How digital ads are helping entrepreneurs turn ambitious ideas into reality

Posted on Monday 23 October 2023

A business support system in the North East used digital advertising to target potential entrepreneurs with promising business ideas


‘High Potential Startups’ is an intensive business support programme, designed to bridge the gap between the North East and rest of the UK in terms of the density of regional startups achieving a turnover of +£1m in their first three years.

Through a package of support - including workshops, coaching and mentoring -entrepreneurs are helped to turn their ambitious business ideas into a reality.

The challenge

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) needed to attract a very specific target audience to apply for the programme: high calibre applicants likely to be in well-paid, secure jobs, but who had an idea for a new business and had the ambition to create a fast-growing startup.

The target for the final phase of the campaign was to deliver 50 expressions of interest, of which 30 offer viable scale up business ideas – specifically, the ideas had to be for businesses that can scale to +£1m in three years.

The brief was absolutely clear that the campaign had to be about quality not quantity; applications had to be from people with an exceptional business idea that could scale appropriately. 

The solution

The communications campaign was informed by research showing the common characteristics and motivations of entrepreneurs, as well as the enabling factors and barriers that might prevent people from taking the leap into starting their own business.

The PESO model was used to create an integrated campaign incorporating owned media, digital advertising, media relations, intermediary and influencer relations and print advertising.

Social media advertising and paid search allowed accurate targeting and made use of the campaign’s digital assets, including a short promotional film, which conveyed the emotion of the ‘light bulb moment’. The voiceover begins: All great things start with a spark…all the household names and brands we interact with today started with a great idea. This reinforces the idea that many concepts have the potential to become a high-growth business.

The film also underlines the extensive support available through the High Potential Startups programme. Recognisable North East icons such as the Metro and coastline were used for filming to locate the campaign.

The result

  • The film was viewed 26,543 times in the six-week campaign timeframe and there were 1,617 sessions on the campaign’s website
  • The combined reach of the campaign was 138,343 and digital advertising channels were responsible for 66% of the website visits during the campaign timeframe
  • The cost-per-click for the paid search campaign was £1.41, with a click-through rate of more than 10%. The cost-per-conversion, for applicants who went on to take part in the programme, was £18.51
  • The value for money of the paid social campaigns is demonstrated by the fact that a £300 investment on Twitter resulted in 45,275 additional impressions and 25,241 additional video views
  • The campaign secured 119 applications, of which 30 (the cohort limit) were deemed eligible to join the programme. Of the remainder, many were asked to apply to cohort two or three of the programme - demonstrating that the targeting was successful

Due to the success of digital advertising in this campaign, it was made a central part of the follow-up campaigns, recruiting entrepreneurs for cohorts two and three of the programme. Again, this proved successful, with 142 expressions of interest being received and digital advertising providing the majority of traffic to the campaign website, with a cost-per-click as low as 68p.


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