Beam, boo and the hashtag


Just do it

Just do it


In the past week I’ve been to two seminars, billed as helping us to make our businesses digital. The first was organized by the @TheFSForum and as a delegate I was keen to hear the marketing director @HiscoxSmallBiz speak . Sorry to say she was ill on the day, so I am none the wiser about how Hiscox (a brand that I admire) is using digital. I would dearly love to know. The second event was hosted by corporate communications folk @InstinctifCorp and I was on the other side of the experience, as one of the speakers.

What struck me was how different those experiences were. The FS Forum lacked any visible sign of people engaging in digital conversation. Twitter handles went un-promoted and I scrabbled around for my joining details, desperate to find a hash tag to follow. Instead the chair fielded questions from the audience and it felt flat and un-engaging.

Being part of the Instinctif event made me think about how easy it is to get it right though, but only if you follow their lead:

  1. Give your event a hashtag – and promote it ahead, during and after the event. It sounds obvious but people aren’t doing it enough, especially in the b2b world. Make the information easy to find and splash it over all materials, slides, Twitter feeds
  2. TweetBeam – no doubt there are lots of apps like @TweetBeam  that bring together comments and consolidate them onto a wall that becomes a feature of your event. The Instinctif team got things started by posting ideas, showing us the way and encouraging everyone to join in. And join in they did, making for a lively, fast moving and more inclusive experience all round. It felt good for delegates and speakers alike
  3. Vary your content – another tip that I picked up was how the team filmed brief video clips as people trooped out the door, another means of promoting your ideas and keeping the topic alive. They introduced me to neat little app called audioBoo which records 30 second sound-bites that you can embed into a post and add a mug shot too (scary). Simple, yet a very effective way of bringing content alive whilst adding the human touch
  4. Be passionate – and finally what I noticed about everyone there (organisers, delegates, speakers) was their determination and interest in sharing their experiences and learning from others. It’s powerful stuff if you can break out of traditional ways of working

What digital does is give us better tools that enable us to be more collaborative, get into genuine dialogue, where giving ideas away is good and learning from each other is encouraged. I, for one, am a fan. Are you?

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What’s your story?

Humans Buy Services. Honest.


At ‘humansbuyservices.honest’ we believe in aligning our marketing efforts to human behaviour and away from impersonal, corporate marketing where dialogue is stifled by lack of character. It’s part of our campaign to get businesses out of their comfort zones and into meaningful, truly engaging business relationships.

1. Teach me something new – the traditional view is that sevice companies are here to inform, educate and help their clients make solid decisions. The alternative approach is to use our expertise to teach our clients something new – for example how to get their boards’ support; how to tackle a problem in a novel way; how to draw out insights they wouldn’t have, without us and our specialism. The upside? Solid, lengthy relationships and greater value for all.

2. Storytelling is the only way – a typical way to communicate is – put simply – process driven. We think about the audience, their needs, what we have that…

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Cut out the guff. Write as you speak

Paint a visual picture

Paint a visual picture

A ‘critical friend’ (aka colleague) checked some writing for me last week. Her comments were characteristically to the point – “you’ve lost sight of your audience, so cut out the management guff and write as you speak, not as you’ve been conditioned.” I couldn’t argue with her. She was right. I had lost sight of what I preach – marketing in a more friendly, human, accessible way. And it prompted this post; a recap of how to get it right.

Pictures are worth a thousand words – I know it’s a cliche but pictures work, especially in this YouTube world, where the first thing we do  is to ask the limitless Google for help, or absorb information visually via one of the excellent video channels, meaning we read less and less. So keep the pictures in your business writing, and if anything, use more to communicate simply and powerfully

Simple, short words are in – scientists have proven that long, convoluted words (pun intended) slow us down and get in the way of communication. Chuck out extra words that don’t say anything and simplify language everywhere. For example, my pet hate (along with The Daily Mail) is the word ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ says the same, but quicker. Be tough on yourself. Check every word that you use is clear and aides clarity

Express yourselfMadonna sang about it and I advocate it. It is a good thing to express character and personality in your communications, especially in these socially-savvy times, when being warm and immediate are in and being cold and distant are out. The days of ‘management speak’ are over. Let’s get more businesses marketing themselves #thehumansbuyservices way

Think about what you want people to do – there are plenty of communication experts who preach story telling, with a beginning, middle and end, but few talk about getting your audience to do something, to take action. It sounds obvious but ask yourself if you fall into this trap. Think about it upfront and plan for an outcome. I guarantee it will improve your chances of getting heard

Get the tone right – check out Sharon Tanton’s excellent post on the topic ‘How to get the tone of your writing very wrong indeed’. Sharon takes a look at “the bank who likes to say yes”, showing us what not to do

This stuff matters more than ever. Why? Because we are saturated with messages 24/7. For example, ten years ago there were four ways to communicate with me (in person, by phone, by mail and by email). Today there are at least a dozen and most of them (snail-mail excepted) are instant, very flexible and engaging. That means that management speak no longer sounds clever or impressive. It sounds old-fashioned, out of touch and slow.

Our social networks have set new ground rules and raised our expectations. They teach us to challenge what we think we know and free us up to communicate in a modern, liberating way. It doesn’t mean that these networks give us all that we need in business. They simply show us how to connect with and keep it real for the people we are trying to reach. Tell me what you think.

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Spring cleaning for marketers

grass and beautiful narcissus

The weather outside my office window is glorious – mild, bright, sunny – and it’s having a positive effect. The daffodils are in full bloom, optimisim is in the air and people are  outside, desperate to bid farewell to the long and wet winter.

In springtime we have campaigns to roll-out and need to match the energy and vigour of that new growth outside our offices. So how can we be sure that our diligent planning over the winter months will pay off? What does a spring clean for marketers look like? Let’s be inspired by the high street:

1. Edit the shop window – for most of us our shop window is our web site, the first place a potential buyer (87% of them already do this) will go to see if we have anything in the store that attracts them in. If the window is cluttered with our expertise and stuff (because we are rather fond of showing off expertise. It’s a badge of honour we need to uphold!) rather than carefully edited to give a taster, then we miss an opportunity to help our ‘shopper’ make a decision to meet. It is missed opportunity number one to draw someone in.

2. Signpost – once we attract buyers into our shop (or in our world, our offices for that initial conversation) how do we translate interest into finding out what the buyer is looking for, then signpost how we can help? In a retail environment, products are organised into types or colours or by the kind of people they are designed for eg for children, for women, and visual signs are given to match person to product. In business, we need to identify needs, then verbally and visually signpost the kinds of solutions that could be the perfect fit. For example, this can take the form of matching services clearly to needs that we identify, or through colour coding or signing routes in our marketing materials. Or it could be majoring on the ‘why us’ rather than the ‘what’, which is sadly too common in b2b. If you are not signposting, you miss opportunity number two to match need to you.

3. Language matters – using regular, everyday words always works better than fancy ones. We don’t complicate our conversations at home or the pub with lots of jargon or elaborate latin words, so why do it in business communications? Think about the tone as well. Making ourselves friendly and approachable is the goal, rather than distant and corporate. So if you don’t pass the plain English test, you miss opportunity number three.

4. Tune in – understanding how people work is a must but not always practiced. Today I went to a meeting about a new proposition launch. The sponsor is a partner, very clever and highly technical and his clients buy him. What I noticed about his approach though is that he instinctively gets the importance of also understanding human behaviour and using that knowledge to get someone interested in our new proposition. What is his secret? He enthuses about the project – he is two parts passion, to one part expertise – in explaining why this new solution is the “bees knees”. And his passion catches on. We listen. We believe. We want some of what he is selling. So if you are lacking passion in your approaches, you miss opportunity number four to engage.

So these are my tips for spring cleaning our businesses as well as our homes. Have you a tip to share?

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Why is Facebook blue? Coca-Cola, Red? Colour as Marketing – interesting stuff!

An interesting take on how we associate colours with meaning


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Two parts passion, one part expertise – the perfect cocktail?


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What’s your story?


At ‘humansbuyservices.honest’ we believe in aligning our marketing efforts to human behaviour and away from impersonal, corporate marketing where dialogue is stifled by lack of character. It’s part of our campaign to get businesses out of their comfort zones and into meaningful, truly engaging business relationships.

1. Teach me something new – the traditional view is that sevice companies are here to inform, educate and help their clients make solid decisions. The alternative approach is to use our expertise to teach our clients something new – for example how to get their boards’ support; how to tackle a problem in a novel way; how to draw out insights they wouldn’t have, without us and our specialism. The upside? Solid, lengthy relationships and greater value for all.

2. Storytelling is the only way – a typical way to communicate is – put simply – process driven. We think about the audience, their needs, what we have that helps, and then structure a message around this understanding. It’s a mechanical approach and well within our comfort zones, but does it cut through in a world where the power has shifted to the buyer? Going the story telling route gets better results, given that human beings love a good story. So why not use this technique to tell a business one, especially when persuading someone that you are better than the next advisor. The result – if you tell a story, you increase your chances of truly engaging and being remembered. That has to be good for business.

3. Visual intrigue equals retention – scientists show that if we only use words to communicate, people remember only about 10% of what we say. So one has to ask the question – why do so many businesses push out reams of words, relatively unsupported by images or video or multi media content?

“If we add pictures into the mix, then retention levels soar to 65%, so let’s major with visually intriquing content.” Terri Lucas, 2014

4. Passion – it is noticeable that those who inspire us the most usually deliver ideas with an impressive dose of passion. Ideas can be hard to come by but they don’t always have to be new for us to be convinced that a product or service is just what we need. If any idea is delivered with high energy, integrity and belief, the chances of convincing a buyer increases exponentially. Give it a try:


“Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent.” Larry Smith, TEDx, 2011

For example I went shopping for a car recently (a Mini Cooper), a model that has been around for a couple of generations. Somehow it is the passion behind the Mini that convinces me it is the car for me. Rationally I know I can buy a small car for much less, but the story behind its heritage, its packaging, its language and the passion with which it is marketed convinces me to buy. Oh and note how they thank you for your business – by a video message direct to my smart phone – to keep it personal, modern and direct to me. It nicely summarises how to market the human way, rather than by rote.

And readers – it’s important to stress these guidelines apply equally to business purchases. The only difference is that there aren’t enough service organisations who yet understand or believe that it is good for commercial results. And we should change that. Or should we?

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The rise and rise of the human-preneur

Marketing trends in 2014 – predictions from the people who know

Content by Sonja Jefferson, Valuable Content on January 4, 2014

As 2014 gets underway we’re taking a moment to pause and think about what the coming year has in store for businesses and marketers. Last year’s Valuable Content marketing predictions were pretty spot on, so we’ve rounded up another sweep of our favourite people and asked them what they see unfolding over the next 12 months. Oh, and Sharon and I have added our two pennies’ worth too.

So, from taking inspiration from the past to shrinking our networks, here’s a round up of what 2014 has in store.

1. A more meaningful few

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan

“One of the big trends in 2014 is the shift from big networking to tighter networking. We don’t want everyone. We want to connect with a smaller and more meaningful few. Also one bite networking. We want Instagram to be for pictures and we want Spotify to like each other’s playlists, etc. Small bites.”

Chris Brogan runs Human Business Works and has written many valuable books including The Impact Equation.

2. A rush for new websites and fresh content

Bryony Thomas

“As businesses start to poke their heads up from behind the barricades of recession, I think we’ll see people starting to invest in marketing again. There will a number of brand refreshes as people dust themselves off and make ready for an economic upturn (albeit modest).

My number one prediction is that websites will be refreshed left, right and centre. The ubiquity of smart phones and tablets will see lots of investments made in making websites truly responsive in their design. The acceptance of content marketing will see valuable materials replace sales pages, and social platforms become more embedded in a company’s digital infrastructure. And, yes, I know our website needs sorting… it’s on the 2014 list!”

Bryony Thomas is author and founder of Watertight Marketing.

3. Looking back to move forward

David Meerman Scott

“2014 is a year where we look to the past for inspiration. We will be energized and spark ideas based on what forward thinking marketers did decades ago. We will realize that while the tools of marketing have changed dramatically in our ongoing communications revolution, strategies for success are rooted in human nature and understanding an audience and those realities haven’t changed.”

David Meerman Scott is author of the New Rules of Marketing and PR (and in September the New Rules of Sales and Service).

4. The rise and rise of the human-preneur

Terri Lucas

“This year we’ll see the rise and rise of the human-preneur. Let’s hope business entrepreneurs blend their skills this year – using the entrepreneurial nose for sniffing out an opportunity or fresh angle on a product or service; and combine it with a genuine interest in the customer and doing the right thing for them, not just in the moment but over time.

Treating people as human beings, ones we enjoy doing business with has to be the best way to create lasting, profitable relationships. Marketers will do well to guide their efforts away from corporate short-termism toward showing boards how to add value over a term.”

Terri Lucas is Director of Marketing at Hymans Robertson LLP, and writes the excellent Humans Buy Services blog.

5. Marketing possibilities, not stuff

Tim LeRoy

“This year we are not going to be focusing on the stuff, or beautiful people using the stuff, but just on the things real people are doing with the stuff.

We’ll see a lot more companies telling other people’s stories and they’ll be truer, richer and more natural. The kicker is that they might not even feature that company’s product; they’ll just share the same values or style.

Case studies and endorsements have always been compelling marketing tools, but they are becoming more artful, more beautifully opaque and even a bit more obscure. They’ll be whatever the opposite of ‘in your face’ is: subtle and sophisticated. Quite often they won’t even feature a product; they’ll just show the possibilities. Most products aren’t actually very exciting but the things people do with boring saucepans, cameras, shoes and computers never cease to amaze us, to delight us and to inspire us.

You won’t be sold to, you’ll be nudged: “This is what someone just like you is doing. You could do that too. You don’t even need our stuff; you just need our attitude.” Content marketing will work best this year when it’s subtly gone beyond valuable to be inspiring (see Coldwater Surfing People Finisterr and BeerBods).”

Tim LeRoy is head of marketing at Novatech and writes the insightful Dirt Met the Water blog.

6. Video marketing finally comes of age

Chris Thurling

“YouTube has been with us since 2005, but many marketers have yet to realise the full potential of video. Brand owned YouTube channels are often nothing more than an archive of TV ads. Savvy advertisers know that a different approach is required online. The best “made for Web” video is more often than not simple, useful and informative – the mirror image in fact of many TV commercials.

Meanwhile, the analytics behind online video is getting more powerful. When integrated with CRM and marketing automation platforms marketers have the opportunity to know which prospects have engaged with the content and to follow up accordingly.

So I predict that 2014 will see more brands work out how to produce web appropriate video and the really smart brands hook up their content to technology that drives sales and customer loyalty.”

Chris Thurling is our much respected chairman here at Valuable Content and board member at Bristol Media.

7. The growing personalisation of business

Charles H Green

“Last year I wrote about the personalisation of business. It’s still happening, it’s far from done, and it’s still important – so I’m going to double down and repeat it:

Business is outsourcing, modularising and compartmentalising – more and more. That means business is moving from hierarchical, intra-company relationships to horizontal, external commercial relationships. That means there will be far more buyers, sellers, and transactions between equals. And that means: the most valuable coin of the business realm will be the ability to collaborate, trust, and play together nicely in the sandbox with other human beings.”

Charles H. Green is author and founder of Trusted Advisor.

8. Design will be valued like never before

Lizzie Everard

Lizzie Everard

“I notice a shift in the way businesses—and particularly people launching brilliant new ventures—are bringing great design into all aspects of their messaging. So, I think this year we will see a growth in the value being put on expert design and visual communication, delivered by really clever individuals teaming up in unique collaborations.

Why do I say this? Firstly, we’re all tired of the slick, flashy sell. What we want is the truth, told in ways that speak with heartfelt personality, so we can make good choices and stop trashing the planet and each other. Design is absolutely at the heart of this, with massive power to convey your messages in all your / your business’ barefaced, beautiful character.

Secondly, effective business today is driven by real relationships based on trust. Good design can powerfully open and sustain these relationships, with integrity and with consistency, over the long haul.

And thirdly, about these expert collaborations – as technology speeds up, solo experts are better placed to swiftly pair up with other experts as and when it’s right. People connect with people; small is beautiful.

Lizzie Everard is a visual communicator, helping people shape their ideas into great designs, that tell their business stories with heart and soul. She’s also our invaluable and award winning designer here at VC.

9. Brands will buy media companies

Joe Pulizzi

“My number one prediction is that large, enterprise brands will start to buy established media companies.  Instead of just starting content centers of excellence from the ground up, larger brands will look at the “build it vs. buy it” scenario, and look for media properties that have a number of existing subscribers to draw from.  Google and Microsoft will definitely be in the mix.”

Joe Pulizzi is founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of new book Epic Content Marketing.

10. Businesses wake up to the changed face of sales

Neil J Fletcher

Neil J. Fletcher

“The final emergence of the UK economy from the global financial crisis heralds a challenging year for many companies. They will no longer be able to use ‘the recession’ as an excuse for their inability to win new business.

Instead of spending the last 5 years looking, listening and learning about the changing face of buying, they turned inwards, pulled down the shutters and waited for the storm to pass.

As they look up and out that dot they see is their smarter competitor: the one who has taken the time to remodel their sales processes to match their customers’ buying processes; the one who has developed and implemented a valuable content marketing plan; the one who positively encourages their salespeople to blog and tweet, trains them how to to do it right and trusts them to get on with it.

If you start running now, you just might catch up with them.”

Neil J. Fletcher is Owner of Arrosam – a new sales consultancy for Science, Engineering and Technology companies.

11. More noise and shorter attention spans

Henneke Duistermaat

“2014 will see activity and noise on the web exploding, while attention span will continue to get shorter. It has been suggested that the average attention span has shortened from 12 seconds in 2010 to only 8 seconds in 2012 (which is even less than the 9-second attention span of a goldfish!).

In 2014 you might just have 6 or 7 seconds to grab someone’s attention. How can you stand out in such a distracted world? It’s becoming ever more important to know exactly who your target audience is, to build up a trusting relationship with them, and to provide valuable content. Your content needs to be incredibly helpful, entertaining, or inspirational. That’s how you win the battle for attention in a distracted world.”

Henneke Duistermaat is Managing Director at Enchanting Marketing.

12. We’ll focus on the ‘why’ not the ‘what’

Ian Sanders

Ian Sanders

“When we think of trends we tend to think of *new* ideas. But for 2014 I’m going to pick something that isn’t that new – the idea that brands and business focus on selling ‘the why’ rather than their product features and benefits. This was the subject of Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED talk which is worth watching. Instead of selling your product or service, sell your ‘why’. Why did you start your business? Why are you driven to do what you do? Why do you want to make a difference to your customer’s lives. In a crowded market, your why will help you stand out.

Ian Sanders is an adviser and business storyteller. He tells stories about, and for, business; he also helps businesses find their ‘why’.

13. We will stop talking about content!

Sonja Jefferson

Sonja Jefferson

“2014 is the year we stop talking about content…in isolation. With so many firms now waking up to the power of content, having a blog, being on Twitter or producing an ebook is no longer a differentiator, in itself. I’ve noticed that the companies who are winning are those that are valuable to the core. Their desire to put clients/customers first goes way beyond their content: their leadership team, their marketing, messaging and sales people, their delivery and customer service experts – all align to do what’s right for the people they serve. Valuable content is the catalyst, the frontrunner in a bigger drive for better business – outward proof you give a shit about your clients’ and customers’ needs. So in 2014 I predict we’ll see businesses producing some fabulously useful, inspiring content as part of a wider drive to add genuine value, from the inside out.”

Sonja Jefferson – that’s me! I run Valuable Content and wrote the Valuable Content Marketing book with Sharon – that’s her↓

14. Joining the dots

Sharon Tanton

Sharon Tanton

“The content landscape is built on shifting sands. Facebook is being deserted by teenagers, they’ve all moved to Snapchat where it’s all about the instant hit and no one else is watching them.

Businesses need to take note.  My view is that we are going to all have to work much harder to get attention and keep it. Even great ideas lose their sparkle quickly these days.  We respond instantly to things and move on, searching for the next hit of new and brilliant.

For businesses this means listening harder and getting even more creative with their marketing and communications.

But creating something fantastic is just the start. The real effort needs to go into converting that fleeting spark of interest into something longer lasting.  The winners in 2014 will be the businesses with a meaningful and brilliant story to tell that join it all up – who combine agility, creativity and a deep understanding of their customers in everything they say and do.”

Sharon Tanton is the co-author of the Valuable Content Marketing book, and creative director here at VC Towers. This year she really needs to get a new photo taken.

We’ve showed you ours. How about yours?

Some clear themes here aren’t there, but what do you think? When you gaze into your crystal ball for 2014 do these predicted trends hit home? What’s on the cards for 2014 in the marketing and business development world? Go on, leave a comment. We’d love to hear your musings.

Huge thanks to all those who took time to contribute.

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Throwing out the marketing rulebook

Valuable Content Award for Hymans Robertson – bringing the ‘feel good factor’ to professional marketing

Guest post by Sonja Jefferson,

Professional services companies are not generally known for taking risks with their marketing. Anyway, creative, fun, humorous content is strictly for the consumer market, right?

Wrong, and workplace pensions advisers Hymans Robertson have proved it with the ‘Mr Feelgood’ campaign – throwing out the old professional services marketing rulebook once and for all.

This bold, imaginative and totally integrated campaign has brought in unprecedented amounts of new business in just a few short months.

That’s why we’re delighted to present October’s Valuable Content Award to Hymans Robertson. Courageous marketing director Terri Lucas answers Sonja’s questions about the approach.

But first, a bit of background…

Hymans Robertson wanted to shake up the workplace pensions market with a new approach that would benefit employees and employers alike.

Terri Lucas

Terri says: “At the moment pensions are about putting money in, transferring the risk to the individual without giving them the tools to manage that risk. But this approach is storing up problems for the future when the next generation realises it is retiring into poverty. We were determined to address this issue. Our breakthrough arrived when we came up with an approach that’s much more focused on outcomes than inputs – we call it ‘Guided Outcomes’ (GO).”

So Hymans Robertson had a great idea and a strong story but needed great content as a means of explaining it. Terri wanted to build a daring and creative campaign that would really bring the new concept to life and connect with clients and prospects on a very human level.

Mr Feelgood was born.

How important was it to stand out in this market?

“We were up against much bigger names in this market so we knew we had to do something different, to be imaginative and stand out creatively. It’s a route we can pull off because as a steadfastly independent firm we have the freedom to be bold and daring, even if we we don’t have the budgets of the bigger business. A straightforward literal presentation of Guided Outcomes wasn’t going to be enough. My steer to agencies was ‘don’t bother us with anything that’s traditional or corporate or navy blue’.”

How did Mr Feelgood come about?

“The idea for Mr Feelgood came from the agency Landscape. We’d put the project out to pitch and Landscape delivered beyond expectations. Eight out of ten of us on the Hymans Robertson panel immediately said ‘yes, that’s it, we’ve got to do that!’ When it’s right, it’s right.”

What content did you create and how was it shared?

“As well as working it into our main corporate website we developed a stand alone microsite as a base for the Guided Outcomes message – A big part of bringing the website content alive was through animation and we developed four fun little Mr Feelgood videos. Alongside this we crafted regular content to educate the market and tell the story plus a more traditional film where we got industry contacts and potential clients like Marks and Spencer talking about how excited they were about Guided Outcomes. We wanted testimonials and endorsements so we worked that into the video.

PR was important for making the case and for building profile and awareness. We got national, broadcast and trade coverage – the story was in the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the FT, the Telegraph, radio 5 and lots of trades. The Pensions Minister Steve Webb  found the new thinking so thought provoking that we know it is now on his radar as another solution as he considers pensions reform.

We hosted a series of in-house events around the topic too. We placed ads in the trade press. Ads, PR and social media are good for awareness and familiarity. We find that things like direct marketing and events are better for prospecting and getting meetings.

Our sales and marketing teams are really tightly integrated. We worked hard to make sure that our marketing messages and sales pitches were consistent and joined up. It all needs to be linked and follow up conducted by the business development team in a timely fashion.

We don’t shy away from direct marketing here at Hymans Robertson, as long as it’s creative and genuinely helpful. We crafted a creative mail out campaign using mini iPads that looked brilliant. The iPads were sent to carefully selected prospects with a pre-loaded presentation (starring Mr Feelgood of course) with links to the microsite content, which our new business people could follow up.

Social media played a part too. We set up a #FeelGoodFriday hashtag and had a bit of fun on Twitter and LinkedIn using the Mr Feelgood dude kind of feel and tone. This helped us to spread the word and extend the news to our networks. We got conversations going through Twitter with journalists and got a bit of coverage that way. “

This is a valuable, multi-channel approach that has really paid off.

And the results?

“The campaign launched in May this year and since then, in new business terms, we’ve had extraordinary success.

We made 315 calls and from that secured 78 meetings so far. We have 52 opportunities in the pipeline and we’ve won five major new clients to date! We’ve recently conducted a poll on name recognition in this market against our competitors and we now have 45% recognition, from pretty much a standing start.”

What lessons can other professional businesses draw from your approach?

  1. Take the creative route and dare to be different. I think the business-to-business and professional services sector is way behind applying some useful techniques from consumer advertising that would make a world of difference between fitting in or standing out. Be imaginative, have some fun with your marketing. It needn’t be boring.
  2. Get proactive. In professional services we still have an old fashioned stigma where perhaps business used to come through the door more readiliy and doing nasty active marketing and sales things was seen as a bad thing. I think there’s still some of that legacy left.
  3. Give your content meaning (and make sure it looks great). The real value is giving it meaning to the people you are trying to attract. We also believe that content needs to look brilliant – we are bombarded with information and communicate in a 24/7 world so we need to be grabbed instantly. But once grabbed, there also needs to be substance, so having a strong visual is a vital component but not enough in itself.
  4. Show don’t tell. This was definitely key to the GO project. We had something new and abstract, a different way of working, so our task is to show them the way, show how different could be better.
  5. Multi-channel is the only way when it comes to taking your idea to market. Use all the tools you have available to you – ‘old’ and new can work together.
  6. Joined up sales and marketing. To get sales results you need absolute integration. Believing from the top that sales and marketing should be integrated is the right place to start. We need good relationships and trust between the teams and then just belief that we make it so. We drive it through that way. It’s not about ‘marketing is here to support sales’. I just won’t tolerate that. We’re in it together; we’re working for the same firm. Sales needs us to warm up the market, get people talking, get some buzz and excitement. Marketing needs sales to walk through doors and convert that into work.
  7. You need strong leadership; you need leverage. It’s about staying focused on the task, having regular catch ups and pushing people faster than they think they can go if you want to be first to market.
  8. Be human. Treat your buyers as human beings as well as the professionals they are.
  9. Oh, and don’t be too attracted by new shiny things. I think with the mini iPads we got a bit carried away! The idea was so strong we didn’t need to got that far!”

There is so much to learn from Hymans Robertson’s bold concept, creative content and tightly integrated business development campaign.

Congratulations to Terri and team – we’re mightily impressed. Your award badges are on the way. Professional services marketing has never felt so gooood!

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Talking ’bout my generation

barclays research slide

At a conference recently, I came across an interesting report from Barclays explaining the varying needs of the five generations in the workplace today, which shows a simple, yet effective way of engaging with them in all their rich variety. Check out the report findings in the YouTube clip, or if you are pushed for time, the slide brings to life how different age groups consume information in markedly different ways.

If you embrace the reality of how people actually consume information (and get out of management theory land), you should be on engaging your workforce in a genuine way.

Anyone like to agree or challenge the rationale?


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