Awards case study: Bidwells wins gold for 'Best use of thought leadership' and 'Best limited budget campaign'

Not many £50 million turnover businesses can say their thought leadership has directly influenced government policy and seen their ideas included in The Budget. Bidwells can.

Not many regional businesses have fought off London-based competition by leading a coalition of the most influential property leaders, responsible for assets worth £50 billion+, to directly challenge government thinking. Bidwells can.

And not many property firms can say their marketing campaigns have helped fast-track major development projects outside the planning system. A unique selling point that will help transform an economic region of the UK.

Bidwell's Radical Regeneration Manifesto, achieved:

  • Ongoing engagement c-suite targets.
  • High-profile press coverage.
  • Access to political decision-makers.
  • A unique government mandate.
  • A game-changing impact on ROCE for Bidwells' targets.

From a thought leadership campaign delivered for under £30 000, designed to target a hard to reach group of c-suite leaders and politicians...

Bidwells is now accelerating billions of pounds of strategic development across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

This case study will explain how it was done.

About the company

Bidwells is a £50 million turnover, 180-year-old property consultancy headquartered in Cambridge. Built on serving the Oxbridge Colleges, Bidwells now advises real estate owners, developers and investors on all aspects of their property. The partnership is the leading consultancy in the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc’, a region highlighted by government for one million homes and signicant economic growth.

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing

The political upheaval in Spring 2019, was slowing housing and infrastructure delivery across the Arc.

Despite this, the Arc was gaining significant interest from property developers and investors, and major competitors were beginning to target Bidwells' market.

The strategy was clear: set out to position Bidwells’ partners as key facilitators between senior government officials and 30 senior decision-makers at major property firms As a mid-size business, Bidwells had the ideas, but not the clout. Bidwells brought its team’s deep political knowledge, contacts and intelligence together with the biggest names in property to deliver a thought leadership campaign that would:

  • Show how the government’s Arc vision could be delivered.
  • Align an industry voice that government and press would listen to.
  • Gain direct access to government officials leading the Arc project.
  • Create significant opportunities for Bidwells and its clients.

Objectives of the campaign

Bidwells' main objectives were clear:

  • Deliver a campaign to influence policy and increase government action on the Arc.
  • Develop policy ideas to deliver the government’s Arc vision and use these to engage clients, lobby government, launch events and deliver PR.
  • Position Bidwells with key government officials and c-suite targets as trusted advisors on the Arc.
  • Deliver fee earning opportunities by differentiating the business and its leaders from the competition.
  • Lead ongoing dialogue between c-suite targets and government to maintain position at the heart of the debate.

Measurable campaign targets

  • Manifesto recommendations adopted in government policy.
  • Engagement with 30 c-suite decision-makers of target businesses.
  • Government commitment to a series of roundtables with c-suite targets to discuss policy ideas.
  • Achieve strong qualitative feedback from targets and government confirming the perception of Bidwells as ‘market leaders on the Arc.'
  • Establish a leadership position through PR in broadsheet and broadcast press, Google rankings and social media influence.

The target audience

  • Bidwells targeted a group of 30 c-suite decision-makers responsible for property assets worth more than £50 billion.
  • These were the CEOs of property developers and investors active in the Arc – key targets for the business.
  • Bidwells also targeted government officials responsible for policy on the Arc.
  • Bidwells then brought these target audiences together to discuss its policy recommendations that could influence the success of the Arc and clients’ projects.

Media, channels or techniques used

There were three defined stages of the Radical Regeneration campaign, each requiring different channels and techniques.

Stage 1: Creating the manifesto

  • Internal leadership workshop: Agree 30 c-suite targets and manifesto themes that affect their businesses.
  • Interviews: with c-suite targets for input and support on manifesto elements aligned with their projects.
  • Branding: and writing the 88-page manifesto.

Stage 2: Launch manifesto

  • PR strategy: to target key broadcast and broadsheet press.
  • Personal letters: and hard copies of the manifesto to c-suite targets and government.
  • Digital strategy: including video across social channels and a dedicated microsite.
  • Client events and conferences: to create a platform for the manifesto and c-suite targets.
  • Party conferences: presenting the manifesto to government and securing follow up.

Stage 3: Driving policy

  • Think-tanks: to discuss the manifesto and help shape government policy.

Timescales of the project

Research phase: June-July 2019

  1. Target audience defined (June).
  2. Defining manifesto themes with authors and c-suite targets (July).

Planning - Create manifesto: July–September 2019

  • Scope and focus of document decided (July).
  • Contributor articles produced (July/August).
  • Document designed (August).
  • Launch plan – digital, events, press (August).
  • Collateral produced (September).

Tactics - Launch manifesto: September 2019 – November 2020

  1. Attendance at party conferences (September).
  2. Parliament launch (September).
  3. C-suite roundtables (September).
  4. Internal lunch and learns (September).
  5. PR launch and social media teaser campaign (September).
  6. Blog articles (Fortnightly).
  7. C-suite meetings (October).
  8. Email campaign (monthly).
  9. Seminars (November).
  10. Comments on political environment – through press/social (weekly).
  11. Launch event at Francis Crick (November).

Outcomes: Driving policy: Ocober 2019 – March 2020

  1. Initial meeting with MHCLG (October).
  2. Think-tanks with c-suite targets and government (quarterly from November).

Analysis: September 2019 – March 2020

  1. Social media engagements (monthly).
  2. Google rankings (monthly).
  3. Digital downloads (weekly).
  4. Press coverage (monthly).

Budgets

Campaign elements

  • Blackstock PR: content and media launch: £7500.
  • Sponsored launch at Francis Crick: £14,000.
  • Video: £4100.
  • Printing of banners and collateral: £1200.
  • Manifesto printing: £2300.
  • Content writing: In-house
  • Designing brand and manifesto: In-house.
  • Client seminars: In-house.
  • Hosting government think-tanks: In-house.
  • Digital campaign, animation and microsite: In-house.

Total Budget £29,100

Results

The Radical Regeneration Manifesto campaign has been a huge success. At the think-tank in March, Bidwells was mandated by government to recommend schemes across the Arc to be fast-tracked outside the planning process. This mandate:

  • Is a unique selling point for Bidwells.
  • A huge opportunity Bidwells' c-suite targets.
  • Can bring multi-million pound developments forward by five years.
  • Improve ROCE on strategic projects by 40-60%.

So far, Bidwells has put forward 40 projects to be fast-tracked. This is worth millions to Bidwells' c-suite targets and will drive billions in GDP growth.

The campaign also resulted in:

  • Government adopting Bidwells' manifesto recommendations on development corporations and planning reform.
  • Original c-suite targets becoming part of Bidwells' quarterly government think-tank.
  • Coverage of the manifesto on Sky TV and in The Times newspaper during a highly successful PR campaign, delivering 24 pieces of national, local and trade coverage.
  • 500 guests attending the launch conference at the Francis Crick Institute.
  • Over 10,000 visits to the campaign microsite and 1000 video views.
  • A social media campaign that achieved 65,000 views on LinkedIn and Twitter.

"In a textbook case of how to bring expertise and thought leadership to bear, the Bidwells’ Radical Regeneration manifesto engages senior players in the property industry to support Government in realising its objectives. This is now acutely important at this moment when we need to 'build, build, build'. Bidwells is making as a unique contribution here. It is most superbly illustrated by the excellent work that Bidwells is doing to help the Government work with senior members of the property industry bring the Oxford-Cambridge Arc to life."

Jackie Sadek, CEO, UK Regeneration

B2B Marketing Awards 2020

This submission won the gold award for 'Best use of thought leadership' and 'Best limited-budget campaign' at the B2B Marketing Awards this year.

Find out who made the shortlist here!

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