UCL Innovation and Enterprise


Marketing strategy helps company back to growth

1 November 2011

PQ2 Ltd, a distributor of greetings cards, stationery and fine arts prints to retail gift shops, interior designers and department stores including Harrods, approached HELO to inject some fresh thinking into its sales strategy.


Despite attempts to market itself with special offers, the economic downturn had hit the company hard in 2009, especially as larger businesses such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer had started publishing their own cards, keeping costs low by printing them overseas.

In one of the first HELO projects, a team led by Salama Begum, a final year undergrad in Economics at UCL, with fellow students Nate Odoggo (graduated Msc Financial Computing) and Sam Sheppard (graduated MSc English Literature) set about creating a marketing strategy for the company. From May to July, PQ2 effectively engaged the team as its business consultants.

The team produced a full industry analysis of PQ2’s product portfolio, ranked the company against its competitors and delivered a 30-page report that outlined its current situation and suggested a set of concrete recommendations on what it could do next - and how.

The team convinced PQ2 to overhaul it’s website and to engage with social media for the first time. The company has now introduced its first Facebook pages.

Their work ultimately went beyond marketing and they even recommended divesting in a product line, which PQ2 has since done on a trial basis.

PQ2 marketing manager Liz O’Grady said: “The report was very well laid out; we learnt some interesting views on how commerce works and what we should do about lines that weren't doing particularly well. It was definitely a report we could work with and want to action the points made regarding the marketing sides.”

Begum said: “Taking part in HELO was the first time any of us had done anything like this so, for me anyway, it was definitely a learning curve. I feel the project was a great success in the end as the client really did seem interested in everything we had recommended.”

In November, the initiative won a prize for best impact in a UCL awards ceremony that celebrated the work of HELO.

UCL Advances Director Tim Barnes said: “With this project, we could see the real impact the students could provide the company by giving realistic recommendations on what they should do to be able to get their company back to growth.”