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The Marketing Practice creates new Content team to further creative vision

July 27, 2015 Categories: At the Barn

The Marketing Practice has created a new team dedicated to Content to support its continued growth and reflect a change in client demand.

The new team supports the next stage of TMP’s vision of building reputation and driving revenue for its client base. Content has always played a critical role, but clients are increasingly looking to strive for a crucial balance in B2B marketing. It’s no longer about creating something on-brand and eye-catching in one campaign, and generating leads in another; successful marketing skilfully combines and balances the two.

To accomplish this demands a range of expertise within the team delivering content. TMP’s approach has been to hand-pick multi-skilled individuals from different areas of the company, balanced with carefully selected external hires, all chosen for their rich and varied experience in marketing strategy – from content formats to business insight and project management, drawn together by a flair for communication and writing.

The Content Team is the next stage in Creative Director Paul Baker’s vision to reinvigorate brands, create real engagement, generate leads, nurture customers and create loyalty – all under one roof.

“For TMP, content has always resided at the heart of marketing, and this structural shift makes that even more clear. We believe modern marketing writers need to be much more than just excellent copywriters”, says Paul. “They need to think beyond the writing – we need a content team that blends literary craftsmanship with research, planning and business messaging, has an acute brand awareness, a genuine understanding of our clients and a razor-sharp ability to generate leads. This is how we will make a valuable contribution to our clients’ marketing strategies now and in the future.”

Led by Matt Harper, who comes from an Account Planning background, the team is charged with a responsibility for enhancing its clients’ reputation and revenue – dedicated to creating clever, finely crafted, brand-relevant content that enhances reputation, combined with demand-generation copy that resonates with its audience and drives revenue for its clients.

The team is already seeing fantastic results with some highly successful content programmes this quarter for SAS, HP and Capgemini, among others.

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Andie Johnson-Mitchell hired as head of client services

July 22, 2015 Categories: At the Barn

Former IBM and Steria sales and business development leader joins The Marketing Practice to support continued growth

The Marketing Practice has appointed Andie Johnson-Mitchell as its new Head of Client Services, bringing her wealth of experience to shape the client delivery team in line with the agency’s projected growth.

Andie, with her programme management and sales leadership experience at IBM, Steria and Serco, specialises in managing large teams to deliver great work and tangible results.

On TMP’s future strategy, she said: “The Marketing Practice has been growing incredibly well and delivering an excellent service to its clients. This success means we now need to take a step back and look at process and structure to ensure that the high standard we are known for is maintained, if not exceeded.

“The key is finding the right balance: bringing lessons from the large enterprises I’ve worked with, but without overloading the team with process. The benefits of being a smaller business lie in the agility and flexibility that that affords, so we need to ensure we maintain this.”

Having come from “the client side”, Andie has a great understanding of how to work resourcefully and build partnerships with leading B2B operations.

Andie added: “Increasingly we are seeing our clients looking to build long-term partnerships, often outsourcing certain elements of their own marketing to us. I’ll be looking to integrate this model even further and make sure we have all the capability we need to continue delivering great results.”

Clive McNamara, Chairman at The Marketing Practice, is particularly enthusiastic about Andie’s arrival: “Andie is a great addition to our team. We’ve got a great breed of people here at The Marketing Practice – they’re not just supportive of our clients, but of each other too.” As TMP continues striving to build reputation and drive revenue for its clients, Andie’s big programme experience will be critical.

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Reflections on the Programme.

April 17, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

This is the third of three videos outlining how, together, Atos and The Marketing Practice created a successful, cost-effective and sustainable demand centre known as the Lead Generation Factory (LGF).

The LGF was developed and run by The Marketing Practice in partnership with Atos, a multinational IT services and consulting business with over 76,000 employees around the world.

This video addresses the importance of having the highest quality data and creating a Programme with the inherent flexibility to scale up or down and work seamlessly across languages and cultures.

Johannes Diebig, former head of global marketing at Atos, notes that The Marketing Practice managed the delicate handovers between marketing, sales and third parties expertly. He also tells us that although initially the length of the sales cycle had been underestimated, the Programme was soon driving incremental order entries at consistently low cost per lead.

Part 1: Getting the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre up and running 

Part 2: Managing the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger

Managing the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre.

April 17, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

This is the second of three videos outlining how, together, Atos and The Marketing Practice created a successful, cost-effective and sustainable demand centre known as the Lead Generation Factory (LGF).

The second largest IT Services and Solutions company in Europe, Atos employs 76,000 business technologists across 47 countries.

Having worked with The Marketing Practice to create the LGF, an industrialised approach to building sales pipeline, Atos were quick to appoint a dedicated Programme Manager.

In this video, Johannes Diebig, former head of global marketing at Atos, points out the importance of having a dedicated Programme Manager from the outset. He also explains how the programme began as a series of campaign roll-outs applied uniformly across countries and later evolved to focus more on specific accounts – a change that proved more consistently successful.

Ultimately, Johannes attributes the successful management of the programme to an open and wholly collaborative relationship with The Marketing Practice. Atos recognised our strengths and let us play to them. We embraced Atos’ desire to continually improve the programme through a process of planned ‘trial and error’ and incremental refinements.

The result was that for an initial investment of €1 million the LGF delivered over €100 million in incremental order entry within 2 years, is now an integral part of the sales process throughout Atos and has proved invaluable in unifying sales activity across acquired businesses.

Part 1: Getting the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre up and running 

Part 3: Reflections on the programme

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger

Getting the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre up and running.

April 16, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

This is the first of three videos outlining how, together, Atos and The Marketing Practice created a successful, cost-effective and sustainable demand centre, known as the Lead Generation Factory (LGF).

Atos is a multinational IT services and consulting business employing 76,000 people around the world.

Having worked with The Marketing Practice for several years and seen how successful a carefully planned and run inside sales campaign can be, Atos were keen to scale up their lead generation programmes to an industrial level.

In this first video, Johannes Diebig, former head of global marketing at Atos, explains how the LGF was set up and why Board-level buy-in was essential given Atos’ typically long sales cycles and consequent need to commit to a long-term investment.

With the support and resources in place, we helped Atos launch a 6 month pilot phase of the LGF in the UK, Germany and France, during which processes and operations were continually refined to deliver optimum returns. In less than a year, the Atos LGF was up and running at full speed.

Part 2: Managing the Lead Generation Factory Demand Centre

Part 3: Reflections on the programme 

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger

B2B advertising: clouds are the new handshakes

April 6, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

We’ve been banging on a lot about creativity and emotion in B2B marketing – more so than usual as it was the theme of our recent S&M Forum.

You can see Robert’s facts and figures from various research sources here (proving that creativity sells). And David’s video about insight that sparks great creative ideas is here.

Which is why it was almost depressing to walk through Heathrow last weekend and see the missed opportunities for more creativity when it comes to the Cloud computing bandwagon.

First up, SAP…

Perhaps the “[Insert company name] runs SAP” campaign was in need of an update. But seems a shame to lose the benefits of that association of SAP with some big brands in this ad:

SAP cloud ad

Is this really the best possible use of prime ad real estate? “SAP Cloud makes innovation quick and IT simple. For any company – including yours.” It just doesn’t feel as though there’s any kind of audience insight driving this message or creative. Perhaps it does a job to make the fabled “business decision-maker” more comfortable with the SAP brand. But you would hope there were more creative ways to do that.

I may be possibly the only person to visit www.sap.com/cloud on the back of this ad. But the landing page is pretty good. Especially the myth-busting approach to comparing Millenials with older generations, which helps to step away from the usual cliches when talking about digital natives. That might have been more fertile ground to think about for the advertising message.

Then Accenture…

The first Accenture ad I saw looks to be continuing its previous tradition of leading with customer stories (not a million miles from the “[Company name] runs SAP” approach). But I seem to remember previous ones feeling more interesting and the kind of thing you might pause to read at the airport (I think there was one about the Royal Shakespeare Company a couple of years ago).

Accenture Michelin ad

But then we’re suddenly back in the territory of vague Cloud messages. Cloud is being used to drive disruptive business approaches, so this ad shows people upside-down. I’d guess it is marginally more effective than the SAP ad at capturing attention (when we see faces upside-down we’re going to look and try to make sense of it).

Accenture cloud ad

I’d still rather go back to the approach of finding some of those compelling customer business stories: don’t tell me that you have a different perspective, show me what that actually meant for a business.

When I posted this thought on LinkedIn, Greg Wilson pointed out at there is more than just the creative in need of attention:

“As I critiqued one of these very ads at T5 yesterday evening I wondered what happened to the marketer’s desire to ensure maximum quality in the printed medium. What happened to pouring over chromalins, reviewing the first pass in a print run in search of blemishes and hickies – forget the creative execution – the physical print production of the advert was terrible. The images are not of suitable resolution, the ink jet nozzles have dragged lines through the ink as it printed. I’ll bet no one in marketing proofed the actual print run, rather they did an on screen check of a low res PDF. Maybe it’s the industry I am in, but should marketers take pride in the execution of their work, and not just the creation?”

So more attention required to make the most of these big brand investments. You could still get all the brand awareness benefits (and more), but you could give people some value or entertainment at the same time. Which is what the HSBC ads have been so good at for years in the air bridge/tunnel when you board the plane – creating a smile in the mind. But I didn’t get photos of them because by then I’d almost missed my flight…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Creativity is not a four letter word

March 23, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

A few years ago I picked up a text book that was designed to introduce marketing students to the wonderful world of B2B.  It started by explaining that one of the biggest differences between B2B marketing and its B2C cousin was that B2B has rational argument at its core whilst B2C marketing primarily engages its audience emotionally.  This jarred with me even then and in the intervening years there has been more and more evidence that it is time for a new B2B text book!

When I was setting out in the wide world of B2B nearly 30 years ago I worked with a sales director who sold big ticket IT systems to financial services organisations – not an audience known for its sentimentality!  His mantra was that “people buy from people” and whilst the decision making process may have changed a little over the past three decades there is no question that business people still buy from people and brands that they know and trust … after all they may well be putting their professional reputation in the hands of their chosen supplier.  Building an appropriate level of familiarity and confidence may be helped by the provision of solid facts and figures but at its heart as a supplier you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd and show that you are absolutely on the same wavelength as your customer.

In today’s noisy world, standing out from the crowd and winning the hearts (and minds) of your audience is certainly not easy.  Those that succeed and deliver the best return from their campaigns will recognise the massive role that creativity and outstanding execution of creative concepts play.

So with this in mind, how come “creativity” is still viewed with a degree of suspicion in some corners of B2B?  One reason is that creative campaigning may still be associated with lavish and self-indulgent “big brand” productions.  However, this is certainly not the type of creative output that most of TMP’s clients are focusing on and they are producing some outstanding results and winning a hatful of awards along the way.  So, let’s have a look at a few examples of great creative ideas that sit at the heart of successful campaigns that are renowned for their hard headed commercial results and are certainly not seen as “fluffy” or self-indulgent!

Creative by design

The Microsoft Lumiabiz trial programme is a great example of turning a simple idea into a real winner through creative design.  The challenge was that many decision makers were failing to consider the Lumia products for their business but once they trialled them properly they saw them in an extremely positive light.  Unfortunately sending prospects devices to test often failed to hit the mark, with the product being left in the drawer.

So Microsoft completely rethought how to present devices to potential customers and designed the Lumiabiz trial box to generate a real buzz and deliver a great VIP experience.  These boxes were then used across a number of campaigns to generate great cut through and help double Microsoft’s market share in the course of a year.

Nokia box

Standing in the customer’s shoes

Some of the best creative platforms leverage personalisation and demonstrate an ability to see the world from the customer’s perspective.  The Canon Aiming Higher programme is a classic example of this.  Targeting the hard to reach C-suite audience, the campaign quite literally adopted the customers’ language by sending targeted individuals an annotated version of their own annual report highlighting how Canon can help them meet key strategic challenges.

The impact was spectacular and in the first wave of the campaign the team managed to secure 19 high profile meetings and identified 67 relationships to nurture from a targeted list of just 193 accounts.

Aiming_Higher_b2b_marketing

Do, don’t say

Some of the most impactful campaigns include highly creative ways of demonstrating a product or service in action.  IBM’s Watson programme is often quoted as an example of this – where amongst other challenges the supercomputer pitted it’s wits against the US Jeopardy game show champions.  Closer to home, the O2 Enterprise team ran a high impact programme in 2012 to change their positioning and boost their credibility as providers of flexible working solutions.  Rather than present the normal set of logical arguments in support of workforce flexibility, they actually closed their HQ building for a day and made every single one of their staff work away from the office.

Not only did this well publicised experiment generate fantastic PR for O2 in the run up to the London Olympics when business continuity was a hot topic, but it helped open the door for more than 170 sales conversations.

The magic of simplicity

While all of these are relatively practical creative concepts, they may still seem like a bit of a stretch for some limited budgets.  However we always stress to our teams that creativity can be applied to every piece of communication and interaction however mundane it may appear on the surface.  So for example our copywriters will look very closely at the language used in every subject line of every campaign email and our Inside Sales executives will continually fine tune the opening statements they make when making calls to potential prospects.  Over the past year our Inside Sales team have been running a successful experiment with very simply worded plain text emails that directly mirror the language used by the customer to help build confidence as they nurture opportunities – a subtle demonstration that creativity is anything but the exclusive domain of big brand campaigns.

Hopefully some of these examples have helped to dispel a few myths about creativity in B2B marketing.  As further food for thought it is worth remembering that research has shown that highly creative campaigns can be up to ten times more efficient at driving business results than less creative approaches.  Further proof that rather than being a sign of lavish self-indulgence, creativity in B2B marketing is actually a sign of hard headed commerciality!

 

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger

Creativity sells. It’s a fact.

March 19, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

David Ogilvy once said: ‘If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” This quote has relevance for today’s B2B marketers because the fact is, more creativity in B2B can help deliver sales uplift in the short-term, as well as build longer-term brand reputation and future sales. At The Marketing Practice, it’s something we’ve always firmly believed in, and there’s some compelling research that proves the point.

For a long time, there has been a popular misconception that creative marketing communication is the sole domain of B2C businesses, with their focus on big ideas and access to big budgets. Complex B2B propositions aimed at complex decision-making chains should be presented as serious, logical arguments with little need for any emotional engagement. Or so the thinking goes.

In reality, research conducted by CEB in partnership with Google, shows this is simply not true, with B2B buyers having a far greater level of emotional engagement with leading B2B brands than was found with B2C brands. Increasingly then, B2B marketers are seeing the value that creativity can add to their businesses – both in terms of generating immediate sales revenue and in establishing brand recognition, differentiation and customer trust over time.

Creativity can take many different forms – from how you define the communication challenge and how you apply insights, to the way you use ideas, imagery and language to make strong, profitable and lasting connections with your customers. When every brand, whether it’s B2C or B2B, is competing for our attention at every possible touch point, the rewards are there for those who dare to be different, but remain relevant.

By taking a more creative approach, B2B campaigns can simplify sales propositions, cut through multi-channel clutter and provide a consistent and reassuring brand experience. It’s all about finding the best mix of rational and emotional messages and communicating them in the right way. You can see how this balanced approach can drive profitability and increased return on marketing investment in this logical argument for creativity, where facts and figures from recent research studies are combined and summarised in a succinct and easily digestible commentary.

Business case for creativity

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger

Finding insights, creating platforms, engaging audiences.

March 17, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

What’s the difference between just another proposition and one that engages and resonates with the target audience, inspiring them to decisive action?

The answer, as has long been common knowledge in the B2C world, is a compelling creative idea born of original insights. Increasingly, this awareness is now intuitive for the majority of B2B marketers, who know that insights with real clarity and authenticity underpin creative platforms with the power to truly engage an audience.

At The Marketing Practice we understand that these insights, these revealed truths, take us to the heart of the proposition and the motivations and aspirations that drive audience decision-making.

We call our methodology the Unified Approach. We analyse the problem, continually refine our thinking, ask different questions and hunt for insights. And it’s the authenticity of the insights revealed that anchors our creative ideas and keeps them relevant to the brand, the market and the audience.

Take a look at this video, in which David van Schaick explains more about our Unified Approach and how it underpins our creation of relevant, compelling and effective campaigns.

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Reflections on balancing reputation and revenue

February 10, 2015 Categories: Best Practice

Marketing is always under pressure to prove its worth, with those who hold the purse strings often wanting an immediate return on investment, and this is prominent now more than ever following the recent years of “austerity” in the UK. But it’s worth remembering that marketing truly enhances enterprise value when it balances immediate revenue generation with longer term reputation-building – or to put it another way, balances sales today with enhanced saleability for tomorrow.

While B2B marketing has made significant advances in terms of measurability and commercial accountability over the past few years, in some situations B2B marketers have been guilty of forgetting the bigger picture – what our audience really thinks about our brand. By taking an integrated approach to marketing programmes we stand a better chance of succeeding in all areas: revenue generation, reputation-building and maximising overall return for the business. And with the New Year and refreshed marketing programmes now well underway, it’s a great time to check the balance between revenue and reputation. Here are some pointers that may help.

Start with the insight

To initiate any communication that will drive the right behaviour you need to really get under the skin of your target audience and unearth a simple insight that will resonate. It was through a little upfront research that we discovered that many businesses were not putting Lumia smartphones on their shopping lists because they thought no one else was – so, by simply sharing the figures of Lumia’s growing business market share and a series of customer case studies, we were able to support a rapid uptick in demand as business decision-makers gained trust in the brand.

Employ engaging techniques

There has been a huge amount of research into the science behind decision-making. While B2B marketers have always done a good job of presenting the rational arguments needed to make and justify a decision, we can neglect the often critical intuitive and emotional elements of the process. Think the recent Volvo truck ads – like this one featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme. While not every organisation will have the budget necessary to employ Jean-Claude to capture the audience’s imagination, intuitive engagement can mean taking simple steps – like fine-tuning the wording of a simple email to make it simpler to digest, and consequently more appealing.

Remain channel-agnostic

Marketers of all hues are regularly criticised for following fads and being too quick to jump on the latest channel bandwagon. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of innovation in your channel strategy, the simple rule of thumb remains: to go where your audience is and to look for the blend of channels that will optimally engage your audience. Simple really!

Link sales and marketing

We’ve been harking on about the importance of sales and marketing alignment for years now and in many businesses a lot of progress has been made. But keep in mind that your customers don’t care if you have sales or marketing on your business card, they just want you to deliver them great value and great experience at every touchpoint. So maybe we need to take the sales and marketing alignment discussion to the next level and think about integrated customer engagement… now there’s a thought!

Constantly measure and optimise

For complex B2B engagements, the best results normally stem from continual improvement, so listen to audience feedback every day, measure the response you are getting, and keep fine-tuning your campaigns. If something’s not working, change it. Often this means implementing lots of micro adjustments rather than a big, costly and time-consuming change. Try to take learnings from every prospect interaction and consider whether the successful method can be duplicated across other campaigns.

Of course – each of these areas could take up an entire white paper – this is just a snapshot to give you some food for thought. If you want to discuss how any of these areas could fit into your own 2015 marketing plans then just get in touch

No comments | Posted by Robert Ainger