Bridie Gallagher is Managing Director of Glass Digital, an SEO and digital marketing agency based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
In this ‘day in the life’, she outlines what she loves about her job, and why she believes her company boasts the best and brightest digital marketing team in the North East.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As the Managing Director of Glass Digital, I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of the company, and work with our board of directors to set strategies and decide what direction we want to take the company in.
On a daily basis, I review our finances, set company budgets and forecasts, help to devise company policies and procedures, and play a big part in planning and implementing business strategies that will help us to achieve our objectives. I also manage the general business administration and HR side of things.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I sit on a board of five directors, and we all report to each other. We make most decisions as a unit, and I think this is one of the reasons why we’ve been able to achieve such fantastic results. It empowers every member of the team who is responsible for a particular department, but also means that we all buy into the shared vision and are passionate about getting the company to where we want it to be.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Aside from the obvious, such as good time management and organisational skills, I’d say being able to delegate is a key skill you need to run a business. As long as you hire the right people to work for your company, you’ll be able to trust in their abilities, so you can hand responsibilities over and only focus on the tasks that can’t be done by anyone else. You also need to be able to embrace the ideas of those you work with and accept that they might even be better than your own.
Additionally, in order to succeed in any leadership role, regardless of your industry, you need to be personable and approachable. If people feel like they can’t come to you with problems, they’ll just be left to fester, and that isn’t healthy for any business.
Tell us about a typical working day…
One of the best things about my job is that every day is different. Although, they do all tend to start the same. Once I’ve had a cup of coffee, my working day will usually start at 8:30am, after I’ve dropped my daughter off at school. I’ll begin by going through any emails I’ve received and will put together a to-do list so I have a rough idea of what my day will look like. I’ll usually have a morning meeting with our accounts manager, too.
Following this, my schedule can vary a lot. For example, I might meet with a particular director, or the whole board depending on the day. I’ll also often check in with our heads of department to discuss our current strategy, or our sales team to learn more about what’s in the pipeline. I’m also the point of contact for our accountant, lawyer, recruiter, landlord, and other partners, so much of my time is spent on admin.
My daughter has a lot of after-school commitments, so I’ll usually leave the office at 5:30pm to pick her up or get home for some family time. And, if there are any work-related tasks I need to follow up on, I usually do this once she’s gone to bed so I can be completely present when we’re spending time together.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
My job is very enjoyable, thanks to the people that I work with. And, it’s also incredibly rewarding to look back at how far we’ve come in the last few years. We currently employ 31 people, who make up what I consider to be the best and brightest team in the North East’s digital marketing sector — our fantastic client retention rate is testament to this.
I’m also very proud of the culture we’ve been able to create here at Glass Digital. There’s always a supportive atmosphere in our office, which it’s great to be a part of. And, of course, I’m a huge fan of the social side of things — us Geordies like to have a good time!
Of course, it sucks when things don’t go how you wanted them to. But you become increasingly resilient, and the lessons you learn when times are tough are invaluable.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
In the short term, the main KPIs we focus on are revenue, client wins, and our retention rate. And, over the last 18 months, we’ve experienced a super period of growth on all accounts.
We also place a lot of importance on employee satisfaction. We have a very talented team, and we want to keep them happy, so they’ll stay with us! As a result, we offer lots of staff perks, and I’m pleased to say we always receive a lot of positive feedback about this.
Looking into the future, our long-term goal is to build upon the successful team and reputation we already have here at Glass Digital. As part of this, we would like to increase our staff numbers so we can take on bigger projects, and we’re even considering expanding our service offering. The possibilities really are endless, and I’m confident that we’re well-equipped to achieve all of our goals.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Basecamp is one of the best and most important tools we use here at Glass Digital. It’s a project management tool, which allows everyone at the company to see what’s happening with every campaign. And, we use it to communicate among ourselves, as well as with our clients.
We’re able to structure all of our clients’ campaigns in a way that shows every task that’s being worked on, which keeps the whole process completely transparent. It also means people can pick up tasks if someone else is on holiday or off sick, and any new members of the team can catch up with everything that’s happened before they joined the company. This would all be a lot more difficult if we stuck to sending private emails.
Many agencies will also give their clients one point of contact, which means balls can be dropped due to the heavy workload. Through Basecamp, our clients can speak to everyone who’s working on their campaign, as well as our client relations managers. With so many eyes on each project, everything flows much more easily, and messages from our clients never go unanswered.
How did you end up starting your own agency, and where might you go from here?
I’d spent more than 10 years working in client relations within the financial services sector and was ready for a new challenge when the opportunity arose to set up a digital marketing company in Newcastle. The team I went into business with had spotted a gap in the market, so we took a fresh approach by founding a digital marketing agency with a culture of transparency, where clients would know exactly where their money was being spent.
While Glass Digital is still a relatively young company, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve so far, and I’m incredibly excited for the future.
Do you have any advice for new marketers?
I think the best piece of advice I can give anyone who’s starting an agency or going freelance is to avoid overpromising in an attempt to secure clients. This will only work in the short term. Instead, be confident and upfront about what you can do — this way, you’ll be far less likely to leave your clients disappointed and might even be able to impress them by over delivering. While it’s likely to take longer to build up a client base, you’ll do a much better job of setting yourself up for success.
In our experience, clients also appreciate transparency, which is what helps us to stand up in an industry that’s notorious for its lack of clarity. So, honesty is the best policy, both during the pitching stage and throughout your partnership. This might mean saying no to a client who wants to take a campaign in a certain direction, which can be difficult. But it all pays off in the long run.