Amaze One is a great example of the St Ives Group’s wider strategy of collaboration. The Customer Relationship Management (‘CRM’) agency was launched in November 2014 when Managing Director, Neil Evans, identified a gap in the market.
Neil, who also runs St Ives’ data-driven marketing agency Occam, spotted a weakness among rival agencies claiming to deliver strategic communications for clients, when in reality they were not making full use of data and creative together. The concept of Amaze One became reality when Neil blended elements of Occam’s technical and data expertise with the specialist creative skills of digital agency Amaze, headed by CEO, Natalie Gross.
Neil explains: “the collaboration came about because Occam knew its clients needed a way to bridge the gap between data and technology, and customer experiences. This was particularly true in the creative and content space, which is where Amaze comes in. It’s what we call a combination of rigour and magic, a challenger business born out of two established companies.”
Clients were seeking a more coherent and successful blend of strategy and creative, he says: “we believe you need to tell clients the truth about what has to happen and then execute the idea – in other words, be as practical as you are strategic. We knew there was a way to add rigour to the creative process and deliver something out of the ordinary.”
Amaze One’s experienced management team reflects the Group’s high-integrity, low-ego approach and they collaborated from day one to make a quick impact in the market. The agency posted a strong first nine months of operations, vindicating St Ives’ CEO, Matt Armitage’s, decision to back the venture. “Matt bought into Amaze One straight away. Of course there were concerns about several people doing two roles at once but those have been allayed and we’ve proved it can work,” comments Neil.
Much of Amaze One’s growth has come from incremental revenues by cross-selling services to Occam and Amaze’s existing clients. “We aim to accelerate their ambition,” Neil says. “We met Northern Rail and in a short time we were bringing our thinking to life. We’ve also completed a project for Arcadia across its high-street fashion brands.” He continues: “we are expanding our footprint with existing clients in a way that wouldn’t have been possible for Occam or Amaze as standalone agencies. That means a more secure client base as well as increasing and opening up new revenue channels for St Ives. Now we are having conversations with the other businesses to implement the model more widely. Our aim is to weave CRM into the Group’s DNA, across Strategic Marketing and Marketing Activation.”
This strategy is already paying dividends, with Amaze One joining SIMS as a potential supplier to Royal Mail.
A combination of growing existing clients and winning new accounts has allowed Amaze One to increase its headcount, in many areas adding talent from outside St Ives. A key objective for the year ahead is the creation of a data asset. Neil explains: “we are keen on product development to add to the services we can offer clients. Owning our own data makes sense as it is licensable revenue.”
He believes the agency’s ambition proves that St Ives thrives on entrepreneurial spirit: “it shows that if someone has a good idea that can add revenue, St Ives will match their talent and vision. Even though it’s a big, listed company, its thinking and actions are fleet of foot. This is definitely a place you can do business.”