Hamish Lowry on the power of unique business stories and the quest for success
Hamish Lowry, founder of Quest Marketing, emphatically believes that his clients’ stories have the power to influence people and shift behaviour.
He knows that every business has its own unique story and when that journey, that quest for success, is shared with a business’ ideal customers, magic happens.
“Our clients say that we tell their story in a really authentic and engaging way. A key driver for us is the knowledge that our business owners have families, boards and stakeholders who will ask questions if the business goes pear-shaped. We know they quite rightly want results and that’s where we deliver”, says Hamish.
The Hawke’s Bay-based marketing agency specialises in creative marketing solutions, including digital campaigns which are monitored using a mix of analytical tools. Campaigns are reviewed and refined using data-driven decision-making to deliver optimum results for clients.
“We’re a down-to-earth team that rolls up our sleeves and just gets on with delivering great marketing. Our focus is on making marketing easy for our clients, so they can get on with their day jobs”, Hamish explains.
“We don’t do one-night stands. We work hard at building long-term relationships. We walk beside our clients every step of their journey and so closely, that for many, we’re more like their in-house marketing team. I think that the value our clients place on this rock-solid support is reflected in our substantial list of long-term clients”, says Hamish.
Quest offers end-to-end marketing solutions, from strategy, through to delivery and ongoing support. However, Hamish says that its specialists can step into that process at any stage.
So what of Quest’s own business journey? Hamish is the first to admit it’s had its ups and downs.
In 1998 he accepted a role as GM of Hawke’s Bay Tourism and, with two young kids and a third on the way, had shifted his young family south from Auckland. The new position entailed destination marketing with a focus on food and wine. Basically, marketing Hawke’s Bay to the world.
Under Hamish’s leadership, Hawke’s Bay Tourism won two prestigious national marketing awards. But conscious that these achievements were a team effort, Hamish says he was very fortunate to have worked with several inspirational people along the way who helped drive this success.
However despite the privilege of working with a number of talented colleagues, after seven years at the helm, it was time for change.
Hamish’s time at Hawke’s Bay Tourism had showed that there were many small to medium business owners who needed marketing expertise. With a plan to provide this for businesses, he left the organisation, converted an orchard shed into an office and Quest Marketing was born.
That’s when the ride got rocky.
Despite hustling for business, work didn’t come from Hamish’s extensive network or from the other sources he expected it to.
Hamish says, “I remember my stomach sinking when it dawned on me that I had no profile, I’d just started a company called Quest that no one had ever heard of, had no regular income and a young family to support. It was a scary time. I wondered if starting up on my own had been a massive mistake.”
But Hamish knew he had the skills to help people sell their products and services. Eventually, he won work as a strategic marketing consultant.
“Clients keep saying that I’d provided a great strategy, but could I help develop their brand, or could I build them a website. I adopted a policy of saying yes to everything, then figuring out how to do it later, so the business could survive”, he recalls.
In order to meet his clients’ needs, Hamish welcomed onboard other dedicated professionals, starting with a graphic designer and website developer. Gradually Quest’s capabilities grew.
But the real turn-around for Quest came when Hamish recognised an untapped opportunity to capitalise on what was then still an emerging technology – telling business stories online through video. A talented and experienced videographer was duly hired. Slowly, Quest’s client base began to grow.
Fast-forward to today and Quest benefits from what Hamish calls “cumulative advantage”. Small wins have accumulated over time, building momentum and generating a self-sustaining cycle of growth.
“We no longer have to look for work in the way we used to. Businesses come to Quest for their marketing, having heard of our reputation, often through word-of-mouth.
“We partner with small to medium enterprises and entrepreneurs who need to outsource a marketing specialist. However we’ve also worked alongside household names such as Fonterra, NZ Trade & Enterprise, and Positively Wellington.
“Quest is a full-service digital marketing agency, but we’re happy to work with other marketing teams that partner with larger companies too. We’ve worked with ABB’s global marketing managers for over a decade and do the same for Hustler Equipment”, says Hamish.
Long before it became popular post-Covid, Quest used a distributed office model. Hamish cites it as one of the reasons he’s been able to attract and retain such talent at Quest. His small, handpicked team of marketing specialists all work remotely and love the freedom that gives them.
This kind of forward-thinking is characteristic of Quest. A valuable quality in a marketing agency you might say. Unconventionally, Quest resists the trend for flashy, corporate premises. Clients are warmly welcomed into the unpretentious orchard office and, if they time it right, treated to fresh baking from the local café. There is a definite sense that Quest is secure in the value it delivers to its clients and that it has the confidence to tread its own path.
So, after almost two decades of empowering clients in their quest for business success, where to next in the journey for Quest Marketing?
Hamish says the future looks bright. With climate change driving global sustainability, he believes a huge and necessary shift is coming. The world needs marketing communication to help propel that messaging and Quest is buckling up for the ride.