General

Are you getting through?

Critical success factors at the sharp end of communication

It is difficult to think of a time where there has been greater risk and turmoil in the world, especially in the last 50 years, and this creates a difficult position for those charged with communicating to employees, partners or clients.

Of course, Coronavirus is just one example of business disruption, anyone remember Brexit? Highlighting why the ability to communicate in tough times is so important.

The damage and cost in terms of lost clients, talent and reputation of poor communication practice is unquantifiable. High performance businesses know that clear, consistent and timely communication is key to business resilience and even more so during times of rapid change. Here are my top five critical success factors for communicating successfully, now and as we move through the downturn:

Don’t stop communicating

Never stop communicating, that’s it. Whenever faced with ambiguity there’s a natural reaction not to say anything until we are absolutely clear on our response. Employees and clients will usually already be aware of the issues, starting to worry about the impact and hypothesising on how best to deal with the situation. Even if you can share very little factual information, employees need to know their leaders are scenario planning and working on solutions. When things are uncertain that is when communication is most important. If there’s silence from the top, people will fill in the gaps themselves and it’s unlikely to be in a positive way.

Never speculate

Be as transparent as you can be. No one will expect you to have all the answers, but they will need to feel that you are sharing what you can and being honest about what you don’t know yet. Of course, the flip side is that it is equally important that you don’t feel pressurised into communicating something that you’re not totally confident about. If you are not 100% sure something is true, don’t share it. Validate your information before communicating it – never speculate! Let people know that you’re working on getting an answer and will come back to them as soon as you have it. Drip feeding progress updates is a good way to minimise frustration and provide reassurance to your team, clients and prospects whilst you fully understand the situation.

Show empathy

It’s important that communications are as much about giving people the information they want to hear, as it is about the information you want to tell them. Understanding where the areas of highest concern are, and ensuring you are providing people with the information that you can around those areas, will demonstrate understanding, empathy and ensure your comms are authentic. Have a plan and be upfront about when they will receive further information to keep them informed.

Take the information to the people

Too many organisations hide behind email. Although it is an effective channel of communication it should not be the default for everything. 

When people are worried, face-to-face is the best way to engage and when that’s not possible you need to think about how you can use tools like video conferencing to ‘bring people into the room’. The use of video conference has vastly increased since COVID-19 and as human beings we rely on sight more than any other sense so it’s not surprising. People are far more likely to trust a message when they can see the person delivering it and it can offer the opportunity for QA and sharing ideas that will help you plan further communications and really understand what the concerns are for your people or clients.

Digital channels should be understood and used to reach key audiences to enable effective communications. Comms leaders need to become masters of data and insight so they can understand performance through reporting on engagement across digital tools including email and collaboration tools such as teams, slack and intranet traffic to underpin recommendations for the next wave of comms or tactics to improve results.

Build in agility

Resilience and flexibility are key. As we all know, situations can change quickly so your communications planning needs to be agile. Introduce new ways of working so that your comms team and key stakeholders in the business can work as a cross functional team to adapt quickly, respond appropriately to ever changing situations and developing a test, learn and improve culture. Use data and insight to understand the performance of key channels, how well you are reaching your audience and inform your next communication activities to adapt your plan and ensure those that need to be informed and act on critical information, do so.

Of course, there is still the challenge of a recession ahead and those businesses who have the greatest agility and ability to adapt at pace will be most likely to survive and thrive. These are interesting times for everyone and having the right narrative and communicating with clarity so everyone understands key information, the role they should play and the actions needed is going to be critical in determining how well your organisation will be able to navigate through the downturn.

Tough times don’t last but agile businesses do. Find out more about agile marketing and communications and how it can help you.

Alexandra JefferiesAre you getting through?
read more

The ultimate working-from-home survival guide

Outlast the outbreak from your home office

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to engulf the world, it will undoubtedly change the way we work. You and your team are probably working from home already. You may have been given a timeline of two weeks or you have simply been told to stay home for the foreseeable future. Whilst a few days at home is a welcome, relaxing break from stressful commuting and in-person meetings, staying productive can be challenging and long periods of isolation can be damaging to your mental health and overall team morale. To help you stay sharp, positive and productive, follow these top tips for outlasting the outbreak from your home office.

Ensure a productive workday

Get ready as if you’re about to catch the Tube

Shower, eat breakfast and yes, get dressed. Whilst working comfortably in your cosy pyjamas on the couch is the most attractive aspect of working from home, it won’t help you snap into work mode. In fact, you’re more likely to feel tired and groggy. Plus, you’ll want to feel confident calling in to meetings — you’ll probably be asked to join meetings with your camera on, as companies will want to ensure effective communication during this crisis.

Write a to-do list

Once you’re up and feeling refreshed, you’re ready to tackle your to-do list. 30% of remote workers said they feel more productive with a to-do list. Grab a notebook and jot down things to do — work-related and personal — to help you plan your day. But of course, there’s an app for that too, if you’re looking for a greener option to task management.

Try to categorise or sort by morning, afternoon and evening to help you stay productive. Trust us, there’s nothing better than ticking off your list at the end of a day – and what a great excuse for relaxing at the end of the day!

Start working at your normal working time.

If you’re normally in the office at 8.30am, turn your computer on at 8.30am.  Even if you don’t have morning meetings, keeping your normal routine will help you get motivated quickly. The last thing you want to do is start late and end up working late to make up for it. However, you may decide you need to shift your working hours, and that’s fine. This is your chance to set a working schedule that works for you — and your health.

Keep track of tasks and deadlines

Stay organised

Along with that to-do list, it’s important to keep a list of objectives and deadlines for the day or week. You’ll also want to keep a clean desk, desktop and filing system. The latter is especially critical if you’re working in Microsoft Teams or Monday.com in which documents easily get lost without a standardised filing system.

Be active in group chats

Whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Monday.com or Mural, be sure that you’re visibly ‘at work’. That might mean answering queries, posting a status update on what you’re working on, offering to take on a task, or participating in a public conversation.

Just remember that this doesn’t mean that you have to be furiously working and posting non-stop. You can take breaks. It’s perfectly fine to appear to be ‘away’ during the day. We’re striving to keep our normal working routine here, not turn you into a superhuman working-from-home machine!

Focus on your health

Schedule breaks

To build on that point, studies show that workers take fewer breaks when working from home. Perhaps it’s the fear of not being there to answer an email or IM. No one wants to look like they’re slacking. But you need to give your mind (and eyes!) a break from your computer screen every now and then, just as you do in the office. Set aside a few minutes a day to do yoga, make a cup of tea, read a book or go for a walk to clear your head.

But not all breaks are healthy. Mindless online shopping or Facebook browsing won’t help you focus later. See these tips on how to avoid taking unproductive breaks.

Don’t forget to eat

I know, sounds impossible right? But in reality, working from home can throw off your normal eating schedule. When you get so buried in a task at home, odds are there isn’t anyone there to invite you to lunch. Schedule an hour’s lunch break every day. Put it in your calendar if you need to, to remind you and your co-workers.

And during this crisis, it’s more important than ever to avoid junk food and binge-eating that can be detrimental to your health. Nutritionist Natalie Burrows offers top tips for eating well to support your immune system and prevent infection.

Get outside (if you’re not self-isolating!)

If you or someone you live with is showing symptoms of Covid-19, WHO recommends self-isolating in your home for at least 7 days to prevent the spread of infection.

If you’re healthy and not showing symptoms, you’re probably practicing social distancing — but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home.  As you won’t be walking to work or the Tube, your body will miss that little bit of exercise! Stretch your legs with a quick pop to the shop or a walk around the neighbourhood. To stay in peak health, be sure to get a bit of fresh air and vitamin D when you can.

Studies actually show that walking alone can boost your immune system dramatically. Men and women who walk at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who walked once a week or less.

End your day at your normal working time

Surprisingly, studies show that working from home often leads to longer working hours. But shutting off at your normal time is important for your health. Just because you don’t have to commute, doesn’t mean you need to continue working. If you normally end at 5.30pm, sign off and close your laptop. Being available 24/7 won’t help you stay productive or impress your manager – it will only make you more tired, grumpy and ineffective, or worse, susceptible to illness.

Tips for managers

Trust your employees to do the work

This extended period of working from home will test your team’s ability to stay self-motivated and meet deadlines – and your management skills. Whilst it will undoubtedly be tempting, this is not the time to start micromanaging. Your team will need some time to adjust to working from home – balancing a work schedule from home with daily family life isn’t easy!

Plus, studies show that you have nothing to worry about. Remote workers tend to work a full shift and take fewer breaks. They actually end up working 1.4 more days per month than office workers on average! They’re also less likely to get distracted, and most find it easier to complete creative tasks when at home.

Communicate clearly online

So, how do you stay involved and in control as a manager but avoid turning into a burdensome micromanager? State objectives, tasks and deadlines clearly in your task programme. Assign and tag your team members to each task and be sure to answer queries as quickly as possible.

But whilst written communication is important and efficient, this is the time to focus on encouraging face-to-face communication as much as possible. Set up daily Scrum stand-ups, especially if your team is used to working in an agile way, and be sure to use video. This will help you provide key context, answer queries and avoid miscommunication.  If video calls and stand-ups are new to your team, send across helpful guides to let them know what’s expected from their participation.

Use the right tools

We’ve mentioned a few communication tools and software that we use, but you really have your choice of software for your team’s needs. Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for chatting and collaborating, and Monday.com is handy for planning, tracking and assigning tasks. We’ve recently adopted the sticky-note app Mural for streamlining daily meetings and stand-ups. All are visually intuitive, simple and easy to use.

Boost team morale

Work hard, play hard — even at home! This extended period of time away from the office calls for a focus on keeping the team spirit alive and well. Plan virtual coffee breaks, lunches and games to bring the team together as often as possible (without overloading their calendar of course!). It’s important to open up time for chatting and banter, not just meetings. Here at Bright, we’ve set up Bright Olympics to play a few short games and chat over coffee to stay in touch.

We’re all in this together

The Covid-19 crisis is affecting us all. Businesses are now under tremendous pressure to keep things running smoothly but setting up remote working and ensuring productivity is a challenge for both management and the team. By following these tips, we hope you’ll be able to find and provide some much-needed security for your company in the year ahead. If you need help adopting new ways of working to support your newly remote team, schedule a virtual coffee break with the Bright team today or get started with an Agile Hub.

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. Watch our webinar, a knowledge-sharing event about agile marketing transformation:  Explore the future of B2B marketing trends: agile marketing survey findings and QA.

For more tips on outlasting the outbreak, check out our latest post on Transforming events at pace.

Charlotte FellowsThe ultimate working-from-home survival guide
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.

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

Getting started with agile marketing

Agile Hubs are your key to unlocking integrated, sustainable marketing transformation

Digital transformation has been in the spotlight for nearly a decade and it remains well entrenched in the average business agenda today. But what about your marketing? How can it adapt to keep up with a changing business whilst meeting market demands?

There’s no doubt that organisation-wide transformation takes time, but marketing often seems to be preoccupied with business as usual or last on the list. Perhaps that’s because there are multiple forces at work in marketing that you’d have to bring into the transformation process. These typically include driving efficiencies, controlling costs, developing insight to drive continual improvement, and making effective use of emerging technology whilst improving your customer experience. And, whilst you make changes to your ways of working, you still need your marketing to demonstrate ROI, realise value in the short term and meet your business goals – smooth marketing transformation is therefore vital to the business as a whole.

It’s a lot to manage, think about and plan for all at once. So, where do you start? It is possible to transform your marketing to drive results that support your business goals, all whilst maintaining activity, but it’s a complex process. Having worked with many companies who are embarking on change, we know how important it is to approach this in a systematic, yet adaptable way – through testing, learning and building on success.

Driving results whilst changing at pace

Introducing Agile Marketing Hubs – your personal resource of marketing expertise and innovation. It’s where your in-house team, suppliers and specialists come together to work as one, strong, fully blended team of experts to effectively embed agile ways of working into your culture and operations.

Through hands-on experience in agile delivery of your marketing content, you’ll see greater productivity, energy and collaboration in your marketing team. Agile hubs are the answer to complex marketing transformation and a proven alternative to restrictive traditional techniques or reactive, ad-hoc and unstructured ways of working.

Demonstrating the value of your marketing

As you continue to work in an agile way, continually learning, building and improving, your team will begin to naturally work together more efficiently and effectively. You’ll also enable more cross-collaboration between different stakeholders and teams in the business – encouraging valuable knowledge-sharing and proving the power of your marketing to drive business goals.

Our tech and consulting clients in high growth and large enterprises have all reported seeing the following benefits from adopting an Agile Marketing Hub:

    Faster time to market   Data-driven decision making
 Proving marketing ROI at pace    Productivity and up-skilling
   Clear KP and objective setting Scalable agility and innovation

 

In our recent survey, 75% of those who have been practicing agile marketing for more than a year had a better understanding of the power and impact of their marketing. It’s clear that these benefits increase exponentially with prolonged practice of an agile approach.

Fired up to ignite agility in your marketing?

As your company undergoes digital transformation or needs to rapidly adapt in uncertain times, your marketing needs to keep pace with the market and maintain daily operations. This is a complex challenge that requires time and resources as well as constant support from business leaders and marketing experts.  Many struggle to get started and simply lack the tools, support or know-how to embed agile ways of working into their marketing.

With Bright’s Agile Marketing Hubs, you can ignite agility and ensure seamless, integrated and sustainable marketing transformation – with the tools, tactics and concepts you need to drive better results and meet business goals.

Ready to get started? Get in touch to set up an Agile Hub for your marketing today.

Download our report on the Future of B2B marketing to find out the latest insights in B2B marketing and how agile plays a role in transforming the future of marketing.

Sian HeaphyGetting started with agile marketing
read more

What is Agile Marketing?

It’s not just a buzzword – defining what agile marketing is, what it means for B2B and why it works.

This is the era of Agile. The ascendancy of experimentation and strategic thinking. The reign of data-driven insights. No matter your industry, everyone seems to be ‘going Agile’. Truth is, following the tech and internet revolution and the rise of Silicon Valley, every industry has had to shift to a more tech and data-driven mindset. And marketers are no different, what with our constant need to be customer centric at the forefront of market change.

But what does it actually mean to be agile in the B2B marketing industry? How do you apply an agile approach to your marketing? Most importantly, why would you leave your proven, traditional marketing techniques behind for new ways of working?

Breaking it down

To put it simply, agile marketing is exactly what it sounds like – the application of agile methodology across your marketing. However, that doesn’t give us enough to apply it effectively. In fact, you need to consider your organisational goals and how to drive the change in behaviour that’s needed for embedding a new way of working with your people, process and technology. Agile has a lot of its own lingo, so let’s take a deeper look at the key terms you’ve probably come across, and how they all work together to form an agile marketing approach.

The Basics

Agile Methodology

In 2001, visionary software developers wrote the Agile Manifesto, highlighting the vital importance of discovery and experimentation in software development. To help others build better, more customer-centric products, they detailed the need for “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.”

Agile ways of working

Adopting an agile mindset demands redefining your marketing operational model. Where traditional marketing is restrictive, agile emphasises the freedom to be daring in your concept creation and tactics. Rather than spending months planning a solid campaign strategy, an agile marketing team takes a minimum viable approach to take an idea to market as fast as possible in order to test it with the target audience. This of course requires greater collaboration and more effective communication across teams. Don’t worry though, the hard work pays off in the end – with a noticeable boost in efficiency and productivity.

Data vs. insights

We could write an entire book on the importance of being data driven. In short, there’s a clear difference between simply gathering data about your target audience and using that data to your advantage. The most important aspect of an agile marketing approach is to turn your data into actionable insights – really dig deep into who your audience is and what solution they need, to help you build marketing strategies that make an impact.

 Sprints

Having adopted agile ways of working, your marketing team will start running campaigns in short bursts – usually within two or three-week intervals called ‘Sprints’. In Sprint 0, you’ll set up data tools to continually gather insights, and create content needed for the campaign. In Sprint 1, you’ll send it all out and test it with a specific section of your audience – say, your followers on LinkedIn. Then, in Sprint 2, you’ll take what you learnt in Sprint 1, iterate, and test again. And so on and so forth.

The Process

Test

So, how do you test, learn and iterate the agile way? By taking your concept to market as fast as possible, you’ll gain valuable time for measuring its effectiveness with your target audience. Did anyone click on your ad? How many responded to your emails? Did you receive any negative feedback about your content or design?

Retrospective

At the end of each sprint, you’ll take a hard look at those actionable insights. Taking note of what worked best with your audience and what failed to impress will help you gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs and what you need to do to reach them in the next Sprint.

Iterate

If you’ve learnt that your concept is working – great! Keep going and expand it to a wider audience. If it isn’t, change it up with a new image, subject line, USP, etc. In this iteration phase, you’ll make all improvements needed to get the results you want in the next Sprint.

This is an infinite cycle of continual testing, learning and improving that you can use throughout your campaigns and projects.

The Benefits

Agility

It’s clear that an agile marketing team is more efficient, effective and empowered. With an agile mindset, your marketing team will work more collaboratively to produce and experiment with new ideas that are more daring and innovative. What’s more, they’ll gain the skills to spring into action when needed, ready to adapt their campaigns and strategies accordingly.

 Keeping Pace

Injecting agility into your marketing, is the key to keeping pace – or keeping up- with constant change in the market and the ever-changing demands of your customers. Without a doubt, this is one of the best benefits to adopting an agile marketing approach – the ability to accurately identify and take advantage of opportunities in the market for business growth and brand development.

Fit for purpose

With an agile marketing approach, you’ll see better results and improved performance. What’s more, it’ll become fit for purpose – perfectly aligned with your business goals.

The Future is Agile

There you have it, a clear breakdown of what it means for B2B marketing to be agile. As our world continues to become more digital and tech-focused, the agile approach will continue to evolve with the market, steadily gaining momentum in its influence.  Adopting agile marketing and data-driven ways of working will become essential to success in B2B marketing.

Want to learn more? Check back next week for detailed look on Getting Started with Agile Marketing!

 

 

Charlotte FellowsWhat is Agile Marketing?
read more

2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

Ensuring a bright 2020 by keeping pace with market change

If you’re active in B2B marketing, you know that change in the tech and consulting industry is nothing new – and nothing to fear. Within the past decade, we’ve seen digital disruption and transformation drive market change in service and product delivery and impacting how we go to market and reach our target audiences effectively.

In B2B marketing, we’ve dramatically changed how we plan, manage and run campaigns – whether it’s putting data insights to work by injecting agility or using personalisation to keep up with shifting markets. The rise of digitally native audiences has also forced B2B marketing to move much of its activity online.

Now, as we enter a bright new decade, we’re about to see even more changes – our ways of working need to evolve to maintain pace and engagement, and use data and insights effectively to build relationships and convert the right people at the right time.  To help you prepare, we’ve gathered the top five trends in B2B marketing this year.

1.    Agile marketing will take charge

Centred around collective, cross-functional and collaborative working in which projects are completed in short periods called sprints, agile marketing lays the foundation for continually testing and iterating your marketing ideas – proving what works and what doesn’t to ensure better marketing results, business outcomes and overall ROI.

But agile working isn’t just about process and technology – there are cultural considerations to bring your organisation along on the journey. McKinsey research found that companies who adopt agile ways of working simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs, and a more engaged workforce. Learn more about B2B agile marketing.

Why it will matter in 2020

B2B marketers are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate results from marketing investment, and this is expected to drive a rise in agile marketing adoption in 2020. Firms will need to understand and apply new ways of working to align and meet business goals whilst keeping up with ever-changing markets. Agile marketing brings the best of entrepreneurial thinking, start up ways of working and allows enterprises to innovate at scale.

If you aren’t already, this is your chance to really understand your buyer journey and make sure your marketing is driving revenue at every stage of the client lifecycle. By becoming more agile in your approach, you’ll take advantage of the latest trends and market changes to place your customer at the centre of your business.

2.    Partner experience comes of age

Partner experience (PX) has long been a neglected area of marketing. If you want to continue to grow and maximise every revenue opportunity available, then looking at your channel strategy is crucial. The key is to treat your partners as a proper audience – understand their user journey and what they need at every stage.

With an enablement perspective, you can exploit new market opportunities and unlock revenue through your channel. Injecting agility into PX is a great way to start small, such as a partner accelerator or incubator for select partners to supercharge their sales and marketing efforts; or territory specific partner acquisition campaigns to onboard more partners where you need them most. You can test, learn and build on success to create a solid and scalable PX experience.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forester predicts that marketing decision makers will rank improving partner experience on par with improving customer experience in 2020, and both will rise to more than 50%. That’s a significant shift that matches the speed of change we’re seeing in the tech industry. Injecting agility is critical if organisations are going to keep up with competition and build more channel share.

Give your partners the experience they need to support and sell more of your tech and services, and don’t be afraid to stand out and make better use of video, immersive and social prospecting to accelerate traction within and for your channel.

3.    Personalisation at the heart of B2B

Personalisation has been a marketing buzzword for years and the concept of creating personas to form better buyer journeys shouldn’t be new to you. However, we’re about to see increased personalisation in B2B, specifically with a fresh look at how we’re maintaining continuous communication and opening up meaningful dialogue with our key audiences and clients.

Why it will matter in 2020

Gartner research shows that organisations that have fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20% in 2020.  B2B marketers need to step back and think about how they can become more relevant to their key audiences to drive engagement and build relationships for the long term. This must be approached strategically with a willingness to rapidly test and learn in order to be credible and authentic.

Often, marketing can be heavy handed – rushing in with a sales message on a first communication (no one likes a pushy first date!). By using data and insight about the organisational state and target audience, you will be able to craft and deliver relevant, timely and engaging comms. Don’t rush building a credible relationship – be authentic. Senior decision makers have no interest in continuing dialogue with shouty, salesy firms that don’t effectively demonstrate that they have something of value to offer in exchange for their attention.

4.    Predictive analytics will become a key driver to success

One way to support your personalisation techniques is with better data insights from predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the concept of using your data insights to measure marketing activities, identify trends and predict opportunities to create unique, tailored experiences across each stage of your client buyer journey and throughout their client lifecycle.

You probably have data sat within your existing systems and tools that isn’t being effectively used to identify intent and accelerate your buyer journey. Gartner predicts that profitability will replace customer experience as the CMO’s No. 1 strategic priority in 2022. Using data and insight to make strategic decisions and to drive agility and pace in your go to market strategies will be key to understanding marketing performance and contribution to business goals and profitability.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forrester says that 89% of marketers will use more predictive analytics in 2020. To keep up with the competition, the best thing you can do this year is to make your marketing more data driven.

Evaluate how you’re obtaining, measuring and analysing your data and most importantly, if you’re making the most of your data insights. Then, adopt an AI and predictive analytic tool to deliver insight that will support driving marketing effectiveness and align with business goals to demonstrate success at a business contribution level through marketing performance.

5.    Automation and integration will start to drive autonomous marketing

Automation tools help marketers schedule and publish content, manage teams and analyse data from multiple sources in one, centralised place. With the proliferation of marketing tools, more streamlined integration will enable better insight and allow marketers to focus on maximising the client experience at every stage of the buyer journey.

Manual tasks are starting to become more easily automated, giving you more time to devote to value-adding activities, such as writing longer-form content and offering greater customisation of your services. Find out more about B2B marketing automation.

Why it will matter in 2020

Evaluating and integrating your existing toolset will create quick wins and allow automation to run sequences autonomously to improve conversion rates and engagement with your key audiences. And, automation isn’t just for external marketing – internal comms will benefit from applying the tools, tactics and automation internally to drive and measure employee engagement.

Marketers need to adopt new ways of working to make the most of your marketing technology. With an agile approach, you’ll zoom in on areas of underperformance to drive improvements, and overperformance to understand and repurpose successful automation into other areas of activity.

In summary

2020 will be the year for progressive transformation within B2B marketing. Traditional marketing just won’t make the cut going forward. By understanding how best to adopt agile marketing as a new way of working, streamlining processes and combining the right tools and tech, you’ll be able to adapt and drive change whilst putting your data insights to work to build stronger, clearer marketing strategies for an ever-evolving market.

Want to understand how to get started with agile marketing and transformation? Get in touch with our marketing experts.

 

Zoe Merchant2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch
read more

Making the most of your martech stack

How to optimise your existing marketing tools and empower your team to use them effectively through agile ways of working

The world of martech (marketing technology) can be quite a murky place. What tools are out there? Which ones are best for your needs? And how do you make them work for you to achieve your goals? Let’s wade through the muck to find the answers.

Picture this: You’ve got data spread across your organisation in various CRMs, data lakes and even a few Excel sheets. To put it plainly, your data has more duplicates than an identical twin convention – but you know there’s valuable customer and prospect data hidden deep within, just waiting to be utilised. If only you had the tools to get it all in order, you’d be the marketing Rockstar of your organisation!

And so begins your quest for the latest and greatest martech tool, suffering through demos with approximately 34 different sales reps. They make each tool look better than the last and you agree that you would like to use every single one. But, here’s the catch – you don’t actually need them. Well, not all of them at least.

Fix before you buy

Like the old adage that your mother used to say, “we have food at home” – or in other words, take a look at what you already have, then decide what you really need. So, before you go on that endless hunt for a new marketing tool, make sure you’re really making the most of your current tools and take a real look at the goals you want to achieve. To do this properly, there are two crucial places to start: data and education.

Get your databases clean, up to date, and most importantly, compliant, before deciding on your next steps, or you risk falling into the same pitfall as many organisations before you. You’ll take your bad data from one tool to the next which then won’t deliver any tangible business benefits, because guess what? The data you’re feeding it is terrible. You’ll need a solid foundation to clean your database – clear targeting criteria and personas.

The next step is to make sure your team is using your marketing tech properly. Take marketing automation tools for example – we love them for the power they give us to run campaigns, send emails, create landing pages and much more with great ease. Their downside? That power is available to all your colleagues, and the temptation to abuse it is strong – why not send this email to a few more personas? Will it really hurt the click / open / bounce rate? Yes, yes it will.

And on top of that, marketing automation tools will happily put restrictions in place to stop unnecessary email sends that may hurt their bounce rates. Suddenly that great tool you had doesn’t look so shiny and bright when you have one hand tied behind your back because the new marketing intern sent the quarterly newsletter to your entire database. How can you avoid this? To quote a mid-90’s Tony Blair, ‘education, education, education’.

Inject agile into your marketing

A simple solution is to adopt agile ways of working.

With a test, learn and build approach, your team will gain the skills and know-how for using and optimising your tools properly and effectively. With an expert team you can trust, you’ll make the most of your existing tools while testing new tools with ease. What’s more, you’ll learn to integrate and maximise the value of your automation tools across your business as a team – streamlining marketing activities and delivering reports with clear KPIs.

It’s easy to assume that the perfect martech mix is only achievable with the latest top tools on the market.  However, the more you invest in your current marketing tools with greater support, knowledge-sharing and training within your team, the more value your users will get out of your system – making it more effective and better performing. A winner all round. Rock on, Rockstar.

Want to learn more about agile marketing? Check out our agile marketing hubs.

Lydia KirbyMaking the most of your martech stack
read more

A favo(u)rite game: Localising content for British and American audiences

In 1773, the Americans dumped 342 chests of British tea into the Boston Bay. In 1775, they thought they had seen the last of us when they sent our Redcoats home.  Yet, in 2019, they’re still speaking the Queen’s tongue…or are they?  While we may seem to speak the same language, the truth is that there are many surprising differences between British and American English and they are a powerful force in affecting meaning.

But if you’re not a linguist, why should you care about the differences between British and American English? Because while Content may be king, Localisation is queen, and she rules with an iron fist. All marketers must learn to localise their content in order to connect with British or American audiences.

Localisation is the art of adapting your messaging to the language requirements and cultural preferences of your intended audience. In truth, it’s the key to generating leads in cold marketing and a simple way to make an impact in a new market. Decide against localising, and you risk damaging your global brand. The last thing you ever want to do is break the connection between your audience and your marketing message.

For example, try telling an American that you’d be happy to discuss your offer in a fortnight’s time once they’re back from holiday, or that they can avoid the queue by filling in the timetable attached – pip them to the post, mate! Not that you would ever write either of those sentences, but you get my point – use the wrong dialect in your messaging and you’ll only succeed in confusing your audience.

To help you drive better marketing results, we’ve gathered the following comprehensive list of the differences between British and American English. Consider it your go-to guide for localising your content with ease.

Looking to further improve your marketing results and performance? Check out how we achieve results at pace through agile marketing.

Charlotte FellowsA favo(u)rite game: Localising content for British and American audiences
read more

5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns

Marketing is a delicate beast at times.

Campaigns can be sprawling and extensive, yet also interconnected and with short-term goals. Whether or not you are operating in an agile way, finding the right balance of so many facets – such as messaging, tone of voice, visuals and audiences – requires lots of thought. And the more high-profile the campaign, the bigger the necessity to get this right.

Naturally, with so many moving parts it’s possible to lose sight of the overall picture, and sometimes this makes campaigns noticeable for the wrong reasons. Of course, we all make mistakes. That’s why the following is a collection of examples from well-known brands, from which we can all learn from (and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes).

EA’s knuckleduster giveaway for the Godfather II

When Electronic Arts (EA) announced they were releasing a video game based on the 1974 film of the same name, no doubt people were excited to delve into the world of the Corleone family once again.

And with such a hot property on their hands, EA were determined to give it maximum brand exposure. But in the notoriously competitive world of video-game marketing, relying on the property itself was never going to be enough. Something distinctive was needed. So, in April 2009, EA decided to dispatch brass knuckles (a weapon synonymous with crime syndicates similar to those in the game) to journalists, alongside advanced copies of the game.

Despite EA being based in California where owning brass knuckles are illegal, they shipped them to other states where they are also illegal. In their defence, EA tried to recall them, but the damage was done, and this marketing ploy entered the headlines in earnest.

Knuckledusters in wrapping

As featured in Engadget

  • Takeaway: Be careful when including something risky and attention-seeking in a campaign. Distinguishing yourself from the competition with a distinct tactic can work well, but ensure you have carefully considered how your audience will react to it and what message it sends out – particularly if what you are planning could be controversial. Forming a focus group with colleagues can provide valuable external insight and new perspectives into your campaign. Creating a storyboard in the planning stages can also help visualise and map out your messaging, thus making any potential pitfalls easier to spot.

Jawbone’s ‘Re: Your Dad’ Father’s Day email campaign

Email campaigns are a cornerstone of marketing, relaying content and messaging directly to a potential customer and hooking them into a lead funnel.

However, one of the major challenges with an email campaign is finding the right subject line to maximise open rates. Jawbone, a wearable tech company, decided that for a promotion around Father’s Day in 2016, they would use a subject line of ‘Re: Your Dad’. Seemingly innocuous at first, and with the personal touch we marketers should always aim to provide. But then consider this email was going to thousands of subscribers – with some statistically likely to have either experienced bereavement or estrangement from their father. After the email went out, many described the impact of receiving the email:

Email response from jawbone

A response to the email campaign on Twitter

  • Takeaway: Have at least 2 rounds of proof-reading and quality assessment on email campaigns. The original writer will benefit from a second pair of eyes, helping to pick up spelling errors, broken links, and (in the case of Jawbone) messaging that can be taken out of context / misconstrued. While making an email personable can greatly benefit its success, be careful not to become overly personal. Also by using ‘Re:’ when it’s not a reply to a conversation, recipients are more likely to be annoyed than convert.

Kendall Jenner, protesters, police and Pepsi

Big brands usually come with big name endorsements. In 2017 Pepsi were no different in hiring a celebrity model and professional Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, to appear in their advert. Pepsi’s aim was to ‘project a message of unity, peace and understanding’ by showing a group of protesters and police coming together over a can of their soft drink. This was at a time where protesters from Black Lives Matter were clashing with police. The advert showed Kendall Jenner emerging from the protesters and handing a policeman a can of Pepsi. In trying to make a comment on the current situation, the drinks company experienced a sizeable backlash, with the ad criticised for appearing to trivialise the Black Lives Matter protests. Pepsi later released this statement:

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position”

  • Takeaway: Whilst staying topical can give your campaign traction, be 100% sure about the current topics you choose to become involved in. And if you do choose to get involved, ensure what you are saying does not give off the wrong message. Employing an agile working methodology to ensure continuous feedback can be a great shield against this, by allowing ongoing evaluation of the messaging, direction and context of the campaign with the ability to shift any of these at pace.

Burger King and some important details about its plant-based burger

Vegan food, and culture, is on the rise and companies are clamouring to get involved. The ethical and environmental message that comes with an association with veganism is branding gold. Take Greggs for example. A bakery with a former association with a less-than-healthy lifestyle flipped its brand image on its head when it released its much-lauded vegan sausage roll. The celebrated marketing campaign played a significant part in that, playing off the product in the same way as an Apple iPhone or iMac.

Keen to join the wave created by Greggs, Burger King also released a meat-free product. The marketing was significant and very visible, and the product was marketed as ‘0% beef’ and ‘made from plants’. However, the product’s description also stated it was flame-grilled in the same broiler used for beef and chicken. By coming into contact with meat, the burger couldn’t be considered vegan or vegetarian. As a result, Burger King were accused on social media of being ‘misleading’ in their marketing:

Vegan complaint against Burger King

Twitter users were quick to point out the hidden reality of Burger King’s new product

  • Takeaway: While the campaign did not specifically say the product was vegan or vegetarian, it was described as meat-free and did use very similar messaging to those advertising a vegan product. The key thing here is to be clear in your messaging and be upfront with what your product is about. Don’t hide key details away and be sure the positioning of your marketing reflects the reality.

Dove asks customers to ‘choose their body shape’ on a bottle

Dove first launched its Self-Esteem project back in 2004, and has been synonymous with ‘body positive’ messaging. But even they have been prone to marketing slip-ups.

After a run of very successful ‘Real Beauty’ marketing campaigns promoting the acceptance of all body types, Dove launched the ‘Real Beauty Bottles’. The marketing declared that ‘beauty comes in all shapes and sizes’, and so the bottles of body-wash were designed to roughly correlate to a body type.

These included hourglass, pear-shaped, tall, thin, and teardrop. While this was meant to promote multiple body types, many consumers felt Dove was encouraging them to either choose their own body type or even aspire to a certain ‘bottle’. Dove subsequently released this statement:

Dove statement to body shape campaign

Statement from Dove

  • Takeaway: With longer-term campaigns, it’s easy to lose sight of the original message. Over time, messaging can become convoluted, especially if you’re bringing new ideas into the process. Always be mindful of what you are saying, and who you are targeting, at all points during your campaign. The creation of a storyboard and messaging log in the planning stages of the campaign allows you to refer back to the original and overarching message. Also, involving key stakeholders to review stages of the campaign can help keep the whole direction on track, and spot any potentially harmful deviations.
Sian Heaphy5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns
read more