Moving Forward With Zeal

Having already been nominated for two prestigious awards, the Yorkshire Woman of the Year for achievement in business and the 42 under 42, Jane Rutter, CEO of the digital marketing agency Zeal, herself is undoubtedly a woman with zeal. Jane spoke to Leeds Living about what lies beneath Zeal: their ethos, achievements and the simple truths about reaching growth in the current business world…..

Jane began her career in the marketing department of a thriving accountancy firm, and did not have the slightest idea of her capabilities until a recruitment agency had steered her towards the media industry. From there she passed from one agency to another, gaining knowledge and expertise until reaching the strength to found Zeal! “I always knew that I wanted to run an agency by the time I was 30, so when I was 29 I was determined. That’s when I left a large agency to set up Zeal”, said Jane, reminiscing over the early years.

Today, at a time when digital presence is vital not only for the success but also the survival of any given business irrespective of sector or nature, Zeal has stepped into the 8th year in business as a flourishing digital marketing agency, helping businesses across the country achieve and grow a strong digital presence. Speaking of the journey since, Jane said:

“I started Zeal almost 8 years ago and since then we’ve grown from just 2 to 30 full-time members of staff. Our achievements lie in us not limiting ourselves to one sector or type of client. We work with quite a good mix of clients across different industries and we deliberately work across a number of areas including finance, travel, e-commerce, luxury brands and more; with clients that are both very large and also rather small.”

Ranging in services from brand design, development and exposure to performance marketing, the company’s portfolio of clients has grown steadily during a very short span of time. Likewise, they currently serve not only local based small businesses but also global giants and in doing so compete successfully alongside some of the largest agencies in the country.

“I think the calibre of clients that we work with is a real achievement. For instance, we work for British American Tabaco’s non-combustible products sector, and we are the only agency that has stayed with them from the time they launched into the market over five years ago. To think we are a small agency in Leeds to be retained for the longest amount of time by a global corporation against other large agencies is probably quite an achievement,” Jane said.

As any forward-thinking employer would do, Jane has also acquired the strength of a talented team to support her and considers her staff one of Zeal’s greatest triumphs. She is proud of the culture and expertise they have created within the last 7 years. “This is personally something I consider as a great accomplishment. To see how individually people have grown and the culture we now have as an agency, to know that people who work for the company genuinely love it and have a real passion for it, is for me a massive achievement,” she highlighted.

Whether it is developing a brand from scratch or helping a client evolve an existing brand through a website, social media or blog; whether it is raising a brand’s voice, raising a profile, generating traffic or providing direct response channels, Zeal provides an honest service to their clients. The secret behind their success according to Jane is their level of engagement with clients, taking the time not only to educate them when necessary, but also creating a strong partnership. “I look through the analytics of some of our clients, and see their progress as a result of what we have done. For me that’s where the real excitement lies, seeing other people’s businesses grow as a result of our work”, said Jane.

Giving its name justice, Zeal has grown steadily from strength to strength and is now a full service digital and creative agency. Last year saw the opening of their London office that now hosts 4 full time staff, venturing outside the north to cater for exiting clients down south, as well as creating new opportunities in the UK and worldwide.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and to Jane Rutter it is a fine concoction that blends in a few simple ingredients. Speaking of the factors behind the strength and success, not only behind Zeal as a business but also herself as a successful businesswoman, Jane concluded:

“I always think that everybody is given the same opportunities but the difference is whether you see them as opportunities or not. Secondly I’m a massive believer that if you put good out you get good in. I’m very honest with my staff and my clients, I work hard and I deliver what I say I will deliver; because realistically being a good person in business is as simple as being a good person in life.”

Find out more about the company here

Kate Ryrie is a professional copywriter and self-confessed Leeds enthusiast. Find her in pursuit of creativity and culture, flavour and fun and magical moments in the city. @kateryrie


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