Being Bright

5 tips for managing extra stress (and bloat) this Christmas

By Natalie Burrows, resident nutritionist (and senior marketing manager) at Bright

It’s been a challenging year. A lot of us have now been working at home for 9 months, juggling childcarehome schooling, changing tiers and adapting to a ‘new’ way of life — stress levels have been tested. At Bright, we’ve been getting in the Christmas spirit and counting down to a well-earned break, but we’ve also been reflecting on the impact of this year and how Christmas brings its own, unique level of stress 

We’ve put together 5 simple tips to help you keep your stress levels in check, jeans buckled and energy up until the end of Christmas day. 

Dealing with seasonal stress 

When you’re surrounded by family, the pressure of cooking Christmas dinner, calming overexcited children — and maybe this yearmissing loved ones  — can keep your nervous system in the fightor-flight mode (the state of high alert and stress). Ever felt butterflies when nervous? Our gut is known as our second brain’. The two are intrinsically connected, and stressful events and feelings can leave you bloated or with aupset stomach that affects your mood.   

How to beat it: 

Focus on your breath. The 4-3-7 breathing technique is a simple method that can be performed anywhere and anytime you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. It will help increase your oxygen levels too, preventing you from wanting that post-lunch snooze. Try it now:  

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth 
  2. Inhale through your nose, counting to 4
  3. Hold your breath for the count of 7 
  4. Exhale out your mouth for the count of 8 
  5. Repeat this cycle 3 more times 

Over-indulging with festive grazing 

Who doesn’t love the nibbles on offer during ChristmasTins of chocolate, different flavoured crisps, assorted nuts, and not forgetting cheese and biscuits. It’s easy to graze all day long, but the continual demand on your stomach to digest food constantly leaves it little time to properly digest. Remember that you’re also swallowing air every time you eat — the more we snack, the more air we swallow and the more bloated we become. Add in the increased amount of carbs, crisps and sweets over Christmas and your energy will start crashing early on in the day. 

How to beat it: 

Make sure your meals include a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats to balance out blood sugars, and moderate your snacking, aiming for 3 hours of digestive rest in between enjoying delicious food. For example: Breakfast at 9am, lunch at 12 or 1pm, snack at 4pm, and dinner at 7 or 8pm. It’s important to eat regularly too, and not ‘save’ yourself for one meal. 

Managing your jubilant drinking 

What’s your favourite festive tipple? Cider, mulled wine or bucks’ fizz (one of our favourites)? Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you to give it up — enjoy itresponsibly  but there’s a couple of things to bear in mind. Not only can the carbonated drinks like prosecco, champagne, lager and cider lead to a full and fizzy stomach, but alcohol is an irritant for the digestive system that increases chances of bloating and gastric symptoms. Not to forget, the more we drink, the more likely we are to need that afternoon nap.  

How to beat it: 

Check the amount of carbonated, alcoholic drinks you’re having throughout the day and break up the flow of alcohol with a glass or two of water. Which leads me nicely onto the next point… 

Ensuring holiday hydration 

The need to stay hydrated doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmas day. Lack of hydration can leave you feeling foggy, fatigued and forgetful — not very festive feelings. It can also reduce the motility of your gut, leaving you feeling full and uncomfortable. 

 How to beat it: 

Keep the clear fluids up and start your day with a pint or half a litre of water, so you’re on to a winner before breakfast. Alternate other beverages with a glass of water to help get to the recommended 1.5 litres of water a day. You and your body will be grateful you did. 

Encouraging a little merry movement 

Do you get out for a walk on Christmas day, or scrap the usual movement routine for a day on the sofa? As tempting as it is to stay in pyjama’s (we hear you), reduced movement could be responsible for bloating and energy slumps. As we move, we increase blood flow to our muscles and digestive tract and increase oxygen to the brain. Time in nature is proven to be very supportive in reducing stress levels too. 

How to beat it: 

Enjoy the great outdoors on Christmas day, dance around the houseplay a game that involves moving around or simply continue your workout routine like any other day.  

We hope these tips help you and your family stay energised, and stress and bloatfree on Christmas day. After such a tough year, so we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a brighter 2021 from all of us here at Bright.

For more great tips from Natalie on life and marketing, don’t miss our next Agile Marketing Bootcamp, Targeting financial services.

Lydia Kirby5 tips for managing extra stress (and bloat) this Christmas
read more

Staying healthy in the wake of Covid-19: Tips for supporting your immune system

As the Coronavirus has now officially been labelled a global pandemic, we remain committed to the health and safety of our team here at Bright and to our community in London. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this outbreak. We are taking the advice from the World Health Organisation seriously, and remind our team and clients to self-isolate if they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.

In a crisis such as this, it’s important to focus on staying healthy. The following tips will help you support your immune system — providing the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants it needs to boost your health.*

Eat the rainbow to increase your nutrient intake and antioxidant status

Your immune system relies on vitamins and minerals to give it the energy and fighting power it needs to tackle foreign pathogens (aka bacteria and viruses). Fruits and vegetables are the most densely packed foods for getting your vitamins and minerals. To ensure you’re getting a good variety, aim to eat a rainbow of colours each day — green broccoli, red pepper, orange carrots, purple aubergine, blue blueberries, white cauliflower. Eating two different pieces of fruit and a minimum of five different vegetables a day will also increase your antioxidants status. Antioxidants are used to mop-up free radicals to protect the cells and tissues throughout our body — think anti-ageing.

Feed your gut’s good bugs with a daily dose of fibre

The bacteria in your gut has a big impact on your immune system, helping develop the cells that fight infection and regulate its actions. In fact, a number of ailments can be connected back to the gut. Your microbiome – the bugs that live in your intestines – need soluble fibre to grow and thrive, but the average intake in the UK is only 17g and the recommended daily amount is 30g minimum — think rolled porridge oats, beans, pulses, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.

Fibre is also required for healthy bowel movement (yes, we’re talking #2) which is vital for clearing toxins that your body no longer wants or needs. A stagnant bowel increases the likelihood of toxins being reabsorbed into the body, which is something we all want to avoid.

Boost immune support with omega-3 fats

Omega 3 is often lacking in the average western diet but it’s essential to helping the immune system prevent and suppress viral infections – including Coronaviruses. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring (SMASH) are a great source of omega 3, and three portions a week will give you a good amount. Oily fish also contains vitamin D and zinc which helps the immune system function properly. Chia, flax and hemp oil are great vegetarian sources of omega 3 and mushrooms contain vitamin D, as well as beta-glucans, which support the immune system.

Season with herbs and spices for antiviral power

Have fun with flavours by adding herbs and spices to your meals for their antioxidants and anti-viral powers! Ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, and horseradish are all good options, as well as cinnamon, ginseng, cayenne pepper and peppermint, or dandelion, mistletoe, liquorice, oregano and basil.

Reduce your stress levels and strengthen your body

The body produces cortisol in a state of stress and although there are a lot of negative connotations around cortisol, it is a vital hormone for memory function, metabolism regulation and to activate our ‘fight and flight’ response in dangerous situations. However, long-term cortisol demand, due to continued stress, does have an inhibitory effect on your immune system, preventing pathogen fighting cells from doing their job. Try meditating, walking in nature or yoga to strengthen your ‘rest and digest’ response.

Intense exercise is also a stressor on the body and will impact your immune system in the short term while you recover. Consider taking it down a notch – daily movement is still beneficial though, so enjoy walking or cycling for a while instead.

Sleep more to improve your health

We all know sleep is important but the majority of us still put it low on the priority list and let other tasks eat into our dreaming hours. Aim for 8-10 hours every night to let your body repair itself and prepare for another day. The immune system needs those hours to release infection-fighting antibodies and cells while we sleep — these are reduced during periods of insufficient sleep. To improve sleep hygiene, try going to bed and waking up the same time each day — our bodies love routine! Also, be sure to turn off the laptops, mobiles, TV’s and bright lights at least one hour before bed. Instead, enjoy a good book, meditate or take a bath with Epsom salts to wind down and help your body relax and prepare for sleep.

With extreme disruption across global markets from Brexit, Black Monday and the Covid-19 crisis, marketers who find new ways of working with agility and pace are more likely to thrive and survive during such uncertainty. Sign-up for our webinar: Explore the future of B2B marketing trends: agile marketing survey findings and QA to learn more.

Corona virus advice

*People who are immunocompromised or elderly are at a higher risk. Following this advice does not guarantee reduced risk of infection or recovery aid from Covid-19.

Lydia KirbyStaying healthy in the wake of Covid-19: Tips for supporting your immune system
read more

Ideas to value in 8 hours

No comments

The Bright team love a challenge, especially when it delivers value to us and our clients! That’s why we decided to host a hackathon on our very own website. Because if you’re going to experiment, we’d rather experiment on our marketing before rolling it out to you.

The day was spent turning ideas into business value at super-speed. That was eight hours focused on building a strategy to boost UX, tapping into our content to make it more relevant to you and having a complete rethink about how our website looks and feels.

The day consisted of group ideation sessions, smaller break-outs and bringing our ideas to life. Here’s some pictures from the day…

These agile ways of working are rapidly growing in popularity, particularly with small and medium-size businesses, where resources are limited, and time is valuable. Want to know more about how you can adopt agile methodologies in your marketing? Check out our Minimum Viable Marketing eBook.

Zoe MerchantIdeas to value in 8 hours
read more

In-house vs marketing agency or consultancy

No comments

To compete in today’s markets, businesses need to be more adaptable than ever. Becoming a fast-growing business is the result of a range of factors, of which marketing plays a significant part.

(Check out our Marketing as an Accelerator eBook to find out exactly how significant marketing is for growth.)

But, is it better to have an in-house marketing team or outsource to a marketing consultancy or agency?

1. Marketing experts Vs subject matter experts

In this instance, we would consider those in an agency or consultancy to be holistic marketing experts, with internal employees more likely to be subject-matter experts, specific to their businesses.

Working on a variety of projects and executing marketing plans for a whole host of clients is what marketing agencies do best. The experience gained from working in such an environment is invaluable.

Agencies and consultancies will naturally have a broader understanding of the market from exposure to other industry partners. This visibility can help shape and build strategies that make a client stand out from their competitors.

Having access to a wide network also provides agencies with flexible skills and a fresh perspective, whereas in-house teams often have funneled knowledge.

Arguably, internal employees are subject matter experts, establishing a deep-rooted understanding of the business as a whole. This in-depth knowledge can make for better business understanding and learning, but it has its limitations.

2. More creativity, better results?

In-house, a team will be focused on complying to core business strategies and delivering results. However, this internal focus can often cause teams to become shielded from external macro factors.

Through hiring an outsourced marketing team, it is possible to gain fresh perspectives, which can lead to invaluable insights into the latest trends within your industry. Agencies and consultancies can provide a level of creativity that you simply may not be able to achieve internally – they can be your ‘creative thinking hat’.

Results drive business growth. It is important to ensure that your agency understands your business strategy in order to align marketing plans. When this is done well, an outsourced partner can become an extended part of your team – which drives results!

3. Time is money

In most cases, having an internal marketing team means your approval process will be better streamlined. Fewer emails and more face to face conversations allows for greater visibility and reduced lead times.

On the other hand, by outsourcing to a marketing agency or consultancy, a business is able to free up internal resources to focus on other business tasks. An agency allows you to sit back and focus on other business-critical activity, enabling your existing staff to become more efficient.

Some may argue it is more cost efficient to have an internal marketing team as there aren’t any rush or overtime charges. But, it has been found that agencies provide an average 9% monetary saving and a 15% average time saving precisely for those reasons. When there is a financial penalty for delays, you’re much more likely to move the project along rush faster than when you have all the time in the world.

4. Give your business space to grow

Growth, specifically fast growth, is a key strategic approach for many businesses to maintain competitive advantage in their industry. Why do some businesses grow quicker than others? Marketing.

Marketing is important for getting to those clients you don’t know.

The focus should also be on developing networks and building relationships with external stakeholders. Marketing consultancies have a large network extending to functions that may not be available in an in-house marketing team. They can provide stronger relationships with fewer suppliers.

The real result and key importance of using a marketing agency is freeing up your time to grow internally and externally.

So, what’s better, an in-house or outsourced marketing set-up?

The merits of in house are employees are subject matter experts, fully aligned to their business strategy. Not only this, but activity can be turned around quickly because teams will be working closely and managed by one senior management team. On the flip side, if you’re looking for an agile team, experts within marketing with a full resource behind them including content, creative services, strategy, lead generation and more, then a marketing consultancy is the way to go.

In reality, the sweet spot is somewhere between the two, and that’s what the Bright’s agile marketing hub model achieves.

Agile marketing hub –  bringing together the benefits of both internal and external experts

Bright is a strategic marketing consultancy we’re different to an agency as we focus on using agile ways of working to rapidly drive results by understanding your business, aligning to your goals and making sure marketing is working towards achieving them, at pace. We use our Agile marketing hub model to support high growth and dynamic businesses. This provides clients with a cross functional team combining in-house, Bright’s agile marketing strategy experts and supporting resources – such as creative services, content, data and lead generation– as and when required.

We shape and execute marketing strategies designed to optimise and plug in-house gaps and support business goals. We also focus on driving as much business value as possible for our clients by setting clear KPI that align our projects and campaigns with business goals.

Using our agile marketing we experiment and fine tune each and every go-to-market message, tactic and martech use and execution process to get the best results possible for you.

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.

Zoe MerchantIn-house vs marketing agency or consultancy
read more

Marketing isn’t just for Christmas

No comments

Whilst ’tis the season for brands to splash the cash on fancy holiday-themed adverts, we take this time to look at what you could and should be doing with your marketing over this festive season

 

1. Little things can tug a lot of heart strings

Phil Beastall – a ‘frustrated filmmaker’– reportedly spent just £50 creating the perfect Christmas film as a reminder to viewers that we are not defined by our careers and materialism, but that family comes first.

2. Video seems to be pulling some strings too!

71% of B2B marketers report that video converts better than other content types, with product video continuing to be the most commonly produced video for marketing and sales teams.

3. The Christmas party shouldn’t be the only event in your diary

The longer your sales cycle, the more important events are at building awareness, trust, preference and pipeline. What events have you got in the diary for 2019? If the answer is none, it’s time you put your new diary to good use.

4. You should be sending more than just Christmas cards

Recent DMA research showed that 57% of people open addressed mail when it first arrives, with 20.8% opening mail within a 28-day period. This means you have 28 days of your content living within a household, compared to a couple of moments in an inbox. Is it time you revisited the post office?

5. Don’t just recycle your wrapping paper!

If you can take anything from the fancy holiday-themed TV adverts, it’s to follow in Coca Cola’s snow dusted footsteps and recycle your content. If it’s good, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Just make sure you are updating any content that is time sensitive, so it doesn’t feel dated when seen by your audience.

6. Humour isn’t just for making Santa’s belly laugh like a bowl full of Jelly

Yes, you’re talking to business decision makers. And yes, you really want to make the right first impression. But humour is something unique to humans, and since humans are the people you are selling to, it can cut through all the noise whilst making your point in a way that connects with people so they listen. You don’t need to be a rip-roaring comedian to be successful at B2B marketing, but it does pay to step slightly out of your comfort zone and show your brand’s personality.

7. More marketing for your buck

Over the festive period, it’s no secret that business owners’ priorities shift from growth to retention. This usually means less competition in the B2B marketplace which broadly speaking means less expense when bidding for advertising services such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, PPC and LinkedIn marketing. Whilst most decision makers will be preoccupied with Christmas antics and not looking to covert immediately, maintaining an active presence in the commercial space is fundamental to your marketing efforts over the coming year. If you’re keen to learn how you can develop your pipeline, build reputation and brand this Christmas period, this eBook is for you.

8. Stay social in between work socials

Social media channels are an invaluable tool for the modern B2B company, and whilst the extended Christmas break, awkward staff parties and questionable secret Santa unwrapping can take attentions away from updating social channels, ‘going dark’ on social for extended periods of time can have a negative impact on your audience. Use platforms such as hootsuite to plan some form of social presence whilst your team are sleeping off the mince pies!

9. Grab yourself a sherry

And last but certainly not least, take Christmas to reset those batteries and refresh your thinking. Sometimes it takes a two-week winter break and a few cheeky sherries to take an invaluable step back from a project you’ve spent months working so closely on. Coming back in the New Year with a fresh pair of eyes gives you the chance to evaluate your campaign objectively and ensure you’re still aiming for the right stars, and not just following three wise men on a starry night.

Have a bright Christmas  

Lydia KirbyMarketing isn’t just for Christmas
read more

The social intern

No comments

A great article contributed by one of our fantastic interns.

I’ve been interning at Bright Innovation for the past 8 weeks. Having turned up on my first day half expecting to unpack boxes from the office move, I’ve found myself playing a much more important role with an ever-changing and expanding task list, including helping with the social media accounts of three Bright Innovation clients.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a school of thought that interns can’t (or shouldn’t) be trusted with social media. Many arguments exist as over-generalised attacks towards graduates that are young and therefore also immature, irresponsible and self-centred (I’m looking at you Inc.com).

However, a number of arguments are, of course, grounded in wisdom. As 83% of marketers believe that social media is important to their business, and nearly 60% of them spend six hours or more using social media each week, it is understandable to have reservations about allowing a fresh-faced intern to act as the face of the company.

Argument 1: Interns lack professional marketing experience

Although interns may be able to honestly say “I’m always using [insert favourite social media platform]!”, using social media in a business context requires more than aimlessly scrolling and ‘liking’ to cure boredom on packed morning tubes and posting your most attractive holiday photos. It requires a more thought–through approach. Social media strategy needs to occur in line with overall marketing strategy and retain a consistent tone – in line with your company’s message.

I wasn’t completely uncomfortable in the world of professional social media before joining Bright Innovation. However, the brief for managing the social accounts of my previous employer consisted of following the latest in celebrity, fashion and beauty trends – any deeper insight was anything that I picked up on myself.

Creating social content within Bright Innovation has been more of a mentoring experience. Where I’ve been allowed to discover what does and doesn’t work for myself, I’ve also been guided and taught some of the most important practices about posting on social media – such as the importance of directing readers back to your website, building audience, creating a balance between own and third-party content on a range of platforms and, importantly, peak times for maximum views.

Argument 2: Interns don’t understand your business (or businesses)

When trying to create and maintain a social voice, it is important that any person behind the account understands not only the audience, but the impression and tone that the business wishes to make. The introduction of a new face to the mix, intern or otherwise, may present challenges.

Whilst the majority of interns are new to the working world and still uncomfortable wearing grown-up clothes, we haven’t (at least in my case) managed to escape the interview process. The knowledge an intern holds about your company may not be particularly in depth, but is easily broadened, if they are keen to learn. And what is an internship, if not learning role.

Working for a consultancy such as Bright Innovation, this learning process is made more difficult: I have to understand multiple client companies. To begin, I was given client websites, a number of focus words, and challenged to find engaging content.

Although a steep and not necessarily fast-paced learning curve, I feel I’m really starting to understand the fundamental differences between the clients that I work with – to the extent that I’ll be scrolling through my phone at home and have to email myself an article that could work for so-and-so. This may not have been as easily learnt or keenly remembered without being given the opportunity to work on social media accounts; perhaps because like 50% of young people nowadays, I learn by doing.

Argument 3: Interns aren’t fully invested in your business

The supporters of this argument warn about the risks of interns – young people working jobs they’re not sure they want, to make their expensive degrees feel worthwhile. An intern may not join with a ready-developed passion for marketing, and they may be transient, but that’s not to say they don’t care about your company. At Bright Innovation, I’ve been made to feel like a valuable part of the team, whether helping with social or otherwise.

Learn more about why social media – specifically LinkedIn – which should be a key part of every B2B marketing strategy.

Alexandra JefferiesThe social intern
read more