Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Marketing the Marketers: Oli Richards, CMO at The Beyond Collective

NDA’s Marketing the Marketers series talks to the marketing and comms leaders behind the success of our leading companies. Next up is Oli Richards, CMO at The Beyond Collective.

Oli’s career has spanned over 15 years, working with some of the world’s top brands and agencies. He’s worked in marketing, client servicing, new business and growth roles, across multiple disciplines for agencies including Engine, Dentsu and mcgarrybowen.

What exactly does your job entail?

Effectively I’m the one who’s accountable for the growth and reputation of our agency brands. Which sounds quite lofty – but the reality is, it’s one of those jobs where you are shuffling cakes around meeting rooms ahead of a pitch at one moment and negotiating a new client contract at the next.

Obviously I’m biased, but for me it’s the best job in any agency because no day is ever the same. And growth is ALWAYS at the top of the agenda, so you are working on the biggest, most significant projects and pitches.

What campaign or piece of marketing/communications are you most proud of in your career and why?

I spent several years leading the United Airlines EMEA creative business out of mcgarrybowen London (now Dentsu Creative) and during that time we created several brilliant campaigns. For me though, it was our ‘Discover the America Even Americans Don’t Know’ campaign that I was most proud of.

It was a fun take on the far flung places you could travel to on United’s network – which at the time, flew to more US based destinations directly than any other carrier. It was something a bit different in an airline category where every piece of advertising looks and sounds the same – and crucially it was made by an agency team and client who knew what they wanted to do, and had a lot of fun doing it (!)

What is the biggest challenge in your sector and how is your company helping to address it?

Nearly a quarter of brands believe that their media agency’s model is unfit for their future needs. So in a world where there’s no shortage of big picture soundbites, how do you really create a model that works? A model that genuinely delivers what clients need – a single view of their consumer, work that reflects culture and is grounded in the commerciality of their business. For us it’s simple – one single team, one single version of the truth and a process that pulls teams of experts together.

And that’s exactly what we do at The Beyond Collective – we are fully independent and offer full service media, creative, strategy and studio, quite literally all under one roof. It’s not siloed, we sit together, mix teams of discipline specialists together on projects (both formally and informally) and genuinely share clients across disciplines in a seamless way.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of clients still come in to us via a media (Yonder), creative (Above+Beyond), strategy (Frontier) or studio (Collective Studios) front door – but they have the benefit of talent that is surrounded by experts in other disciplines on their business. And that drives better outcomes, better work and frankly better long-term client partnerships.

How important, and why, are the press, events and your owned media in helping your promote your ow company:

Agency marketing is a game of balance. As an industry, we have been hooked on securing opportunities with clients at the very moment they’re in market for a new agency, but we have often neglected those further up the sales funnel who maybe aren’t going to hold a pitch tomorrow or even next month. So for me, the trade press, owned social channels are a crucial away of being useful when someone isn’t necessarily up for diving into a creds presentation or a series of case study videos.

Trade press gives you reach you might not have on your own channels or website, so we focus on getting our best people talking about challenges we know clients are facing. Whether that’s a category trend or a new piece of tech.

Events are a brilliant opportunity to have higher quality engagements focused on a specific subject or trend. For me, they are one of the most powerful touchpoints you can create as an agency, and a chance to get your top talent to work the room.

Owned media is your always on marketing channel. Whilst sharing work, new business and awards wins and amazing new hires is important / hygene, these channels are becoming increasingly powerful for sharing thought leadership, insights and white papers to your key audiences.