Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

No comments

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.

Zoe MerchantLeading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?
read more

The Power of Storytelling

No comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B2B storytelling in practice: 

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

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

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

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

How do you start telling your story? 

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

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

Your story will drive growth and demand.

Your audience just haven’t heard it yet.

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

Chris PetherbridgeThe Power of Storytelling
read more

Taking time for inspiration…

No comments

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

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

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

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

1.

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

2.

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

3.

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

4.

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

5.

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

Emma SindenTaking time for inspiration…
read more

3 ways that Marketing Automation can help your B2B marketing activity

No comments

Companies are always looking for ways to make their job easier, work more efficiently and make their marketing campaigns more effective; that’s why 55% of B2B companies around the world have adopted marketing automation.  

By definition, the term ‘marketing automation’ refers to a set of tools designed to streamline and simplify some of the most time-consuming responsibilities of the modern marketing and sales roles. All of the day-to-day tasks that marketers have to action as soon as someone enters your sales cycle can be automated, freeing you up for valueadd work. 

Here are three ways you can use marketing automation to improve your B2B marketing activity:

Lead Scoring

The first goal of a company is to get a prospect or sales lead into their pipeline, but once marketing starts to pick up and the number of leads increase, it becomes more important for companies to focus on the prospects that are the most interested and most likely to buy – this is when lead scoring is needed. Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organisation.  

You can set up your CRM or automation software to detect form submissions, click-throughs or page views to rate/score your lead. This will help your marketing team determine how valuable they are and what their specific interests are, in order to drive them through your sales funnel.  

However, just because someone downloads a report or spends a lengthy amount of time on your landing page, it doesn’t mean they are automatically the right target for your business. Lead scoring will gather the information about the prospect that is given to them and will rate the contact based on a number of factors. For example, for a B2B company, a persons’ job title, company size or revenue could be the information that is most valuable to your business. Using this rating, your Sales team can then follow up, knowing a bit more information about the contact. 

Lead scoring is an ideal way to enhance the productivity of your Sales team, improve sales & marketing alignment and higher conversions of qualified leads to opportunities.  

Social media

Having an automated social media strategy is a must if you’re looking to gain hot leads. This new marketing activity is the most productive use of your time as you let it work its’ magic and do the job of an Executive. Sending messages to prospects on LinkedIn can seem like such a long-winded and monotonous task. By automating your LinkedIn outreach, you can search for your ideal customers, select the level of engagement you want to initiate and let your software bring in leads. This software works in three ways – invites, auto-replies and mass messages. 

You can also send automated direct messages to people once they follow you on Twitter – this is a tactic that is used a lot more frequently nowadays so beware of blending into the crowd of other companies doing the same. Send a message that is more personalised by using the followers first name for example – this will engage the follower and keep them interested in the content you are publishing. 

Drip marketing 

Ever wanted to keep prospects warm but struggle to find the time to keep up with, draft and send a stupid number of emails? Implementing a software that allows you to automatically send emails the moment they move through your sales funnel is essential. Drip marketing (or essentially, automated email campaigns) aims to support marketing communication planning by sending out emails automatically through your schedule. Certain triggers – or responses – will automatically generate next steps that are relevant to each subscribers’ actions.

Many B2B companies face long sales cycles, which is why drip marketing is essential for lead generation. It allows you to build relationships with your recipients over time. In a study conducted by IBM; it’s stated that sending regular, personalised mailings to prospective and current clients will average a 48% increase in repeat sales. The best part of this tool is that once you have initially set up your drip marketing campaign and trust that is it working, you don’t need to make any changes unless you feel there is a need.

The only way to truly understand drip marketing is through experimentation – only then can you begin perfecting your strategy.

Marketing automation can help innovate your company, ensuring it remains agile during a time where customer expectations are constantly changing. It increases productivity, maintains a consistent tone of voice and improves your ROI. CMO of InfusionSoft states that the best marketers are using both inbound marketing and marketing automation together, and they are getting great returns.” Marketers knows that their ultimate job is to increase the company’s revenue – marketing automation can help this by generating more and better-quality leads which will eventually turn into new customers.

Bright is an agile consultancy specialising in providing marketing services for some of the fastest growing technology and IT services company. If you are interested in finding out how you can improve your marketing ROI and build pipeline, please get in touch.

Chris Petherbridge3 ways that Marketing Automation can help your B2B marketing activity
read more

Ideas to value in 8 hours

No comments

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

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

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

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

Chris PetherbridgeIdeas to value in 8 hours
read more

In-house vs agency marketing: Which is best for you?

No comments

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

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

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

1. Marketing Experts Vs Subject Matter Experts

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

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

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

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

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

2. More Creativity, Better Results

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

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

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

3. Time is Money

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

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

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

4. Give Your Business Space to Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

In reality, the sweet spot is somewhere between the two, and that’s what the Bright Virtual Marketing offering tries to achieve.

Bright’s hybrid model – bringing together the benefits of both internal and outsourced teams.

The Bright team acts as a virtual marketing department for high growth and dynamic businesses. This provides clients with their own specialised marketing manager and supporting team, backed up by other Bright resources – such as design, web design and build, branding, event support, etc. – as and when required.

We shape and execute marketing strategies designed to plug any in-house gaps and support business goals. We also focus on driving as much as value as possible for our clients. We find the best way to do this is to regularly spend time on our client’s site each week – so that we truly become a part of your team.

Using our Minimum Viable Marketing (MVM) methodology, we fine tune each and every go-to-market message and campaign to get the best results possible.

By adopting a hybrid model, you are tapping into a dedicated team who work and learn from your own team to become advocates of your brand. This additional team takes on time-consuming tasks, so your business has the space to grow, whilst also providing a creative soundboard so you can take your business to places you may not have thought possible.

It’s like a match and a firecracker. You need to bring the two together to see the fireworks.

Visit our Virtual Marketing page to discover more about the services we offer.

Read more about how marketing is key to high growth and exit strategies in Bright’s new eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator” – including commentary from business leaders and investors.

Chris PetherbridgeIn-house vs agency marketing: Which is best for you?
read more

Marketing isn’t just for Christmas

No comments

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

 

1. Little things can tug a lot of heart strings

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

2. Video seems to be pulling some strings too!

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

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

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

4. You should be sending more than just Christmas cards

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

5. Don’t just recycle your wrapping paper!

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

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

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

7. More marketing for your buck

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

8. Stay social in between work socials

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

9. Grab yourself a sherry

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

Have a bright Christmas  

Chris PetherbridgeMarketing isn’t just for Christmas
read more