It is fair to say, that 2018 was by far our biggest and busiest year in business.
At the end of 2017, we were still only three strong in terms of full time staff and we were based at Hova House, in a small room at the back of a renovated house with lovely views of two brick walls.
We went into 2018 with two pending recruits about to start with us, in Andy Austin, our client services manager who joined us in January 2018 from Google, and soon followed by Becky Henderson, joining as Office & Operations Manager in March 2018, coming from Deloitte where she was an Operations Consultant for 10 years. Both senior appointments to bolster an already experienced team with consultants and account directors from big digital agencies alike.
We also decided to do something special in 2018 to mark our 7th birthday, and as we have always pledged to give back up to 7% of our profits to charity each and every year, it had to be aligned to our purpose driven ethos.
As we had raised £17,000 in our first six years in business, we set the bar high by declaring that we would aim to match the £17,000 in just one year! We called the charity campaign #share7 – with the aim of supporting seven different charities via three charity events that we would organise and host in 2018, with the first being in May. The seven charities were chosen by each member of the team as we wanted to make sure everyone had a strong connection to the cause – these being Rockinghorse, Group B Strep Support, RISE UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Clock Tower Sanctuary, Sussex Beacon and Nkuringo Primary & Secondary School in Uganda.
We joined forces with a non-executive director who we started to meet with on a quarterly basis to gain invaluable insights and wisdom to help us to grow and develop our services and culture, and not long after Becky joined we were finalising discussions to move into a new office, also in Hove. After a bit of back and forth we signed the papers and moved in at the end of March to our new offices near Palmeira Square – and this time with great views of the sea and across Palmeira square, and also of the south downs from the back of the office. And after a few months we had the office kitted out and built our first ever Search Seven boardroom (with ping pong table) which really was the icing on the cake.
Over the Easter weekend, and after our first day in the office the team somehow won the Rockinghorse Easter Quiz hosted at the i360 – so a great start to life in the new office with a nice trophy on the mantelpiece. I would say a real team effort, but I am sure Tom Shaw would have something to say about that, who pretty much stole the show for us as our captain extraordinaire.
We launched the #share7 campaign with an exclusive in the Sussex Business Times, along with several other features in local press, charity press and business press – resulting in a 300% increase in new business enquiries over the following few months which was incredible.
As we settled in to our new surroundings and got to know our new team members better, we were also putting the final touches to our first #share7 event, our charity football match at the AMEX stadium, where we welcomed the Search Seven XI and the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) XI teams to compete for the S7 Ted’s Trophy on the first May bank holiday.
The score was a very close 4-3 to Search Seven, and thanks to amazing sponsorship, advertisers and raffle donations, as well as the 32 players and the 300 spectators who attended – we raised £8,000 which was amazing, and double the amount we raised doing the same event the year before.
All our charities were invited along as guests as given the chance to say a few words on stage about their charity and give them a platform to raise vital awareness.
At the start of the summer, Andy took part in the British 10k in London, running for Group B Strep Support, and we won a Brighton and Hove Business award for best Corporate Fundraiser in July – a great recognition for the #share7 campaign, and we were only one event down!
Back in the office we welcomed a few of our partners along for a few drinks and a game of table tennis – all part of our people and purpose first ethos, with a focus on building great relationships with everyone we work with and support.
Towards the end of the summer we then had our second #share7 event, the Search Seven charity golf day which was hosted at Mid Sussex Golf Club on August 30th 2018.
The line-up for the day was awesome, with the chance to win some excellent prizes, including longest drive, nearest pin, best team, best individual, and star hole in one prizes such as a luxury holiday, £10,000 cash, golf weekend breaks and set of new clubs.
Tates Garage Crawley were the headline sponsor and they put up a brand new DS7 car (to hire for a week that is!) as a nearest the pin prize PLUS in the auction too. All 18 holes were sponsored and once again we had some great sponsors, advertisers and businesses donating some top prizes to the auction – with total amount raised coming to £8,000 yet again.
This was unexpected as we set a target of £5,000 for the event, so we were thrilled with the generosity of everyone involved and the S7 team and volunteers as well as all at Mid Sussex Golf Club were fantastic which helped the day to be a great success.
As we started to approach the autumn months, we made another hire, Ornella joined the team in September as SEO & Content specialist, just in time for the new flexi-time initiative which we started up at the beginning of September, which i’m pleased to say is working wonders and making the team happier and more productive.
In October we invited a few clients to a client race day at Brighton Racecourse which was great fun and helped us to build upon our relationships with our clients – leading on to our traditional retro sweet hamper being sent out to our clients in December, which is becoming a bit of a trademark for us – courtesy of our friends at Funky Hampers.
We once again entered a team (Spooky7) to the Halloween Rockinghorse Quiz, but after the Easter triumph we felt we would let others have the chance of glory by answering many questions incorrectly – well that’s our excuse anyway! It was great fun nevertheless.
November saw Search Seven up for another award, this time for the Business in the Community award at the Sussex Business Awards – we didn’t win but another fantastic accolade given it covered the whole of Sussex this time!
In November, I was invited to join a great panel of speakers at the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce ‘Big Debate’ on ‘do Brighton businesses give back enough?’. It was a real honour to be invited along and share our story of being a purpose driven business that can be successful whilst also playing an active role in its community.
The end of November was the finale #share7 event too, where we had a full house at Grand Central in Brighton for our Charity Quiz night. We knew we were closing in on the target and following some amazing raffle prizes and Classic Collection Holidays being main sponsor, we went over the target on the night, where there was a real buzz in the room – we knew something big was happening!
Once again, we had charity representatives there (with RISE UK actually being crowned winners!) and once we topped up the final amount raised, we were absolutely delighted to reach £20,000.
The following week we were back at Grand Central hosting a workshop on SEO PR with our PR partner Tuesday Media, all part of our focus on training and workshops that we are gearing up for a big push in 2019.
December was a really great month for Search Seven, as its party month and time to celebrate, so in between our own staff party, and being invited to other parties and events, we had the great pleasure of visiting the seven charities we had chosen to support in 2018 as part of our #share7 charity campaign, and to hand over certificates and the money from what we raised on their behalf.
For myself and most the team who got the opportunity to do this, this was a real highlight of the year, and a lovely way to cap off the busy year we had by seeing all our efforts come to fruition by handing over the money and learning more about the impact our fundraising had on each charity and how they intend on using it to make a big difference in the community.
At the Brighton Chamber Big Debate, and the message we have got across throughout our #share7 campaign, was that by placing purpose over profit you can achieve great things – and when you have a super engaged team that are fully behind the business and aligned to the culture and values, you will be surprised what can be done.
Despite 2018 being an incredibly busy year, with a lot of time being spent on organising and promoting the #share7 events, 2018 saw a 15% increase in turnover compared to 2017 and a 35% increase in operating profit – justifying our stance on how a company can still be successful by playing an active role in the community.
I am truly blown away by what we did in 2018 as an agency. It was an investment year in terms of doubling the size of the team and giving people the time to settle in to the way we do things, with processes across HR, operations, culture, commercials, customer service, learning & development, marketing and new business all being reviewed and improved – to add the #share7 campaign and an office move to the mix too – a lot was achieved and I am so proud of the entire team.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported our charity campaign in 2018. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you! You should be proud of yourself for helping make such a difference to your community and beyond!
Sam Thomas from Sussex Business Times has supported us throughout the campaign with regular features and updates and has become a great friend during this period too. Thank you Sam.
Thank you also to Simon Gregg from Face Media Group for your continued support and helping with our printing requirements, and to Sophie Wilson from Tuesday Media for your superb writing and help with planning and delivery of our PR activity.
Big thank you to Matthew Eamer and the team at Me & You create for the fantastic designs and posters and ads and all the creative masterpieces you have put together.
Grant Jennings from Creative Blend for helping with photography and to Media Brighton for another great video from the AMEX game.
To friends, family, clients, partner agencies, businesses supporting via raffle and auction prizes and for those donating who we don’t even know! Thank you so much!
Special mention to Classic Collection Holidays and Tates Portslade for being headline sponsors this year, our lifeguard Jay Griffiths from Oakwood Lofts Ltd at the golf event, and Jamie from Shutters of London Ltd and Matt Tiplady from TK Installation for contributing so much towards the campaign too.
Thank you Mid Sussex Golf Club for hosting the golf day and Mike Abbott being a legend! Brighton & Hove Albion FC for hosting the charity football event that kicked it all off and to Grand Central for letting us host our finale event where we smashed the target.
The final thank you is to the charities themselves – Thank YOU all for being so amazing in what you do, and we are just so pleased and honoured to have supported you in 2018 and help to make a difference to our community and beyond.
#share7 was a real community effort and we all came together to do something pretty special! A big year for Search Seven in 2018 and we started 2019 by announcing our new slogan ‘Digital Marketing with Meaning’ indicating our continued passion and purpose to make a difference to our community as well as deliver meaningful results for our clients and partners too.