US tech firms come calling for Glasgow-based digital marketing agency as it sets its sights on international expansion

Jemma Robertson, Managing Director, GRA
Jemma Robertson, Managing Director, GRA

INNOVATIVE Glasgow-based digital marketing agency GRA has embarked on an ambitious international expansion phase with a series of significant contract wins from new players in the dynamic US tech sector.

While Scotland remains the dominant market for the full-service agency, the move into the US arena – and the associated reputational boost – opens up major new opportunities for GRA as part of its longer-term strategy of taking on more big-brand business.

The new deals will also further enhance turnover, which has already increased by 75% this year and is likely to add to the staff complement of five within six months to a year as workload increases.

GRA – started as Guy Robertson Advertising in 1986 – is now run by the eponymous founder’s daughter, Jemma Robertson, 26. She said: “While Scotland is very much our home turf, we are aware that there are increasing opportunities in the US, I think simply because it has a more entrepreneurial culture.

“Brands out there are not afraid to give something a go and experiment, which is exactly our philosophy too. Testing, learning and optimising is one of the best approaches there is so when we find clients that have those similar values as ourselves, it feels a match made in heaven and a relationship that is destined to flourish.

“For our part, we have demonstrated that we have an attractive proposition, despite being UK-based. We have a successful track record and have the flexibility and agility which allows us to respond in the way our clients want and most importantly need.”

The new contract wins include:

  • Philanthropi, an innovative Philadelphia-based tech company which better connects non-profits to companies and individuals looking to sustain their philanthropic goals. GRA will be involved in rebranding to The Purpose App following its recent acquisition.
  • Stay-track,  a San Francisco and UK-based analytics platform which provides trusted vacation rental data to allow informed decision-making for property investors. GRA has already launched its sister company, Property Market Intel in the UK and is planning a paid multichannel social media campaign as part of their US launch to establish awareness and increase the user-base.
  • Procemx, with offices in New York and a UK HQ, Procemx implements mission-critical applications for major customers in comprehensive geo-spatial work and operations management. GRA will assist with brand development and new website.

GRA is also now engaged with a fourth US company, California-based Entrepreneurs Management Group, which provides capital, a network of relationships and the knowledge to help the global entrepreneur.

The digital marketing agency specialises in website design and build, branding, social media and search engine optimisation and has grown its client base across sectors including food manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, construction, storage, property and finance.

GRA’s clients now include Coatbridge-based confectionery manufacturer Lees of Scotland, timber specialist Fleming and Glasgow independent school, the High School of Glasgow.

In the 1990s, GRA and its successor, Guy Robertson Partnership, grew into one of Scotland’s biggest marketing agencies, with clients including car maker Toyota and mineral water brand Highland Spring.

Jemma, who took over as Director of GRA in 2020 after the tragic death of her father, aged 59, from head injuries sustained in a fall, said: “While the US expansion is an important new string to our bow, our focus will remain on becoming a major player in the Scottish advertising scene.

“We are, I believe, the only agency offering the breadth and quality of service at the level we do, for companies turning over anything from £500,000 to £50 million a year. We are attractive because we are nimble enough to flex with our clients and have the skills of a team twice the size of us.”

Over the last three years, GRA has grown its revenues by about 250% and its profits by about 50%.

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