The Marketing Room was established by founder and managing director Tahnee Sharp in 2017 in Perth.
Sharp started the independent marketing consultancy as a solo business that provided her flexibility after having her children and not wanting to return to her “seven-to-seven grind” in senior marketing roles.
The business has continued to grow over the years, keeping up with the changing marketing landscape, welcoming new clients, and adapting to new platforms with updated offerings.
As the agency prepares to mark five years in the business, Sharp spoke to Mediaweek about the consultancy’s growth journey, its strategy first approach, turning five and its “incredible” and “invaluable” partnership with the IMAA.
The team behind The Marketing Room and its growth journey
As founder and managing director of The Marketing Room, Sharp oversees everything about the business Australia-wide – including teams in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.
“I look after all the staff in those areas and their clients in those areas and Western Australia, where we initially started,” she said.
Sharp shared that three years later into the business, her husband John joined as the growth expert overseeing business development in other states, partnerships, and relationships for the consultancy, which she said was a “no-brainer” for the company.
“It is a husband-and-wife team, and the dynamic works well. We’re entirely different, have different approaches to things, and deal with different business areas. We rarely do crossover,” she said.
Sharp shared that the 55-person consultancy thrives as a niche for small to medium businesses that no longer require full-time marketing resources. She noted that many people on her team were in the same position, not looking to return to work full-time but wanting to continue holding a place in the industry and the corporate world.
“They have years of experience and knowledge behind them, and to go back into part-time capacity was going back into a coordinator role or an admin role, which I think potentially is a little bit unfair that we have the luxury that we can do it in a marketing capacity now,” she said.
Sharp called The Marketing Room a “really nice model that fills that need for people that haven’t done marketing properly”. She added that businesses need a good senior brain to guide the marketing forward to have an impact.
The Marketing Room’s strategy-first approach and driving businesses forward
Sharp said that The Marketing Room is not an agency-based model and have a preferred supplier pool they work with if they need specialists – from SEO, Google ads, or Web Devs to do the job.
“We’re first and foremost strategy first. For anyone who comes on as a client with us, we always do a three-hour to half-day workshop with the key stakeholders to ensure we fully understand the business from the get-go.
“We then work internally with the clients. For some, it’s one day a week, whether coming in and doing meetings and then working in between that across the week. It is very variable to how businesses want us to work with them.
Sharp noted that working internally gives them a warts-and-all view of the business. She said: “But we’re very particular about being internal. We know exactly the financials, the team dynamic, the capability of growth, and how the marketing can fit into that with trying to grow rapidly.”
“For us, it is looking at that sustainable growth, and that’s taking in all aspects of the business.”
Sharp highlighted that what makes them different from agencies is being a large team of marketing specialists and a team they can leverage if needed.
“It’s gearing the team up to do the best marketing job, and we give full support across the board to make sure that that can be done. We have an amazing team that does that and focuses on that. We like to stay long-term and see the results; when you see results, you keep growing, you keep moving,” Sharp added.
Keeping clients and navigating business after the pandemic
Sharp proudly highlighted a sizeable list of clients from various sectors: property and construction, not-for-profit, finance, education, and health. They include Foodies Market IGA, Celebrate WA, James Hardie Industries WA, and Claremont Football Club.
Sharp noted they’ve had clients who’ve stayed for as long as four years, such as Auto Control Systems. “They’ve been with us for four years and are our longest ones. They’re still with us, they still love the model, and it’s always fitted what they wanted. And it’s still working exceptionally well with them,” she said.
Sharp noted that they want to stay long-term to build with the team. “We want to build internal teams and get them to the point that they need extra resources because then we know where we’re growing, we’re achieving. We like to stay involved and move to that next level,” she added.
Looking back at the consultancy’s performance in 2022, Sharp said they stayed steady and consistent and had growth.
“We didn’t lose anything through COVID, which was very surprising. No one knew what COVID was going to do. There was one or two in hospitality that unfortunately had to close their doors through COVID,” Sharp said.
The Marketing Room did not yet go national during the pandemic, and we were lucky that resources were still moving. Sharp said: “We saw a bit of uptake because we had to keep moving, and then they had to keep marketing. Ever since COVID, we’ve gone bigger and bigger and bigger. COVID was a good thing for us.”
Exciting new moves and marking five years
Sharp shared that many exciting things were happening at The Marketing Room, notably the recent merging of The Social Room – its organic social media strategy business – into the consultancy in July. A move that Sharp said would consolidate the business and streamline everything for the next financial year.
The consultancy’s national expansion last year has also opened up opportunities in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, with plans to enter South Australia down the track.
The Marketing Room has also launched a mining and resources division, which has done amazingly well in Western Australia. “It is a different way of marketing and has different marketing criteria. So being specialised in that area has worked well. We would like to look at whether we look into replicating that in different industries,” she said.
The consultancy’s fifth birthday in November is rounding out the year, which Sharp said she is looking forward to celebrating.
“For us, I’m proud of where the marketing room has gone in this five-year space. Realistically, in the first three years, I was doing it myself. I’m incredibly proud to see where we are now from where we’ve come from,” she said.
“It is quite humbling to see how many people are benefiting from the model, whether that’s our managers or our clients. I’m very proud of my little five-year-old business,” Sharp added.
Sharp on The Marketing Room’s “incredible” and “invaluable” partnership with the IMAA
The Marketing Room joined the IMAA in early 2022 when the agency went national. Sharp explained that the agency wanted to support its team from a media perspective.
The consultancy joining the industry body came on the back of recommendations from other West Australian indie agencies that are part of the IMAA.
Sharp noted that being part of the industry has allowed their staff to stay updated, learn, and be connected with good, resourceful, credible, and experienced people.
“It has been an absolute wealth of knowledge for our team to either jump on to the weekly information sessions or the webinars and even go back to watch recorded sessions.”
“People can come and work for me part-time, but we still need to stay up to date. We still need to stay educated, and we still need to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the industry because we can’t get the best advice if we don’t know it,” she said.
Sharp noted that partnering with the IMAA gives them all the information they need without having to research, ask, and dig for it.
“They do support my staff in terms of their learning and development in that media space and landscape and having access to the partners of IMAA that can help.
“To us, having such a good partner like that is invaluable. We’re more than happy to support the IMAA however we can because the support we get back is just incredible,” Sharp added.
Top image: Tahnee Sharp