Zoe Merchant

Zoe Merchant

After 20 years delivering B2B marketing strategies in the IT industry, Zoe founded Bright to help tech and consulting firms get the most from their marketing investment. Using agile marketing to test, learn and build on success. Zoe leads the team in delivering results through continual and focused improvements in order to support client’s business goals. A huge foodie and committed turophile – Zoe counter balances this with gymming, running and walking.

Four ways agile marketing can help overcome bias

Four ways agile marketing can help overcome bias

Bright explores how agility, curiosity, empowerment and spirit can #Breakthebias

Beyond hashtags, inspirational videos and moving quotes, celebrating International Women’s Day should serve as a reminder of the ongoing effort and change that is still needed to bring true equality and equity to women in society. As a female led business Bright place diversity at the heart of our business. Zoe Merchant, Bright, Managing Director comments “We, as marketers, whose profession it is to create awareness, drive change and make an impact, have the power to tackle biases and discrimination that permeate our much evolved yet still opinionated society.”

Unconscious bias and systemic prejudices are innate traits of the human being which affects opinions, decision-making and actions. But we believe that by challenging the status quo and testing preconceptions we can disrupt mindsets and create positive change in the workplace, our society and in culture, day after day.

“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That’s the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years,” Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

As pioneers of agile marketing, we apply the same methods we use for our strategies to our approach to diversity and equality within the work we do. We’re focused on proving how an agile approach to all areas of business, combined with a culture of empowerment and a diverse workforce fuels operational capability as a business and helps us remove the limitations of bias in marketing both for Bright and for our clients.

Our business values of agility, curiosity, empowerment, spirit, encompass our commitment to breaking the bias.

Break the bias with Agility

As a collective of agile marketing practitioners, the discipline of research, test and validate; learning and improving goes beyond our approach to marketing strategy. We know that diverse talent and influences contributes to a richer pool of experience where positive friction allows us to challenge the norm to embed new ways of working and test new methods to achieve results.

At Bright, we pride ourselves on embracing flexibility to attract and, most importantly, keep a diverse and talented team. Zoe Merchant comments, “At Bright, we respect, challenge and nurture each other to ensure our marketing and campaign strategies are creative, innovative, and rooted in validated concepts.”

Break the bias with Curiosity

As part of our agile approach at Bright, we’re to always examine the bigger picture and understand its origin and trajectory with a methodical approach. The environment we find ourselves in shouldn’t mould us into accepting facts at face value. Scrutiny and curiosity should challenge and fuel our perspectives, we should continue to ask ‘why’ to understand the details that will allow for improvements. Interrogating the data will help to set us free from legacy and unconscious bias. Marketers need to move away from vanity metrics and set robust KPI through measuring what matters. Only then can we drive change by making more educated and insightful decisions.

Break the bias with Empowerment

Remaining data and insight driven is how marketers have comprehensive knowledge of the state of the market and the audience mindset before planning any strategy. We believe that acquiring an agile, innovative, and creative mindset can help us connect with a more diverse audience and offer more far-reaching solutions. It’s also important to ensure unbiased segmentation as well as considering any unconscious or conscious bias in market & brand positioning. At Bright, we believe that empowering our team to interrogate the status-quo and ask difficult questions helps us to discover new opportunities, tackle market or brand stagnation and achieve faster growth.

“Gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability and boost productivity.”

– McKinsey

Break the bias with Spirit

We’re continually aiming to expand our team’s demographic diversity – diversity of experience and opinion is valuable and helps overcome stale assumptions and challenge conventional thinking. Working as a team towards common goals, we strive to maximise outcomes through innovative solutions, never letting preconceptions and ideologies hold us back. Zoe Merchant comments, “Liberating ourselves from bias helps Bright craft agile marketing strategies and campaigns that better connect with target audiences and deliver a positive impact.”

“Diverse teams are more innovative—stronger at anticipating shifts in consumer needs and consumption patterns that make new products and services possible, potentially generating a competitive edge”

– McKinsey

The Brighter Way

As a female-led business, we celebrate diversity not only within Bright, but also by partnering with likeminded organisations who advocate for minority groups to have equal opportunities and celebrate the success of women and minorities across the business and leadership landscape. Bright is an active member of WEConnect, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to corporate buyers around the world who are committed to diversity and inclusion. Being a member of WEConnect allows us to tap into the talent of creative and entrepreneurial women and access business opportunities from organisations who are aligned with our values. At Bright, we celebrate diversity across all intersections, not limited to gender. Zoe Merchant has been selected for two years running as a member of the 40 over Forty List, celebrating the talent and experience of over 40’s in the advertising, marketing and media industry.

All marketers benefit from creating an inclusive environment around agility, empowerment, curiosity, and spirit resulting in creating better, more effective marketing. We enjoy challenging the status quo, testing to validate new, diverse approaches and measuring performance through audience response. Through iterating to continually improve we achieve viable and impactful agile marketing, endorse our talented team, and break the bias.

 

Zoe MerchantFour ways agile marketing can help overcome bias
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Bright enlists corporate advisory consultancy, Cactus, to help navigate expansion 

Bright enlists corporate advisory consultancy, Cactus, to help navigate expansion 

During these changeable times, businesses are increasingly seeking ways in which they can adapt and transform with a more agile approach. Due to the increased requirement for marketing agility, driven by the unpredictability caused by the pandemic, world-leading B2B agile marketing consultancy, Bright, has experienced more demand than ever.

Founded in 2013 by Zoë Merchant, Bright’s goal was to accelerate business growth for its clients and push their marketing forward through greater agility to achieve better results. Nine years later, Bright’s goal remains the same, now with a team of 21 agile marketing specialists and a roster of market-leading, technology, publishing and engineering clients.

To navigate the next phase of growth, driven by a collective passion for evolution, Bright has teamed up with Cactus – Europe’s leading corporate advisory and growth consultancy for agencies.

Cactus is uniquely positioned to supply corporate commercial development support, operational guidance and expert financial advice, having worked with over 2,500 agencies globally and some of the fastest growing agencies in their territories. With these credentials, 2022 is set to be a landmark year for Bright’s growth.

 

“It’s an exciting time for Bright, agile marketing has moved beyond nascent and we’re seeing clear benefits to those businesses that change their way of working to fuel business growth, through greater adaptability, client centricity and a data driven approach.

Bright’s on a mission to drive marketing agility forward and we continue to expand how we deliver our services and work alongside clients to co-create, coach and train marketers to become more agile.”

Zoë Merchant, Managing Director of Bright

 

“Bright is a remarkable business, one with huge potential to be a leader in the industry and one we’re thrilled to be working so closely with. They have such an interesting proposition and a truly unique service offering for their clients”.

Danny Turnbull, Managing Partner for Consulting at Cactus

 

Discover how Bright’s approach to agile marketing can equip teams with the expertise to adapt to a fast-paced, changeable business environment, take advantage of opportunities for growth and transform your business.


Bright is a world-leading B2B agile marketing consultancy, providing strategic marketing services, supporting transformation through co-creation and training for tech & professional services firms.

Bright’s team of expert B2B agile marketing practitioners inspire businesses to think and act differently; embrace curiosity and use data-driven insights to drive continuous learning, improvement and transformation, always putting the customer at the heart of activity.

Zoe MerchantBright enlists corporate advisory consultancy, Cactus, to help navigate expansion 
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Four ways agile marketing supports the future of work

Four ways agile marketing supports the future of work

The future of work has been completely reshaped as a result of the pandemic. Both employers and employees have been awakened to the advantages of virtual and home working, but this has also thrown up its own challenges including ‘the great resignation’. But for marketing agencies, adopting an agile approach is one of the ways they can manage some of the workforce challenges caused by this seismic shift.

Agile marketing is no longer a niche methodology for marketing organisations. Our own 2021 annual survey found that over 50% of marketers are adopting agile marketing to respond faster and build resilience. More and more organisations are adopting agile marketing principles, and the gap between those that do and those that don’t is going to get bigger as a result. Marketing organisations who adopt agile are better placed to adapt to changing circumstances, whether that be external factors influencing a campaign, or internal factors impacting the running of your business.

The great resignation

Agile practices will be needed to handle the talent shift many industries are currently going through, including marketing. Internationally, a staggering 41% of the global workforce was considering leaving their employer in 2021, according to the 2021 Work Trend Index by Microsoft.

In the UK, the number of job vacancies rose to a record high of 1,102,00 between July to September 2021 according to Accenture Fjord Trends 2022. In particular, agile marketing expertise are scarce because it is still a relatively new concept for marketers.

It may be considered smarter to build this agile capability internally, so organisations can benefit from cross functional and capability-based teams, whilst building a growth mindset culture with their teams. Marketers need a productive and empowering environment that encourages development and entices them to join or stay in your organisation. Investing in agile marketing training and embedding new ways of working can make you a destination employer making recruitment and retention that much easier.

Hybrid working

As we begin to learn to live with Covid-19, it is clear that hybrid working is here to stay as the benefits are obvious and favourable for both employers and employees. While working from home has its work-life balance advantages, some employees also miss bonding with colleagues and access to mentors, especially those in their early careers. Agile marketing helps marketing teams adapt to this new normal both in terms of processes and in the implementation of new tools.  Agile working practices help to break down barriers between employees and traditional ways of working, enabling teams to work at their best and most efficient. These agile working practices accelerated by hybrid working will attract new generations of top talent.

Forever transforming

Change is a constant. Agile marketing doesn’t just mean that you can respond and adapt quickly to change, but it gives you new ways of working that equip you to handle business transformation of all kinds.

Agile marketing principles encourage marketers to only plan to a level sufficient to ensure effective prioritisation and execution so that they can quickly adapt to anticipated change. Other principles include organising in small, cross-functional teams where possible and learning through data and experiments rather than relying on opinion or past experience, all designed to enable marketers to respond and adapt to new developments and constant change.

Empowering teams

Agile marketing can also help with staff retention as it helps create empowered individuals and teams, and empowered individuals are less likely to quit. The fifth principle of agile marketing according to the agile marketing manifesto is ‘build marketing programmes around motivated individuals and trust them to get the job done’. As teams mature in their application of agile marketing, they become more confident and empowered to make decisions autonomously.

Dan Meek, CEO at global leadership consultancy, LIW, follows this rule with both his internal team and clients, “we encourage our leadership clients to adopt agile principles to help create the right conditions for their teams and their business to succeed.”

Agile isn’t the future, it’s now

Currently the marketing industry is being heavily impacted by these significant changes to how people are working. But by adopting agile marketing principles, organisations can set themselves up to manage and adapt to ongoing and different types of change, whatever that change may be.

Jim Ewel, Founder of the Agile Marketing Manifesto summarises:

“We’re currently experiencing a period of intense change and disruption which some marketing organisations may struggle to survive. But organisations that embrace agile marketing methods are the ones who are most likely to succeed now and, in the future, as they will be more efficient, more customer focused and able to adapt to whatever challenges they may be faced with.”

Zoe MerchantFour ways agile marketing supports the future of work
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The three pillars of marketing

The three pillars of marketing

My daughter asks me on a fairly regular basis what it is that ‘mummy does’. I don’t think I have ever come up with a satisfactory answer (evidenced by the fact that she keeps asking!). It got me thinking about whether it was possible to boil what we do at Bright as a B2B marketing consultancy into a few words that she would understand, and eventually I came up with this:

We help organisations find people who want to buy from them, work for them or get to know them.

What is it that we do?

Trying to work how you might explain what your organisation does to an eight year old is actually a very worthwhile exercise.

At Bright, we’re all about agile marketing, pace and simplicity, so finding a fast, simple way of explaining what we do is an important part of our own marketing.

It also served another, equally useful, purpose however in that it got me thinking about what it is that organisations want from marketing today and what it is that we do that makes our services valuable.

The three pillars of marketing

For the modern high growth organisation there are three key pillars of marketing that rely on each other, work together and combine to create an effective B2B marketing strategy – demand generation, talent acquisition/retention and brand building.

Demand

The first element of the modern B2B marketing mix is demand. Generating leads for a company’s products and services is what most people think of if you ask them to define what marketing is.

It sounds simple and in some regards it is – find people that want to buy what we sell and convince them to buy it from us. Of course it isn’t that simple, especially not for intangible, complex and expensive products or services.

As well as finding people who might want to buy now, you also have to find people who might want to buy later. And even people who don’t know that they want to buy anything at all but who may decide that they do after they have seen what you sell and how it fixes a problem they are experiencing.

A short-term approach to creating demand creates significant problems. A pipeline that is either too full or too empty; a focus on the tactical rather than the strategic and the problems associated with having to start from scratch every time the pipeline empties.

Generating demand requires consistency and a longer-term view that ensures that you are finding, developing and nurturing a community of interesting people who will drop into your pipeline over time.

It requires the ability to know not only who these people are but what they like and how best to reach them – and a constant stream of activity focused on identifying new people to add to this community.

Talent

The second element of a successful B2B marketing strategy is talent. In the technology industry where we operate, finding good talent is a big problem for many companies.

Talent and demand have a symbiotic relationship. Success in one area will usually mean that focus switches to the other. Companies are constantly trying to balance work and resourcing the right people to ensure they have just the right amount of both.

The problems are being exacerbated by the fact that the old methods of finding and keeping good people no longer work as effectively. Again this is a particular issue in the tech sector where much of the talent is part of a generation who operate almost entirely digitally.

They don’t engage with the media in the same way that they used to; the traditional recruitment consultancies don’t understand their skillsets so they can’t find or place them effectively (and most businesses want to avoid agency fees anyway if they can help it).

Organisations therefore have to look at new ways to find and connect with prospective employees and to build a community that they can draw from when they need to.

Brand and position

As the third pillar of marketing, the word brand means different things to different people. Broadly speaking brand marketing is the activity that you do to build profile and positioning in the market.

Brand work is often the hardest to quantify and notoriously difficult to set effective metrics around but it is an essential part of the marketing programme. Brand sets expectation. Expectation around service, products and ethos. Companies like AppleVirgin and John Lewis are examples of companies that know brand and market position is king.

The hard thing about brand marketing is working out what is valuable and what isn’t.

Marketing consultancies have made millions out of confusion on this and the belief (erroneous belief) that there is no point trying to measure success.

So what is good brand marketing? It is different things to different people but fundamentally it is the communication of who you are not what you sell. More often than not, the reason for failure is that companies don’t know who they are or are trying to be something they are not.

At Bright we believe that these three pillars should be the foundation of every B2B marketing plan.

You can dial each one up or down but the reality is that you have to ensure that they are harmoniously working together.

If you ignore talent to focus on demand, you may win business but how will you retain it? If you focus on demand and ignore brand then you will find it far harder to drive sales because there will be no existing relationship between your company and your target audience. For any one element to be successful, it cannot happen in isolation.

We have a motto at Bright: Demand, Talent, Brand and Growth. If you get the first three right then the fourth follows.

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Zoe MerchantThe three pillars of marketing
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Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

2021 has been a bumpy year so far, starting out in the firm grip of the pandemic and rapidly evolving into a more positive outlook for most firms as society and economies started to unlock and learn to live with Covid day-to-day.

Bright has been flexing our agile marketing muscles this year with a focus on experimentation, testing, rapidly learning, and building on success for clients to remain lean whilst taking advantage of every opportunity a fast-moving and unpredictable market allows. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of B2B marketing as we’ve strived to embed new ways of working to bring greater marketing agility across our tech & consulting-focused clients. So, what have we learned – here are the top four things marketing teams need to pay attention to now:

Data trumps opinion

As agile marketeers, we rely on data to fuel our learnings and inform where we invest more time and effort next to improve marketing output and impact. Closed feedback loops are critical for marketers to evaluate and assess the performance of an activity. This means marketers have become savvier at setting KPIs and metrics to measure and evaluate success. There is still room for gut instinct and experience, but it must be backed up with insight.

Dealing with data has meant marketers need to develop skills around data analysis and synthesising data from disparate sources quickly to pull out the key learnings and make decisions around where and how to drive improvements.

What if you have no data to start with? Then marketers must be creative and tap into their networks to find look-alike data or industry benchmarks to put an initial stake in the ground and learn from there.

Farsightedness

The pandemic truncated markets and forced budget reduction and freezes[i], and the resulting uncertainty has made everyone much more near-term in their focus. Marketers need to make sure they balance short term tactical activity with meeting longer-term strategic goals and know the difference between the two.

Although all marketers have, without a doubt, become more resilient, agile marketers have found it easier to prioritise and pivot to match the disruption in the market. Agile marketing doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan, its focus is on using short sprints to move towards long-term goals. Learning to set and balance near-term KPI and metrics with the long-term strategic goals and priorities is a critical skill for marketers to develop.

Agile marketing relies on adopting a test, learn and build closed-loop model – these cycles of experimentation are often short, and sprint-based. Agile marketers benefit just as much from some second order thinking skills[ii] to make sure their experiments are robust beyond just the initial intent and factor in longer-term impact beyond the sprint they are in.

Patience is a virtue

Marketers are spending an increasing amount of time justifying their budget investments. However, it must be considered that any marketing process takes time, especially in complex high-value B2B tech sales cycles. Marketers need to be honest and open about the time it takes to build momentum, especially around brand activities. A recent LinkedIn study found that digital marketers often measure ROI too quickly. While the average length of a B2B sales cycle is six months, only 4% of marketers measure ROI over 6 months or longer[iii].

Agile marketing helps marketers to work in a more sustainable, and ultimately leaner, way. Enabling you to show ROI early by optimising successful activity via the test, learn, and build cycle, discarding or changing things that underperform quickly. Metrics in agile marketing cover both sprint-based outcomes to show short-term performance impact combined with longer-term (campaign or project) KPIs for ROI which aligns with the business goals. Agile marketers were more confident that they were able to demonstrate ROI than those taking a more traditional approach[iv].

Breaking down internal silos

A major challenge faced by marketing teams is that they lack permission to be curious and experiment. Hence, marketing teams are still struggling to form cross-functional teams to become more agile and breaking down internal silos. This often leads to a painful lack of customer centricity reflected in poorly constructed value propositions and campaigns.

The great tech marketing teams are focused on new ways of working as a cross functional team – what they can learn, where they can improve, and how it aligns to their business goals.

[i] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – #1 area of challenge for marketers is doing more with less (page 6)

[ii] https://www.techtello.com/second-order-thinking/

[iii] https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/success/insights-and-research/marketing-ROI

[iv] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – confidence in measuring and demonstrating ROI to leadership (page 15)

Zoe MerchantFour things B2B marketers need to focus on now
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How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer...  

It is likely that most project managers in the tech industry have heard the term ‘agile’. If you haven’t, then sprints, stand-ups, reviews and retros might just sound like techno-waffle. But don’t be fooled by the jargon, agile marketing is actually a simple and effective approach for marketing teams to take, and it will make you a much better marketer as a result.  

What is agile marketing? 

Rather than a methodology, agile marketing is a mindset – one that is open and embraces collaboration and learning. 

In practice, an agile approach uses short, fixed time periods of planned activity (usually 1-4 weeks) known as Sprints. Each sprint is an iterative cycle that breaks down a large project into more manageable bite-size pieces. Within these sprints, activity focuses on continuous improvement using data insights, as well as looking at ways to adapt, problem-solve and learn along the way. At the end of each sprint, there is a Sprint Review and Retrospective, which is a chance to evaluate progress and ensure mistakes aren’t repeated.  

One of the most important drivers for success in agile marketing is effective collaboration and making use of cross-functional teams. Traditional ways of working tend to resist change and avoid experimentation. Often there are organisational silos and step-by-step processes which are followed to an end-point, offering little room for flexibility to iterate along the way. This risks spending lots of time and money on a big bang idea that fails to deliver, but you don’t know that result until the damage is done. 

Why should I implement agile marketing? 

Insights

There is plenty of evidence that suggests agile marketing is the right approach. In the 2021 Bright annual B2B marketing survey, 75% of respondents said they adopted agile marketing and were able to respond faster and adapt at pace. 43% also achieved faster time-to-market. Whilst 60% of traditional marketers still need to make better use of their data to respond to ongoing disruption – agile marketing proved the most effective way to achieve this. 

Continual improvement 

The ethos of test and learn with fast feedback loops provide the foundation for ensuring success. If something isn’t working… test, adapt or discard it. This reduces risk and shows you are focused on achieving results. 

Improved team culture 

As teams work closer together with regular open communication and transparency, it means individuals are supported and everyone within a team knows what is going on so issues are resolved promptly. Agile marketing methods help marketers gain better visibility of their tasks and expectations for delivery. As a result, happy employees are more productive! 

How will agile marketing make me a better marketer? 

Get stuff done quicker 

To work with agility, you are working at pace. Regular stand ups update on task progress, their risks and issues, and highlights blockers to be resolved and actioned faster. You deliver outcomes within each sprint, which shows tangible progress towards your goals. How many times have you had a campaign or branding project drag on for weeks and weeks with no progress? Agile marketing forces momentum by its approach. 

Achieve better results 

By being data driven and using the insights to inform your decisions, you strive for continuous improvement. You won’t need to deal with the ‘In my opinion…’ conversation, when you have the facts and figures to justify your decisions. Plus, with the sprint cycles you will see exactly how close you are to meet your goals and adjust activity accordingly along the way. Constantly learning is good for your project, as well as your personal marketing expertise. 

Stay focused and organised 

It is a myth that an agile approach is unplanned or disorganised. When putting agility into practice, the process ensures that you are always thinking ahead, but also responding to new information. You feel in control, as you have a plan, but you’re still ready to adapt and adjust as required. 

What could get in your way? 

Organisational culture 

Pursuing an adaptive and iterative approach means that you probably don’t know what the end state is going to look like. It can be uncomfortable for some to start with the minimum viable activity, rather than defining the perfectly polished solution from the outset. 

Legacy controls 

Typical hierarchical control doesn’t work in agile marketing. Instead, it’s all about working collaboratively, with leadership focused on supporting and empowering teams to succeed. Replacing old style vanity metrics with open, transparent communications and a culture of learning. 

Risk adversity 

Some people don’t like the idea of failure. Just because something didn’t work, doesn’t mean it has no value. Testing and learning means that risks can be responded to and new things can be tried. The key is to use the learnings to not fail the same way twice.  

 

So, while there may be a few obstacles, the benefits of agile marketing, both to you personally as well as your organisation are plentiful. Taking an agile approach will position you as a leading, results driven marketer who knows how to plan and adapt effectively to achieve success. 

If you would like to introduce agile marketing into your organisation, please contact us about our Agile Marketing training or marketing support. 

Zoe MerchantHow agile marketing will make you a better marketer
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Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Networks help businesses survive. Getting the clients you don’t know, that’s how businesses thrive 

Marketing acts as a business accelerator by reinforcing sales efforts to push beyond existing networks and generate a new pipeline of quality leads. Your personal network will help your business survive but seeking clients beyond this will enable your business to thrive. Here are four ways agile marketing will help you achieve growth.  

1.  Refine your value proposition 

It doesn’t matter how amazing your offering is, if the messaging to present this to the market doesn’t instantly catch your target audience’s attention, then you’ve lost them without even showing your work. A value proposition is a promise of value and is arguably the most important part of your overall marketing messaging. This needs to be a clear statement that tells prospects why they should invest in you. 

Nobody wants the first thing they read about a brand to be a long-winded evaluation of something unrelated to the core offerings. People want to know how you’ll save them time or money, or where they can find some tasty chicken. And that’s why the following brands have thrived. 

Use Uber and you’ll get a ‘ride at the touch of a button’. Choose L’Oreal because ‘you’re worth it’. Head to the KFC, and you know you’ll leave with a ‘finger licking good’ meal. 

All these brands have spent time clearly defining their product or service offering. They have developed a unique value proposition, branded it, marketed it, and capitalised on it. All things that fall into a marketer’s remit In in the words of Kevin Hochman, brand president and chief concept officer for KFC: “When Kentucky Fried Chicken was at its best and growing the fastest, the Colonel and his values were at the centre of everything we did. … Those values are critical to what makes Kentucky Fried Chicken so great.” 

But what happens when your business has a little more meat on the bones and can’t be served deep fried in a bucket? 

“Marketing is invaluable in helping businesses to explain their services concisely, so that someone easily understands what you do and why they should buy from you – which is of course key to helping your business grow” – Steve Anderson, Managing Partner at Capitalise. 

In short, take time defining the values that make your business such a tempting service – it’s what separates you from your competition. Once established, amplify your value proposition to targeted prospects in a way that resonates with them long after they’ve engaged. In doing so, you’ll remove unnecessary hurdles and instead, give them every reason to invest. 

Read more analysis from industry experts in our eBook:  “Marketing as an accelerator” 

2.  Build a pipeline 

Less is sometimes more – even in the world of business. 

Forrester – a market research company – found that 99% of leads never convert to customers. While high numbers look impressive on paper, sales need revenue, not thousands of cold leads in the top of a funnel. This shift from quantity to quality in the B2B space is what prompted the evolution from lead generation to pipeline marketing and now maximisation of customer lifetime value. 

Rather than focusing on generating new leads, pipeline marketing concentrates on delivering customers. It does this by aligning marketing and sales’ decision making and goals with revenue generation – not campaign diagnostics. 

The pipeline approach is about specifically targeting the customers you want, and those who will benefit from your offering, rather than exhausting your efforts on everybody who owns a computer or email account. Paul Beaumont, Growth Director at Equiteq, views the pipeline as an extension of the value proposition; “once you’ve defined the value your business offers, you can be clear about the clients you’ll market to, and your messaging”.  

It’s also worth noting that when it comes to lead prospecting, the more successful businesses don’t buy their fuel from the pump. They also don’t rely solely on personal networks. Instead, they build and nurture a pipeline to maintain velocity in their sales stream. They keep their database up to date, too.  

According to LeadGenius data, more than one-third of a business’s contacts become outdated each year, with data becoming dormant at a rate of more than three percent each month. While GDPR gave companies a good reason to audit their database, cleaning data is a necessary evil that needs to be completed regularly. Not only does it keep marketing and sales efforts meaningful, it allows you to effectively monitor the health of your sales life cycle and tweak where necessary. 

3.  Establish your brand – inside and out 

While consistency in external-facing work is self-explanatory, internal marketing is just as important when it comes to sales. Why? It’s about recognising the foundations of your business, building a brand on those values and remaining true to these as you grow. 

  • It establishes a powerful emotional connection between your team and your products/services 
  • It creates staff loyalty, as you’ll give them a reason to buy into the company vision 
  • Without that connection, it’s likely your employees will undermine the expectations set by your advertising 

It’s often easier to live and breathe certain company’s values when these have remained mostly unchanged during a company’s history. However, when a company experiences a fundamental change (new management, acquisition, new team structure, etc.) most experience some form of internal resistance. 

Few people like change, and during this time, employees will be seeking direction from senior employees. Seniors on the other hand will be hoping to squash unproductive rumourmongering. These turning points are ideal opportunities for an internal branding campaign to direct people’s energy in a positive direction, to harbour a consistency of thinking across the business and to vividly articulate the value proposition. 

4.  Attract buyers 

If your company is already making the right noise in the marketplace, it’s likely buyers will come to you with interest. But this is just the first hurdle. 

Buyers often make judgements based on first impressions and gut instincts. Expect this and ensure the complexities of your business’s “story” are captured in marketing materials – not just the financial statements. Without presenting a strong narrative, buyers are unable to understand that last’s year numbers were down because a squirrel caused a company-wide blackout, costing the company in downtime –  it happens more than you think. 

Mike Altendorf notes, “buyers will often look for businesses that have an effective and proven marketing strategy and delivery model – but it’s also key to attracting the attention of the buyer in the first place.” 

Another important factor for buyers is the longevity of the business they’re about to buy. This includes having confidence in revenue streams and staff retention. 

A company is far more attractive to a potential buyer when their bottom line doesn’t depend on only one or two large clients. Having a holistic marketing strategy in place shows that you have considered activities that drive growth and new business opportunities. Using an agile marketing approach shows alignment between your marketing and sales team – a task your new investors will not have to orchestrate. A healthy pipeline is equally influential as it will demonstrate movement in the sales stream and pinpoint successful tactics to build on. 

Strong internal branding and communication can also bring confidence to investors, as employees are more likely to be loyal to the brand, rather than to individuals. This is important because potential buyers need to know that key employees won’t jump ship after a sale, and that the business is capable of growing with new management or in your absence. 

Accelerate with agile marketing  

Using our unique capabilities and agile marketing methodology, Bright helps build integrated campaigns and marketing transformation projects that drive success for your business in both the short and long term. We enable businesses to accelerate growth quickly and profitably — triggering a positive impact, without the disruption. 

For more in depth analysis on how you can leverage marketing to enable fast growth, download our latest ebook:  “Marketing as an accelerator” 

Zoe MerchantFour ways agile marketing accelerates company growth
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5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

The disruption caused by the global pandemic has led to some profound changes in our values, attitudes and behaviours to both our personal and work lives. For B2B marketers, this has accelerated the adoption of some existing trends, such as digital transformation and the increased use of data to understand and respond to changes in buyer behaviour, and embedding new ways of working through a more agile approach to marketing. It also helped to create some interesting new trends which we expect to see gain momentum in B2B marketing in 2021.

Customer centricity at the forefront

Most businesses think they know their customer, but there has been a tendency for businesses to focus on what they want to talk about, rather than what their customers want to know or will find most useful. The disruption of 2020 has certainly shone a light on this. Suddenly people were thinking and behaving differently, both in their personal and work lives, and buying decisions were often put on hold. In a poll conducted at our recent ‘Personas and buyer journey’ online bootcamp, we found that only 10% of attendees felt that their existing personas and buyer journeys were helping them hit their sales targets. In 2021, organisations will be focused on truly understanding what their customers want, their business environments and how they can best support them. Customer centricity therefore needs to be at the very forefront of every marketing decision, campaign and communication. Data and martech have key roles to play in achieving this consistently and at pace.

Being data driven is now fundamental

The need for marketing to be driven by data saw a renewed emphasis due to the chaos of the pandemic and the change in behaviours that followed. Marketers now need to be more data-driven than ever. To do this they first need to get better at capturing data. According to a recent report by IDC and Seagate, 44% of data available to organisations goes uncaptured, and 43% goes unused. Organisations also need to get better and distilling and activating data to turn it into actionable insights for the business. While there is certainly a role here for new AI technologies and machine learning to help make business decisions, most organisations need their marketing teams to get better at harvesting, understanding and gaining insights from data which drive improvements and allow meaningful interactions with the prospect or client.

Location displacement

The pandemic turned how we live and where we traditionally do things on its head. The requirement for us all to stay at home during national lockdowns and to continue working from home if possible, even when restrictions were eased, led to an increased demand for online experiences. These included the rise of virtual events, interactive tools or gadgets that make your prospects’ lives easier (such as this campaign ROI calculator) and personalised social selling that engages at a 1:1 level. This is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. In response to this, digital marketing not only needs to be front and centre, but ensuring a seamless omni-channel user experience is now a standard expectation in B2B.

Emotional connection

Emotional connection was a big trend in B2C marketing in 2020 as organisations sought to tap into and reflect the emotions that people were experiencing. A study by the B2B Institute at LinkedIn showed that strategies that appeal to emotions are 7x more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than those just delivering rational messaging. Research conducted by Google also shows that B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value (i.e. an opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice) and 68% of buyers who see personal value will pay a higher price for a service. B2B marketers need to become increasingly savvy on how to make best use of content and messaging to build an emotional connection with influencers and buyers in 2021. Those who can create campaigns that successfully appeal to people’s emotions will differentiate themselves from the pack.

Curiosity culture

As our approach to marketing at Bright is based on agile principles, we know that experimentation and failure are the start of success. For example, how do you know for sure if an emotion-led or benefit-led message is more effective? You have to test and experiment in order to learn and build. Of course, your data processes and analytics are the key to understanding what is working and what is failing. As more marketing functions adopt agile marketing principles, we expect to see an increase in curiosity and experimentation in B2B marketing campaigns.

Agile is the key

In fact, adopting agile marketing processes is the key to embracing all of these trends effectively. Understanding how to make proper use of data and research to drive decision making is the backbone of agile marketing. Testing different approaches, channels or messages (emotional vs rational) and constantly iterating and improving is another critical element of agile marketing. Agile marketing builds resilience, helping you pivot and adapt to current trends, and ultimately drive better results from your marketing that support your business goals. To find out how you can adopt agile marketing to better manage disruption during this pandemic, get in touch with a Bright expert.

Zoe Merchant5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021
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6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

How to effectively articulate complex tech and consulting solutions  

You’re a smart B2B marketer, business leader or industry expert but do you struggle to write content that entices and engages your target audience, demonstrates the value of your products or services and showcases your expertise? For anyone who wants to become more visible as a thought leader, we’ve gathered writing tips and guidance on how to write engaging B2B blog content that captivates and resonates with your readers 

Step 1: Build a strong foundation for your content piece 

Before you begin writing, create an organised outline to ensure your argument is clear, concise and impactful. Use the following questions to help you lay out the subject, purpose, format and more:  

  • Main subject: Are you discussing a trend or event, or highlighting a challenge or problem that needs a solution 
  • Audience: Who is this for? What information do they already have? What do they need to know? 
  • Relevance: How does your content relate to their work, business, goals or interests? Why should they care? How will it benefit them?  
  • Story: Is there a story to tell? What happened to who? Where? When? Why? How? 
  • Format: Does the subject require classic blog prose or would a list, interview or step-by-step guide format work better? 
  • Research: What do you need to learn to write this piece? Can you find any stats on the subject? What can you add to existing research?  
  • Impact: What action should the reader take after reading? How will this benefit your business?  

Step 2: Present the value right away 

Next, pull out the value of your content. What is the key information you want your readers to take away from your writing? What is your purpose — to guide, educate or inform? Once you’ve pinpointed why anyone should read your piece, be sure to state the value right in your title to grab attention 

  • Studies show that popular content titles use How to, and 3/5/10 ways to, ‘why…’. These titles are eye-catching and assure the reader of a quick, easy and informative reading 
  • Title format that works: Numbers + verb/adjective + target keyword + rationale + promise 

Examples: 

  • 3 reasons why you’re not a high-performing organisation 
  • How to hire the best talent and keep them happy and productive  

Step 3: Choose a conversational tone of voice 

Before you begin, find your tone of voice. Despite what your brand guidelines might say, it’s best to write B2B blog content in a friendly, personal way as if you were having a natural conversation with your reader — remember that you’re writing for the web! It’s also important to remember that you can write with a serious tone without sounding too formal or academic. The last thing you want to do is bore or scare your reader away. Keep the following in mind as you write: 

  • Talk to the reader directly using ‘you’ and ‘your’  
  • Avoid sounding robotic by using with contractions: You’re, we’re, isn’t, aren’t, can’t 
  • Explain tricky technical jargon and acronyms whenever possible 
  • Stick with the active voice to keep your writing clear and energised

Step 4: Clearly demonstrate your expertise 

No matter your subject, you want to show your readers that you know your stuff and that you understand the challenges they’re facing in their business. As you write, keep the following in mind.  

  • Always try to strengthen your statements with an interesting fact or proven stat 
  • Use tech or inside-industry phrases and expressions where relevant (but not too many!) 
  • Reference or link to your case studies, credentials and client advocates  
  • Turn lengthy or complicated paragraphs into bulleted lists and give instructions in a step-by-step numbered list to avoid overwhelming the reader with information 

Step 5: Organise your content for easy reading 

In our digital age, people love to scan and read quickly. Make sure you lay out your content piece in a way that puts key information first and explains your point clearly and efficiently. Here’s how to do just that:  

Introduction (100-150 words approx.) 

Set the scene for your B2B blog content: 

  1. Present the issue, problem or lesson to be learnt  
  2. Tease how you’ll discuss it or lay out the solution  
  3. Explain why it’s important for the reader to learn about this topic — what is the benefit?  

 Main body (400-600 words approx.) 

Lay out the main points to the topic you set up in the introduction: 

  1. Present each point with sub-headers that summarise your argument — this is vitally important for keeping those fast readers engaged 
  2. Loop back to the introduction in each section, giving context or background information 
  3. Remember that each point should contain a “PEE” – Point, Evidence and Explanation. Explain how your offering or solution will help the reader understand recent trends, reach their goals or solve their problem 

 Conclusion (100 words approx.) 

Wrap up your argument with a brief statement that summarises your argument, then end with a strong call to action to prompt your readers to engage further with your brand: 

  1. Keep your summary to one line — short and sweet  
  2. Highlight the value again by reiterating the benefit to your reader 
  3. Hyperlink your call-to-action (CTA) to take the reader to your homepage or solutions 

Step 6: Tell them what to do next 

Now that you’ve taken the time to share knowledge, be explicit about the next step you want them to make to find out more about your brand. Motivate them with an energising call to action:  

  • Keep it short, about 5-10 words  
  • Start with an action verb, such as ‘get’, ‘find out’, ‘see’ ‘learn’, etc. 
  • Be creative and avoid using the dull and old-fashioned ‘click here’ or ‘here’ 
  • Give a sense of urgency by using ‘today’ or ‘now’ 
  • Make sure it’s relevant to your blog topic and doesn’t feel out of place 

Example: Want to learn more about XXXX? Book a meeting today. 

Becoming a B2B thought leader in your space demands engaging, strong content but knowing what to write about and how to sell your point isn’t always easy. If you follow these six easy steps, you’ll create B2B blog content that grabs attention, encourages conversation and tells your readers that you’re someone they can turn to for advice and guidance.  For more content tips and tricks, see our insights into writing content for your website, blog and social media pages.  

If you prefer to leave it to the experts, our content team at Bright are here to help you reach your business goals through blog writing. Get in touch today at [email protected]  

More of a visual learner? We got you.

Download the infographic version of this blog. You can print it out, save it to your desktop or share it with your content and comms team.

Zoe Merchant6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content
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Five tips to a successful Webinar

Five tips to a successful Webinar

When your audience can no longer come to you, creating engaging virtual and digital experiences has become vital for businesses, now more than ever. From webinars to masterclasses to 3-day virtual conference events, virtual knowledge sharing has fast become the new normal. Pre-pandemic, over 50% of businesses planned to increase the number of webinars they produced in 2020 and we can assume this has increased vastly in the last few months. Businesses are having to pivot quickly, switching physical events to online events, with webinars being the popular option for many marketeers. They are a highly effective way of building an audience and launching it at speed.

In a recent post, we discussed the best time to host a virtual event for a global and local audience. Read on for some more top tips to hosting a successful webinar (like our recent one, Agile in Action).

Tip 1: Create engaging content

You have an average of 50 minutes with an audience of prospects, so webinars are a powerful marketing tool, but you need great content to keep them engaged. A visually appealing, text light presentation can increase engagement from the viewers and result in more highly qualified leads. Choose a niche topic that is relevant, touches on your target audience’s pain point(s), and is something you can provide expertise on – and a solution.
Got a lot of information to share? Kick-start a regular stream of content. Building a hub of webinars on your website establishes your company as a thought leader in the sector. As you run more sessions, you’ll learn what works well with your audience and continuously optimise your performance.

Tip 2: Promote your webinar everywhere

Content is key for an engaging webinar but so is the promotion. How many times do you register for a webinar, receive a reminder almost a month in advance and possibly the day before, but still forget about it or remember too late?

Promotion should start a minimum of two weeks before, but we would recommend earlier – four – six weeks. Naturally, a longer promotional period will boost registration rates and can increase the number of attendees on the day.

It takes time, and multi-channel campaigns for people to be aware and excited about your webinar. Promote it everywhere – on social, blog posts, your website, via your partners and through email – still one of the biggest drivers of webinar registrations at 57%. Rather than hammering home the same event reminders, add valuable supporting content to the mix. For example, relevant blogs, speaker information, a kick-start guide or infographic – all of which help set the scene and build enthusiasm, ensuring your audience doesn’t fatigue.  This is about those who have registered for the webinar too – what content will they find interesting? Keeping registrants’ warm helps increase live attendance and interaction.

Don’t forget to start planning and creating your post-webinar follow-up communications (see tip 5). Whether they attended live or not, this is the beginning, and arguably most important step, when converting webinar leads from MQL to SQL.

Tip 3: Engage and interact with your audience

92% of webinar attendees are looking for a Q&A / opportunity to ask questions. So ask registrants to send in their questions pre-webinar. Not only does this keep your registrants thinking about your event but it gives you time to prepare answers to those questions and time to manage extra ones that come in during the Q&A.

Selecting a reputable webinar platform that you can trust and that provides the right user experience. Zoom, On24, Microsoft Teams, Go To Webinar, Google Hangouts – there are a wide range of platforms but choose one that is secure, can integrate seamlessly with your martech, and is easy for your team to use (they will be in control on the day). Take advantage of polls and quizzes (included in some of these platforms) during the webinar to get live feedback from the audience during the event.

Tip 4: Practice makes perfect

Bring together your script, slides (even if they’re still in draft) and any guests or hosts for the webinar and do a dry run at least once before the big day. This will help everyone understand timings, allow you to refine the presentation further and give your speakers time to gel-together. It’s also a good opportunity to iron out any technical hitches before the go live! Ensure you have the best equipment – microphone, cameras etc. to eliminate any technical issues and help build your confidence!

Tip 5: After curtains close, game time

So, the webinar has finished and it was a success – well done! The 24-48 hours after the webinar is key. Ensure you follow-up with attendees, thank them for joining and provide them with the recording and slides. Don’t forget about the contacts who registered but didn’t log-on live (up to 35% of webinar sign-ups are people who will want to watch it on-demand) so get the recording and slides over to them too, and thank them for registering.

Go the extra mile – these are you prospects after all – offer free templates to help them get started, a relevant report or thought leadership piece. Anything the attendees didn’t anticipate receiving is an added bonus!

Finally, timely delivery of your well-planned follow-up nurture emails (see tip 2), start now. Over the next few weeks you need to do everything you can to convert some of those prospect leads into customers. Don’t expect them to come to you, they have shown their level of interest across the last few weeks as they have engaged (or not) with your content and virtual event. Now it’s time to nurture them, connect on LinkedIn and find out if there is an opportunity to be won!

Our upcoming webinar will go over How to succeed at virtual events, including how you can make the most of your events. The webinar will take place on Wednesday 24th June, 11am BST. Register now to save your seat.

Check out our previous blog posts on virtual events, including When to hold a virtual event and a summary of our last webinar, Agile in Action.

Zoe MerchantFive tips to a successful Webinar
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