Agile Marketing

A value case for agile marketing

A value case for agile marketing

Agile marketing is a pragmatic and adaptable way of taking marketing ideas, testing them and validating fast. It helps to maximise marketing effectiveness by building on what works best in order to deliver the right result.

Agile marketing is particularly effective for B2B marketing, benefits include:

  • Reducing waste by only using the marketing elements that work best saving budget and time
  • Testing innovative ideas in a controlled way
  • Continually improving the marketing mix to drive results that meet the business goals
  • Reducing costs through greater budget control and accuracy
  • Improving speed to market to build market share
  • Allowing teams to work autonomously and have a clearer understanding of priorities
  • Data driven decision making – fact based, not gut feel

Then you can do more of that and less of the activities that don’t add any value. Understanding what is effective is a key trait for the modern marketer, orchestrating the best possible marketing mix by blending the effective components and discarding those that don’t help you meet your objectives.

If you are selling high value, complex products or services typically targeting senior decision makers they will expect a more personal relationship with any potential supplier.

This has to be built with personalised and tailored messaging and supported with evidence of your credentials. This is time consuming and expensive to manage and maintain, so you certainly don’t want to waste your time on activities that don’t deliver the right results.

There is a huge amount of wastage in traditional marketing – with such investment in planning and preparation up front, marketers are often only just validating the proposition and messaging with their audience as part of a large campaign.

Let’s take a typical campaign for an IT consultancy:

  1. The business develops a proposition idea and it’s agreed that this is a priority. A go to market strategy and marketing campaign need to be developed, fast
  2. Go to market preparation and campaign planning begins including defining a full marketing mix
  3. Campaign elements are created including data building, writing content, designing collaterals etc. – this can be time consuming and costly
  4. Big push / launch to go to market – elements executed into market based on a defined timeline
  5. Campaign measured and results analysed

So what is wrong with this picture? Well for a start you have invested a considerable amount of resource and effort before the proposition has been tested with your target audience. Are they in fact the right target for this proposition, did you even check?

You invest budget in creating campaign assets based on an untested message…you wait and see on the results. Of course the modern marketer is always trying to analyse and learn from results but can such a front loaded process really allow for a true understanding of how the proposition is landing with prospects? Or accommodate more creative ideas to be included and tested with a small sub set of the target group before you go for the wholesale campaign to your entire target database?

Whereas a typical agile marketing process is an iterative process right from validating the proposition idea or the campaign theme with a small group; honing it, discarding poorly performing elements such as messages or calls to action that just don’t resonate or interest the target audience.

Then adding more to the marketing mix, extending the audience etc. to expand the successful elements. It constantly measures results and evaluates against the business, marketing and campaign objectives.

Enabling experimentation and fostering curiosity makes agile marketing even more valuable. Giving you the ability to experiment and measure new ideas, this is particularly useful when you want to take a radical new approach but want to avoid the costs of a traditional campaign or the risk of alienating key target segments. Agile marketing can really help at two key stages:

  1. At the inception of a new proposition or campaign, experimenting with new channels, audiences or tactics on a small scale to prove or disprove effectiveness enables marketers to quickly get into market and drive results
  2. To reinvigorate existing propositions or campaigns where marketing impact is in decline. Using an agile approach to try out some new ideas with a sub set of your target audience can give fresh insight and successful elements can be rolled out across the campaign

As agile marketing is data driven and focuses on exploiting the marketing elements that perform best you continually improve results as you move through a campaign.

You can start with a minimal level of activity which helps you go to market quickly, measuring as you go. Adjustments can be made based on the results and new elements added, measuring the impact of each one.

The idea is to gradually layer the marketing mix with high performing elements that contribute to meeting your objectives and business goals.

When you use agile marketing you still have to agree and commit a budget but as you are continually measuring and learning, the return on investment becomes easier to foresee and quantify.

Digital tools lend themselves particularly well to agile marketing such as paid search or online advertising strategies – where a small budget pot can be allocated to validate the approach before a more sustained investment is made once the tactic is proven.

Core campaign components such as content can be expensive but by validating which elements of the messaging, topic or theme resonate most, any further investment is focused on additional content that will drive results.

Marketers should always set up metrics to report and understand the success of the marketing initiatives being undertaken. The difference with agile marketing is the continual learning and improvements mean any underperforming activity can be reviewed, changed and turned into an element with positive return. Budgets can be more accurately planned as you learn more about the value and return from your marketing activities.

Getting to market fast or first can be a key advantage for firms in fast moving environments such as tech consultancy or products. Agile marketing enables a rapid time to market by going to market with a minimal marketing mix and building on it. This means you can start to grow market share and build your brand whilst investing in the marketing elements that work best.

Building a results focused marketing strategy is streamlined by adopting agile ways of working, giving you the chance to innovate and enhance your marketing approach, as well as manage costs whilst reducing your time to market.

Bright specialise in working with high growth consulting and tech firms to help them get to market fast, build strong brands and attract the best talent to grow their businesses get in touch today to build a business case for injecting agility into your marketing.

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Zoe MerchantA value case for agile marketing
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Website redesign using agile marketing

Website redesign using agile marketing

Bright is built around agile marketing – an agile way of working inspired by lean and agile project management methodologies so popular in the tech world.

The concept of agile marketing

Agile marketing isn’t just a principle we apply to our delivery, its something we use internally too and I’m going to talk about how we applied this way of working in the redesign of our own website and some of the key lessons that we took out of the experience.

At the heart of agile marketing is the belief that campaigns and marketing activities should be rolled out to a live audience as part of their development.

Being data driven and using the feedback and results collected are then vital inputs which are applied to optimise it and the cycle then begins again. The idea is that now only do you get faster but you also have campaigns that are actually built on the way your target audience responds rather than theory or guesswork. 

A fast and effective website redesign

Well, you’re seeing the results of MVM in action on this page! The Bright Innovation website, as you might have noticed, has recently undergone a complete redesign. The key point, however, is that what you’re seeing now is not the final version; come back in a week’s time and you might experience a slightly different website.

The website is constantly evolving. Agile marketing allows us to use sprints to test, learn and improve based on feedback and performance analysis. The backlog of issues, opinions and comments, which we created during the testing stage before go-live is as important now as it was three weeks ago. Testing is vital in agile marketing. It’s testing that allows you to make each consequent iteration better.

Additionally, because we only invested one month of our time in getting the (minimum viable) site ready (from concept to going live) we now have spare time and budget to keep improving the website. And, importantly, we can base our improvement decisions on data coming in from real leads.

So how do you go about redesigning your website using agile marketing?

A few practical tips

  • You could spend months or even years re-designing your website and never being happy enough to make it live. That’s not an option using agile marketing. Give yourself a very ambitious, almost unobtainable, time frame and stick to it. This will force you to actually face making data driven decisions rather than hiding from them by ‘exploring other options’ constantly.
  • Don’t boil the ocean – your website doesn’t need every conceivable thing you can think of. Think rather – ‘what are the must haves’? These will be both your goal and your starting point to create a minimum viable site.
  • As with any project, a website redesign is likely to have multiple stakeholders and mobilising them can be tricky. To help yourself out schedule in regular stand up meetings with the ‘high power, high interest’ key players
  • First impressions count. Agile marketing helps you get something up-and-running quickly, but you still need to pay attention to detail. Spelling mistakes, missing content, placeholder text – all of these are easy to miss when you’re pushed for time but it’s these small details that make your site look like work in progress rather than a finished product undergoing evolution (two very different concepts). Balancing the speed of testing and learning with high quality output is the key to a successful agile project.
  • To help with the above point it’s worth considering a fairly extended period of internal testing during which those little mistakes and niggles can be spotted and taken care of. However, for the testing to really be useful you need to have a backlog – whichever way will make it easier to get feedback from your testers. Documenting the comments, issues and changes made, together with date and priority allows you to keep track of the testing phase progress. Once the website is live and you start making new iterations checking the backlog will also help you to avoid previous mistakes.
  • If you’re working with web developers make sure you know how to use the back-end to make edits once your test results start coming in.
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Sian HeaphyWebsite redesign using agile marketing
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Agile marketing in the B2B space

Agile marketing in the B2B space

There are over 3 billion social media users around the world*. That’s 40% of the global population.

And whilst the majority use social channels to document their own lives, more and more are using them to build their professional and social networks, find inspiration, do research and, more often than not, for entertainment.

The businesses winning in this space

The B2B businesses prevailing are those actively tapping into this trend. Rather than relying solely on their website, they create a social media marketing strategy that focuses on driving the right content at the right time to the right people.

I know. You’ve heard this before. Surely this is just marketing?

Yes. And no.

The reason certain marketing strategies prevail over others is because they use an agile methodology. They understand that there is no longer a beginning, middle or end to a campaign. Agile marketers are in a constant loop of producing new content, testing, learning, optimising, then repeating the whole process all over again.

And it’s this loop that allows them to find the optimal execution. Because let’s face it, consumers are fickle. What is trending today might very well be last year’s news tomorrow. So rather than planning for six months knowing these plans will be out of date in a week or so, produce a whole host of new creative that can be reworked, retagged, used across different platforms in different mediums. Not only does this stop you chasing your tail when something new hits the market, it means a more comprehensive feedback report specific to your brand and your market – meaning more informed decisions at every stage of your campaign.

Creating a suite of marketing assets can also help when creative fatigue hits, enabling businesses to release new assets even when the momentum of campaign kick-off begins to wear off.

And we’re talking about more than a handful of banner images and well-constructed tweets.

What content should you include in your campaign portfolio?

According to research conducted by Content Marketing Institute, the top six content used by B2B marketers come down to:

  • Social media posts (excluding video)
  • Case Studies
  • Videos (pre-produced)
  • eBooks/whitepapers
  • Infographics (we all love an infographic!)
  • Illustrations

According to a recent study by Magisto, more than one-half of the 545 small, midsized and global businesses surveyed reported creating new video content at least once per week. 26% noted creating new video content daily.

This is a huge step up for a lot of companies who would usually produce one video per quarter.

Thinking creative content

Other content that has huge potential in the B2B space are Podcasts. Done right, podcasts are a valuable piece of long-form content that can earn the time and attention for busy decision makers. eBay, Slack and General Electric are but a handful of companies already demonstrating the value.

Whilst one of the biggest barriers to adoption is a lack of training or knowledge of agile approaches**, this doesn’t seem to be slowing down momentum of businesses introducing agile marketing practices.

A new 2018 State of Agile Marketing Report delivered by AgileSherpas and Kapost finds that an impressive 36.7% of marketers have adopted some flavour of agile marketing. And out of the marketers who haven’t yet adopted agile, around half of them expect to within the next 12 months.

Another deterrent can be a lack of internal resources. Creating a variety of content needed to compete to the speed of social channels today doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does require time, creative juices and a black-cab driver’s knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.

Grab an agile partner!

Partnerships with consultancies such as Bright who live and breathe creative are often a cost effect way to get the most out of your content budget. Not only do we have a full-service internal team comprising of wordsmiths, design wizards and expert consultants in virtual marketing and change comms, our capabilities stretch from the trustworthy infographic to video, podcasts to unique customer experiences and embedding agile ways of working.


  

Our marketing methodology also has agile at the heart of it, meaning we pick up all the testing, learning and optimising – leaving you with a suite of assets and one monthly report full of the information you care about and none of the fuss in between.

If you would like to learn more about agile marketing and our approach to content marketing in the B2B space, get yourself a copy of our Minimum Viable Marketing eBook. Or if you’d rather ask us some questions instead, ping us an email instead: [email protected]

*https://mashable.com/2017/08/07/3-billion-global-social-media-users/?europe=true
**http://www.agilesherpas.com/state-agile-marketing-2018/
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Zoe MerchantAgile marketing in the B2B space
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The era of agile marketing

The era of agile marketing

Marketing is changing; business leaders expect measurable results from their marketing investment. Marketeers working to deliver maximum impact and engagement in B2B marketing are facing scrutiny and enormous pressure to get things done quickly, with a small team and deliver tangible ROI. Long gone are those halcyon days of large marketing teams, big budgets and long, slow burning campaigns with months spent in planning and a year of execution.

Pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing

The dinosaurs of marketing may be gnashing their teeth at the erosion of their budgets and long lunches. But the dynamic modern marketer is stepping up and rubbing their hands in glee at the opportunity this presents to push the boundaries of traditional marketing and reach audiences in innovative ways.

There is a new way of thinking and working which combines rapid time to market with continual improvement to create the best marketing approach. This in turn will maximise results and, therefore, return on investment – welcome to the era of agile marketing.

A lean approach to marketing

Agile marketing allows you to get back to basics. It enables you to strip out all the unnecessary bells and whistles and instead focuses on experimentation and validated learning through measuring iterative cycles of activity.

The goal is to quickly build a plan based on content and marketing activities that deliver the best marketing outcome. It’s a common sense approach to marketing – based on testing a proposition, idea or campaign and then building on its successful elements.

Too many times in the past I’ve seen marketing fail due to bloated campaigns, with poorly conceived content, and a badly executed marketing mix.

Agile ways of working really helps you to step up a notch and improve the quality of what you’re delivering whilst producing tangible results. As Peter Drucker said “Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”

Having spent 20 years working across both corporate enterprise and dynamic start ups, it’s clear to me that by relaxing some of the marketing planning disciplines, and taking ideas from the Lean methodology, marketers can transform how they go about B2B marketing.

Rather than focusing on the full definition and detailed planning of a marketing campaign at the outset – Bright focus on taking a proposition out to a market with the minimum viable messaging and mix of activities, to test, learn and improve.

This iterative approach means that messages are rapidly sharpened, and the marketing mix can be adjusted and scaled until you have a fully-fledged and measurable approach.

So why should you consider agile marketing?

Often companies begin with an idea for a service proposition or product that they think people will want to buy. Spending months perfecting the positioning, marketing launch and campaign planning without ever sharing the marketing messaging or testing the suitability of key activities (even in a basic form) to a prospective client for feedback. Then they launch the product or service into market and don’t see the traction that they anticipated.

This is often because they didn’t speak with prospects to understand whether or not the product, or service proposition, was positioned in an interesting way; or if the potential benefits help to solve a real business challenge and were clearly articulated.

Ultimately, the audience’s indifference to the offering – shown through a lack of results and poor sales – demonstrates that the target audience either did not understand or did not care about the idea in the first place. The proposition fails, the marketing department gets the blame, and the cycle starts over again…

This is particularly challenging (and expensive!) in B2B professional service and tech marketing since you are often dealing with extremely complex products and services that are very high in value and have a long, costly sales cycle. This means you don’t see marketing return on investment from sales revenue for 6 – 12 months, after the launch of a product or service into market, and that you’re still investing in marketing in the meantime.

Communicate your value proposition to prospects and clients

Effectively communicating a value proposition, and ensuring you convey the value that your solution brings, is hard work. You need to show you understand the challenge your prospective clients are facing, highlight how your proposition will solve them, and showcase tangible value through the benefits that it will bring.

This must all then be backed up with proof points via your credentials. Phew! Exhausting, hard to do and expensive to take to market – not just in terms of money but also in the resources required to work out the best way to position, market and then sell.

Using an iterative agile approach allows you to reduce waste by experimenting and then removing, and/or improving, elements of your marketing plan that do not work as effectively as expected.

Agile marketing the chance to experiment, quickly, and discard things that do not work. Not only does this mean that you can go to market faster, with minimum elements of the marketing mix, but you can also use validated learning to examine the data you collect in order to measure the impact of your campaign and build on its success.

Test, learn and improve

You can start off by validating one or two elements of your marketing. For example, you can test the key messages to ensure they are compelling with a small group of your target audience, test design elements on a web page or social channels, and take forward the best performers and continue to build your plan.

Each agile marketing sprint that you go through improves the mix further and informs on what you need to adjust as you move through different stages of product or service maturity.

This is enormously beneficial in competitive markets, and for enterprise, where marketing may find it hard to break out of reactionary mode and be proactive in order to get propositions out to market fast, build market share and then farm demand.

  • Combined with real time marketing, and the speed and measurability of digital marketing, agile gives you an opportunity to work smarter and build a viable marketing plan, whilst experimenting with market segments, messages and the marketing mix.
  • You also have the advantage that, by the time you’ve iterated through a few sprints, you will have added some early adopter clients that can provide you with established case studies to showcase as you mature your marketing campaign.
  • By taking some of the best ways of working from a startup and entrepreneurial culture, and applying it to your marketing in this controlled framework of agile marketing, you can explore more creative and innovative ideas, test them and add those that work to your marketing plan.
  • The focus on being data driven gives you tangible evidence for the marketing investments being made. This means that you know that they are supporting and contributing to the wider business goals. Peter Drucker was right: “What gets measured gets improved”. Otherwise, how could marketing be held accountable?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to test, learn and improve. If there is one thing that makes embedding agile marketing great it’s that it provides a solid framework for marketing to do just that, and to take the best ideas forward.

It is undoubtedly a lot more satisfying to run campaigns that are effective and deliver results. That’s what I set out to do every time I work with a new client or review the work Bright delivers to our existing ones – agile marketing makes that possible.

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Zoe MerchantThe era of agile marketing
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5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy

5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy

Marketing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at selling your business, or at buying one, but it should sit firmly alongside commercial and financial due diligence. In the same way that a marketing strategy is key to any business looking for rapid growth, it is also a good benchmark of the business’ strength and its potential to deliver a return on investment.

A good marketing strategy will underpin and complement the key elements that business investors look for: strong financials, potential to grow and a competitive position in the marketplace. Mike Altendorf, a London-based advisor and investor, observes that “marketing plays a big role in the value of a business. Buyers will often look for businesses that have an effective and proven marketing strategy and delivery – but it’s also key to attracting the attention of the buyer in the first place.”

So, what are the top five reasons why marketing is key to your exit strategy?

For further insight into why agile marketing is a critical driver for growth , download our eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator”

1. A strong sales pipeline

Marketing is key to every aspect of a strong sales pipeline. It plays a big part in generating leads, securing repeat sales and turning prospects into new clients.

Organic growth can only take you so far, so a strong pipeline –  created by strategic agile marketing – is a key element of fast growth. It indicates the ability to adapt and capitalise on market change, resulting in a higher potential profit, a better return on investment and therefore a better valuation – making the difference between a mediocre sell price and an excellent one

2. Sharp, consistent messaging

A sharp, consistent message comes from a strong value proposition and expert marketing. Being able to wear your brand on your sleeve means potential buyers know exactly what your business stands for and what you’re selling, giving a good idea of what they are investing in. Marketing ensures that the value proposition is front-of-mind and never wavers; it cuts across everything that potential customers, buyers or investors, see, hear or feel from the company.

3. A clear brand and effective website

Brands sell. They sell products and they sell businesses; they generate superior leads and attract high-quality investors. And websites are often the first point of contact with a brand. When done well, they are an opportunity to showcase the best that the company has to offer and an asset to the sales pipeline. But when done badly, they are detrimental to fast growth. Investors are unlikely to consider a company if little effort has been put into its brand, of which a good website is a key element. It’s important to make that great first impression – then carry it through to closing.

4. High brand awareness

As important as a brand is, it is absolutely worthless if no one knows about it. And this is where marketing comes into its own. A great marketing strategy is essential to high brand awareness and the best strategy combines creative ideas, partnerships, great content and leveraging customer referrals. Data-driven metrics are also essential as they provide a constant review of the marketing components in play.

If the above factors are implemented, the application of the strategy should, in theory, catch the attention of potential customers, but it’s the metrics that will catch the buyer’s or investor’s eye. You can’t argue with the hard numbers, and if they show a growing, profitable business and a busy pipeline of new clients, it puts the seller in strong stead with those wishing to buy.

Learn more about branding for Mergers and Acquisitions in this article.

5. Capitalising on the potential of social media

Out of the 3.5 billion internet users around the world, 3.03 billion are active on social media, giving businesses two important opportunities:

  • the chance to build a greater brand awareness on platforms specifically aimed at target groups, and
  • the potential to give customers, prospects or investors a deeper, more personal connection with the brand.

The reason it works so well is because companies can show personality, and interact with potential customers, clients and industry leaders on a one-to-one, more personalised level. It builds brand awareness through thought-leadership and content-sharing, as well as building an emotional connection with competitions, giveaways or referrals. A strong marketing strategy will ensure that it’s a tool that leads to potentially lucrative relationships and sales

Marketing maximises the value of your business

A strong marketing strategy is one of the core elements of any exit strategy. Combined with its ability to enable high growth, it is something all leaders should be encouraged to implement at the beginning of their business journey for the five reasons featured above.

This can be achieved by partnering with expert marketers in-house or bringing in outside consultants. Either way, aligning your sales and marketing, and establishing a clear brand are essential to the longevity and profitability and, ultimately, saleability of your business.

Read more about how marketing is key to high growth and exit strategies in Bright’s new eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator” – including commentary from business leaders and investors.

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Zoe Merchant5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy
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With social media, let’s take over the world

With social media, let’s take over the world

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight? Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!

This could be a typical conversation between two B2C marketers, anywhere in the world, who are primed and ready to use every weapon at their disposal to reach their audience. This is pretty much what the likes of Coca-Cola, Nike and other giant consumer brands have done –– taken over the world.

But what if this could also be true for B2B companies? You’re probably not buying it – so let me explain.

Since the emergence of Social Media channels, some B2B companies have spotted the opportunity to reach their audiences – LinkedIn, SlideShare and Twitter are examples of where B2B brands have begun to take the space. There seems to be an unwritten agreement that only the so-called “professional” Social Media channels are valuable or – fit for purpose – for B2B brands.

Although this statement probably held some weight when B2B content was limited to serious content, we certainly have the right to challenge this status-quo and question its validity.

Bring your audience where you want them to be

Most people will tell you that you need to be where your audience is, but it is equally important to be able to take your audience to places that they haven’t yet been. On the so-called professional Social Media channels, you can find both serious and story-telling content. But why not use non-professional Social Media channels as a chance to connect with customers on a deeper emotional level?

Many of us would be annoyed by a B2B white paper pop-up promotion on Facebook or a 6 second salesy B2B promotional video on Instagram. But that does not mean that we cannot use these channels to offer something different, something fitting, to connect with the audiences accessing these platforms. It is not to say that we should all-together abandon the so-called professional platforms – but we should complement them with other social media channels. The end goal is to create a strategy that encourages the creation of a personalised digital ecosystem, to further fulfil economic and branded goals.

This no doubt comes with great challenges for B2B companies because you will need to have a pretty strong Social Media strategy to do so. But some socalled “un-sexy B2B industries” have already succeeded.

Social Media is like playing Jazz

Maersk is one of the best examples of a successful brand on social media. Jonathan Wichmann, the Social Media leader has managed to make the shipping industry ‘sexy’ and has created a very strong brand. They have created a fine balance juggling between professional and non-professional platforms, to create different experiences for different audiences. And to avoid straying into the territory of dry, boring and safe posts on Social Media, remember his quote:

“As a jazz musician you respond to the moment and the vibe. Great jazz musicians play a new version every time. You get closer to the audience. Continuing the jazz analogy: There is a lot of improvisation in it. You just need a clearly defined structure. You must not try to control it just as you cannot control the rhythm of jazz. It evolves with the situation and the audience’s feedback, like the most advanced kind of rhythmical music.”

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Zoe MerchantWith social media, let’s take over the world
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To or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?

To or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?

Guest Blog:  Jacqui Sasserath is the founder of Channeliser, a matching service for IT companies looking for IT partners. In this blog, Jacqui describes the 3 key actions to create a strong and successful marketing partnership.

We @channeliser are frequently asked what is the most effective use of marketing spend?

1. Should we focus on partner enablement and building understanding of our proposition so that they can, in turn take the message to their customers?
2. Or should we be generating demand with direct prospecting and customer marketing?
3. Or perhaps a hybrid of the two – operating a marketing campaign to customers but doing it “through” my partners?

And the answer is simple – know your partners!

Capture the “to partner” value proposition

You know the value of your product to the customer, so now is the time to re-evaluate what is the value to the partner?

It will be something quite different. Try and list the 5 things that could turn a partner’s head and capture their attention about your offering – it may be as simple as incentives, it may be the lack of complexity and ease of doing business with you and it may delve into the technical functionality.

Remember most good resellers have many other vendors vying for their attention and resources so you need to standout and really have an engaging message as to why a partnership is of benefit to all.

Profile your partners

Now turn your attention to the complex matrix that is your partner community. Individual profiling should help you see if they target a specific vertical, do they operate in a niche sector, or focus on small businesses, or only deploy in the cloud and what other vendor products make up their portfolio and proposition.

This vital exercise is something frequently forgotten but is absolutely essential to ensure you are getting the most from the market opportunity. Having partners that sell into different market segments will not only keep them happy as they will not compete too heavily with other partners but will also ensure you are spreading your marketing messages across the widest possible market opportunity.

If you discover you have gaps in your market coverage try Channeliser to find new partners.

If you are truly partner centric – ask the partners!

You are now ready to target your partners with the right questions to the right people with the right messaging.

Ask marketing if they would like to run a joint campaign with a carefully thought through messages? Ask sales and pre-sales what they need to help sell your solutions. Ask the CEO how satisfied they are with your overall performance as a vendor and what you can do to improve?

Embedded in each of these “asks” are the key messages that relate to that target audience and based on your “understanding” of the partner.

This isn’t a blanket email to your whole partner community, this is a well-thought out strategic plan with tailored individual messages and an open format for discussion with each partner.

Their level of engagement will guide you as to who is going to be “with” you over time

And their answers will guide you as to the decision and make up of your marketing budget; to customers and to partners and the mix of through partner marketing.

– Jacqui Sasserath, Founder of Channeliser

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Zoe MerchantTo or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?
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Let’s talk about inspiring leadership

Let’s talk about inspiring leadership

Guest blog: Julie Provino, from VeryHR talks about how to be an inspiring leader.

How many of these articles have I come across which constantly strive to make you feel full of energy and motivated about who you are as a leader, company owner or simply as a human being. I’ve personally looked into probably hundreds of different leadership principles, from the work hard play hard 90’s ethos, to the heart centered leadership which is increasing in influence at the moment. Have any of these truly understood and conveyed a definitive rule book around leadership and how to be successful within our organisational cultures? I have yet to see one.

Let’s focus on you

Have all of these principles been enough to truly change who you are or how you act around people?  I, like many others and maybe even yourself have downloaded many apps, subscribed to many tweets, blogs, podcasts, ted talks and magazines to get a constant source of ideas and reminders of what I strive to be each and every day. My bookshelf is groaning from the weight of books which I will read one day, following the latest fads and simply gathering dust, lots of ideas and little action. If you ever do find that definitive book with all the right principles and theories, please let me know.

For me, I have come to a different conclusion in my own mind around leadership and what it involves. In order to define what leadership means to me, I will always start with asking myself about what mark I want to leave on the business world, on my world. I want to be innovative, lead authentically, encourage others to be the best that they possibly can be and constantly push my business to break convention whilst maintaining a work life balance that suits my needs. In my world, this is used to be quickly followed by a “dream on” statement.

So the questions that I started asking myself and that I still ask every day are:

  • “Who am I? “,
  • “What resources are in my hands right now?”,
  • “Who do I want to be?” and
  • “How do I want to leave my mark on the world?”

These are questions that allow me to find the authentic me, the natural leader within me. Not someone else’s expectation of what my leadership should be.

Like many others, I run my own business. I have deadlines, I strive to meet my client’s targets and maintain my own personal goals. I run several diaries at the same time, one for work, one for the family, another for my now non-existent social life. From time to time, I will set some time aside to reflect, plan, and re-organise my life using the questions I have asked above, even then every so often its easy to return to old habits.

And I know I am not the only one? Right? Rings a bell? Does that make me a bad leader or should I say inspirer? Do we not all slip from time to time? As long as it makes us stronger or better it’s a good thing, isn’t it? Because there is no failure, there is only feedback to be the better version of me I strive to be

Where I have come from helps me find my direction

I have found that seeing where I have come from has helped me find my direction and see where I am going. So, who are you really? How have you come to where you are at today? Are you capable of telling your story to others?

Take some time to draw a horizontal line, and start plotting along it your professional career, from how it all began to where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow and beyond.

Ask yourself those questions “Who Am I?”, “What resources do I have right now?”, “Who do I want to be?”, “What Mark do I want to leave on the world?”

Notice, are there any trends, or people you have met along the way who have had a defining impact on who you are today? Who are they? What was their story? What you experienced in their impact on you is their leadership, the way they inspired you is their influence.

  • Did they feel they were a leader?
  • Did they inspire you without knowing it?
  • Have your defining moments being influenced by someone intentionally leading you or were they just doing what they do?
  • Were they being there authentic selves?

Where are your key achievements and learnings

Looking at your timeline what are your key achievements and learnings, is that not enough to start inspiring others from? Is there going to be a time when you are fully ready or can you inspire now? Why put off what you can already do? I guarantee that today you influenced at least one person without knowing it.

In my role as HR advisor, I see many so called leaders taking on a role: the friendly boss, the democratic leader, the empire builder, the David Brent. Well here’s the breaking news. Like I said before there is no definitive rule book for leadership. Some leadership styles will perform complete lobotomies on people and others will get you running for the hills. What works for one will not always work for everyone.

Understanding who you are and what your story is will bring you closer to being fully authentic and aligned with what you are looking to achieve. Behind your story will be your values and beliefs, what you are seeking to achieve, what your company seeks to achieve is all within you.

What more noble cause to follow than the one that you have set for yourself? Others will be inspired by that. Just think about that for a moment, when you are running from one meeting to the next, picking up voicemails, and creating 30 to do lists, how can things be different for you to inspire others? What can you do in your own leadership that will put you on track to be the leader you want to be? The direction is within you.

My own timeline and asking those questions gave me insight into my own values and beliefs. For me, I value creating win-win-win, situations. A win for me, a win for those I do business with and my team, and a win for the direction I want to travel in. If I do not achieve these three wins then why am I in business in this modern era?

My ethos around leadership is based on this. It is to be “Good, kind and present”, be good in my intention to create these win-win-win situations through my leadership. Be kind in the way I deal with those around me as they are my potential for success, and be Present in the now, because giving my 100% presence to what is before me will give me the 100% presence of those I inspire.

Presence brings with it the energy and ability to innovate, to be flexible, to be creative and to find solutions. Presence also brings the guts to make the tough decisions and the drive to get through and complete any challenge that is set before me. It allows me to foster the right cultural environment to create success allowing everyone to be inspired and authentic in who they are and where they are going.

What is presence? How do you give it? How does it Bring Innovation, flexibility, and creativity? How does mindfulness and presence bring rapport? That is a discussion for another time my friend.

Julie Provino, Founder of VeryHR

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Zoe MerchantLet’s talk about inspiring leadership
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How’s your digital health?

How’s your digital health?

Many B2B companies have yet to embrace digital with quite the same zealous that the B2B industry has. But this seems like a waste. Since there are many opportunities for B2B brands that do harness the digital space, to grow and to drive demand. However, those who do put the power of digital to use are often unable, or unsure how, to quantify the success or the value of the investment.

Digital audit

Digital marketing is vast and ever changing, so, for companies without a mass of resources, keeping up with its evolution can be difficult. It can be a challenge to simply identify the right channels in which you should be involved.

The digital audit is there to assess the health of the business’ current online strategy. It provides you with a quick overview of what you are doing currently, and what the next steps might be to improve your digital presence.

Benchmarking your activity against that of your competitors, using enterprise level analytics tools and against our experience of your market as a whole.

From this initial ‘health check’, recommendations are drawn out to create a short, medium and long-term strategy to move your business forward, and ensure that you make the most out of any digital investment. Crucially, this online plan of action is always aligned with your wider business goals in order to maximise success.

Website

  1. Website performance
  2. SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
  3. PPC – Pay Per Click
  4. Design and content
  5. Engagement

Social media

  1. Optimisation
  2. Engagement
  3. Content

Email marketing

  1. Design
  2. Content
  3. Data
  4. Engagement

Data to drive digital strategy

Reviewing the data that emerges from these main areas will highlight any glaring omissions, and point to any success stories from your current digital strategy.

Employing SWOT analysis to this information will give you a clear set of actions for both short and long term success.

Organic

Assessing the health of your SEO is an important aspect of this process. It is important to ensure that nothing is stopping you from performing well in organic search. You want your website to be optimised for keywords to drive organic traffic.

PPC

Likewise, if you are running PPC campaigns, you need to ensure that they are optimised and delivering the best results for the cost of clicks. If you aren’t running PPC campaigns – should you be?

Responsive Design

Considering the recent changes that have been made to Google Ranking, website responsiveness is now an essential consideration. Google will soon be negatively scoring any sites that are viewed as unresponsive, or not user friendly across devices.

Why is it important?

The digital audit or health check is a short-term engagement that will give you an overview of your online performance and provide you with actionable insights for both a long and short term marketing strategy.

Directing resources towards these activities will offer you an outline of where your business is today, and provide a strong platform from which to drive your business forward in the digital age.

Still not convinced that you could benefit from a digital audit? Have a think about these…

How did Penguin affect your website?
What about Panda?
What’s your industry average bounce rate?

If you want answers to the above, or just to find out more, get in touch.

 

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Sian HeaphyHow’s your digital health?
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Talent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses

Talent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses

As the economy pick-ups and tech companies all over the country are starting to become busier, their ability to hire top tech talent is having a huge impact on their success. This is because the core strength of a services company lies in the skill set of its team.

The fact is that candidates simply have more choice and hold the upper hand in the “war on talent”. With 58% of UK hiring managers directly experiencing a skills shortage this year, candidates know they are a valuable commodity and are able to be more demanding from potential employers.

Candidates aren’t just looking for a good remuneration package; they are looking for a company that shares their same philosophies and culture, and one that can enrich all aspects of their life.

There are companies who have woken up to this issue and have developed strategies focused on nurturing and harvesting an active talent pool. It’s these innovators that other firms should learn from. Red Badger – a Bright Innovation client – is a company that has set the bar high in this respect. Red Badger is a software development company specialising in open source technology. The skills they need are in high demand so they have adopted a community building approach to help them, not only find good people, but to create brand ambassadors who can promote the brand within the community.

Recruiters have long been talking about active and passive candidates, and developing strategies for attracting the latter, who are ever-elusive and hard to reach.

However, traditional recruitment, by its nature, is reactive and recruitment companies see little benefit in spending the time establishing and nurturing active networks of passive candidates. Instead they use tools like LinkedIn to proactively search for them.

Following the traditional approach means companies must start from scratch every time they need to hire. For modern tech companies this means a lot of needless waste. This is why companies must adopt an alternative, long-term strategy for talent acquisition and retention.

Now for the controversial part… For a long-term and successful talent acquisition and retention plan, companies should forget about measuring short term results. They should instead concentrate on adding value to their community by doing a great job of marketing their brand.

Ironically, not focusing on results can deliver the great results. 

Great marketing, which covers the entire marketing mix, will naturally expand your engaged audience, whilst having the obvious benefit of winning new clients.

Your passive talent audience will see your marketing activities, and, if these activities are compelling and make you stand out from your competitors, candidates will be impressed!

Candidates care about brand. Does your brand resonate with the type of people who you want to work for you? Your brand is crucial, so invest in it.

You only need to look down the list of the Sunday Times Best Companies to work for to see how investing in your brand can translate into a successful talent strategy.

One way to stand out from your competitors, and build a brand that people will get behind, is to give back to your community. In the open source world, for example, there is a rich and exciting culture of giving back and sharing knowledge.

Why not host a regular event where members of the community come into your office to hear the cool stuff you’ve been working on? Are you blogging and using social media effectively to show off your thought leadership and give your valuable insights away for free? This is a chance to showcase your culture and give people a chance to experience your brand – and gain from it.

Develop young talent. Work with local universities, schools and engage with apprenticeship schemes. Not only will you be able to nurture and train young talent in the methodologies and technologies that are important to you, but you will also be helping young people to learn new skills that will benefit you, them and the wider economy.

Bringing young talent into a business can have a great effect on your existing and more experienced staff: they get the chance to pass on skills and knowledge, while the newbies bring in fresh ideas.

There are also great PR and marketing opportunities for companies who have innovative junior hiring programmes.

By creating compelling marketing campaigns, engaging with your community, and nurturing young talent, you are building a brand which will resonate with tech talent.

It’s not easy, but this is a long-term approach which isn’t just going to benefit your business in terms of the talent you can hire.  You will win new customers, help build and shape your community, and help the next generation of talent get their foot in door. There might even be an award up for grabs.

A marketing and community-focused approach to talent attraction can sound daunting, but, with effective planning and delivery, this approach could build a long-term talent pipeline whilst reducing your recruitment costs.

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Zoe MerchantTalent marketing – A new approach for modern tech businesses
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