"The point is to be of the moment to drive interest and energy and link like-minded people together to drive economic benefit for the area."
Jan Cowan, Business Development Director
With its goals to support, promote and connect businesses – and better define the business strengths of the region - Marketing WAM has made great strides.
It has attracted the support of over 200 companies to events held in some of the area’s oldest and newest venues – The Rex Cinema, Kings School, Mottram Hall Hotel (now Champneys) and Wilmslow Conference Centre – and now boasts a regular community of over 50-75 business owners.
Backed by Helen White and Richard Higginson, co-founders of neighbouring organisation Marketing Stockport - now 10 years old - Marketing WAM is a publishing hub as well as a networking organisation and has posted over 400 stories about businesses in the region, issued over 60 bi-weekly newsletters and is attracting 8500 visits a month from those interested to find out more.
Cheshire East Council’s Business Support team has embraced the channel as a great focus for business sector engagement – and especially as Covid struck – utilising the Group in meets and online to get the word out quickly on grants and other support packages.
“It has certainly been a year of two halves,” said Publishing Director Sue Souter, who runs the organisation with Business Development Director Jan Cowan.
“While Covid did slow us down a bit in the traditional sense, it actually intensified our reason for being, helping to steer a path through for WAM businesses. Sessions – which then ran every couple of weeks for four months – were about sharing information and not least comfort! Everyone was experiencing the same challenges.”
With solid support from familiar WAM brands like SAS Daniels, AstraZeneca and Alderley Park as well as ambitious firms like Fabric IT, Poole Alcock, All Communications by Zest4, Galloways Printers, Citation, Bellway Homes, Synergy Recruitment and recent recruits Sigma Consulting in Macclesfield, Marketing WAM has succeeded in attracting a range of businesses.
Talking about the live sessions Poole Alcock Partner Sarah Jane Dunhill, Head of Commercial and Civil Litigation commented: “ I always enjoy them, even virtually, as they are that right balance of informal / comfortable networking with informative content and always have a “take away” point or two.”
Plans for 2021 will see the focus remain on getting the area better understood as a powerhouse of bioscience, healthcare, tech in general, gaming and creative industries.
Jan Cowan commented: “We have been watching developments at The Glasshouse on Alderley Park with interest – our first face to face event when we can do it will be hosted there – and tying up with other channels and organisations who have a vested interest in promoting and supporting business in this region.
The next meeting which is scheduled for 25th November will see Cllr Nick Mannion expanding on the vision for Macclesfield – Green, Creative, Connected and Quirky – albeit through the lens of Covid - and there is an invite to Rob Smethurst and co to introduce the Group to the new regime at Macclesfield FC.
“The point is to be ‘of the moment’ to drive interest and energy and link like-minded people together to drive economic benefit for all,” added Jan. “We have made a good start, year two will be about pushing on with that agenda with one eye on Covid of course and getting more SME owners involved.”
Being a digital platform we will also see Marketing WAM putting its publishing weight behind digital transformation, working with Sarah Pochin, newly appointed Business Champion for Cheshire East, and Hilary Stephenson at Sigma, to help them ensure the super accelerated rate of change remains accessible to all.