As Britain sinks deeper into economic gloom, companies cut PR, marketing and advertising first in a bid to reduce costs. So surely the past 12 months has been the worst time to launch a new marketing agency? Apparently not. For Ben Harris, the founder of New Brand Vision, the reverse has been true.
Harris, 28, felt that there was a gap between what traditional marketing agencies offered clients and what the clients actually wanted. So in August 2002 he set up New Brand Vision, aimed at increasing clients' customer acquisition and customer retention. 'It's better than just being good at using direct mail or other marketing tools, because this is more responsive to client needs.'
The agency has already attracted big-fish clients like Microsoft, and is working on one-off projects with a handful of smaller firms. Turnover for the first six months was about pounds 100,000, and Harris reduced costs by not taking on full-time staff. Instead, he relies on a range of 40 experienced freelancers. 'This keeps our overheads down and reduces the premium for clients,' he explains.
A former employee of big agencies such as Ogilvy and Publicis, Harris is enjoying the comparative freedom of working for himself. 'I always felt I had loads of great ideas before but I never had the time to do anything about them,' he says. 'Now I don't think I'd ever go back to working for somebody else.'