Online marketing agency Bigfoot Digital has taken giant steps during 2014, with its workforce and turnover more than doubling in size.
The company, founded in 2009 by Mark Woodcock and Lindsey Watson, started the year with six employees and ended it with 15.
It has even bigger ambitions for 2015. It is expecting staff numbers to more than double again and will create a number of work experience positions and apprenticeships to help young people get jobs in the digital sector.
Bigfoot Digital offers search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing services to help a wide range of business clients maximise their online presence and actively engage with customers through the internet.
During 2014 the firm recruited a video production expert, an outreach specialist and a content strategist, and expanded its social media team and SEO team to the extent that it now has a dedicated section for online technical SEO support.
Estimated turnover for 2014 was just over £400,000, with profits doubling from around £40,000 to £80,000.
Bigfoot Digital, which moved from Wakefield to Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre in 2011, is being given free advice by business support programme Enterprising Barnsley, which is run by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
In the next 12 months the company is planning to employ more staff for new business development as well as more executives in social media and SEO.
It will also introduce an extensive work experience programme as well as a competition which will secure at least one young person an apprenticeship with the company.
Mark Woodcock said: “Bigfoot Digital has already made huge strides and has got even bigger ambitions for 2015. We are fully expecting the business to at least double in size again in the next year.
“We also envisage creating a large number of work experience placements in the next 12 months. Our vision is to have a bank of desks with students coming in and gaining valuable, paid, work experience.
The aim is to help the sector out and give young people the chance to gain the work experience that is so valuable when looking for jobs.
At the same time it gives us the opportunity to identify talent and tap into this when we are looking to recruit.
“Our other big plan is to launch a competition called ‘The Marketing Apprentice’ for which we will encourage young people to enter a creative piece of work via a dedicated website.
“The winner will be awarded an apprenticeship with our company.”
The company’s growth has been backed by Enterprising Barnsley with coaching in human resources, accounts and off-line marketing.
Mark said: “The support has been excellent for us and is definitely one of the reasons we have grown so quickly.
“We have had numerous coaches whose knowledge we have been able to tap into as and when we have needed it. We’re at a point now where we can really ramp things up a level.”
When Bigfoot Digital first started its clients were mainly local SMEs but it was soon working with names such as Lindam, the UK’s number one brand for child safety gates, and Munchkin, a big American baby products manufacturer.
In the past year it has secured other high-profile clients including local NHS trusts; UK lawn treatment company Greensleeves; SIG plc, a leading distributor of specialist building products in Europe; Travel Counsellors; Hotel Life Collection, and Omnia Property Group.
Mark said: “We started dealing with smaller companies and are now working with bigger companies who have bigger budgets. This doesn’t mean we are forgetting the smaller firms.
“Because of our size we are able to offer a number of ‘bolt-on’ affordable packages to suit all companies whatever their size and budget.”
Mark believes the reason for Bigfoot Digital’s success is keeping up-to-date with the ever-changing online and digital sector.
He said: “SEO is a difficult subject. Google is making changes all the time and a lot of SEO companies have stood still and are still using old tactics. We invest heavily in training and are constantly testing out techniques.
“The digital sector is really booming. The country has suffered for a while financially and businesses have turned to online marketing because high street sales aren’t as good as they used to be.
“There is also more confidence with buying online so inevitably more budget is going into online marketing. As well as securing more clients our existing ones are coming back to us with bigger budgets.”
Adrian Waite, of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “It is incredibly pleasing to see a company like Bigfoot Digital grow at such a rate, creating jobs for local people and delivering a real benefit to the economy.
“It is great to see their ambitious plans for 2015 and I am delighted that the company is taking active steps to help more and more young people start a career in the digital and creative sector, which is an increasingly successful part of Barnsley’s economy.”
Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.