A converted stable and barn in Cheshire does not seem a likely place for a tech firm tasked with growing one of the world’s biggest newspapers.
Yet Prodo Digital, a £3.5m-turnover digital agency which counts the New York Times among its clients, is not afraid to do things differently. Its HQ houses 60 employees and the CEO’s dog Duke in a farm-like building in the middle of the Cheshire plains with meeting pods and cabins stood outside.
Chief executive Pippa Adams says its clients love the rural setting. “It’s hard to stand out as a digital agency because everybody’s got the dogs, astroturf and table tennis,” she told BusinessCloud.
“We’ve got a country campus feel: where we are sitting we can look right over the Cheshire countryside. Most of our clients work in a city centre environment and love coming here. It gives them that total break from the city.
“There isn’t another agency of our size like us.”
Prodo – which means publish in Latin – was set up two decades ago as a means of driving development and marketing for an online construction business. Adams oversaw the transformation into a fully-fledged digital agency.
“We’re one of the best-kept secrets. We’ve grown largely by word-of-mouth recommendation,” she says. “We’ve been quite shy about shouting about who we are and how good we are – and we probably do need to change that as we grow to let possible future employees know we’re here.”
Prodo has created websites for the New York Times for seven years. It fought off competition for the latest contract from agencies in New York City and London, growing the paper’s subscriber base both in print and online.
Among the firm’s other major clients are Lancashire Cricket Club and Emirates Stadium. The cricket club’s website is particularly interesting as it lands on a cricket ball split into two halves which directs visitors to either the cricket or the thriving events side of the business at Emirates Old Trafford. The websites use data to profile visitors and tailor the online experience to them.
Prodo has also worked with housing associations – such as the Trafford Housing Trust – for the last 15 years, which Adams maintains are some of the most ambitious in terms of their digital objectives.
“If they can get somebody to transact online, it costs them about eight pence to handle it,” she says. “On a telephone they’ve got to man a call centre which can be between £12 and £18. If they’ve got a tenant officer going out, or the customer coming in to the actual office environment, that can be £50.
“There’s a huge vested interest for them. The more they streamline those and get them all connected together, the greater the cost savings they can divert back into frontline services for their customers.”
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