Marketing Transformation Case Study Shaw & Co

Turning a boutique into a market disruptor.

19 Jun

[This case study was not delivered by VCMO. It is an illustration of the marketing capability of our VCMOs.]

The Company.

Shaw & Co operates in the corporate finance (CF) market, providing advisory support and transactional services to SMEs that are seeking to buy, sell or fund the growth of a business.

The Background.

Shaw & Co had been operating for a few years with no in-house marketing team. Most marketing requirements were outsourced to local agencies or managed internally by non-marketers. In 2019 the senior management team made an investment decision to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Mills.

The Marketing Challenge.

The marketing challenge was to build a marketing platform from the ground up that would support an ambitious  five-year growth plan. The priorities were to:

  • Re-articulate Shaw & Co’s value proposition and competitive positioning;
  • Support a major investment in digital transformation;
  • Establish an in-house capability to support all business development activities;
  • Create more demand for the advisory services through a high-performing content strategy;
  • Professionalise marketing outputs by bringing design tools and capability in-house.

Marketing Transformation.

Rebrand - Turning Ambition Into a Greater Outcome

The disruption of the pandemic allowed Paul the opportunity to conduct internal and external research to understand how Shaw & Co’s employees, business partners and clients valued the brand. The word ‘ambition’ was a common theme and was the spark to build something different, authentic, and disruptive.

Paul developed the brand positioning architecture and fed it into a detailed creative brief. Following a rigorous Request For Proposal (RFP) process, a London based agency - Design By Structure - was instructed to visualise and verbalise the new brand story through a suite of brand assets and a new corporate website.

A critical element of the creative brief was to democratise corporate finance - often seen as an impenetrable and inhuman world for SME business leaders - making it more accessible, open, and transparent while helping them to achieve greater outcomes for their businesses.

The new brand proposition is based on how Shaw & Co puts its clients first and empowers them to achieve their greatest business ambition – whether growing, funding or exiting their business – ‘We turn your big ambitions into greater outcomes’ was born!

Digital Transformation – Building a New Digital Ecosystem

A major investment in digital transformation saw Paul delivering a new corporate website, which coincided with the brand relaunch. AI platform Topic Buddy was used to significantly increase organic search traffic from 18% to over 50% over a short period of time and overall search traffic increased by over 200% over an 18-month period.

A key digital project that Paul helped to deliver was the upgrade Shaw & Co’s CRM from Suite CRM to Microsoft Dynamics 365. Paul’s role was to optimise the Dynamics marketing module for the delivery of digital marketing campaigns to clients and business partners. The platform empowered the business to rapidly scale its output of communications and hosted webinars to nurture and educate its audiences.

Content Strategy

Armed with a new brand and digital ecosystem, Paul next transformed Shaw & Co’s content strategy through the full-time appointment of a Communications Manager. This drove a step change in how Shaw & Co was perceived externally, repositioning the business from a niche boutique to a national disruptor.

The re-engineered content strategy saw a dramatic uplift in editorial features in leading trade publications such as Business Leader and Insider Media. It also saw the publication of 'The Shaw Report' - a first of its kind barometer - helping owner-managers benchmark their debt performance relative to their competitors as well as M&A attractiveness. The Shaw Reports helped to position Shaw & Co as a credible source of industry insight and expertise.

With significantly more content being produced, Paul breathed new life into Shaw & Co’s social media strategy. LinkedIn was a primary channel to amplify content to new audiences. By upskilling client-facing team members to engage with the platform, Shaw & Co's LinkedIn followers grew by over 900% to more than 2,000 over a 24-month period, further strengthening its brand profile.


Paul’s marketing transformation efforts helped Shaw & Co achieve:

  • It’s highest ever revenue growth of 54%, taking it over £2m for the first time in FY21;
  • Significantly higher press exposure with 135x press pick-ups across over a 30-month period;
  • Regular shortlisting’s across multiple industry awards including ‘Best Digital Rebrand’ and ‘Best Use of Digital’ at the Digital Impact Awards Europe 2022 and winning Business of the Year (1-10 employees) at the Business Leader 2021 Awards;
  • Increased employer brand awareness through setting up an industrial placement program with the University of Bristol;
  • 200% increase in website traffic (versus previous website) resulting in higher volume of regular client bookings;
  • Significant volume uplift in content outputs (emails, newsletters, blogs, webinars, barometers) to maintain high levels of brand awareness.
"Paul is a professional strategic marketeer who is able to apply his expertise with marketing budgets large and small. The commercial impact of Shaw &Co.'s rebrand, which was initiated, designed and implemented by Paul, has been to differentiate us positively in a sector where few have succeeded. He delivers what he promises, on time and on/under budget, to a high quality. Paul made a positive impact on our business that will last. I wish him well with developing his new venture."

Rod Leefe,
Chair, Shaw & Co

About VCMO

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