Skip to content

Business & Economy

Focused on delivering decisive change

Research and strategic marketing agency MMC provides crucial insight that helps organisations identify and implement change. A major part of its arsenal is key stakeholder perception studies, which convert in-depth findings into tangible measures capable of catalysing great improvement. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to the company’s managing director Natasha McDonough to find out more.

Change. A short word with myriad meaning.

Speak of it in the current climate, and its six letters are shorthand for pandemic flux.

Talk of change in the business landscape, however, beyond the operational reflexes prompted by the health emergency, and the significance is far greater.

For meaningful change in the commercial world has long stood as a prerequisite to success.

Change inspires new thinking, creates new products and services, and nurtures new generations of talent.

Ultimately, it takes the perpetual pursuit of achievement to new realms.

And one company helping organisations implement such profound transformation is Sunderland-based market research and strategic marketing agency MMC.

Undertaking in-depth studies into an organisation’s progress – using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies – it gauges the proficiency of messaging and output to build pathways toward tangible improvement.

Fundamental to its work is stakeholder perception studies.

Creating reports from anonymised interviews with organisations’ stakeholders, from a cross-section of industry, MMC assesses an organisation from a multitude of angles.

These include an organisation’s place within the local government framework, its role within the education sphere, its position within relevant trade associations, its competitors and its relationship with business bodies such as the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North East England Chamber of Commerce.

From the feedback, MMC’s expert team – which is led by managing director Natasha McDonough and works with clients across the social housing, education, software and manufacturing sectors – then converts the data into blueprints for positive change.

From improved corporate messaging to greater skills support and ensuring senior officials are attending the most appropriate networking events, the outcomes, says Natasha, are extremely valuable.

“Our work highlights areas where organisations need to look at strengthening,” she says.

“It tests an operator’s vision, its mission and its values, because we ask stakeholders in detail if each of these – and many other factors too – resonate with them.

“For example, we might speak to someone at a local authority committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 about a manufacturer’s supply chain.

“From that, we can feed conversations back to the latter about product sourcing and any scope for potential changes.

“The same applies with skills; a stakeholder might highlight a lack of apprenticeship opportunities, which we can then use as a springboard to see how an organisation can better recruit and support younger workers.

“And it’s vital for social housing operators too. They regularly commission customer and tenant surveys, but stakeholder feedback is equally important in steering their progress.”

Natasha continues: “And some of our findings are mind-blowing.

“Suggestions come forward that organisations hadn’t previously thought about, such as changes to a service area and product, or a completely fresh vision, and our evidence then becomes the crucial stepping stone for them to begin implementing meaningful change around these areas.”

As well as a business’ commercial strategy, MMC’s support provides in-depth assessment of its personal approach too, notably the presence of senior figures across the local commercial landscape.

Natasha says: “One of the questions we regularly ask

stakeholders is whether an organisation has a place at the table in their environment – do they believe it is part of the groups they are engaged with? Do they see the organisation regularly enough, and at the right meetings?

“And that then feeds into broadening the exposure of senior leadership teams, because sometimes a chief executive has great regional prominence, but their management colleagues don’t.

“Furthermore, we’ve had instances in the past where the same person has continued attending the same networking event, when they would have been better served going to others, and where leaders haven’t engaged with key business groups.

“Where we see this at play, we can help take targeted action to map out an organisation’s networking opportunities and board memberships, to ensure they have strategic leads at all of the relevant tables.”

Natasha’s last point provides a crucial window into the work of MMC and, specifically, the palpable difference its support delivers.

The firm doesn’t just talk about action, it makes it real.

Evoking the key principles of international author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek’s ‘WHY’ theory – which argues people fail to truly buy into a product, service, movement or idea until they have understood the ‘WHY’ behind it – MMC creates reports that lay out clear directions toward change.

Natasha says: “Since we do the research and have detailed communications strategy knowledge too, we are able to recommend an organisation goes back to the market and tells people about the reason it exists, or better help people understand its journey and goals, for example.

“Our reports provide a point from which to start. They deliver an understandable narrative that deals with the initial ‘so-what? factor’ by laying out suggested measures to make progress.

“We treat everything very carefully and take great consideration when it comes to the changes we propose,” continues Natasha, who is a North East England Chamber of Commerce council member.

She adds: “On occasion, you have to tell people things they may not want to hear, and deal with sensitive topics, but our recommendations come from a fully rounded view of an organisation that we’ve captured during our research.

“That in itself engenders a real high level of trust, and the close relationships we create also position us within organisations’ longer-term plans.

“The latter allows us sight of what is coming in future

months and years, meaning we can best tailor our recommendations.

“Our clients regularly share their renewed business strategies with us, to further embed our partnership with them.”

But Natasha says it isn’t just the organisations whose stakeholders identify areas for improvement where MMC’s services provide great value.

She says: “There are occasions where organisations are very well regarded, and people are very supportive and happy with what they are doing.

“But there will always be something, a golden nugget, that can make a massive impact.

“That’s why I always recommend, even in the
cases where organisations feel confident about what stakeholders think, to engage in market research because one small insight can make a huge difference.

“And it’s so fantastic when that eureka moment hits, when you realise an organisation can improve further by strengthening a certain area.

“It’s lovely too when a chief executive tells us we’ve opened the door to change – for us, that is exactly what we aim to achieve.

“Our market research doesn’t just end at the reports we provide.

“Instead, they are the launching pad for facilitating real change that makes a big difference.”

For more information about how MMC’s research and strategic marketing support could help your business action positive change, email hello@, visit www. or connect with its team via the firm’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook channels.