Wilderness is a ‘one to watch’ according to Econsultancy’s Top 100 Digital Agencies report in 2019, so we thought it would be worth chatting to the agency’s MD and founder.

In Jarvis’ own words, he founded the agency in early 2015, “with the vision of becoming the biggest independent social media agency” and has led the growth of the multi-award-winning agency both in the UK and Europe.

Here’s what a typical day in Jarvis’ life looks like…

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I’m the founder and Managing Director of Wilderness Agency. That means I lead the team of around 30 people in London and support Meredith our MD for EMEA based in Amsterdam.

My role involves balancing the needs of the people with focusing on growing the agency, developing a long-term strategy to keep us ahead.

A big part of my job is to ensure we are facing every challenge in a positive frame of mind.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

As an agency founder, you have to wear many hats. My job is a balance of being a good listener and having to make decisive decisions quickly every day.

It’s key to be able to prioritize tasks and understand the needs of a wide team and a growing client base.

tom jarvis wilderness

Tell us about a typical working day…

There isn’t such a thing as a typical day but I usually drop my daughter off at nursery and then head into the office. I try and get through emails on my way into work and then get out of Gmail for as long as I can during the day.

Once in the office, I’m usually good to go after at least one big cup of tea. My time is then split between meetings to update me on various aspects of the business, and the team, and responding to new business briefs and requests for proposal. I can often be found feet-up on a couch working on a deck.

There’s a massive operations side of the business that I support with as well as working with the senior leadership team to get the most out of our work, team and clients.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

Easy, I love the people. I could not be prouder of the team we are building and I’m thankful to those that have taken the plunge to join our little rocket-ship. I’m still sometimes amazed when I walked into the office in London to see over 30 people working away, taking client calls, holding meetings, bringing their best selves into work every day. I’m not sure how it happened but I feel a huge sense of responsibility to keep them motivated and excited about the journey we are on.

I think it comes from my love of team sports but the idea of building a team was always such a powerful motivator for starting my own agency. It’s hugely rewarding to see individuals flourish and grow and when I see members of the team taking on greater responsibility, receiving recognition, or being promoted you realise the importance of making the right decisions to allow that growth and progression to happen.

What sucks is when you get it wrong, and trust me it happens plenty! When you make the wrong call, with the best intentions and the implications can be really tough on the business, and more importantly on the people. I’m trying to learn lessons quickly and surround myself with experienced and talented people so that as a group we get more right than wrong but it doesn’t happen every time and that sucks.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics for measuring success?

We have a long-term goal to take advantage of the changing nature of the media and advertising landscape. With the democratisation of advertising and the rise of self-serve platforms the traditional media business will change as clients look for more insight, transparency and intelligence when buying and planning cross-platform.

The days of buying-power alone being your key differentiator are long gone, and we believe that our human-centric approach to media buying at scale, supported by deep strategic insight and passionate client collaboration, and award-winning creative execution mean that we are in a great place to make the most of this change.

Another key goal for us is to have a positive impact as a business on our people, our clients, the industry, and wider society. That’s why we are developing a conscious communication charter, a written set of principles to guide our work, team, and clients and ensure we use the social tools we have at our disposal to make a positive change. Whether this is to ensure our clients use a diverse range of models or that we ensure our work does not place unrealistic expectations on those it reaches.

We are at the early stages of this process and how we measure the success of this over time will change but I truly believe that what is good for audiences and your clients will be business for us in the long run. We need social media to live up to the promise of having a powerfully positive impact on society and as an agency that works with some of the world’s biggest entertainment and consumer brands in this space, it’s our responsibility to support that change.

What are your favorite tools to help you get the job done?

I find email to be hugely distracting and try and set aside time each day to dig into my inbox. I use Simplify, a beautifully simple chrome extension that brings simplicity to my inbox. I also use Momentum which makes opening a new tab a calming experience with beautiful daily photography and an inspiring quote to aid productivity.

I’m a big fan of Google products and use Hangouts daily. Using Skype or Zoom always seems complicated and being able to just click into a meeting in my calendar and pull up a call link to everyone, no matter where they are working is so simple. We recently opened an office in Amsterdam and our team is able to work remotely one day a week so being able to jump on a call quickly and easily is essential.

For writing, I find Medium a simple and easy platform to get down blog posts. There’s something about the simplicity of the page with the prompt “Tell your story…” that just seems to set me off. I’m a note-taker as I have a terrible memory but haven’t found the note-taking app I’m looking for yet. Currently, I use Simplenote, which does exactly what you imagine it to but if anyone has any recommendations get in touch!

We’ve also been a long-time user of Pleo at Wilderness, a great way to keep and track expenses for your whole company. The app is simple to use and you can get a card for anyone in the business, would highly recommend.

Which marketing/advertising has impressed you lately?

I saw just this week that Patagonia had launched the first ‘Worn Wear’ store in the US stocked exclusively with returned Patagonia stock. It also featured their ReCrafted collection, a new line of products made from other clothes that are beyond repair.

A brilliant example of a brand delivering on its mission in a beautiful and timely way. Check out the video as my words can’t really do it justice.

What advice would you give a marketer starting out?

Don’t be a dick! It’s an easy thing to say but you’ll be amazed how many people don’t follow it. Weak ties count, remember to be humble but use your network and find ways to always be expanding it.

Find your voice, identify the area you are most passionate about and then find ways to share your opinion with us. You’ll be amazed at what that does for your work and your own confidence.

Download Econsultancy’s Top 100 Digital Agencies report.