Memetic in 2019: Our first year of business

What we’ve been up to, and what we have learned, in year one

Published on 16th December, 2019

It’s nearly Christmas, so we wanted to take the chance to tell you what we’ve been up to, how our first year in business has gone, and share a few thoughts on why we do what we do.

Where we started

We started Memetic with an idea that something was missing in the marketing and comms industry – something few people had the skillset to deliver – but something that, when done well, was hugely powerful: quality insightful content.

When I worked in PR, a constant frustration was the amount of meaningless content churned out. There is plenty of good PR of course. But too much of it feels like clickbait with key messages crowbarred in, rather than saying something that matters. 

We wanted to change that, ensuring content that goes out into the world is actually useful to someone. We felt our client’s content should truly demonstrate their expertise and capabilities to solve thorny customer challenges, not just provide a vehicle for messages.

There were two drivers that made us think this was needed in 2019. Firstly, the business world was getting more complex. Those considering the impact emerging challenges or technologies – such as climate change, AI, 4IR, quantum - needed guidance. And innovators in these areas needed to explain their role in solving complex challenges, not just shout about their technology.

Secondly, online media was becoming less trusted (and experts more so). Social media pushes everyone towards clickbait, and the cost of quality and depth. If the media no longer had time to do these complex issues justice, we wanted to help those with relevant expertise to own issues themselves.

Doing the right thing

Whilst we don’t pretend to be doing this out of altruism, we do believe it is a good thing for the world. What we do is suited to companies solving valuable problems. Our clients help develop new medicines, reduce carbon emissions, make transport safer, and protect the world’s digital information.

But more fundamentally, we believe we are improving the level of discourse in a world of shouty content. We help our clients raise their game, influence thinking, and advance important debates. If the comms industry adopted our approach, there would be a sharp increase in informed perspectives – and in turn more informed business decisions. We have – in a small way – made the world a better-informed place. I truly believe that.

The first year

Memetic was formally incorporated in late 2018 and officially announced to the world in March 2019.

Since then, we are proud to say we have worked with some of the most exciting organisations in the country.

We have delivered projects for leading universities Imperial College London and The University of Liverpool; for AI, data and software consultancies including Tessella and TRL Software (part of the Transport Research Laboratory). We have delivered several pieces of content for the Quantum Communications Hub, part of the UK Government’s truly ground-breaking Quantum Technologies Programme. Our most recent client – Connected Kerb – could genuinely underpin the future of road transport with their innovative smart EV charging solutions. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting list of clients.

We are also proud of our own communications. We love our website, and our Newsletter and Insights have received much praise.

We took a strategic decision not to take on staff in the first year, but instead build a network of experts, so we can offer clients access to the right people, not the available people. To this end, we have established a number of partnerships with some excellent people, who we are proud to work with. We hope they will take a more active role in 2020.

Where are we at the end of 2019?

Year one has, in part, been a proving ground. We fully believed in what we were doing, but until you’ve done it and validated the results, you can’t say for sure that it works, or that people will want it.

Our first year has shown that it does, and they do.

Our work with Tessella on whitepapers and thought leadership – our most ambitious programme of work – has fed a HubSpot inbound marketing programme with a demonstrable improvement in qualified sales leads. Our work with The Quantum Comms Hub to engage the quantum industry has been widely praised by exactly the type of people it was designed to influence – including leading experts at Oxford University, BT, and Toshiba. Both clients are very happy.

It is always harder to sell when you are new. With a year behind us, and some pretty solid evidence of success we hope to see strong, but manageable growth next year.

The ‘manageable’ aspect is important. I have worked for an agency that aggressively chased big budgets and had an endless churn of staff they never got to know. It was no fun.

We want to work for clients that are doing something interesting and valuable, and who care about quality over quantity, who value thinking over process automation. We want the flexibility to work with startups and universities on smaller interesting projects, as well as on big bang projects and long-term lead gen programmes for cutting edge tech and engineering companies.

This is an investment in our financial future as these companies grow, but also in our wellbeing – we want to get up each morning and look forward to working with the most exciting organisations in the world.

What have we learned?

There have been challenges of course.

One of the biggest has been recognising how much this is out of the comfort zone of many in marcoms. Many people see content as words on a page, or something to be churned out by a copywriter-for-hire beneath a pre-planned SEO headline.

Understanding the difference in quality and impact between well researched strategic content, and a rushed blog, can be difficult for those who measure clicks. We are asking people to pay us to think, research, challenge; not just write. We want to be measured on quality (of both content and responses), not numbers. Not everyone buys into that idea, but those that do have seen some great results. Convincing people to try something different is hard. But over the year we have become better as understanding how people view content, and explaining how our approach delivers value above and beyond traditional content.

What’s on the horizon?

We have lots of plans for next year, some of which you’ll have to wait for. But we can share a couple here:

  • We will be launching a partnership offer early in 2020, building relationships with marketing and comms agencies to offer (and allow them to offer) a more integrated marketing and lead generation proposition – if that’s you, let’s talk.
  • We have just commissioned a piece of our own research which will provide some interesting insight into modern communications – so watch this space for new, evidence-based insights into how to communicate in the New Year.

So, we go into year two with some great clients, some great case studies, money to invest in the business, and most importantly – the knowledge that what we do works.

If we worked with you in 2019, thanks for being a part of an exciting adventure and trusting us whilst we were still starting out. We look forward to doing even better for you next year. And if we haven’t worked with you and you like what you’ve read, let’s meet and see if we can help in 2020.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

David and Richard

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