South Yorkshire based businesses CQ Strategic Marketing, Agemaspark and Airmaster are all celebrating milestone anniversaries this year at 10 years, 20 years and 30 years respectively. They took part in a roundtable to discuss how doing business has changed during that time.
The panel was Chaired by Caroline Broad of Clarion Solicitors.
Jackie Cook, managing director at CQ Strategic Marketing specialises in marketing services for manufacturing SMEs without their own in-house marketing team. Since starting out as a sole trader in 2012, Jackie has witnessed many changes in the industry and more recently created the Equality in STEM network to encourage greater diversity in the industry.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE SECTOR/INDUSTRY?
Manufacturing has always been at the heart of my profession, even back to the days where I worked as a secretary. After a few years, I had the opportunity to join the marketing department and the company supported me through gaining marketing qualifications before later joining an international engineering company. From this, I noticed that many engineering SMEs didn’t have access to an in-house marketing team, so the idea for CQ Strategic Marketing was born and now we work with businesses across South Yorkshire, and Europe!, to essentially become their marketing team. I love the diversity of what we do, every day is different.
WHAT IS IT THAT HAS KEPT YOU IN THE INDUSTRY?
We work with a very diverse mix of clients, and I love finding out more about what they do and how things are made – especially when we get to visit the factories and become immersed in the processes. My clients are based internationally, so advances in technology facilitate those relationships.
When I first started out in marketing, we were sat stuffing piles of paper into envelopes and doing everything manually, whereas everything now is done digitally. It’s been a very welcome change, as clients are keen to know how their marketing is working and more specifically, which parts are most successful. We can provide so much data to the clients now – details of traffic on their websites, open rates of emails which helps us to be far more strategic than 20 years ago.
HOW DO YOU GROW THE BUSINESS, FACE CHALLENGES AND CONTINUE TO PROMOTE THE SECTOR?
We are working with clients on promoting their apprenticeships and training programmes as we know there is a skills shortage, so we need to work on enticing people into the industry and helping them to grow within it. Social media is also key in this day and age to promote the business and the sector – gone are the days of the mailer where you never knew if anyone actually read it or if it went in the bin! Working with trade associations is another way we can promote the sector as a whole, as well as our own business.
FUTURE-PROOFING THE BUSINESS
I’ve set up a network called Equality in STEM. We’ve started running columns in unLTD magazine (strategically chosen as it goes out to a range of businesses in South Yorkshire, not just engineering companies) showcasing female role models in the industry. In the industry, we recognise issues with diversity and skills shortages, but we must get the word out to parents, teachers and others out in the community in the hope of moving practices forward in the future. There’s lots of different options for career paths, and we need a shift in perception that engineering doesn’t have to be a man’s profession. We need to remove any barriers and restrictions to the industry for it to be for all.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF THE SECTOR HOLD?
I think technology will continue to change as much as, if not more, than it has in my last 20 years in the industry. The ways we communicate will be changing, and we’re moving to an era where we need to market to all of the stakeholders, so the marketing emphasis is shifted to include the supply chain from an environmental perspective and the attraction of future skills as well as feeding the business development/sales funnel.
To read the full article in October’s unLTD Business magazine please visit: https://unltdbusiness.com/
To watch the video of the discussion, please visit: