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UKTI’s the Export Marketing Research Scheme helps international sales and finance film company Bankside effectively research the US market and determine an appropriate business strategy.

Bankside is an International sales and finance company for independent films. Based in London, it was founded in January 2007 and offers a bespoke sales and executive service to production companies, representing between eight and ten films a year.

One of the largest opportunities for Bankside had always been the film industry in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood; however the business had always struggled to reach its full potential in this market. Phil Hunt, Co-Managing Director at Bankside, had long believed that more governmental support should be available for the blossoming UK film industry.

It was whilst presenting a talk on this subject at a trade event that he met one of UKTI’s International Trade Advisers, Keith Moses, who introduced him to the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). The EMRS is a UKTI Scheme providing professional advice and funding to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating an appropriate strategy for launching in this market.

Phil was initially attracted to the EMRS because of the funding and arranged to meet with Julian Bridgewater, the Scheme’s Research Adviser for London. At this initial meeting, Julian helped Phil to think about the possible strategies for developing Bankside’s business in LA and to identify the key decisions he would need to make. As Phil explained, “this meeting was really useful; it made me think about what business we actually had, and what we wanted our future to be! It was great having Julian to ask all these ‘big picture’ questions and to keep an eye on us throughout the research”.

Bankside Films

Export Marketing Research Scheme

The EMRS is a UKTI Scheme providing professional advice and funding to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating an appropriate strategy for launching in this market.

An initial meeting with Julie Macken, UKTI’s Research Adviser for the Eastern Region, helped Chris to structure his approach and consider the key decisions he would need to make to revive Ibonhart’s Russian business. Rather than simply selecting a new distributor, Chris decided to take the opportunity to review alternative routes to market and determine how best to be represented within the market; also to find the optimum price point and identify the ideal products for the Russian market.

Phil realised that, to be successful in LA, he would need to determine a better way to manage this huge market and to define Bankside’s key point of difference when compared with their American competitors. Phil had visited LA many times and met many film producers and production companies but admitted that his meetings had previously been rather unstructured. “Julian helped me to identify a broad and representative range of people to talk with and encouraged me to ask for their opinions rather than their funding!”

Phil travelled to LA in the autumn of 2011, armed with a busy itinerary of meetings with film agents, producers, film financiers and other film-rights owners, as well as lawyers, and trade publications. With a prepared list of question areas, he was able to focus the meetings on gaining a solid understanding of what the various customer groups needed, how Bankside was perceived and what was being offered by their competitors.

Research is key

As a result of information he obtained from the wide ranging interviews, Phil realised that there were larger cultural differences than he’d perceived: the LA customers expected very fast response times which was not one of Bankside’s key offerings; it was clear that the American competitors were more than happy to work weekends – even overnight to achieve these timescales! The time difference between the UK and USA also hindered communications. In addition, it became apparent that a local agent would be vital. As Phil explained, “this research really helped me to understand this very important potential market of ours in much better detail”.

Whilst it might not have been the decision he had anticipated, the research findings convinced Bankside to change the focus of the business away from LA onto the UK market, “We now have a new strategy: rather than try to tackle too much, we decided to focus our efforts on the burgeoning UK film market; this is already starting to pay dividends”.

When asked for his views on the Export Marketing Research Scheme, Phil was very positive, “It really is a great initiative! Whilst I was attracted by the money, actually what’s been much more beneficial is that it has focused our efforts on our key markets. Spreading yourself too thin is not good. We’re now going from strength to strength, becoming better known and more powerful. One day LA will seek us out!”

Sectors: Creative & Media and Film, Photography & Animation
Countries: London and United States
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