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Joe’s travels in the world of digital marketing

Generate UK boss on core values of his firm

Sarah Bosley


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Joe’s travels in the world of digital marketing

Joe Baily, of Generate UK

When he was travelling many years ago, Joe Baily noticed that there were a number of families enjoying the experience with young children.

He vowed that if he were to have children, then one day he would do the same with them.

Nearly a decade later, after establishing his own digital marketing agency, he decided that the time was right.

He credits his experienced and committed team of staff with helping him fulfil this dream and technology, which allowed him to Skype into the fortnightly management meetings and conduct a number of interviews.

“I felt confident enough to leave the business in their hands, the team kept things running smoothly,” he explains.

So from March until August this year, Joe and his family travelled around the world for an experience of a lifetime.

But now he is back and fully immersing himself in Generate UK as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Born in Chelmsford, Essex, Joe’s family moved to Newbury when he was nine years old.

He attended Winchcombe primary school before moving on to Shaw House.

From there he went to Newbury College, followed by Portsmouth University, where he studied for a management degree in business and resource.

“I think I got the most out of my degree,” Joe adds. “That was where I really started to understand the mechanics of business and management.

“Whilst I knew I wanted to travel, I needed funds, so I came back to Newbury and managed to secure a job with a local company as a sales and marketing co-ordinator.”

It was back in Newbury that Joe met his wife Cass and it was her job as an accountant with Ernst and Young that gave them both the opportunity they craved – travel.

Cass was offered a two-year secondment to Sydney, Australia, so the couple moved to the other side of the world.

“I went to Sydney with Cass and I began working in an exciting new role in the world of publishing for FPC Media,” he says.

“They published B2B and consumer titles and I was entrusted to start an architectural and construction division.”

Here he got his first real taste of the digital world, launching websites for each title.

“I was the youngest ever associate publisher in their history, an accolade which I was exceptionally proud of,”
he adds.

“I had the best boss, Wendy Hodges.

“She was a Brit who really believed in my potential and that was the biggest thing for me.

“I grew both the titles and the revenue, but we had planned to go off travelling after Cass’s two years were up, so sadly it was always going to have to end.”

After these two years, the couple travelled for a year, taking in the sights of Australia, New Zealand and Asia; having what he describes as “an incredible time”.

It was during these travels that the idea for a trip with his future children planted itself in Joe’s head.

Back in England, in late 2003, the couple moved to St Albans, where Cass got a job with a relocation company and Joe began working for another publishing giant, IPC Media.

“Quite quickly I got fed up working there,” Joe explains.

“Whilst the people were great, I had been pushed more into advertising, but I felt I wanted to do more.

“Eventually I was put in touch with a publishing director who was moving to a new role and wanted a commercial manager.

“So we formed an alliance and in 2004 moved into a role at Young Communications.”

It was a small communications company that dealt with a number of titles, ranging from sport, through Parliamentary News to the Church of England Newspaper.

Joe, a former footballer who had stints playing at Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy and Wycombe Wanderers by the time he was 18, worked on Football First, a weekly newspaper.

But after a year the paper was set to close, so he moved on to a company called First Light, which sold editorial related software (ERA) to publications such as the British Medical Journal.

His interview was a week-long trip to New York. He accepted the job and began working in the company’s Westminster offices.

At the same time he and Cass moved back to Newbury after realising they spent most of their time travelling to West Berkshire to see family and friends anyway.

“We were thinking about starting a family and 18 months of commuting to Westminster was tough, so in 2006 I left First Light and started working at a local digital marketing agency in a sales consultancy role,” says Joe.

“Digital was really starting to take off and I gained a lot of experience and knowledge there.

“I began to think about Generate UK.

“My previous boss Colin was really entrepreneurial, so I learned a lot from him and he gave me the inspiration to set up on my own.”

In 2008, Joe joined up with Mike Robinson, an old friend from school, and Generate UK started trading.

“The aim was to create a business- centric technical marketing agency that could work with directors on their strategy whilst understanding the emergence of new technology to aid and assist their processes.

“Mike was the technical lead and I was focused more on the commercial marketing side, so it worked really well,” he adds.

“Our first client was Q Associates and we still work with them today.

“We started the business in our homes, but quite quickly moved into an office in Newbury.

“We were really ambitious and wanted to grow the business quickly, so we started looking at the potential of an acquisition.”

In the coming years Generate UK found two opportunities, taking over Web On High and Publicity Project.

After the first acquisition, of Web On High in 2011, the staff at Generate UK more than doubled overnight, so the company had to relocate to new offices on New Greenham Park.

“Suddenly we had a lot of responsibility,” Joe explains. “It made us really grow up as a company.

“A year later, we were trying to add more design and creativity services and that’s how the acquisition of Publicity Project came about.”

The key thing that had drawn Generate UK to both companies was their well-established client base. This helped secure continued growth.

To accommodate this development the company moved again, five years ago, to its current home in Thatcham.

In 2016 Joe bought out business partner Mike, who wanted to pursue new opportunities.

Joe then set about working on the company’s processes, focussing on its customer service standards.

“We set out to achieve the nationally-recognised Customer Service Excellence Standard,” he says.

“We started the process in early 2017 and we had achieved it by the end of that year.

“We then found out we are the only digital marketing agency in the UK to have achieved the standard, which was a fantastic achievement and testament to my colleagues.”

This year Generate UK finished second in the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards for Customer Commitment.

This saw the company qualify for the regional awards, which it won. Next up will be the national finals in London later this month.

“What is core to us is understanding business, their pain points and aligning marketing and technology to overcome them,” adds Joe, who is also president of the West Berkshire Chamber council.

“In 10 years marketing, and in particular technology, has changed significantly, however our values have remained the same.”

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