Formed in 2017 by Peter Wiltshire, WeThinkMedia is a privately held marketing sales agency that has grown significantly over the last four years to become the largest agency of its type in Australia, with an international reach of publishers including the New York Times, South China Morning Post, MediaWorks NZ, Discovery NZ, CNBC, NBCUniversal and The Wall Street Journal. Here’s their story.
After leaving the C-suite of Australia’s largest media company, Peter Wiltshire served as a consultant on a turnaround project for MediaWorks TV in New Zealand. Whilst doing so, MediaWorks offered him the opportunity to grow their presence in Australia. At the time, he wasn’t prepared to work in the business, but rather work on it, so he hired an experienced ad sales leader to step in and run the day-to-day operations.
Out of that, WeThinkMedia (WTM) was created, providing access for Australian-based companies to advertise with a range of international media partners and their domestic and global audiences. The WTM team today consists of eight employees – all of whom have extensive experience in a wide variety of media including digital, TV, out of home (OOH), radio, magazines and inflight publications – who now write $10m+ annually in advertising for their media partners.
Given their industry and clients, it’s probably no surprise that COVID hit the company hard. Over the last 18 months, New Zealand lockdowns in particular have had a substantial impact on their revenue, as their NZ-based media remains the largest source of income for the business. Radio and TV media streams usually fire up during lockdowns, but out of home media were impacted heavily (due to reduced foot traffic), resulting in a pause to client spending.
“Our single biggest challenge in the business has been COVID and the impact it had on consumer sentiment, which led to a downturn in the ad market,” says Peter. “Our relative fixed cost base placed us in a difficult position.
“Like many companies during COVID, we asked our staff to reduce their working week, and moved to the ‘work from home’ rhythm,” he notes. “We also terminated our North Sydney office space and had a reduction in travel costs. Implementing these reductions allowed us to keep all our team employed, and we returned to full time operations within 6 months, albeit still using the work from home model.
“Our media partners, like us, were of course suffering the same impact, so it was a joint challenge to navigate through together,” says Peter.
Building a great business
As with most great businesses, relationships have been key to the company’s success.
Peter says, “In our case, building a great business has depended on long-term agreements with the media partners we represent. On the customer side, we strive to achieve recurring ad spend from our clients based on them achieving results, along with good relationship management and offering personalised and localised service here in Australia. In addition, building up a strong personal brand in the industry over many years has paid dividends, and that has given us the opportunity of being sought out by some of the world’s biggest media publishers to become partners.”
He also emphasises the importance of having good employees, saying, “Having trust in my team – allowing them to thrive without being overmanaged – has been key. We have a very experienced team who are professionals in what they do.”
Accru Harris Orchard’s role
Peter has been a client of Accru Harris Orchard for over 20 years, first as a personal client and then as a business client when he founded WTM.
“Accru Harris Orchard has played an intricate role in managing the affairs of the business, specifically in helping us navigate through COVID and ensuring we used all available avenues for support,” says Peter. “Now I regret not having them more engaged when I first started the business.”
During COVID, the Accru Harris Orchard team helped the company weather difficulties by focusing on cash flow forecasting and management, compliance, remuneration/commission structures and ATO management.
“AHO was really helpful. It’s good to know that you’re not alone in small business,” says Peter.
Managing Director James Orchard says, “The team at WTM are all high-performing specialists, each with different strengths. They all have a natural ability to build and maintain strong relationships with media partners and their clients, resulting in ongoing success and longevity”.
Peter says that his goals for the future of the business include continuing to expand the company’s international portfolio and further cementing their position as the biggest ad sales rep business in Australia (which is already well established).
Learn more about WeThinkMedia here: www.wethinkmedia.com.au
Want to learn more about how Accru Harris Orchard can help you build a great business? Contact our team today.