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HROC talks about 44 years of retaining clients

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By The Drum | Editorial

December 7, 2023 | 7 min read

You don't survive as an agency for more than four decades if you don't know how to look after clients and staff. HROC scooped the Client Relations award at The Drum Awards for Agency Business by impressing the judges with how the HROC team becomes an extension of the client's marketing team to deliver campaigns that work. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning work

HROC was founded at a dining table in 1979 upon the desire to ‘do it differently’. It’s safe to say that over the last 44 years, there has been no room for complacency in achieving this, and our impressive client and employee retention is a testament to that. To date, our employee retention rate is 100%, double that of the average UK agency at 42%*. This means our account teams are stable and consistent and committed to forging solid long-term relationships. Every client can rest assured that the team who pitches for the business is the team who runs the day-to-day activity.

Our commitment to doing things differently means we are not just a supplier to our clients, but a crucial extension of their marketing team. As a result, over 70% of our clients have been with us for over a year, and almost a third with us for more than five years. To put that into perspective, the average length of an agency-client relationship has declined from over seven years to now less than three years**. So, we’re doing pretty well. We’re not just about winning new business - we’re in it for the long haul.

R IS FOR RELATIONSHIPS

What’s the secret to our success? Forming long-term relationships with our clients. The heartland of our B2B clients operate within the construction and building products industry, whilst our core consumer clients comprise home and garden brands. By focusing on these sectors, rather than trying to sell our services to all types of brands operating within all types of industries, we’ve been able to continuously hone and improve our knowledge and capabilities within these markets.

However, that doesn’t mean we stand still. Over recent years, we’ve diversified into complementary markets to widen our expertise, whilst simultaneously expanding our portfolio of services to ensure our clients stay ahead of the curve. For example, in 2022, our consumer PR team launched the agency’s very own home and garden exhibition, HROC @ Home, which brought together our home and garden clients to showcase their products to over 30 top-tier journalists and influencers. By launching our own press event, we were able to significantly reduce costs for our clients, whilst kickstarting collaborations and achieving coverage in leading titles such as the Daily Express, T3 and House Beautiful.

We’re also always looking ahead to what’s coming around the corner, whether it’s the launch of new social platform Lemon8 or the rollout of Google Bard and Chat GPT. As our clients’ trusted consultants, we are responsible for ensuring our fingers are always on the pulse of marketing and communications.

O IS FOR OBJECTIVES

HROC’s board of directors are all working shareholders, which makes us more adept and able to immediately react to our clients’ requirements. This also enables us to continuously reinvest our profits into the business to benefit both our clients and employees in terms of recruitment and business development. For 2023, this includes the introduction of a Learning and Development budget, which provides employees with the opportunity to undertake additional training to not only expand their own knowledge but share their learnings with the wider business.

At the beginning of this year, one of our Account Directors completed the CIPR Specialist Diploma in Sustainability Communications. Being part of the first cohort to complete the new diploma has provided us with essential knowledge that places us in a strong position to advise our clients in effectively marketing their sustainability strategies to key stakeholders, whilst confidently navigating the potential pitfalls of greenwashing.

C IS FOR OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR CLIENTS

All of these commitments are why our clients stay with us for so long. Clients like the global business, STIHL, whom we have worked with since 2015 when they tasked us with launching its new range of cordless domestic products to the UK market. We accelerated consumer awareness and drove additional consumer revenue through an integrated campaign that utilised TV, VOD, PR, Social Media, and an always-on-digital campaign.

Over a three-year period, we achieved a significant increase in consumer prompted awareness, resulting in increased sales. It’s results like this why we continue to be STIHL’s lead UK agency for creative services, public relations, digital marketing, and media planning and buying for its professional and consumer markets.

Like our colleagues at STIHL, we’re just as passionate about the chainsaw as Andreas Stihl was when he first invented it in 1929. That’s why we’ve been STIHL’s agency partner of choice for the last eight years, and plan to be for the next eight years and more. Simon Hewitt, Stihl GB Marketing Director: “HROC are the best agency I’ve ever worked with. Great ideas, lovely people and totally trustworthy. We’d really struggle without them now. “I’m very impressed with HROC’s approach to us as a client. They think around the edges and are always coming up with different and better ways of approaching projects. I think part of this is driven by the fact that their business is owned by several of their senior team who manage their various functions personally. There’s an obvious built-in passion that comes from these individuals and they are very clearly driven – and this is the culture of the agency as a whole.”

Our dedication to becoming an extension of our client’s marketing teams and continuously thinking differently is what has also seen us experience success with Schneider Electric’s Drayton brand, whom we have been the marketing agency of choice for since 2017. During that time, we have designed, built, and launched the Drayton Academy training portal for installers, set up and optimised always-on paid social activity, completed project-based media buying activities, created promotion-based PPC for key sales periods, achieved award-winning consumer and trade PR management and supported the launch of an e-commerce store.

Over the last four years, we’ve decreased SEO cost per conversion, whilst increasing conversion rate. During that time, we’ve also increased clicks to retailers via PPC from significantly, whilst simultaneously reducing bounce rate. Throughout 2022, paid social activities targeting consumers achieved thousands of clicks to retailers and hundreds of leads, in addition to over half a million video views. Farah Shaw, Schneider Electric, Marketing Communications Manager: “If you’re looking for a down-to-earth agency who get the job done and are a pleasure to deal with, I couldn’t recommend them more! “After a year working with a London-based PR company on our first-ever consumer campaign, we switched to HROC and it was the best thing we have done. The difference in the level of service and the coverage we have achieved is leagues apart. The whole team at HROC are engaged, proactive and great communicators. They always strive to do more and come up with novel ideas to improve results.”

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