Take us back to the beginning, before you launched Delegate Wranglers, what were you doing? Why did you launch it? Why did it come about?
I mean, going right back, I wanted to be a footballer, played semi-pro, never quite made the grade, gave me a good competitive instinct though. Eventually did a few jobs like as a lifeguard and worked at Abbey National, did all kinds of different things. And then finally got a job at Littlewoods as their event manager. Then eventually when the dot com bubble came I got involved with a company launching a website. Eventually I went back to events a couple of years later and did, work for a pharmaceutical, I did a lot of traveling all over the world different types of meetings in over 30 countries, so many different things. I did that for about 15 years and then I’m working as a freelance and I thought, you know, who do you go to when you have a difficult inquiry? You know, who’d you turn to? Who’d you ask when you’re on your own? So I thought I’ll set up a group on Facebook because groups have just started on Facebook and that is literally how the Delegate Wranglers was born. I invited half a dozen people and we just started from there.
Do you think your recent successes are a result of Delegate Wranglers? Does that propel you in some way or is that something that you just do?
Obviously the Delegate Wranglers happening and then when COVID happened and we started doing podcasts and all our Delegate Wranglers live shows during lockdown and everybody got to know us and know our personality and know what we were like and our vibe. I think that was good for me from a personal brand perspective, but also, you have to understand the very first time that I did that I was an event manager. I was always the guy at the back of the room. I’m the person who likes to stand at the back of the room and I totally get that because as an event manager, that’s what you are.
Then suddenly you’re thrust into the limelight of having to stand up in front of people and do it and the very first Delegate Wrangler’s live show, was the first time I’d done anything like that and I learned to think very quickly. Don’t try and be something you’re not. Just be yourself and it’s dead easy. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get nervous about things and doing things, but if you just be yourself and don’t overthink it. What’s the worst that could happen? I say that all the time. I remember learning so much from Dom, who used to co-host with me because he’s so professional, just a really good talker and he’s got a really nice manner.
What things haven’t gone as you’d planned them for Delegate Wranglers?
Occasionally we’ll put on an event and we’ll think, everyone’s going to love coming to this and for some reason people don’t sign up for it and sometimes there’s no explanation, there’s no understanding of it and you know that’s happened to us a couple of times but you learn most from your mistakes. When you’re putting on an event, you’re only doing it because you know that you’re gonna get so many people through the door, so many exhibitors, it’s a sure thing. If you suddenly try something totally random and new thing sometimes you do have to go out there and test the water.
You have to try things and learn from them, I always say that every event I do, I learn some things I’ll definitely do again and some things I definitely won’t do again and I think you learn that from most things, most new things that you inject into your business, whatever it is. There’s always something that went really well and something that didn’t do quite so well. What I’ve learnt is the value of your team is just massively important, making your team feel valued, making everyone you interact with feel valued. You can change somebody’s day with a smile just by saying thank you and just being nice to someone. I think if you look after your team, the team will look after you
At what point were able to monetise it and how do you do that?
It started back in 2017 I thought I’m going to do a newsletter and I’m going to make it free and I put it on the group. If anybody wants to advertise in our newsletter, the first three months I’m going to do it free. The first five people were going in so I made that newsletter a mail shot, I had about 200 people on the subscriber list to send it to. Sent the first few and then I started charging, it was 50 quid to go in the newsletter, and the numbers were getting bigger, we were getting like 500, a thousand people reading it. I suffer from imposter syndrome and was thinking I can’t charge them for that. What will they think of me? I’m often told to not join commercial meetings because I’ll just come in and go, yeah, you can have that for free, we’ll throw that in because I’m wanting to please people.
We became a really thriving business because of the audience we’ve got, the vibe of the group, the way it’s done and then the real time connections that people are making on the group as a result of that is what people are buying into. So we have people taking out huge campaigns with us, partnerships for like a year and a half at all the trade shows. We just started doing lots and lots of things and we’ve introduced a membership scheme as well where you can still be a free member or you can pay for an enhanced membership which gives you more opportunities to promote yourself.
I don’t worry now about spending, I don’t worry about charging people when they want to get their message out. As long as it doesn’t affect the experience of everybody else on the Delegate Wranglers and the information that we’re promoting is super useful to people, which is always our prerequisite. That’s how we’ve developed them. We just get so many inquiries every week, incoming to us. We’ve got a commercial team who look after that side for us and we love working with all the venues, going out to see them, doing venue showcase reports and trade shows and newsletters and advertising jobs. We’ve just become this beast really, where we try to have a lot of touch points.
We always try and do things a bit differently, and, you know, with a smile on our face. We just became a brand, that people wanted to be involved with. I have to pinch myself when people like France or Paris come to us and say, we want to do a campaign with you, or something. It’s mad from me starting this Facebook group nine years ago.