Principals: Richard Fogg, CEO; Paul Nolan, Chief Client Officer
2016 was a year of phenomenal growth and intelligent diversification for CCgroup. We achieved more than £3m in fees for the first time in our 30-year history, growing 32 per cent in the year. Excitingly, we’ve grown as a result of winning new clients, successfully launching new services and propositions and driving strong organic client growth. Three years after our management buy-out (and a lot of hard work!), we’ve been shortlisted as Tech Agency of the Year in three national and international awards programmes.
After listening to our clients, we’ve built CCgroup on a series of ‘micro-specialisms’, offering deep expertise in telecoms, enterprise technology and FinTech, expanding into broadcast and media technology in 2016. Our experience in these sectors is overlaid with unique insights into buyer behaviour – and how to influence it – from our series of Catalyst reports, which led the PRCA to describe us as the ‘thinking brand’s PR agency’.
It’s a strategy that’s paying dividends. In 2016, we brought on board Question & Retain to undertake six-monthly, independent client satisfaction surveys for us. The results have been fantastic – CCgroup boasts 100 per cent client satisfaction and 100 per cent client willingness to recommend our services. We’re significantly outperforming the overall PR market, and tech sector averages.
Opening the Aperture
We’ve been major advocates of PR-led content marketing, but further developments in new products and services last year helped differentiate our agency position. 2016’s biggest investment by far was Aperture, a unique insight, planning and strategy consultancy for B2B organisations.
For too long, B2B tech marketing campaigns have been built on shaky foundations. In the B2C world, customer insight is readily available, but not in B2B. We’re putting that right. Aperture harnesses technology, data, psychology and strategic best practice to transform sales and marketing performance. So far, Aperture has helped B2B clients conduct strategic brand transformations, understand new audiences ahead of company pivots, measure and manage brand positioning and dramatically improve new business ‘close rates’.
2016’s success stories include our work for payments consultancy Icon. Icon wanted to build awareness of its new instant payments products among prospects. To target this niche area – with fewer than 2,000 buyers globally – we created ‘InstaPay’ – the instant payments industry’s first independent news portal and community.
As well as news, analysis and exclusive content from industry experts, the site hosts a one-of-a-kind interactive map detailing all the live and planned instant payments schemes across the globe. Crucially for a news site, independence is maintained through a dedicated editor and editorial board. In fewer than six months, InstaPay attracted 500 vetted community members, with 1,200 unique visitors in December alone. The community creates a closed environment where Icon can build relationships with buyers – critical when buying cycles last more than nine months and deal sizes are often over £2m.
For mobile technology R&D company InterDigital, we had to encourage city technology decision-makers to specify standardised technologies – as developed by InterDigital – when building smart infrastructure. CCgroup and the internal InterDigital marketing team worked together to specify investigation of the costs of non-standardised approaches to smart cities. CCgroup suggested working with a respected industry analyst to focus attention on the issue in a gated white paper.
The resulting integrated PESO campaign enabled via the white paper sponsorship, and InterDigital’s content marketing engine, drove a 54 per cent increase in web traffic, more than a thousand downloads of the paper and over 700 marketing qualified leads – InterDigital’s most successful campaign to date.
Both campaigns have been shortlisted for industry awards, and our ‘Exposing the Privacy Predicament’ campaign for Syniverse won regional US awards before being nominated a finalist in the prestigious 2017 PRSA Silver Anvil awards.
Building on the success of our industry analyst relations approach, we hired our first head of analyst relations to dramatically increase the scale and the sophistication of our offer. And as B2B PR expands into the social space and demand for B2B-specific products starts to grow, we’ve created a new head of social role to target new approaches such as influencer marketing and social selling.
Finally, CCgroup became one of the first agencies to commit to the PRCA’s Continuous Professional Development scheme, which now provides the framework for our talent development activities.
In the coming year, we’re planning to build on our success – we have our eyes on "Best Places to Work" awards, expansion into the US and a six-figure investment for building an automation platform to sit at the heart of our agency.