Inspiration

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 take this time to look at what you could and should be doing with your marketing over this festive season

 

1. Little things can tug a lot of heart strings

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

2. Video seems to be pulling some strings too!

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

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

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

4. You should be sending more than just Christmas cards

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

5. Don’t just recycle your wrapping paper!

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

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

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

7. More marketing for your buck

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

8. Stay social in between work socials

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

9. Grab yourself a sherry

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

Have a bright Christmas  

Lydia KirbyMarketing isn’t just for Christmas
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4 marketing activities for companies looking to grow or sell

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Anyone interested in buying your business needs to know that it will continue to grow without you

As well as showing your business will continue to grow, buyers want to see that your sales and marketing teams are fully integrated, key stakeholders are invested, and you can successfully generate new interest as part of an overarching growth plan for your business.

Whether you have an internal team or work side-by-side with a marketing agency or consultancy, you need a clearly defined marketing leadership team driving ideas forward, with their full attention on growth activities.

The next four points look at how agile marketing can bolster business growth – making you more attractive to consumers and potential acquirers.

To hear exclusive insights from industry experts on how to leverage marketing to enable high growth, download our eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator”

1. Plan for growth

Marketing plans are unique to every business.

The first step to developing an effective marketing plan is conducting a market analysis. This not only studies the dynamics of a specific market within a particular industry, it looks at evolving opportunities and threats that relate to your business’s own strengths and weaknesses. For a business looking to sell in the future, part of this is determining who potential acquirers might be.

To get the full benefits of a market analysis, we use this approach:

Performance diagnostic and market perception

First you need to understand your current customers, how they behave, how you are marketing to them and what seems to be working best. It’s also advisable to look at what your competitors doing, and if there are any trends likely to disrupt your efforts.

Objectives

Once you’ve completed your research, the next step is to look at what you need to achieve vs what you want. Optimism is never a bad thing, but we recommend leaning on the side of pragmatism when setting your objectives. Keep in mind the people you are competing with and establish a differentiation between your strategies and theirs. It’s also worth noting what you need to be doing to appeal to buyers in the long-term. You also need to consider how your marketing operation works and if it is agile and adaptable enough to support your business growth plans?

Plan of action

You’ve set your objectives, so now you just need to work out how to make those objectives a reality. If you have a marketing team or agency, use them to create a plan that is agile and focuses on: driving more of your successful activities and introduces new marketing activities in line with your objectives to support growth.

Kick-off:

There’s no time like the present! Brief your marketing and sales teams to implement the new strategy, and off you go – remember to set clear KPI and use data to understand performance by testing, learning and improving as necessary.

As well as optimising your marketing strategy, another benefit of a comprehensive plan is to give buyers confidence in your business. You’re not just thinking about growth, you’ve put in place a structure that allows it to happen – which is far more appealing. And regular reporting and analysis show that marketing efforts are an ingrained part of the business, not just a side show.

2. Stakeholder buy-in

For too long, marketing has been considered the ugly and costly step-child of the business, falling short of the bustling sales and innovative technology departments.

Yet marketing actions have been proven time and again to increase sales, promote and retain customer loyalty, and enable businesses to talk to people who have a genuine interest in their product or offering.

And still, it’s not uncommon for companies to leave marketing and sales to operate as entirely different entities. Which is peculiar, when both are set on the same goal: securing business and driving growth.

To have a successful growth plan, marketing needs to be feeding the top of the funnel for sales to convert further down the pipeline. Having a strong alignment between these two elements can bolster sales efforts by:

  • Generating more leads
  • Shortening sales cycles
  • Retaining more customers
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Forecasting more accurately
  • Implementing continual data driven improvement fuelling growth plans that work.

To achieve these results, both teams need to come together using an agile marketing hub approach to work towards aligned objectives, have complimentary systems and processes, and have strong communication and support from key stakeholders.

This buy-in from stakeholders is not only good for growth, it is also vital from a buyer’s perspective as harmony across the company is significantly more prosperous.

3. Build a pipeline to align your sales and marketing

Research today suggests that the majority of a buyer’s journey is complete before the sales team is engaged. This means there is more onus on marketing to influence a buyer’s decision earlier, especially as individuals are conducting more of their own research. But that doesn’t mean sales is out of the picture.

For customer acquisition and retention, sales and marketing need to become one force. The reason this works is because it responds directly to how the buyer journey has changed. Rather than regurgitating the same tactics, businesses are looking for fresh ideas to drive growth in their sales. Adding value comes from implementing real change, and sometimes this means introducing new processes that align teams that have historically not seen eye to eye.

Clear understanding of the buyer journey, lead management and defined qualification within your pipeline stages does just that.

By instilling the right culture, engaging your people work collaboratively and putting in place a strategy that influences people far beyond your personal network, you are automatically making your business more attractive to not only to prospects and customers, but also to potential buyers.

4. Make music, not noise

There’s a big difference between making noise and making music.

Whilst making noise is a traditional way of attracting attention, when there are over 2 million blog posts published every day, it won’t be enough. This is where marketing can help.

As mentioned above, understanding who your potential acquirers are can greatly impact how you approach your business objectives. Any market analysis should detail your investors’ profiles, identifying the content they read and where they read it, their interests and, in some cases, their dislikes.

To make music that gets the right attention, you want to become visible to possible investors in an authoritative sense. Wherever your investors are reading, that’s where you want your content featured. Whatever they are reading, that’s where you want your name mentioned. You want to get people in their close circles talking about your business, your offerings and the solutions you provide.

In the words of Nate Redmond, managing partner at Rustic Canyon Ventures, “the best companies are bought, not sold. We believe it is important to keep the focus on the long-term horizon until buyers come calling.” This means focusing a small percentage of your time on an exit strategy, but the majority building a real business that can scale.

Putting agile marketing to work to drive growth and acquisition

The above looks at just four ways marketing can help you plan for growth and make your business visible and attractive to potential acquirers. But marketing doesn’t stop there.

Using our unique capabilities and agile marketing methodology, Bright helps build integrated plans that drive success and growth for your business in both the short and long term. We collaborate with key stakeholders, building that bridge between sales and marketing to ensure you can roll out a growth plan that bolsters your business.

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

Zoe Merchant4 marketing activities for companies looking to grow or sell
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Five key branding considerations to ensure M&A success

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Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) play a key strategic role for organisations looking to maintain a competitive advantage in their industry for many years.

However, there are some key steps that must be taken to give these deals the best chance of success, particularly around marketplace positioning and stakeholder engagement. These two factors are heavily influenced by the way an organisation positions its brand.

With this in mind, we’ve identified five brand considerations that an owner or founder should develop as part of their M&A plan in order to support a successful outcome.

1. Develop a brand roadmap

Critical to the success of a merger and acquisition, the fundamentals of a brand transformation must be in-place as early as possible during the process. The best way to do this is to create a clear plan that so that you know how, what and who you need to manage and communicate to during the process. This doesn’t necessarily mean communicating as early on in the process as possible – because that might unnecessarily unsettle staff – but there should be a roadmap that indicates when terms of agreement are expected to be signed and how internal and external stakeholders will be managed at this point.

2. Consider your competitors

An often overlooked, but key consideration to any M&A process, is the reaction that both you and your partner’s competition will have to the news of your merger or acquisition. Not only are you expanding your business offerings and capabilities, but you’re also increasing the competition that you face in your market.

  • How will the competition react?
  • What do you need to do to prepare?
  • Are there any negative aspects of the deal that a competitor might highlight?
  • How will your new offerings compare to theirs?

It’s important to preempt any issues that might arise and proactively communicate the strength of your offering, demonstrating its strength to both your clients and the wider market, whether through media outreach, digital marketing channels, direct marketing campaigns and events.

3. Consider your clients

No matter its size, audience, history or demographic, a company will always be defined by its actions, not its words. How a company engages with its clients shows what it truly represents. You must think carefully about how you communicate with both existing and future clients. There are often many different segments within a client base, and communicating with them all individually demonstrates sensitivity to their specific needs. The M&A process affords you the opportunity to make a statement with your new brand and enhance the service you deliver, creating new and unique value. 

4. Define a vision for your employees

During the M&A process, it’s vital to establish a position about the new brand that gives employees something to engage with and believe in. When it comes to defining your brand vision, remember that for employees, a brand is often an emotional trigger. If you’re asking them to walk away from something they helped to build, you need to give them something to walk towards that is equally, if not more, compelling.

5. Communicate your message

It is important to create a consistent narrative to help your stakeholders understand what a deal means to them, both in the short and long term. You need to have clearly defined messaging for all of your audiences, from your future and current clients, to your investors and your employees. For example, both your employees and clients will be concerned about consistency and disruption to the business, but perhaps for different reasons. Employees will be primarily concerned with job security and culture, whereas clients are more likely to be concerned about quality of service. Your messaging will need to reflect these nuances.

Branding plays an undervalued role in the success of the M&A process, and communication is key to brand success, both internally and externally. This falls under the scope of a skilled and experienced marketing team, something that is often beyond the capabilities of most in-house resources. By working with a strategic marketing consultancy you gain access to a wide range of skilled industry experts, allowing you to focus on building your business and becoming an attractive M&A opportunity.

Zoe MerchantFive key branding considerations to ensure M&A success
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Three ways to promote your B2B business on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is by far the most important social network for reaching out to prospective clients and connecting with professionals. Therefore, one needs to have a strong process in place in order to establish thought leadership, conduct market research and build online communities.

According to the ‘State of B2B Social Media Marketing 2015,’ not only do 91% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, but 80% of all B2B social media leads come from the social network itself. It’s important that businesses keep these statistics in mind, and give LinkedIn the attention it demands. But what is the best way to promote your B2B business on LinkedIn?

You will need to have created a separate business profile in order to showcase your company (rather than just a single employee). Your company page represents your organisation as a brand and helps in building and establishing your credibility – it is also vital for talent requirement.

Having tried and tested various methods over the past 4 months, I have chosen my favourite 3 top tips to promote your B2B business, which I think are the most beneficial:

1. Update frequently

I would recommend using your company LinkedIn page more frequently than expected, I suggest posting 1 to 2 times a week. Any special news or completions of projects should be shared with the LinkedIn network as soon as possible to display that your business is moving forward.

Keeping potential customers updated with the progression of your company will help to reassure them that you are worth putting their money into.

2. Encourage employee interaction

There is nothing worse than spending time and energy creating a LinkedIn post that gets minimal likes, comments or shares. In order to increase the influence of your company page, you need get your staff members on board.

It is very important for employees to interact with the posts that are being sent out each week. They should share the articles and push them out to their own connections.

If a potential lead sees that your company page is followed by professionals with skills and experience, then your credibility will become more solid, increasing the potential of a new client.

Ensure that your team know how important their engagement is and encourage them to like and share relevant content.

3. Build a multimedia profile

Have you ever looked at a LinkedIn profile and lost interest the moment you laid eyes on it due to the huge chunk of text the user expects you to read? To instantly stand out, you need to build a visual profile.

Your personal page is just as important as your business page, LinkedIn allows you to include photos, videos and even presentations to set you apart from your competitors. Add in any projects you are currently working on, or, if possible, publish the work you have written to show off your talents. This will provide prospective clients with visual examples of what your company has to offer.

Not only does this tactic showcase your business, it also makes your profile look far better and makes you seem like a more approachable person. Win win.

The example is from our very own, Zoë Merchant, Managing Director of Bright, she displays a good example of how to engage your prospects through LinkedIn.

There are many ways to promote your business using LinkedIn, the three methods mentioned are tips to get you started that will not take long.

Contact the Bright Team to see how we can help you further optimise your social platforms for best results.

Zoe MerchantThree ways to promote your B2B business on LinkedIn
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3 key google analytics tips to impress your boss

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In this blog, I will take you through the 3 best analytics tips I’ve been given to track website performance and impress your boss. Make good use of them.

Tip 1: Customised dashboards

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with data from Google Analytics but your colleagues are still expecting you to create amazing reports, to share analysis with them and to spot opportunities or issues. Relatively unknown but very useful, Google Analytics offers customised dashboard to help you monitor your performance.

You can easily use customised dashboards for social media, for SEO, traffic acquisition, branding and content marketing…  You just need to have a look and choose what you need.

They are free and accessible in just a click. Since every business is different, the monitoring objectives are, so you will need to make some changes or get inspired to develop your ideal table edge.

1. Select the customised dashboard you want (you can also use the search bar to look for relevant terms)

2. Click Import

3. Select the website you want to monitor (in select a view)

4. Click create

Tip 2: Customised alerts

It can also be frustrating not to be instantly aware of what happens in real-time on your website. You cannot afford to spend every minute of your day on Google Analytics trying to to spot unusual behaviours. The ability to spot in real time a particularly successful campaign or an issue could be invaluable

After identifying the key performance indicators, you can associate a tolerance level to be told when there is an unusual behaviour on your website. Whenever the tolerance level is reached, Google Analytics will notify you and you can take the required actions to change the situation.

1. Click on Admin

2. Under View, click on “Custom alerts”

3. Click New alert

4. Create your alert and click save

Get some inspiration with the 5 examples of customised alerts by Google

Tip 3: Send reports automatically

After building multiple dashboards that will respond to your needs, you can easily share these reports with your colleagues.

Google Analytics provides automated emails for your reports so that you can you all have a shared vision of your website performance.

1. On each dashboard, click on email

2. Complete the pop-up with

  • The recipient
  • The frequency
  • The format

(if the structure of the dashboard were to be changed, the next report will automatically adjust to the new structure)

Sian Heaphy3 key google analytics tips to impress your boss
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Using agile marketing to drive rapid results

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Agile marketing is a methodology based on continual improvement to maximise results and return from marketing effort and investment. Bright wanted to share our experiences of working in this new way with senior executives from tech firms and get their perspective on how marketing can underpin business growth, so we hosted a dinner in July 2015.

How tech and consulting firms are using agile marketing to drive success

The dinner was attended by business leaders and entrepreneurs from various consulting and tech firms including TCSBCGCommonMS and Attenda.

At the event, held in a private dinning room at Jason Atherton’s beautiful Berners Tavern restaurant, Bright introduced how agile marketing is designed to explore ideas, create marketing messages, establish tactics and execute fast, so each element can be validated, measured and improved in market.

Mike Altendorf, investor, columnist and non-exec & advisor

Mike Altendorf – guest, investor, columnist, non-exec & advisor commented “These days effective marketing is critical for businesses of all sizes but the pace of change is so fast these days that to be effective it has to be agile. The days of five-year plans and 12-month product launch timelines are long gone. These days it is about speed, responsiveness, relevance and accountability.”

Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx

Bright Innovation invited clients to join the dinner to talk about their experiences of MVM in action. First up was Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx, a leading innovation consultancy talking about the heritage behind agile, explaining how Minimum Viable Product and lean methods has changed the manufacturing industry and how effective it can be to apply those same ideas to marketing services to get the best outcome and reduce wastage.

Richard highlighted how Fluxx has benefited from rapidly consolidating its market position through a robust marketing mix with each element being proven and built on to support ambitious business growth. Fluxx has had excellent results through the consistency of communication and original content that is a key part of the marketing programme combined with exclusive events that underpin it’s brand building with the right audience.

Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group

This was followed by discussions with Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group, a global logistics consultancy, who have transformed not just their brand but also its approach demand generation and how they work with Alliance partners.

Through working with Bright and an agile approach to marketing Flo Group have created a strong and differentiated brand, established successful demand generation campaigns that support its sales pipeline and growth targets plus built a strong event presence at key trade shows and conferences across EMEA.

Flo Group has also benefited from improvements to its strategy to Alliance partnerships and has secured significant funding for marketing through its proven approach to demand generation.

Lively discussions accompanied the dinner and explored how agile marketing can support business goals with key focus on how high growth consulting and tech firms can exploit this new way of working.

The three key pillars of marketing

The combined focus on the three key pillars of marketing a modern business should focus efforts around to quickly brand build, create demand and secure talent into ambitious firms was supported by the results of the marketing investment Fluxx and Flo Group have achieved.

Izzy Fox, Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital

Izzy Fox – guest and Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital commented “The start-ups we work with are coming out of an environment in which there is no distinction between digital and non-digital. They expect to be able to take their story out across any channel, at any time and to be continually responding to feedback in the market to adjust and rework products and services and how they market them. The old segmented, inflexible and siloed approach just doesn’t fit into the world we now operate in.”

Agile marketing brings a fresh approach that firms can take advantage of to secure results from marketing and gain a greater understanding of what works best with key audiences.

Zoe MerchantUsing agile marketing to drive rapid results
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Let’s talk about inspiring leadership

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

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

Let’s focus on you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where I have come from helps me find my direction

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

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

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

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

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

Where are your key achievements and learnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julie Provino, Founder of VeryHR

Zoe MerchantLet’s talk about inspiring leadership
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