From Reno to Bristol…
Like all great ideas, our plan to expand into the UK started over a few good beers! But seriously, although our passion for meeting new people IS thirsty work, there was plenty of hard graft that went into it behind the scenes.
Fortunately, the hard work paid off and at the end of last month, we were lucky enough to celebrate five years as a digital performance agency in the mighty Bristol, with some of those we’ve met along the way. From clients, partners and team members to collaborators, co-creators and close friends – we were humbled to see such a great turnout on a rainy Bristol Tuesday evening!
Taking place at one of the city’s jewels in the crown – St Georges concert hall – as well as raising a glass of wine to toast Noble Performs fifth birthday, several guests took to the floor to share their knowledge on everything from big brand secrets to AI tips & tricks and helping Bristol’s homeless community.
And last but not least, our MD Kate Sikora & US founder Jarrod Lopicollo shared their top five tips on successfully expanding your business into a new region.
While this is by no means a definitive list…
If you’re thinking about expanding your business to a new country or city, we hope the following pointers prove helpful…
1. Cast your anchor
Nope, this isn’t a reference to Bristol’s beautiful harbourside, (even though we love it!) this first pointer is about having an anchor client in the market you want to enter. Though not essential if the opportunity is ripe, having a base client in the city or region where you’re setting up stall can create a strong foundation to build on. Bringing profile and opportunity, not to mention essential cashflow for hiring employees and building momentum.
2. Keep your feet on the ground
Post pandemic no one has an office right? Maybe not always, but what successful expansions do have in our experience is someone on the ground. There’s just no substitute for real life human interaction, someone soaking up the local culture, checking the vibe, becoming part of the community and what makes it tick. When we first came to the UK we kept an open mind and checked out several cities but knew that Bristol was the right place for us to call home. The key is to keep an open mind and take your time to get it right.
3. Go through the looking glass
Don’t rush in, take the time to look at your products and services through the lens of the local market. You can’t just take your existing business offer and carbon copy it into a new region and expect customers to get it – or want it. Think about what your new market wants and what you have to offer it of value. For us this was performance marketing and customer service, but don’t be afraid to pivot within the interests of the local market, while still keeping within your comfort zone skillset wise.
4. Make meaningful connections
This one is a bit of a Noble mantra and at the heart of our business in the US too, but never is this as important as when starting out in a new market. When we came to Bristol we put the feelers out to literally every agency in town to see if they wanted to meet up with us for a coffee/beer! You soon find your kindred spirits – the collaborators, creators, partners, clients and employees that will help you build your business and vice versa. It’s also worth checking out any local business networks and organisations who might be able to help – we’ve found the support and advice we’ve had from both Creative Industries Bristol and Invest Bristol and Bath invaluable.
5. Shipshape & Bristol fashion
We had to get this one in somewhere! Not as much fun as building your business and meeting new people admittedly. However, having systems and processes in place from day one is a huge help to building your business successfully in the long run. If you have a parent company, don’t reinvent the wheel, dialling into finance systems etc at HQ will save you mountains of valuable time. Governance wise, when we started in Bristol having a board meeting every month did feel excessive, but it made us really focussed in on the numbers and growth from day one and looking back, it has been a key factor in our success.
Paying it forward
On a final note, our parting advice would be to pay it forward. We’ve been genuinely awestruck by the generosity of the Bristol creative community over the past five years in welcoming us to the city with open arms.
We’re always open to hearing from others who might be thinking about starting out here, or who are at the beginning of their journey and would love a friendly face to share a few beers or a coffee with them.
Get in touch! Maybe we can do great things together over the next five years?