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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