Leading Change

Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Networks help businesses survive. Getting the clients you don’t know, that’s how businesses thrive 

Marketing acts as a business accelerator by reinforcing sales efforts to push beyond existing networks and generate a new pipeline of quality leads. Your personal network will help your business survive but seeking clients beyond this will enable your business to thrive. Here are four ways agile marketing will help you achieve growth.  

1.  Refine your value proposition 

It doesn’t matter how amazing your offering is, if the messaging to present this to the market doesn’t instantly catch your target audience’s attention, then you’ve lost them without even showing your work. A value proposition is a promise of value and is arguably the most important part of your overall marketing messaging. This needs to be a clear statement that tells prospects why they should invest in you. 

Nobody wants the first thing they read about a brand to be a long-winded evaluation of something unrelated to the core offerings. People want to know how you’ll save them time or money, or where they can find some tasty chicken. And that’s why the following brands have thrived. 

Use Uber and you’ll get a ‘ride at the touch of a button’. Choose L’Oreal because ‘you’re worth it’. Head to the KFC, and you know you’ll leave with a ‘finger licking good’ meal. 

All these brands have spent time clearly defining their product or service offering. They have developed a unique value proposition, branded it, marketed it, and capitalised on it. All things that fall into a marketer’s remit In in the words of Kevin Hochman, brand president and chief concept officer for KFC: “When Kentucky Fried Chicken was at its best and growing the fastest, the Colonel and his values were at the centre of everything we did. … Those values are critical to what makes Kentucky Fried Chicken so great.” 

But what happens when your business has a little more meat on the bones and can’t be served deep fried in a bucket? 

“Marketing is invaluable in helping businesses to explain their services concisely, so that someone easily understands what you do and why they should buy from you – which is of course key to helping your business grow” – Steve Anderson, Managing Partner at Capitalise. 

In short, take time defining the values that make your business such a tempting service – it’s what separates you from your competition. Once established, amplify your value proposition to targeted prospects in a way that resonates with them long after they’ve engaged. In doing so, you’ll remove unnecessary hurdles and instead, give them every reason to invest. 

Read more analysis from industry experts in our eBook:  “Marketing as an accelerator” 

2.  Build a pipeline 

Less is sometimes more – even in the world of business. 

Forrester – a market research company – found that 99% of leads never convert to customers. While high numbers look impressive on paper, sales need revenue, not thousands of cold leads in the top of a funnel. This shift from quantity to quality in the B2B space is what prompted the evolution from lead generation to pipeline marketing and now maximisation of customer lifetime value. 

Rather than focusing on generating new leads, pipeline marketing concentrates on delivering customers. It does this by aligning marketing and sales’ decision making and goals with revenue generation – not campaign diagnostics. 

The pipeline approach is about specifically targeting the customers you want, and those who will benefit from your offering, rather than exhausting your efforts on everybody who owns a computer or email account. Paul Beaumont, Growth Director at Equiteq, views the pipeline as an extension of the value proposition; “once you’ve defined the value your business offers, you can be clear about the clients you’ll market to, and your messaging”.  

It’s also worth noting that when it comes to lead prospecting, the more successful businesses don’t buy their fuel from the pump. They also don’t rely solely on personal networks. Instead, they build and nurture a pipeline to maintain velocity in their sales stream. They keep their database up to date, too.  

According to LeadGenius data, more than one-third of a business’s contacts become outdated each year, with data becoming dormant at a rate of more than three percent each month. While GDPR gave companies a good reason to audit their database, cleaning data is a necessary evil that needs to be completed regularly. Not only does it keep marketing and sales efforts meaningful, it allows you to effectively monitor the health of your sales life cycle and tweak where necessary. 

3.  Establish your brand – inside and out 

While consistency in external-facing work is self-explanatory, internal marketing is just as important when it comes to sales. Why? It’s about recognising the foundations of your business, building a brand on those values and remaining true to these as you grow. 

  • It establishes a powerful emotional connection between your team and your products/services 
  • It creates staff loyalty, as you’ll give them a reason to buy into the company vision 
  • Without that connection, it’s likely your employees will undermine the expectations set by your advertising 

It’s often easier to live and breathe certain company’s values when these have remained mostly unchanged during a company’s history. However, when a company experiences a fundamental change (new management, acquisition, new team structure, etc.) most experience some form of internal resistance. 

Few people like change, and during this time, employees will be seeking direction from senior employees. Seniors on the other hand will be hoping to squash unproductive rumourmongering. These turning points are ideal opportunities for an internal branding campaign to direct people’s energy in a positive direction, to harbour a consistency of thinking across the business and to vividly articulate the value proposition. 

4.  Attract buyers 

If your company is already making the right noise in the marketplace, it’s likely buyers will come to you with interest. But this is just the first hurdle. 

Buyers often make judgements based on first impressions and gut instincts. Expect this and ensure the complexities of your business’s “story” are captured in marketing materials – not just the financial statements. Without presenting a strong narrative, buyers are unable to understand that last’s year numbers were down because a squirrel caused a company-wide blackout, costing the company in downtime –  it happens more than you think. 

Mike Altendorf notes, “buyers will often look for businesses that have an effective and proven marketing strategy and delivery model – but it’s also key to attracting the attention of the buyer in the first place.” 

Another important factor for buyers is the longevity of the business they’re about to buy. This includes having confidence in revenue streams and staff retention. 

A company is far more attractive to a potential buyer when their bottom line doesn’t depend on only one or two large clients. Having a holistic marketing strategy in place shows that you have considered activities that drive growth and new business opportunities. Using an agile marketing approach shows alignment between your marketing and sales team – a task your new investors will not have to orchestrate. A healthy pipeline is equally influential as it will demonstrate movement in the sales stream and pinpoint successful tactics to build on. 

Strong internal branding and communication can also bring confidence to investors, as employees are more likely to be loyal to the brand, rather than to individuals. This is important because potential buyers need to know that key employees won’t jump ship after a sale, and that the business is capable of growing with new management or in your absence. 

Accelerate with agile marketing  

Using our unique capabilities and agile marketing methodology, Bright helps build integrated campaigns and marketing transformation projects that drive success for your business in both the short and long term. We enable businesses to accelerate growth quickly and profitably — triggering a positive impact, without the disruption. 

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

Elliot MundinFour ways agile marketing accelerates company growth
read more

Are you getting through?

Are you getting through?

Critical success factors at the sharp end of communication

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

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

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

Don’t stop communicating

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

Never speculate

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

Show empathy

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

Take the information to the people

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

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

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

Build in agility

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

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

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

Alexandra JefferiesAre you getting through?
read more

Is the honeymoon over for WFH?

Is the honeymoon over for WFH?

Craving the office just a little bit? Some tips for getting back into the WFH groove

Most of us have now been working from home since early March and with the future looking uncertain on how office life moves forward, some people are finding the WFH honeymoon almost over. With communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom trying to keep us excited with new backgrounds and functionalities, it still seems to be getting a bit much. People are craving human interaction with colleagues.

Finding the balance to ensure productivity and a happy home life is hard, especially when we are so restricted on social aspects and juggling teaching children with a full-time job and trying to protect our more vulnerable nearest and dearest by keeping ourselves to ourselves. The norm would take the teaching kids out of the equation or have us leaving the house in the evening to go for a relaxing drink or a family dinner, while currently, we eat sleep and breath office surroundings in the comfort of our own homes.

Here are some top tips on how you can keep productive, healthy and sane whilst WFH:

Keep on moving:

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again, exercise is oh so important and helps heaps with keeping your brain productive and sleep patterns in check. Staying in the house day in, day out is hard and going for a 20-minute run at lunch or putting on a home workout video helps refresh your mind and breaks up the day. Keep moving. We know it’s hard but try and get yourself into a routine and join a fitness tracking app – it’s a great way to keep motivated when seeing your friends and colleagues do the same and can get a bit competitive, which is always healthy!

Draw a line between your desk and home life:

If you can, keep your desk separate from your home life. This can really help but understandably, isn’t possible for everyone. If you don’t switch off, your productivity will suffer and even though you are working longer hours, your quality of work may take a hit.

Stay organised and don’t give up:

Being organised is a well-desired trait and some of us don’t have that gift, but since the pandemic, we have had to adapt overnight and ensure we are planning, staying efficient and keeping our to-do lists ticked. Don’t give up – spend some time before or after work setting out the day ahead. Take five minutes to formulate a to-do list, tidy your workspace and get ahead. No one wants to start the day in a flap with no plan, don’t make it harder for yourself to stay productive. There is some great tech out there to help with that or a good old notebook and pen is sufficient!

Children need attention, and that’s ok:

Companies understand we are in a parallel world right now and having a full-time job working and educating your offspring is hard. Don’t beat yourself up if they only spent half the day learning and the other half watching Moana – it’s to be expected. There are lots of free online tools out there to help support with this balance and a lot of teachers are keen to supply extra activities and worksheets – so don’t be afraid to ask for the help. No one is judging you.

Be creative:

Take on a hobby to help you zone out from the one or two jobs you may be juggling. Who knows, you may even find something you’re really good at. I pretty much think I’m Monet now with the 2 paintings I completed in lockdown and my colleagues have just purchased a pottery making kit to start creating ceramics from home, so we are expecting to see video evidence of the iconic scene from Ghost make an appearance soon!

Ghost GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

There is such a thing as brain food:

It’s hard to do all the above and still have an ounce of energy to keep on top of your health – we get that. But brain food does exist and the healthier foods you eat – the more energy you will have and the easier it will be to stay on track with the WFH life. Don’t get us wrong, a takeout here and there is the only way through the new life of no eating out. It’s balance you want to focus on. So, enjoy that kebab on a Friday night because you worked hard all week and you deserve it. It’s guilt-free.

This pandemic has challenged us all in more ways than one but staying positive and not putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure is as important as that to-do list you have sitting in front of you. There is light at the end of the tunnel! To read more check out our ultimate guide on working from home.

Chloe EmmersonIs the honeymoon over for WFH?
read more

5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns

5 mistakes that well-known brands made in marketing campaigns

Marketing is a delicate beast at times.

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

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

EA’s knuckleduster giveaway for the Godfather II

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

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

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

Knuckledusters in wrapping

As featured in Engadget

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

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

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

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

Email response from jawbone

A response to the email campaign on Twitter

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

Kendall Jenner, protesters, police and Pepsi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan complaint against Burger King

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dove statement to body shape campaign

Statement from Dove

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

Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

When marketing in a dynamic space, such as tech products, subscription, or consulting services, you have to find ways to stand out and differentiate in order to engage your target audiences. Common sense indeed, but often hard to achieve when markets move at pace. In such dynamic environments, business leadership need to understand how marketing is; and can contribute to achieving business goals. What questions need to be asked to explore the real value of your marketing investment in order to determine if your marketing is fit for purpose? Is your marketing nimble enough to take advantage of ever-shifting markets and different audience needs? Can traditional techniques help you rapidly exploit new opportunities before your competition does? Does your marketing team measure, learn and improve in everything it does?  And can your operating methods balance these competing demands at scale?

B2B marketing now hinges on your ability to execute with agility and pace. This means you need to deep dive into the data to understand performance across a number of dimensions. What’s more, you have to be strategic enough to use that knowledge for driving improvements.

Transform marketing and drive business goals

Forward thinking organisations are looking at how they work more effectively as well as the outcomes they deliver. Agile marketing is a whole new way of working. Well-deployed agile marketing is a thing of beauty; with continually improving harmonious messaging and outreach integrated via the right tools and channels to engage your audience. It’s measurable and results focused to align and contribute to business outcomes, build pipeline and sales. It also builds reputation and strong brands that attract the right talent to your team and creates really compelling (not yawn-worthy) propositions that engage your key audiences.

The best part – it’s data-driven, not fluffy, not led by gut instinct, and not ambiguous. Agile marketing allows you to test hypothesis and is based on measurement and KPIs that inform every action taken.

Mobilising agile marketing

Let’s examine what it takes to move your marketing towards a more agile model, how to avoid some common mistakes and what it means in reality:

Measure and be smart

B2B marketing needs to be personal and relevant. It also needs to be measurable there is no room for fluffy ill-defined marketing tactics that don’t show a business outcome. Your starting point is to focus on persona development and user stories for your target audience. Combined with clearly defined and understood sales stages and understanding what a buyer needs from your organisation at each stage. You also need a good understanding of what’s trending in your markets, what’s important to your decision makers and this has to be continually updated. Bring all this together (prospect, market and sales stage data) to inform and iterate your messaging, tactics and content generation to engage your audience at pace.

You need to map your product or service lifecycle, set benchmark KPIs and establish triggers so you can quickly take actions to either replace underperforming products or services, or repurpose and reposition to maintain growth. Understanding your client satisfaction and behaviours will help you to pivot successfully and tap into new seams of opportunity. You can do this via data analysis, or qualitative research. I cannot stress enough the importance of building strong relationships with your clients; a closed feedback loop will provide you with the insight you need to flex your position, quickly (and help with retention).

Harmonious business development

To drive marketing at pace, you need a strong and symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales. You need to know what good looks like for your organisation and set targets that align sales and marketing to support the business goals. To do this you need to have a good handle on your pipeline and sales funnel. Having a clear end-to-end lead management process, with defined stages to track conversion and KPIs as prospects engage with marketing campaigns and journey through the sales funnel allows you to quickly address areas of underperformance and take action. Your team need to be agile in the way you operate and deliver marketing campaigns to focus marketing efforts where they will make most impact.

Sales and marketing need to be unified and collaborative to continually improve conversion and maximise the contribution of marketing investment. Common mistakes include not involving sales stakeholders in marketing campaign inception, lack of internal communication regarding marketing activities and poor collaboration to understand impact and steer optimisation to improve results.

Sales and customer facing feedback is a key competent when understanding how marketing messaging, tactics and outreach can be sharpened. The result – greater client and prospect engagement, to improve retention and ultimately sell more stuff.

Establishing agile marketing in your organisation

Pace comes through optimising your working practice, and agile ways of working have provided a strong catalyst for growth in the tech industry with continual deployment now the norm.

Marketing can adopt agile ways of working by redefining its marketing operating model in order to execute at pace whilst maintaining control and mitigating risk to deliver results that will drive business growth. Agile marketing gives organisations a significant edge over competitors giving you the ability to go to market quickly without the cumbersome and expensive trappings of a more traditional approach. You start with an idea, test, learn and build on success. Working iteratively and driving execution via sprints scaling as you increase momentum and build on success.

A critical success factor is being data-driven, so it’s evidentiary, which means you aren’t working on ‘gut feel’ alone, you use data at each stage test your hypothesis and prove your instincts are correct. Instead you’re putting effort into iterating and improving to increase performance whilst ensuring you align to your business goals. It’s a model that can rapidly transform your marketing performance in many areas. For example, the ability to rapidly develop and test propositions, deliver always-on agile campaigns that evolve to maintain engagement whilst building pipeline; craft content strategies that are mapped and validated against your buyer journey, and reverse-engineered to ensure the sales interface is supported at every stage to maximise conversion.

Getting started can be hard, start small test, learn and expand. Ideally work with a partner that knows what it is doing to get you up and running effectively.

Marketing as a business driver and competitive advantage

Marketing practice needs to evolve to take the best of agile forward to continually adapt and drive results at pace whist demonstrating marketing contribution through measurable KPI.

Only by working in this way will organisations be able to demonstrate the agility and pace needed to remain competitive in uncertain times. Critically everything is measured and aligned to your business goals which ensures businesses remain relevant to target audiences while maintaining growth.

No comments
Zoe MerchantLeading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?
read more

The SMART guide to building successful Alliances

The SMART guide to building successful Alliances

Organisations of all sizes often find it difficult to get the most out of their alliance relationships. A productive relationship is one where your marketing strategy aligns well with your alliance objectives, and you can work together towards a common goal. Where you are clear on your target audience, and your marketing activities are integrated into a strategic plan that supports both your organisational objectives and those of your alliance partners.

Strategy

Share a common objective for your marketing activity that satisfies the alliance goals – and your own.

When you bring up the topic of alliance marketing it is always met with a whole range of reactions, but a common thread that seems to be present in many of the conversations I have had, is the difficulty in aligning an alliance marketing plan with that of your organisation’s. Frequently, co-marketing is seen as a parallel activity to your strategic marketing plan, with the two streams very rarely integrated into a cohesive plan of action.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Marketing teams should work closely with their alliance partners, share their business plans and jointly identify ways in which they can collaborate to achieve a common goal. This may be a simplistic view, and I can already hear the nay-sayers heckling at the back …

“You try selling product to a business audience”; “All they want is licensing, they’re not interested in services”; “They don’t understand my business” … But it can be done, and working together to identify your common objectives is a key step towards building stronger alliances.

When Mavenwire wanted to strengthen their relationship with Oracle, they engaged with Bright Innovation to manage and execute a range of marketing activities to generate revenue and build brand awareness. A joint campaign approach combined Oracle products with Mavenwire’s delivery expertise to offer prospects a complete solution, enabling them to identify new sales opportunities and win new business jointly with the Oracle sales team.

Messaging

When working with most alliance marketing teams, they will be able to provide you with a wealth of material to use in your marketing activity, such as collateral, competitive information, product features and benefits. Every other partner will also have access to the same information.

It is important that you go to market with messaging that clearly differentiates you.

If you are reselling product, what value is your organisation adding to the process? If you are a systems integrator, what experience, frameworks, methodologies can you offer that others may not be able to. It is your key differentiators that your messaging needs to communicate in order to stand out from the hundreds of other partners.

Audience

On occasion, your alliance partner may work with you to develop a plan and even provide you with a database of contacts ready to market to.

At this point, you must assess whether this fits in with your target audience, and carefully evaluate whether you proceed with the newly gifted database you have just acquired, or invest in building your own data set that matches your target profile perfectly.

Often, a little time and investment here can save a lot of pain further down the line when the results are not as expected. It is important to have clarity in who your target audience is, and why.

Reporting

Communicating effectively with your alliance partners is always a difficult balance between over-communicating irrelevant details and not sharing the results of your marketing activity at all.

If you are churning out a raft of activity each quarter, your alliance partner may not necessarily need to know every single detail about the tactics you’ve deployed, what articles have been published, client engagements, down to each technical detail.

However, a regular flow of concise and relevant communications can be a hugely effectively way to market to your alliance partner. A one page summary of who you’ve targeted, using the same terminology (and acronyms), who you’ve engaged with, revenue generated, and key messages is often sufficient enough to keep your key alliance contacts up to date, without inundating them with detail.

Tactics

Another theme that’s often arises is marketing teams being driven to adopt tactics that may not necessarily prove effective for their business. For example, webinars can be a great way of engaging with your audience, raising your brand and profile within certain communities and building a wealth of content that can be distributed across multiple channels. However, they are not appropriate for all messaging and audiences.

If your organisation is trying to position itself as a market leader, perhaps some value-driven thought leadership would be more effective? Maybe consider a highly-targeted digital campaign?

When planning which tactics to use in your co-marketing plan, you need to make sure these support your brand and positioning in the market and are consistent with your marketing activities.

Our Minimum Viable Marketing™ approach allows you to quickly identify which tactics will be most valuable by experimenting and then removing, and/or improving, elements of your marketing plan that do not work as well as expected.

Marketing can be highly effective when structured as an integrated campaign, incorporating many different routes to market. The key point here is that each element of the plan must work together to increase momentum. A poorly executed tactical campaign will only serve as a distraction from core activities and yield below average results.

With over 20 years experience working with alliance partners, the Bright Innovation team understands the challenges involved when working with alliances, and some of the most common pitfalls made by organisations.

We have taken this experience and knowledge, and developed a set of services that enable our clients to overcome these challenges and build successful alliance relationships.

No comments
Zoe MerchantThe SMART guide to building successful Alliances
read more

Getting your team on-board with digital change

Getting your team on-board with digital change

When you think of internal comms, what immediately springs to mind? Perhaps a monthly company newsletter announcing new hires, leavers, births or Sally in HR getting married. Or that repetitive monthly email reminding you to cast your vote for ’employee of the month’. Not particularly exciting or inspiring. However for today’s businesses, internal comms is fast becoming a cucial tool. Especially when it comes to communicating and managing digital change within a business.

I’m sure ‘digital disruption’ must be the most over-used business phrase of the last two years but there is no denying that digital transformation is now taking root in even the most conservative of organisations. Digital transformation, whether it’s implementing a specific new technology solution or an entire organisation wide digital strategy, needs to be communicated to employees. And, crucially it needs to be adopted by them to ensure that your programme isn’t one big expensive failure. Enter internal comms.

From Partner to Graduate and everyone in between

First and foremost, any internal comms strategy needs to have a pretty good understanding of who it needs to communicate to. In most large organisations the employee audience can be pretty diverse. From Senior Management or Partner level, who may have been with the company for most of their careers, to young graduate trainees fresh out of Uni.

There may also be specific job roles within an organisation that will be particularly affected by the change. Tailoring your communications and messaging to highlight the key benefits of the new solution or strategy to certain employee groups is crucial. Understanding where you are most likely to come up against resistance to change and ensuring that they feel involved in the process from early on can really help overcome any grumbling. A little extra hand holding goes a long way.

Channels and Champions

Of course you’re going to need to explain why you are making the change and inform employees what actions they need to take as part of this. Inevitably, for most organisations, email will play its part. However, the snag being that we’re all guilty of ignoring emails that don’t need our immediate attention and then forgetting to look at them again, so don’t rely too heavily on this. Consider other channels such as impactful short videos, micro-sites to host more detailed information, desk drops and office launches to grab peoples’ attention and get them engaged and listening. That way when emails with important information do come through, they’re less likely to ‘file’ them in the trash folder.

Having said that, the most effective vehicle for communication are your employees. Find your champions, people on the ground who are engaged and enthusiastic, get them to act as ambassadors for the change. Despite all the different channels at our disposal today, word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising.

Internal vs External

It is one thing to recognise the value of internal comms, but another to ensure it is carried out effectively. Many organisations may not have an internal comms function. If they do, it may be one person in the marketing department and it’s pretty unlikely that they have a good understanding of what it means to successfully implement technological change within a business.

For organisations looking to implement digital change, internal comms can be a real blocker. So, in many cases they are looking outside of their organisations to external communications experts, who approach an internal comms project in the same way they would an external comms or marketing campaign. In fact, both your internal and external comms strategy and objectives should closely align to be truly effective.

Ultimately the success of any digital transformation programme comes down to whether employees embrace and adopt that change. Businesses must go beyond engaging with their employees, to compel them to change their working behaviours. Effective internal comms is the key to effecting that change.

No comments
Alexandra JefferiesGetting your team on-board with digital change
read more

Transformative communications

Transformative communications

Why comms needs to be factored into your business transformation plans, right from the start

There can be few large businesses around the UK and beyond that have not already been through, or are currently going through large scale business transformation programmes. But how many have developed their transformation plans with communications factored in from the start? And how many add it as an afterthought when they are already some way down the line, having realised that change can’t happen without employee engagement? Communication is critical to any form of organisational change. Embedding clear processes around how and when you should communicate from the start will help get your transformation off to a flying start. 

There are two key areas where effective comms can make a real difference to the success of a transformation programme. The obvious one is when it comes to communicating out to the rest of the business and getting employees to change behaviours. But comms can also help in bringing together cross-functional teams and getting them working more effectively towards the same goal. 

Engaging your employees 

Communication plays a vital role when it comes to engaging employees around a large-scale business change. If you fail to communicate your goals and how you plan to achieve them, how can you expect employees to support and adopt the changes you are implementing? Many a digital transformation program has been viewed as unsuccessful because employees have failed to fully adopt new tools and technology or processes. 

So how do you engage employees? Firstly, it is vital that you understand your internal audiences. In a large organisation there will be different types of employees with their own challenges and requirements, so you will need to tailor your communications to different employees. There isn’t always a one size fits all solution.  

Avoid over reliance on email and make use of existing business collaboration tools. You should always make sure you are communicating via different channels to ensure that your message has reached everyone in your organisation. 

Two-way communication is crucial when it comes to engaging employees. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feedback where possible. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to engage.

Louise Fisk, Communications and Marketing Director at BAE Systems suggests,

When that’s not possible you need to think about how you can use tools like video conferencing to bring people into the room.

Helping cross-functional teams work effectively 

During large scale business transformation, it is often the case that teams which don’t usually work together, will have to come together and form cross-functional teams. Open and transparent communication between both leadership and team members is crucial here.  

Hannah Bamberger, IT Communications Lead at Boston Consulting Group comments,

Where teams are cross-functional and often working remotely, it’s important to have transparent communications from the beginning to avoid any misunderstanding which may arise from not being able to see each other face-to-face each day and ask questions.

Matt Perry, Director at Transition15 suggests that,

Cross-functional team communications need to be built into the ways of working from the start. The mechanisms for regular communication should be agreed by the team so that they feel they are owning this process, rather than being told how they should do something.

It’s also important that leadership are clear in their goals and communicate them to their teams from the start so that they unite to achieve the same goal. A lack of communication coupled with an unwillingness to come together to work as a cross-functional team, can happen when leadership hasn’t communicated well around what is needed, and what the goals are from the beginning.

Hannah Bamberger comments, 

You often end up with the wrong thing being delivered or half way through a big transformation programme you realise it isn’t going in the direction it should be. At that point it’s much harder to recommunicate and get people to change direction.

There’s a high likelihood that change will fail if you do not communicate from the start. Employees need to feel part of the change as its happening and you will need to support people through the change curve, which can take time. If you get this right, then any future change is likely to run more smoothly and be successful. 

If communicating around change sounds like something you are currently struggling with, get in touch to arrange an employee engagement workshop, or a planning session for how to support cross-functional teams in working together more effectively. 

No comments
Alexandra JefferiesTransformative communications
read more

Smoothing the change curve

Smoothing the change curve

Benjamin Franklin said nothing is certain but death and taxes, but if he were alive today, then he would probably include “change” on his list. At home and work, our lives are being transformed primarily through technology; the Internet of Things, new phone upgrades, smart electric meters, hackers, phishing, the cloud, artificial intelligence…

Is it any wonder that with all this change, people are fatigued? Is it a surprise that employees don’t understand the business need for change, they worry about their job security or just feel overwhelmed? Technology is inarguably driving such a rapid pace of change and such potentially transformative outcomes in all industries, that it is essential employees understand the benefits to the business and to them personally, and are engaged with the change journey.

Any change programme must lead employees through the change curve and explain why the change is taking place, create alignment across the business and make the most of the crucial part that employees play in any transformation. In other words, communication is vital. It can make the difference between success the first time, or a costly and underwhelming outcome that undermines the credibility of your leadership, your team and the change programme.

Time and again, in our work with clients, we see four stages in any change or transformation programme: status quo, disruption, exploration and rebuilding. They correspond with common emotions: shock and denial, frustration and depression, acceptance and finally, with commitment, the change becomes normalised. Expert communications can help to smooth the proverbial rollercoaster ride.

Every organisation has its status quo, a legacy system that everyone understands, but that badly needs upgrading. There are undoubtedly potential opportunities for many organisations to embrace the digital revolution or fully integrate disparate parts of the business. Early communication and honesty are imperative at this stage to bring employees on board from the start, calm unnecessary fears and, most importantly explain why the change needs to happen. Employees need to catch up with the leaders, who have been preparing for this change for much longer and are much further along the curve than they are, potentially creating a disconnect that will only grow the longer it goes unaddressed. This stage is also an excellent point to identify those who are excited about the change or early adopters to ask them to be project or change ambassadors in the next stages.

The disruption stage marks the point that everyone knows change is coming, the implementation plan is in progress and employees could feel vulnerable, frustrated and potentially distant from the new direction of the business. Throughout this phase, it is more important than ever to have a clear message and defined next steps. Maintain regular communications, even if it’s just to confirm when there will be an update. Start a training programme and have two-way feedback channels. People must feel a part of the change.

Once the software or structure is in place or the new way of working is in its final stages, there is the opportunity to embed the new normal into the workforce. The communications plan must help employees accept the change through demonstrating the benefits that were just theoretical before. Utilising ambassadors to model behaviours and provide peer-to-peer support, sharing successes, as well as addressing any feedback, should also form part of any comms plan.

Finally, the change becomes business as usual and accepted. There will be some on-going support needed, including any upgrades if it is an IT system, and continuous improvement, as well as onboarding new employees into the company’s culture. For some time afterwards, when planning new projects, it is essential to bear in mind that everyone just went through a significant change and it could affect employees’ appetite for more.

Of course, the scenario described here is the ideal. Things can, and do, go wrong from a technical or business perspective. However, with proper communication, and working with an experienced change communication specialist from the start, it is easier to engage employees and keep them engaged, smoothing the way to a successful endpoint and the next stage in the business’ evolution.

For more information on how change communication experts can help your business, contact Emma Sinden.

No comments
Alexandra JefferiesSmoothing the change curve
read more

Communicating during tough times

Communicating during tough times

Success comes not from certainty but being able to live with uncertainty.

Jeffrey Fry, Author

Life is rarely certain but at the same time for many of us, life has never been quite as uncertain as it is right now. We live in an era in which many of the accepted political norms have been turned on their heads and the pace with which technology is progressing means most of us are still catching up with what we can do today, let alone thinking about the possibilities that tomorrow might bring.

For those of us working in the internal communications sector deciding what, when and how to communicate in this age of uncertainty is difficult. On the one hand we feel some responsibility to reassure and to try to help bring some stability. On the other hand, we are uncertain ourselves, as are the leadership within the organisations we work for, so the reality is, right now we may find we have little we can communicate about with any great certainty.

The question arises because as any good internal comms practitioner knows – the role of internal communications is not just relaying information from one part of the business to the other. Good internal comms is about creating buy-in and confidence in the organisation, its goals and its leadership. It plays a crucial role in driving and embedding change, creating a satisfied, loyal and productive workforce and resolving conflict. It also provides a very useful tool in countering the types of threat that uncertainty brings.

For many organisations right now the thing that is causing the most uncertainty and anxiety is of course Brexit. With less than 6 months to go and still no clear idea of what the post Brexit world will look like, there is a real sense of unease especially for those working for UK based organisations. There is a sense of a communal holding of breath as we all await the outcome of the negotiations. For workers from the EU there is of course the uncertainty around their ability to remain here and anecdotal evidence indicates many are considering their options. The uncertainty is not just restricted to those from the EU however. We are all constantly bombarded with warnings about the consequences of the wrong deal or no deal. Car manufacturers shutting up shop, banks moving to the continent, house prices plummeting, food shortages, huge lines at customs etc. etc.

The tendency is to feel that if you don’t have anything definite to communicate then you shouldn’t communicate at all. In fact, this is probably the worst thing you can do. Silence creates even greater uncertainly and enables gossip and rumour to fill the vacuum.

So, what should your communications strategy be? There is no single answer to this as the situation for each organisation will be unique contact Bright to discuss an agile approach to communications and how to mobilise at pace.

No comments
Alexandra JefferiesCommunicating during tough times
read more