Kathryn Strachan is the owner and Managing Director of Copy House – a UK leading content marketing agency that specialises in technology and FinTech. Over the last two years, Kathryn has grown her freelance writing business into a 13 person agency by making clever choices for her team that has led them to thrive, even throughout COVID-19. Here is the story of how Kathryn gained her entrepreneurial spirit, her values in business, and her continuing journey with Copy House.
Tell me about Copy House?
Copy House is a content marketing agency specialising in technology and FinTech. We are only two years in business and growing really quickly, with over 900% growth since we first got started – it’s been a fantastic trajectory that is both really exciting and really scary all at the same time. We are located in Edinburgh; however, we want to attract the right talent and clients, and they are not always going to be specific to one city. So I like to think of us as a timezone-based company covering the UK and Europe.
When it comes to what we do for our business clients, we support content throughout its lifecycle. So we can start at the very beginning with brands through our workshops which support them in building out the basics like customer avatars, tone of voice, and core messaging. Simply put, we’ll create a digital strategy based on their business goals that will incorporate SEO, content creation of various forms, followed by content dissemination. Ensuring the written work Copy House creates, reaches, and engages with as many consumers for the brand as possible.
Why did you start your own business?
I guess I’ve been raised with an entrepreneurial mindset. My dad’s an entrepreneur, and two of his three children turned out to have their own businesses too. I grew up in a household where I was watching somebody take risks all the time, make business decisions, and pursue ideas, so it felt like a pretty natural progression.
After working for agencies for a while, I saw opportunities to do things better – lots of agencies have a really great culture, but they also had a really high churn rate in their employees. So I felt that I could create something that would positively benefit a team and make them want to stay. I also saw a market gap because very few companies can create good content about technical areas. Most copywriting agencies prefer to focus on travel and lifestyle or health and beauty because these things are much ‘sexier’ topics to write about. But there’s a real need for technology companies to have good content because they are trying to do something innovative that nobody has seen before. So they really need content to educate the consumer, but they have almost nobody who can deliver it, which then creates this fascinating market gap for us to occupy.
What are your values, and what role do they play in your business and personal life?
My core values always come back to helping people – I want to make the world a better place, and when I leave it (which hopefully isn’t anytime soon!) I want it to be better because I was here.
When it comes to how that looks across the business, we’re starting the B-Corp process that will certify Copy House as a business that cares about Profits, Planets and People. We are the type of business that is not just 100% focused on profit because we care about making a social impact and being the best employer for our staff.
What are the high points of your journey so far?
Definitely watching some of our employees grow and develop. One person, in particular, comes to mind, who has been here for just over a year. When he first joined the team, he was shy and lacked a lot of self-confidence. I’ve been able to play a direct role in helping nurture him into somebody who can quite confidently tackle very complicated subjects. His learning trajectory is impressive, I can’t believe it’s only been a year because he’s made incredible progress – and that makes me really proud.
The fact that we weathered COVID is also a significant high point for us. I’ve managed to make some pretty intelligent decisions at the beginning of the pandemic that allowed us to slingshot out of it, and we never furloughed any employees. We went out and fought for the work, even though our pipeline took a cliff dive, and we’ve become a very resilient team because of the experience. We continue to build a team that can weather storms, a team that really has each other’s backs and is rapidly growing and developing into some pretty incredible, awesomely talented people.
What marketing tactics have worked best for you and helped to fuel your rapid growth?
Before COVID, I never fully realised the value of a network, but I believe the more people you know, the better your business will do. For me, building a network just opened so many opportunities, and it is a great way to bring in leads to get referrals for the agency. On top of that, I try to do one public speaking event each week, Copy House hosts monthly events around our thought leadership, and I have a strong presence on LinkedIn. All those things have allowed me to build a following and relationships, making it easier to secure speaking events and attract people to the business. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day – creating engaging conversations and connecting with people. Doing the networking and the speaking events ensures that you’re having those impactful conversations with thirty, forty people at once. Then, they remember you later down the line because it resonated with them. So my marketing tip is to find a way to scale connections, relationships and conversations for your brand.
What are your future goals for Copy House?
I’d like to bring us up to £5 million in five years. I want to expand the Copy House service offering to more than just content and SEO. We’ve been hiring like crazy recently, with four people joining the team this month. I’m also hiring for a graphic designer because I’m planning for us to expand into design. Then by the time we hit that five-year goal, I envision that we will have three different departments that all offer very robust services for content marketing strategy.
And finally, what have you learned since you started your business and do you have any advice for other business owners?
That you can have a successful business and be a nice person. Twenty years ago, people thought you had to be ruthless and cutthroat to own a business and succeed. But it doesn’t need to be like that – the more people you help, the more reciprocity you build, the more they want to help you in return, then the better your business does. That power of a network has opened so many doors for me. I would advise anyone starting a business to remember that.
I think another thing I’ve learned with the rapid growth of Copy House is to take care of others and yourself. You need a team, which means you need to treat them well. You also need advisors and suppliers, which means you need to treat them well too. But amongst all of that, it’s easy to lose yourself and not make time to get your own headspace. As a business owner, it’s easy to just push yourself to keep working. I can probably work all the hours in the day and still have things to do – but taking that break to go for a run, get outside or just care for yourself is necessary. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anybody else. It’s like RuPaul says; if you can’t love yourself, how the hell can you love somebody else?