After years of working in digital advertising in London, my co-founder Clàudia and I decided to take a break from our successful careers to travel the world, breathe in the air and eat great food. I spent months working with sea turtles in Costa Rica, and Clàudia travelled the east coast of Australia. We eventually met up in a vineyard in Waiheke, and then found ourselves stranded, unexpectedly, on the North Island in New Zealand when Coronavirus took the world by storm in March of this year. 

While we sat it out on the beach for weeks on end, we slowly emerged from our eat-pray-love bubble and started asking ourselves ‘what’s next once we return to the UK?’ 

Clàudia and I have worked together for seven years, and we are a pretty awesome team; we have complete opposite personalities (or so all the tests say!), which means we balance each other out perfectly and are always on the same wavelength. We had always talked about starting a business together, so a couple of glasses of wine later, we decided to roll up our sleeves and commit to it, world pandemic or not! Then and there, POD Studios was born, from a little Airbnb by the sea in Whitianga, New Zealand. 

Business development, contracts, operations, profit, loss and ROI… These are, no doubt some of the key considerations when you start out on your own. However, the first thing that came to our minds was none other than values

Self-reflection is a humbling process that can be incredibly positive and empowering. Somewhere in the midst of our daily strolls, we thought a lot about what was most important in our working lives, what made us successful and why digital advertising is still our passion after all these years. 

It comes down to being human, open and honest in all aspects. And this is our commitment to our clients, our partnerships and ourselves. 

So what does a value-based digital marketing business look like and how can it help to drive growth? 

Define your goals; be honest, realistic and most importantly keep it simple. 

 Ask yourself the following questions:

● Consider how your business objectives look right now and in the future — are your values aligned with your long-term goals? 

● Can your values be upheld whilst you scale? 

● What do you want your business to be focused on: diversity and inclusion, donating to causes that are important to you or giving back to the community? Maybe the answer is ‘all of the above’, and that’s great!

A clear definition is key, as this gives clarity to you and those around you. Don’t fall into the trap of treating this as a box-ticking exercise; don’t list values that you feel you should have but ones you truly believe in. 

Consider your values and apply, apply, apply

Ok great, so you have your values; they’re written down and stuck on the wall. 

Take these and apply them when making decisions in the day-to-day running and operations of the business, whether that’s when working with new partners, hiring teammates or pitching for new business. If you have a co-founder, check-in and talk about whether the decisions you’re making are aligned with your goals. 

This process should not be linear. Embrace a circular mentality with a clear feedback loop.  

Commit and let the actions speak louder than the words

‘Consider’ is the thought, and ‘Commit’ is the action. It’s so important to back up what you are talking about, what you’re posting on social media and how you work with partners and suppliers. 

One brand that we have seen grow and consistently commit to their original’ impact pact’ across all areas of their business; from supply chain to operations is Knickey. Their Impact Pact states, “These days, all kinds of brands are chirping about ‘sustainability,’ ‘eco-friendliness’, and ‘all-natural ingredients’. What’s a girl to believe? That’s why we’re cutting through the marketing speak with hardass facts.'”

The actions need to be pervasive within the business, and there are four key areas that can show how you can commit to supporting your values-statement: 

● Financially

● Time

● Skills 

● Process 

Instil the values to deepen meaning and Impact 

As Brian Chesky said: “The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.” And what better foundation for company culture than values? 

Instilling values in culture make it easier for your business to be guided by these values. As businesses grow, these important ideas can get lost or misinterpreted, so it’s key to be constantly reminded of what they are and what they mean. 

In summary…

The world is in a flux, and uncertainty continues to loom over us. But what doesn’t change (and shouldn’t change) are the values that we believe in and the values that guide us forward. At POD Studios, we want to capture the essence of this value-based mentality and carry those values in every single decision we make, from who we work with, how we deliver value and which causes we align ourselves with. It’s our north star in this fast-changing world that doesn’t always make sense; a pointer that guides us towards a more human, open and honest future. 

You can find Pod Studios here:

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Yee Phillips & Claudia Baldellou

Yee Phillips & Claudia Baldellou

About your authors

Yee and Clàudia founded POD studios, a values-based digital marketing business, after working agency-side for the best part of a decade. Over the years they have worked with a variety of advertisers across verticals; including start-ups and some of the world’s biggest brands such as Airbnb, eBay and Swarovski.

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