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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Kate Williams

Kate Williams, based in Exeter, Devon, is a leading digital marketing expert and the founder of renowned digital agency KW Marketing.

After a decade working for big lifestyle brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, BMW and Nintendo, honing her expertise and craft, in 2017 Kate launched her own consultancy focused on delivering outstanding results, helping ambitious brands to THRIVE and grow through powerful and impactful digital marketing strategies.

Frequently recognised with award nominations across the South West of England, Kate, an email marketing specialist at heart, has organically grown and built a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in Devon and London, which has evolved to specialise in supporting a diverse range of clients in eCommerce and food & drink.

As the CEO and founder, Kate is one of the UK’s leading specialists for strategic digital marketing. Alongside her small but mighty team, she offers a suite of services designed to get results including digital marketing consultancy, social media both organic and paid, email marketing, Google ads and website design, Kate also hosts workshops and masterclasses for brands looking to increase their revenue and boost their business via digital marketing.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was always creative growing up and when I went through school I adored Media Studies, Product Design and IT. These subjects are where my love for digital ignited and that spark quickly grew.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with two fantastic bosses whilst working at The Range and Mercedes-Benz. They both wanted to share their knowledge and help me achieve, and thanks to them I flourished in my career.

My Dad always said to me ‘Surround yourself with the best’ and that’s what I have done. Since starting in my parents’ spare room in 2017, I’ve gone on to build an incredible team, with offices in Exeter and London, and a rapidly growing client base of dream brands.

2024 has been such a strong start for KW Marketing. One of my biggest pinch-me moments to date is being stood at a food and drink event and brands big and small, established and new, telling us, ‘I hear you’re the food and drink experts’. Yes, we absolutely are and our mission to become the number one food and drink digital marketing agency is fast becoming a reality!

How did the idea come to you for the company?

When I grew up, I saw my Dad as the leader of a business and watched my brothers becoming successful in their fields, (one of brothers even played rugby for England!), which spurred me on to find my own path to success too.

While I wasn’t sure what this looked like originally, as I built my career in digital marketing, I saw that I was consistently getting great results for my clients and was becoming well known. The next step for me was simple; it was time for me to go it alone, focus on clients I was passionate about working with, and build my own business.

I was ready to launch KW Marketing, and despite a little bit of fear, being made redundant gave me the push I needed to take the leap. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else now.

How did you achieve awareness?

I have worked really hard for it! I’ve never been the type to network but I have always made sure to be seen and known in our area, both sector wise in food and drink and geographically in the South West. People primarily know me and the team through recommendations, the amazing results we achieve for our clients and things like award nominations, and that is something I am super proud of.

2024 is the year of elevating our brand awareness even more, we are going big. We know we can help food and drink brands to thrive and we are not messing around, it’s go big or go home time! That looks like more in-person events, awards, press features, guest speaking engagements, you name it, we’ll be doing it.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

My mum always says to me, ‘Baby steps Kate’. When things get overwhelming she reminds me it’s one step at a time and just putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s exactly the motto I have taken with KW Marketing.

Some days are overwhelming but I break it down, look at the priorities and keep moving. We’re completely self-funded, I’ve grown the business myself from a one-woman band, to a fantastic team (90% of whom are women), and working with big national clients like Popcorn Kitchen and Wholefoods.

We’ve been on a huge growth journey and that’s meant a lot of risk-taking and a lot of learning, which has paid off big time. Now we’re entering a new era for KW Marketing, which is so exciting.

What are the key successes?

We’ve had some huge results, in the last 12 months alone we’ve seen an incredible 70% rise in revenue, phenomenal new business wins (with 5 since the start of January alone!), new team members, award nominations and we’ve opened a new office in Notting Hill to sit alongside our Exeter HQ.

Of course, all that is wonderful but what really lights me up is the results we get for our clients. I love seeing our clients’ marketing campaigns paying off; helping a husband and wife team to double their turnover or a family business to get stocked in national stores is amazing and something we stop at nothing to achieve.

A real highlight is being able to support charities and vital initiatives close to us, like Farms for City Children in our home county of Devon. Being able to give back, while growing our own and our clients’ brands is the best feeling.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

Time. Resource. Energy.

Believe it or not, we champion energy. I say to my team that we turn up and show our positive energy to our clients every single day because that’s what makes us different. We care about their products and businesses just as if they are our own.

One of the biggest challenges I have had to face personally is my own energy and safeguarding it. One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is to always prioritise. If it’s not important or won’t make a difference to what you are doing (as a business or a client) then don’t do it. It’s been my key to managing a very busy workload and a rapidly growing company.

What are your plans now/for the future?

Our continued rapid growth is our biggest priority. We’re in such an exciting phase of business, and are well on our way to fulfil our mission to become the UK’s go-to digital marketing agency for food and drink brands. Our big focus right now is increasing our brand awareness; expect to see us everywhere! Guest speaking, events, in the press, we’re on a mission to go big, that way we can help even more incredible foodie brands across the UK to thrive as well.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

KEEP GOING! KEEP MOVING! It can be a tough gig at times, but be disciplined and keep showing up, even when it feels slow or hard, in those times is when you pave the way for the success in the good times.

The best piece of advice is what I give to my clients; start from the end. What’s the goal? Find it and work backwards. My reason why I do what I do is to help businesses share their stories and let others see how amazing we already know they are. Always start with the end goal in mind, then carve the path to get there, and don’t be afraid to try something different or stand out.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Safeguard your own wellbeing. You can’t shine if you aren’t performing to your maximum potential. Boundaries are your best friend!

Some days I clear my whole diary to give me some time and space to recharge the batteries. Other days I go to the gym to let out the stress. It’s all about finding what works for you and protecting your energy, that is the most valuable currency you have!

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

  1. My Dad – he’s an absolute boss at what he did and so well respected by everyone around them. I am pushing so hard to follow in his footsteps.
  2. My previous boss from Mercedes-Benz – A female powerhouse who used to stand in front of 21 men in the senior leadership team and deliver the digital marketing results and activities with confidence and ease. I want to fly the flag just like she did for women in male dominated industries, because it is still hard work on our side of the fence!
  3. My team – Strong, passionate, driven, confident, reliable, considerate, clever, thoughtful, kind and most of all… THE BEST team players I could ever wish for.
  4. Really cliche but me! I have found my own lane, my own path, all by surrounding myself with the best people. And even in the last two years, I feel like my own personal growth has been exciting to watch and I am super proud of it and what’s to come in future.
  5. Karen Brady – she’s a female boss, a Queen and holds her own against men including Lord Alan Sugar on The Apprentice. She’s also worked hard for her status and is an inspiration!

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“Obstacles will come your way. Guaranteed. Think of them as a gift. They will make you stronger. They will make you more creative. Rather than break you, they will define you.”

“Perfection comes over time. Not at the beginning. Start where you are. But start!’

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?