25 Nov RONIN Marketing turns 18!
It’s official: RONIN Marketing has overcome toddler tantrums and the stroppy teenage years to finally reach adulthood, with the celebration of our 18th birthday!
Founded in 2001, before Facebook was even a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye, RONIN Marketing was in its infancy when social media platforms and digital advertising began their meteoric rise. But, having grown up in a world where the internet was always ‘a thing’, we’ve mastered the art of modern communication and have spent the last 18 years helping our clients, tell their stories. Fun fact: This year alone, 6,274 social media posts by RONIN on behalf of our clients have racked up over 2,379,942 impressions.
So, in recognition of this momentous occasion, we’ve interviewed our founder, (now) bespectacled – and occasionally benevolent – Managing Director, Steve Lipscombe, to find out more about RONIN Marketing’s past, present and future.
I had always wanted to own my own business – although I wasn’t always sure what kind of business – and some time in 2000, I realised that although I was generating a lot of revenue, I was generating it for someone else. Disgruntled and dissatisfied and frankly running out of road with my employer, I jacked in my job and set off on my own! Well, almost. I was fortuitously offered a salaried full-time job at the same time and juggled this with running my marketing consultancy, outsourcing the things I couldn’t do – photography, videography, graphic design – and then did the rest myself.
I did this for a year, working two full days in one, steadily accumulating capital and then steadily accumulating staff as business started to take off. We outgrew the spare bedroom and moved to a business centre in Beckenham in 2004, before signing the lease on our current location in East Street Bromley in 2007, just before the Great Recession of 2008. Great timing! Emerging only slightly scathed and decidedly wiser, RONIN has continued to grow from strength to strength – and in numbers – to the double-digit operation that it is today.
What is RONIN’s raison d’être?
If any business is going to be successful the number one priority has to be to deliver exceptional service to clients; I mean this in commercial terms, so if a client spends a pound with us, we should do everything we can to turn it into £10 for them. I always think RONIN’s stock in trade is innovating to get results for our clients; the team are always looking for new and better ways of doing things and we recruit the best people we can to deliver them. We also have to get an emotional investment in the client’s success and enjoy working together. Creating a place where people want to work is equally important. As well as earning a decent living, I want people to have an environment where both creativity and hard work are rewarded, and where they can have some fun, so they look forward to coming to work in the morning.
What were your ambitions for RONIN in 2001, and have you met – or even surpassed those ambitions?
Honestly? Although I set out on the basis that I never wanted RONIN to be a ‘mom-and-pop’ lifestyle business, I’ve also never harboured ambitions of becoming a global marketing behemoth, with offices in Milan, New York and Tokyo, although we do have an outpost of sorts in southern France…I allowed myself a bit of a reward by buying a holiday home a few years ago. RONIN Marketing has been profitable from day one, and has grown steadily every year, which is not something every company can claim. We now employ 12 people and have some great clients, so right now I feel the business is very much where it’s supposed to be.
Who was RONIN’s very first client?
When I was still a director of a publishing company, I was candid about the design and messaging of a client’s advertising; the creative was poor and killing sales. It was a bit risky because I didn’t know him that well. He challenged me to do it better, and there was the opportunity. He turned out to be a lovely man. Fortunately, I was able to help him grow his business and he sold it for several £million a few years later and we became great friends. Sadly, he died suddenly a few years ago but he has a special place in my heart for being the first person to put their faith and future in the hands of RONIN Marketing.
What are is your fondest memory of the past 18 years?
Tricky. However, one fond memory was a team trip to RONIN’s outpost in Southern France. A few years ago, we shut up shop and took the team across the Channel to enjoy a few days of fromage, French wine and flinging ourselves down zipwires at a local adventure course, all in the name of teambuilding. And one of our graphic designers, Beijing Cazza, spent half a day chopping, slicing and dicing to prepare the most wonderful feast of authentic Chinese dishes, that I still remember to this day. 好吃!
What are RONIN’s most notable accomplishments over the years?
Making it to 18 is a notable achievement in itself, despite the (many) challenges we’ve faced over the years. We could have done without the global economy taking a nosedive in 2008, just as we put up all our costs, although in the end, we did well out of the recession. And there was the time we fought (and won) against the unfair extradition of one of our employees – a Malaysian national – complete with court dates with HM Immigration. However, he then left the country without his paperwork being in order and got stopped at the Eurostar terminal in Paris never to return. At the time, he was our only graphic designer so it put us a bit of a sticky situation…!
Probably the most notable thing for me though is how RONIN has been capable of adapting and evolving to ensure we remain on top of our game. Changes and challenges in markets, technology and media haven’t ever fazed us; we’ve embraced them as opportunities for our clients to integrate into their marketing strategy.
What does the future hold for RONIN?
For RONIN, the vision for the future is continued expansion and growth, both in terms of our numbers and our clients. We’ve recently hired a Commercial Director as part of our growth strategy, and are scouting for more clients that suit our profile and our culture, whilst continuing to innovate for our existing clients, telling their stories in ways that produce results.
As for me, the thought of a sepia framed photo of ‘Our Founder’ hanging on the walls of RONIN offices around the world is appealing. But, for now I’ll continue to be at the centre of things with Judith, my wife and co-owner of the business, but we’ll also be getting in as much holiday as we can.
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