After opening our first US branch, we asked Matt Harper for his thoughts on why he loves working for The Marketing Practice, and why he’s taken on the challenge to set up a base in the US.
Matt has been at TMP for five years. He started out working in planning, then he ran our social media work, and moved to heading up the content team. Now he’s Managing Director in the US.
You’ve dubbed TMP’s international expansion as the agency’s ‘third evolution.’ What do you mean by that?
Every few years the agency evolves. Our first evolution was all about securing work for a different size of client – like HP, Microsoft, and Salesforce.
The second evolution was about evolving to take on a different type of work. There was less of a focus on traditional marketing methods – we created the social team and the digital team, and began to produce more digital work.
Most recently, we’ve begun to evolve globally – with offices in Germany, and here in Seattle. And that’s driven by our need to support our clients on an international scale and deliver consistent results. So that’s what I mean by the ‘third evolution.’
The agency has changed a lot over the last five years, what has that meant for you?
It’s meant that I’ve had opportunities to do different things – to test myself. Variety is a massive problem at a lot of B2B agencies. People get bored quickly. That’s why it’s vital to find an agency where you’re constantly challenged.
TMP’s integrated model means that you don’t get stuck in a rut – and that’s refreshing. When I first joined, I worked on a data project segmenting lists of financial advisers. Flash forward 18 months and I was working for Salesforce on a large, enterprise campaign targeting household names like Debenhams, Harrods, and Barclays.
Do you think the changing nature of the work attracts a different kind of person?
It definitely does: we’re looking for those people who want to get fulfilment over a longer period of time, over multiple campaigns. We want people who see how they can have a real impact at the company and make a difference for our clients – people who aren’t satisfied floating in and out of projects or agencies.
Clive, the CEO, always refers to East Hendred as a campus, and that’s because it feels like somewhere that you would stay. And that’s what we’re replicating globally in our new spaces in Seattle, London and Munich.
What is it that has kept you at TMP?
Trust. In my current role, it would be really easy for Clive, or my boss, Paul, to micromanage me. But they trust me to do what I think is right for the agency. As a senior employee, if you don’t feel like you have that trust then you can’t have the impact you want. And that means you never quite settle into the role.
How do you go about hiring people you know you can trust?
It’s about looking out for the right qualities. The number one thing I look for is self-awareness. We want someone who recognises the value of their previous experience, but who’s ready to apply themselves from day one and learn new things. The right person would never expect to walk in somewhere and lead a team on their first day. They’d spend time understanding the skillsets of others and then work to get the most out of them.
You’ve never worked at another agency, so how do you know TMP is different?
People keep coming back. They’ll go away for six months or two years and they’ll come back because they realise that TMP is a home for like-minded people.
I also see that when a client really gets our integrated model, they become our best advocates. And that’s all because of how successful it is for them and their business.
I can’t deny that there are many great agencies out there. All I can say is TMP is right for me as it brings together a number of key things: the trust of management, global clients, and a range of opportunities. And despite being a large agency now, it’s retained the personal touch that first attracted me to work here.