Interview: Gareth Morgan, MD of Liberty Marketing

Gareth Morgan is the managing director of Liberty, a Cardiff-based digital marketing firm. It was recently named one of the best agencies in the UK by tech giant Google.

We speak to Gareth about what his company does, its success and where he sees it in the future. He also offers some sound advice to people looking to set a tech start-up in Wales.

TD: Can you tell us more about yourself and your business, please?

GM: I’m a digital marketer by trade, having started following a marketing degree and then a few roles in the finance and technology sectors. In 2008, I started Liberty Marketing, a digital marketing agency that offers search engine marketing, digital advertising, content marketing and social media services to organisations and businesses throughout Wales, the UK and even further afield.

TD: What makes it unique?

GM: Liberty really tries to innovate and come up with great campaigns for clients that get them attention whilst allowing us to try out new things. This approach enables us to help clients out-manoeuvre their rivals without spending a fortune. Our pioneer-style approach has helped us win awards for our work and recognition from partners such as Google and the marketing work of some of the most interesting brands.

TD: How does it benefit clients?

GM: We help clients in a number of ways. Intangible things like brand awareness through to greater website traffic, more social audience, greater sales and enquiries, and ultimately profit. One of our main goals is to generate a higher ROI than other agencies they have used. We also offer consulting and training for many clients which helps their internal teams develop their knowledge and skills.

TD: What sort of projects have you been working on?

GM: A huge variety. We probably have the most eclectic client list of any agency I know. Current projects include a social media consulting and training job for the B2B side of Welsh Government, helping a US based cosmetics firm take over the UK and a new tech start-up find their feet online. We work with small and large businesses, some one-off and some on retainer. It keeps things interesting, though it can be hard work to manage it all!

TD: Why did you set it up, and how far have you come? 

GM: I set it up as I used to be a digital marketing manager and had problems finding a decent agency. Whether it was poor customer service or agencies lying about what they did for their fee, I thought that I could do it better. I started it off in my spare bedroom nearly 8 years ago, and now we’re the largest team of digital marketers in Wales and we get to work on some of the most exciting projects in the industry. It’s been a fantastic experience to date and we still have a long way to go.

TD: What’s been your biggest success and your biggest obstacle?

GM: The biggest success has probably been our partnership with Google. Due to our innovative approach and use of the latest advertising features, our very low client loss and our strong customer service, they made us one of their partner agencies and we are in the top tier. This means they work with us to help grow the agency and assist our clients. The partnership is unique in Wales, so really helps us stand out in what has become quite a crowded marketplace.

The biggest obstacle has been finding the right staff. Fortunately, at the moment we have an amazing team and I’m so proud of what they are achieving, but it’s taken a huge amount of work to get to where we are. There is a limited talent pool in South Wales, so it’s a struggle at times.

We’re currently recruiting and have introduced staff incentives to attract the right staff for Liberty.

TD: What do you think of the Welsh tech scene?

GM: There are some very exciting new start-ups in Wales right now. A benefit of my job is that I get to meet loads of new and established tech companies, and I’ve been very impressed with what’s going on in Wales. There are some really innovative ideas I’m aware of in the healthcare, finance and B2B sectors. I have seen a number of them also raise finance recently, which has traditionally been the barrier, so it looks like we are entering a golden period where Welsh start-ups and entrepreneurs are being taken more seriously.

TD: How is your business contributing to it?

GM: Liberty has been advising some of them how to make the most of their digital marketing. We’ve consulted on things like social strategies, competitor research, advertising options, ROI models, etc. so they can use this info to show investors and help raise finance. We also help them then prove the concept quickly with some smart, targeted campaigns. We’ve also helped some export easier and quicker, by setting up adverts targeting overseas customers that drum up new business without them having to travel and spend valuable time in each country.

TD: Where do you see yourself in five and ten years? 

GM: In 5 years I’d like Liberty to be one of the largest agencies in the UK, maybe even with more offices. By then I think it’s inevitable that we have a full-time London office, as we spend so much time in that city already. Regarding services and projects, there are so many options and paths we can take it’ll be interesting to see what happens. In 10 years? No idea, I can’t think that far ahead. Hopefully I’ll be retired, as I’ll be too old for the fast paced agency life.

TD: What advice would you give to someone looking to set up a tech start-up? 

GM: Research the market properly. I see too many people spend years working on an idea that just doesn’t go anywhere because of blind ambition and following assumptions, rather than data. Not all ideas are good ideas, especially first time around, so find out what the market appetite is, what rivals are doing and how you can differentiate, etc and adapt your business to suit. Free tools like the Google Keyword Tool can help you establish the demand and the cost to advertise and you can monitor competitor social activity to see how much interest there is.