The Story Of Milestone Media
We launched in 2017 with a £700 marketing budget, and no website, but now find ourselves to be one of the most successful performance marketing agencies in the UK, spending over £10,000,000 in paid media successfully over the last 4/5 years, and becoming renowned for our direct, plain English approach in an industry full of jargon and buzz words.
Our founders Shaun Pope, and Daniel Wild have been close friends for a decade now.
They met when both working at an investment house in Knightsbridge, and found common ground when doing a 5 month stint together in Brazil servicing American clients.
Both were obsessed with online marketing, and had been fumbling around with email marketing, affiliate marketing, PPC, list-building, and SEO ever since they were teenagers. Trying to build successful projects on the side so they could go “full-time” online.
A Partnership Forms
Shaun is a well-read and accomplished copywriter, a talented salesperson, and has a strange obsession with “communication”. He could be described as highly analytical, cerebral, and outcome-driven. He also talks too much and spends too much time at his desk, no one is perfect! He loves to travel, organise, strategize, and most importantly, achieve things. To wind down he likes walking his dog with his partner, or watching trash tv with a glass of red.
Originally from the beautiful town of Chatham in Kent (yes that’s sarcasm), after working in London for many years, Shaun relocated to the land of quality sausages, horse racing, and long dog walks; Suffolk. Which given Dan’s migration to Suffolk shortly after, is now our base of operations.
(Despite being based on Suffolk, our love for face to face meetings, and the occasional shindig with clients means that Milestoners are often spotted in the wilds of London, Manchester, and other major cities.)
Daniel is a paradox. Never has anyone been able to have a hardcore work ethic, whilst also being so laid back he’s almost horizontal. He’s direct and honest to a fault, which explains his obsession with numbers. Dan is remarkably talented at analysing data, spotting trends, and ensures that the business has a perfect balance of data-driven decisions, and gut-feeling.
Hailing from the wonderful town of Loughton, in Essex, Dan bucks the Essex trend by be a family-oriented nerd who loves to wind down by gaming, or watching films.
There are a number of things they share in common, but most of all their shared passion for hard work, delivering great service, and most importantly; getting results, are what have made them thick as thieves over the years, and a joint force that continue to drive Milestone Media forward, and all of the exciting projects and partnerships we have the luxury of being involved with.
One Foot On The Ladder
Their first breakthrough came in the form of email marketing. Using Google Adwords to build lists of email subscribers, and then generating revenue from those lists by promoting affiliate offers, or selling the email traffic. Things were hilariously easy back then compared to the current climate!
It wasn’t blockbuster, but they made enough to warrant quitting their jobs, and committing their time fully to building an online income. It also made the years of going through courses, and trial and error beforehand feel like it was worth it. Maybe they had actually learned something!?
As Google’s policies towards affiliate products shifted, the boys had to turn their hand to something else. Enter Shopify, Facebook ads, and Dropshipping.
Between building websites, dealing with product suppliers, and testing ads on Facebook, they had entered an expensive world of pain, a true baptism of fire. They spent thousands in savings before eventually having breakthroughs within two unexpected niches.
The cut-throat but highly lucrative world of decorative flags, and a sector they knew absolutely nothing about, maternity clothing.
They’d both go on to generate revenues up to $90,000 in some months, and cumulatively spent close to $200,000 on Facebook ads alone, learning a great deal in the process. The tremendous ups and downs served as a better learning environment than any classroom ever could.
Unfortunately though, true to the form of entrepreneurship, a significant complication would occur.
Simultaneously, their supplier totally screwed them over during a massive promotion, swapping the product out for a cheaper, lower quality substitute (big lessons learned, and a risk of drop shipping they hadn’t anticipated), which resulted in enormous waves of refunds that they had to honour (painful, considering the advertising costs of acquiring those customers, and the costs of the product and shipping).
Couple this with Paypal freezing their accounts, understandably, and having just paid their sizeable tax bills for the year, the pair went from a champagne lifestyle to a Happy Shopper lemonade one very quickly. An expensive education indeed.
The Birth of Milestone Media
So what was next?
Their appetite for drop shipping had been tainted after such a cataclysm.
Perhaps they could get into email marketing again, or try something new entirely? That would seem like a bit of a waste of all they’d learnt though?
Seeing as they were already making a little money on the side running Facebook ads for other people on a freelance basis, given their knack for doing it so successfully, the answer seemed obvious.
But there was an issue.
Agencies had a fairly poor reputation, and neither liked the idea of creating one a great deal. It all seemed a bit “flowery” for Shaun and Dan’s liking. But, they had an interesting idea…
If we start an agency, why don’t we charge based on performance, rather than ad spend or retainers like everyone else does?
Given their background in sales, a “commission” style approach to paid media campaigns seemed like a simple concept, and provided they did a great job for people, they could stand to earn some pretty significant money!
So they did it.
In 2017, Milestone Media launched as what the guys at the time believed to be the only commission-based, performance marketing agency in the UK. They chose the name because the simple premise behind the business was that we would help business “get to their next Milestone”
The Agency Of The Future!
Given their minimal cash reserves, Shaun & Dan had to kick the agency off with a Facebook page, and a dull logo, as they didn’t have the funds for a proper website, and their website-building experience was a little too rough around the edges for the agency world.
So the first job would be getting the initial couple of clients so they could get a website built.
In order for them to do that, they turned to Facebook ads, and figured they’d need a big offer to cut through the noise, and let business owners know that Milestone Media was the new kid on the block.
Looking back now, the less said about the first ad Milestone ran the better. It has it’s charms, but goes to show how far the business has come in 4/5 years. It’s long, childish, and frankly was quite a risky approach given the time Shaun & Dan would have to invest, without any guaranteed payment:
You are seeing this for a reason. You’re a business owner, and you’d like to have more cash coming through the door on a weekly basis.
If you’re not, then blame Facebook’s ad targeting, not me!
Let’s get straight in to the meat and potatoes…
If you’re sick of being let down by marketing agencies run by so-called “experts” then read on, as I’d like to make you an offer you can’t refuse.
I’m writing to you from the office of Milestone Media, in sunny England. A result-driven digital advertising agency, that I run with my business partner (I do most of the running) and a handful of staff that are far, far more talented than we are.
The clients we’re working with are getting attractive (appearance of clients may vary) paying clients in a direct, consistent, measurable, cost-effective, and reliable manner.
No hit and hope nonsense, just straight up measurable new business yo.
We’re basically like consequence-free steroids for online businesses, but supercharged ones, from space.
Our unique strategies help you get right in front of your target audience, get their attention, and get instant results. So no more monstrous fees to those evil SEO agencies.
You can finally put that money to better use, like buying your dream coffee maker, taking salsa lessons, taking on more staff, expanding operations, or paying a choir to follow you around so your life is even more epic than it already undoubtedly is. Whatever floats your boat.
We LOVE what we do, as it’s great to know we’re not ripping people off, and actually providing solutions to problems.
Right now, we are on the hunt for new clients (but only really cool ones), which is why I have chosen to reach out to you, rather than those posers across town…
I would like to offer you a FREE 1 month trial of our services, so you get the results, without having to pay us.
“Wow that’s so counterintuitive”
“OMG they’re so edgy”
“How intriguing, please tell me more”
Ok, if you insist!
Here’s what you can expect from your free trial with us:
- A Custom Built Sales Funnel, Yours To Keep And Use As You See Fit (Value: Loads of £££)
- 1 Month Of Highly Targeted, Cost-Effective Facebook Ad Marketing (You just cover the ad spend/budget. No fees, no contracts, no nonsense)
- If we don’t produce results you’re happy with in the 1 month trial you can tell us to **** off, and you get to keep your funnel, and whatever leads/business we generate for you
I personally have spent well over £100,000 of my own money running Facebook ad campaigns, so I know what I’m doing mate.
Take us up on our offer and I can guarantee it’ll prove to be a supremely intelligent decision. I have no reason to lie to you.
We put our money where our mouth is (we don’t actually have money on our faces but we are big on customer service/satisfaction so if you’d like us to do this, we will do so).
If you are serious about growing your customer base, and motivated to take on new business,
click “Learn More” (the button on the ad) and we will impress the **** out of you within a 10- day timeframe.
Alternatively, feel free to ping us a message our Facebook page directly. I’m also happy to communicate via morse-code, yoghurt pots on strings, love letters, or text message. I live to serve.
Although, just clicking the button and filling out your details would be best.
Have a splendid day,
Co-Founder & Partner
Milestone Media Group
Would we run an ad like this as a business now? Absolutely not.
Did it work at the time, and allow them to establish a base of great clients in rapid time?
Yes it bloody did.
Time For Expansion
Very quickly the guys found themselves managing significant budgets, from big brands, across multiple channels, and were on the hunt for talent to help support the business.
They were able to refine their offering, making the performance-terms more clear cut and accessible. Simple partnerships like a % of sales profit, a fixed amount for lead generated, or app installed, was working really well for both Milestone and their clients.
We made our first key hires at the end of 2018, and those wonderful people are still with us today.
Now that we had a team, an actual website, and a client base, nothing could stop us, and 2019 was another excellent year of explosive growth, big budgets, great results, and iron-forged business relationships!
2020 Was Going To Be The Best Year Ever!
We had massive plans for the year, and big projects lined up. Good golly everyone was excited.
We made some investments as a business, and hired more talented team members for the big year ahead.
Then there was a pretty significant event that happened called Covid.
You probably heard of it.
Quite quickly, many of the projects planned for the year were no longer able to go ahead. No one was able to lease cars, no one in financial services was allowed to go to the office, hospitality was on pause. Yikes.
Monthly revenue fell by over 70% very quickly, as Shaun and Dan released clients from their obligations, and understandably put projects and contracts on pause.
Given all the new hires, and recent investments, this wasn’t great timing. Were Shaun and Dan about to have a repeat of their last venture, and lose everything just as it all seemed to be perfect?
No, not this time.
Not with the team we’d build, the clients we had, and all we had learned. There were plenty of businesses out there that could benefit from our service, that were still trading in Covid.
Sure, there wasn’t much of a marketing budget at all to get in touch with them, but we’re bloody good at what we do, so one way or another, we’d rebuild our client base and get back on top.
It Was A Slog
We don’t need to tell you how tough the following 18-24 months were, with repeated lockdowns, and everything else that happened.
Naturally, there were times were it felt like it would never end. But Milestone were blessed with good fortune, and were able to secure new clients and projects that not only allowed them to survive, but actually thrive during lockdown, and by the end of the whole ordeal, we’d reached new heights, and were ready for the next adventures!
Fortunately, It’s Been A Wonderful Start
As 2021 came to a close, we consolidated, and planned for a massive 2022.
New projects, new staff, new plans, and a lovely new website, all to go along with the new way that we do business.
This year, we’ve had to totally revamp our performance-based fees, for a number of reasons:
- IOS14 having a significant impact on the tracking environment
- Finding that most business actually want consistent costs
- Not all staff are interested in performance-terms (and we want the best talent)
When we launched, the performance terms were a combination of three things:
- Our values, and belief that as a sales person or service provider, you have an obligation to provide outstanding value for money, and that there’s no glory in ripping people off.
- Long-term business relationships are built on trust, confidence, and results
- We were totally new, and had to “prove ourselves” to the market
What we’ve learned over the years is that the way in which we’re paid, doesn’t actually impact the level of effort we put into projects.
Every project we work on we put 100% effort in, and we always overdeliver, it’s just our nature. We don’t need a cash incentive to do that.
Which is why now, we have a more simplistic pricing model, which is more commercially viable for us in the current tracking environment.
So What Are The Plans For 2022?
- Hire more incredible talent both onshore and offshore.
- Take ourselves and our clients to new heights.
- Continue to learn, grow, and be the people in this space that are honest, straight-talking, and results focussed.
We can change the logo, the website, our goals, our commercial terms, but we can never change who we are.
Here’s to an amazing 2022!