Lining up the European on-line Market

UKTI’s Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS) helps digital agency MintTwist develop its business overseas

MintTwist is a London-based agency that specialises in digital design, development and online marketing; it was founded in 2002 by Elliott King and Alexis Pratsides. At the time, Elliott and Alexis were friends, both working in IT and web-design and with a desire to create their own agency. MintTwist was established to develop and deliver ‘refreshingly simple’ digital marketing strategies for mid-sized organisations.

One of the ways in which Elliott and Alexis planned to differentiate MintTwist from other, similar sized agencies was to offer the ability to work overseas; they wanted to attract business from mid-sized companies who themselves planned to grow internationally.

Investigating options to help grow their export business, Elliott attended a UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) event for new exporters and was introduced to Robert Hurley, a UKTI International Trade Advisor (ITA) for the London region. “I have to admit that we were somewhat sceptical,” admitted Elliott, “but Robert was really good, a breath of fresh air! He helped us to clarify our ideas and gave us lots of useful information and contacts.”

One of Robert’s recommendations was that MintTwist considered 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 and there is a nationwide team of professional Research Advisers to support individual companies.

Elliott was very happy to recommend the Export Marketing Research Scheme, “Without a shadow of doubt, it gave us the structure we needed to create a viable entry plan for the Swiss market which will soon come to fruition!”


Export Marketing Research Scheme

Elliott met with Julian Bridgewater, Research Adviser for London. Firstly, Julian helped Elliott to identify the countries which would likely offer the biggest potential for MintTwist and next, he helped with more detailed research in this country. MintTwist first used the EMRS in 2010 to understand the market in the Middle East, and as a consequence have developed a successful business in Dubai.

In 2012, an interesting opening for MintTwist arose in Switzerland: one of their largest clients was a Swiss German organisation who was keen to introduce MintTwist to the Swiss team. Elliott and Alexis had been considering setting up a European Hub, so it seemed like a great time to fully explore the opportunity.

Once again, Julian met with Elliott to help him to structure his research plan. They identified the key decisions MintTwist would need to make as a result of the research: ultimately, should they create a Swiss Hub from which to grow into other EU markets, what would be the best route to market (would they need a Director placed in Switzerland), how could they compete against the competition – what would be their USP (Unique Selling Point) in this market, how should they tailor their service in the market and what price should they charge?

In the spring of 2012, armed with a full itinerary of meetings, Elliott spent two weeks in Switzerland, interviewing a wide range of people in German: potential customers, competitors, NGOs (non-government organisations), trade bodies, Embassy staff, local trade press and local media, recruitment agencies and office-premises providers to find the information required to make these decisions.

The research enabled MintTwist to take some very positive decisions. There was clearly a large opportunity within the mobile apps development area, an under-serviced market with potentially high margins. The research also highlighted the trend towards out-sourcing web-development strategies, and a lack of competitive agencies in the region. MintTwist’s expertise and Elliott’s ability to converse in German, coupled with the obvious shortage of skilled Swiss IT workers enhanced this opportunity. “What was really interesting,” explained Elliott, “was that the Swiss still seemed to view web-development as a big, complex IT project and many of our potential customers were currently being serviced by large, expensive consultancies; clearly an opportunity for MintTwist!”

As a result of the research, MintTwist have created a strong launch plan for the Swiss market, and a European Hub, detailing who are their target customers, the services they require and the price points at which they can sell. Whilst they have not yet fully leveraged the opportunity, largely due to a very buoyant home market at the moment, the team know they have a robust plan which could be implemented at short notice.

Elliott was very happy to recommend the Export Marketing Research Scheme, “Without a shadow of doubt, it gave us the structure we needed to create a viable entry plan for the Swiss market which will soon come to fruition!”


If you are based in London and looking to develop your business overseas contact UKTI London for assistance:

London International Trade Team

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7234 3050


Information about the range of support services from UKTI is available through your local UKTI office.

Topics: Market Research
Export Action Plan