Unlocked: The key to success in marketing
BE PASSIONATE about your business, have ambition and see innovation as key.
This was the message to the region's business people at the latest event run by the Chartered Institute Of Marketing (CIM).
Hedley Aylott is the managing director of Summit Media, a digital specialist in online retail.
The company boasts a host of blue-chip retail clients, including Three Mobile, Homebase, Argos and Comet but the businessman has taken an unusual route.
Despite having a mechanical engineering degree and a Master's in composition, after taking an opportunity to participate in a media project in a two-week songwriting and recording project for ten inmates in Norwich, Mr Aylott went on to work in Strangeways Prison. There, he ran musical projects and created a record with the inmates. The Summit became a top 40 hit.
After his success there, Mr Aylott got a call from East Yorkshire's Wolds Prison and everything changed for the businessman.
He launched Summit Media in the prison as an arts project.
Before long, the business had a small mobile building in the prison and it was running as a marketing company, with the inmates building websites.
The company's ambition was to provide businesses with highly effective online marketing services supported by a pioneering training and rehabilitation scheme for prisoners that could lead to employment upon release.
Mr Aylott said that in the prison the individuals had a lot of belief and passion.
He said: "It changed a lot of people's lives massively but it also built a business.
"Out of 500 people, I have seen fewer than 20 reoffend over the past 12 years.
"We picked a market and product at exactly the right time."
As the business continued to grow, Summit Media moved into a farm in at North Cliffe, near Market Weighton, and created a media centre. With so much land going spare, Mr Aylott also set up White Rose Polo Club – now a thriving venue.
The growing business ran out of space once again, so it moved to its new larger premises at Albion Mills in Willerby, where it now has 140 staff and saw a £30 million turnover last year.
The company now recruits prisoners from all over the UK, using a rigorous application process in which the inmates must present business plans, advertising campaigns and design a website.
Mr Aylott said: "We have the most amazingly motivated workforce who are grateful for the opportunities and want to get out there and find a job.
"They have the passion and the belief. Their attitude is excellent.
"To make something successful, it is about the group of people you have."
His advice to businesses in the region was simple.
Mr Aylott, who now also has offices in London and Prague, said: "The world is changing, fast. Businesses need to have the ability to embrace change.
"People are living in the wrong generation. Why don't you have 16 and 17-year-olds in the boardroom to tell you how people shop nowadays? Everyone is online.
"Speed is of the essence and you need to make sure you have passionate staff, ambition and desire and seize every day – we never know where we are going to be."