1st February 2012
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1st February 2012
Less than six months after leaving her career in the City behind to start The Bridge, a Suffolk marketing agency, Hana Dickinson has recruited both her parents to help with her rapidly expanding client base.
Hana, an experienced marketing and communications expert moved from London to Suffolk to launch her business in the county she grew up in.
She explains; ‘I wanted to offer flexible, tailored marketing support that can be picked up by businesses as and when they need it. Larger clients with in-house marketing teams often need an extra pair of hands to cope with periods of increased volumes of work. With SMEs, we become their virtual in-house team providing as much or as little support as they need.” Of the move to Suffolk she says; “As most of the work is done from home, it seemed silly to stay in London when it’s so easy to travel to London and across East Anglia as and when it’s required. Suffolk is home and it was time to come back.”
Hana quickly built up London based clients through her City connections and in East Anglia she’s already working with businesses in Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The early interest in the services she provides meant the business grew far faster than she anticipated. She explains; “I was confident that the services I was offering were genuinely useful, especially as the economic outlook is a bit gloomy, but I didn’t expect the business to grow so fast. I don’t mind working seven days a week but I started to run out of days! I needed help – someone that I could trust, with the skills to hit the ground running. The answer was obvious; I turned to the people who taught me everything I know.”
Hana’s mother Jan Ballard, a sales professional with a blue-chip background in FMCG and hospitality, was the first recruit. ‘We moved the business to our home office in Woodbridge so we could work together. Initially I picked up the day-to-day running of the business while Hana focused on client work,’ says Jan. ‘We quickly saw a real interest from clients into the skills I could bring to their businesses and pretty soon I was working flat out too!’
Just one member of the Ballard dynasty remained outside; Simon. With a 40 year career as a marketing director spanning financial services, hospitality, wines and spirits and most recently education through his role as Development and Marketing Manager for Woodbridge School. This month, Simon also joined the fold and the three are now working full-time as directors at The Bridge.
‘I saw how much Hana and Jan were enjoying their work, and how busy they were and we agreed my knowledge and experience could benefit the business,’ says Simon. ‘I think The Bridge has done so well because it was founded on solving the paradox that smaller businesses face – they need a marketing plan but can’t or don’t want to afford a full-time marketing department. We’re taking the mystery out of marketing and offering very tangible services and support. It’s a very successful concept, and of course we get to work together which is an absolute bonus.’
When the Ballard family aren’t running Suffolk marketing agency, The Bridge, they can often be found volunteering at Woodbridge Rugby Club where Jan is Sponsorship Secretary (and has recently helped the Club raise over £250,000 for new changing rooms) and Simon is the Press Officer. Passionate rugby fans, the family travel all over the world supporting the England team and throughout the UK to support Woodbridge Warriors and the Amazons – their very successful ladies team.