The next in our series of meet the team articles, we speak to Katie Booth, Client Services Director at Granite 5, to explore Katie’s insights from a varied career supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes to reach their potential.
TL; DR extensive career with major brands, industry shifts in data and training, and culture and trust are key in a successful business.
Katie fuelled her initial passion for business and marketing by studying International Management with specialisms in marketing and French. She then further immersed herself in these areas, by spending a year living and studying in France.
Her first position was Channel Marketing at BOC (The British Oxygen Company) and kicked off a career of working with diverse businesses on all aspects of marketing. In these early days, Katie was very much focused on the more offline marketing channels, as it was only in her second agency role that social media burst onto the scene!
From there Katie worked with some of the top London marketing agencies including Wunderman Thompson and has worked with high profile clients such as Costa Coffee, Volkswagen Group, BT, Phillips, Weight Watchers, Arthritis Research UK, and Vodafone.
This diverse background has provided Katie with the experience of supporting a variety of sectors including Charity, QUANGO’s, financial services, technology, membership, automobile, health & beauty for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Granite 5 – What have been the most significant changes in the industry during your career?
Katie > Two massive changes spring to mind.
- Data, data, data – Whilst we utilised it at the start of my career, everything we do now starts with it rather than it being a bit of an afterthought.
- Training – The pace of work now means that many agencies don’t “have” the time to train their staff properly.
I firmly believe that we need to make the time, and those who don’t will be at their peril. I’m incredibly fortunate that I was probably the last generation where this was intrinsic to onboarding and developing the team.
Today the onus is very much on the individual, which I don’t agree with – how do you know what you don’t know?
One of the reasons Jill (Granite 5 MD) and I first became acquainted, and a big reason for me joining Granite 5, is that we both feel the same about learning – it should be at the heart of every great agency.
Thankfully at Granite 5, it is. Whilst we all have personal development goals; the senior team is excellent at looking at the bigger picture and ensuring that we address any knowledge gaps and keep up to date with the latest theories and developments.
Granite 5 – What is the project you are most proud of delivering?
Katie > AfN (Association for Nutrition). It was an 18-month project with carefully planned milestones. We covered everything from research to re-branding, and then delivered an amazing website at the end of it all, which has created a digital transformation for the organisation and its members.
Glenys Jones, our main client, was an absolute delight to work with. It was also really interesting meeting the steering groups and hearing more about the world of nutrition – which is something I’m personally really interested in.
Granite 5 – What insights can you share from working with an array of successful clients? What makes them successful?
Katie > A couple of things really stand out.
Culture is key. I’ve worked on some really diverse brands from start-ups to blue chip companies. Success has rarely been solely down to budget. Clients from a winning culture have always performed better. And that culture includes the trust in the team to “fail forward” – try something. Test it. Measure it and move on. If it’s right, do more of it. If it isn’t, tick the box and try the next best strategy.
Trust. I think it is so important to have real trust between the agency and the client. To be able to have open and honest conversations means you get the best work and makes for a better (and easier) working relationship.
Sometimes the clients agree with you but are unable to progress an idea because of internal politics, regulation etc. Many of my clients have become good friends over the years as a result of this honesty and teamwork.
Granite 5 – What do you think makes Granite 5 unique?
Katie > I have worked in a variety of different agencies from small to large, and they are the first agency to say no to clients and really challenge them! By that I mean if we don’t agree with the approach of the client and know there may be a better or alternative way of doing it then we aren’t afraid to speak up.
We treat our client’s projects like they are our own, and if we can save a client money by suggesting a different option then we will. We believe in being completely transparent and honest and in doing so we create the best outcome for the client. That is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of.
Granite 5 – Finally, in such a fast-paced industry, how do you stay up to date? Can you recommend any books, blogs, social accounts to support readers?
Katie > I’m always learning, so I’m a total book fiend. There’s a huge pile of them next to my bed and I go through stages of one book, then as something else becomes more relevant, I’ll dip into another. They’re all management and marketing books. After spending all day attached to screens, paper is my luxury, so no Kindles here.
I’m also constantly on Audible while I cook, DIY or potter about – listening to everything from body language experts to political memoirs.
I check LinkedIn almost every day because that gives me a really broad strategic view. I’m from such a varied marketing background that I get updates from creatives, designers, copywriters, strategists, coaches, and agency heads.
I love “the marketing meet up” website and the speakers/topics you get on there are so varied.
- I’m a big fan of Mark Ritson. He reminds me of the old guard in Ad land. I love his “no-nonsense” (often sweary) approach. Memorable and real!
- The actor Ryan Reynolds is turning out to be an absolute genius. One of the best Ad men for a long time. Didn’t see that one coming.
- Simon Sinek is my go-to voice of reason and new ideas about leadership and management.
- I’ve followed Malcom Gladwell since my 4th year at university when I did my final paper about him. His thinking staggers me – he makes it all sound so obvious and is so easy to read.
- John Warrilow has some great reads about scaling businesses.