Specialists in connecting brands to youth audiences

Rocket are a marketing and content business that helps brands and organisations better understand and better engage youth, children and family audiences. As specialists in reaching this audience, they now have over 12 years of experience in the field.

James takes some time out to speak to Business Matters.

What is the main problem you solve for your customers?

We use social media, influencer marketing, media partnerships and content to reach brands target audiences. We have to deliver outcomes for our customers – sales, measured brand uplift, downloads – we are focused on how to measure success for our activity and what we can do to solve business challenges, not just marketing challenges  The problem we solve is knowing the right mix of content and media to achieve the desired outcomes for our customers.

What made you start your business – did you want to rock the status quo or was it a gap in the marketplace that you could fill?

It was an attitude and a spirit of being a pioneer. We were amongst the first to work with social media advertising in the UK and we knew that the use of content when engaging children, parents and families had to change – so we changed it. We were amongst the first to trial influencer marketing and changed it to work harder for our clients. Now clients look to us to change how things are traditionally done in order to make them work harder to achieve results.

What are your brand values?

We are agile, we are innovative and we are committed to making a difference – without these I think our customer base would have stopped working with us a long time ago. Because we are able to be innovative and bespoke, it means we can work on something designed to work to achieve our customers results.

Do your values define your decision making process?

To a point, yes! We ensure that our responses are always innovative, creative and agile. We are also careful to do what we responsibly – ensuring when we target children we do it in such a way that we remain very much within the guidelines/regulations as well as focusing on what’s effective.

Is team culture integral to your business?

Hugely. I know this is something of a cliché but we try to foster a family atmosphere. We always try to focus on taking our work very seriously and not ourselves too seriously!

We also ensure we respect each other and know there is more than one way of completing a task and that this can vary depending on who is moving it forward.

What do you do to go the extra mile to to show your team you appreciate them?

Some obvious things, some less obvious things. We have a “yes” management style – always trying to say ‘yes, but……..’ to new ideas and initiatives with a caveat of what the new idea might do to help us achieve our wider goals and objectives.

We try to finish at 3:30pm on a Friday. We have regular quarterly meetings and team nights out. We give people their birthday off (or the day afterwards) and everyone gets a Christmas shopping day.

What’s your take on inflation and interest rates – are you going to pass that on to your customers or let your margins take a hit and reward customer loyalty in these tougher times?

We have been working with a some of our customers at brands and organisations for as long as 8 or 9 years so the relationships have weathered all sorts of storms! At the moment the social media ad market is looking like advertisers are going to be paying a slight premium, but we have not yet seen that cause day-to-day problems with campaigns so far.

How often do you assess the data you pull in and address your KPIs and why?

Constantly. We have 12 years of campaign data in a number of key verticals and targeting key target audiences.

So, this means we know (for example) what children want from a new book and what parents want from a new book for their children….. Parents tend to focus more on the author , children tend to focus on the characters or narrative – for example.

We know which social platforms are likely to help drive family ticket sales for an attraction and which social platforms are effective at driving ‘date nights’ at a different attraction.

This campaign data helps ensure we are able to be responsive in our targeting and are able to achieve better results.

Is tech playing a much larger part in your day-to-day running of Rocket?

We have always involved tech and social media data in the planning of our creative content and distribution.

What is your attitude to your competitors?

There are some excellent content and marketing businesses / agencies that service those wanting to target youth, children’s and family audiences. In some ways it is important to know where we fit.

It is very easy to get caught up in what competitors are doing and not focus on the work you are doing. We also understand that sometimes we won’t be the right partner for every brand and organisation that want to work with us and vice versa. Developing and understanding as to what makes a perfect relationship means it is easier to not obsess over competitors.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in business?

Think really hard about whether you want to! Running a business, being a shareholder or Director of a business is NOT for everyone. Many people may well prefer their role in a business that doesn’t involve the shaping the strategic growth and direction of the business.

Also, don’t sweat the small stuff too much – detail is important, but it took me having children to realize it wasn’t the end of the world if a tweet didn’t go out at exactly the right time over a weekend.

It can be a lonely and pressured place to be as the lead decision maker of the business. What do you do to relax, recharge and hone your focus?

I relax by playing with my children and am constantly amazed by how much they make me laugh. Outside of regular home stuff, I love the theatre, I love a nice bottle of red wine and in terms of rediscovering focus, I am a huge consumer of podcasts. I listen to some podcasts that really help my day job (and plenty that nourish me as a news and politics junky).

We also have launched a podcast of our own that focuses on youth marketing and youth culture….. search Rocket Fuel Youth Marketing to find our previous episodes or click here:

Do you believe in the 12 week work method or do you make much longer planning strategies?

It completely depends on the task you are looking to deliver in 12 weeks. Some ideas need to take longer. Some ideas can be drawn out. I am a big believer in all thoughts getting the time they deserve but not all thoughts are as deserving as each other.

What is Rocket’s eco strategy?

We need to be better. We have appointed someone as our ‘Head of Wellbeing’ and their focus is on eco, staff mental health, company culture and acting as a whistle blower.

We try to prioritise partners with a net-zero target but it is not always easy. I want our business to do whatever we can to be better to the planet.

What three things do you hope to have in place within the next 12 months?

Debriefs of campaigns that reflect our company values
A better tech solution for customers of our Family Collective service – an offering of short form social content featuring real families for marketing and research purposes.
A senior hire – someone to inspire and manage some of the team to allow our awesome Strategy Director to become Managing Director.


Read more:
Secrets of Success: James Erskine, CEO of Rocket