Posted on Tuesday 12 March 2013 by Ulster Business
However, this hasn't been the case for Belfast-based Velocity Worldwide, thanks to its unique approach to business development. The company, which describes itself as a global digital customer engagement firm, recently undertook a multi-million dollar sponsorship of the US-based Wayne Taylor Racing team, one of Grand-Am Racing's top competitors.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, owned by NASCAR, is one of the largest endurance racing contests in the world, with over twenty-one million followers internationally. The sponsorship has meant Velocity Worldwide is literally 'networking in the pit lane' with businesses like General Motors and Toshiba; businesses it might not otherwise have had access to in the short term.
Velocity Worldwide helps global brands understand what their customers have to say and using market analysis helps them develop successful strategies, which engage customers on a one-to-one level.
Enda McShane, CEO, explained: "Through this sponsorship deal we are demonstrating that indigenous companies like ours, which has grown and developed in Belfast before expanding globally, can compete successfully on the world stage.
"Grand-Am is one of the most competitive, dynamic and exciting motorsport series in the world and, most importantly, a proven business-to-business networking platform. During the recent Rolex 24 race at Daytona, our racing team were working hard to try to win the race while on the other side of the track we were networking with businesses including Sunoco, Toshiba, General Motors and representatives from firms such as Mazda, Nissan and even the Crown Prince of Bahrain.
"The brands that are associated with motor sports in America are huge and we expect to do lots of deals around the track over the course of the season."
Following Velocity's success at the first race in January, where the Wayne Taylor Racing team finished a credible second place, the firm is now working on developing a partnership with Toshiba, also a sponsor of the Wayne Taylor Racing team.
The sponsorship was an innovative and courageous strategy for Velocity, with no other firm from the UK having sponsored any team in the series before. According to McShane, the firm is breaking the mould, firmly positioning itself among the other major sponsors in the sport: "We recognised that the potential revenue and visibility from having our brand in the pit lanes around these races is phenomenal. For Velocity Worldwide this is an exciting time; we are doing something new, showing how a sports sponsorship can be a genuine business strategy and not just a vanity play."
Velocity Worldwide has recently launched a new digital product called Darius, which has converged all traditional and digital marketing channels into a single platform. The platform enables brands to create, publish and measure content, helping these businesses to establish individual customer profiles and develop one- to-one conversations with customers.
The product, which was built in Northern Ireland, is designed to help international businesses connect with their customers and build their strategies from the customer up – not the boardroom down.
The sponsorship was a strategy to break into the American market in a controlled manner with the Darius product. Its success has meant the firm is now looking to expand in the European and Australasian market.
Although Velocity Worldwide has offices in New York, Dublin and London, McShane is clear that Northern Ireland remains the choice location to keep the business's headquarters, with further growth likely at the office.
"We have truly amazing minds in Northern Ireland with a highly technical skillset and lower business running costs. Northern Ireland is a very competitive place to do business, with excellent links to key destinations in the Velocity Worldwide network," he said.
"I hope that we are sending a loud, clear and confident message. We are doing something completely different for Northern Ireland. I believe if you have a good enough idea, and the right amount of good people around you, there is no reason why firms from Northern Ireland can't succeed on the global stage."