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Callum Donnelly

Callum Donnelly on the modern marketing offering

By Callum Donnelly

Director, Multiply

Strategy and Marketing Leader, Callum Donnelly fostered his understanding of the importance of strategy from 17 years working in marketing agencies – with a career spanning media, communications, digital and agency leadership as Managing Director of digital consultancy Etch.

Recognising challenges in the marketplace and acting upon his longstanding desire to set up his own business, Callum established Multiply: a strategic marketing consultancy with a low-overhead delivery model that provides SMEs with large agency skills for less.

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Multiply take an alternative approach to strategic marketing; what’s the concept?

Multiply was established from challenges I could see in the market. There’s a desire amongst clients to work with specialists, but it's difficult and expensive for agencies to retain all of those specialisms under one roof which ultimately drives up the cost for their clients.

I saw an opportunity to set up a strategy-led marketing consultancy that draws on a network of specialist professionals I've grown over the years to offer SMEs top marketing talent and expertise they might otherwise struggle to access.

The SME market often find the larger agencies too expensive. Having a low-overhead delivery model, where you're only bringing in the resources when you actually need them, allows access to big agency talent, but at a lower price point. A big attraction was setting up a business with a different delivery model to service the sector more effectively.

In the first few months of operating, we’ve seen lots of demand from clients around establishing a strong proposition and brand, go to market strategy, building and structuring marketing teams and website and digital product delivery.

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What areas of marketing does Multiply specialise in?

Firstly, digital strategy. For the SME audience, this could be establishing the businesses growth plan, and then looking at how technology can be used to enable it.

Secondly, go to market strategy. If a business is steadily growing incrementally year on year but wants that growth to become more intentional and scalable, we look at how we can leverage marketing to help them do that.

Then there’s digital product strategy. If a business has a customer experience problem, we look at how we can innovate at stages of the customer journey through a digital solution to solve that problem.

The final one is brand. Helping businesses rebrand or create a brand from scratch.

All our services are strategically led as in my experience, businesses often waste a lot of time and money in initiatives that don’t align to their business strategy. When we get to a clear deliverable – like a website, app, campaign, or piece of branding – we bring in the great talent in the network, allowing us to multiply up the team and deliver the project quickly and cost effectively.

What makes a good marketing strategy?

The biggest thing is clarity and simplicity. Being super clear on who you’re talking to, what’s unique and different about your business, and how you’re going to reach people in the simplest way possible.

And rather than basing everything on assumption, testing those assumptions and solutions with prospective customers. It’s amazing how many times the assumptions we make are not quite right or completely wrong and other approaches would have a much better chance of converting customers.

How are you using technologies in your marketing mix?

We use technology to help solve real challenges in a business.

The work we’ve done in the hospitality space is a good example: overcoming challenges with digital booking systems and making them more intuitive and user-friendly. Or working with sales and marketing teams to introduce systems that make campaigns easier to run and provide measurement and insights to act upon.

"The positive of a difficult time for everyone would be if it brought greater focus on efficiency and returns."

In the current climate, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges for your clients?

We’re seeing a tough economic climate out there and there can be a tendency to reduce marketing spend. But before you do that, I think the opportunity is for businesses to look at the return on investment they’re getting from their marketing channels, and ensure they’re getting the most they possibly can from every single channel. The positive of a difficult time for everyone would be if it brought greater focus on efficiency and returns.

Another area of opportunity is customer experience. A lot of the work we’re doing at Multiply is establishing what the customer journey looks like and different ways to innovate at each of the key touch points along that journey to improve the experience for the customer. That could be better communication at certain touch points, adding an element of automation, or adding a human interaction. Whatever it is, it will make a big difference to the ability businesses have to retain and create loyalty amongst their customers.

What does your own future strategy for your business look like?

From day one, I’ve always seen Multiply as a small boutique consultancy – never bigger than 10-15 people. I’ve seen the power of small teams, and I think there’s a sweet spot where you’re able to be fast, nimble, focused on what you’re doing and cost effective for your clients.

The plan is to grow, but always to have the blend of in-house strategic skills and the outsourced specialist network so that we can offer good value to our clients.

"We like making tangible things happen for clients; making their great ideas a reality."

Callum Donnelly - Director, Multiply

Do you have any dream projects or particular brands that you admire?

I’m very into golf, and it’s always been a career aspiration to land a golf equipment brand to marry my profession with a real passion outside of work.

I also admire brands that continually improve their product, and use product thinking: frequently adding, improving, and iterating. Businesses successfully doing that in the technology marketplace demonstrate a good lesson on constantly evolving and the need to do that as customers change.

Who or what was the last thing that inspired you?

I recently listened to Rory Sutherland on The Diary Of A CEO podcast. Some of the things he speaks about around being unexpected and following the less obvious path, make you stop and think. Some of the best companies in the world did something totally different to everybody else, and that’s a pretty good mantra for us all.

Callum Donnelly