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Meet Mark Haslam CEO of Loud Mouth Media discusses the lessons he has learnt during COVID-19

Today we have selected Mark Haslam To to take his Interview. He is the CEO of Loud Mouth Media.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

I’m good! In regards to the team, I believe they are doing well. It’s been tough but we have come a really long way. Nobody expected COVID-19 and nobody foresaw how long we would be impacted by it but I’m delighted to say that, in the vast majority, the team has been amazing. Obviously, everyone has the odd wobble but I think that’s more than understandable given what everyone is going through. We all have our challenges and it’s hard to see outside of those sometimes, but we do try to be there for each other and help anyone that’s struggling. I always try to work on the ethos that there is much more to life than work!

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company.

So, I’m 41 and set up Loud Mouth just short of 10 years ago. Prior to that, I worked in a number of sales jobs selling things like; mobile phones, mortgages, life assurance, cars (briefly), and then finally advertising. It was the advertising job that showed me the opportunity around digital and where I felt it could go if done properly. Loud Mouth Media basically came about out of frustration. The digital/PPC market at the time was full of smoke and mirrors, people over-promising and delivering nothing but holding clients to long contracts. When I finally decided to leave my employer I hadn’t decided on what I would do. Should I go into another employment with a company that shares my vision or do it myself? After meeting with a few prospective employers, I decided to go it alone. That was 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back.

How does your company innovate?

I’m not sure innovation is the word for what we do. We take data/information and use it. We just use it differently compared to most. Loud Mouth Media is founded on simple marketing concepts but deploys more up-to-date data-driven methods to achieve the best results possible. Our innovation comes from how we think and deal with our clients. We put them at the center of all of our decisions. We treat their budgets like our own and their results like our own successes.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

At the outset, it had a catastrophic effect on Loud Mouth Media. Around 80% of our clients paused in the space of around 10 days. So as you can imagine that was a very scary time. At that stage, we took the view that if we wanted to have a business on the other side of it all, we had to keep our clients as the focus and help them through. This involved looking for opportunities for them to succeed and know that if they did, we would be fine. Thankfully once the first few months passed, we started to see things return to normal. Then they got even better. The pandemic has been horrendous for everyone but as a business, we have come out of it better than we went in. Revenue, staff all the other vital stats are going in a positive direction. What’s more, digital has been one of the industries that has done well in the past 12 months and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

I would say that everyone has made difficult choices in the past year, we are no different. From having to ask colleagues to be placed on furlough, not knowing if they would have a business to come back to, to deciding whether or not to expand the team, take bigger premises, or return to the office at all. The lessons I’ve learned have been huge. I’ve always been aware that, as this is my first business, I don’t know it all. It’s best to surround yourself with a good team, listen to everyone, and think about actions before you take them.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

I think the likes of Zoom, Teams, and Slack have been really useful. But it’s important to me that they don’t become the norm. You can’t replace a face-to-face meeting or be able to jump on a plane to visit a client outside of Northern Ireland. In terms of management skills, I’m not a big one for management rules! I have always liked to make my path. My management style isn’t typical, I don’t think. I like to delegate a lot and I guess that remote working has taught me to trust my team a lot more than I thought I would be able to.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Our competitors are countless. Everyone these days with a Facebook account thinks they are a digital marketeer. I plan to focus on ourselves and try not to be too distracted by what others do. There is plenty of business out there for the good agencies and I admire many of them.

Any Final Thoughts

My final thing to say is that I have really come to realize that Loud Mouth Media is very much a sum of the parts. No single person or team has been responsible for our success. In the past, we have had team members who believed they were the center of the business but not now. We work hard together and everyone enjoys the rewards.

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