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Meet the Team – Mike Friend, Head of Business Development

Blog Article

Meet Mike, the Head of Business Development at iThinkMedia

Mike gives us an inside look at his experience in digital marketing, how his acting career has helped his sales skills and what it’s like working in digital up in Manchester. Over to you, Mike!

Mike Friend, Head of Business Development

You’re based in Manchester – what do you love about it up there?

MF: I moved here 12 years ago to study performing arts at Salford University and fell in love with the place and the people. You can walk the entire city centre in under a few hours and experience so much. Greater Manchester is packed with fantastic parks and sports venues.

iTM: How long have you been with iTM and what is your background?

MF: I joined iThinkMedia in early 2016. My career has been varied, from working in the family aviation business to teaching snowboarding, working abroad and marketing. In 2007 I started running experiential roadshows for brands all over the country.

Increasingly, the success of these campaigns was being judged by the traffic and conversions they drove online. It seemed a natural progression to move into digital marketing.

iTM: We recognise you from somewhere – have you done some acting?

MF: Haha I sure have, after my degree I had a couple of agents and became a jobbing actor – I even did a film! I have always loved theatre, so I also directed a play and toured it around the country. I had a great time and met some really cool people.

iTM: How do your acting skills help with sales?

MF: I think it helps you not take yourself too seriously and removes any fear from a first meeting or pitch. I can safely say nothing phases me since I did an advert audition naked, pretending to wade through ice cold water!

iTM: What’s the digital scene like up North?

MF: There are so many amazing brands, startups and ideas here. Initiatives such as Manchester Digital and Tech North are great for the area. But, it’s really down to the people, there are so many open, creative minds really trying to push things further.

Mike Friend iThinkMedia

iTM: What client would you love to win?

MF: The NBA or somebody in the snowboard or skateboard space would be great because these are my three favourite sports. I look for three key things in new clients: 1. Do we love and understand what they do? 2. Can we help them achieve better results in search? 3. Would we work well together?

iTM: What makes a good business development person?

MF: I am good with people, foremost. If we are chosen as a new agency partner then we are going to be working very closely together for the next few years (at least!) so open, honest communication from the outset is a must. We spend a lot of time at work, so we want to do business with people we like and trust. And obviously we want to achieve brilliant results!

iTM: What have you learned this year?MF: I’ve learn a few things, including:

• Being specialist is key. As digital expands and the potential service offering grows, agencies feel pressured, (mainly by the potential revenue) to offer everything under the sun. The problem is, this is rarely sustainable and one area will ultimately fail. The client will suffer, then the agency.

Luckily, Chris, our founder, has always set a clear direction for his agency, that involves sticking to our specialist core offering of SEO, Paid Media and Content. This how we have grown since 2008, by being the best in our area.

• Retention is key. It’s a very busy marketplace, there are literally thousands of agencies out there popping up offering the same services we do. Clients only leave an agency for two reasons: Poor results or poor relationship. We really go out of our way to look after our clients with amazing service; more face to face meetings, weekly bespoke reports and more on-site consultancy. Our results are best in class.

iTM: What do you do in your spare time up there in Manchester?

MF: I have a new baby, so she and my two year old son keep me on my toes, but I am also really into sports. I try to snowboard over at Chill Factore in Manchester as much as possible and I am teaching my boy to skateboard. I also run and play basketball over in Warrington – I love basketball!

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