Claire co-founded The Audit Lab in 2017 and is passionate about communication, as well as providing top results for clients.
Bolton-based The Audit Lab provides services across paid and organic marketing – priding itself on not overcomplicating the marketing process for clients. It offers support on PPC, paid social, remarketing, digital PR, and content marketing.
The boutique agency uses data to inform all its decisions, and works with clients including Chinti and Parker, Original Penguin and Farah.
We found out what lessons Claire’s learnt in her life and work…
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
I try to work out before work as much as possible. Being active is really important to me so I try to squeeze in an hour of exercise in the morning whenever I can. I really find this sets a positive tone and creates a great headspace to tackle my working day; it makes me feel confident and that I can tackle even the world’s longest to-do list.
Now, reality check, this exercise goal of mine isn’t always viable with two toddlers running riot, but if I make the effort I do notice a big difference in my mood and motivation when my day starts off with endorphins. And a heavy dose of caffeine, too.
What’s been your luckiest break?
I’m not a massive believer in luck. I think the path we take in our career and life is all down to the choices we make and the opportunities we create for ourselves. What I am a big believer in is taking chances and not letting things hold you back. The worst thing people can say is no.
What’s your best failure?
Without a doubt it was not knowing my numbers in a pitch meeting early on in my career. I thought I could wing it and dazzle the client-to-be when, in all honesty, I couldn’t remember any numbers in the midst of pitch nerves. It was a mega fail and something that taught me a lot of lessons.
Take the time to know your pitch, your numbers and any potential questions that could come your way, along with the proper answers. Preparation is key! You can never over-prepare. In that particular pitch I realised I was too heavily focused on making the slides look fantastic rather than the detail on them. It’s something I still catch myself doing now, and try to educate the team on with any current pitches.
Substance over style, always.
What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?
People. Ever since I co-founded The Audit Lab, I wanted there to be a heavy focus on our people. They’re what makes the gears turn and what keeps the agency going, so how could we not see them as our greatest investment?
Investing in my team means ensuring they have all the resources and training opportunities they need to stay ahead of the curve. Whether that’s training seminars, online lectures, events, books or even just a sit down with their manager’s manager, we’re always open to as much training as possible.
With an ever-changing market it’s important to know the latest dos and don’ts in search marketing, an area that’s also hyper-competitive. I want my team to be the best around in order to continuously deliver fantastic results for our clients. And if that means spending on training then so be it; it’s a very worthwhile investment.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
If I had to pick just one, then it would be ‘Unf*ck Yourself’ by Gary John Bishop.
It stands out in my mind because it’s just a really honest read on being present in your own life and making changes for the better. I found it presented a different spin on most self-help books which can sometimes be – in my opinion – a bit vague and airy.
‘Unf*ck Yourself’ has a completely no-nonsense approach to its subject with some inspiring sections to actually do more in your day-to-day, focus on you and stop waiting for things to happen. It’s got realistic action points that you can follow, rather than something that’s general and empty.
I found it to be just the pick-me-up I needed after a tough few months running an agency during a global pandemic.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Live in the moment. Oh, and train yourself to become a great listener – although this is something I am still working on at 32. And don’t expect things to happen immediately, everything worthwhile takes time.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Without a shadow of a doubt it has to be my dad. He’s hard-working, patient and loyal, which are three traits that I think are invaluable in business. He really is my inspiration and go-to for daily advice whether it’s about the agency or life in general. I don’t know what I’d do without him!
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
A lot of people don’t know that I’m actually qualified in WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) exams to an advanced level, and I’m also working towards a diploma in the not too distant future. I would also love to retire to Spain or France and own a vineyard.
How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?
Early on in the pandemic, I wrote a piece on how working would never be the same again after COVID, and things have already started to change permanently.
The biggest change – as I’m sure many people have found – is adapting to working remotely. While it does have its challenges, we’ve found that having staff working from home on a more permanent basis has strengthened communication and built trust within The Audit Lab’s different departments. I’ve always believed that open and honest communication is essential for a great working environment.
And from a wellbeing point of view, we feel like having the opportunity to work from home has given people the work-life balance that they didn’t even realise they needed. A couple of our people have young children, including me, and not only does it mean being able to be there for the school or nursery run, but it also means family dinners at the dining room table and playing board games – things that were usually reserved for weekends. It’s something good that I think has come out of the nightmare that was 2020.
What does success look like to you?
Well, from a purely business standpoint it’s company growth and profitability, of course. Who doesn’t want to see their business baby grow and grow? But from a wellbeing point of view, I want to keep on ensuring that employee happiness is always at the forefront of our values, no matter how big we get or who we bring on board as a client. That’s something that we’ve prioritised since we made our first hire and I don’t want it to disappear because of financial success.
Oh, and having a healthy work-life balance is key for me with having a family, and I want the same for my staff. We always work with our people to achieve that balance, whatever the solution may be. If my people are happy, then I know we’ve succeeded.