Agile in action: Transforming events at pace

How to create virtual experiences that deliver on business goals

During this current Covid-19 crisis, we’re all at home, all facing the same challenge of having to quickly adapt our business practices and processes for remote working, whilst maintaining communication with our teams, suppliers and wider ecosystems. This all calls for increased focus on marketing, a tool that’s now more vital to your long-term business success than before. To safeguard your pipeline and strengthen your brand throughout the outbreak’s disruption, you need to maintain momentum — business as usual is simply not an option.  Our new reality demands more creative ways to engage, share knowledge and build relationships online.

Rethinking the webinar

Virtual experiences and events have come a long way in the last few years and are now a valuable tool for building and maintaining engagement and driving revenue. But marketers need to think differently and creatively about virtual events today. Don’t just try to recreate a physical experience. Carefully and consistently promote your event, and once you have a captive audience, incorporate networking and knowledge sharing throughout the event. The tools and tactics aren’t important — be clear on the value for the customer, what they gain from engaging in your experience or event. Be compelling. Be a must-attend.

And there’s no reason to hesitate. Marketers can get on with promotion and delegate recruitment for an event long before the technicalities or hosting tool have been determined. Tool selection and testing can happen alongside promotion — so why wait?

Keeping content fresh

Mix up formats or scale events up or down. Blend large, livestreamed keynote speeches with canned content, or intimate expert QA and panel discussions with coaching and interactive working sessions. Whether your event is large or small, informal networking coffee breaks or special interest groups are all possible and make for a more compelling experience. And, you can get more bang for your buck if you record and reuse your event’s content for your social media channels and audiences.

Strive to create a fully immersive experience with storytelling. Asking the audience to play a role and actively participate in the event is a great way to land complex messages. Inviting participants to drive and engage with the content their own way in their own time also raises the likelihood of your content being consumed. 80% of content within an interactive experience is digested and gamification makes delivering messages fun and products and solutions competitive. These experiences can be part of the promotion as well as the event itself.

Now, more than ever, we need to be inventive in how we engage our audiences. We’ve been building an immersive experience to connect with our remote audiences that offers a new, exciting way to digest our content — and gives us plenty of data to continually improve our content.

Adel Du Toit, Head of User Experience and Digital Experiences at Boston Consulting Group

Top 10 ways to cut through the noise

Tick off this list to get your event or experience up and running quickly

  1. Value proposition: Create a strong value proposition for your event. Clearly state that your event is virtual and convey that it’s a good use of their time — what edge will it give them?
  2. Be agile: Test, learn and build on your success to engage and build your audience. Try out new tools and tactics or tackle new markets you’ve not considered before. Get started with an agile approach to marketing
  3. Nurture: Don’t forget to keep your delegates warm prior to the event. Tease new speakers, content or networking opportunities to get them energised
  4. Launch a preview: Show them what the experience will be like to encourage engagement before the event
  5. Don’t get stuck on the tools: You can start developing and promoting an event to gauge interest and engagement whilst you decide on whether you can use your existing tools or will need to invest in new tech
  6. Exclusive access: Use restricted or limited offers of access to subject matter experts or thought leaders in the field as a compelling call-to-action. These can be delivered through one-to-one live video chats and are a proven way to get sign-ups
  7. Book a meeting: If now isn’t a good time to talk, offer a call-back slot with a member of your sales team
  8. Be prepared: Make sure you rehearse. Everyone needs to be comfortable with using the event software and available features. Upskill your team, show you’re available and make sure your event is fully staffed — don’t leave people waiting for an answer in an online chat
  9. Be interactive: Poll your delegates and invite attendees to send questions pre-event to keep things really relevant and topical and avoid the dreaded question-answer lag during a keynote. Blend immersive and video content to maintain pace and excitement
  10. Be data driven: A virtual event or experience opens up data and insight across the buyer journey. Make sure your team knows how to analyse and use data to make informed changes to the promotion, or during the live event, to maximise engagement and conversion.

Consider your audience

Make sure you don’t move your physical event online without taking time to pinpoint your audience’s needs. Be sure to localise your content for your target audience, taking into account language and cultural differences, such as UK vs US English.

Be aware that their attention spans will inevitably decrease once online, but there’s a vast range of interactive tools available for keeping them interested. You can even use real-time data to better understand your engagement rate. During the event, tell your speakers to speed up or change tactics to minimise the risk of audience drop-off.

Making the most of your virtual experience

Now that everyone is at home, there are many benefits to well thought-out virtual events and experiences:

  • Global reach: Your virtual event will instantly become a global event. Plan for that, taking into consideration all audiences that may be compelled to join
  • Intent data: Build profiles based on content users who have engaged with your event to accurately track and predict their buying signals in the future
  • Behavioural tracking: Create more informed sales conversations using your built profiles
  • Lasting content: Host the event for a day, then allow users to access the content for weeks after, all whilst you build your pipeline
  • Warm pipeline: This all adds up to an engaged database of target contacts — just what your business needs to reach your long-term goals

Standing out from the crowd

There’s no doubt that this crisis will have a long-lasting impact on marketing and business in general. In these times of market uncertainty, the ability to adapt and create virtual experiences that are multifaceted and dynamic — not just broadcasted events — will be essential today and tomorrow for ensuring a more sustainable future for your marketing. Many of your peers are already out there pushing traditional webinars, so you’ll have to get creative to stand out and make some noise. In reality, you can’t completely replicate the in-person networking experience, but you can come close by building a global community in your virtual event. Through immersive storytelling, interactive QAs, and fresh content, you’ll unlock engagement and drive business opportunities for a brighter future.

Need some inspiration? Sign up for our Agile Marketing Club to see what an immersive virtual event looks like.

Credit to the fantastic team at TECHNIA for the image from their PLM Innovation Forum virtual event (launching on the 28th April), who had the vision for a sustainable event before Covid-19 forced the events world to pivot.

Outlast this outbreak with more Bright tips. See our guides to Working from Home and Supporting your Immune System.

Lydia KirbyAgile in action: Transforming events at pace
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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. Join our upcoming 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, stay tuned for our next post on Pivoting your marketing to deliver on business goals.

Charlotte FellowsThe ultimate working-from-home survival guide
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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
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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
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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
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The Power of Storytelling

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Storytelling. It’s an art and a powerful business tactic.

According to Robert McKee – author, lecturer and story consultant, 

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world” 

And he’s right. Stories, when told well, are capable of influencing your audience’s motivations, emotions and psychology. More so than brand linkage and logical persuasion techniques. They are more powerful than statistics, more compelling than business-case arguments and more memorable than facts. 

And whilst the B2B world has been met with resistance when it comes to adopting a more emotionally-driven form of marketing, evidence suggests that B2B businesses have much to gain from taking on a more humanised approach. 

Much of this resistance is based upon an assumption that the decision-making process of potential B2B clients and customers is analytical, slow and rational. B2C on the other hand are afforded the more emotionally evocative content – a style that suits the intuitive, involuntary and perceptual decision-making of your average consumer. But studies are beginning to show a different story… 

Whilst the buying cycle remains distinct for B2C vs B2B, the people you’re talking to are not so different. Put simply, business people are still people. They just happen to be at work. 

And just because they work doesn’t mean they suddenly enjoy being bombarded with emails after direct mail after LinkedIn InMail, littered with business lexicons, unnecessarily complex terminology and unexciting propositions.

People generally like to feel important, don’t like their time being wasted and love being entertained – regardless of being at work or chilling at home. But being entertained in the B2C world – Shetland pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac – and entertaining in the B2B arena are different kettles of fish entirely.

B2B storytelling in practice: 

Storytelling in B2B is about evoking the right emotion within a business remit. Rather than focusing on humour, nostalgia and sadness, conjure feelings of trust, reliability, credibility and a sense of partnership. Storytelling is particularly well placed when your offering or service is complex and hard to rationalise in a handful of words.

Hewitt Packard (HP) 2017 advert – featuring the rather sinister Christin Slater – is a fine example of the data / technology industry using storytelling to remove themselves from the overly techie language and imagery that often plague B2B campaigns. It’s bold, engaging, cinematic, it has B2C written all over it – but it works. 

It works because it has taken a run-of-the-mill subject matter and completely flipped it on its head. Rather than taking a predictable route, this 6-minute advert is fronted by a recognisable personality who leads you through a dark and witty narrative. It credits its audience with intelligence and lets them draw their own conclusion – making the content far more engaging and leaving the viewer feeling positive about their interaction. Brilliant. 

Making the individual feel positive about their engagement with your brand is paramount to making B2B storytelling work. Research from CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and Google found that when B2B purchasers saw personal value or opportunity, they are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service. They also conclusively showed that emotionally-led marketing is more effective at driving decision-making in B2B – more so than in B2C marketing. 

How do you start telling your story? 

Bright is the consultancy inspiring businesses to tell their story and communicate the right message at the right time to the right people. We specialise in bringing together strategy, content, communications and delivery to create tailored marketing programmes that drive sustained growth and support business leaders in delivering on their objectives.

We do this by completing an initial diagnostic of your business to measure your current marketing effectiveness. Depending on your business objectives and marketing maturity, we would recommend a messaging workshop to better understand who your target audience is, what their pain points are and what style of content will best resonate with them. We also explore your industry’s challenges, looking at how your product or service can help solve these challenges and building a story around these components to better engage with your audience.

Your story will drive growth and demand.

Your audience just haven’t heard it yet.

Get in touch to book a meeting and start telling your story today. 

Zoe MerchantThe Power of Storytelling
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Taking time for inspiration…

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One of the hardest things about running a business is finding the time to explore. When you think about taking some time out to just listen or read you have to battle the little voice in your head that tells you that you should be doing something ‘more productive’. There is new business to be secured, finances to angst over and a million other operational things that you can’t help but feel you ought to be doing. The thing is if you are not occasionally taking the time out to discover new things then you are depriving the business of the very things that will ensure your customers keep coming back for more.

Last Friday I took a day out to attend the inaugural ‘Confluence.’ This was an event that was all about stories and the many and varied ways in which they can be told. At the heart of it, the marketing and communications business is all about stories. Whether it’s building compelling narratives that will attract and retain customers or engaging employees to make sure they come with you on your transformation journey, everything is built around stories and our ability to tell them.

There were some exceptional speakers but my three favourites (in no particular order) were Candide Kirk, Founder and Head of Product Design at Novellic, Director, and writer Nosa Eke and Adipat Virdi, Digital Strategist and interactive storyteller. From Candide, I learnt a huge amount about increasing discoverability; Nosa was all about the power of a multi-platform approach while Adipat was inspirational around the power of storytelling to do good.

So in the name of paying things forward, here are the five most useful things I learnt from my Friday at the almost too funky Google HQ in Victoria:

1.

Sometimes what you don’t like is more important than what you like: Apparently, Tinder takes more from your swipes to the left than it does from your swipes to the right and uses what you dismiss to build a picture of what you might like. This approach is being adopted more and more because…

2.

Your statements about what you like are often different from reality. This is why smart platforms online are far more interested in your actions rather than your words. Candide used the example of Novellic where she compared the types of books that people chose when asked to select their ‘type’ and compared it to what they actually searched for. Apparently, a lot of people who claim to be into 20th Century literary classics and really into whodunnits and trashy romance…

3.

People will generally pay what something is worth. There was an interesting talk by Katie Vanneck Smith and Dominic Young about different approaches to selling content on the web. Traditional subscription models essentially mean you are paying for a whole pie when you might only want a slice. Micropayments allow you to pay for the slice while a more traditional membership approach brings the added benefit of bringing you into a like-minded community

4.

What you see depends on who you are – even if you are looking at the same thing. I was surprised to learn that Netflix will show you a different image to promote a programme or film depending on your profile. If you took the movie Titanic for example; if your profile suggests you like action adventure you might see an image of the ship sinking but if romance is more your thing then its Jack and Rose all the way. This might not surprise some people but to me, it was a reminder of just how clever and sophisticated these platforms have become

5.

Completeness is often the key to discoverability. It is very tempting when you are completing the profile forms to set up on a platform just to focus on the compulsory stuff and ignore the optional. This is a mistake apparently. The more a platform knows about you the greater the value you hold. Also, platforms value different pieces of information differently so you need to maximise your chances of giving it the bit of information that it cares about.

Zoe MerchantTaking time for inspiration…
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Data…Data everywhere. What’s the right way to approach your reporting?

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Digital marketers are experiencing an “issue” at the moment. We have a substantial amount of data to analyse and use to our benefit. Definitely not a bad problem to have, as you would much rather have too much data than not enough.

Taking Google Analytics as an example, GA has a staggering 150 default metrics, which can be viewed through over 100 various dimensions. That is just the default settings, and does not include any advanced views, filters or implementations you may well want to setup.

Looking at social media, Facebook analytics exports a whopping seven spreadsheets with over ten columns of data, while Twitter analytics exports include up to forty columns of data.

That’s a lot of data to sift through! This can make it exceptionally difficult to choose one, or even a few, KPIs to really focus on.

You would think having access to such a wide range of data would make our marketing strategies easier, and this is generally true for larger companies who are able to outsource their data analysis to data science experts. These companies have indeed prospered, but the smaller businesses tend to struggle with where to start with this seemingly insurmountable mound of data.

In smaller businesses, resources tend to be much tighter and the luxury of spare time is sparse. The result of this is that employees don’t tend to digest the data, explore trends and ask questions. Instead, employees get into a routine of running the same reports over and over on a monthly basis, while not gaining much insight into what value the data at hand provides.

This is more common than not among small businesses, but there are steps and mindset changes one can take on to streamline your data reporting, to allow you more time to be inquisitive and find the value needed for your marketing strategies.

Marketing analytics is not rocket science, so don’t treat it as such.

Take A/B testing, also known as split-run testing, for example. It’s been around for what feels like decades now!

Have some ideas on how to improve your email? Go ahead and test it using various test buckets. Looks like our audience prefer our teal button more than our yellow button, great! How about our landing pages? Can we AB test our hero banner? Sure, why not. Let’s nail down what our audience responds best to.

Does A/B testing really represent how your customers respond generally, or just in that current moment they received your content? It’s difficult to tell and is why A/B testing can be so frustrating at times.

The results of the tests can often be inconclusive. Sometimes your test sample is too small to have a statistical weight behind it to make these difficult decisions. Other times, there are factors which are out of your control, that might influence your results, like a website loading speed issue.

The point here, is that A/B testing, or any other form of testing, may not yield the results for what works best from a marketing perspective. Having a controlled environment, like any scientific test, is paramount to obtaining an accurate depiction of your results. However, in Digital Marketing, controlled environments are few and far between.

These methods should not be discarded by any means, but we also need to be cautious when implementing them, because again, marketing is anything but a controlled environment.

Some metrics matter, others don’t.

Now back to those ridiculously large social media analytic reports. Here’s the honest truth: I rarely use even 50% of those metrics. Why?

Well, to begin with, it’s important you know what you are gaining value from when looking at these reports. Many metrics are just slight variations of themselves, or sometimes have very convoluted definitions as to what those metrics are. If they are too similar, or too vague I omit them from my report.

The fear of missing out is the real crux of the issue here. FOMO again.

Reporting on every metric available, due to fear of missing out on something, isn’t the best strategy, because it clouds the real valuable metrics. If a metric isn’t valuable, don’t use it, as it’s only going to make it more difficult for you to spot relevant trends in your data.

Just keep in mind that platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, although they provide you with endless amounts of data to sift through, only you and your business can know what’s really important.

It’s about the ingredients, not the meal.

Before you start cooking up an analytics report, think about the value you are hoping to find in the data. Play devil’s advocate and ask yourself what results you would expect to see if your initial conclusions were wrong.

In doing this, you’ll be much better suited to finding patterns and trends you may not have spotted with your initial conclusion-based approach.

Stop searching for the right answers, and look for the right questions

Question yourself, your approach and your data regularly. If you feel you’re eventually questioning everything, don’t be overwhelmed. You’re doing it right.

The world is changing constantly, along with the platforms we use and HOW we use them. Your perceived concept of the “right answers” may be true one day, and wrong the next.

Keep adapting and be open to change.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned working with digital marketing data, it’s that you have to be a perpetual sceptic. Of the metrics, of your reporting, of yourself.

Sian HeaphyData…Data everywhere. What’s the right way to approach your reporting?
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Marketing isn’t just for Christmas

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Whilst ’tis the season for brands to splash the cash on fancy holiday-themed adverts, we wanted to take this time to look at what you could / 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  

Zoe MerchantMarketing isn’t just for Christmas
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Agile marketing in the B2B space

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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 agencies such as Bright Innovation 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.


  

Our Minimum Viable Marketing methodology also has agile at the heart of it, meaning we pick up all the testing, adjusting, 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 our agile methods and 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: hello@brightinnovation.co.uk

*https://mashable.com/2017/08/07/3-billion-global-social-media-users/?europe=true
**http://www.agilesherpas.com/state-agile-marketing-2018/

 

Zoe MerchantAgile marketing in the B2B space
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