This story begins in 2020 when COVID-19 upset the applecart and wreaked havoc in every community on the globe.
The corporation I worked for sacked me during COVID and laid off literally thousands of staff, and why wouldn't they? The spreadsheets must have been in freefall.
I was left without a job, and added to this, I also had a thriving weekly dance business, seeing 80-100 dancers a night. You could call this my passion business, and well, you've guessed it: this literally hit the wall as nobody could touch each other. Well, unless you were at number ten and parties were still in full swing. But I didn't know that, or I would have offered Boris a free class!
That said, I just sat staring at the wall one day; I had gotten out of bed each day, sat at my camping table, logged on and worked, not understanding its impact. I was worried about my mortgage, five children, and a mother-in-law who lives with us, which is a massive responsibility.
Still, I thought that everyone had their troubles. Their own unique mountains to climb, and given the fact that I was seeing some pretty horrible images in the media, I wasn't having a bad time of it after all; Boris said we could eat at the pub for a tenner, and go out for one exercise thing a day, so I picked up a mountain bike and cycled 60.
What COVID did to unite communities
It was hugely challenging when I looked back; we all coped in our own ways, and I really got a feeling of what it must have felt a little like in WW2; we really did have a togetherness. My road, all grouped together on WhatsApp, put Facebook in the bin and started talking to each other, helping our fellow man and woman, and really giving a hoot if number 76 was actually ok?
It was as if judgements had disappeared – we didn't have to try and beam an image of ourselves to the outside world, and ultimately, I became closer to my family.
I needed to do something akin to my own calling in life. The dance business had really helped focus me as I used to see a lot of 'broken souls' arrive at my doors: grief, illness, mental health, the list went on, each person coming in hunched, avoiding eye contact, knowing that had to try something to try and kick start their social interaction with other fellow human beings.
An old life in my dance business
A simple kind word was all it needed to recognise them, give them some hope, recharge the dwindled batteries, kick-start the soul, re-ignite the personality, danced supercharged this even further, and I remember fondly of many times I literally saw these human beings change from being forgotten to being re-born and finding themselves once more, I got a kick for the first time in my life when I helped people, I gave something back, the entrance fees barely covered the costs of running the place, and this was a passion for me. Still, it didn't matter about the pennies.
I had also worked for numerous companies in my past, large and small, from very professional to the outback cowboy outfits built by lifestyle publishers, who took great glee from charging thousands to advertisers in business magazines that barely printed more than 5% of their claimed circulations, do the research for yourself, get a tour of the printers and ask some questions, you'll be surprised at what you uncover.
I had a growing family and went where I could get a bigger car and commission as my calling in life, was sales, it is who I am. I had to survive after being told at school I wasn't tall enough to be a policeman.
As this is all I ever wanted to be, I had no idea where I would go next….. I just fell into sales, and 30 years later, here I am, compiling a blog at almost ten at night, trying to recall some poignant moment that will help ignite the coverage of my own company, which brings me squarely back to why I'm writing this.
The birth of Phoenix Marketing
I started my own marketing agency to help other companies who needed help using the type of contacts I knew and resources I could utilise for good effect. I have worked with talented media types, from designers to web optimisation geeks, photographers to salespeople, so I brought some together and created this name for the agency.
It just found me: Phoenix Marketing. I googled it, and hundreds of companies use this name; I liked the idea of re-inventing myself, and my brother-in-law threw some inspirational authors and writers my way to help me navigate the obstacles I would face. I also have the most fantastic wife in the world, who never gives up on me, however much I'm a hangry bloke or stressed Eric that I can sometimes be.
So the agency was born; I moved out of the bedroom into my hallway, set up a desk, and got on with it, building my own site and calling in some favours; a few clients signed up straight away, and I will always be grateful for them, to get me across some motivational line that I could do it, as those who know me well, will tell you how much I doubt my own confidence.
So now, three years in, I'm very proud to tell you I've opened up an actual office in Haywards Heath; we now have a bunch of clients from all walks of commercial life, small and medium-sized businesses, all with one thing in common, they need some help getting more clients. With the tech we have and the connections across the community, and now extending into deeper reaches of Sussex, Kent and London, I've only a few days ago, recycled the cardboard from the flat packs we screwed together.
Some gratitude to friends and family
A big thank-you to Lizzi for understanding me is my first roll call; I would have limped into a ditch two years ago without her, I can tell you, and submitted my CV to another faceless corporate.
Then, a big thanks to my family for being supportive at every juncture, Moira; I will miss my afternoon tea and Polenta cake.
My team are also hugely to thank for this achievement – Anne, a super apprentice, has just passed her six-month probation here at the firm. It's so nice to see true dedication and loyalty in a human, Calum, for his precise and steady work in design. Richard and Tom work tirelessly in the engine rooms, figuring out updates of every nature, keeping our client's websites secure, and making them more visible. Kathryn, my digital Nomad, has a natural talent for working with extremely demanding clients, proving she can turn a deadline into mincemeat. The list goes on, and perhaps I'll thread another blog of this nature together soon and cover a few more of the team here.
Our New Home
So you will find us on Sussex Road just next to Lavender Motors in Haywards Heath; we took super office from Kane, owner at KFX Commercial, the sterling chap with an excellent eye for detail and entrepreneurial spirit, who has flipped an outdated building into some great serviced offices.
If you have a small business, need an idea, or have a business that requires something more significant, we would love to share a coffee and see if we can build a mutually beneficial business relationship. I have great faith in the old face-to-face meeting; there is something extremely human about meeting another and taking on the world together.
So, three years in, I've built a small home for local professionals to help the community and smile a little more than we did in 2020. One last thank-you: if you've got this far and are still reading, I hope to have you along for another blog soon.
Our new home
Phoenix Media Marketing
42 Sussex Road
(Just look for the Unicorn)