What do you get when you blend the insights of a digital entrepreneur with the discipline of traditional marketing? You get a company called Aamplify, a darling of marketing across Australasia.
By any measure, the meteoric rise of Aamplify over four years in New Zealand and Australian markets has been a success. Now employing 25 people in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne, Aamplify could be truly said to understand the psyche of the new economy more than most marketing companies.
So how did Aamplify manage to capture the Australian market by storm?
One reason is the digital entrepreneurship credentials of the managing partner of Aamplify – Sam Williams.
Sam earned his stripes in major international markets. In 1994, he began working in Australia for a company involved in the (then) sharp end of telephone messaging systems. His job was developing new markets.
When the opportunity came up for him to work in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, he leapt at it. As chief strategy officer of a well-funded Silicon Valley phone messaging start-up (Blue Silicon), he began thinking about how to inject brand experience into every aspect of its audio product.
“It took me to the UK, where I recorded the late Roger Moore to be our voice on the Blue Silicon system,” he says.
“It was a major step in understanding marketing. Roger gave us a point of distinction and differentiation. While Blue Silicon didn’t reach the velocity and scale required, it consolidated my thinking about how to get traction in a new market with different cultural values from your home.”
Sam later came back to Southern California as the vice president of a New Zealand organisation there.
“I experienced career and life lessons that I knew could be applied to help a Kiwi business punch above its weight on the world market,” he says. “I understood the start-up mentality. I developed and deployed market and business strategies and was also tactical.
“All of these things you’re forced to do as a start-up in a new country, when you simply have to make things happen.”
Aamplify started out boldly in 2012. Sam cherry-picked his work fellows, with the idea that Aamplify would re-define marketing “from the client side”.
“Aamplify didn’t just employ people with an agency background,” he says. “It came from people who our clients know have actually deployed and applied the things we’re advising them to do. Because of our experience, we can react and think far more pragmatically than most agencies. Our clients relate to that more readily.”
Moving into Australia, Sam’s global experience kicked in. He found that what was lacking in agencies in New Zealand, was also lacking in Australia. Consequently, the business grew.
“We have been redefining marketing because we’ve previously been marketers inside major organisations,” he says. “Aamplify is a mixture of right-brain creatives with left-brain logical and practical people. We’re also a mixture of ages – mature and millennials together. Consequently, we connect with the new economy and understand digital and traditional marketing.”
Aamplify has also harnessed what Sam learnt from living and working internationally for decades.
Sam’s 7 tips for Australian expansion:
- Australia and New Zealand have different personalities. People’s outlook is different. Australia is pro-Australia. Serve Australian needs, the Australian way.
- Meet face to face. Australians see New Zealand as another state. But they prefer Australians and prefer doing business locally. You need to have a ‘trump card’ to do business. Having a strong relationship with a well-known global brand (e.g. Microsoft, IBM) will help you.
- Choose the state you wish to operate in, carefully. There are different hoops to jump through in the eight different states e.g. tax codes and rules. Then layer over that federal legislation and regulation!
- Each state is like a country in terms of business personality. Victorians are notoriously conservative in how they do business. Those in NSW are faster to move and take risks.
- There’s more red tape for business overall in Australia than in NZ. Get help from those that know and who’ve had experience.
- Keep your costs down. People are paid about 30 percent more, so keep most of your labour in New Zealand. There are higher lease costs. Spend wisely.
- Grow your thinking about scale. Australia is a much bigger market than New Zealand. You can benefit from this and free trade (CER) helps that. Leverage it.
“Play small, you get small,” he says.“We were ambitious for growth. We’ve focused on catching bigger fish or enterprise clients. Key work we’ve captured has propelled us to other work with large clients.
“We never saw New Zealand as our market. It was a stepping-off point to build an Australasian business. Technology has been our friend. For instance, video conferencing has changed what’s possible. In some ways, it doesn’t matter whether you’re down the road or in another country these days.”
With digital technology now shaping both brand and location, the future for Aamplify is exciting.
“Agile enterprises will continue to embrace us because we hold onto the outlook in marketing that they already use in their business strategies,” he says.
“Marketing has changed forever, and the wise are jumping on board.”