Ali Findlay – A creative in a creative industry

When most of us think of creativity in relation to business our thoughts often turn first to advertising and PR.

Ali Findlay is Managing Director of The Lane Agency, a full creative agency employing 15 staff.

As the website puts it “Creativity and efficiency in equal measure, a service characterised by integrity and genuine interest in you and your business.”

I met Ali in their offices in Edinburgh and asked her first of all how the agency started.

“I am a marketing graduate and went to RBS as a graduate trainee. Retail banking wasn¹t really where I saw my future and I moved into marketing. I became head of marketing at the John Martin Group, one of Scotland’s leading car dealerships with 11 dealerships across Scotland. Very sadly the heir to the business died suddenly at just 39 years of age and, understandably, the business and the scope for my role to grow changed after that.”

“The chairman of the group offered me the opportunity to set up my own business, with his financial support and with the group as my first client. The Lane Agency became their virtual marketing department.”

“We now take on all kinds of work for a wide range of clients., including Nick Nairn, Anderson Strathern, and Peter Vardy . We have a large number of clients in the motor industry, which is where our business started after all, but we have very quickly developed our client base in professional services, food/leisure and retail and gradually we are developing our reputation in new markets. We develop a full marketing strategy for our clients, which is implemented both offline and online ­ our services include website design and development, e-communications, and online content development as well as offline services such as design for print production, advertising and media buying. We have experts in broadcasting, digital marketing, press relations and general creatives to ensure that we can manage a complete strategy for our clients.”

“In 2008 the recession started and this has hit creative agencies particularly hard. Companies should actually invest in their brand and marketing at times like this but most don¹t. Lots of companies, however, do look at their marketing budget as something they can easily cut. This is false thinking. If companies are prepared to invest in their marketing and to build their brand when others are cutting budgets then they can gain a significant market advantage and also they will find themselves better placed to grow when the recession ends. It is possible, in my view, to market through the recession. Companies who stop being creative and concentrate on saving money, making cuts to budgets rather than also focussing on generating more income from sales often do more poorly than their competitors.”

“A lots of companies have moved to a digital marketing strategy as they see this as being a cheap alternative. What they often fail to appreciate is that you do have to have a mixed strategy in order to drive traffic to the website in the first place. Our USP is that we provide that complete marketing strategy. Most small companies cannot afford to employ experts in every area of their marketing department and so we can be their virtual marketing department.”


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