Positive impact and user experience are recurring themes that drive the work of Truro based PKF Francis Clark client, MPAD, an award-winning communication agency with strong ideas about how they can help their clients.
Calling themselves the positive impact agency reflects their approach to client relationships and how they strive to understand what businesses really need in order to achieve their aims and objectives. They develop a well-considered strategy before the delivery processes begin and demonstrate their impact with an evaluation report and a set of recommendations.
Following a course in advertising at what is now Falmouth University, MPAD was established by Mark Picken in 1999 with some grant support from the Princes Trust. The company creates strategies, branding, public relations, graphic design, marketing, and digital solutions for companies in Cornwall and Devon, as well as London and the South East.
Over time the business grew and contracted in cycles following the ups and downs of the economy but used its 15th anniversary to rebrand, refresh and rethink its own objectives. Today, MPAD works with ethical and socially responsible brands and organisations with a particular expertise in supporting the charitable sector.
The agency has a team of eight specialists with complementary skill sets that can be brought in on a project basis – a pool of expertise and resources that enable MPAD to tackle most communications challenges and a model that has worked well for them over the last couple of years.
Owner and Creative Director, Mark Picken said:
“We aim to have a positive impact on what our clients do and how they do it while at the same time they are seeking to have a positive impact on the work they undertake. We are lucky enough to work with clients and people with whom we have great long-term relationships. The underlying theme, however, is that they are all trying to make a difference – some kind of benefit to their customers and clients or to the environment or wider society.
“We have moved away from simply taking vanity-led instructions and now work hard to develop an understanding of the business objectives in order to make that positive impact. In terms of website development, we use UX (User Experience) to find out what customers and potential customers want and then maximise website design and functionality to expedite visitors to the specialist area they are interested in.
“It’s a collaborative process, the client comes with us every step of the way. We involve them in every stage of the development of a project so that are never presented with a fait acompli that may or may not work for them. We are totally dedicated to providing value for money and return on investment.
“I love living and working in Cornwall and there is much to do post-Brexit. We are going to be in an interesting place when European funding comes to an end but fortunately we are not dependant on businesses who are reliant on grant funding.
“Cornwall has plenty of opportunities depending on what sectors you are looking at. Technology in particular is a growth area and Cornwall has fantastic broadband coverage. It’s one of the best connected locations in Europe and will still attract inward investment, relocations and start-up businesses post-Brexit.”
MPAD is advised by PKF Francis Clark partner Tom Roach with Ian Hughes undertaking day to day liaison. The firm handles MPAD’s annual accounts, personal and corporation tax and plays a major advisory role in helping the business grow.
“We talk with Tom about business opportunities – what’s a good idea, what’s not so good,” said Mark.
Tom and his team are far more than numbers and compliance, they are like our partners. They provide a helicopter view of our business looking at where we are and what we want to achieve. We have also worked with the Corporate Finance Team regarding growth plans, cash flow projections funding and grant opportunities.
“We have been advised by PKF Francis Clark for around 10 years but I have known Tom for much longer through business networking in Cornwall. Together we helped to establish a Young Persons Business Network – The Hub – around 16 years ago. Tom is someone with whom you can always have a sound and balanced conversation with.”
Mark and his MPAD team have also worked with Tom Roach producing video case studies for PKF Francis Clark’s popular Finance in Cornwall event and Mark has been a regular presenter at the firm’s annual charity seminars speaking on the theme of ‘opportunities for charities to create communications that count’.
“I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at these events. We looked at how to get fund-raising messages right, how to create more engagement with your targets and supporters, more revenue and more positive impact. It was very rewarding to give people information they didn’t really have before but something they could take away and apply to create that positive impact on what they are trying to do.
“It has also led to follow up conversations with some organisations and it has allowed me to think about the quality of our messaging. Speaking at these conferences has helped us reflect on our own messaging and marketing.”
Concerning the future, Mark added:
“I’m an optimist. I’ve turned 43 and I’m thinking more about what will happen to the business in the future. We have growth plans and we’re looking to see what opportunities there are to achieve that growth.
“We’ve worked with some great organisations and businesses and some really great people so we can ask whether there are opportunities for mergers or bringing new talent into the business. We are working closely with a London based business that has an international remit and this may well present opportunities for extending our reach and expanding the market for the services we provide.
“I’m also thinking about succession. We’ve been discussing how best to structure the business and maximise its value for a potential sale so it’s an attractive proposition that doesn’t over rely on me.”