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St John’s Church Re-opened – How Oakham Research helped to make it happen

Posted By on 22nd August 2016

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Inside and outside views of St John’s Church, Dudley

Back in early 2011 Oakham Research Managing Director, John Poole met with Deb Brownlee, Chair of the St John’s Church Preservation Group. The group were set up following the decision to close the church 14 years ago. Deb has led the campaign to re-open the church culminating in the historic handover of the keys on 17th August 2016.

John Poole of Oakham Research (second left) with (left to right) Maria Millward Bottley, Keith Jeffries and Deb Brownlee of St John’s Church Preservation Group

John describes his initial thoughts following that first meeting:

“When I first met Deb at Netherton Arts Centre I felt that this project resonated with the aspirations I had for my research and consultation agency. It was a project within the local community which received widespread support from local residents. The church is not only a key historical building but also a focal point for the community which transcends religious and cultural boundaries. In all my years of undertaking community consultation I have rarely seen a community rally, as they have done, in Kates Hill behind this cause.”


Intact stained glass window inside St John’s Church, Dudley

So how could Oakham Research help to make re-opening a reality:

“I knew that Deb had the vision and the capability to make the church building work for the community. We discussed ideas around what could be achieved and how to deliver these goals. What the preservation group needed to do was to convince the Diocese of Worcester that such grand sounding ideas were feasible and had the support of the community. That’s where Oakham Research came in. We undertook a wide ranging consultation with local residents in the form of a comprehensive survey to gather ideas and opinions. At first, I had reservations about the length of the survey – the questionnaire ran to 49 pages with over 25 open ended questions. It was set up as a web survey, with a hard copy version for those not internet enabled. But with nearly 600 responses it provided the evidence base to take to the Steering Committee and underpin the business case.”

“I believe that this comprehensive evidence base delivered an overwhelming argument to the Diocese that the church was viable as a community based asset. A further strand of work involved Oakham Research interviewing key supporters and future stakeholders on a one to one basis to supplement the public feedback.”

As the Market Research Society states “Evidence Matters”, and Oakham Research proved this to be the case for St John’s Church Preservation Group.

SJCPG logo


‘John Poole of Oakham Research was introduced to me by a mutual friend. He saw the vision of what could be done with historic St John’s straight away and started to help immediately . There is no doubt the quality of the research and his presentations helped to swing the pendulum in our direction, as he was able to harness the evidence of the public support in a quantitative and convincing way. His research supported the business plan and informed the St John’s Church Steering Group. He continues his association with us as a member of our Expert Advisory Panel and we recommend him very highly.’ – Deb Brownlee – Chair of St John’s Church Preservation Group



John Poole Elected as Vice Chairman for Staffordshire and West Midlands Region of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

Posted By on 21st November 2014

On Wednesday 19th November 2014 John Poole of Oakham Research was elected as Regional Vice Chairman, by his peers at the Staffordshire and West Midlands Region AGM of the Federation of Small Businesses. John has added this Regional Officer position to the post of Vice Chairman for the Black Country Branch. The Staffordshire and West Midlands Region is made up of the four branches of Black Country, Burton Lichfield & Tamworth, Birmingham and North Staffordshire. The Staffordshire and West Midlands Region will be hosting the FSB Annual Conference at Birmingham  International Convention Centre next march.

John stated “It is an honour to serve the Staffordshire and West Midlands based members of the FSB for the next 12 months as Regional Vice Chairman. To do so in a year in which the region is hosting the Annual Conference is even more important. As I set out in my election speech, I aim to use my time as Regional Vice Chairman to campaign for less red tape and unnecessary form filling both for small businesses themselves and within the FSB. My focus will be on supporting and promoting members and bringing my particular marketing and market research skills to the assistance of the regional committee. I sincerely thank all those that voted for me at the AGM.”





John Poole Re-elected As FSB Vice Chairman For The Black Country

Posted By on 14th November 2014

At the AGM of the Black Country Federation of Small Business last Wednesday evening, John Poole of Oakham Research was re-elected as Vice Chairman. John commented “Thank you to all those of you who have supported not only myself but the whole committee over the last 12 months. It is a testament to the work the committee has undertaken that my fellow officers were also unanimously re-elected. We are working hard to promote small local businesses by working with local authorities, the LEP and other institutions within the area.”





Oakham Research Presents – Market Research Secrets

Posted By on 23rd October 2014

John Poole of Oakham Research presented “Market Research Secrets” at the Black Country branch FSB members evening in October. Running a practical session which demonstrated how market research can help small businesses, John started by asking attendees to answer a mini questionnaire which was then incorporated into his presentation.

“We make better decisions when we base them on the intelligence we gather. Better decisions help ensure future viability and better returns on investment” John explained. The presentation covered the technical aspects of market research together with understanding the psychology and human nature which can lead to false positives. Areas covered included Questionnaire Design, Sampling, Analysis and Insight.

The Powerpoint presentation can be found in the presentations section of the Oakham Research website.



Oakham Research on Bridge Radio

Posted By on 21st October 2014

John Poole of Oakham Research was interviewed by Mark Williams on local Stourbridge radio station 102.5 The Bridge on Friday 3rd October. Bridge Radio

John explained the difference between different forms of market research and the reasons why organisations spend money on gaining insight. “Successful Market Research can make a massive difference to the performance of a business. Understanding your customers is a key requirement in order to ensure that your product or service is fit for purpose. Most customers don’t leave due to price or cost, customer satisfaction is the main driver for retention” John stated.

Mark Williams Mark Williams of ‘The Bridge’

Mark went on to quiz John about how market research is used to predict election results and understanding how to avoid false positives from research bias.

John is a member of the Business Forum panel on Bridge Radio and can be heard at 2pm on the first Friday of the month when he is joined by regular contributors Mick Davies (MAD Computer Solutions), Paul Brindley (Midlands Business Recovery), Jackie Casey (Express Train) and Gerald Cooper (Cooper Financial Services).




John Poole elected Vice Chairman of the Black Country Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

Posted By on 25th November 2013

John Poole, Managing Director of Oakham Research was elected Vice Chairman of the Black Country Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses at the recent AGM. John has been an active Committee Member over the last 12 months and has also served on the Staffordshire & West Midlands Regional Committee.

“Small Businesses make up a vital part of the economy and are key to driving forward both economic growth and sustainable employment. The FSB are a key player in ensuring that small businesses get the opportunity to grow and prosper. My involvement in the FSB runs parallel to the support we provide to our clients here at Oakham Research. While the FSB supports small businesses through lobbying on their behalf and a range of specific value for money products, Oakham Research allows businesses who otherwise would not have the ability to undertake research to gain competitive advantage through cost effective solutions.

I’d like to thank members for having the faith in my abilities to vote me into the role of Vice Chairman. I’m committed to provide a professional and effective approach to carrying out my duties over the next 12 months with the aim of making the Black Country Branch a vibrant and useful resource for small businesses locally.”

John Poole





Oakham Research featured in FSB Black Country Magazine

Posted By on 2nd August 2013

Oakham Research featured as the Member Spotlight in the January 2013 edition of the FSB “The voice of Black Country” (Newsletter of the Federation of Small Businesses, Black Country Branch covering Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell & Dudley).

The article can be read below or for the full magazine download click on here

FSB Member Spotlight

Dudley based Oakham Research specialises in delivering value for money research on behalf of small businesses. Many small businesses do not undertake market and customer research which leaves them at a competitive disadvantage when competing with larger organisations. Most large organisations place the customer experience at the heart of their service offering and as such have a dedicated market research budget to deliver this intelligence.

The reasons why small companies don’t engage professional market research agencies fall into one of the following categories:

a) We can’t afford it! – Can you afford not to? How much will it cost to make the wrong decision? This includes wasted staff and management time, ineffective marketing and any print or production costs

b) We do it in-house using Survey Monkey! – There is a hidden cost of developing the questionnaire and programming it. The survey forms part of your communications strategy and a badly organised and scripted survey can damage your brand. Although there are a number of “free survey” suppliers, they often charge for logo’s and graphics to be used and will restrict the number of free responses (additional responses are charged per response).

c) We don’t see any value in it! – The value lies in godd decision making. It is the opportunity cost of ‘doing the wrong thing’ because you didn’t effectively predict the outcome. There is also the unquantifiable value of showing your customers that you value them enough to ask their opinion.

d) We already know what our customers think! – You may know how your customers have behaved in the past, but the market place can change. Understanding the current market and what the future requirements may be, is fundamental to long term stability.

If you would like to learn how Oakham Research can help you, contact John Poole on 01384 353910 or email


John Poole elected on to the FSB Black Country Branch Committee

Posted By on 2nd August 2013

15th November 2012 – John Poole of Oakham Research was elected on to the committee of the Black Country FSB at last nights AGM.

John commented “I feel that it is not only a priviliage to serve Black Country businesses as a Committee Member but it also demonstrates our committment to small businesses in this area. In setting up Oakham Research it was always my vision to bring market research expertise within the grasp of small organisations and sole traders. Large corporations have long known the value of fact based decision making and levered the benefits of consulting with their customers. This has given them a competitive advantage over smaller organisations. Our ability to deliver cost effective solutions to small businesses will help them to overcome this disadvantage.”


Oakham Research joins the FSB

Posted By on 12th June 2012

Oakham Research has become a member of the Federation of Small Businesses. Managing Director, John Poole commented “We felt it was important to join the FSB as Oakham Research primarilly provides market research services to small business. In our experience many small businesses feel that they are not able to utilise the market intelligence that professional research provides as the cost of undertaking projects is prohibitative. Oakham Research operate a lean management model which allows us to control our cost base. We do not have a central London office to support and we utilise a pool of research experts on a project by project basis. We pass this cost saving on to our customers with competitive rates for work undertaken. We call this Making Professional Research Affordable. For example our Oakham Engage web survey is delivered at a standard price of just £1,200. But while our costs are standard and transparent, our service is very much bespoke and personal to each client.”

Oakham Research provide web surveys, quantitative telephone postal and face to face surveys, focus groups, mystery shopping, geographic mapping, data analysis and interpretation.


Oakham Research presentations

Posted By on 28th November 2011

Oakham Research have published recent presentations by Managing Director John Poole on their website. This includes the presentation on the practicalities of Market Research to students at Solihull College and the event co hosted with Ask For Research at Aston University as part of their Global Entrepreneurship Week attended by local businessmen and Aston Alumni.

To view these presentations click on the Powerpoint Presentations link on the navigation bar.


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