We talk to young entrepreneur Grant Ridley, owner of marketing agency GR Marketing.
Tell us a bit about your business, GR Marketing.
Grant Ridley Marketing provides outstanding creative marketing services to small businesses and start-ups. So what does that mean? It means, we do things a bit differently.
We focus on exciting ideas that attract a lot of PR attention whilst enhancing the customer experience of the client in hand. Guerrilla Marketing and Experiential Marketing is what gets us excited!
I’m also busy launching a new business/brand in the North East called Toonpreneur® - a business offering unique entrepreneurial events and selling the best of Geordie-land to the world.
Where did you get the idea to start it?
The idea for GR Marketing came as the recession kicked in.
Many businesses when it comes to cutting costs, the first thing they cut is the marketing budget.
Not only do I believe this is fundamentally wrong (marketing spend should increase), I believe there are ways in which we can reduce spend without reducing the amount of marketing we actually do.
Hence why I set up GR Marketing, as low cost alternative to traditional advertising with the aim of offering low cost/high impact marketing.
How did you know there was a gap in the market you could fill?
I was well aware of the vast amount of marketing companies across the UK and in particular in my North East region.
I could see that there was no particular company that was offering or specialising in what I was planning.
Furthermore, through market research, I found many companies that were excited by my plans and wanted this sort of business to exist.
What were you doing before you set up GR Marketing?
Living in the North East, I went to Newcastle College for 2 years and completed the International Baccalaureate before going on to attend the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy where my entrepreneurial journey truly began.
I worked in a shoe shop for a year, had a paper-round as soon as I was old enough - I guess the work ethic has always been in me.
Have you always wanted to be your own boss?
No, and I wasn’t selling sweets in the playground and I wasn’t making money from the age of 2, in fact I was just like most other lads, playing football and loving PE at school.
I’m not from a business background and I didn’t get my first taste of business until college where I won a National Enterprise competition.
I loved watching programmes like the Apprentice & Dragons Den and it was in year 11 at school when I first said “I’m going to be a millionaire by 40”.
What were the major challenges you had to overcome when starting up?
Lack of finance - I had very little money and spent £200 on personal website because I’m a strong believer in creating a solid personal brand to back up your business and intentions.
I had part time jobs to fund my start-up and did consultation work, so whatever I earned was pure profit that I could re-invest.
Legal, I received a solicitor’s letter 2 months into running my business from a company that said I was infringing on a trademark they had.
After consulting lawyers and solicitors at the highest levels it turns out I would have probably won the case if I had taken it to court.
However, I had little finance and couldn’t afford to take it to court not knowing how long the case would drag on for.
I took a big decision to rebrand. This was a big learning curve so early on and one that has made me stronger and a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to trademarks and legal protection.
How have you been marketing your business?
FREE PR! I seem to have the knack of gaining lots of free press attention; I must have had thousands of pounds worth over the past year all for free.
I market my business through social media, attending business events and spreading it via word of mouth.
I like to practise what I preach, hence why I spend little/no money on my marketing, yet gain high impact.
Any tips for other budding entrepreneurs out there?
I see so many budding entrepreneurs and my advice would be keep things simple.
From the business name to the way the business is run, simple and effective is best.
You have to have common sense or you’re doomed...unfortunately common sense isn’t very common.
One final thing, check out the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling - I live my life by this because it really inspires me to be the best person I can be.
Please check out my website and follow me on Twitter!