Making it Work

256 eyes UK and US as content creation firm targets €5m

Business-to-business content creation is the ‘sweet spot’ for the Dublin-based company, whose clients include Fáilte Ireland and Vodafone

Karen Hesse, founder and chief executive of 256 Content: company is looking to expand into overseas markets this year

256 Content is expecting a bumper year as it eyes overseas markets and further expansion of its business-to-business offerings.

Karen Hesse, the chief executive, is optimistic about the company’s prospects in what she called a “post-advertising” world, spurred by issues around privacy, data and data management.

“We’re moving into a world where traditional methods of advertising are not giving results. Look at how many people are using [ad] blockers online. People want a more kind of personal and curated experience, so they make decisions to block out the noise,” she said.

In a world where artificially generated content is increasingly becoming part of that cacophony, Hesse said the secret to creating high-quality content is human input, and 256 Content is poised to deliver.

“I think authentic human content is now at a premium, and that’s where the craft, the storytelling is vital,” she said. “There’s a lot of skill to it”.

256 has come a long way from its beginnings as a minnow in the burgeoning Irish content management landscape when it was founded in 2013. Now with 25 staff and with big clients such as Fáilte Ireland and Vodafone on board, Hesse said the company’s on a strong trajectory to build on its €3.5 million turnover figure.

“We’re chasing €5 million by the end of next year,” she said, pointing to the largely untapped potential of the UK and US market.

Irish clients are currently the backbone of the company and account for 80 per cent of the business.

Fact Find

Founded by: Karen Hesse in 2013

Staff: 25

Turnover in 2023: €3.5 million

“We’ve got a really good reputation now in the market and we have got some business in the US,” she said.

“Our focus is very much on the UK market, we have begun to hire in London because there’s a huge amount of opportunity there,” she said. Hesse is eyeing up a broader move into the US too.

The company specialises in creating content strategies, data analytics and digital content creation for businesses, which can be either business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).

The business-to-business (B2B) offerings currently make up about 70 per cent of the revenue of the firm, and this specialism is where the growth lies, Hesse said.

“Over the last number of years, we’ve really specialised into B2B. It’s more niche, there are a lot of agencies servicing B2C [business-to consumer], so we’ve found a really nice sweet spot for the business in the B2B area.”

The B2B area involves 256 helping businesses with their content and communication strategies when dealing with other firms.

“We help businesses market to other businesses,” Hesse said.

Another reason to specialise in B2B is the “sizeable” scale of the contracts, according to Hesse, which can be up to €1 million per deal, far higher than the equivalent for their B2C arm.

Strategy is at the core of 256 Content’s business model, Hesse said, and so many businesses are creating what she terms “random acts of content,” without looking at the bigger picture.

“The amount of money that’s being invested by businesses with no [content] strategy is frankly, quite scary,” she said.

On their own strategy, she said Enterprise Ireland’s support in evaluating the business and helping them strategise was hugely helpful.

“Even though we deliver strategy for clients, it’s good to be in an environment where we’re looking at our own strategy,” she said, highlighting the state body’s “very practical” range of supports for businesses, from accelerator programmes to access to on-the-ground overseas consultants.

This Making It Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland