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Local company’s 20th anniversary marks a triumph over adversity

"Many in the local business community remember the shock of Alastair’s illness."

A man and A woman side by side smiling in front of an arched door way
Alastair & Helen Campbell

A marketing company set up in Market Harborough is celebrating 20 years in business this year, an event made all the more special by the company’s poignant history.

Ideal Marketing was established in 2003 by local man Alastair Campbell working from a spare bedroom using dial-up internet on one PC, with just one client on the books. The company grew rapidly, taking on staff and moving into offices at Union Wharf, followed by The Old Town Hall on Market Harborough’s High Street.

Fast forward two decades, and much has changed; from the location of the business to its ownership and the services offered. While Ideal Marketing’s journey mirrors that of many other small businesses, it has also weathered some unusual challenges, most notably in 2017 when owner Alastair Campbell had an unexpected cardiac arrest on the office premises in front of the staff.

Sadly, Alastair died as a result following a lengthy illness, leaving the shocked team to pull together and ensure that the company kept running, despite the sudden loss of their MD.

Helen Campbell, Alastair’s widow and the company’s head of PR at the time, recalls the impact of Alastair’s collapse. “It was devastating for the staff on a personal level, but their response was amazing,” she comments.

“We were determined that it wouldn’t affect clients or the running of the company, which took huge resilience and commitment from everyone involved. Looking back on that time, I don’t know how we did it, but I am still grateful to all the staff for the loyalty that they showed, enabling the company to keep going and reach its milestone 20 year anniversary.”

Jess Shailes, who had been head of digital marketing at Ideal Marketing since 2013, bought the company in 2019 and has since faced the significant challenges of Brexit and Covid, overseeing some transformations designed to futureproof the company’s success.

Changes include a greater focus on digital marketing, reflecting the nature of customer need and creating a virtual office, with Jess now based on the South Coast and staff located in Leicestershire and beyond.

As a result, the geographical make-up of the company’s clients has also expanded, with customers located across the UK and beyond. However, Ideal Marketing retains a strong sense of heritage, with Jess Shailes a regular guest lecturer at De Montfort University and the company still working with many Leicestershire customers including around 15 in the Market Harborough area.

Stephanie Hamblin, owner of The Boathouse Group which includes The Waterfront, the Foxton Locks Inn and The Swan and The Coach & Horses in Kibworth, pays tribute to Ideal Marketing’s longevity. “Many in the local business community remember the shock of Alastair’s illness and were impressed by the way in which the staff at Ideal Marketing carried on with business as usual. Working with the company today I can only commend their continuing commitment and professionalism; achieving 20 years is a real cause for celebration.”

Ideal Marketing’s current owner Jess Shailes comments: “I think the story of Ideal Marketing reflects many of the challenges faced by companies over the last few years – with a few pretty big curveballs thrown in along the way.

Like many companies, Covid forced us to re-evaluate our practices and we have emerged leaner and more efficient. In some ways we have come full circle, with staff working from home just as Alastair did in 2003, but the technology available in 2023 makes home working a desirable choice rather than a necessity.”

The company’s offering has also evolved, with Jess and her team offering a range of digital services such as email marketing, SEO and social media as well as more traditional forms of marketing like PR. There is also a greater emphasis on offering more long-term strategic services around marketing planning and consultancy.

A relatively new initiative is the launching of programmes such as the Customer Attraction Roadmap, Audience Analysis and The Marketing Funnel Builder which assists customers in creating a robust marketing strategy and materials either independently or with the assistance of Ideal Marketing.

“It’s inevitable that a business will evolve over two decades,” adds Jess. “Some of those changes may have been forced on us, but one of the tests of an organisation is its ability to adapt and overcome adversity.

"I am proud of what staff past and present have achieved over the past 20 years; moving with the times, while keeping to our core values of offering great service to our clients. These were values set in place by Alastair; Ideal Marketing is his legacy and I am delighted that we are keeping that alive.”


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