Alan Boyce, managing director, Axonn Media
Miranda Dobson

Behind the business with Axonn Media

London-based Axonn Media is a content marketing agency with offices in Manchester and Leeds. Alan Boyce, managing director at the company spoke to Bdaily, to take us behind the business.

What challenges has your company recently faced?

We constantly have to innovate to stay competitive. While we have some amazing, creative people working at the cutting edge, it can be challenging to ensure the company’s culture adapts to widening our product range and the ever-broadening terms of engagement.

One of the ways we did this was by changing our name at the start of the year, to Axonn Media from Adfero. It was an important symbolic recognition that we were no longer an online news or SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) business, but a content marketing business.

What is your biggest achievement in the last 12 months?

The state of provision of content marketing services in continental Europe is well behind the English-speaking world. That makes perfect sense when English is the universal language of the internet, and it represents a huge opportunity for companies like ours.

We take the lessons we have learned in the most competitive online environments and help organisations elsewhere punch above their weight. In the last year, we have made significant inroads into a number of North European domestic markets and we hope to keep up and increase that momentum.

What is your most important focus for the coming year and what do you hope to achieve?

In the last few years, the big cultural challenge has been to make the case for content marketing. That’s no longer the case – the argument has been won. Content marketing is demonstrably the most cost-effective form of online marketing.

Today, the challenge is to make the case for doing your content marketing with an outsourced specialist like Axonn Media, rather than trying to do it yourself.

What excites you most about your industry and business?

Three completely different things.

Firstly, success in content marketing depends on experimentation and agility – and working with as many partners as we do gives us the ability to experiment across hundreds of different variables. The challenge is to interpret all that data correctly, which is exciting.

Secondly, I like working in such a collaborative industry. There are hundreds of businesses in the UK working in online marketing, but none of them occupy exactly the same space. There is so much willingness to share experience and a real collective sense of striving to make things better for clients.

Finally, I believe that we are making the internet a better place. Content marketing puts publishers and audiences on the same level – “interruption” marketing does not treat the audience as a dialogue partner. The great advance from the SEO era to the content marketing era is that ideas and human interests have been put back at centre stage.

What do you wish you’d known when starting out?

Never to be satisfied with what you’ve just done, but to immediately start looking for the clues to what the next iteration will be while remaining aware of where the next game-changer may emerge from. Online marketing is in a state of permanent revolution – and that is a good thing.

What will be the next “big thing“ in your industry and how do you plan to handle it?

For years, search – Google Search specifically – has completely dominated online marketing. Today, search – and techniques like SEO aimed at exploiting it – has to share space with other environments for discovery and sharing. The decentring of search in online marketing is the fundamental challenge ahead.

With every improvement, internet users’ expectations of quality, ease and experience ratchet upwards. There is no going backwards, but nor is the path ahead obvious.

We will keep our eyes on the horizon, but without losing sight of the fact that success in content marketing today and tomorrow will depend on putting interesting and valuable information in front of the right people at the right time.

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