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Formed in 2011 as a full-service digital agency, TAG Digital have expanded into Dubai with the help of our Make it to Market funding.

Taking photos with smartphone at a gig
TAG Digital has secured a contract with one of the world’s leading event companies in Dubai

Tag digital laura davidson
Laura Davidson, director, TAG Digital

We met Laura Davidson, director of TAG Digital, to discuss how a small innovation grant helped to establish the agency in Middle East markets. 

"Initially, we were a full-service digital agency – we did web, social, email and branding. Over the last five years, we’ve really refined the service offering. We still do little bits and pieces of web, but 90% of the business is now paid search, social advertising and analytics" says Laura.

"Now, we’re exclusively a pay per click (PPC) agency – so we’re mainly handling paid advertising. About 80% of our client base are events companies based throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East."

A chance discovery

"I own the business with my husband. We formed the business to work for ourselves, as it was an area we had a lot of experience in and thought it was something we could be successful with. It’s grown. We were in Milngavie initially, and then opened an office in London. We’ve also opened an office in the Whisky Bond in Glasgow.

"We discovered the grant by chance" remembers Laura. 

"We got an email saying that an adviser from Scottish Enterprise was available, and it would be worthwhile to go and talk to them. We were already in the process of expanding internationally, and I knew that they would be able to provide the support. So we thought, let’s go and see what we could get.

"We spoke to Neil, and he thought we’d be good candidates for the Make it to Market grant. We applied, found we were successful, and it all happened really quickly. We worked with our adviser, Conall McGinley, and he was good at getting everything through quickly."

They used the extra financial help from the grant to realise their existing plans of going to the Middle East on a product research trip. 

"We really needed to commit to it. So we went to Dubai."

We secured a major client in Dubai, Informa, who are one of the world’s leading event companies. We hired a new member of staff. We've also secured a contract with Messe Frankfurt...it’s definitely helped us. The investment has been far smaller than what we’ve got back, basically.

Laura Davidson, founder, TAG Digital

Connections and contracts in Dubai

On that trip, they began talking to potential clients and partners about their services and how they could help. 

"We were there really just to get feedback" says Laura. 

"Was it realistic what we were trying to achieve? Was it the right marketplace? And whilst we were there, we were able to set up meetings with other potential clients and partners. It was a combination of a bit of product research, a bit of new business and a bit of understanding the market."

Whilst out there, they began to enquire about what it would entail to set up an office. It wasn't straight-forward, but they found out how to simplify it. 

"We did a bit of research on how to have a stable presence there. It was really good, and we’re going back in two weeks to get a follow-up on some other work that came from that first meeting."

What did they get out of the trip? "We secured a major client there, Informa, who are one of the world’s leading event companies. We hired a new member of staff. We’ve also secured a contract with Messe Frankfurt, and we’re recruiting for someone else. It’s definitely helped us. The investment has been far smaller than what we’ve got back, basically."

Support and guidance

This was the first piece of support they'd had from Scottish Enterprise. 

"We’ve kind of done our own thing for the last five years, so we didn’t really know what support was out there" says Laura. 

Receiving early start-up support from Business Gateway, they've recently been put in a growth pipeline and were nominated in the 2016 HSBC Scottish Export Awards, in the category of Emerging Start-up Exporter.

"We’re working with another business consultant, but we’ve found out that there’s going to be a lot more support available. We’re open to knowing more about it."

Would you recommend Make it to Market?

"Yes, definitely. It wasn’t a difficult process applying for it. It’s easy to get put off by applying for grants and support when you think there’s a lot of work to do, but there wasn’t."

"The team were very helpful in helping us pull together what we needed to; they were very clear and it’s definitely allowed us to do something that we possibly wouldn’t have had the budget to do before. So yeah, absolutely. We’ve definitely had the results back. And more."

Next steps

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