Because readers of our blog and emails have expressed an interest, we occasionally take the opportunity to share some facts and general information about our company and or our staff. The following interview appeared in a recent edition of the SB in The Community section of the SB Partners website (sbpartners.com). SB Partners is a leading independent regional accounting firm headquartered in Burlington, ON.
An Interview with Neil and Nick Errington of Errington Integrated Marketing
“It’s about empowering individuals and businesses”, shares Neil Errington, Founder and President of Errington Integrated Marketing. Focusing on relationships, Errington IM helps clients take their entrepreneurial vision and turn it into reality through integrated marketing solutions. Their philosophy? Behind every good idea there must an even better execution strategy.
A family run business, Nick Errington is the next generation of leadership. Recently, Neil and Nick shared their perspectives on running and starting a business.
What was your inspiration to start The Errington Group?
Neil Errington, President and Founder of Errington Integrated Marketing – We began in 1990, as a computer consultancy firm, inspired to shape companies for growth. However, early in the current millennium, I felt that there was a broader opportunity in marketing to pursue the same vision. One of my sons and I refocused the company, with a view to supporting the marketing communication needs of smaller businesses. We helped many of our clients to grow their businesses but felt that a shift from small to mid-size clients, offering a wider range of services, would be more interesting and rewarding. Hence the transformation of The Errington Group into Errington Integrated Marketing.
Relationship marketing is all the rage now but its value is something we learned very early on. This insight has in many ways guided our success. Rather than thinking about what we can sell, we concern ourselves with what is best for our clients’ businesses. Getting to know our clients and their customers and being in tune with their goals and ambitions accurately informs the solutions we create. This was, and continues to be, a great inspiration for us. Together, with other tools, this helps to direct us as we create end-to-end marketing solutions for our clients.
What would you define as the three most important characteristics required for starting a business?
Nick Errington, Director of Business Development of Errington Intergrated Marketing – Number one: A strategic plan. We often find that businesses are very reactive. For example, they want to grow sales so they commit to an unplanned marketing campaign that they hope will produce instantaneous results. They are almost always disappointed. Spontaneity can be great but only within the context of a well considered direction. Growing a brand is like getting to know someone – it takes time and attention to build confidence and trust.
Number two: People. Having the right people, instead of thinking that you can do it all. And competence alone is not enough. Fit is just as important.
Number three: Marketing! Establish your business objectives and choose the vehicles that will get your name out there the fastest. And most importantly, stick to it. It takes time.
Neil – Do you have the right financing? Do you have the patience? Do you have the drive to make it successful? Financing is essential because it provides you with the flexibility and comfort zone to make the most of what is working and to survive the things that don’t. As for patience, people sometimes buy or start a business because they think they will have immediate success. It’s the field of dream mentality; the idea that ‘if you build it, they will come. This is probably the biggest cause of failure. You need patience to grow a business. And finally, drive is essential because running a business is a long-term commitment that requires your full attention. There are no guarantees but going into a new venture with your eyes wide open certainly helps.
What advice would you give to someone starting a business today?
Neil – People tend not to start a business at random. They usually have some past experience that they are taking forward. Entrepreneurs need to understand a few things. It’s going to take twice as long and cost twice as much as they think. It takes time to build the essential ingredient of consumer trust. There is no short cut. My best advice would be to communicate your message consistently, honestly, frequently and creatively. Naturally, you will also need a presence on the web since 76% of people will look you up electronically.
What advice would you give to someone taking over a business today?
Nick – It doesn’t happen overnight. Get started early and have those conversations about what it is going to take to operate and grow the business. Most importantly, create a plan. There’s a lot to running a business. There is a process you must go through as you worry about cash-flow, talent, business development and more. You have to be able to step into the leadership role for your staff, customers and suppliers. If you look at multi-generation companies, the first generation builds the business on reputation. The task for subsequent generations is not only to keep the momentum going but to adapt to change and incorporate their own values and expertise.
What do you wish you knew before you started your business?
Nick – Nothing. Part of the fun of this business, is the learning curve. Adapting. Evolving. Our business evolves daily and part our job is staying up-to date on the trends. The challenge is what makes it fun!
Neil – The need for change. We have to continually reinvent ourselves. If we don’t embrace the ever-evolving technologies, we will become irrelevant. The pace of change that is required for contemporary marketing is intense and never ends.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Nick – Two to three times in size. Continue on our growth path. To have several, significant long-standing client relationships in industries as diverse as craft beer, building materials and network marketing. We also want to continue to help local companies grow, at the same time acting as a responsible community partner.