April 14, 2023 Manor News

Our 20th Anniversary!

Going back three years to when we celebrated our 20th Anniversary in 2021 with our own gin!

Manor Spirit 

Manor Marketing, one of the most respected marketing and communications agencies in the broadcast and media industry, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. Industry veteran Dick Hobbs chatted with the founder of Manor Marketing, Jennie Marwick-Evans. 

We’ve known each other for a very long time. How did you first get dragged into this strange and unique industry? 

Growing up in Newbury, UK, the two big employers in the town were Bayer and Quantel. When I left college at 18, I picked Quantel – a very good choice in the end. 

I spent three years at Quantel, where I supported the sales team. In those days you had secretaries, and I did the typing, making sure all was well. Quantel was very good to me: they sent me on courses to learn Spanish, and they flew me to the Montreux exhibition on the company jet (I think the jet was going anyway – I just sat in a spare seat)! 

It was the absolute heyday of Quantel, and that sales team of 11 included some legends of the industry, who are still friends and colleagues now. I was proud to be part of ground-breaking technology that is still talked about today. 

So, three years at the leading light in the UK broadcast market. Where next? 

I did a couple of other jobs, but ended up at a company called Alpha Image, where I was PA to MC Patel, who is still a massive part of my life today.  

Alpha Image was acquired by Dynatech Video Group and, as I was on the spot, people gave me stuff to do. I got involved in internal sales and marketing, which is where I learned my trade. I ended up running the European operation of Utah Scientific, another Dynatech company. I can still tell you all you need to know about routers – just ask me! 

I naturally got to look at the competition, and it was very clear to me that there were a lot of British companies coming up with very clever products, that did not know how to sell them. So, I set up my first company, Jet Video Systems, acting as a distributor for some of them. 

One of my biggest clients was Metawave Video Systems, and they tempted me to join them as sales and marketing director. I was with them as they were acquired by another broadcast manufacturer, and by 2001 I was looking for another challenge. 

I was well-known by then, and a lot of companies tried to entice me. But I had sold against them in the past and I felt it would feel uncomfortable suddenly changing sides. So, in 2001 I set up my own agency. I was living in Manor Place at the time, so I called the company Manor Marketing. 

Setting up on your own is exciting and scary. I know: I’ve done it. Who were the clients that got you going? 

The first clients were Pro-bel and Chyron. Others, like TSL and IABM, followed on quickly. Since then, I’ve been fortunate – we’ve always attracted clients without having to aggressively sell ourselves. 

Your background is in sales, the company says marketing, and you are often thought of as a PR business. What is Manor Marketing? 

I am really clear about this. Our job is to help the clients get the purchase order. We use lots of techniques and tactics, but the only point is to make sure our client companies sell more of their technology, and that they are regarded as the obvious choice. 

Because I’ve done everything from making the tea to sales direction, I understand what it takes. I’m still a sales girl at heart, but now I get my commercial fix through marketing, promoting the brand and drawing on the expertise of the clients to help them win sales and therefore, recognition. And I still make the tea!  

How do you recruit, retain and motivate your team? 

I’m never going to ask anyone to do a job I haven’t done myself. And I do those jobs now as required. 

But I’m very definitely a people person, and enjoy working with colleagues to get the best out of them – and fill them with my enthusiasm, I hope. I love employing new graduates, building their confidence and capabilities, and challenging them to be the best they can be. It’s the same with people coming back to work after a break, for whatever reason. Everyone deserves a chance to be proud of themselves. That’s one of my drivers. 

One other important team principle. I expect us all to work hard and be boundlessly enthusiastic. Until 5.30. Then we all go home and do our own things. I regard getting the work/life balance right to be vitally important. Of course, people who know me well would say that for me, this is an aspiration not always successfully practised… 

I’m also excited by new technology and new ways of doing things. I thrive on challenge, and risk. At one time we solely relied on the trade press to get our news out. Now things move much faster, and we can directly message potential purchasers with tailored messages, for example. We use social media carefully but extensively. As the world changes, what we do has to change too. Business continuity is now the theme, with digital marketing and communications the route. 

Many of the team have stayed with me for years. Some have even left to set up their own agencies! That’s fine – the market is big enough for a number of excellent marketing communications businesses. 

How would you encapsulate the way you do business? 

The first thing to say is that I take trust, responsibility and reputation very seriously. I’ve been around a very long time, know many key players, and my passion for the industry is still as strong as ever. That’s obvious in my long-standing involvement with organisations like the RTS and IABM, as well as IBC and NAB. 

That principle leads into our association with clients. We are not a distant service. We see ourselves as embedded in their business, a part of their team. They trust us to just get on with it. 

That’s why the reputation for trust is important: our clients can freely discuss their long-term strategies with us, which makes us very much more valuable than being reactive. Putting out a press release for a new product or a sale is important, of course, but even more important is building the market for that product or creating the path to winning that sale. 

And in turn, it means our clients stay with us far longer than is typical, which I continue to find flattering. 

Taking that further, I am regularly asked to be a consultant or marketing director for client companies. I am currently marketing director for three businesses, steering their operations to build commercial success.  

So: 20 years. How are you marking the anniversary? 

We thought about our values as a company. Trust and confidentiality. Reliability – if we promise something, then it will be there on time. Insights. Constant innovation, like digital tools and social media. Understanding. 

And enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is at the heart of everything we do. 

That, we felt, was the Manor spirit. And so, to celebrate, we created Manor Spirit, our own blend of gin. It took a lot of research, tasting and testing to get it right: a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. I’m really looking forward to playing Santa this year!  

What next? 

More of the same. The team – including a couple of recent recruits – is still excited by the work of our clients, and the industry in general. Our clients cover every aspect of the business, from lip sync to video compression pre-processing, subtitling to servers, playout automation to augmented reality. 

We know and understand the media industry. It’s changing so fast at the moment, through the shift to IT hardware and principles, and the sudden enforced rush into remote production and the cloud. There is more than enough to keep us occupied: I have no desire to weaken our core values by moving into other markets. 

Our current crop of clients all have order books that are constantly being filled. We have plenty to do! 

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