After working with specialist engineering and software firm SEA for over a decade, the breadth and depth of iconnet's digital and design contribution has increased under marketing manager Nadia Hope-Parham's direction...
Somerset-based SEA (Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd) has provided engineering and software design services to government agencies, industrial prime contractors and academia since 1988. In 2008, Cohort plc acquired SEA, which now sits alongside corporate siblings MASS, SCS and Marlborough Communications.
On becoming marketing manager in 2010, Hope-Parham inherited a decade-long business relationship with iconnet. 'ICON,' as she affectionately calls them, 'has supplied us for 15 years, but the range and depth of their support has increased recently.'
Before Nadia became marketing manager, iconnet's role was restricted to web development and limited electronic direct marketing. But that soon changed, as Nadia explains: 'One of my first jobs was putting the digital marketing contract out to competitive pitch. As incumbents, iconnet took part and eventually won with a better solution, more competitive pricing and stronger relationship-building skills - all very important to SEA and to me as a very busy marketing manager.'
Since then, Nadia's faith in iconnet has been rewarded. As well as continuing bespoke website management, iconnet developed a managed web service to her specification. 'Since 2013 they've done all my website analysis, making complex analytics easily-digestible and proactively recommending improvements based on their findings.'
When pushed to explain what differentiates iconnet, Nadia struggles: 'I've only ever worked with them, so I haven't anyone else to compare on a long-term basis,' she says. That said, she's quick to praise their ability to understand what she wants from very cursory briefs: 'It's a great skill and a big help because it frees me up for other things; I can fire the simplest brief to ICON and know their interpretation will be spot on - it's the mark of a close relationship and priceless as our marketing function has grown, especially as my team has stayed the same size!
Continuing, Nadia says: 'iconnet has always provided a reliable service; the closest thing to a "glitch" would be my concern that we weren't getting sufficient depth and interpretive detail from the managed web service. However, once I highlighted this, and senior management's need for more detail, iconnet agreed to brief us face-to face three times a year. We've had the first meeting and it's made a huge difference. As well as better-demonstrating the value of managed web services, opening these lines of communication has helped iconnet consolidate their position as an essential part of my marketing team.'
Having iconnet as part of that team has given SEA quantitative and qualitative benefits. 'We've got a much better website than a few years ago. What's more, iconnet's bespoke web and managed web services have been complemented by the complete rebrand they've done since 2011.'
'The benefits of using iconnet start with measurable increases in traffic to our website,' says a delighted Nadia. 'Because they offer several complementary services, they save me valuable time that I'd otherwise use running competitions to find suppliers in areas such as graphic design, direct email and exhibition display. As well as supporting SEA, ICON's skills and collaborative working style help maintain Marketing's good reputation within the business - and mine.'
Because Nadia can count on iconnet to deliver their promises, they help her be more effective in her role. 'It may sound clichéd, but they're a valuable extension of my team - I rely on them and they don't disappoint.'
So Nadia is pleased with iconnet's input and there's demonstrable proof that they're helping SEA. But what do colleagues and customers think of her digital agency's work?
'We've received excellent internal feedback about the website and rebranding as well as from customers; best of all, after well over a decade, our collaboration remains a work in progress - I'm sure there's even more to come.'
Unsurprisingly, Nadia sees iconnet working with her for some time, delivering more of the same and further improving the web management service.
Opportunities for iconnet to help enhance Cohort plc's marketing haven't been restricted to SEA. On Nadia's recommendation, sister company SCS appointed iconnet for its managed web services. Cohort plc has also invited the Gloucester team to create exhibition graphics and pitch for digital marketing work. Yes, Nadia would, and does, recommend them.
The future, a challenging one, looks bright for SEA and Cohort plc's other group companies. If the last few years are an indicator, iconnet will keep increasing its contribution to their online and conventional marketing.
'I really enjoy working with ICON,' says Nadia. 'They may not be big enough to offer a truly "gold-plated" corporate wow factor, but they continually delight us by delivering exactly what they promise - inspired bespoke web development, managed services and creative branding that helps define and differentiate SEA. The fact that it's so hard to highlight a stand-out moment speaks volumes for the consistently high quality of their creative, technical and relationship management approach.'