focus of my business coaching to personal coaching sessions – still with the fabulous Nikki Wild from Wild Empowerment – just changing the sail to take a slightly different course.

I feel at this stage of Brevity’s timeline I know what I need to do to get the business ready for its short-term journey. We just need to take the advice provided and do it!

Nikki is now helping me explore more about myself; concentrating on personal goal mapping which will enable me to be best prepared for climbing the next hill of development for Brevity later in the year.

Big thanks to all those who have supported Brevity

Thank you to all our customers – past and present. When I started Brevity, it was always about offering an honest and reliable service.

Looking back through our archives, we have worked with just over 50 businesses during our ten years in business. Of these, 20 are still regular customers. In an agency environment, it’s typical for clients to come and go – so I think that is testament to the service our team delivers.