Connected, a member of the IMAA, celebrates its tenth anniversary, and its co-founder and CEO, Laura Hamod Barnesis proud of the development and growth of the agency.
Barnes spoke to Media Week on the agency’s early years and how it flourished during the pandemic to make 2021 one of its best years.
Barnes recalled how she and her husband, co-founder and chief executive of Connected Joshua Barnes, encountered at Southern Cross Austereo. They then moved to Yahoo7, where they ran their own teams – Joshua led search and performance, while Laura was responsible for direct sales and business partnerships.
In 2012, they created their independent digital agency in Sydney and welcomed their first child the following year.
The couple then made the strategic decision to move to the coast in the seaside suburb of Thirroul for their growing family, a better lifestyle and for more flexibility.
The proximity to the sea has proven positive for the business as it has attracted like-minded professionals seeking a change of scenery away from the hustle and bustle of big agencies.
“We generally find that being near the beach has helped lift our spirits, with less time spent commuting and a healthier work-life balance. Plus, people still have the option of working from home or the office,” Barnes added.
In the beginning, the company was just a small team. Barnes revealed that his team has grown to 20 people over the past five years, including seven new recruits over the past six months.
The digital agency prides itself on partnering with its clients to unlock performance and drive business growth.
She explained, “Being an independent agency, clients have access to Josh and I as well as our management team. This wealth of experience gives clients specialized access to strengthen their teams and elevate their marketing efforts. It’s not just about managing the media and being a booking service for them; we look at all aspects of their business to unlock growth and get the most out of their marketing spend.
“I would say that we generally operate as a true extension of our client’s business, involved in every part of it. This is probably the reason why we also retained long-term customers.
Some of Connected’s early customers – who are still with them today – are event promoter Success Resources, Scentia Group and Trend Micro.
“The agency has really transformed due to Covid, and we’ve seen tremendous growth over the last couple of years thanks to a refreshed go-to-market strategy,” Barnes explained.
During the pandemic, the company added 16 new customers, including IMB Bank, My Plan Manager, Dr Roebucks, Teachers Union Health, Il Tutto & Soft Mats baby products and Octet.
“Overall I would say revenue is up over 30% year over year. It was a very big 18 months to two years of integration.
“Our team has done an incredible job of onboarding as many clients as we have and maintaining our existing client base. It’s been very transformative. We’ve been able to break into new areas.
“It’s not all because of the pandemic. Our business was eight years old when the pandemic hit, so we’ve just entered that mature phase,” Barnes added.
Looking to the milestone year ahead, Barnes said he hoped to grow his new office in Queensland which serves his Brisbane-based clients.
About the IMAA
Connected joined IMAA last year, which Barnes says helps them feel represented and gives them access to key industry updates.
“It’s refreshing to be part of a network that encourages collaboration between independent agencies across Australia,” she added.
Barnes also said the IMAA has done great things for many agencies, especially the credit insurance deal, which she says has been amazing for Connected.