AMA: Ben Austin, Founder of Absolute Digital Media

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Starting a new business can often be a gamble, but with a lot of hard work and perseverance, some founders have managed to beat the odds and win.

Yesterday, we spoke to one such founder, Ben Austin of Absolute Digital Media

Hey Ben! Could you tell us a bit about Absolute Digital Media? What does your team offer?

Absolute Digital Media is a full-service digital marketing agency focused on delivering innovative, ROI-focused campaigns for clients across a range of industries. 

Our main services include SEO, PPC, Digital PR, Design, UX, Web Development and Social and we offer a vast range of sub-services within these categories. 

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We pride ourselves on thinking outside of the box and delivering top results for our clients and this has been recognised across a variety of international award bodies, including the UK Search Awards and CIM Marketing Excellence Awards.

How did the idea for your company come about?

I have been in digital marketing for over 12 years, building the agency you see today from a one-man-band to a team of 30+ strong marketers. 

Absolute Digital Media wasn’t always known as Absolute, the agency started as SEO Positive as my expertise lay in SEO and business development, however, as the agency grew and became successful in other areas of digital marketing, the agency felt like it needed a rebrand to reflect our full-service offering – hence Absolute Digital Media was born! 

My background before marketing is in finance, and to this day some of our strongest campaigns are for businesses in the finance and gambling sector with campaigns for Ladbrokes, eToro and QuidMarket delivering fantastic results.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

The Absolute team has fully embraced our new remote working scheme and it’s fantastic to see everyone staying connected through digital means and working collaboratively on projects despite being miles apart. 

I think remote working is a real asset to the digital world. We don’t need to be physically in the same building to deliver leading client campaigns, and this is down to the team’s shared value and drive for Absolute to succeed and for us to deliver revolutionary digital marketing services.

A top tip would be to ensure that everyone still feels connected and valued, just because we’re working from home doesn’t mean that the social side of work is completely lost – it’s important to keep this going for a thriving company culture! 

Every Friday we have a whole company meeting, giving everyone a chance to feedback from their week and share any news. We’ve also been sending out Absolute care packages to keep morale high and show that we’re all still part of the same team.

How do you keep your team aligned?

Communication is key. 

As mentioned above, for company culture and for ensuring all our work processes are united. Thankfully our digital age provides us with plenty of tools to keep connected and ensure all our campaigns across the company are on track. 

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Each department has a morning video call to connect with their team members and run through their work schedule for the day to ensure everyone is in the loop. This helps set the tone for the day, yes we’re physically apart, but everyone is working towards the same goal.

What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

In 2009/10 I saw a business opportunity in the newly emerging e-cigarette industry; the boom in electric cigarette alternatives was just taking off and I seized this opportunity to buy the most relevant, leading e-cigarette domain names, like electriccigarette.co.uk, and decided to take the leap and set up a side business alongside running the agency.

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I took this side-hustle on by myself, researching the products, designing the website and branding, even heading over to China to have a hand in the design and manufacturing of the product – it was incredibly exciting! This was a time when e-cigarettes were just emerging onto the market, so securing the top SERP positions for all electronic cigarette related search terms was incredible and the products were flying out. 

So, what went wrong? Well, a few months into the business I was contacted by a patent eternity lawyer stating that the person who owned the product patent for e-cigarettes was taking me, and other e-cigarette start-ups, to court for using their patent. It was a big shock, and a very big legal fee to fight my case. This is where my regret lies.

For me, Absolute was my main drive and my focus and I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise the agency. Perhaps my naivety got the better of me, but I was so focused on not harming the agency that I gave up the e-cigarette company, sold the domains and the business I had set up and turned my back on the legal challenge. 

If only I had the fight and experience I have now – the man I sold the business to is now worth around twenty-million! This taught me to always stand your ground when you’ve got something worth fighting for.

How would you best describe your business philosophy?

“We’re not just your agency, we’re your partner.”

What motivates you?

Building our clients up and watching them go from strength to strength is an incredible feeling, especially now when I get to share this feeling with the team at Absolute. 

The incredible team community we have in the agency is a big motivator for me – it’s no longer just me pushing the agency forward, we’ve built a team of enthusiastic marketers who share my drive to build the agency and deliver innovative digital campaigns for all our clients and this helps fuel our work.

What does a Friday night look like to you?

At the moment, a perfect Friday night is wrapping up the week with our Absolute company meeting and perhaps a game or two – the team is currently loving two truths and one lie! 

Then we’ll crack out a glass of wine and settle down on the sofa with Frankie and watch Lou’s favourite programme Goggle Box! It’s the little things ‘ay! 

Do you have any pets? Care to share a photograph?

Yes, I have a 17-week-old dachshund called Frankie who is our Absolute team mascot! Start them young!

[Ed. For the reader’s awareness, I feel like I should step in at this point and tell you all that Frankie’s full name is ‘Frankie Furter’.]

Thanks for sharing his picture and brightening up our day, and thanks for meeting and having a chat, it’s been an absolute pleasure.