Origins of Data HQ... where did it all begin?
So where did it all begin? How did we end up doing what we do? A good origins story always starts, well, at…
It all began back in 1998 when I joined the industry, working for another organisation as Business Development Manager.
I soon realised it was a young and growing sector in which we could help both large and small clients attract new business and run successful marketing campaigns.
I found that the key was to really listen to my clients’ needs and to understand how all the available products could be utilised to meet those needs. Often, clients knew what they wanted but not how to navigate around the data supply sector.
Of course this had to be backed up by providing a good service with a consultative approach – which I ensure that our business continues to do all these years later.
How it developed
Having realised the opportunity existed and having gained a very good understanding of the industry, I realised I could continue to provide a great service, but with much better quality data. By setting up my own business, I had a greater control over the quality of the data we supplied to our clients.
Initially there was myself and my business partner, along with three silent partners. These days I take sole responsibility for the business, but have the support of a strong management team around me.
Why the name Data HQ?
Well my initial business partner's surname was Quennel.
I’m the ‘H’, he was the ‘Q’, and ‘Data HQ’ just seemed to work.
For the first few weeks it was just myself and my business partner operating from his front room; then after a short while we took some office space local to us and started recruiting a sales team.
The first couple of years saw us grow very rapidly. After about 18 months we had a total team of eight, including an internal data management department and an accounts department.
We started just selling B2B mailing lists – this was before email lists existed.
Our product offering then developed in two ways:
- Firstly, clients were asking us for consumer data – so we formed an agreement with Experian to re-sell their survey questionnaire data;
- Secondly, clients were asking for email data, both on a B2B and B2C / Consumer level. We were already a reseller for the Thomson Directories b2b database, so we also became a reseller of their email database. Within a year we were the largest reseller of their opted-in email data.
The importance of the right people
The staff members we recruited in the early days were crucial; looking back I see that we had some very good staff in the right positions at just the right time.
Sales and Account Management was headed up by myself and two guys that had a lot of experience in the sector. Finance was managed by a trusted and very experienced colleague who I had worked with previously.
Data management and data processing were managed by a young lad I took on straight out of university, he just ‘got it’ which really helped in providing the level of service we strived for. He is now our Head of Insight and Analytics and manages the team that provides our Single Customer View and data management services.
We now employ 28 staff in our well-equipped and modern office suite in the centre of Chelmsford. This includes a sales team of more than 10 people, plus dedicated teams in Production, Insight & Analysis, Accounts and Data Research.
Where we are now
Our insight, analysis and data management division is the fastest growing side of our business at the moment – early in 2014 we took a strategic decision to develop this side of our business.
As marketers become more data literate, their demand for more strategic solutions grows.
Over the last six or seven years there has also been a clear shift in focus from acquisition to retention.
Big data and new technologies such as Marketing Automation have emerged over the last few years. Coming from a technical background myself, our team has always been a bit ‘geeky’ with data systems and analytics – so it was a natural progression for us to move into this area.
List rental for prospecting is still a valuable and important part of our service offering; however it’s a lesser part of our overall activity nowadays.
Our acknowledged expertise and considerable experience in our sector, the quality of the data we supply and the quality of work produced by our Insight and Analytics department, now all combine to put us at the very top of the industry I joined over 17 years ago.