Meet Alana Swain, Director of Grow NZ Marketing.
Starting your own business is no easy feat – try doing that on the back of New Zealand’s 2020 COVID-lockdown, with an eight-week-old baby in tow AND moving cities!
With a corporate background, Alana Swain’s desire to impart her industry knowledge and skills on to other business owners was a driving force to starting Grow NZ Marketing. Priding herself on her approachability, we learn about what sets Alana, one of our newest Chamber Members, apart from the rest.
Tell us a bit about you – how has your career to date landed you where you are today?
Growing up in Whitianga, I first started working in the Information Centre, learning the importance of relationships and connectivity to success in business.
University led me to Auckland, where I stayed through to graduating. I initially worked for smaller start-up businesses, then moved into what would become more than a decade at Westpac. Working in varied roles, my most recent position at Westpac had me overseeing and leading the largest service contact centre.
My experience to date saw me working on bettering customer and employee experiences, and driving stronger business outcomes, as a result of lifting engagement from those most important stakeholder groups. I have a huge passion and skill for creating customer advocates, as it’s the best way to sustainably grow any business.
Why did you start your business, Grow NZ Marketing?
Being in business for myself, I can adjust my business to my customer’s needs. Switching from the corporate world into marketing, I love utilising my insights and lessons I’ve gained, and bringing that to other business owners to help them out.
Marketing can be one of the more overwhelming elements for business owners and prioritising what is important is a real strength of mine. I love that my business is flexible and, with a young family, it means I have more time with them when they need me most.
What makes your business unique?
We approach marketing with a commercial lens. Our model is unique in that, as the licensee leading our growth in the Bay, I focus on strategy and the big picture of where our clients are heading.
I’m then supported by our Head Office team, who are all specialists and very talented in what they do – be it Google, Bing, SEO, Pinterest… you name it, they execute brilliantly.
When you first got into business, what is one thing you wish people told you?
Don’t try to do it all yourself. Surround yourself with great people and great things will happen.
In your first year of business, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Well, my first year of business was the year of COVID-19, and I was running my business basically during nap times when my youngest slept – fair to say, there were quite the number of challenges… most of which related to time management!
Now, looking back, what have been your biggest learnings?
Trying to run a business in naps is possible, but gosh it’s exhausting. I’ve learnt a lot about my own strength, but also in the importance of being able to ask for help and really prioritise what’s important to be done on a daily and weekly basis. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of the little things and not to sweat as much of the small stuff.
What’s the one misconception people have about your industry, marketing?
Marketing can be seen to be tricky, and often people get paralysed by the sheer overwhelm or the feeling that they need to know all the technical things behind the scenes.
Often, it’s much simpler than that, it’s about bringing business owners back to focusing on their key business goals, and what will help get them there.
When you take that view, and then add the lens of what your customer is doing, thinking, and feeling, backed up with some good data, you have the recipe for success in your marketing strategy.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about your business?
I’m approachable and am here to take the overwhelm away from you. Just like you, I’m in business with you (not an employee) and I get how overwhelming it can be to feel you have to do all the things. Often, a chat with me is enough to give you some clarity on your goals and feel like you now know where to from here.
I’d love people to take advantage of our complimentary 12-month membership which includes a complimentary initial consultation with me.
What are your goals (personal and professional) for the next six to 12 months?
Personally, I’d love to have a full night of sleep! Haha!
Professionally, I’d like to see our local Grow community be more than 100 members by the end of the year, and to have added a ton of value. This is really a special place in the country to be in business and if we all work together to build each other up, it’s going to be even better!
When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
Racing around after my two boys and our dog, which is usually outside, exploring the beach, playgrounds, and reserves. I also love to get onto my yoga mat at least a couple of times a week to keep me grounded.
If you could impart one piece of advice to fellow business owners, what would it be?
You are doing an amazing job – keep being great, and make sure you surround yourself with a real team of fellow business owners who will help remind you of how amazing you are.
Anything else you would like to add about your business or yourself?
If anyone would like to access a free 12-month subscription to our Grow NZ Business Community, they can do so, here using the code GrowNZbop.
New members can find it hard meeting people at events, so we want to take some of the pressure off that awkward small talk by shining a light on your business through our member profiles.
Our member profiles are a great way to give the business community a taste of who you are and what you do, so when they see your face at one of our events they won’t hesitate to make that all-important introduction.