Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

More on Marketing in 2012

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

The opportunities
The golden CHANNEL of social media, the importance of mobile (“talking to me on the move”),the increased value of a brands-owned media properties, and the all-important value of lovely “sticky” content–to attract, and grow a brands equity, and further build a quality exchange between a brand and a customer, are for me, the key marketing opportunities for 2012.

The pitfalls
Brands who solely rely on continuous discounting, will eventually get stuck in a “Daz cul-de-sac”. These brands will just end up annoying customers (Oh, and I could mention so many brands here). There is every risk that these brands will actually lose market share (even with their impressive, incessant discounting), and trigger the click to the instant ‘unsubscribe’ button for the continuous intrusion, or even worse, create a real sense of anger as a result of receiving continuous ‘wasted on me’ DM that goes through the letterbox (a meltdown I routinely experience). These brands will ultimately fail to sustain any redeeming value in their brand, let alone manage a connection with its desired customers.

Customer insight
Again, any sound marketer will know this. The brands that take time to listen to their customers and really ‘get’ them will be better placed in 2012 than if they don’t invest in insights. It will be up to brands to convince a customer to turn to them over their rivals. The clever brands will demonstrate a real understanding of them and can increase levels of engagement through tactics such as dynamically served content. Moreover, they will aim to ‘delight’ rather than simply service.

The importance of community and conversations
Yes, I know, its been said before, and I am going to say it again! Brands who cleverly persuade and build great like-minded communities, and can also capitalise on our desire for social connectedness (even if it is an increasingly virtual one) will win over more customers, and of these many will be referred on via social communities and features.  Brands who panic and just blatantly push more product at us (that we know we don’t really need), will lose out. Harnessing these built-up communities, and leveraging and rewarding your  most loyal customers (or brand advocates), will be the winning formula. Social sharing, word-of-mouth referrals, product recommendations and ratings are all powerful influencing forces.

Customer experience will be key for retailers (both online and in store)

When it comes to experience – you may or may not like her, but Mary Portas is right on the money when it comes to retail. I really love her straight-talking style. (Are you sure she’s not Australian?).


Portas rallies up some very sound and quite frankly refreshingly uncomplicated advice for British high street retailers (and I know she has travelled further afield to share more of her wisdom –such as Australia. For me, she has the three key principles of thinking:

1) Know your customer (and make sure you understand what they want/like);

2) Deliver an exceptional service (segue to John Lewis) and, finally;

3) Create an experience, not just a room of products (take Apple as one great example). Both above-mentioned brands are premium brands and have recently posted their post-Christmas results – see below.

1-Know your customer (and make sure you understand what they want/ like)

2-Deliver an exceptional service (segue John Lewis & Apple as examples)

3- Create an experience, not just a store of products.
Both above mentioned brands are premium brands, and have recently posted their post Christmas results – see for yourself.

John Lewis reveals impressive results by Iain Laing, The Journal Jan 5 2012

Apple Reports Fourth Quarter Results: All-Time Record Mac and iPad Sales. Highest September Quarter Revenue and Earnings Ever.

AB :) x

AgencyBelle’s 2012 Marketing predictions

January 6, 2012 2 comments

If, like me, you subscribe to far too many trade bulletins and community forums, then you will know that they have been all hard at it from December, right through January, with round-ups for 2011.

2011 was a real techno-media frenzy – so much going on and I am not ashamed to say I was having trouble keeping pace with the technological and web developments. It was as if we were all on fast-forward. (And I think we still are).

I have also noted a plethora of reporting on research initiatives relating more often to social media. There will be attempts to try to account for the so-called soft investment. It demonstrates to me that social media is now a significant marketing channel and finance teams across the nation are scared about its non-standard measures in terms of ROI.

Marketers still need to justify their expenditure, so this year will be a year of trying to get a grip with fine-tuning these metrics – well, excluding The FMCG giant Unilever, with its “More magic, less logic” approach to marketing, which was revealed in 2011: “It wanted to shake up its numbers-led strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks, and back creative ideas.” From Marketing Week (source:

Bravo! to Senior Global Marketers: Keith Weed & Marc Mathieu.

The Expert Predictions for 2012

So what do the experts predict as key marketing trends for 2012? For those interested, here are a few to browse through:





The only way is up!

December 15, 2011 1 comment

Marketing magazine Agency of the Year award, 2011.

Marketing magazine gives Seven the thumbs up-and boy are we proud of our achievements this year. Written by Nicola Clark, 13 December, 2011.



…The agency’s thriving consultancy business is credit to the depth of thinking delivered by chief executive Sean King and the team.

The judges picked out Seven’s focus on bringing quality content to digital channels. They detected a palpable excitement about the way in which digital and multimedia are transforming the industry to help Seven push the boundaries with its clients.

There is no doubt that, while some competitors have struggled to integrate digital into their offering, Seven is leading the field in migrating to earned-media platforms. The agency has also established itself as a hub of thought leadership in the industry; digital development director Mike Burgess regularly speaks at events.

Seven also scored highly on effectiveness, both in terms of generating direct sales and ‘return on engagement’. The judges heaped praise on Seven’s cross-platform work for Sainsbury’s, CIMA and New Look, among others, and the quality of its management and editorial teams.

The agency found time to scoop some important new-business wins, too, including McDonald’s, restaurant operator D&D London and Virgin Atlantic’s social travel site, V-travelled.

Content Curators – The Big Debate!

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

There has been much debate lately about who is best placed to deliver effective content (from a brand’s voice to a customer base), and also what comprises good content. What I will say about this is – content should be well considered (strategically led), well crafted (experts in that field) and effectively executed (via the right media channels). How it works for one brand or sector over another will vary.

Consumers are now being hit by a wide range of content (not simply delivered from a brand). It is being delivered from both free and paid sources, and from highly authoritative and expert curators or publishers as well as social and anecdotal commentators and individuals. It is one great big melting pot out there – more so in the online and mobile world.

In this pot, commercial (sales-led) content can jostle alongside credible or specialist and highly authoritative and creative sources. Possibly the worst thing a brand could do is blur any one of these boundaries, or distinctions, or simply cut corners. Great content is indeed well curated, well balanced and well considered, but fundamentally it also values the importance of our individual needs, and right of access and refusal to participate.

Let the content battle commence! So, what comes after a tectonic, techno-media shift? A battle for the middle ground. By middle ground, I mean the zone firmly wedged between above-the-line advertising campaigns, and through-the-line promotional activity – it’s that lovely “sweet spot” that branded content occupies – or does it? I’m sure there will be debate around this.

This critical middle ground is becoming the big battle zone for marketers (and agencies, for that matter). It’s a zone, or space, that customers feel really ok with engaging in. Why is this? Because, in that zone, you get a whole lot of great stuff going on – including branded content. 

It’s all about WIFM! 
I will always argue that the success of branded content relies squarely on the concept of WIFM – What’s In it For Me? If a brand is willing to give me something and it’s something I can benefit from, enjoy or share, then I am more than receptive to it. Of course, the assumption is that whatever the product is (magazine, site, app, for example), it is a product that has value, expertise and authority and is meaningfully aligned or connected to the brand (giving it to me). I’ll leave the debate on authority and authenticity for another day.

One important ground rule to highlight, however, is that customers are made clear about the commercial context of any branded content – that the selling is well defined, and the informative or entertainment value is well meaning and makes sense when coming from that brand (or its association). Sometimes the commercial and entertainment value combine seamlessly, like an exciting architectural fusion, but mostly they better exist in distinction.

So, what is the secret to creating the best content or, even better, where to start when considering your content strategy? Well, now, that would be telling. But if you do want to speak to an expert, give me a shout @AgencyBelle. I will be more than happy to help out ;) 

In the meantime, here are few starting points.

1. Know your customers.

2. Think about the kind of content you would meaningfully align or want associated to your brand.

3. Think about how you want your customers to interact with your content.

* Be educated or informed

* Be entertained

* Play with it

* Share it

* Be inspired by it

4. Consider the content mix:

* Magazines

* Advertorials

* Videos

* Blogs

* Pod & Vodcasts

* Guides

* Case studies

* eBooks

* Interactive games

* Mobile content & apps

* Microsites

* Webinars

* Social content

* Research and surveys

* Infographics

* White papers

* Newsletters (electronic and print)

5. And check out my blog – Does your brand need a content MOT here:

6. This is also a great blog on 3 key pillars to successful content:

7 New Marketing Buzzwords – explained.

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Ok, so you want to stay ahead of the curve?  Here are a couple of corking buzzwords merging into the middle-ground of marketing, and my spin on them:

1 Media Creep: A juncture in your life, when you realise you have been hijacked by Social Media, and you are compelled to join TUS (Twitter Users Anonymous).

2 Post Advertising: An unusual and artistic uprising against inappropriate marketing emails, one size fits all TV commercials and cheap untargeted DM. A typical statement would be something like ‘OPT ME OUT’.

3 Physical Interactivity: It’s something you no longer do. It’s some where in East Anglia.

4 Videofication: A type of computer porn for troubled silver surfers who spend way too much time sharing crap gathered from YouTube.

5 Gamification: Similar to above, but essentially involves no skill at all.

6 Cloud marketing: When you go head-to-head in a virtual world to win market share that doesn’t exist, and acquire customers who are a figment of your companies data imagination.

7 SEO: Stands simply for Stop Excessive Obsessions… checking your email every 3 seconds, Tweeting in between that, and worrying about some old, not so interesting former school pal’s day on Facebook. Relax.

Have a relaxing weekend! ABx

How to generate great intellectual and creative combustion…

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I was involved in a pitch very recently, in fact I get involved in them a lot – it’s part of my job. I have the often, unenviable role of New Business, but i do love it.

We have recently been doing a lot of soul-searching as an agency.  By this I mean, we have been trying to get to the bottom of how we can win more business.  It’s tough out there.  We are a great agency, no questions there and we have an enviable track-record.  However, we have been asking ourselves some important, strategic questions like: How do we ensure we maintain our new business conversion rates? We had a great year last year, but times are tough, and the creative battleground is intense.

Lots of people talk about the importance of chemistry in a pitch situation. Lots of big agencies produce great tombs on what they think is the secret formula to winning new business.  I’ve read several of them lately.  Many talk about the importance of the team, the emotional connection you need to establish with your client, the importance of gaining power leading up to the pitch, the story-telling and so on.  These are agencies who know their stuff – they land big expensive briefs.

So, after much review and introspection, we have adopted a new formula to winning new business. It’s in its early days, but it seems to be a good approach.  Mind you we have only trialed it once.

So, what is the secret of this new formula? Well it’s not a radical one.  Sure there are some really practical things we have implemented, much of which is taken from books already written, so it’s not ground-breaking stuff. For me the secret is all about the team.

On this point, I was reading a lovely blog by MSCO today.  Here is an extract from it:

“One of the great paradoxes of life is that one gains enormous strength, security and independence by learning to be alone. If you need no one, then you are free to carefully and meticulously select those you want to surround yourself with. What’s more, you will hug but never cling.

On the other hand, if we are fortunate enough to be part of a human unit, a collaboration, that is greater than the sum of its parts, we can generate the kind of intellectual and creative combustion that is often the by-product of two or more dissimilar people seeking to achieve something far bigger than themselves.

In the end, whichever route we take, the goal is — in one way or another– to turn on the world. It is and always has been, the true signature of greatness.”

Read the full blog here

The last pitch we did (and we won it I must add), it was just last month, we had some awesome ‘intellectual and creative combustion’ going on. Why? Because, we really joined up as a team.  We also had no ego’s in the room.  Well, we did, but they were always parked at the door (and when we met) we all joined up as one big ego.  We also established a great team chemistry (from the outset), and importantly discussed and shared our immediate sense of victory (from the outset), we also rallied one another to get the best end result. We regularly challenged things, in a constructive way and we respected each others input.

As a result, we came up with an awesome idea for this global giant. This idea actually knocked their socks off – we even got a round of applause at the end of our pitch presentation.  I’ve been doing this for many years, and to this day, I have never had a client clap, let alone 7 of them!

What this experience told me is that we are certainly more powerful as a joined up entity, and one that is respectful and collaborative, and even nurturing of the other.  Pitches that are formed and created by a team of individuals jostling for the limelight do not perform well.  I have seen this in action.

If I could bottle that magical chemistry next time round, I know we’d be a guaranteed front-runner, and every time!

iPad apps take flight

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

There has been so much talk about the impact of the iPad – this week I was particularly impressed by the story about United Airlines and Apple deploying 11,000 iPads for its United & Continental pilots. From

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying,” said Captain Fred Abbott, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, in a press release.

Another impressive app story?

PROJECT magazine, created by leading content agency, Seven,  in partnership with Virgin.

If you have not yet downloaded a copy, go and check any one of the 10 issues out here:

What is so impressive about this app?

PROJECT magazine for the iPad – was the first international native iPad magazine.  It was created by London-based agency, Seven in partnership with Virgin and was launched by Sir Richard Branson himself in New York on 30 November 2010.

Some stats about PROJECT:

  • Within two days of launch, the ground-breaking magazine was No.1 in the App Store globally.
  • At the launch of the iPad 2 in San Francisco, PROJECT was spotted pre-loaded on to all of Apple’s new devices to showcase their capability.
  • The app titled PROJECT is now downloaded in 18 countries and has been voted one of the best iPad apps, including Apple themselves with numerous featured lisitngs in the App store.
  • Creating a global impact, in the previous 10 months PROJECT has won over much praise from Apple, industry experts, bloggers, fans and top advertisers worldwide.
  • For the 1st issue of Project, Seven secured advertising with brands including: Ford, Amex, Lexus, Kronenbourg 1664 and Panasonic.
  • PROJECT magazine has already scored a 14/15 rating and is in the top 1% of apps in iMonitor’s Best Publication Apps evaluation, on a par with major publications the Sunday Times and USA Today.
  • The McPheters & Company’s iMonitor service provides a detailed evaluation and global tracking of 1,600-plus media-related iPad apps from more than 50 countries. The list represents the best of breed, featuring apps that score in the top 2% of all apps that have been evaluated by iMonitor in the past year.*
  • Issue 5 of PROJECT, saw the launch of the world’s first ever gyroscope iPad magazine coverusing the latest gyro hardware to control HTML5 canvas objects. The result was a magazine front-cover packed full of the latest movie characters that readers can explore by moving their iPad
    around them.
  • Issue 6 saw three publishing world exclusives with the first ever 3D gesture-controlled magazine art gallery that took inspiration from the Snow Stack CSS visual effects demo. The unique gallery used WebKit’s 3D CSS transforms to render a wall that changes perspective as you move
    along it.
  • Issue 6 also innovatively featured an entire album’s worth of music in a retro boombox. Created using HTML5 audio tags, the interactive music player works using a drag and drop JavaScript functionality.
  • The fashion pages featured an incredible 360-degree view of this summer’s outfits on a revolving clothes stand, which takes magazine fashion pages to a new level, created using a video shot of the rotating clothes stand, converted into multiple images and resulting in a 360-degree view when swiping.
  • Seven produced a revolutionary design and navigation refresh for issue 7.If you are excited about iPads like me, and want to know more about how the platform might drive improvements to your current content or communications strategy – get in contact with me via  or @AgencyBelle

3 amazing ideas that transformed the way we communicate

We all want to know what the future holds in the world of marketing, but I can’t help but feel that we now exist in a world of complete unpredictability.   Anyway, I felt a wee bit nostalgic today, and so I thought, rather than try and crystal ball gaze,  I would reflect back on 3 ideas that have absolutely transformed how we interact on a daily basis.

1 -  thx 4 a Gr8 da!

The vision of Matti Makkonen, and the world of SMS and the power of the mobile.

Yes! There was a time when no one believed we would type such a basic or seemingly “unsophisticated” text messages on an (at the time) “sophisticated” handset.  And that mobile phone penetration rates would never exceed 20% per capita…or for that matter, and further down the track, buy and sell goods on ebay, order groceries online (i’ve got my time down to 8 minutes!).  How wrong were we? And how important is our mobile phones to our daily world of communication.  Going beyond a simple handset to a powerful mutli-media device that for many represents the next important thing to our partners and kids! OK, maybe before our homes too.

2 – @agencybelle I’ll # you if you # me!

We are now becoming a nation of Tweeters. Some would say it is an addiction. Tech Crunch says: “It took 3 years, 2 months and 1 day from the first Tweet to get to the billionth Tweet. In a given week, users send a billion Tweets. Users are now sending 140 million Tweets, on average, per day, up from 50 million Tweets sent per day, a year ago. The all-time high in terms of Tweets sent per day was 177 million sent on March 11, 2011″   for full article see here:

It’s hard to believe it is only been 3 years since it’s introduction.  I can’t imagine a world without my Twitter, nor without my mobile. Here is also a great blog on how Twitter was born:

And If you love a stat or two?  check this blog out, to help you get the most out of Twitter via Social media monitoring:

3- Find me on Facebook. 

Love it or loathe it, it’s a true success story. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in February 2004 from his Harvard dorm room, and at only 23 years old, Zuckerberg is the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.

In just 7 years Facebook now boasts:

  • More than 750 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
  • Entrepreneurs and developers from more than 190 countries build with Facebook Platform
  • People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day
  • Every month, more than 250 million people engage with Facebook on external websites
  • Since social plugins launched in April 2010, an average of 10,000 new websites integrate with Facebook every day
  • More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, including over 80 of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and over half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites
  • There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.

Living in a world of constant convergence, it is no wonder Facebook has now introduced their seamless messaging service.  This aims to channel all you messages with someone  to one place, whether they are sent over chat, email or SMS. You can see everything you’ve discussed with a friend within a single conversation.  Remind you of anything else?  Most importantly, it only filters friends into your social inbox, and pushes everything else to “Other”.

Is this possible on my Gmail account??? please help!

I can’t help feel that great ideas are often the most simple, and moreover often involve making life easier, sometimes more fun, and more effective. Brands who crack this and can offer consumers a  solution to any one of life’s necessities  or complexities  will continue to win our share of wallet as well as hearts and minds.


1 in 5 men read their iPad on the loo!

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

We recently conducted a huge survey of over 1000 iPad users (the most comprehensive to date), and came up with some great data. Some confirmation of what we had suspected all along and some suprising finds. You can find our highlights of our iPad research here but here are some of the finds that I think are important.

The first story picked up by brand republic revealed that 1 in 5 men read their iPad on the loo. The twitter response was “what? Only 1 in 5?”

Delve deeper into the data and you’ll found some real gems. So a large proportion of iPad owners (55%) are over 45, but a correspondingly large majority of iPads (62%) are used by entire households including, spouses, flat mates and children with the average iPad being used by over 2 people. Delivering a significantly larger audience than mere sales stats reveal.

So maybe this doesn’t strike you as a huge proportion of the population. Bearing in mind that this device, indeed this entire CATEGORY of device is only a year old this is pretty remarkable. Look again at the data and we find that 39 % of iPad owners are using their laptops less, 35% are using their desktop less and are watching 10% less television.

It’s conclusive, the iPad is a properly disruptive piece of technology. Owners are abandoning old forms of media (including so-called ‘new media’ like fixed line Internet) for this young, touchy feely, upstart that is the tablet computer. The data shows that the iPad is ‘kind of mobile’ but with most usage at home. 98% use it at home as opposed to 47% travelling or 19% commuting.

As publishers of iPad only magazine PROJECT, we have collated vast amounts of data about what works, what doesn’t in engaging audiences on the device but until you really know who your readers are it’s difficult to really draw conclusion about the future of this platform and it’s real potential for marketing and entertaining the a mainstream audience. The data has gone some way to completing the circle for us.

What is branded content?

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Someone asked me this question, just the other day. I have to say, I had to think carefully about the reply this time, because I was having a conversation with a person outside of the world of marketing.

So what is branded content? and are there any great examples around?  What about the iPad?

Firstly, the definition? Well, “Wiki” says, Branded Content is essentially a “fusion of advertising and entertainment into one”, but it is “intended to be distributed as entertainment content”. I think this sounds a little misleading.  It is essentially, and in my opinion, a marketing execution that is editorially-led, and funded by a brand, in part, or as a whole.  It can take the form of a magazine, app, website and video production/ film/ TV programing etc.

First and foremost, it’s important to state here,  that the branding or advertising element does not need to be hidden, or underhanded, in fact honesty is the best policy when it comes to the integration of the advertising message.  I know,  from experience in developing great branded content, giving your customer something for nothing, generally results in a high acceptance of receiving advertising or promotional messages.  And furthermore this honesty bolsters the commercial outcome (in real £££’s).

Wikipedia also says branded content, as a concept has been around a long while.  Specifically, 2001 has been heralded as the key date for the rise in popularity of branded content, as a key marketing technique.  It was suggested that The Hire, a series of short films made by BMW, created, together with some of the worlds best directors ( distributed  online & DVD) was the real turning point for branded content. See: This then propelled other marketers into developing  films, games, music, interactive content etc.

So from 2001, branded content was firmly (re)born, and has evolved greatly.  So where is it going in terms of the tablet?

The most successful examples of branded content for the tablet, specifically the iPad, are unquestionably linked with the quality of content, relevancy to the reader, or intended audience, and notwithstanding those who have integrated a seamless editorial to sales journey.

Some of the better examples of branded content available on the iPad include:

A lovely, seductive, weekly iPad magazine app that includes content straight from their seasonal photo shoots, exclusive videos, and fashion tips and advice for the serious Fashionista.

I’ve downloaded it and the user experience works very well, plus it looks great.  It also provides a simple way to shop, directly from some really inspiring layouts.  For me it provides a nice marriage of catalogue, magazine and the web.

Stella MCartney:  Stella’s World

Another fairly high production example with features like the “What’s News” section, that highlights the latest updates from Stella McCartney, including behind the scenes shows  (the one I saw was in Paris – ooh, la, la) and also footage on an exclusive performance by Pharrell Williams and N*E*R*D at the after party, plus product. Other editorial features include “Stella’s Diary”, music by Brian Eno (I love him), a feature on Barry Reigate (Artist and illustrator, a really, really nice touch). For a launch issue, I think they have done a great job. The ability to buy from the app, would be even better.

Virgin: Project magazine: I could not help but throw this one into the ring.

It’s the first native international iPad magazine, and was launched in New York on 30th November 2010 by Sir Richard Branson.  Project was confirmed as the #1 selling iPad app in the world in the App Store one day after launch, so that’s pretty impressive.  It is a joint initiative between leading London-based strategic content agency, Seven and Virgin digital publishing.

This is a superb example of how to maximise the full potential of the iPad, particularly for advertisers.  Brands have embraced the use of ‘physics’ within their advertising, which essentially allows readers to fully interact by touching, shaking and turning the device to produce uniquely engaging executions using live animations, video and online elements. Most notable examples are Amex, Ford and Lexus.  You need to look at all the issues, to fully appreciate the leap.

And if you are like me and love hot Aussie heart stopper, Eric Bana, then go checkout issue 4, which is FREE, courtesy of a sponsorship with Amex.



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