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Guest blog: From startup to success – Making the first impression

Aaron Dicks, photo courtesy of Impression media
Aaron Dicks, photo courtesy of Impression media

Aaron Dicks, photo courtesy of Impression media

Aaron Dicks, MD of Impression Digital, drops by to talk about his reasons for being here: 

When we formed Impression in November 2012, there was a lot of excitement for startup businesses, particularly around the Creative Quarter project with the funding and regeneration it promised. Nottingham doesn’t have a UK top 100 agency yet, unlike its rival cities, so we saw a great opportunity to begin to make our mark on the local business landscape.

I was 22 years old and fresh out of university, my co-founder and fellow Leeds graduate Tom Craig was 26. Together we spotted a gap in the market for a digital marketing agency that could genuinely deliver clients value for money while helping to grow their business, so we decided to become our own bosses.

We already had a decade of digital marketing experience under our belts by this point, but setting up a new business was not without its hurdles. For one thing, we started off without any savings or capital investment, which meant growth was gradual in the first year as we each slowly exited other jobs.

However, through a bit of careful planning, plenty of hard work and a lot of fun, we’ve grown from a startup to a successful regional agency – an achievement that’s been helped along by two things.

First of all, we made the leap into the right industry at the right time. Business demand for effective digital marketing strategies among SMEs has continued to grow and looks set to increase even further – as a recent survey by Close Brothers reported in the Nottingham Evening Post recently showed.

Just as important for our success so far, though, has been the fact that we chose Nottingham as a base. Antenna; the Creative Quarter; the recently re-launched Nottingham Means Business scheme; not to mention all of the grants and financial support now available to entrepreneurs – all have helped to make the city centre one of the region’s most exciting new business environments.

It’s allowed us to build our contact book and work alongside and with other creative agencies based nearby. We were able to register for the University’s Growth 100 programme, designed to help young businesses push on, and we’ve managed to build relationships with national and international clients based locally, such as Ikano, EvoEnergy  and the Nottingham City Council .

This combination has already helped us to build a strong, full-time team with a good number of freelance associates working out of Lace Market premises in the six months since we took Impression full time.

I think the big challenge over the next five years will be for Nottingham to hold on to that young startup feel – ambitious, curious and quick moving – while still building up the success stories in order to show tomorrow’s startups how they too can succeed and go on to reach the next level.

We’re certainly enjoying the Lace Market as our base for work and play – whatever your business, drop us a line ( if you fancy talking further.

Impression is a digital marketing agency based in the Lace Market in Nottingham. It offers marketing services such as search engine optimisation (, pay per click management ( and public relations ( for businesses of all sizes.