We all know you can find digital marketing talent in London, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and other definitive ‘tech cities’ around the UK. But there is one area of the country that has remained firmly under the radar despite being a serious contender in the creative digital industry.
Make a Google search for ‘digital agency Staffordshire’ (or anything similar) and you’ll see a number of agencies competing for your attention; many offering best-in-class digital services at lower-than-usual prices. But what is it that makes Staffordshire such a hot-bed for online marketing?
1. Access to Fresh Talent
Staffordshire University is one of the UK’s leading institutions for the Arts, certainly within academia. Their dedicated Faculty of Art & Creative Technologies is very forward-thinking in that it pulls journalism, photography, visual effects, web design, fine art, animation, data studies and many more elements of the contemporary marketing landscape under one umbrella. Keele University is another fine example; offering courses such as Creative Computing alongside their more traditional graphic and web design courses.
As is the case in rival cities, local university graduates are very well prepared to tackle the real-world of agency marketing; so it’s unsurprising that good web design agencies are rife in Staffordshire.
2. Affordable Prices
Staffordshire is quite unique amongst its rivals because it is a fairly rural county as opposed to a sprawling urban mass. Granted there are towns and cities such as Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford, but none quite match the scale of the metropolitan cityscapes usually associated with the tech industry.
The benefit is that the cost of living doesn’t compare either. Staffordshire is a cheaper place to live and work. Offices and rates are cheaper too. As a result, many Staffordshire agencies have lower overheads; meaning they can charge the client slightly less while still providing the same level of talent, knowledge and expertise as any big city competitor.
3. Entrepreneurs & Competition
While it seems a shame that Staffordshire has been largely unrecognised for web design and creative digital marketing, it must be said that the lack of attention has been a core driver for the industry. Unlike the big cities which house globally recognised names such a Saatchi, JWT and TBWA, Staffordshire has no particular agency that dominates the landscape (well, apart from us of course!).
In practical terms, this means that budding talent is not funnelled narrowly into a handful of companies – i.e. disappearing into a corporate vacuum – but rather spreads out dynamically amongst the most promising young and growing agencies instead.
To add to this, there is a very strong entrepreneurial spirit in Staffordshire. Freelancers flourish due to the factors mentioned above and then form collaborations with each other, ultimately seeding new agency models and partnerships.
In practice, most Staffordshire agencies are less interested in winning self-serving awards than they are in developing strong case studies based on results. They are more focused on the client’s ROI than on their own margins: Vanity and high premiums are not luxuries they can allow themselves if they want to compete.
Having something to prove has added a new environmental pressure, forcing Staffordshire web design agencies to evolve in ways that most big city agencies shy away from. If you want to spend less and get more, using a Staffordshire web design agency is an excellent place to start.