With under 10 employees we consider The DM Lab to be so much more than a Micro Business.
Why? We’ve put together a few points below to explain what it is our Micro Business, The DM Lab, does and what we want to achieve…
Here’s a brief description of our Micro Business, the products or services it supplies, its customers and the markets that it operates in
The DM Lab is a design and digital marketing agency. We specialise in marketing and become the white label marketing department for those we work with. This covers search engine optimisation, graphic and web design, email marketing, Pay-Per-Click (Google AdWords for example), blogging and social media management. It is about appealing to and attracting a potential customer. It is not fighting for attention over the customer. We achieve this by making it easy for them to find you. It is making brilliant marketing simple, which is also our tagline! When we first began trading in 2010, the local market was already saturated with other similar agencies. Instead of competing, we made our mark outside of the county. By 2014 we realised that there was a gap in the market for quality digital marketing as a focused service. A focused service rather that just a ‘bolt-on’ to web design following completion.
We rebranded from McTip IT to The DM Lab in 2014. We have gained considerable notoriety in the local market. Working with a number of local businesses (large and small) as well as national and multi-national companies in any and every sector.
Outline the overall trend in your sales turnover and profit development together with a brief description of any key events that have led to any changes
From 2010 to 2014 we were trading as ‘McTip IT Limited’. We broke even year on year and steadily increased our client base. Between the two directors the company was self-funded. No loans, overdrafts, investors or outside financial assistance. When we restructured the business into a design and marketing agency we needed to rebrand to express and communicate this. Since The Digital Marketing Laboratory (The DM Lab) established in 2014, we have enjoyed successive years of growth and last financial year was our best to date. As our skills and management improve we’re able to undertake more work which is the reason for this success and sustained growth.
We are no longer a jack-of-all trades, we market and we market well. This refocus has assured us long term stability and sustainability. Why? Because design agencies are offering what we specialise in as an additional service. Websites are commonplace, but knowing what to do with them when they are online and optimising them for search to increase leads, sales and presence is something else entirely. We offer the full spectrum of services with a specific focus on the long-term success of anyone we work with.
What are the objectives for our Micro Business over the next three years and how will these be achieved?
When we established the limited company in 2010, it was right in the middle of the recession, but we survived. From 2014 when we rebranded The DM Lab to today we’ve experienced significant growth. The direction of the business is set up for long term goals. As the market gets saturated with websites they become harder to find as a primary income. Knowing what to do and how to properly market a website is what we focus on. This isn’t a one-off payment. We have a retainer model and we work month to month applying all necessary aspects of marketing to our clients. Fighting for web real estate means succeeding or failing for some business and especially online shops. We work with our clients to succeed and grow. As they see results, they are encouraged and feel confident in reinvesting back into marketing.
Our business model is based on our clients succeeding. If they grow, we grow. Last year we looked to recruit our first full time member of staff and we looked at relocating in order to accommodate them. This year we expect to make that happen.
The DM Lab’s achievements since it was established and how these were accomplished
We started out in 2010 doing, literally, anything IT based. Building PCs, fixed PCs, built websites worked on graphic design projects – anything to make money. It was obvious to us we were busy fools. With a background in computer science and graphic design, the two directors realised we could offer something more. Not compete for website jobs but take a website and turn it into a powerful marketing tool. Something more than something you’re expected to have and that’s it. As we grew we became ISO 9001 accredited so we could appeal to bigger companies. Assuring them that we were as good as bigger agencies but could accomplish more. Our inhouse project management flourished and we streamlined everything to become more efficient. We were fast becoming recognised as a company that other businesses wanted to work with.
We were welcomed back into the local market and have worked with over 50 local companies.
Some of which we continue to work with through our retainer model. This success in the local market was recognised at the Herefordshire Business Awards where we won ‘Growing Business of the Year’ and ‘Entrepreneur / Business of the Year’ at the Sunshine Pride awards last year.
The DM Lab has set-up a client base of over 120 that stretches worldwide and covering many different sectors. We are also accredited with being a Google Partnered agency, working with clients with all kinds of budgets and needs. We have established a longterm partnership with Manchester based company UKFast to offer premium hosting services since September 2013. Other notable achievements are 3 wins on 99Designs and 2 x runners up for our design side of the business and we’re listed as 1 of 3 best rated marketing agencies in Hereford on Three Best Rated. All these achievements have helped us earn the confidence and trust of potential and existing clients, assuring them we do not stop striving for the best for them which in turn we are rewarded for.
What challenges have we faced as a Micro Business and how have we overcome these challenges?
Our initial challenges came in our early days as a newly established micro business. New was deemed to be untested and therefore untrusted it seemed. Overcomng this by simply opting out of looking in the local market and looked further afield. We were welcomed by these businesses and Business Language Services based in Cardiff were one of our first, and still are, one of our clients today! We applied our trade and it became apparent quite quickly that we are good at what we do. To our knowledge we do not have a single client who we have worked with who has felt unsatisfied withThe DM Lab’s services.
One of our biggest challenges as a Micro Business comes from our bank (NatWest) and the distinct lack of help we receive from them.
Having no overdraft has impacted on cashflow occasionally and a reluctance to generally help us out financially has been the main factor slowing us down with regard to growing. Unsurprisingly, now we are making money they are continually offering us what we needed years ago but we refuse to accept it even today! We’ve got this far on our own!
Although we managed finances despite this, the main impact we saw as a result was just on paper and these ‘financial issues’ affect such applications as loans and overdrafts. This didn’t affect the business as a whole, in fact we became very stringent on purchases and expenditures. As a result of being sensible and frugal, retrospectively this helped us overcome the economic downturn at the time and continue trading while others around us suffered. We are now at capacity and are working hard to keep up with this growth.
The challenge now is to recruit an apprentice with a longterm future with the company, along with this we are in the process of finalising a relocation to new premises to accommodate our expanding team to keep up with the company’s growth!
What are we currently doing to grow the service we offer and grow our market share?
We offer a complete marketing service. The way we ensure it is complete is by ensuring everything we do is current. We are continuously learning and evolving. The digital world of marketing is ever changing. Especially the way Google continually updates how you rank by rolling out algorithm updates and changes. To ensure we are on top of our game, we have to have our finger on the pulse. If we don’t, we’ll get left behind and we won’t be doing our job. By keeping abreast of developments we are able to apply new techniques to our clients’ marketing efforts. It is ever changing so we are constantly developing and honing new techniques.
Although we’re a Micro Business, we’re striving to be market leaders and we won’t achieve this using out of date methods.
Our results speak for themselves. When our clients see a return on their investments they tell other business owners. Almost 70% of our work comes from referrals. When we meet a new client, more often than not we have already sold our services to them. This is based on what they have been told which really does give us huge satisfaction. The rest of the work is self-generated through clever networking or connections, as well as tapping into some very useful influencers. We regularly take trips to London where we have developed an excellent presence, and accrued many clients.
We are also in the process of finalising a relocation to new premises to accommodate our expanding team to keep up with the company’s growth in the city centre. This is to cater for the employment of an apprentice. We are currently in the process of reviewing applicants to help our business grow even further. Investing in the future of our company. With the capacity to grow the team further in the potential new office space we have we are confident we are set for further future growth.