30 Apr 2013

Brits for Brits – Growing an 'American' company in the UK


(A promise – if I am in your UK offices and I accidentally slip and say ‘mobil’ instead of ‘mobile’, or ‘cell’ instead of just about anything else, you have my permission to punch me).

We Brits are a fickle bunch, and because of that, we have had to play our British expansion carefully, and as Chango UK continues to expand, it’s interesting to look at the decisions we made, particularly around who we hired and why.

For context, I ran global media at an ad agency, and was first tasked with establishing the London arm of the display team. I used to be deeply suspicious of ‘those’ American companies that would fly over, spend a few days kissing arses, buy a few dinners for us colloquial folk, and then leave in a cloud of pending IOs.

It would frustrate me because they would often bring the innovative ideas with them, the cool new stuff that simply hadn’t hit in the UK yet, but they didn’t have a real local business, and in fact barely more then a registered legal address somewhere. They had no plans to have a real human being that I could meet with after their plane took off, and they didn’t understand the landscape.

To them the UK is England, with no context of our immediate neighbours that make up the UK, even if some of them want to leave the party alone (ahem Scotland, I am looking at you)! And even worse, to them England is London, ignoring the immense talent that sits in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Ipswich, Brighton and many, many more places.

The problem for the companies doing the selling is that the UK is about one sixth the size of the US, and so the IOs are smaller, yet require the same amount of effort to close and deliver. The UK is often an afterthought, a box to tick when they can get around to it. And I understood those pressures, but I had to balance the excitement for their product with the question of 'could they really deliver'.

It was therefore critical for us that the Chango UK leadership were Brits through and through.; I am a Blackpool lad for goodness sake, and Martyn was born in Hemel Hempstead - can it get more British than that?!

And we weren’t short of candidates – many of my US and Canadian teams volunteered for the role of moving to London for ‘the good of the company’, and many others from outside applied, but it was very important that our team were local, spoke the language and understood the landscape.  It’s great to have a list of agencies to target that you already partner with in America, but it takes a local to know where the really valuable relationships are, and what they need.

The UK is going extremely well for us with many agencies and brands already on to their renewals thanks to the service and success they have seen, long may it continue.

I am in the UK every 2 weeks, and Martyn is there full-time with the team - if you would like to hear the story for yourself feel free to reach out through the site, or drop us an email. We offer the full range of Chango to the UK market including our self-serve Programmatic Marketing Platform, Search Retargeting, Programmatic Site Retargeting and Look-alike Targeting. And as the 2nd largest source of search data in the UK (just after Google), no one can beat us on performance.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Dax,

That's a pretty spot-on analysis. It still amazes me today how few vendors actually "get it" regarding having local staff to support a brand. Granted, our company is located in San Francisco, which makes it infinitely easier.

Overall though, what is the point in working with a company if you can't go down the street to talk with at least someone on the team? Sometimes the phone simply doesn't cut it.

Glad to hear you all are doing it right.

-David Mausolf

Unknown said...

Dax,

That's a pretty spot-on analysis. It still amazes me today how few vendors actually "get it" regarding having local staff to support a brand. Granted, our company is located in San Francisco, which makes it infinitely easier.

Overall though, what is the point in working with a company if you can't go down the street to talk with at least someone on the team? Sometimes the phone simply doesn't cut it.

Glad to hear you all are doing it right.

-David Mausolf