Marketing Company’s Ambition Set In Stone

A SMALL West Cork company with big plans, Granite Consulting aims to become one of the top five online marketing companies in Ireland and to establish itself in the UK over the next three years/ by 2012.

Set up a little less than two years ago, not long after the recession set in, the company has it’s sights on the international online marketing market which has continued to grow at a rapid rate despite the recession.

Granite CEO Conor Buckley says there has been growth in the Irish market for online marketing which is now worth €100 million while the UK market has grown to £3.5 billion and the European spend on online ads has increased to €14.7 billion.

“During December 2009, the total worldwide search market had more than 131 billion searches – this equates to 4 billion searches per day, 175 million per house and 2.9 million per minute” reveals Mr Buckley who says that at this point almost anyone who is selling a service or a product anywhere in the World needs a web presence and an online marketing strategy.

“Getting found for your company’s product and services when people search in Google, Bing and Yahoo! is becoming more and more important”

The services offered by Granite include search engine optimisation and multi-lingual search engine optimisation. “Our company uses a blend of marketing, technology and analytics to ensure our clients are found first for the terms their customers are searching for,” says Mr Buckley who believes that the web offers huge opportunities for companies to get into new and emerging markets at a small cost.

Prior to setting up Granite in December 2008, Mr Buckley was the CTO with myguideTravel, an online company he had co-founded in the late 1990s. In setting up Granite, he was joined by three partners Seamus White, Ger O’Shea and Robert Carpenter who had all worked in the marketing and IT departments at myguideTravel. ‘’The four of us have a combined experience of over 20 years marketing websites online, mostly in the tourism industry.”

While working for myguideTravel they were frequently asked by West Cork companies for help with online marketing and realised that they could put their experience to good use “We decided that there were huge opportunities for a company providing online marketing solutions to the growing number of
companies who wanted to increase their online sales’’ says Mr Buckley.

Giving up their jobs at myguideTravel the four entrepreneurs used their own funding to set up Granite Consulting which has an office in Skibbereen and one in Mahon in Cork.
The company was in the fortunate position of having two or three customers from the start including myguidTravel and a company in the renewable energy sector which had previously looked for help with online marketing.

In early 2009 Alf Smiddy the former managing director of Beamish & Crawford joined the company as chairman and this helped raised Granite’s profile. At the end of the first year, the company achieved 40% higher revenue than projected and it made a small profit, a difficult feat given the onslaught of
recession in 2009.
The majority of Granite’s first customers were based in Cork but this year it has begun to move into Dublin and now has a small number of clients in the UK.

Some of our customers include Enterprise Ireland, the Kilkenny Group, the Fastnet Line, the Moran Hotel, Weco International and West Cork company Ceramicx, for which Granite markets products in ten languages. “We are doing some proof of concept work with three a large engineering company in Ireland and two manufacturing companies in Manchester and we have run campaigns in the UK, USA, France Germany and Japan,’’ reveals Mr Buckley.

Now employing six permanent staff, and two part time ones, the company is aiming to recruit two more staff. One of eight finalists for this year’s National Enterprise Awards, Granite has been supported by the West Cork Enterprise Board, which has provided some funding and helped with it’s a business plan.

This year the company expects to see an 80% increase in turnover. Next year Granite will focus on expanding the business in Ireland with a view to breaking into the UK market in 2012. In subsequent years the company plans to push out into the European and US markets.