Five lessons from a social enterprise year

Posted on 22/02/2017


A year ago Campaign Collective launched – a marketing agency for not-for-profit clients that is also social enterprise.

In the last 12 months here’s five things we’ve learned:

  • Relationships take time. In fact, with the exception of a few notable calls from clients saying “I need help now”, the gestation period from “warm lead” or “interested in joining you” to working together is anything from 3 months to 12 months. But if things aren’t moving after three months, move on. Keep in touch and when the time is right, great things will happen.
  • Standing out from the crowd gets you noticed. Yes the Collective has done a little bit of its own marketing, but hopefully not in a pushy way. We’ve relied on who we are – and our social enterprise status – to stand out. Half-yearly emails to a mailing list, carefully chosen award entries, highly targeted social ad spend and building relationships with trade organisations and media have resulted in great results – including being named an agency to watch in 2017.
  • Ask for help. The goodwill towards social enterprises is tremendous. The trade bodies, such as PRCA and Social Enterprise UK and co-working spaces (Impact Hub & Melting Pot) have gone out of their way to promote the Collective’s ideas and provide support in setting up the agency. But help has also come from networks – everyone the Collective’s Members meet are keen to help, provide feedback and offer constructive criticism.
  • You can’t do everything. The lack of posts on this blog is testament to this! But with so many ideas and so much advice on offer, the biggest challenge is prioritisation. Appreciate you won’t be able to do everything straight away, but keep the long term goal in mind and it will come. For the Collective, the biggest challenge has been trying to focus on income and delivering great work and not spending all our time on our social purpose projects. But this week the launch of our charity skills survey is the first big step in helping do more with our profits.
  • Relax. Run, walk in the hills, swim, travel, bake bread, eat bread, drink ale, take up a new skill, watch Hibs win, watch Coventry (probably) get relegated, go on a political protest. Don’t spend all your time on work – even if social enterprises tend to combine people’s hobbies, politics and professionalism.

Thankyou to everyone who has supported Campaign Collective in its first year. Here’s to many more!

Cover image Flickr/CreativeCommons