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Getting to know… Mary-Anne Amies of Wise Up Marketing

Wise Up Marketing is a local agency built on the principle of “treating your business like it’s our own” and they have created a flexible, accessible solution for start ups and SME’s who value a personal approach and digital marketing expertise.
Tell us about yourself
Like every other woman I know, I am incredibly busy and wear many hats. I am married to a wonderful guy and we have two energetic (and cheeky) kids, renowned for getting up at 5.30am (and never doing so quietly). On the weekends I love getting out and about with family and friends. I’m best known for a terrible sense of humour that I try to keep in check when with polite company!
Always being someone who couldn’t sit still, after high school I started working full time in accounting, events, and finally marketing whilst attending university part time. I graduated from UTS with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing & Management) and went into my first marketing manager role at 23. For the next 10 years I worked with Australia’s favourite brands as marketing and category manager for Elizabeth Arden, Revlon, Holden, Pacific Brands, as well as teaching marketing nights at TAFE and Private College.
Today, I run a marketing agency that I started when on maternity leave with my eldest in 2010. Initially, I was helping people with marketing but then when my corporate role was made redundant I took it as a sign to really put energy into building the business into something bigger.
My passion is marketing strategy; I have experience with brands large and small and love to problem solve. I am an eternal optimist and always think there is something we haven’t tried yet! I have the unique ability to put myself in the shoes of the target market and ask, “what would I want to see, hear, or how would I want be spoken with?” When you can visualise the person you are marketing to, the strategy flows.
Tell us about Wise Up Marketing
Wise Up Marketing is a bit of a beast that evolved on its own; I didn’t start out with the intention of owning a marketing consultancy. I was keeping busy during maternity leave staying stimulated and connected to my industry. I was helping people and drawing satisfaction from doing what I loved, but I really missed the human connection. I had, had so many great teams work for me and with me, and I missed that. I remember saying to my husband one day “I think instead of going back to work I need to start thinking of this business as a workplace”. It was from there that I started to build the right people around me.
I started out with one coordinator and while I was working in the study she was at the kitchen table and we’d yell at each other across the lounge room (and two toddlers). Then came the day when I asked my Dad to convert our rumpus room into an office and the team grew to 4 of us; working flexibly across the week.
Part of the success of Wise Up is that I launched my business as social media was taking off for small businesses – back when Facebook organic reach was amazing and we hadn’t heard of Facebook ads yet. We’ve weathered a lot of algorithm changes in 7 years and I like to think of us as social media veterans! Working with small businesses gives me the satisfaction of helping a real person and making an impact on their life. When working for corporates in the past I became disillusioned while generating millions in revenue but never really feeling like it was good enough, or understanding whom you’re helping.
With Wise Up I created a structure that was more flexible than other agencies to allow small businesses to benefit from marketing strategy and management. We have made our website transparent and approachable so that small business owners can see our pricing structure and what we can offer them. They can feel confident that they are in the right place, are not going to be intimidated or feel like they could be taken for a ride.
What needs do you satisfy for your clients?
We help clients to get clearer on how they can maximise digital marketing for their business.
We do a lot of marketing strategy work and love to sit down with a client, look at their business with them, and help them see the different activities that they should be doing, online and offline. Not only that we review all aspects of their business so they are connecting with their consumers in the right way. We help them identify how to maximise social channels so the time spent starts to convert into measurable results.
We also manage social media on their behalf when needed, as the time required to have a professional presence can be unachievable when juggling the rest of the business’ demands. It’s that balance between working on and in your business; most of us are serving our clients leaving little time for marketing our businesses. That’s where we help.
We build cost effective websites, which are built from a different perspective to most web design agencies. I’m a marketer at heart so I am not just building a technically functional site that looks great, but a site that helps our clients connect with their target market to convert. We write content that makes their target market think – I am in the right place.
Recently we welcomed back our PR guru Renee Raper from maternity leave, and in the next 6 months she will be ramping up our PR offer, again breaking out of the traditional structure by offering transparent solutions for our clients.
What packages do you offer and are you market competitive on price?
We are very competitive on price and the key factor is that we don’t lock people into minimum term contracts. With many other agencies you have to commit to a minimum of 6 or 12 months or a period of time on retainer pricing with little transparency.
It‘s part of the reason that we put our packages on the website – we want our clients to get the full information they seek before they make the initial enquiry. It also shows them how accessible we are.
What makes us most competitive is our service. We really fall in love with businesses we work on – sometimes I feel like I am running 30 businesses because I am always reflecting and trying to improve what we do for each and every one.
Congratulations on being a finalist for the past 3 years in the St George Local Business Awards – why did you achieve these accolades?
Thank you. It comes down to two things; every time we have been nominated we have become a finalist because our clients have voted us in. The second reason is that we have such a strong growth story; the business has doubled almost year on year. We see that as a testament to our clients being happy, and because of that we attract more clients.
Until around 2 years ago, I was working out of our study with a toddler and a newborn at my feet and now we have an office in St Peters. We have full and part timers working flexible hours across the week.
What are the key steps small businesses need to do, to set themselves up correctly from the start? 
The second you land on a great business idea register the domain name and business name. It sounds obvious but wait a day, and someone else snaps it up and you kick yourself for months to come!
Ensure you have really good contracts in place both with staff and with your clients so it leaves you less open to risk. It means as you grow the foundations of your business are strong.
Know when to just go for it. Many people get paralysed by perfectionism and it almost stops them from beginning. You are on a journey and you need to allow yourself to evolve – it is better to begin when you’re 75% satisfied than to wait for that elusive 100% and never get started. There’s a point where you have to hit the go button, learn and adjust.
What is a common misconception out there in entrepreneur-land?
That it’s easy, that it’s sexy and fun. That you’re going to build this business and have the ultimate lifestyle. Like anything in life, there is no quick way to the top. I have worked more than I ever have for any job before and I do it happily because I genuinely love what I do. There are, of course, the select few that can build a massive business quickly, but for the most part it is a lot of hard work.
3 tips could you share that could help a new or small business in effective digital marketing strategy?

  1. Get yourself a clear picture of your ideal client. Make it so clear that you can visualise them as a real person, then use them as a test against every piece of content you write, design, or post.
  2. Become structured about social media. Unless you have a plan in place that you roll out weekly or monthly, you run the risk that it may go by the wayside as other priorities arise.
  3. Build your own assets. Don’t just rely on social media as your whole business presence. Create a simple website or a well-maintained database with prospective clients that you regularly contact. These can’t be taken away from you and can leave you less vulnerable to social media changes.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Real people inspire me most. I learn so much from my team and what each individual team member brings to the table. I get inspired by a lot of clients that I work with too, who have grown their businesses or are trying to grow new ones through their dedication and commitment.
When on holiday are you a lay by the beach or pool kind of gal, or one who seeks constant adventure?
Oh definitely lay by the pool but I am married to a ‘get up and adventure’ kind of guy so pre-kids we had a lot of adventure holidays. I now use the kids as a great excuse to sit by the pool or beach by saying that it’s too hard to drag them around so we’ll just have to go to the beach.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
I love St Peters where we work – it’s a nice creative and rustic mix of people and businesses and there’s some great nooks like Sydney Park – great for a little bit of down time in the work week but also super fun for the weekend in getting out and about with the kids. It usually involves me lusting over all the adorable dogs and asking my kids if I’m allowed to get a puppy for my birthday!
I also love the Bay Run, it’s such a great place for a walk and a chat with a girlfriend, especially on an autumn night – it’s just spectacular. There’s really nothing like it in Sydney!
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