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Fantastic Media | 15 Years Young

June 16, 2021

Written by Fantastic Media

Leeds-based strategic marketing agency Fantastic Media turns 15 later this year, to mark the achievement, we sat down with Managing Director Andy Hobson.

With a career that has featured highlights including looking after F1 racing teams, household name brands, and some of the most recognisable footballers in a generation, including David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, we looked back on the last 15 years of Fantastic Media to reflect on his biggest successes, challenges and what the future holds for the ever-growing and evolving agency.


Andy, congratulations on 15 years of Fantastic Media! Looking back, what inspired you to set up the business?

At the time, I was a partner in a design agency and whilst the work was great, I’ve always been more business focused than just on marketing. I’d always thought that businesses needed a more results-driven approach to success. I saw that there was a real gap there for an agency that could do a great job by delivering a tangible impact on a business’s bottom line. My drive and passion is to grow a business with a client rather than winning design or industry awards. Marketing is about return on investment and going on a journey with business owners. It’s the approach that I started with 15 years ago and stay true to today.



How has the marketing landscape in the industry changed over the last 15 years?

New marketing channels come and go, and that has never changed. However, without a clear understanding of a business’s objectives and creative ideas and an understanding of those channels, success can’t and won’t be achieved. The technology has changed, the way that we deliver the messages has changed and the way that people digest the information has changed. What stays the same is that messages have to be clear and there has to be a return on investment for the client. So, whilst channels change, the end result hasn’t.



Fantastic Media is known for strategic marketing. What does that look like in practice?

The work that we do means we’re advisors on a business level. We’re business consultants as well as marketers. We advise on what are the best channels for our clients to spend their marketing budget so that they can get the best return on their investment. For our clients, we’re trusted partners. We don’t do the ‘fluff’ or do something just because it’s fashionable or on trend. We work with our clients to get inside of their business and we think strategically. We really get to know our clients and their business and understand it from their side of the table.



Over the last 15 years, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered during your time running Fantastic?

We’re channel neutral, we don’t just sell what makes us money. Until we understand a business’s audience, stakeholders, etc we don’t propose anything, so we don’t pitch. That can be a challenge as trends grow and we look to articulate that to our clients. When they first come to us, some clients think that the flavour of the month is the way to go. It then becomes our role to make sure that what we propose is right for them. Being honest and upfront from the outset can be a challenge, especially if it isn’t what someone is expecting to hear, but it’s why we’re still thriving after 15 years. Something that I’ve always believed in is that marketing won’t make a bad business good, but marketing will make a good business better. A lot of businesses that come to us and are doing well are getting their ‘fair share of business’. After they’ve worked with us, they get what I call their ‘unfair share of businesses’ and get some of the market share that their competitors are getting – something they may have thought was not possible previously. That is what we do for our clients.



What’s your biggest success?

The continuation of the business. The continued growth, the movement into new channels, adapting to new technologies and being continually profitable. We’ve got clients that have been with us from day one and I can’t understate how important that is to me personally. They like our honesty, hard work and success and that we’re going to tell them straight. Long term, that’s my biggest success. On a day-to-day basis, success for me is that I want our clients to be proud of the fact that they’re part of the Fantastic family and that we’ve made a real difference and impact on their business.



And biggest failure?

I like to be hands on with everything that we do. It’s just who I am as a person. That does mean that, sometimes, I’m not the best at delegation. If I would have learned to do that much earlier on, I’d be enjoying a beer on a beach in Whitby by now and someone else would be doing this interview. Now though, I’ve got a fantastic team around me that allows me to feel confident to delegate and lean on them and their expertise. It’s something I’m feeling far more comfortable doing. Delegating allows me to plan for the future far more.



How has the last year been?

My strategy from the very inception of Fantastic Media was that no client becomes a dominance in the business, and we have a solid spread of B2B and B2C clients across a multitude of channels. While I still run the business with those principles, it means we’ve been very fortunate during what has been a potentially difficult period. We’re fortunate that we have a number of B2B clients in a variety of sectors such as manufacturing, construction and trade and that has been good for us, as really those sectors have never stopped, so it means neither have we. Where we have B2C clients, we’ve managed to onboard their digital aspirations in a swift, strong way and helped them adapt as things have changed.



What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced over the past 12 to 14 months?

Not being surrounded by my team physically has been my biggest challenge personally. I love being able to mentor younger members of the team, whilst learning from them as well. I very much believe that the younger people in this industry sector are the ones that are suffering from not having the mentoring from being in the office on a day-to-day basis. I do believe we will have a full office, fully back in Leeds. Continuing to create concepts and strategies for clients in person when the full lockdown ends. We’ll be as flexible as the team needs to be, but we will continue to grow our office. There is only so much communication that you can do via Zoom or Teams before things get diluted. People buy people in professional services, consultative businesses. If emotional connections are lost, business will be lost.



15 years with Fantastic Media, is there any abiding principle or approach to business that has helped you last this long?

I don’t need to sell something to everyone, and I’ll happily tell a business that comes to us just that. If what we do as a business isn’t right for someone at the time, I’ll tell them. That honest approach buys us credibility with that business and more than a few have come back to us six months, a year, 18 months later when they’re in a proposition to progress with us.



What does the next phase of Fantastic look like?

It looks exciting. I’m at the stage where I can build a succession team. We’re entering a new stage in our life as a business, but we won’t ever change what has made us successful. I’ve had numerous offers over the years for people to buy the business but that doesn’t excite me and get me up and out of bed in the morning. What still drives me is doing right by our clients, helping their business grow and having a tangible impact. Over the next few months and years, I’m looking to add more additions to our great management team. ‘I’m still fit under 50’ but maybe one day in the next 15 years, I may think about handing on the baton.

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