Opening doors with Door4: Lancashire’s award-winning digital marketing firm talk business, artificial intelligence, and the future

The phrase ‘do what you love’ is a pertinent one.

Case in point: Leon Calverley, who left university with a degree in building surveying but never developed a real passion for the work. Instead, he nurtured a love of website design, jumping at the chance to start a business in that industry back in the heady days of 2000.

That business was Door4, a performance marketing agency specialising in revenue optimisation. Having started life building websites for local companies, Door4 went on to land a series of large national and international pitches for websites across the private and public sectors, cementing itself as one of the North West’s preeminent digital marketing companies.

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“After leaving uni, I spent 18 months working at Time Computers before an old contact of mine who had a graphic design firm asked me if I wanted to set up a web design company,” says Leon, 47. “I’d been using the web for six years at that point and so I said yeah - it was the right fit at the right time, I had nothing to lose, and it was a great opportunity.

Door4 founder Leon Calverley (left) and MD Sean Dwyer

“That’s how Door4 was born and the rest is history - we’re now up to 22 employees and have offices in Burnley and Manchester,” he adds. “We’ve always generally been in digital marketing, but that looked very different back in 2000 when it was all about educating business as to why a website was a good idea! The work speaks for itself nowadays.”

Having ridden the Web 2.0 wave into the digital tech industry, Door4 now helps companies exceed their commercial goals by using data and creative marketing to connect them with target audiences and turn them into customers, maximising growth with cutting-edge digital tech platforms. Basically, they help businesses do a lot more business.

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“Originally, the opportunity to build websites was great for me because my key interests were technology and design, so I loved the work,” explains Leon, who is from East Lancashire himself. “Then, once you’ve got into the routine of working for yourself, it’s very difficult to go back to working for someone else.

“Now we’re looking at AI (artificial intelligence) and what being a data-driven business will look like for us in five years’ time,” he adds. “Our industry is undoubtedly going to change, which keeps things interesting, but I want us to be leading edge, not bleeding edge! There’s no rulebook for running a business, you just have to make sure you’re informed.

The Door4 team

“We’ve come far as a company and we make sure we learn from the past whilst not dwelling on it. It’s nice to look back on milestones, but it’s also about thinking what the next one will be,” continues Leon. “The future is about staying true to our values, riding the wave of tech in the right way, and moving up the food chain so our service isn’t commoditised.

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“We don’t take that lightly: I’ve seen a lot of agencies shut up shop over the last few years, partly because they just haven’t remained relevant. Touch wood we can make sure we’re still relevant for a few years to come.”

Door4 employees Sean Dwyer, Conrad Grimshaw, and Michael Brennan