In the ever-shifting marketing realm, a few visionary individuals shine as true game-changers.
Among them, Sarah Spence has emerged as a luminary, solidifying her position as Australia’s premier marketer through a triumphant recognition at the prestigious Australian Marketing Institute Awards. Her journey transcends mere accolades; it’s a transformation of the very essence of marketing.
Fresh from an inspiring rebranding endeavour, Sarah and her agency have embraced the moniker “Content Rebels.” This is more than a name; it’s a manifesto that encapsulates their audacious and unconventional approach to marketing. At its core lies the belief that content serves as the key to moulding the future—one narrative, one podcast, and even one post at a time.
Content Rebels, formerly known as Content Copywriting, signifies the next chapter in the saga of this award-winning content marketing agency. Since its inception in 2020, it has left an indelible mark and fostered partnerships with industry giants like Afterpay, Koala, Modibodi, Westpac, healthylife, and Craveable Brands.
Daring to be different
Content Rebels are not just marketers; they are pioneers of content that defies convention. Their expertise spans the gamut of the industry, encompassing digital strategy, content creation, digital PR, video content, SEO marketing, and graphic design.
Reflecting on her journey, Sarah shares, “To be honest, I started my business because we needed an income, and I didn’t want to go back to a full-time corporate role. That’s the uncool version, but I guess the cool version is that I was keen to do great work. I knew I could write, and I knew how to get information out of someone’s head and turn it into a great story – so that’s why I started.”
The power of ‘yes’
When asked about the pivotal choices she has made, Sarah emphasizes the importance of saying ‘Yes’ and then figuring out the ‘how to. She believes this approach has been instrumental in conquering her fears. “The number 1 most important strategy I’ve employed over the years that has contributed to the growth of the business is saying ‘Yes!’ first and figuring out the details after. There have been so many opportunities that have come along that have frightened me and made me quake in my boots (‘Who am I to do this work?’ ‘Why are they trusting me with this?!’ Hello imposter syndrome!).
“But at every turn, I’ve leaned into my support network, and they’ve always said, ‘Just go for it.’ So, I have! None of this growth would’ve happened without taking those leaps and building the plane as we’re flying it,” Sarah said.
What sets Sarah’s business apart from the rest is the genuine human connection. “There are two things that set us apart – we genuinely care, and we’re never still,” she shares.
“Even before our industry started evolving at such a rapid pace as it has in 2023, we were constantly stress-testing, breaking, and rebuilding our processes. It drives the team crazy sometimes, but our ‘Process’ docs are never set in stone (nor will they ever be). They’re constantly evolving because our knowledge, our clients, our work, the channels, and our understanding of the landscape are constantly evolving.
“We push forward into uncharted territory every day, and we’re different again from other businesses because we genuinely care about our people, our clients, and our work as we’re pushing forward. Some days, I wish I didn’t care as much as my heart certainly has taken a beating at times when things haven’t been going well – but I can’t change that about me, and it’s a fundamental part of our culture now, too.”
In Sarah’s journey, challenges have been abundant. As a fledgling business owner experiencing rapid growth, she’s faced thrilling yet daunting trials. Being effectively a newborn business owner experiencing high growth has been a thrilling (and scary) ride. There have been (more than I’d like to admit) people challenges that have absolutely floored me – from hiring people who just weren’t the right fit for our business to taking too long to get a proper performance management process in place – it’s been a challenging ride. We have so many wonderful people in the team, but it’s hard to trust when your trust has been deeply tested.
From the people-related challenges, I’ve learnt that one of the most fundamental external support resources you can have is a great HR team that understands the law, your business and how you want to lead. Beyond people, the financial management of the business has also been a challenge.
Beyond people-related challenges, financial management has posed hurdles. “I have dyscalculia, so I find numbers and spreadsheets and forecasts incredibly difficult. Through all the ups and downs, I’ve learnt that a solid accountant and bookkeeper are a must, but to trust myself when it comes to the overall management of the finances – and never let go of the forecast to anyone else.
Still, she firmly believes in maintaining ultimate control over financial management, recognizing its pivotal role in the business’s overall health. As the business owner, it’s a top priority at all times. “Ultimately, as the business owner, the financial health of the business permeates every part of your life – so it has to be your #1 focus at all times,” Sarah said.
Embracing the chaos and resilience
Sarah believes that success is a multifaceted concept, and its definition can be as diverse as the paths that lead to it. “How are we defining ‘success’ there?! Right now, I don’t feel very successful on many levels – we’ve experienced a downturn in revenue and had to make some roles redundant. That doesn’t feel like success to me, but many people who’re smarter than me have reminded me that it’s all just part of running a business.
And that’s the key piece of advice I’d give to women keen to start their own businesses – you need to get comfortable with the chaos, see yourself as a business owner first and foremost and build your resilience so that your heart doesn’t crumble when the bad times come (because they will come).”
Another vital piece of advice is to construct a support network that extends beyond your immediate team. “Build your support network (hint: you won’t find these people in your team!) and only focus on the opinions of people you trust. Everyone will have something to say to you about what you’re doing – so choose the voices you actually listen to wisely.
“Above all, my advice to fellow adventurers in the world of business is to take that leap, to venture forth. Start building the plane even as you soar through uncharted skies. Strap in for a thrilling ride, for it’s the exhilaration of the journey that makes the destination all the more rewarding. Success, in all its complexity, is not a static point on the horizon; it’s the dynamic, ever-evolving path that you create with every daring step.”
Find out more about her business here.