The American dream that nearly wasn’t

Matt Harper, CEO of The Marketing Practice, on the biggest mistake he nearly made; and how, six years on, TMP’s US operations have evolved beyond his wildest dreams.

Six years ago, I was sitting in an office the size of a shoebox in Seattle, wondering if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I’d been appointed MD of our new US outpost a few months earlier. It was a huge responsibility and a big step up from my previous job as TMP’s head of content, based out of our Oxfordshire headquarters in the UK. 

I’d been looking forward to the challenge but the reality was tough. There was too much work for too few people, being eight hours behind the wider team was a collaboration headache, and apart from our one client, hardly anyone in the US had heard of The Marketing Practice. 

It was a lot to deal with. Especially when we lost our only client.  

But I hate giving up. (I’m an Everton supporter, it comes with the territory.) And other people were depending on me – brilliant people who had come with me to help launch something new on the other side of the world.  

The tide started to turn, inch by inch. We got referrals for new projects and built a broader, healthier client base. The team expanded. I explored Seattle. Discovered the best sushi ever in a little restaurant on Bell Street. Began waiting in line instead of queuing and feeling stoked instead of chuffed. The business prospered and I spent four fantastic, fulfilling years in Seattle before returning to the UK as CEO. 

Why am I taking this trip down memory lane? Because sometimes it’s good to pause and reflect. The B2B Marketing US Agencies Benchmarking Report has been published and it shows how far we’ve come in six years. What was three people, in an office so small we banished our loudest team member to the only meeting room so we could hear ourselves think on conference calls, has grown exponentially – both organically and via acquisition.  

Today, The Marketing Practice group includes The Marketing Practice, Omobono, Kingpin, 90octane and Campaign Stars. It ranks at number 4 in the top US Agency networks.   

The Marketing Practice, Kingpin, Omobono and 90octane all feature in the top US B2B marcomms agencies list. 

Omobono comes in at number 2 in the top 10 rising stars, with The Marketing Practice and Kingpin also featuring. All three are also listed in the top 10 fastest growers. 

As a group we integrate skills right across the marketing spectrum, acting as a global growth partner for disruptive, innovative and industry defining companies. We’re ambitious for ourselves and our clients, and that’s reflected in what we’re achieving together. 

The moral of the story? Take risks. Persist. Have fun. Eat the sushi. Life’s too short not to.

Published

1st June 2022

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