Kim Tasso on Marvellous Marketing: how Withy King got closer to the Oxford media
Withy King is a £16m, 45 partner commercial and private law practice with seven offices (including Bath, Swindon, Oxford and London) along the M4 corridor. I talked to Alison Woodhead, head of marketing, and Hilary Gladwell, CRM consultant, about one of their most successful campaigns.
“In 2008 we merged with a local firm in Oxford which had a fledging commercial team. Despite having been established in the area for over 200 years, it had a low profile. We wanted to grow the commercial team and support the recruitment that this would need. To raise awareness and to position us amongst the 99% OMBs in Oxford, we knew that we needed to get closer to the local media,” says Alison.
“To reinforce our regional credentials, we looked at the national issues and how they impacted local businesses. We paired up with Oxford Times which we found was the best read and most credible newspaper in the area – particularly its In Business supplement. We did all the leg work ourselves in developing contact lists and mounting a telemarketing campaign to get 105 companies to respond to the survey. We chose a barometer as it would give us an ongoing metric and platform. The survey had 15 questions – covering headcount, turnover, order book, premises, investment and confidence. The main results appeared in a four page supplement. Then every quarter we produced a special focus on one of the topical issues – bank funding, social media and so on.
“The results were interesting for several reasons. The mainstream media were reporting that business confidence was low whereas in Oxford it was very positive. It also revealed different issues – businesses were concerned at the impact of extra work generated by all the new developments and the need to accommodate the required new workers. As a result, the research appeared on the front page of the local media and we were invited to talk on BBC Oxford’s DriveTime show. It also cemented our relationship with the paper and the editor Andrew Smith and opened up all manner of other opportunities. For example, we produced a Question Time event in Oxford with local MPs on the panel. The offer of an IPad for the barometer survey draw has also generated considerable good-will amongst the small business community.
“The campaign has been running 18 months now,” adds Hilary. “A social media forum was established on LinkedIn so that people could connect and discuss the specific issues emerging from the research. It’s become quite a strategic forum. Whilst it looks predominantly like profile raising activity, the campaign marks a considerable shift from the old style advertorial press coverage to a content marketing approach. We also ask those who complete the barometer survey if they are interested in being interviewed for the special feature articles which allows us to establish contact with them and they appreciate the positive publicity they receive as well.
“There is also an integrated business development programme built in – we send relevant material from the research to targeted clients and contacts using our CRM (a new investment in the Microsoft Dynamics-based CRM4Legal). Our current CRM system development work will enable all enquiries, introductions, referrals or fees from any campaign to be tracked so we can see the return on the marketing investment”.
Kim’s comment: The campaign was subsequently repeated in Wiltshire to support the firm’s Swindon office and as well as cementing relations with the local media there has also led to collaborations with Wiltshire County Council and further work with Oxford LEP. Like other campaigns that I have reviewed, the elements of good marketing are apparent. There was the initial research into the local market and an effort to address issues that were pertinent locally. There was a clear view on what was trying to be achieved strategically. There was good integration with all aspects of the marketing mix – media relations, digital marketing, events and even selling and business development. There’s continuity over a period of time as well as a data-driven approach to measuring the results and return on investment.
* Kim Tasso is a management and marketing consultant specialising in the professions, a freelance journalist and author www.kimtasso.com/blog2 Twitter: @RedStarKim