When we first met with Mitie, they had recognised that by operating in a divisional structure, they were missing out on integrated opportunities where clients wanted a multi-activity service covering many aspects of facilities management. They had pulled together a new team under the leadership of Managing Director Martyn Freeman, and were keen to get out and bring in some new accounts.
Their challenge was the this was wholly uncharted territory. They had great relationships through the divisions with the day to day facilities managers, but little contact with the HR and Property Directors, or the COOs and CFOs who made the strategic decisions.
Building up these relationships was a high priority, which is where we were asked to help. The first question we asked was “What’s keeping these guys awake at night?” As we normally find, this was met with an embarrassed silence, because of course with no existing relationships, how would they know?
So as a first step we suggested finding out. Not by a typical piece of on-line research, but by going out and meeting them. We agreed with the leading trade magazine to give them an exclusive preview of the results, which gave us an excellent chance to be taken seriously by the 30+ CxOs we met, and the results were amazing.
35% forecast decline
The biggest news to come out off the research was the discovery that just about everyone we interviewed was planning massive reductions in their footprint. Around 35% by 2020. This of course was not good news for a company that makes living out of servicing commercial square footage, but the reasons why they were cutting back did create some very interesting new business opportunities.
The trend for ‘Agile Working’ was only just getting off the ground in 2013 when we first went out to the market, but the implications for offices were huge. Traditional desks were being cleared away in favour of open plan, shared activity spaces that offered a mix of tables, meeting and quiet spaces. Canteens were becoming multi-purpose used as impromptu meeting rooms. Conference rooms were being equipped with Digital conferencing and Skype to allow staff to dial in to meetings rather than be physically present.
In short, the trend was to get people out of the office as much as possible. This allowed massive savings in corporate real estate costs, but meant hat Mitie either had to fight for its share of a shrinking cake, or come up with new ways to secure business.
Engaging the decision makers
Having spent 2-3 hours with each of our interviewees, with many showing us right over their new premises, we had a heaven-sent opportunity to launch an Executive Relationship Programme, by creating a dinner event to present the research results, and inviting them all to come. Over three dinners we had 50 guests – both those who took part in the research and other key senior prospects who were keen to learn about the changes going through the sector.
We also produced the first of 20 strategy guides and white papers which highlighted how the move away from fixed locations to agile working called for a compete rethink around how property decisions were being made in companies. Mitie also started to develop its service portfolio around looking after the needs of the individual workers in an office, rather than just focusing on the building.
This opened up a whole new series of discussions around the way the facilities management industry was offering its services. It became the focus of a series of executive dinners, workshops – many of which were attended by CFOs and COOs, together with research and presentations across the Mitie business to educate staff about how the industry was changing around them, and how the company was responding.
Over a five year period we hosted around 350 senior executives at Mitie events. We also organised number of conferences and seminars, and were invited to present our findings at four industry events, including the leading-edge Worktech series.
We also launched an information portal, which enjoyed a regular readership of over 1,000 senior property professionals, featuring case studies around their properties, showcasing what was going on on the commercial property world, and building a regular, interested audience.
It was around the fifth or sixth dinner there we realised that this programme was a real lead generator for Mitie. After looking at the contract values of the guests had attended to the point, The Sales Director, Lorraine Barnett, calculated that each event’s guests had represented contract values worth many hundreds of millions. At one dinner alone, we estimated their combined contract value was well over £1bn.
In 2015, we entered the campaign for a B2B Marketing award, for the Best Targeted Corporate Decision Maker Campaign, which highlighted the achievements of the campaign to that pint:
- Generated >£100m of new business
- Unlocked over £250m worth of new contract opportunities for future pipeline
- Improved contract renewal success by a factor of 4x
- Developed close relationships with over 100 key C-level executives
- Opened access to major companies who would not previously engage
- Changed Mitie’s perception from commodity supplier to valued partner
- Generated extensive content, social media and PR
Altogether not a bad return for a marketing activity that had cost less then £100k!
A campaign of this nature is unlikely to deliver hard returns in the same, or even next quarter. It is a long-term investment in the future development of strategic relationships. Of course it is possible to pick up some low-hanging fruit, but the most interesting aspect of these campaigns is their longevity.
We just heard, as we signed off this story in early 2019, that Mitie has just announced a major account win with the Yorkshire Building Society. Checking our records we find their Property Director first attended an ERP dinner in 2015.
Then they came to one of the workshops the following year, and another dinner in 2017.
It may have taken four years to come home, but that is the nature of Strategic engagement. When you consider the contract value was close to £15m, and over the whole five year period it ran the ERP came in at less then £250k, that single win would have beaten the pants off any other normal marketing ROI, let alone the other accounts that have come home, that between them are worth something measured in eight figures!