Telling the truth about SME life today


Take a concept that’s been around for centuries, make it relevant to today’s businesses, and make a lot of money. It sounds simple, and with a second consecutive entry in our Hot 100, Astus is starting to make it look that way. The company has introduced “media bartering” to the UK – it sets up deals where clients pay for their advertising using (at least in part) their own goods and services. “The concept had been done before, but very badly,” explains co-founder Frances Dickens. “We have spent a few years educating people how we can help their business. That means one-to-one conversations, so it’s a steady evolution rather than revolution.” The upside, Dickens says, is that Astus is in good shape to help clients feeling the effects of the downturn. “We make advertising more affordable by letting clients part pay for it with their own products or services. The downturn will help us to the next stage of our evolution.” That next stage may include expansion overseas, with one approach being considered “very seriously”. Sales have grown from £9.1m to £30.3m over the past four


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