The Covid-19 crisis has helped us reconnect with our ‘why’, could it do the same for you?

When it comes to Covid-19, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. These times are difficult, crazy, strange and uncertain.

Our agency, like so many others, is feeling the impact. And although this is worrying, there’s also something positive in it too. The lockdown has forced to pause and think for a moment. It’s given us time to re-evaluate why we do what we do (which is award-winning marketing, just to remind you).

Thinking about your why is beneficial for every business. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been able to re-connect with our purpose, and remind ourselves what we’re here for: to harness the power of communication to help people achieve greater financial freedom and security.

Now we know this (or now we’ve remembered it) we can build for a future in a post Covid-19 world with a renewed sense of passion and perspective. And, if you use this time to find the purpose of your business, you can do the same.

What purpose means in the time of Covid-19

Most businesses – in fact almost all – focus on what they do day-to-day. It could be shoe making or selling houses, supplying computer software or helping clients with their brand (that’s us!). Getting stuff done is where your time and attention goes.

But that’s not necessarily where your purpose lies. Purpose isn’t what you do, it’s why you’re doing it. You don’t tend to deal with it day-to-day – and that’s why it’s so easy to lose sight of.

Right now is a particularly poignant moment to be thinking about why you do things. For some organisations, their why will be more obvious – a healthcare company, for instance, may exist to help people lead long and healthy lives.

It’s easy to feel, in comparison to this, that your company’s why isn’t valid or big enough. But, it’s a whole ecosystem of different whys that drives the world forward. Take a look at these whys, from some of the biggest global brands:

  • Google: To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
  • Walt Disney: To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling
  • Charles Schwab: A relentless ally for the individual investor.

Some of these don’t necessarily seem ground-breaking, but they’re important because they make a difference in their own way. And that’s what your purpose should be about too.

At Moreish we have found it useful to re-evaluate our why in light of all that’s happening the world right now. Looking around us, we saw the massive impact that the coronavirus has been having on people’s financial health. That’s how we realised that financial health is really at the core of our business – and that actually, we exist to connect people with companies who will help them feel better about money.

So, don’t be afraid to take a look at the current crisis, and see if it has changed your perspective on anything. There might be something you want to put into your why that wasn’t there before.

The power of purpose

Having a strong sense of purpose is enormously powerful.

The business benefits have already been proven – the EY Global Leadership Forecast has shown that purposeful companies outperform the stock market by 42%, while 79% of business leaders surveyed by PWC believe an organisation’s purpose is central to business success.

That’s because having a strong purpose makes you better able to connect with your customer. In the same way people are attracted to leaders with a vision, customers are drawn to businesses that have a clear mission and a drive to get there. That’s why we always start with our client’s purpose when we’re creating a new campaign or idea. The why is the foundation, which we build into compelling value propositions that will resonate with your customers and differentiate you from your competitors.

Aside from the improved business performance, a clear purpose also leads to a strong culture. Research shows that millennials are 5.3x more likely to remain in an organisation when they feel invested in their employer’s purpose. And this is definitely something we’ve found in our own experience. Talking about our purpose as a team has given us huge drive and momentum to get through this difficult time.

After all, we now know exactly where we want to go – we only have to focus on getting there.

The right time to work on why

At Moreish, we have a unique dilemma. The future has never felt more uncertain, but we’ve never felt more sure of who we are and what we want to achieve.

This all comes down to the work we’ve done on finding our why. And it’s not just for us – every business can use this time to re-examine their purpose.

Leadership guru Simon Sinek always says ‘start with why’. That’s exactly what this moment is: it’s a massive re-start. We’ve been given a moment to pause. Let’s use it to focus on the things that matter – and then build from there.

If you’d like some help with finding your why, get in touch.

Moving to Moreish

Hi, I’m Sim.

Well, my name is Simran Aniekar Manjunath, but I prefer Sim – it just avoids awkward conversations involving incorrect pronunciations.

I’m an Account Executive at Moreish.

So why am I writing a blog? Well because Moreish decided that I’m an interesting person (possibly because I’m quite chatty) and I should share my thoughts on all things advertising through an Account Exec’s eyes.

Not that I’m an expert, but that’s mostly the point – each month, I’ll explore new ideas I come across as I set off on my career. I’ll discuss campaigns I like, show off work that I’m proud of, and explain fascinating or weird aspects from the world of finance or marketing.

But before I begin this journey and introduce you to my life as an Account Exec (and accidentally leak information I’m not supposed to), I want to tell you a bit more about me.

To the United Kingdom!

I was born and grew up in a city called Bangalore, India. I lived in the same house for 21 years (I’m 23 now, my parents still live there).

And then I moved 8,030 miles across continents to this little place called the UK.

It was a massive change for me, moving from a protective house to having complete independence, let alone the difference in culture, but it was exactly what I wanted. As a grumpy teenager always says ‘I want to do what I want, when I want and how I want’ – that was me from ages 14 to 21 (and still me today to be honest).

Here are some snippets from a video about Bangalore (officially called Bengaluru!). For context, ‘Guru’ means mate and ‘Uru’ means city.

I came to the UK to study for my Masters in Advertising Practice in Bath where I lived for about a year. I met some lovely people and learned quite a few interesting things, like:

  • The Queen loves corgis and owns/has owned over 30 of them!
  • British people celebrate the death of an assassin who almost killed their King through bonfires/fireworks in early November
  • Marmite: I’ve tried it, and for the record, I’m not a fan
  • When there’s a bit of sun, GO OUT, don’t take it for granted – I definitely learned that the hard way
  • Plus, I actually learned a few things about advertising, which was good
British and the sun - not sure if its offensive

And then I moved to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk for the summer, enjoying and relaxing in the countryside, whilst also panicking about getting a corporate job that would let me stay in the UK.

That’s right about the time when Moreish came into my life. September 2019, my first job as an Account Executive in London.

Why Advertising?

Many people (mostly my confused relatives in India) ask me ‘Why’d you pick advertising? You’re clever enough to be a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer!’ Well, because my father always said follow your passion, and that’s what I did – advertising is my passion.

I’m lying. I’m in advertising also because of Mad Men (isn’t everyone?!). I fell in love with Jon Hamm and wanted to be him – well not his overly dramatic, sexist self, but someone who’s good with words, good with people.

Someone who knows the strings of advertising and can pull them in just the right way to create the perfect ensemble of brand, copy and design.

I’ve also been writing since I was 12 years old. And after a series of songs written about high school boys and broken hearts, a few short stories and emotional rants for Instagram (check out @insideanintrovert), and half a fantasy novel involving dragons, I started to write professionally as a content writer/creative/social media manager for companies in India before I came to the UK.

So, a career in a creative industry was always on the cards for me.

Why an Account Exec?

By now, you might be thinking: why did you choose to start out as an Account Exec at Moreish?

That’s a very good question, my friend.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. All-rounders have more fun: Moreish is a small (but mighty) agency, and as an Account Exec I get involved in all sorts of work. Recently I’ve been creating visual mood-boards for a pitch; working out costs for a campaign we’ve just finished; writing copy for a brochure; chatting to the client about new work, and coming up with ideas for the agency social channels. I feel like I’m really learning all aspects of the industry, from the ground up.
  2. Finance is a really important industry – pretty much everyone uses at least one financial brand to pay for their Deliveroo (me), send money to friends and family abroad (still me) or even save and invest (I wish this were me). From a marketing perspective, this means the opportunities are endless – you’re talking to the biggest possible audience!
  3. The art of account management is super interesting – being Jon Hamm is fantastic, but being Roger Sterling or Bertram Cooper is just as important (if you don’t get this, you need to watch Mad Men).

 

In conclusion

This is me. Well, all of me I could fit into 800 words.

I hope you imagine a positive ray of sunshine dodging every obstacle in her way when you read my upcoming blogs about my agency adventures.

Until then, catch up on Mad Men. Read about Bangalore. Or get in touch with me so I can personally send you my half a novel – I’m actually quite proud of it.

Most of all, make sure to stay safe, and stay inside!

Sim 😊

Covid-19 has shown us why we need to talk about financial health

The outbreak of Covid-19 has totally changed the way we think about physical and even mental health. I hope it will change our attitudes towards financial health too.

Since the virus started, we’ve all been talking a lot about our physical wellbeing. Government communications, social media and the news is all focused around how to keep ourselves and our families well. And increasingly mental health is part of the conversation too. I’ve seen lots of great pieces discussing the impact that health anxiety and social isolation can have on our minds. I’m really pleased to see this – it’s something positive in a very sad and difficult situation.

But the coronavirus isn’t just affecting our minds and bodies. For many people, it’s a threat to financial health too. There are millions of freelancers, gig economy workers and business owners now facing serious hardship. I have friends who’ve seen their pipeline of work disappear completely. And although the government is making an effort to help, there’s still so much uncertainty about when the outbreak will end – and if things will return to normal when it does. It’s terrifying.

So, it’s particularly poignant that this Saturday 28th of March was Financial Wellness Day. It’s never been more important than it is now to shift our mindset and make it acceptable to talk about money.

Why financial health matters

Financial health is an issue that means a lot to me. I’ve worked in financial marketing for longer than I care to remember, and it’s shown me that talking about money is extraordinarily powerful. When I set up my own agency, I put financial wellness at the heart of it. At Moreish, we use the power of communication to engage people in positive conversations about money and their financial health. That’s our ‘why’ – the reason we come to work in the morning.

And it matters to us because financial health is so important. After all, money is an enabler, and having a healthy relationship with it can only improve your life. And whether you work for a financial provider, a service or tech company supporting financial services firms (like us!), or as a financial adviser, we all play a role in influencing to people make smarter financial decisions.  Financial health (like all forms of health) stretches so far beyond its typical definition.

Most textbooks would suggest that financial health is ‘the state and stability of an individual’s finances and personal financial affairs’. In human speak this means you can pay your bills and you have a bit of cash tucked away for unforeseen events – which is important. But, for me, financial health is about seeing money as a positive force in your life. So you feel happy spending it and saving it, and you don’t feel afraid to look at your statement or banking app, or talk to your partner about how much they earn. And that all starts with creating positive associations with money through open and honest discussion.

The virus has made us open about financial health

Right now is an unprecedented moment of openness. Normally, we don’t like talking about money (especially if you’re British). But in the past few weeks I’ve seen many people taking to social media to share their fears about how coronavirus is impacting their financial health. One of the reasons is that these are unprecedented times and people are genuinely more worried than ever before. But I think it’s also happening because there is a sense that this situation is nobody’s fault, which makes it easier to talk about – whereas normally there is a lot of personal shame attached to financial issues. So we want to carry that spirit of openness towards financial issues for future financial wellness.

In fact, I think everyone who works in the FS sector should be thinking about how they can initiate conversations about money, which could actually help restore some of the trust in financial services firms so eroded by the credit crunch. Finance brands have a responsibility to help people take care of their financial health, in the same way that healthcare brands want to encourage positive physical wellbeing. At the current time, FS brands need to do their bit to stimulate open and positive financial conversations.

Seize the momentum of an awful situation

I don’t want to say that good things will come out of the Covid-19 situation, or that there’s a ‘silver lining’. This virus is claiming lives and causing real hardship and I absolutely don’t want to diminish that.

But I’m desperate to look for something positive amongst it all, and I think there is one here. People are beginning to talk about money like never before and the coronavirus has provided the impetus for this. It’s proved that financial wellness is a crucial part of our lives. If we keep communicating openly about it, we can seize the momentum of this awful situation to create a financially well future.

Ultimately this virus has shown us that financial health matters. So, let’s keep talking about it.

Why I’m determined to make Moreish a happy, healthy workplace for everyone

We all want to be happy – and that doesn’t change when we get to work.

But how many of us can really say that our workplace has a positive impact on our state of mind, or our physical health?

Most offices have not been designed for human beings – they’ve been designed for soul-less, emotion-less robots. We’re encouraged to sit for too long in front of one screen with lots of stress and no breaks, and, in the worse cases, no sense of support or community with the rest of the team.

But we need to break free of these traditions if we’re going to encourage a happy, healthy marketing workforce.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the things we do in my own agency to promote a healthy (and hopefully happy) culture and work-life balance.

There’s definitely a lot more we could be doing – and it’s a priority for me to develop our rough wellbeing plan into a more concrete strategy in the coming year.

But, for now, I’m pleased with the steps we’ve taken as a team to look out for one another.

This is what we’ve been up to:

Our weekly health and wellbeing plan

Just like our marketing, our approach to health and wellbeing is really simple.

We have a few activities spread out across the week that promote a positive atmosphere and, importantly, get us talking about how we’re feeling.

We have Motivational Mondays, when we discuss our goals for the week ahead, and ask ourselves the question: how will you spark joy this week?

To kick-off the weekend, we have Feel-good Fridays, when we play non-stop bangers on the office speakers all day.

But my absolute favourite is ‘Grati-Tuesdays’. On this day we all gather together in the office and take a moment to say one thing that we feel grateful for.

Answers range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and although it definitely makes some of our team cringe, I think it’s a great way to spread some positivity.

And, crucially, we all get to talk about a topic not work-related (which is better than the usual tedious ‘how was your weekend?’ stuff).

Culture comes first

More than anything, I want Moreish to be a place where everyone can thrive.

My philosophy as an employer has always been to have a peer-to-peer relationship with employees.

I give them time and flexibility to work in the way that suits then. I’m keen to let people work from home, adjust their start and finish times, and take time during the day to do things for them.

This has come about sort of as an accident – it’s just the way I would like to be treated! But I now realise it’s a key part of creating a healthy workplace.

Time to pursue the things we enjoy

It’s a funny thing at Moreish that all of us are pretty sporty: we’ve got runners, rugby players, spin fanatics and even a water polo player.

And we’re all pretty committed to our lunchtime gym sessions (or jogs or walks on the riverbank!).

Personally, I love going to the gym at lunch. It helps me come back to my desk feeling much sharper, with a new perspective.

Knowing how much it helps me means I’m keen to encourage everyone to get out and have a break.

But I know it’s not always been this way for the marketing industry. Much earlier in my career I was working at an agency where people trying to leave before 7pm would be embarrassed by colleagues shouting, ‘half day, is it?’.

I hate this kind of presenteeism! It’s not good for the work, the business or the individual. I’ve seen signs that we’re moving away from this culture – and I really hope we can keep going.

We all deserve a happy, healthy working life

This industry isn’t very good at being accommodating. You’re always working to give the best for your clients, and sometimes this means dealing with a lot of deadlines at once.

But, in my opinion, this makes workplace health and wellbeing all the more important. You’ve got to look after yourself and the people around you, so you can create the best work possible.

And, most importantly, because it’s the right thing to do. My employees are human beings: they deserve care and respect and support, regardless of any potential business outcome this might have.

After all, we all want to be happy. And we all deserve a workplace that enables that.

2019 – our best bits

Triple award winners at the Financial Services Forum

So, I’ll kick off my 2019 highlights with a big one: we won three Marketing Effectiveness Awards at the 2019 Financial Services Forum for our work with Benenden Health.

We were thrilled to be shortlisted for the Best Brand Strategy and Best Advertising awards, let alone win them, and it was a complete surprise when it was announced that we’d received a third – the Judges’ Special Award for Marketing Effectiveness.

We were lucky enough to get to work across both the B2B and B2C arms of the business, on all aspects of the rebrand, including a new brand strategy, name, website, proposition and advertising. And when we finished, we saw a 50% year-on-year increase in brand consideration!

So, it was amazing to see all this hard work recognised at the FS Forum. And then, to top it all off, we won a bronze award at the Direct Marketing Awards a few weeks later.

Key Partnerships new proposition and re-brand

For me, a big 2019 highlight was our work with Key Partnerships, the UK’s leading B2B equity release referral partner.

We were faced with a really interesting challenge: equity release still suffers from a historic negative perception among some financial advisers – which stops advisers recommending the product to their clients. We wanted to help Key Partnerships to change this, re-educating intermediaries about the benefits of equity release.

To do this, we created a new brand proposition for Key Partnerships, which we brought to life through a new creative identity and brand campaign, including a new website.

We really enjoyed working on the creative identity in particular. We designed a collection of 3D houses that reflected the financial equity within them – so one house looked like a purse, one had a roof which lifted to reveal a money tin.

However, it was brilliant to work on the whole project across the board. Understanding advisers is a real strength of ours, and we loved putting it to the testing with such a tough challenge!

Launching MyEva

ipad screenshot of MyEva financial app design and creationFor my third highlight, I had to choose MyEva, the amazing new financial app from Wealth Wizards.

MyEva helps employers empower their workforce to improve their financial health – think of it like a FitBit but for tracking and motivating an employee’s financial health and fitness.

We were tasked with developing the app identity and all employer and employee marketing communications.

This was a really fun project to be involved in: we had to strike the right balance between creating a warm and engaging app that employees would like using, while avoiding the typical ‘financial services’ jargon and corporate tone.

Most of all, it was great to build on our fintech experience while utilising our employee benefits expertise!

Verisk

Our work with Verisk was hugely exciting because it was an opportunity to help take a hugely successful solution into completely new markets.

Verisk is famous for their automated health risk rating service that helps UK travel insurers provide instant quotes covering pre-existing health conditions. In 2019, they were looking to expand this solution into fresh territories in Asia, North America and Australasia, and other global markets like health and pet insurance.

We set about to help them do it.

After some extensive research, we came up with an approach that was heavily targeted to the individual markets.

We produced a brochure and an introductory video for each market, explaining Verisk and their product offering in a way that was relevant for prospects in that industry or territory. On top of this, we developed educational content that would help actuaries and underwriters learn about the risk score. We created case studies, guides and at-a-glance pages which explained what goes into a score and how to interpret it.

It was great to learn about the (surprisingly) fascinating world of insurance underwriting – and we created some intelligent, well-researched work that I’m really proud of!

 

A Christmas cracker

Our final highlight came about in December, when we learned we’d won a pitch with Defaqto, the renowned independent financial information business.

It was great news to end the year, and now we can’t wait to start some amazing work with Defaqto in 2020!


 

2019 was a fantastic year for the agency. I’m incredibly proud of all the great work we did, and I’m hugely grateful to all our clients who gave us the opportunity to do it!

And beyond our work are is the team who actually make it all happen, and I’m really excited that we’ve added some brilliant new talent to the Moreish family in the last few months.

But while last year really will take some beating, we’re going to give it our best shot to outdo ourselves in 2020.

And we already have a few things up our sleeves for the next few months… so watch this space!

Our agency model is based on a good plumber – here’s why

After spending 20 years in different agencies across the world, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the way they’re typically set up.

And I think the traditional model could use some improvement. It just doesn’t seem to serve clients in the right way.

Today, there are so many different medias and channels to market, and you need talent who can work across all of them. But it’s really difficult to have all these people on PAYE and keep them busy all the time – there’s a lot of downtime, which is expensive.

With this traditional model you have quite high overheads, which you then have to bill onto clients in some way. You end up being driven by the need to sell more in order to pay for those high overheads – and you’re pushing this, instead of listening to what the client actually wants.

So, when it came to starting my own agency, I decided I had to do things differently. I wanted to be totally client-centric, focusing purely on doing the work your clients need – and that would deliver the best results for them.

And I was inspired by a magical experience I had with a plumber. This encounter made me totally re-think my understanding of client servicing – which led me to build a new model for my agency.

Inspiration on tap

There’s a funny thing about plumbers: you never really know what they’re doing. And, rightly or wrongly, it makes me suspicious.

I’m always worried that they’re just trying to sell me the most expensive thing they can – like a new boiler when really, I only need a change of valve. I’m sure you’ll have had a few experiences like this with plumbers in the past.

But then I had this really lucky experience with a great plumber, who came round when our heating wasn’t working in the height of winter (when it normally goes wrong!). I was expecting the worst but within 30 secs he identified the problem said it was a simple valve that needed changing which he had in his van. He fixed it in under ten-minutes and he refused to take any money for it.

I was gobsmacked! His approach was so honest, different and generous. As well as being a thoroughly nice bloke, it also made good business sense because he knew next time I had a problem, I’d called him – he’s been my plumber of choice ever since, and I’ve referred him to loads of my friends. His refreshingly honest approach and not charging for the small fry has eventually delivered loads more business for him in the long term.

This is the way I wanted my agency to work. I want to add honest, instant, practical value from the start, instead of manufacturing more billable hours, which is something I’ve definitely been told to do in the past. I remember being warned not to suggest ideas in a meeting with a client, but instead wait and bill them for two weeks of planning time!

So if our clients only need a small valve replacing, I won’t try and sell them a new boiler. And we’ll charge them fairly in the process – so hopefully, they’ll come back to work with us time and again.

Our network model  

So, we created a new type of agency, inspired by my experience with the plumber.

I call it a network model, because we collaborate with a network of partners to create work across all possible channels and media. This means we have access to a vast range of talent, so we can always choose the right people for maximum creativity, flexibility and cost efficiency.

I feel that this as an improvement on the traditional agency set-up, since it enables us to be media neutral and deliver totally integrated work. And there’s no downtime to pass on, since we can scale our operation to have 20 people working on a project one week and no people working on it the next.

It also helps us focus on what the client needs, not make recommendations based on what resource we have available.

The traditional agency doesn’t work

It’s a bold statement to make, but I really believe it: the traditional agency model has had it’s day. That’s why I set out to make mine different.

I think if you work hard, do a good job and add value then the money will follow. I do take that to the extreme sometimes – I remember there was once client that I hadn’t billed for a year!

But ultimately, I believe that this way of doing things – the way of the diamond plumber – is the best. And so far, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved doing it his/our way.

What do financial advisers want?

Understanding the pressures and needs of intermediaries

There are roughly 25,900 financial advisers working in the UK today. If a financial provider wants to be successful, they need to connect with a large proportion (if not all) of them.

And that’s no mean feat.

Although 26,000 isn’t the biggest audience in the world (compare it to Uber’s 75 million strong target market) it’s still a complex and diverse range of people. After all, every intermediary has their own highly specific specialisms, interests, and career aspirations – read our follow-up blog posts on adviser personas for more on this!

But amongst this diversity are some fundamental priorities which all advisers hold in common. As a provider, you need to shape your marketing around these priorities to create maximum impact on intermediaries.

To help you, we’ve identified the top four ambitions that all financial advisers share. If you can demonstrate how you help enable advisers achieve these four ambitions, you’ll have a better chance of making a connection with them through your marketing.

So, here are four key things financial advisers want:

1. To make money

Financial advisers are many things: experts, helpers, teachers. But they are also businesspeople. And, like all businesses, they need to make money. That’s the industry we’re in!

Of course, it’s not the done thing for providers to talk to advisers about commission.

Instead, you can talk to advisers about growing their business, and help them to generate more leads. This is a roundabout way of helping them make more money – obviously, since adding more clients will only do positive things to your bottom line.

Can you offer any guidance to help advisers with their own marketing?

There are lots of ways to do this: by providing free marketing materials or resources, giving personalised advice, holding training workshops to teach advisers how to manage it themselves.

If you prove your value and authority to advisers in this capacity, it’s very likely they will turn to you when it comes to recommending products to their clients

2. To do a good job

Financial advisers guide their clients through some of the biggest decisions of their lives. It’s a massive responsibility, and it’s important to recognise this in your communications. It sounds obvious, but you have to show advisers how you can help them deliver better customer outcomes.

When you clearly display how you can help improve their clients’ lives, they’ll find it much easier to connect with you.

3. Less complexity and more time

No matter who you are or what you do, we all want a simple life.

Unfortunately, the current regulatory landscape is making it hard for intermediaries to achieve this. In the last few years alone, we’ve seen the introduction of Mifid II, GDPR and now the Senior Managers and Certification Regime.

Each new piece of legislation represents a significant time investment for advisers. First, they have to educate themselves on the new requirements, and then they have to make sure everything they do is compliant – which can be a serious amount of admin.

Mifid II, for example,  requires FS firms to disclose a breakdown of all costs associated with a client’s investments, adding another 20 minutes of administrative time to each client meeting.

The time pressure on advisers means two things for providers: first, it has a bearing on the way you try to connect with them. Your communications should be short and to-the-point, showing that you respect intermediaries’ time.

Secondly, you need to consider how your products or services enable advisers to devote more time to the things that matter, and help their clients. If you can help save them time, make sure to shout about it (although don’t push this point if you can’t back it up!).

4. Confidence

People expect their adviser to have a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of all financial matters. And this is a big ask.

So, you need to be able to give advisers confidence – whether you’re encouraging advisers to broaden their advice offering (i.e. offering more protection advice when their focus is mortgages) or you’re helping them to get to grips with the specific benefits of your retirement income service. If they don’t feel confident that they have the required knowledge to guide their client through the process (and answer any difficult questions they might ask) they won’t want to talk about your product.

Interactive tools can be a great way to help advisers take control of the sales process, since they make it easier for advisers to discuss complicated subjects or highlight the value of a product to their clients.

Our risk reality calculator, for example, helps even the most inexperienced adviser prove the necessity of protection. Similarly, our Sequence of Returns Risk tool allows the adviser to demonstrate the effects of pound cost ravaging and the dangers of income drawdown in the early stages of retirement, so their client can see the direct benefit a fixed term annuity would have on their retirement.


Advisers are a diverse bunch, and this means it can be difficult to create a message that connects with them.

This is something we’ll be exploring more in the coming months. We’re going to dive into adviser personas, and examine how to create a message that works for each of them – so watch this space to find out more!

And do let us know if you think we’ve got anything wrong here or any key insights we’re missing, we’d love to hear from you.

4 things tennis taught me about marketing, entrepreneurship and life

Although today I run my own agency, my first passion wasn’t marketing. It was tennis.

I started playing when I was about nine, along with my brother (who was better than me, damn him).

After a few years, I was representing my county and playing tournaments in glamorous and exciting places like… Sunderland (no offence to Sunderland). As I got a bit older, people started telling me how good my tennis experience would look on my CV. I remember thinking: great, but it’s never going to make a blind bit of difference to how I do my job.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong!

The older I get the more I realise that tennis is a parallel to life, work and business. The fact I’ve done it all before – the defeats (yep, plenty of those), the highs and the lows – has really prepared me for my career in marketing, and running my own agency especially.

I’d like to explore this a bit more – partly because I like writing about tennis, and partly because I hope you might find it useful for thinking about the things that have shaped your own career.

So, here are four things tennis has taught me:

 

1. Hard work trumps talent

You need to be almost pathologically determined to be a good tennis player. Often in a match it’s not the most talented person who will in – it’s the one who wants it the most.

And it’s exactly the same when it comes to running your own business. You have to embrace the relentlessness, in good times and especially in difficult times!

So, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re the best marketeer ever, or the best businessman. I’m certainly neither of those things.

But I’ll be one of the most dedicated (some might say bloody minded) and this has helped me enormously in running my own agency. If you work hard enough at something, you can achieve great things.

2. Learn how people think

When you get to a certain level, tennis becomes 90% psychological. There were moments in really big matches that I just couldn’t seem to play as well as I knew I could – it drove me mad!

This led me to become really interested in the way thoughts influence behaviour, and eventually I ended up doing a degree in psychology.

But it all started with wanting to understand how I was thinking – and how my opponent was thinking – on the tennis court.

This is the best asset you can have for a career in marketing. This industry is all about getting into people’s heads and working out what they’re all about.

And it doesn’t matter whether you learn this doing a professional marketing diploma, or from winning and losing tennis matches. As long as it teaches you to see things from another’s viewpoint, it’s good preparation for the world of marketing.

3. Remember there’s a network around you

In tennis, it feels like you win and lose alone.

But when I think about it, I know this isn’t 100% true: my brother and friendships played a huge part in helping me grow as a player, and I can never thank my parents enough for all the time they spent driving me to the four corners of the UK (especially Sunderland).

Tennis itself is actually a really social sport. So many of the people I played with at juniors have gone on to do amazing things. Some of them have even become part of my working life, as partners, suppliers or even clients.

And herein lies the lesson: even though you’re on your own, there’s a network around you.

You should utilise your network to help build your business – and, crucially, you should always repay the favour and support people in return!

4. It should be fun

This is the lesson I learned last, but it’s arguably the most important.

Whatever you’re doing, be it tennis or building up your own business, you’ve got to have fun.

I definitely played too much and got a bit burned out on tennis. And I’ve come close to feeling that way about work too at times.

That’s why balance is so hugely important. While you have to put in the hours (my lesson number 1!), you can’t work 24/7. If you overwork yourself, you’ll only end up stifling your ability to think – which is pretty important to being a successful marketeer.

There was a time I hated my business as I hated tennis, but now I’ve found the right balance, I actually love them both!

It’s all about people

Tennis gave me the skills and attitudes I need to run my own business. And most of all, it showed me my interest in people and psychology, which has been the foundation for my career in marketing.

This is perhaps the key thing I’ve realised in writing this blog post. Marketing is such a broad industry – it’s really all about people – and that means you can come at it from any angle and find a successful place for yourself.

That’s the message I’m going to leave you with. Let me know if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said, or if you have any lessons of your own you think I should know – I’m happy to add to my list!

Get to the top with a topic cluster content strategy

It’s no secret that content marketing is an important part of a company’s inbound marketing strategy. In fact, we’ve written previously about the importance of content, including, how to create a content strategy and how to write great content.

One of the main reasons for creating regular content is to improve organic SEO, however, as more and more brands create and implement content strategies, competition to get found in search engine results is getting increasingly difficult once again.

One way to help you get ahead of the competition and improve your ranking is to implement a ‘topic cluster model’ when it comes to planning and uploading your content.

So, what is a ‘topic cluster’

Topic cluster exampleA ‘topic cluster’ focuses your content around an overarching topic, which is pre-determined from your content strategy.

A content ‘pillar pageis created around this topic which covers all aspects of the topic in a single page.

Alongside this are multiple pieces of related content, which are your ‘cluster content.

Each of these cluster content pages are then linked back to your pillar page.

It is this linking which is the most important part. By linking all internal content within that topic to a pillar page, search engines can easily scan all the content and understand, not only that there is a relationship between the pages, but that there is real breadth and depth in the content. This model of ‘linked’ content helps to position yourself as a subject expert, which, over time, will help you to rank higher and higher for the topic it covers.

Now you know the benefits of Topic Clusters, here are 4 simple steps to follow to implement the model for your content.

Four steps to creating Topic Cluster

Step 1: Decide on your Pillar content

The first thing you need to decide is what topic/ topics you want to rank highly for. It should be specific enough that you can cover all the different aspects of one pillar page, but broad enough that you can write several articles about this topic. It should also, of course, be relevant for your audience and what you do!

An example:

‘Employee health and wellbeing’ is too broad a topic to cover even the key points in one pillar article. Instead, focus your pillar content on one aspect of employee health and wellbeing e.g. ‘Employee mental wellbeing’. Within this, there is still plenty to write about for your cluster articles but it is focused enough for you to cover the key points off in one pillar article.  

It’s worth noting that pillar pages can, and often are, longer than usual blog posts. They could also take the form of an e-book for example. When deciding on your pillar topics, remember to refer back to your content strategy for inspiration as to what these pillar topics should be. For more information and examples on creating a content strategy, see our Benenden Health content strategy case study.

Step 2: Determine your content clusters

Once you have decided your pillar topic, you now have to focus on your content clusters. Try and write 5-10 cluster articles per pillar. Again, refer back to your content strategy and your personas and themes to help you identify what these should be.

Also consider other online tools to see what people are searching for, such as AnswerThePublic, which generates a list of the most frequently asked questions about the topic you chose based on search queries.

Cluster content doesn’t have to just be a written blog. They could also incorporate infogrpahics or video, however if you do use these formats you need to ensure they are tagged correctly so that google can still search and log the content.

Step 3: Review your existing content

As part of your content strategy you should have completed a content audit. Refer back to this to see what existing content you can update and link to your pillar page.

This way, you make the most of your existing content, but can focus your content creation efforts and budget to filling any gaps you might have.

Step 4: Link your content together

Once you’ve completed your content clusters, you need to make sure that you link them not only to the pillar page but also to each other.

When you’re linking your content, make sure that the links are two-way. Your pillar page should also have links back to each of your content clusters.

 

Have you recently shifted your content to a Topic Cluster strategy? Let us know what benefits you’ve started to see.

Or do you need to create or update your existing content strategy? If so, get in touch with us today and see how we can help you – whether it’s working with you to develop the strategy or helping you create regular website and social content.

Read our case study to see out how we developed a content strategy, regular creation and gated thought leadership content for Benenden Health.

Is it time to abandon the traditional agency pitch process?

A friendly prospective client approached us recently asking if we could send on an outline of a typical pitch process and briefing template.

When we started looking at the standard RFI templates and multi-stage pitch processes that are still often used, it made us question whether this was actually the best approach in today’s world of agile and fast paced working practices.

Admittedly, for some large budget, global advertising accounts, a longer, more detailed pitch process is required but surely for the majority of pitches today, there are better options.

In fact, the argument for a new pitch process isn’t actually a new one. Research by Creativebrief found that respondents were largely in agreement that the traditional pitch process is no longer “fit for purpose” in today’s environment – with 61% of brands and 93% of agencies wanting to see change.

This same research identified that less than half of brands questioned (44%) believe that the pitch process offers a “true sense” of what it will be like to work with an agency.

With this in mind, we have put together some alternate approaches that you could use. Obviously the one that works best for you will depend on:

  • Your internal procurement process – your internal due diligence and procurement process may impact which pitch process is right for you
  • The type of work/pitch – if the pitch is for a one-off project it might be more cost and time effective to use a shorter, more agile process
  • The size of the prize – more often than not a larger budget would justify a more detailed pitch process
  • Your timings – obviously if you need the campaign to start in a matter of weeks you won’t have time to go down the more traditional process route!

The ‘standard’ pitch process

As mentioned, there is likely to be time and a place for the original agency pitch approach. It is however a long old process, which goes something like this:

A standard pitch process flow chartThrow in a couple of chemistry meetings and tissue sessions you’re looking at investing a lot of time and expense for both the agency and the client. Admittedly, this full process isn’t required for all pitches but even the core stages (briefing/ RFP/ Q&As/ Creative development / presentations) are a lot of work for all involved.

So what is the alternative pitch process?

Skip the RFI and chat instead

Woman laughing on the phone. Pop art style.Most of this information however you could probably get from the agencies website therefore consider whether the RFI is really necessary. Instead, spend a day looking over your potential agencies websites, and have 15minute phone conversation with them (or even face to face if they are local) if you did want to find out a bit more about their particular structure/ style or approach. After all, you can quite often get a good sense of what the agency is about and whether you’re likely to get on from an initial conversation.In its simplest terms, the RFI simply outlines the agencies structure and why they are right for your business, introduces the team that may, or may not be working on the business, and showcases case studies of similar problems. It might also outline the overall approach to your problem. From this, you should be able to whittle your long-list straight down to a short list who you can invite to respond to the brief.

The non-creative creative pitch

paints and coloured pencils with a 'stop' sign over themWhen considering a potential agency what you are actually interested in is their creative thinking, and how they would approach and resolve your particular problem and objective. And this should be seen through their strategic response. Consider therefore asking your shortlisted agencies to avoid sharing creative work and focus on the strategy response only. You can then see their creative ability through their creds and case studies of previous work.

Not only will help you to focus on how the agency proposes to meet your business objectives rather than getting distracted with what that solution looks like, but it will also enable you to really understand their strategic approach.

 The workshop

illustration of workshop elementsAnother alternative is to hold workshop sessions with a short list of agencies. You’d spend half a day, or a day with the agency team, briefing them in the morning and actively participating in the session to understand the dynamics of the team, working processes and creative and strategic approaches. The agency would then present their ideas back at the end of the day.

The benefits of this approach is that you really get under the skin of how the agency thinks and approaches problems. More importantly though, you also get to understand the chemistry between you and the agency, giving you mu ch more of an idea what the actual process will be like.

The test drive

Illustration of person driving in a convertible carThe best way to get to know an agency, and to understand if they are a good fit with your business, is to actually work on a project together.

Therefore, consider briefing an agency, or a couple of agencies on smaller sperate projects. You’ll be able to get to know the team who will be working with you, get a feel for how they understand your business, approach your challenges and get a good idea of how you might work together. You will need to do a bit of research before hand to get an idea of whether they would be right for your business, which could include:

  • Reviewing similar work they’ve done in the same sector and channels
  • Speaking to their network and looking on linked in for shared connections
  • Speaking to their clients

No matter what approach you think might be best, one of the most important things to remember is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Depending on your brief and agency requirements, a different process might be more relevant, and we need to be flexible to adapt where necessary.

Here at Moreish we’re big fans of the ‘test drive approach’ so if you were looking for a new agency, we’re happy to work on a one-off project first, so you can see just what we could do for you. Feel free to get in touch for a chat.

Have you recently taken part in a pitch that differed from the standard approach? Or have you have found an approach that works for you? If so, let us know!