How do you drive digital performance during difficult economic times?

2 months ago

On this episode of It Depends, I was joined by Sean Walsh, Head of Marketing at Starpeak Insurance Solutions, who run a number of insurance brands including Protectivity, Sports Cover Direct and Les Mills Insurance. We focused on how to drive high performance during difficult economic times and how the last few years have changed (and not changed) the insurance sector.

Key takeaways

Price is always likely to be a key driver for consumers

Price sensitivity has increased across most sectors over the last few years, particularly in the UK with the shallow recession, inflation and cost of living increases. Insurance is no different but due to the nature of the product, i.e. it's not always a choice on whether you need it or not, consumers can lean even more towards cheaper products. However, even if economic uncertainty continues, this price sensitivity may well remain for the foreseeable and marketing campaigns shouldn't lean away from this completely.

Specialisms can help offset price a bit and drive performance

In some sectors, particularly insurance, specialising or "niching down" can help make you stand out to consumers and potentially offset some of the price sensitivity. This is particularly true for more specialist insurance when consumers are keen to ensure that they get the customised, specialist insurance that covers their particular situation and gives them peace of mind. More generalist, larger insurers aren't always set up for this, so smaller, more specialist providers can stand out more.

Growth needs investment

With many companies either reducing budget, or keeping it the same but expecting growth, it can be hard for marketers to deliver at the expected level. But if you're embracing a growth mindset, then you need to understand that investment is going to be required to deliver this. Of course, things can change over time and a company may then slow down growth and their investment, but if you want to drive growth, budgets need to reflect that.

Budgets and channels are being scrutinised, but that doesn't mean you can't invest in long-term activities

Companies need to look across their activities and clearly understand where ROI is coming from, whether that's SEO, Paid Media, Email or a combination. But sometimes, you may invest in an activity, such as TV advertising and not have the full, immediate picture of what the ROI is. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it, because the long-term brand awareness is likely to have value. This is particularly true in insurance where the consumer may not need a policy right now, but will do in the future, so being front of mind when the time comes is important.

And below is the transcript if you'd prefer to read it. Please note that it's been edited for brevity and to make it easier to read.


Paddy: Cool. I think we are good to go. So, welcome everyone and welcome Sean to the It depends webinar, I'm Paddy Moogan. I'm the CEO of Aira, a performance marketing agency based in Milton Keynes in the UK. Today I'm joined by Sean Walsh from Starpeak Insurance Solutions, so we'll get to Sean's intro in just a second.

For those of you who are joining today, we will be recording this as well and sharing it afterwards. So if you drop your email address into the registration form, you'll get a copy of this afterwards as well, so don't worry too much about copying down notes. And we'll share blog posts with notes and takeaways, as well. Essentially, what I want to try and do on this webinar is answer difficult questions for in house digital marketers, but also try and balance that against the agency's perspectives, freelance perspectives, and things like that as well.

So you've got a nice balance between an in house perspective on a particular topic or question, but then also an agency perspective, as well. So we could hopefully give you some good things to think about, some good takeaways, and hopefully lots of stuff to think about and take back to your day job as well. So, before we get into the meat of the webinar search, it's about essentially how to drive performance during difficult economic times. Sean, do you want to do a quick intro to yourself?

Sean: Yeah. Thanks, Paddy. Welcome everybody. So my name is Sean Walsh, I am Head of Marketing at Starpeak Insurance Solutions.

We are a specialist online distribution, insurance provider, in layman's terms, basically, we sell insurance online.

We service about a hundred thousand customers per annum. And we have three consumer brands in the portfolio. One is Sports Cover Direct. The other is Productivity.

And lastly Les Mills, insurance.

Been with the company for just shy of nine years, and then prior to the employment here. I worked in the non profit and also some other private sector, all marketing, based.

Paddy: Awesome. Cool. Thanks Sean. As I said earlier, we've got a copy that's been recorded, so, we'll kick straight off into the questions.

So as I mentioned, we want to talk about how you can drive digital performance during difficult economic times. It's probably worth preempting this a little bit by saying we're going to steer as hard as we can away from the pandemic era of COVID and things like that. We know how difficult that was for a bunch of reasons. What we do want to try and focus on a little bit more is essentially post that period.

So obviously a lot of companies saw growth during the pandemic, some, saw less growth. Ultimately, 2022, 2023 onwards. Some companies did bounce back, but what we are seeing now particularly in the UK, you know, we had a shallow recession confirmed for the end of last year. We've seen quite tough economic times, you know, regardless of what happened a couple of years ago with the pandemic with cost of living being quite difficult, affecting brands, like, the ones that Sean works for at Starpeak Group.

And essentially agencies try to work with lower budgets too. But ultimately, this trickle down effect of the economy affecting, you know, what we do as marketers is quite difficult at the moment. We wanna really focus on how we can get around that way so we can think about it a little bit differently as well. So I guess, Sean, you work in the insurance industry, as you mentioned there, it would be interesting to hear about how you've seen this affect that particular industry and kind of how the company's kind of adapted a little bit, how it's changed, how it's had to try and ride wave a little bit, which is a difficult one.


Sean: Yeah. It is. Yeah. Look, given the circumstances, we've all faced the last six to twelve months in terms of economic instability and volatility.

That's had a kind of direct effect with with us in terms of our consumers and their demands and needs and it's kind of is is how we've kind of evolved and adapted and and for other businesses, wider than ours, to meet those demands and needs, especially when they kind of disposable income of our consumers or the cash flow of our small business insurance customers, for example, whether that's being restricted because of cost of supplies or materials, and therefore not necessarily having the kind of cash flow as they once did for insurance purposes and let's be honest insurance is not something that people want to buy and ultimately it is heavily driven, by price.

Regardless of recession or not, it's just heightened further when there is economic instability.

We've had to evolve and adapt as a as a business in terms of what we offer the consumer, whether that's our pricing or the ability to to to pay for their premiums over a twelve month period on a monthly basis or go the step further and given them kind of ultimate flexibility where It's kind of like a subscription model where they pay on a on a month by month basis, with kind of no cancellation.

Fees or requirements in and around it. So it has been a period where we've had to kind of evolve and adapt, and like I say, meet the demands and needs of a very price sensitive, driven, industry.

Paddy: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And you touched on it before with insurance. Yeah. It's not top of the list for a lot of people to necessarily, you know, go out and buy with disposable income, but I know it's something they often need. So, with that in mind and kind of that, you talk there about the subscription model. How's that kind of affected maybe how you market these products compared to maybe a few years ago? Do you kind of lead with that flexibility that you spoke about a bit more than you may have done previously, for example?

Sean: Exactly that. And probably even on those products where it's not subscription based, but it's just like a monthly zero percent APR kind of model, probably more so than we would have done, let's say two or three years ago. That's nine times out of ten, the kind of primary USP.

Definitely it's been at the top end of our kind of comms in our marketing output, because well, in our industry, our experiences, at least in the last twelve months, there hasn't been a huge amount of fluctuation in pricing. Across the board within our competitors.

And if that probably comes down to the fact that we know and our competitors that if pricing does increase, it has a negative consequence to conversion rate.

So that as just to answer your question, yeah, it's always at the forefront of the way that we market our products and making sure that consumers are aware that that flexibility, and those options are available to them, whereas maybe in the past, we would have driven with with other USPs that we thought were more primary.

So it's certainly evolved and, and has certainly been at the forefront of our marketing efforts now.

Paddy: Yeah. That makes sense. And is that the same? You mentioned, you know, the three brands that you work with at the moment: Protectivity Sports Cover Direct, and the Les Mills brand. Is that kind of, you know, positioning consistent across all of them? Does it differ slightly?

Sean: It differs slightly. So just a quick quick insight on our three brands. So Sports Cover Direct is primarily travel insurance for sports enthusiasts, and Protectivity primarily is small business insurance for the public liability for small businesses. We also do some event insurance and some also, some cover for landlords.

So going back to your point about the travel insurance element, we deal with quite affluent individuals that have got the disposable income to go on, let's say, quite costly, adventures and holidays to the likes of Europe or America to do, whether it's skiing or mountain biking.

So that element of price arguably isn't quite as kind of sensitive if you can call it that whereas on a small business, product lines where We are catering to sole traders, entities that aren't doing in the hundreds of thousands and what we're doing within the tens of thousands and as a revenue. And in turn, have got maybe restricted cash flow issues.

That probably sits more at the forefront.

That's not to say that we don't make an effort to, kind of, sing and shout about our pricing to those travel customers, but they probably aren't quite as sensitive as maybe the small business lines.

Paddy: Yeah. And we're kind of seeing that to some extent as well, I mean, because also we're an agency and actually work with a bunch of different clients across different industries. Mhmm. And whilst all inside the we've got a big chunk of kind of more kind of luxury.

You mentioned travel insurance, you know, some people who might be a bit more affluent to go skiing and things like that and don't aren't quite as price sensitive. Like, the clients we do work with, probably, do fall into that market a little bit where there's a bit more disposable income with more luxury goods. So that seems to be in a bit of a bubble right now. I've been reading various reports that are picked up in terms of high end luxury brands and things like that where that price sensitivity is definitely not being felt, and it's still seeing a lot of growth despite being way more expensive than your average products and things like that.

But I guess with insurance, again, it's something you need, isn't it? So if you're not price sensitive, if you're not, you might just grab it because it's convenient, you know, the other USPS you mentioned earlier might kick in more than price if you are at that end of the scale?

Sean: Completely right. Completely, right. And we've kind of tried to leverage other USPS, whether that's the insurance partners that we work with being kind of like household names, like the likes of that. So we're very much utilizing that as our own kind of, or leveraging it to get the consumer on board to see us as the preferable option.

But nevertheless, it doesn't matter whether it's travel, whether it's public liability, or commercial lines.

Price is a huge indicator or a huge factor for people buying insurance.

It's just I think maybe, as I mentioned, a slightly lower down scale kind of requirement on the travel as it is to the small business insurance lines.

Paddy: Yeah, definitely. And in terms of kind of, you know, with all of that in mind around shifting these, you know, the marketing focus towards, you know, price sensitivity away from those traditional USPs, does that mean that the targets you set within the brands and and individually across the brands and across the group in terms of what good performance looks like? Has that shifted more towards that kind of price sensitivity? We had to take that into account a lot more. How does kind of goal setting and targets work in terms of, you know, Starpeak as a whole and individual brands in light of it being more difficult at the moment.

Sean: Yeah. I think one thing that we've tried to focus on as a business is our retention and our new business acquisition. The reason I say that, especially when we're going into the end of last year when we weren't completely sure what the economic landscape was gonna look like for 2024. It was kind of like, are we doing enough, for the existing customer base to make sure we keep hold of them.

Should there be any instability at the other end of new business acquisition? But what's been really kind of surprising and interesting for us is that actually the volume of people online looking for insurance in our market is growing year on year. Okay. COVID, obviously, everything went to, kind of a flat line.

But at the moment we're seeing a resurgence in growth again, which almost contradicts a little bit to what you would kind of expect given the climate.

So, yeah, it's making sure that we're retaining that customer base with the potential that that new business acquisition might not have been there in abundance as it was, in years gone by, but actually evidently that's not been the case.

Paddy: Yeah. And with kind of, you know, retaining the, well, I guess that focus being more on that retention piece.

Does that mean you do more in lines of, you know, say CRO on that for new customers kind of retention when it comes to email marketing for existing customers, have you found yourself kind of tactically going more towards those kinds of ways of working as well?

Sean: Yeah. And it's it's, yeah, partly, and also about just making sure where possible we can, kind of stagnate, not fluctuate the premiums i.e. increase the premiums for those existing customer base customer base.

That again is a driving factor to why customers gonna look elsewhere, and the majority of our products that are annually based are kind of all auto renewal, so he has to go through the kind of email journey as such, but, the the the pricing is a big indicator and the point that we need to try and focus on to make sure that that is staying in line with their expectations, but it's difficult because we're a business like a lot of business across the country which are facing higher costs, and we try and where possible not to pass those over to onto the consumer, and we're doing that in the majority of our of our products.

Paddy: Yeah. And do you find, or, you know, in your industry at the moment, do you feel like that's the case across, you know, your competitor set as well in terms of because, like, almost every business is seeing rising costs? Have you kind of observed them trying to focus a bit more on the price point, retention, and things like that as well. Have you noticed anything they're doing particularly differently, that you've kind of also done or done differently.

Sean: What I would say is that there's certainly not been a great deal of fluctuation in or in the competitive space with regards to their rating.

Such early run-in terms that they appreciate like how you do the, the knock on effect that price increases can have, especially the area of the market, which is kind of low value, high volume.

I think, yes, there's probably been a case that they tend to lean towards that kind of pricing push within their marketing.

We know that others have a different pricing model, or business model whereby they might heavily discount upon kind of new business acquisition for those and then upon renewal hike there, their renewal premiums, which we tend to kind of lean lean well, but we don't tend to go down that route. But, to answer your question, it's very much kind of price driven in their comms.

But same time, and they'll still leave with some of their unique USPs, like some providers, for example, we give kind of, added benefits should I say for for buying your purchases or a policy with them, and that will be very much in the forefront of their marketing material when they when they do, publicize that product or policy offering.

Paddy: Yeah. Again, that makes sense.

With, with pricing clearly being so important right now. Again, that almost feels like as a marketer, you've kind of had your not had your hands tied, but the levers you can pull right to grow and to get more customers on board when price is so central to that experience the customer's gonna get and that that decision making process, do you feel like there actually are fewer levers for you to pull now? Because it's so sensitive or you feel like the other levers, yeah, that you can still pull them, but might not be quite as hard as in previous years, if that makes sense.

Sean: Well, I think you're, I think you're right.

I think just adapting and remodeling or evolving as a business as we have done in those last few years with offering those monthly payment plans and given the flexibility, like, two or three years back, maybe we weren't kind of quite so heavy on that monthly premium, communication in our marketing materials. So, yeah, I'd probably say that it is.

Paddy: Yeah. And this is almost impossible to answer, but I'll ask it anyway. Do you think this will change at some point? I know that the again, the UK, was just confirmed to have gone into a shallow recession recently. So we're putting that out of the woods at all yet for the foreseeable, but can you imagine a point where this sensitivity suddenly or not suddenly but starts to ease up a little bit in the future in your particular industry?

Sean: Yeah. Possibly. I mean, if we get if we're two years from now and economic climate is looking more positive, then naturally that has a knock on effect with let's say small business owners and what they are willing to, spend on their insurance premium, that being said, I think price is always gonna be such a driving factor because it is a purchase that, like I mentioned, that majority of people don't necessarily want to buy yes, there is that balance between confidence that they're getting the cover that they need? And we do a good job at that and making sure that we obtain policy offerings that's in line with the consumer's expectations.

So I think it might kind of it might kind of ease, but I can't foresee a day, not in the insurance sector anyway where it's not within within the top two or three, kind of indicators or kind of pull factors that bring a consumer in from being, somebody on the street to be a consumer of ours.

Paddy: Yeah. I guess it's always gonna be there, right, which I guess comes down to, as you said, making, like, your brands, good brands to to be, to be a customer off and kind of that softer stuff that customers want around the experience and things like that. That becomes even more important because, yeah, price is important to them, but if things do start to ease, then suddenly all all those other signals might help a bit more in the future and kind of make people think, well, I could save a little bit money going elsewhere, but actually it's more painful to move. I've gained a good experience already with Know, Protectivity or Sports Cover Direct. So actually, you wanna kind of incentivize them to, okay, you may get it cheaper elsewhere, but actually there's other benefits that might become stronger in the future, I guess if things do start to ease up a little bit that you could play on playing to.

Sean: Very much so. And I think if anybody's listening, it's not necessarily within the insurer space, because as I mentioned, we've come to talk about, length of the price sensitivity of this market. I think ultimately to service the needs, enduring it, the kind of economic difficulty is just listening to or understanding what your consumers' requirements are. If it's whether it's monthly payment plans or whatever it might be or reduction in your in your rates or your your your product kind of RRP, whatever it might be, is kind of just meeting those needs and that's certainly kind of what we've had to do over the, over the last few years.

Paddy: Yeah. Definitely. And without obviously giving away too much about the company itself, but how things are, you know, your Head of Marketing there at Starpeak. How have your budgets been affected?

Because what we're seeing a lot with a lot of our clients is budgets for either kind of advertising spend, you know, media spend, things like that, and or agency fees, freelancer fees have often been kept the same year on year, but targets are still higher. So you're having to do more with less. A lot of clients, they're cutting budgets, you know, laying off teams, that kind of stuff. Some are increasing, so it is a bit of a mix, but generally budgets are tighter than they used to be.

There's definitely more eyes on them. There's more kinds of people who sign them off nowadays than there were a couple of years ago. So what are you seeing from your perspective on that front?

Sean: We are, we are in a growth phase right now, a business.

And for us to achieve that growth is requiring us to spend year on year more money on marketing essentially.

That being said, we are probably more so than ever looking more closely at the return. From our activity and our spend, whether that's from our paid media or whether that's our email or whether it's just from our brand awareness advertising.

So whether we're a bit of an anomaly in the wide picture, I'm not sure, but we're very much intent on growing the business and to do that. We have to put money in the channels that drive it for us.

We've evolved a little bit over the last five or six years where we when we kind of we've been working with you guys with Aira in the past and very much kind of driven by paid media organic, which is still the primary channel for us for selling for new business acquisition.

But try to evolve and adapt into other models where other marketing efforts are kind of like brand advertising, and that brings challenges within itself because when you're being questioned on what the return is from that. And you've got no way really of justifying it other than maybe a few metrics.

It's probably an internal challenge that we have. But no, to answer your question, we were very much kind of on the trajectory or or spending more at the moment, that being said, that could well change in the next couple of years depending on the success of our marketing efforts and also whether our growth rate continues.

Yeah, so there's a few influential factors that will determine what we do in the next twelve to twenty four months.

Paddy: Yeah. And you've actually raised a a good point there and some of the you know, is important to remember, which is if a company isn't that growth that is occupied at the moment, you have to invest into it right, and I think clearly you've got, understanding culture and a company around you who get that and not because they're not just saying we want growth, but we're gonna have your marketing budget. That's not the kind of company you're part of. But if you want that growth, you have to pay for it to some extent, and that's not special to being as opposed to the opposite, which we do see sometimes with some clients.

Sean: Like the commercial direction from those above me, it changes, and there isn't the appetite there for that growth. For whatever reason that might be, or we see reduction in performance from from our kind of current spends, then they say that that that landscape could quite easily change in in twelve months time, meaning that we will be kind of, plateau in terms of our marketing spend, maybe year on year, and again scrutinizing it even further in terms of kind of its its end result and its ability to, perform for us.

Paddy: Yeah. And within that scrutiny as well, or you can imagine as as an agency working across different industries, it's, I wouldn't say it's the same for everyone, but often the vast majority now, they are looking at the different channels that that we work on and kind of asking the perfectly fair question, which is okay, well, what are we getting from, let's say SEO, what are we getting from paid media, and really doing a kind of a like for like comparison. Now they're not it's not the fairest like for like comparison sometimes. But you can see where it's from.

And what we tend to find is that clients and ourselves are more likely to move stuff around than we would have done so it won't move things more quickly. So if it's really clear that, you know, SEO is performing quite better than, say, email marketing or paid media, move the budget across to SEO or vice versa. That feels like it's, like, a quicker decision now that it might have been in the past. Or more time was given in the past to see how things shake out.

Sean: Yeah. I think I think you're right. There's also the kind of conversations that occasionally have whether it's more likely to be a kind of SEO than some of the other channels, where it is such a long term play. It's kind of like, okay. We've gotta invest in X amount for the next twelve months. There's no guarantee whereas if somebody is looking for direct or immediate performance, we can put that money into paid media, for example, get leads or new business acquisition, whatever it might be instantaneously.

I can show that return. Those are the types of internal conversations that I'm sure are being had, kind of even today or across the country, kind of like the difficulties and challenges marketers face with finance teams, or the kind of those on board.

Paddy: Yeah. Definitely. And I'd love to chat for another half an hour or so on that brand awareness budget as well and how you measure all of that fun.

Because actually I was chatting with someone last week whose brand does a lot of TV advertising as well. So they're trying to draw, you know, close that gap between, you know, a TV ad goes live and does X number of spots in a month, you know, in a month. And then while it does their traffic, and you can actually see what it does, but then seeing what it actually does in the long term, it's a bit of a well, we think it's having an effect. We know it's dropping people on the website.

You don't always know if it's gonna drive conversions, but somewhere it's a little bit of a leap of faith. Sometimes, but I know that there's definitely more science to it deep deep down, but it's not the easiest one to pick apart when you're spending that much money on it as well.

Sean: No. That's exactly right. And we, we, operate in quite niche markets where we're not going kind of mass TV kind of publication where maybe this, it's of such a significant impact slash intern volume that has knock on effect with traffic, etcetera.

These are in kind of niche spaces where we're doing advertising within whether it's magazines, whether it's online.

And as a business, we just where well, we can do this at the moment, and feel comfortable with it. Again, this doesn't mean that it would be different in twelve months' time, but if the products are growing in line with our expectations, then there's a kind of argument there that we can't completely directly associate an ROI or justify it as such. However, if the product is growing in line with our expectations, then maybe we take the view that it's doing something and it's aiding it.

So yeah, those are ones I could probably spend an hour on just talking about the pros and cons of brand advertising in itself.

Paddy: Yeah. It's that cumulative effect, isn't it? That you, you know, it almost certainly is playing a part somewhere along the line, and you kind of have to trust it, have to trust it a bit, but ultimately, if things are moving in the right direction, yeah, you're probably right. It is playing a part, even if it's a small part, we're not too sure kind of how specific a part it's playing.

Sean: And that's it. And for us, like, you only need insurance when you need it. It's not like a pair of trainers that you could kind of I don't know, just do some advertising for a day and somebody just does a spontaneous purchase. So, it seems for us, it's a long term play as well. Just making sure that the brand is present within the the right space, or the right areas of the market, so that when the consumer does go online and search, for personal trainer insurance and whether it's our advert or whether it's our organic listing, we are there, and there is some common familiarity there because they've seen us whether it's on magazines or whether it's at events or whatever it might be.

Paddy: Yeah. Actually on that, we, you know, this isn't necessarily about, you know, difficult economic times as search, but I think one thing that, you know, Starpeak have done very well over the years with the different brands is that element of niching down. So you just said there about personal training insurance, for example, and on the Protectivity side of things.

If you look at the group of companies and look at the fact you do niche down into specific target audiences How much do you think that's contributed towards, you know, being in this growth phase in an economic, economically difficult time? Because you're not yep, just trying to sell generic travel insurance or car insurance. I mean, you know, you are niche and more than that. Does that make you more robust do you think at the moment or more resilient? Yeah.

Sean: I think a hundred, yeah, a hundred percent. We will more often than not get feedback from our customers about how they came across us and it's a tailored policy offering for their needs. So we're not, we haven't gone down the route of being kind of a generalized insurer where it's kind of an off the shelf product. For the majority of our products, this is, we haven't gone off the I've had off the shelf driven product that, maybe a variety of bigger brands out there bigger insurance brands will offer. Instead, we've gone down the route of really thinking about what the consumer needs, whether you're a small business or whether you're a sports travel goer and needs travel insurance to cater for cycling in New York for the week and and tailored modified, created a product offering that meets the demands and needs. So when they are comparing our offer against some huge household insurer, which has just gone down the route of having a very generalized product.

We certainly benefit from that and leverage that because it provides confidence to consumers that actually what we're offering is far more, equipped to and built for purpose for them as opposed to being something that's generic. So, yeah, a hundred percent, I think so.

Paddy: Yeah. I know we haven't really spoken about that in advance, but I think that's something that does play a big part in people's mindset when, you know, money is more of a concern. Obviously, that doesn't mean it's already because someone's a big brand. They're gonna be the cheapest.

Some might have more leverage, but generally speaking, when it comes to specialist insurance and specialist products, yeah, the best of the big brands or the big household ones aren't necessarily the best people anyway, are they? So I guess it would play a part in their thinking that you are a specialist, therefore. You could well be well priced, but you're gonna get a better product because that's specialism as well. Yeah.

Sean: Exactly that. And it's kind of related to your area because it's a bit like going to an agency that does multiple different kinds of service offerings, whether it's PPC, the SEO, email, etcetera, or going to an agency that just does just one. So it's kind of like the pros and cons of that, bringing it kind of back in for us. It's, yeah, certainly something that we've leveraged. In fact, in the past, we've seen in conversion, our conversion may improve for making modifications where the product it may be from day one has just been, kind of a bit too basic for the demand and needs of the consumer and we've added additional coverage to the product. And subsequently see improvements in performance, conversion rate wise, as a result. So yeah, I think we definitely benefited both one hundred percent from that over the years rather than go and generalize the group.

Paddy: Yeah. Definitely. Cool. We're coming up on time. So if any attendees have any questions, feel free to drop them into the chat at the bottom of the screen. I can get to them before we wrap up.

Final one from me Sean, you actually touched a little bit there around, you know, Aira and the fact that, you know, we do multiple services, but we try not to do all of them. If we're talking about the different brands that you work on, and you've got kind of agencies freelancers. You could, obviously, you do stuff in house as well. What's your current thinking in terms of, you know, splitting those brands in terms of, you know, delivering all in house?

Do you try to get specialists? Just to do specialist things? Do you prefer everything under one roof model? Yeah.

Where's your current thinking and how that thinking changed if you think over the years?

Sean: So we've evolved from being just agency based to a split between agency and freelancer.

And there's a reason. There's pros and cons to both routes.

If you want to go down the freelancer route arguably you're gonna get more bang for your buck just because of the amount of hours that they can do against an agency that's got overheads, etcetera.

But the knock on effect was or the the positive and and and pro of going with a an agency is that with you guys where you've got loads of experts within in house, we could lean on you guys like we have done with other agencies to kind of support us almost like in a in a multi channel, effect whereby you can support us on a paid media as well as well as an SEO.

So we use a mixture of both.

And as I said, there's pros and cons to either or, the negative downside with freelancer from some of our experience has been delivering projects on time because they ultimately haven't got somebody above them that's that they held accountable from, like, a project manager.

And, and therefore, that comes trying to chase individuals for work. It is problematic at times. And also as well, we tend to lean towards or have done in the last twelve months or so kind of, engaging with agencies that are specific within their areas, i.e. on our Starpeak brand for, PR activity and, in a very B2B space. Opposed to the B2C being the Sports Cover Direct and Protectivity facing brands.

We've gone down the route of trying to find a specialist within that area and we could have done a freelancer route. I just think the added air of kind of confidence that an agency can give you if somebody's gone to the effort of creating a business and there's got a large team underneath them, with policies and procedures and methodologies, etcetera in place. There's the additional confidence that that brings that ultimately what you're gonna get from your money is going to be of greater.

Quality than what it would be if it was a freelancer.

Paddy: Yeah. The freelancers who are speaking that he he sounds like he some extent you've done similar to what some customers might do with with Starpeak and your brands, while they go a bit more specialist, that's how that could actually benefit as a benefit of customer as well as benefit of B2B brand as well so we can work both ways.

Sean: Yeah. And also, just the freelancer route is a bit more flexible commercially. So if you've gone with an agency, more often or not, you're gonna be tied in with some kind of commercial agreement, which depending on if you're going through your own a business where you're coming across economic, uncertainty or difficulty, having that flexibility to just kind of opt in and out whether you work with freelancer. Freelancers are certainly advantageous, but, yeah, it's kind of a case by case, kind of scenario, I suppose, you know, depending on what the demands in detail are for us and also kind of ultimately what we want to get from the end product.

Paddy: Yeah, and, we've definitely felt the need to be more flexible on that front as an agency. So I said, typically, you know, our business model is, you know, six twelve, eighteen, twenty four months.


So we've even had to find that those have more flexibility than they used to have. So, yeah, I think it's definitely being felt that way, too. Could we understand that ? You know, we have got downsides compared to freelancers and contractors, but obviously we've got benefits as well, but we've definitely had to be more, I guess, flexible on that front as well in recent years. So you can apply to us all, I think.

Sean: Yeah. It's true.

Paddy: Awesome. Cool. I don't see any questions at the moment, so we'll start to wrap up. For those of you that have attended, thanks again for joining. You'll get a copy of the recording and the notes, in the next couple of days or so. Sean, thank you again for joining us and for being so open and transparent with how you do things at Starpeak as well. Really appreciate it, and I'll chat to you soon.

Sean: Cheers, Paddy. Thanks for your time.

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