Mark Curtis, founder and managing director of Fusion Unlimited – an independent digital marketing agency based in Leeds – writes for Digital City on the rise of Yorkshire as a centre of excellence for digital business and why London no longer has the lure it once had for clients.
For some time, the misconception existed that London was the only place a large client could find the media, marketing and creative talent they needed.
Often it was believed that to use an agency outside of London was a riskier decision for marketing directors, unless, of course, they wanted harder working direct response activity.
For this, the mail order giants GUS, Empire et al of the North excelled and there were great agencies in our region.
The irony, of course, is that those very same agencies in Yorkshire that thrived on direct response as a means of driving measurable return on investment for their clients were the first to recognise the significance of data, and the opportunity that the internet held for growing their clients’ businesses.
Agencies in the north of England were early pioneers of digital marketing and independent specialist agencies grew quickly.
Today, most agencies, London based or not, are performance-led, with data at the heart of their planning.
In Yorkshire we’ve had two decades of specialism in this area and that has created a significant and growing talent pool that attracts clients from across the UK and, significantly, many headquartered in London.
In recent years, we’ve seen the number of digital agencies based in Yorkshire increase dramatically as the region attracts talent due to more reasonable business and living costs.
People are tiring of overcrowding, pollution and expensive living, and with large companies also choosing to move to Yorkshire, there are now more opportunities in a diverse number of roles than ever before.
Channel 4 and Burberry are two recent well-known names who have made the decision to move some – if not all – of their operations to Leeds and there are already plenty of well-established brands based in the city, including Sky Betting & Gaming, GHD, Jet2 and Arla Foods.
This means that not only are there plenty of agency roles to consider as digital agencies grow and flourish due to expanding client bases, but those working within digital marketing also have the opportunity to work on significant blue chip clients with multi-million pound digital marketing budgets.
These possibilities equal great news for recruitment within the digital marketing sector in Leeds, as the city is able to offer candidates, and in particular graduates, the roles they are seeking.
This helps to ensure that we are retaining talent, which is good news for continuing to attract new business and for the local economy.
Fusion Unlimited, like many digital marketing agencies in Leeds, has a large number of clients based in London who have chosen us on the basis of talent, cost and performance, not location.
The north/south agency divide is no more within our digital sector – if only investment in transport infrastructure could be the same.