Celebrating Five Years of Artus with Zach and Liv
Posted on 5th May 2023 at 15:19
In this episode, Zach takes his turn in the hot seat as Liv gets the chance to ask about his journey through the world of copywriting and digital marketing. This April, Artus will celebrate its 5th birthday this April, so what better way to mark the occasion than by looking back at the past five years?
Liv Morley 00:04
Hello and welcome to Words that Work. My name is Liv Morley, Senior Copywriter at Artus Digital Marketing. We're here to empower businesses to tell their own story through compelling copywriting and content. Today I'm joined by our very own Zach Greaves, the Founder and Director of Artus. So, welcome Zach and thank you very much for joining me today.
Zachary Greaves 00:24
Hi, Liv. Nice to switch it up today.
Liv Morley 00:26
Yeah, so we've gone through a bit of a role reversal, I am the host today, and therefore I hold all the power.
Liv Morley 00:37
We actually are approaching five years of Artus Digital Marketing, so we thought it would be a really good opportunity for us to reflect on the past five years considering the value of copywriting and how that value has really evolved since the dawn of Artus.
So Zach, should we start by talking about Artus and when it was launched back in 2018? And why you really decided to get into the industry?
Zachary Greaves 01:00
The dawn of Artus - I like how you phrase that.
Liv Morley 01:04
That's a copywriter in me.
Zachary Greaves 01:06
Yeah. Well, first of all, you know, those five years have absolutely flown by. I can't quite get over that we're half a decade into our journey. And yeah, it feels it feels like so much has happened in that time. And it has. But when I started, I mean, having done a degree in English, I knew that something in the creative field was calling me. But it just took me a few years to figure out exactly what that was.
So, I worked in marketing roles. I went into hospitality and hospitality management. And then actually it was a freelance position that led me back to what I'm what we're doing now, I suppose. So I went straight into the networking circles. I was actually working two days a week as a gardener at the time. So, it just goes to show what journey we've been on since then.
Liv Morley 01:57
I know that's a bit of a change that isn't it? It's a bit of a different profession.
Zachary Greaves 02:02
Incredible, it really is. Yeah, but my vision, really, it wasn't to start a business, it was to create enough work for myself at that time and give myself a full-time job. So, to be sitting here with a business and a couple of full-time employees and a number of freelancers. It's beyond what I ever initially imagined. So, it's a real privilege to be in this position.
Liv Morley 02:31
Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. So, tell us more about how Artus has developed from starting back then to now like, what changes have been made? And how has the Artus story developed really over those five years?
Zachary Greaves 02:46
Sure. Well, I think one thing that I would say is that we've kept quite close to our values, those initial values that I set out when I created the company. And that was to create a really personalised and personal service, where we really mirror and expand on the companies that we're dealing with regarding their values and ethics and their journey to and to provide that cost-effective service.
But I suppose when I started out on my own, you know, there's a temptation to do things that aren't necessarily within your remit. So build my own website. And then quickly, people started asking me, would you create a website, and actually, I figured a couple of years into the business that it was important to go back to what we really specialise in and what we do best. So I don't think there's anything wrong with experimenting, necessarily, but it's important to celebrate and fully explore what you do to the best of your ability.
Liv Morley 03:53
Definitely, I think we've really found our strength with that even just in the period of time that I've been working with you, at Artus. So I started in 2021. And I think we'll touch on it a little bit later when we're talking about what we've learned over those five years. But just that personal side of things, we can really thrive currently in our writing process when we really get to know the client themselves. I think that informs everything we do. So even like you say in there, we did a look at websites and the wider digital marketing picture which applies to everything, but so much with copywriting.
I think we really get into know people's business stories and that personal side of digital marketing, the people behind it. That's the most important bit, keeping people in the digital world, which again, we'll touch on a little bit later. But I just wanted to talk a little bit about the biggest successes and challenges that you found over the last five years.
Zachary Greaves 04:55
Oh gosh, well, you know, I could I can always remember that first client that We'd signed up and the first client that we invoiced work for that was on the 13th of April 2018. And so that made sense to be the date, on which we should have celebrated our birthday. So you never forget that first initial success, that feels like it's a big thing.
Liv Morley 05:20
Yeah. And to keep that date in mind as a date to reflect, which is exactly what we're doing here. We can keep coming back to that day and have a look at what we're doing not just five years ago, but what we were doing last year or six months ago. And it's a good anchor for us on that April date.
Zachary Greaves 05:40
Yeah, yeah, for sure. And then, of course, you know, bringing on the first member of the team, that was initially a freelancer in Harriet, that felt like a big leap of faith, and then both full-time member of staff in yourself Liv, certainly a big landmark for the business.
Yeah, I think for me, it almost felt actually, yeah, we've got a proper business now. And I could see that your values very much aligned with the companies. And that would move us even further forward.
Liv Morley 06:15
Definitely. It's good to be called a landmark, I'll take that!
But I mean, for me, I've very recently moved into a Senior Copywriting role from my previous Copywriter and Digital Marketing Executive role and again, I suppose that's another landmark in itself, like a promotion for a member of staff, and sort of an added responsibility for me, I think we're finding our feet between ourselves to share some responsibility. And for me to be able to take a little bit of heat off you in that way and get involved in the business processes a little bit more. That's happened quite organically really, hasn't it? And that's quite nice and pleasant in our journey as a business.
Zachary Greaves 07:03
Well I think it's that alignment, which is really important. And I suppose finding the right people to work with that that's absolutely crucial in a business. And we do have such a brilliant team. As I say, we've got three full-time members of staff, but our freelancers share our values, they attend our team meetings. And that sense of collaboration and community that we've got is really important to
Liv Morley 07:34
They’re formidable those team meetings aren't they? We've said it a couple of times that we need to start recording them and get a bit of a podcast going. But we'd have to put in a good editing job because they can be a bit tricky, but in a good way, in a passionate way! Because I think we are all so passionate about what we do, and we want to do a good job for our clients and have those really in-depth and focused discussions about what we do. That's so crucial to the team and how we operate.
Zachary Greaves 08:06
Yeah, but I think as creatives it's inevitable that we sometimes go off on tangents in those team meetings and really explore the different areas of digital marketing. You know, we come with a bit of an agenda for these meetings. But before we know it, we've explored lots of different topics, haven't we? So but I think that's really crucial to developing and moving things forward. Thinking outside that box, it’s that creativity which will move us forward.
Liv Morley 08:37
It’s a testament to the environment you've created. Zach, I think that you've managed to get the right people in the room because we all feel free to talk and talk about our opinions and discuss our ideas. And that's how we grow. And that's how we've become who we are and where we are in the last five years.
Zachary Greaves 08:55
Well, all I can say is I've been very lucky in that regard. I've never done any recruitment, per se. It's been a case of being open to opportunities, I suppose. An Introduction to Michael Hall at Leeds Beckett lead to our meeting and a mentoring role, wasn't it? And then here you are.
Liv Morley 09:17
Yeah. But I mean, even in terms of like our work experience students that we have, or like Ellie on her internship, just really catching people at a really crucial and valuable time when they're willing to learn and really devote themselves to a role I think, but that's how it worked with me.
I felt as though I was coming to the end of my degree and I was really ready to devote myself to an industry and into my role and to really get involved and learn as much as I possibly could. And then here we are, so it's worked out well.
So in terms of challenges Zach, and maybe the slightly more difficult side of the coin?
Zachary Greaves 10:01
Well, yeah, totally. I mean, I think running your own business, it is a tough thing and is the hardest but most rewarding thing I've ever done, I suppose we rode the initial wave of COVID pretty well, actually. And our customers stick with us and they backed us, and we continued to deliver that service for them.
But it was, I think it was February 2021, when things started to go a little bit wrong. We lost a third of our business in the space of a couple of weeks. So it was, you know, just before your time in the business really Liv. And I can honestly say that that was the most frightening experience I've had been self-employed.
But I think what I did in that situation was just keep moving with one foot forward, it really didn't feel like that was going to work. And for a long time, you know, the fruits and labours of those efforts didn't bear any fruit. But I think one thing that I will say is that I stick to the ethics of the business, stick to our values, and kept showing up. And I think that that's what made us bounce back stronger than we did before. And thanks to the team for showing their support during that time, too. Because yes, it's tricky. But a lot is riding on it for other people, too. And that's why we keep going and keep our heads held high during the trickier times.
Liv Morley 11:37
Yeah, definitely. And it does just prove how important those values are, and keeping them solid and core to everything that you do. I mean, it says a lot, we have clients that for whatever reason, there are plenty of different reasons and issues that are out of our control but they leave us, but then so often we see clients come back to us. And I think that says a lot about our offering and our values, because people tend to like us, really, because that's what we do. We get to know people and we try our best always to do a good job for people. And I think even in the darkest times, that's clear between us and with our clients
Zachary Greaves 12:20
That’s right. I mean, knowing the strength of your offering, as well. And make sure you remember that and hold on to it is important.
Liv Morley 12:29
Definitely. So moving on. So with the nature of working in the digital sector, and with how we see things fluctuate and change. And we've seen huge industry changes that have had a giant influence on how we operate over the last five years.
Could you tell me a little bit more about those changes? How we've seen the industry change in the last five years? And maybe how that's posed a challenge to us and how we've re-angled that challenge really to help us and to enhance our offering?
Zachary Greaves 13:03
Sure, well, it's moved. Technology always moves quickly. But I think particularly in the last five years, we've seen the digital landscape really shift and probably nothing more so than AI. And here's that word again, Chat GPT. Yeah, it's something we can no longer ignore. But beyond that, obviously, social media the likes of Tik Tok taking off. Elon Musk being involved in Twitter, there's been so many changes. But I think the key is to evolve with those changes. And one thing that I will say is that we started off in the business, I always said, we write for humans first and robots second. And I think that that's a really distinguishing factor for us that we are a human centred copywriting agency, we write for people, we write content because we want people to read it first and foremost.
So, whilst the likes of Chat GPT can be beneficial and helpful in terms of perhaps planning content and creating content ideas, we would probably draw the line there, really, and maintain that human-focused approach as we go forward in the business
Liv Morley 14:29
Definitely, I suppose it's about not shying away from those technological changes, but really doing the research into how they can help us and how they can help our clients.
But what we always say is centering those values, always going back to those values and that personal, like you say human approach to copywriting, it's crucial. It's everything that we do, and like you say, it's people that read our websites, people that engage with companies and it's people that buy products, engage with services, and people can only really apply and appeal to other people.
Zachary Greaves 15:12
Definitely, it's about emotion and human connection. And that's what sells ultimately, robots can't replicate that. And they never will.
Liv Morley 15:23
Yeah, definitely. And if anyone is wondering what Chat GPT, while we're having this discussion, it's a automated content creation tool. So it's machine learning, and it's sort of generating content for companies or anyone really who's creating content online.
But I mean, what we've been finding with our research Zach is that some of the information is not quite up-to-date and is a little bit disjointed. And I think we need a little bit of time for it to catch up because really, it's not hitting the mark yet. It needs that human intervention and that human sort of interaction with it. So we can see how it might save time in means of creating ideas and blog ideas and things like that. But in terms of actually content creating bodies of text, it's not meeting the mark, is it really?
Zachary Greaves 16:13
No it's not, I think people need to be very wary about the use of it. And if they do choose to use Chat GPT, really understand the implications of that, learn how to use it properly, and you know how to use that search function.
But for us, you know, the jury's still out, as far as I'm concerned, we still need to look into it. But I view it as an assistant, rather than anything that will ever replicate what a human is capable of. Yeah, so it's there in our armoury. We're not going to ignore it, we have to look into it and incorporate it in some way into our business. But there have to be very clear boundaries around that too.
Liv Morley 17:03
Certainly, I mean, as it stands, copy produced through Chat GPT isn't performing as well, on Google in terms of ranking at the moment, and statistics and research that are being used and produced by Chap GPT - it doesn't roll off the tongue very well does it? - but the data is not up to date, either. So I think there's some work to be done there isn't there?
But I am interested in how we evolve our offering to work with digital transformations as we have to pay attention to the research, and we have to pay attention to our clients and really what's right for them, and what's going to benefit them the most. And that, as it stands is still that human element to things and still that personal approach to copywriting - that's where the value is really.
Zachary Greaves 17:53
Yeah, you know, as a company, we always have to be looking at these evolutions and developments in the industry. But, I think it's important that we stick to our own lane too and pick up some developments where we can and if they add value to our customer, why would we not incorporate them into our offering?
But we always have to be looking at why we exist as a company, and what value we bring to our customer and anything that could potentially damage our brand damage and our reputation, or indeed, you know, damage the reputation of our clients, it's just not worth it. So yeah, we'll plough our own furrow and stick to our own brand ethics.
Liv Morley 18:40
Definitely, definitely. I mean, we work with a lot of niche clients, don't we? I mean, we've worked with everyone from a dating app for people who are HIV positive.
You don’t get much more nice than that, do you? .
That's nice. Yeah. I mean, we've worked with so many niche companies where it needs our research and our interaction to be able to put that information together into a blog or a social post. And to be able to really compile company values with current research and statistics to bring together posts and content for websites and social media that really speaks to that particular niche and that particular company themselves and their identity. And at the moment as it stands, only a human can do that, I believe.
Zachary Greaves 19:29
Yeah, I think a lot of our success in our content is through the conversations we have with our clients. And that can't be replicated. You know, it's beyond understanding facts and figures from them, but it's human emotion and human relationships too.
Liv Morley 19:45
Yeah, and that's what makes every business unique. And that's what makes our job so fabulous and what makes our job so varied and different every day.
So that's a great way to lead into, perhaps away from digital marketing, how eventful the last five years have been. I know you touched upon COVID a little bit earlier, but I mean Brexit, the current cost of living crisis, and how we've managed to navigate the storm really of all these huge events over the last five years.
So, how would you say that we've managed to adapt our offering based on global changes and how we've kind of altered the way that we work based on what's going on in the world at this particular moment in time?
Zachary Greaves 20:31
Well, I think flexibility that's been part of our offering. And I think it's quite important to me that we don't lock people into a 12 month contract. But we actually let our results speak for themselves. We understand that people's finances, with the cost of living crisis at the moment, are under pressure. And I think it's important to give people that peace of mind that they're not going to be locked into a ginormous contract that they can't get out of.
So there's that flexibility, which I think certainly helped our clients, and of course it's up to us to deliver as well to keep our clients to that side to it, as well. But in terms of news, yeah, I mean, I can't think of another period in the last 100 years where there's been so much change. So I think, as I said before, it's sticking to your guns, sticking to what you're good at and your strengths, and not ignoring what's going on outside. But kind of just focusing on what you do best not getting too focused in the scaremongering going on, but just doing your thing and doing it well.
And perhaps adjusting your offering accordingly, it might be that you can help people in different ways. During the times when COVID hit, I offered lots of free consultancy to businesses just to help them through it. And lots of businesses had newfound time too, it was helping them understand how they could best use that through their own digital channels. And as I say, I offered that free of charge to help people but I think if you sow the seeds into the world more often than not, they do come back to you. So yeah, there's different sides to that. But I think above all is, as I say, sticking to your strengths and keeping your head down.
Liv Morley 22:24
Yeah, definitely. I think it's interesting what you said there about the free consultancies and helping people in their moment of need. Because in a way, that's partly what we are hoping to do with this podcast, we're hoping to help people and offer some sort of free advice and through our social media or LinkedIn accounts as well, like, we are hoping to translate some value to people and help people get the best out of their marketing.
I mean, COVID, the current cost of living crisis, I think people are having to watch their budgets and are having to watch their finances. And if we can help people to get something out of their marketing and help people to get their brand name out there through their marketing, then that's ideal. That's what we want. We want companies to thrive. That's part of what we do.
Zachary Greaves 23:14
Yeah, it's in our DNA, isn't it? Giving value, that's so important. And the touch points that we have now, with the podcast and our blog, social media posts, we want people to use that. We want people to implement those ideas into their own marketing and to learn from us. And we're very happy to help people on their journey, wherever they might be, obviously, we are a business, we need to bring in customers too, but we're equally happy to support people in our journey.
Liv Morley 23:48
Definitely. And support each other, I mean, as an added point in terms of the way things changed post COVID and during COVID - we are largely hybrid workers, we work from home and work remotely. And that's naturally worked well with the profession that we work in and how we were. But to be able to provide that flexibility, internally as well as externally and to be able to adapt our offering between our staff members as well, that was that's been really valuable. I think that’s been a way that we've adapted for the best.
Zachary Greaves 24:24
That's true. Yeah. I mean, when we had the office at Windsor House, I’d always envisaged that the second desk next to me would be occupied and it didn't work out that way. So, going fully hybrid, that's definitely been the right move for the business.
But, I equally understand the value of us all getting together and our team meetings. We might have a lot of them on Zoom or sorry Google meets now, but the value when we get together is huge. And it's so important that we have those human interactions in person.
Liv Morley 25:03
Yeah. And as you just mentioned there with Google, we've just recently fully integrated to Google Workspace haven't we? And that has been a move and an action to become more collaborative as a team and to be able to collaborate on pieces of work. And then for multiple team members to come together, and really apply their own expertise to a piece of work so that we can always deliver the best possible piece of work to every client. And I think that's been a success.
Going back to the successes we were discussing earlier. That's been a very recent success for us. And I suppose COVID, and how we've adapted to work together, but from home, that set that in motion, this move to Google and how we can collaborate online from the comfort of our own home. I feel like COVID kind of set that in motion a little bit and now we've perfected that completely. And it seems like we're at the end point now, where we're doing really well and where everything translates really well between us as a team.
Zachary Greaves 26:09
So true. Yeah, I think it was always important to optimise our processes and make them as efficient as possible to ease and aid that communication between us and our clients too.
You know, it's not a finished journey, it's always something that we'll be continuing to work on as Google changes and as we incorporate new ideas into the business. But it's important to have a finger firmly on the pulse there.
Liv Morley 26:40
Definitely. And in terms of post COVID, and networking, networking seems to be back with a vengeance now, doesn't it? I mean, I, as part of my new role, I'm getting a little bit more involved in the community and the marketing community, going into some marketing events, but then also wider networking events across the north of England, it’s our base really, isn't it?
So how do you feel like networking, post COVID is helping us as a business?
Zachary Greaves 27:11
Well, I could go back to the fact that there's no replacement for in person human interaction. And some of the networking events that I've attended this year so far have been remarkable in the value that they’ve brought. I recently signed up to Connect Yorkshire and that's an incredible network of business owners across the region.
But there's also talks as part of the membership, they call them masterclasses, should I say, and the value and the learnings from an hour in one of those sessions is absolutely remarkable. And I can't wait to incorporate some of those learnings into the business. But I think everybody's been craving in person networking, having experienced those nearly two years staring at a camera.
So it's great that networking is back. And there's so much opportunity out there. So, it's about making the most of it, and in fact, I’ve just received Olivia’s business cards, so she's ready with personalised business cards.
Liv Morley 28:22
Ready to get out there in the big wide world, shouting about Artus. That's what we want.
So with all those things in mind, Zach, I suppose it's valuable to consider exactly what we've learned, both of us, since the launch of Artus, and since me joining Artus in 2021. So, is there anything in particular you can think about that has stood out to you that you have learned over the last five years?
Gosh, where do you start?
I know, that's a big question.
Zachary Greaves 28:51
So many learnings. I mean, if I could talk to myself, starting out in business back in 2018, I think you don't know what you don't know. And to really seek advice and support, to listen to people don't be afraid of asking questions, but equally to stick to guns and have real faith and confidence in what you do. And I think it's very important to have a very clear direction in the way that you go in and what you're looking to achieve. But equally, don't be afraid to make mistakes. I've made some blinders over the five years.
Liv Morley 29:30
I don't know about that, Zach.
Zachary Greaves 29:33
You don't know half of them, Liv.
Liv Morley 29:35
No criminal offences, I hope it's not that bad!
Zachary Greaves 29:40
I did nearly get arrested in Poland, but that's a different story.
Liv Morley 29:43
Oh, God. That’s a story for another time.
Zachary Greaves 29:48
It was for not wearing a face mask. It wasn't anything more serious than that. But yeah.
Liv Morley 29:53
Oh, you could have told a glamorous story there, Zach.
Zachary Greaves 30:00
What about you, Liv? What are your sort of big learnings?
Liv Morley 30:03
I mean, we keep talking, we keep coming back to it, but that the real value of client interaction. I think we're building it into our process more than ever at the moment. And just we can thrive as copywriters when we have as much information as we can get from a client.
So being able to yield as much information as we can at those meeting points, and at the beginning, but then also throughout the relationship with a client to maintain that good value and good high standard of communication at all times. And to really listen and it be a communication, like I said, it be back and forth, that's when we can get the real value from our work. And that's what I'm finding is crucial to our job, really, that client interaction,
Zachary Greaves 30:54
It keeps us on track, doesn't it and ensures that we continue to build on that initial value that we create for a client. But to continue it and make sure that we continually develop that for people. Yeah, you’re so right there. And it's, it's about asking the right questions to of course.
Liv Morley 31:13
Definitely. And not being afraid to ask questions. I think, a client really values it when we can, when we have a really good discussion. And when we can get involved with their business and the real crux of what they want to get across on their website or their blog. That's when we do our best work. So always asking those questions, as you say.
And then also more generally, just never shut yourself off from new information and never shut yourself off from learning. I know you were talking there about workshops, but I always will value new information and things, people and lessons and workshops and webinars and online information and resources and reading, everything that can enhance what I can offer and then in turn what we can offer as a company. I feel like never shutting yourself off to new information and who you can learn from is key.
Zachary Greaves 32:09
So true. Yeah, I have to say that that's something that I've learned through networking, is being open to talking to anyone and really making sure those follow-ups happen. Because you just never know where a conversation may lead.
Liv Morley 32:25
Yeah, definitely. And sort of really considering not just how we can help a client, but how they can help us as well and what we can learn from them. Because that's what this whole five years of Artus and the two years that I've been here, that's that's what we've been doing. We've been developing our offering and so much so, that what we can give to people today is really valuable and great, and can help our clients to grow and thrive online.
So, on that note, I feel like the value of copywriting is really coming to fruition, not just for us, but within the industry itself. So, can you tell us just as a little bit of a final note why you think that might be? And maybe it has been an influence of current global affairs or changing trends, like what do you think that is?
Zachary Greaves 33:18
Well, I think it's the fact that people relate to people. And there's nothing quite like copywriting as a communication form in terms of conveying information, but also conveying emotion and value to people. It's there permanently. It's available at everybody's leisure and there's something very valuable about the written word in that way.
Yeah, words really have a lot of power and putting them down on a page permanent for all to see, there's nothing more powerful than that for me.
Liv Morley 33:52
Definitely. I was only reading a HubSpot article actually, which said that the third biggest trend for growth in 2023 is humanising a brand, which is so important and so interesting at this time where everything's about AI, and everyone's talking about automation, and how we can get some quick fixes to our content marketing.
And to learn that, I think it was 30% of marketers, are creating content that's reflecting a brand, that their specific brand and what makes them different, and what makes them niche and what makes them human. And that is so important and so interesting that in 2023, that's the third biggest trend. And I suppose that that's one of the reasons why copywriting and what we do and what we do from a human point of view is staying so important and that rich value in our word is just timeless.
Zachary Greaves 34:52
Timeless. Yeah, that's it. It's so interesting that we're seeing this trend when you'd really expect it to be going the other way, wouldn't you? You'd expect people to be lean into automation, but it just proves that we all crave that humanisation and human interaction is ingrained into each of our DNA, isn't it? So, I think we can all tell if something's artificial or automated, just from through our instinct, we think there's something inside that kind of resists and wrestles with it if we know it's not authentic. Yeah, humans are here to stay everyone
Liv Morley 35:36
Well, what better note to end the podcast? Thanks so much, Zach. That's been really great and congratulations on reaching five years, I think it's a great milestone. And it's a real testament, like I said earlier, to the environment that you've created and how we all love working at Artus, all of us, so that's really great. So, thank you.
Zachary Greaves 35:59
It's a testament to all of you. And thank you for being such a big part of it Liv, and congratulations on your promotion!
I’m really excited about the future with working with you. Thanks for your help and it's nice to have been on the other side of things today.
Liv Morley 36:17
Yes, I know been in the hot seat today, Zach!
Lovely. So, thanks so much to everyone for listening.
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