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Meet Martin Finn and Tony Hooton – Directors and Co-founders of Move Ahead Media

Today we have selected Martin Finn and Tony Hooton to take their interview. They are Directors and Co-founders of Move Ahead Media.

How does your company innovate?

As Google Premier Partners and a Top 10 agency in Thailand, Move Ahead Media has developed a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) model of management, not only for eCommerce businesses but for non-eCommerce companies that need leads or inquiries.  Our contacts at Google are very excited as it totally changes the model on how agencies normally work when managing clients’ ad spend. In addition, it puts non-eCommerce clients totally in control of managing their spending against a REAL financial return for them.

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

Digital Marketing competitors can range from small companies with half a dozen employees to major agencies employing 100+ staff, and some web design companies will advertise marketing services even though they don’t necessarily provide the services directly. For us, the competition doesn’t necessarily affect our approach. We work on the basis that a client gets expected results is a satisfied client, and satisfied clients turn into loyal clients and even become our brand ambassadors. A longer-term view for us is how we develop our reputation as experts in digital marketing within multiple industries. Truly understanding clients’ business models and how their customers find them brings the additional value that ensures Move Ahead Media is seen not just as marketing providers, but more as marketing partners.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded this company?

Our backgrounds as the two founders are quite similar – mainly sales and marketing. We met while working for an SEO company where Martin was the Operations Director and Tony had been promoted to Sales Manager. We worked together for 18 months running the office in Bangkok which focused on the UK market, then saw that we were aligned in our goals to develop a digital marketing agency that focused on clients and employees alike to create the right atmosphere for success. So in 2010, we started Move Ahead Media. Our company’s mission is to create a fun environment where everyone is encouraged to develop their skillsets and confidence, which in turn helps them bring a positive impact and deliver results to our clients.

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

We are developing an ERP system with an outside company that specifically meets the nuances of the digital marketing agency structure to ensure a smooth and accountable client management system. Introducing self-management and accountability processes that enable us to be more efficient and to reward above and beyond commitment.  We have even brought in outside consultants to look at how we operate because sometimes, as the founders who are also working full-time in our HQ, we acknowledge that we are too close to the operations to take an objective view.

How are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times? How did it affect your business and how are you coping?

When Covid hit with full effect last March, the majority of our hospitality/hotel and event planning clients lost all their bookings and had to put their business on hold. This unfortunately affected about 40% of our business. We immediately created special deals to help businesses during what we initially hoped was a 3-month period, we doubled our own marketing to reach those that saw the opportunity and we had a great team around us. Consequently, by the end of May, we were above pre-covid revenues! Since then we have been steadily improving, although the second wave gave us a little concern for a few weeks as it interrupted a lot of our client’s rebuilding plans.

We had to enforce a work from the home policy as well, but since we were already operating in different time zones and countries, our team was already adept at working remotely from each other – although we did miss the in-person aspect and fun office environment.

All in all, we have benefited from the current climate – it gave us the opportunity to take a breath and refocus our goals and desires for Move Ahead Media and it reignited our team’s passion and determination to help transform people’s lives and business.

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

Yes, we did. We had to put the staff on 75% pay while we recovered from the initial account drop. However, we were determined not to lay off any member of staff, especially as many businesses literally closed up shop.  With the support of our team, we kept everyone employed and only had a reduction in salary for 2 months before we were able to get back to normal.

As for a lesson learned, the impact enabled us to completely refocus the business. What were our goals? Where do we want to be? What type of company do we want to be? What did our staff want from the company?  What sort of company did they want to work for? All of these questions are being answered in the company restructure that we are implementing.

The biggest lesson is: how we are looking to develop staff to grow their career away from the traditional pyramid structure of management to a more individual contributor basis within dynamic teams that meet the goals of individuals, the company, and most importantly clients.

Your Final Thoughts

Covid 19 has impacted the world in many ways and we will not be returning to pre-covid times – it will be the “New Normal”.  The internet for doing business in terms of sales, meetings, and work environment has had a huge boost and completely changed the landscape for how companies operate. Some industries have seen an unfortunate decline, and others have seen terrific growth – Digital Marketing has been one of these winners. In addition to this, the constant changes to Google and Social Media platforms require companies like Move Ahead Media to be dynamic and agile to adapt, thrive, and continually provide for our clients.  Think Ahead – Move Ahead.

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