Always lean forwards; embrace the challenge: So true when it comes to launching in the UK and a great soundbite from Krister Kristiansen of Attensi, the gamified simulation training company which is going from strength to strength in the UK.
Krister was speaking at the UT London Conference organised by Vegard K. Strand and Willy G. Hernes and aims to assist Norwegian companies increase their revenue, establish themselves internationally, obtain new clients and expand their network. They have been running the London conference for some years, this one, though was perhaps a little special as it was the first post Covid (the photo is the view from host Marks & Clerk’s building ahead of the conference starting).
As always, Vegard and Willy had assembled a great cohort of speakers from companies and organisations helping Norwegian companies succeed in the UK market including Marks & Clerk, Goodwille, Advokatfirmaet Simonsen Vogt Wiig Trondheim, Globalization Partners, Norwegian British Chamber of Commerce , Innovation Norway UK & Ireland, Stoerseth Holding Department for International Trade, Europartnerships and 360Leaders.
What we want to highlight is the insight coming from companies that have gone through the process of entering the UK market. These are the people with compelling stories about launching in the UK.
Back to Krister’s advice “Always lean forwards; embrace the challenge”, his point being that it is precisely when things may look uncertain that opportunities arise, something that was true during Brexit, Covid and again today with everything going on in terms of for example the cost of living issue and political change in the UK. As he says, “it’s easy to be risk averse.”
We were lucky to work with Krister in 2018 when Attensi was new to the UK and acquiring their first clients. His advice and observations remain relevant to companies today: thinking about industry/sector focus and chasing a mixture of big and small logos as customers (the larger companies have more stakeholders with whom to engage and take more time to land); appearing at the right events (and being prepared to pay for the chance to speak); the importance of being picked up at the right seniority level in a company in the UK.
Whilst generously giving Rochester a shout out as a company which helped Attensi with PR and kickstarted their journey, he shared his five biggest success factors and five “what I would do differently if I did it again” points which included “dare to “go all in”. We particularly liked his attitude of “showering people with trust and responsibility”. He also used phrases which particularly resonate with us such as “punching above our weight” and talked about some of the cultural differences including why four weeks annual leave in summer went down like a lead balloon with one customer and why he was happy to accept outside help to allow him to concentrate on what he needed to do to establish and grow Attensi. Now in the US and Germany, Krister is sure that his UK experience helped pave the way for further international experience.
We hadn’t heard Øyvind Reed of Whereby speak before but we’d like to again as he also had a great story to tell and some great advice “plan for being lucky”; he definitely embraces the “go big or go home” mantra when considering the UK market and something else that we often say “things take longer and cost more than you think”. He was another business leader keen to outsource anything that would otherwise take attention away from focusing on the business and job in hand.
Of course we also hear from founders who want to “do PR themselves” and that of course is their prerogative, we just happen to think we’re quicker, better and more experienced at it and also add a lot of value at a crucial stage of a company’s development.
Øyvind also emphasised the need to be willing to never give up and to demonstrate both grit and resilience. To return to my opening comment: So true! And a mindset that we subscribe to as well on behalf of our clients: PR is a lot about determination and persistence.
Joanna has over 25 years experience in PR, which aside from one stint as a client, has been spent in consultancy working with companies from brand-new start-ups to global multinationals. She founded Rochester PR Group after working in PR agencies large and small, some within international PR or marketing services groups.