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Press release: The Marketing Practice appoints new Managing Director

February 3, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

Director of Client Services, Anna Hutton, promoted to ensure that award-winning marketing, service delivery and deep client understanding remain at the heart of The Marketing Practice 

anna-hutton-md-marketing-practiceThe Marketing Practice (TMP), an award-winning B2B marketing services company, has appointed Anna Hutton to lead its 98-strong team.

In this newly created role, Anna, who previously headed up Client Services at TMP, will work across all areas of the business to scale operations in line with planned business growth. Based at its picturesque two-barn estate in Oxfordshire, she will take overall responsibility for Sales Management, Client Services, Marketing Innovation and Planning, Inside Sales, Data and Creative Services.

“We have a small but exceptional client base”, says Anna. “As we continue to grow, it’s more important than ever to maintain our relentless focus on designing, planning and executing integrated marketing programmes that deliver results for our clients. I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity at such an exciting time for our business.”

CEO and founder, Clive McNamara, said: “Anna is a great people manager and always focuses on what’s best for our clients and TMP. I know she will work with utter dedication to make the Marketing Practice an even greater company to work with and for. I will stay involved in the business as ever, but with more focus on our strategic direction and key client relationships.”

Before joining TMP in 2009, Anna was general manager at LEWIS PR London and worked in Analyst Relations at IBM and Meta Group formerly.

Notes for editors

The Marketing Practice (TMP) is one of the UK’s top ten business-to-business marketing agencies. Established in 2003, it currently employs  98 people. TMP offers a complete marketing service from a single site in rural Oxfordshire. Services include callers specialising in lead generation; planning and marketing intelligence; in-house creative services; data management and marketing consultancy. The agency provides global sales and marketing services for clients in the technology and business services sectors, including Oracle, O2, Canon, Atos, HP, BBC Worldwide and Cognizant.

Further information:

Anna Hutton

01235 833233

ahutton@themarketingpractice.com

www.themarketingpractice.com

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Nokia Lumia business trial campaign

January 31, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

There’s a great article on the Nokia UK blog about the business trial campaign that we’re supporting.

The article focuses on the box that the trial phones are delivered in – which is understandable, because it’s possibly the highest-tech, most glamorous box you’ve ever seen.

Nokia box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The campaign is about much more than just the box of course (we’ve been identifying social media influencers; integrating online media campaigns; making sure the trial experience is supported and captured…).

lumia trial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But having said that, the box itself is a high-tech work of art and well worth reading through the article to see how it fits together…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

B2B marketing campaign and creative brief templates

January 30, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

In brief  - the key to a successful campaign

What makes a great marketing campaign? We believe it’s a great brief. It’s the key to finding that killer message, working out how best to execute it and making sure that it’s aimed it at the right people.

Einstein once said “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”It’s why we’ve spent the last ten years refining our briefing process.

So what’s in a good brief?

Less than you might expect actually. That’s kind of the point – keeping it as brief as possible.

When we first discuss a project with a client, we do go into a lot of detail around the objectives, proposition, key messages, sales cycle, data, sales integration, previous activity etc. We put all this information into a ‘client brief’. [download a template of our campaign briefing document]

Then we bring together the greatest minds from around the agency (including Planning and Marketing Innovation, Data, Inside Sales and Creative) to help refine the problem and create a clear and concise ‘creative brief’. [download a template of our creative briefing document]

The creative brief answers just eight questions:

1.       What’s the real problem we’re trying to solve?

Great ideas come from thinking differently about a problem. But before you can have those ideas, you need to know what the problem really is. Spending time upfront to define the problem properly will save time and improve quality.

2.       What results do we need to deliver?

What measurable objectives do we need this marketing campaign to achieve? This could be a number of leads/opportunities, registrations to an event, a set pipeline value or a shift in perception… We check these goals with all the people who will be involved in meeting them, to ensure that the objectives are realistic.

3.       Who is the audience?

What type of organisations are you targeting? In what sectors? What are the job titles and responsibilities we’re targeting? Why? It’s important to make sure that the audience you want to target is actually the right audience for your proposition. This is something that our Planning and Data teams are particularly good at defining.

4.       What do we want the audience to believe?

What is the one message we need to get across in this campaign if the audience remembers nothing else? Try to be as single-minded as possible here, as it’s easy to get side-tracked by secondary messaging and the temptation to fit as much information as possible in.

5.       Why should they believe it?

What’s relevant, valuable or unique about your proposition? What makes your organisation/product/service better than its competitors? What evidence do you have? This is where things like testimonials and case studies add real value.

6.       What do we want the audience to do?

Now that we’ve got their attention, what are we asking the audience to do? Is it something that will benefit them? It’s all too tempting to end with ‘Call us on 0800 xx x xx to find out more.’ The trick is to make the next step and call to action as natural as possible. Different audiences respond better to different calls to action.

7.       What are the budget and timeframes?

Now we get to the nuts and bolts of it. What are the boundaries within which the campaign needs to work? Are they realistic?

8.       And finally, what else is essential to know? Are there any mandatory deliverables?

This is to make sure that we’ve captured anything we might have missed so far, and ensure there aren’t any nasty surprises later down the line.

 

No comments | Posted by Taryn Netterville

Medieval media: back to basics for B2B social media

January 29, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

“How do we do social media?”

It’s a question that isn’t asked very often. More likely you’ll hear, “What’s our social media strategy?” or, “How do we prove social media ROI?” Stuff that makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

But essentially they’re the same thing. In fact, the first question is far more apt for most B2B organisations.

Our B2C counterparts are much further along the social media curve. In fact, it’s not just B2C, but any organisation with a mass market product rather than a complex solution. They’re all asking questions like, “What’s the next big thing in social media?”, while the rest of us are still trying to find out what the last big thing was. And yet most of us accept it’s an increasingly important channel to understand and use (if you’re not yet in this camp – check out Monika’s blog about B2B decision-makers on social media).

So it takes a lot of guts to ask that fundamental question: “How do we do it?” You’re probably worried it will make you look like an out-of-touch Neanderthal: everything you said you wouldn’t be when you were in your 20s and people still faxed.*

But if you can get over that, you can build a platform for an educational, sustainable social programme.

Here’s what we’ve found to be the foundations of a strong answer to the question you might be asking: “How do we do social media?”

  • Insight. Base everything you do on any insight you can get your hands on, and you’re on the right track.
    • Your approach should be founded on what your audience wants from you. Are you a thought leader? A preacher or a teacher? Or are you a service-provider looking to go that extra mile? The answers will affect everything from your content strategy to your tone of voice.
    • Choose your social channels based on where your prospects or customers are. You’ll probably want Twitter and LinkedIn – but is your proposition suitable for SlideShare? Or would forums be a more sensible place for your content?
    • Select your content using intel on what your audience is talking about and listening to.

(There are lots of ways you can generate insight. Listening tools like Brandwatch and Radian 6 will tell you where your audience is and what keywords they’re interested in. But real conversations will take you even further.)

  • Forward-planning. To sustain a social media programme, you need content. For content, you need to plan.
    • Think about which marketing or PR campaigns fit with the approach to social that you’ve decided on. And then how you can socialise them. Could you support your campaigning with some tactical blogs? Or maybe it’s worth diverting some event sponsorship towards some strong social activity around the event and on the day?
    • Work out where and when the gaps are. And then plan to create social content around them. December and January are ones to look out for – people are socially-active, but campaigning tends to shut down. Try some fun, seasonal ideas, or a competition.
  • Simple best-practice. There are lots of articles around about viral campaigns and ‘classic’ Twitter conversations. But the reality is there are some simple ways to execute a strong social programme.
    • Put in place the right policies and agreements. For your individuals, if you want to leverage their networks, and for your business channels. A consistent tone of voice and approach is critical.
    • Work out how you’re going to respond to service queries or complaints. What response time can you commit to? How can you escalate bigger problems?
    • Make sure you’ve found a way to prioritise social media. The most common reason for its neglect is that it drops to the bottom of the pile, a “I need to do more of that… soon” problem. Making it a key part of some campaigns will help. And making sure you’ve got dedicated resource for managing the profiles, otherwise a busy day in the Marketing department will mean a quiet day on Twitter.
    • Make your content engaging. Add a picture to your post (there’s lots of evidence to suggest this makes people much more likely to engage with it – have a look here, for example), and if you’re using someone else’s content, give your own opinion to add value.

There’s lots of exciting stuff B2B marketers can do in social media. And we’ll be talking about a lot of it on our blog over the coming months. But you need to be in a place to make the most of them – and that means having a social programme with strong foundations.

If you’re interested in discussing any of the ideas within this blog, leave a message below, or contact me on Twitter @MattDHarper.

 

* It should be noted that the fax is still a viable communication channel for event recruitment and the like. In fact, some have even gone so far as to say ‘the fax is back’.

No comments | Posted by Matt Harper

“Our audience isn’t on social media”: some stats to overcome the objections

January 28, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

If you’re a B2B marketer then you’ve probably come across the statement that B2B prospects don’t use social media.

Being a B2B marketer and specialising in social media myself, it makes me cringe.  And not just because it could put me out of a job; it’s generally because people make those statements based on their opinion rather than facts. I thought it’d be a good idea to convert those non-believers and challenge this myth using hard facts and figures from reliable sources.

So let’s start with Global Web Index – the world’s largest study on the digital consumer. From the 2013 research into decision makers, you can see that B2B decision-makers are more engaged on social networks then the average internet user. It’s a start.

B2B-decision-makers-social-networks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting? Well, there’s more…

The same decision-makers think that conversations on social platforms are the most influential in terms of marketing tactics (15%). It means that all of your high quality content (8%), perfectly written emails (9%) and professionally-designed adverts (9%) won’t be as effective if your online image doesn’t stack-up.

Let’s take a deeper look. To back up the idea that B2B decision-makers are actively browsing the social sphere, here’s a Forrester study called B2B Social Technographics.  This research also shows that “business decision-makers use social media for business purposes and when it comes to creating content and sharing opinions, they do it more for business than personal reasons.” Amen.

So the weight of evidence shows that B2B prospects are socially active (online – which doesn’t necessarily translate to a party-going socialite in real life) and they use social platforms for the right purposes (‘right’ being a relative term that here refers to what makes marketers happy).

The mystery which still remains unresolved is where they are.

Using this same study, we can locate them on independent communities or forums, a good spot to have a casual or business chat.

They also occupy LinkedIn, and if you want to talk purely business then LinkedIn is the right place.

Facebook is where they like to gather too. But be careful, it’s not their business habitat; it’s where they socialise on a personal level. So it’s a tricky game to play if you want to reach out to them there.

Another good spot would be your own playground, i.e. a branded website, or discussion/support forum. If you don’t have one, look to evaluate if it’s worth setting something up.

Next on the list is it to check Twitter. A good place to start a conversation or nurture a relationship with your prospects and customers.

B2B-decision-makers-social-communities

Google+ and Pinterest are less popular but your target audience might still be there. Like with any of the other platforms you need to do your research upfront. By establishing which social environment is the best for your business, you will avoid costly mistakes when running your social campaigns.

Getting to know your target audience on social media is just a small step to a successful social strategy. If you would like to know what else is involved, check out our blog regularly for B2B social advice. Or if you’re on LinkedIn, follow our B2B Social Media showcase page for your daily social media intake.

P.s. If you like pretty graphs and you want to find out more on B2B social statistics, download our Social Media Metrics and Usage presentation.

No comments | Posted by Monika Lazarowicz

Marketing planning: remember that?

January 27, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Here’s something to get your dinner party off to a flying start: let’s talk about marketing planning!

And yet, if you listen to Robert Ainger and Dave Stevens talking about it, it’s actually half an hour well spent. Because they’re both men with a lot of experience, especially in B2B marketing, and they’ve got strong views on the state of the marketing nation.

The strongest of those views is that marketing planning is a neglected and under-valued craft. One that urgently needs a bit of revisiting and respect.

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Prioritising planning

Robert is an Associate Director at TMP. Dave Stevens is a B2B marketing director with experience spanning Telefónica O2, Barclays and EY (Ernst & Young).

We set them up for a discussion because we also feel that marketing planning is not the priority it should be. We hoped for an argument; we got forcible agreement.

“The trouble is, marketing planning is often foisted on marketing teams from above – often by the finance team, or a project manager,” observed Dave. “It’s seen as a box-ticking exercise, rather than an essential tool.”

It gets worse. Dave Stevens thinks that the other problem with marketing planning is that professional marketers are not very good at it.

“I’m disheartened by the number of marketers in key roles who don’t understand basic concepts like SWOT analysis,” he told Robert.

Marketing in transition

It may also be that, although marketers are aware of the concepts that drive marketing planning, they’re often subject to business pressures that stop them applying them.

“A lot of marketers on the front line these days might say, ‘Hold on, marketing has gone through some massive transitions in the past few years,’” Robert pointed out.

“These days we’re talking about marketing as publishing, or marketing as a conversation. Now that things are so fluid, you could argue that marketing planning is either a futile exercise, or at least that we need a fresh approach to the discipline.”

In fact, the vehement consensus reached by Robert and Dave is that marketing planning is more than just a useful discipline – it’s absolutely essential, especially when marketing is going through such momentous change.

Core disciplines

“If we’re talking about true marketing planning,” said Dave Stevens, “then it’s about the marketing audit, objective setting, strategy, budget – the core disciplines of professional marketing.

“With new channels to market, fragmenting audiences and the media in turmoil, planning is more valuable than ever. In particular, it’s the best way to communicate what you’re trying to achieve to the people who need to know, and who’s support you need – including the marketing director, who needs the insight to decide when it may be appropriate to intervene.”

In his previous roles, Dave has appointed a dedicated specialist to supervise the planning process and, crucially, to be responsible for delivering the plan.

“That’s a great way of demonstrating the value and importance of marketing planning,” agreed Robert. “It’s essential to show the team and the rest of the business that you’re serious, and to get their buy in.”

“What I’d really like to see is these skills applied instinctively at every step,” concluded Dave, “rather than as a separate, template-driven exercise. Marketers should always have the principles of marketing planning at their fingertips and their planning must be flexible, evolving to meet fresh demands and scenarios.”

Planning is indispensable

One other sobering thought emerged from this discussion between two seasoned B2B marketing professionals. It was the much-quoted epigram attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Plans are useless. Planning is indispensable.” Matched only perhaps by Mike Tyson’s pithy “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

If this blog has inspired you to reach into your desk drawer and dust off your marketing plan, then the point is made. When was the last time you looked at it?

On the other hand, if you’re protesting that your planning is bang on track and everyone knows exactly where they are with it, let us know. We’re still hoping for that argument.

2 comments | Posted by Stuart Constable

Is B2B tech marketing forgetting its propositions’ real audience?

January 22, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

“We’re running an event for CIOs.”

“We want meetings with CIOs.”

“We only want to send the high-value DM to CIOs.”

Enough with that.

You may have read about the series we’ve put together looking at the forgotten IT audience.

In this feature, we’re looking at the IT Operations Director (similar and sometimes inter-changeable job title to the Head of Service Delivery or the Head of IT Infrastructure). After all, they’re the ones who often make the buying decision, and then have to work with it – and are ultimately accountable when anything goes wrong.

IT_Operations_Director

The IT Operations Director is responsible for the entire IT infrastructure and the overall task of ‘keeping the lights on’.

So, why aren’t we talking to them more?

A little bit of love

The IT Operations Director is likely to be responsible for the support desk. Have Head of IT Security on their case. And be facing demands from the App Development Director for a more agile infrastructure. With so much on their plate, it’s time marketing refocused its attention on giving these people some attention.

The great thing about the role (for us marketers, anyway) is that it covers nearly everything related to IT, and with a more hands-on approach than the CIO. So where a ‘this will make your life easier’ message might not work with the CIO, it could resonate at a much deeper level with the IT Operations Director.

Watch our SlideShare presentation to really get under the skin of the IT Operations Director (what they’re responsible for, who they interact with, what they care about and how they spend their days).

We’ve previously done similar profiles for the COO and CTO. If there are other titles you’d like us to cover, just leave a comment….

1 comment | Posted by Claire Chapman

Case study: Cisco connects with the public sector

January 2, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Our recent campaign with Cisco Systems has been featured in B2B Marketing Magazine

 

B2B-marketing-campaign-case-study-PSN

The Public Services Network

In 2008, the Government launched the PSN – an ICT procurement framework designed to substantially reduce the cost of communication services across UK government and to enable new, joined-up and shared public services for the benefit of citizens. This will be achieved by creating one logical network, based on industry standards, resulting in a more open and competitive ICT marketplace.

The challenge

Many central government organisations have joined the PSN, but some local government and smaller public-sector organisations such as schools and blue light services have been slow to make the move. It was estimated that up to 40% were not fully aware of the benefits of procuring through the PSN. The perceived complexity and number of stakeholders involved only compounded the problem, leaving many organisations unsure how to progress.

As an indirect supplier to the PSN, Cisco decided to leverage its role as a trusted advisor to educate these organisations about the benefits of procuring through the PSN – ultimately creating an end-user preference for Cisco equipment.

You can read the full case study on the B2B Marketing Website 

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Evaluation criteria for marketing automation systems

December 18, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

Planning to implement a marketing automation system? Of course – it’s all the rage these days.

No doubt you’ve already mapped out in detail how you’ll be using it to support your marketing objectives? Excellent!

And built a change programme plan to make sure your organisation will be ready? Pleased to hear it.

But have you put together a list of criteria to evaluate the different vendors to compare the likes of Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and Silverpop? No? Well then hopefully this list of 60-odd considerations will be useful…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Direct mail: success is in the targeting

December 17, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

b2b direct mail best practice

We all know email’s handy. When we register for anything, email is often the default setting or our first choice over post or telephone. And it’s a cost-effective way for companies to market to their audience too – enabling a wider reach than ever before.

As a result, we receive less and less in the post. The Royal Mail predicts that the number of letters we receive will more than halve by 2023 compared to this year*. This means that when we do get something through the letter box, or a beautifully-crafted package is delivered, it’s always that bit more exciting than just receiving an email.

Take a closer look

To uncover the potential that direct mail holds in grabbing attention in today’s digital world, B2B Marketing magazine has put together a best practice guide with hints and tips from a group of experts.

I’ve contributed a section to the guide on targeting – in my mind the most important part of any marketing campaign.

After all, direct marketing obeys the same laws that govern all marketing. And that states that 40 percent of your success will be down to your targeting, 40 percent to your offer and 20 percent to your creative.

Read the full guide here to find out about getting your data in order, the art of segmentation, and getting past the gatekeeper (more affectionately known as the PA).

The opposite of lazy

Most of all, I want to reassure you that it’s not lazy campaigning to send a mail out to as few as ten people. It’s clever campaigning. After all, direct mail can be expensive, so the more drilled down the targeting, the better.

 

* The outlook for UK mail, volumes to 2023, PwC

No comments | Posted by Matt Hanks