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.
BEST OF THE REST
…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.
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:
* Pod & Vodcasts
* Case studies
* Interactive games
* Mobile content & apps
* Social content
* Research and surveys
* 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:
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…..like 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
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!
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 Wired.com
“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
- 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
- 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 seven.co.uk or @AgencyBelle