Miles Welch, Partner and Brett Davis, Managing Partner at Waypoint Partners head up a debate over all things USA. Miles and Brett, in addition to other agency owners, discuss the US market, things to consider before taking the plunge and the importance of location.
Waypoint Partners work mainly in the marketing and tech sector, with 25 team members around the world. They launched in the US around 18 months ago. In terms of competition, Brett suggests Waypoint can be ‘separated from the competition because they offer both sides of the consulting service for advertising and marketing, but also the transactional side.’ Brett also mentions that a big chunk of his workforce come from agency backgrounds from both the UK and the US.
When asked about the US market presently, Brett suggests that ‘although COVID-19 has hit the personal lives of those working, businesses are still operating as before.’ He suggests ‘as with the rest of the world, technological based business are excelling in this market.’
Miles notes that when deciding whether the US is for you, ‘it really does depend on your business and personal ambitions. The wrong way to start is through ego with very little strategy. It can make a lot of sense if it is client-need driven.’
When asked about where to set up, Brett suggests it ‘is dependent on the type of talent and client that you’re seeking. If you’re looking for a heavy digital team and you don’t need heavy client interaction, it could make sense to set up in Atlanta, or Texas. If, instead you’re serving the financial sector, San Francisco and New York can be hot areas.’ But Brett emphasises that you will need to work somewhere that works for both your clients, and your pocket.
Nik Entwistle suggests that when he moved into the US market, he moved another of ‘his team members from the UK out there first, to maintain and establish the brand.’ He also would go out to the US for 2-week stints to meet with clients and the whole team throughout the first year working there.
Miles explains the logistics of moving over to the US. He explains that his company set up a holding company above them as a separate entity which helped with any legal issues. Brett emphasises the need to consider your exit strategy. ‘Even in the best-case scenario, how will [you] get [your] money out?’
If setting up your own office in the US is not viable for your agency, Miles suggests that looking into the ‘synergy of how you could possibly work with another agency via a merger or acquisition.’
In regard to COVID, Brett suggests that ‘if you can offer design, development, web-based products, you will be able to make money in the US in the next few months, more so than in usual conditions.’