Q: In a nutshell, what does your company do and how did it start?
A: I provide brand and marketing consult-ancy to SMEs and training courses for marketers. I help business-owners make more money through brand strategy and I support marketers in developing their careers. I started the business in 2020 because I could see a complete lack of brand strategy support available to SMEs. Usually, this kind of service comes from engaging an expensive branding agency, so it’s only really available to larger organisations with significant budgets. I knew I could provide great quality consultancy at realistic prices for start-ups and smaller businesses.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing about it?
A: My clients are often surprised by my app-roach – it’s designed to be engaging and fun but most of all clear and effective. Brand is often thought of as a bit fluffy and intangible. I’m proving that brand strategy is a commercial necessity rather than a ‘nice to have’.
Q: What do you do?
A: Everything! I work with clients 1-2-1 on every project and write all my own training materials. One day I’ll be doing research interviews, the next I’ll deliver a workshop via Zoom.
Q: How did you end up here?
A: Originally, I trained to be a journalist and worked for the BBC in Leeds for nine months before realising it wasn’t the right profession for me. From there I sidestepped into copywriting for a marketing agency, and the rest is history! I’ve been a marketer for over 20 years, having worked both agency-side and client-side. I was global brand director at hair-styling brand ghd and was part of the team that grew it from being valued at £55m in 2006 to £300m by 2013.I’m a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Chartered Marketer.
Q: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
A: A performer of some description. I love singing and acting and used to be involved in lots of theatre productions when I was younger. My oldest son is now really into drama and attends the Pauline Quirke Academy in Harrogate, so I live vicariously through him!
Q: What motivates you?
A: Seeing my clients’ businesses grow and develop as a result of the work we do together. Much of my business is based on recommendation and referral, which is highly motivating for me because it means you must be doing a good job.
Q: What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out?
A: I wish I’d been brave enough to go it alone sooner. I worked on fixed-term contracts for a bit after leaving full-time paid employment because I was worried about being responsible for not only delivering the work but also finding new business. As it happens, I love putting myself out there and developing new business. Maybe I should have had a career in sales.
Q: What excites you about business?
A: The endless opportunities! I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head about how I can grow my services, I just wish I could do it all at once. I also love the diversity of the projects and businesses I get to work on. In the last month I’ve worked on brand development for a new app launch, a garden centre, an AV company, an environmental consultancy and a beauty brand.
Q: What is your pet hate in business?
A: Lack of joined-up thinking – especially when it comes to brand. I like to focus on the 3Es of branding: employer, employee and external. Many businesses forget that what goes on inside the organisation radiates outwards. You can’t spend lots of money on external branding and expect it to drive growth if your internal culture and employer brand is in a really negative place. As a veteran of beauty marketing, I believe the phrases ‘beauty comes from within’ or ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ are totally applicable to how you run a business.
Q: What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?
A: Never stop learning. Have a proactive attitude towards developing new skills and knowledge. Even after 20 years in marketing, I still keep my skills up to date and knowledge fresh with regular training.
Q: Who in business do you most admire, and why?
A: Sam Rathling, Linked-In expert and social selling strategist. She’s built her Pipeline44 business into an incredible social selling machine, alongside building a training academy and being a busy mum. She’s inspirational and has been a brilliant mentor to me over the last 12 months.
Q: What moments of your career so far stand out?
A: Getting the job at ghd and becoming a shareholder – the business was just starting to grow and I knew we were onto something. As a result, I was fortunate enough to have the budget to work with some very talented photographers over the years, including Rankin and Ellen von Unwerth – not to mention a campaign shoot in LA with Katy Perry in 2012.
Q: What sets your company apart from the competition?
A: I look at brand holistically. It’s not just the marketing department’s job – brand is everyone’s job! I think my training is also unique. Having recruited and managed marketing teams for over 20 years, I’m clear about where the skills gaps are. Even marketing graduates are missing some fundamentals about brand planning. My courses are designed to take marketers to the next level so that they are brand planning powerhouses.
Q: What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced? And what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?
A: Touch wood, I’ve been very fortunate. I embarked on this journey just before the start of the global pandemic and the work I had lined up all disappeared, so I had a few weeks of panicking. However, within a month I was working with clients properly and I’ve been busy ever since. My biggest challenge at the moment is trying to balance marketing my own business alongside all the work I do for clients. I have to remember that sometimes I need to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’ and set aside time to practise what I preach.
Q: Have you got a five-year plan for the company?
A: I’ve doubled my revenue in the last 12 months compared with my first year of trading. My focus now is on how I can keep up that momentum. My plan is to continue to grow the business by launching my online ‘self-serve’ courses.
Q: Why is it good to do business from Knaresborough?
A: Since the start of the pandemic, location hasn’t really been an issue as most of my clients expect to work with me via Zoom. I have clients all over the country and some internationally – last week I was on a call with a team in Iran. However, I’m grateful to be able to take a break from the office and walk my dog Luna around Knaresborough. It’s such a beautiful town, I love being based here.
Name: Sarah Lambley
Job title: Brand Strategist & Marketing Consultant
Sarah Lambley Marketing
Knaresborough HG5 8NL