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!

Tips for developing a powerful value proposition

What is a value proposition?

I’d best describe a value proposition as a unifying and motivating statement of how you can add value to your customers’ life, which all your future communications should feed off. Value propositions can be created your brand as a whole, or for specific products and services.

Why are value propositions important?

After many years of working in the same industry you’ll no doubt have a deep understanding of all the complex nuances of the product types and features that are available in the market. And you may truly believe your products and services to be the best things since sliced bread. The hard part is convincing your customers to feel the same, as not everyone is as interested in financial services or your brand as you are (crazy I know!).

Defining your brand or product with a simple and clear value proposition will help customers ‘get what you can do for them’. After all, if you are unable to clearly explain what you do in one sentence, how do you expect your customers to understand it? An analogy I often use when discussing propositions … if I were to throw you a tennis ball you’d probably catch it. If I was to throw you 4 tennis balls at the same time you’d likely catch none!

A clear value proposition will also help you to stand out and provide cut through in a competitive marketplace.

How to go about creating a value proposition

There are two different ways to undergo a value proposition development process:

1. A proposition workshop – The quickest way is to have a day’s proposition workshop, to be chaired from someone externally, like us, to avoid any feelings of internal bias. It should include key stakeholders from across the business, with breakout sessions to discuss the insights, proposition and reasons to believe. Followed by group sessions to craft into one set of answers.

2. A period of consultancy – This is a deeper and longer route. You’d employ a consultant or agency like us to do lots of insight gathering from within and outside the business i.e. staff questionnaires; employee interviews, qual and quant market research. This insight is then used to develop the proposition outputs which are presented and debated in key stakeholder sessions.

We’ve seen both approaches above work brilliantly. The right process will depend on the specific brand/product, personalities, and the timings and budgets involved.

What you need to understand to create a strong value proposition?

1. Who you are trying to reach and what they want/need – What are the issues that you are attempting to solve? What are their potential motivations and triggers for what you offer?

2. What your company/ brand capabilities are – How will interacting with your brand improve your audience’s life?

3. Understand how competitors are positioning their products and brands – What makes you a better choice than your competitors?

Top tips for developing your single-minded value proposition statements

The customer insights are the driving force behind your proposition and your reasons to believe will absolutely need to support it. But it’s so important to make every word of your single-minded proposition count. Here’s our top tips on nailing the final articulation of your proposition statement. Ask yourself:

Is it simple?

As complex as your business might be, it’s essential to keep your value proposition is simple as possible. Why:

  • You want your customers to remember it/you. If it’s too complex they won’t.
  • With so many distractions and noise out there, it can be difficult to get your customers to engage in what you do for even for just a few seconds so you’ve really got to make your message instantly connect with them otherwise they’ll just ‘jog on’
  • We all love to put people and brands into simple boxes – making your proposition simple will help you take control of what you want to be known for
  • The more single minded the message the more creative you can be delivering that message

Making your proposition a truly single-minded statement can sometimes be a brutal process. Some stakeholders may feel that certain key USPs or messages key to the decision making process are being lost. But a proposition statement doesn’t have to say everything to sell, that’s not realistic, it’s about the best way to get your potential customers to engage with you.

I understand you will have different customer personas who will have different mindsets and needs and therefore different message stands – we’re not saying to forget these. We absolutely encourage you to segment communications according to customer personas for marketing success. But it’s always good to have one unifying proposition that resonates through all communications.

Will it resonate with your customers?

Ask yourself – does it genuinely align with their needs and mindset. Or even better if you’ve got time consider some customer research or just ask a few friendly customers what they think of it?

Does it differentiate you from competitors?

This doesn’t necessarily mean highlighting a specific USP! This is more how you talk about how you can help your audience, that’s differentiated from how your competitors do it? Is your point of difference coming through?

Does it make an emotional as well as a rational connection?

We know that people make decisions based on their emotions, rather than logical thought. That’s why emotion-focused marketing is so effective.

Is it authentic – can it be delivered by your company?

It’s also important that your customer proposition is truly represents the company values and offering. People have to believe it internally otherwise it will never transcend into the hearts and minds of consumers. But it can be ambitious – it just needs to be credible and aligned with the businesses purpose, skills and values. For your brand proposition model to be effective, you need to be able to deliver on your promises.

Have you recently gone through a brand positioning workshop? How did it go for you? Or are you considering the process? Let us know if this is useful and if you need any further guidance.

See how this proposition development worked for Ellipse Benenden Health and Key Partnerships.

Why you need a clear brand strategy and how to go about it

Why a clear brand strategy is important

Effective marketing campaigns can help deliver business. However, without a clear brand strategy it’ll be difficult for employees and customers to connect with your brand at a deeper level – resulting in more functional and transactional relationships.

Arguably it’s more important for financial brands to invest in their brand strategy than other sectors as there is no tangible product and a general lack of consumer trust.

And over the years we’ve seen many financial companies simply telling customers to ‘trust’ them which instinctively has the opposite effect. The only way to truly change or enhance the way your customers view you is to a) be clear on your values and purpose and b) live by and demonstrate those values in everything you do.

What is a brand strategy?

The manifestation of a clear brand strategy is usually series of statements that will articulate what’s special about your brand and should include:

  • Why you do it: your brand purpose and vision
  • How you do it: your brand proposition or essence. This will be supported by:
    • Customer insights leading to the proposition
    • Reasons to believe
  • What you do: your products and services
  • What you stand for: your brand values
  • Who you are: your brand personality and your brand story
  • How you say it: your tone of voice

Key steps to developing your brand strategy

Step 1: Insight into context

A brand will only have the power to change behaviour if it’s based on truths and real beliefs. So the following areas of insight are suggested: a questionnaire sent out to all staff; one-on-one interviews with employees across a range of departments and seniority; analysis of recent qualitative and quantitative market research; and competitor brand reviews.

Step 2: Brand strategy development

Every agency might have a slightly different way of presenting this information, but it generally includes most of the statements in the ‘What is a brand strategy’ section above and will often be summarised in some sort of brand pyramid or matrix.

Over time it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons of why the company exists. Profits and growth targets are necessary, but you’ve got to stand for something more. A human factor and a reason for being that everyone can get behind. You’ve got to inspire people and take them with you on a journey towards something meaningful that you can be proud of. Watch: Simon Sinek’s the golden circle: with how starting with the ‘Why’ is key to how great brands and leaders inspire action and change behaviour, that we often watch to inspire us before developing our clients brand strategies.

 

Step 3: ‘Brand workshop’ with key internal stakeholders

This is a session to:

  • Replay the lead insights from the immersion process that informed the approach
  • Present the proposed brand strategy statements
  • Debate and refine strategy statements during breakout sessions and group discussions
  • Reach a group consensus on the message and the approach to each statement, whilst all key stakeholders are present

Step 4: ‘Brand strategy refinements’

Refine the brand articulations following group feedback, for board sign off.

3 top tips for developing a powerful brand strategy

1. Agree the outputs upfront – so everyone is clear on what you want to achieve. The template above should a good starter for 10

2. Make the process inclusive – by listening to and debating employee and key stakeholder input upfront and throughout the process you will ensure a more authentic and therefore more powerful approach to the new brand. It also means that everyone within the business will be much more invested and engaged in the new brand as they’ve felt part of its inception.

3. Get external support – This isn’t a blatant push for our services but ideally you should have someone external or an external company help you with this. Why? Because external support shows you’re taking it seriously and ensure it’s seen as an impartial process with no internal agenda’s or departmental biases.

What’s next after creating your brand strategy

  • Ongoing internal engagement – In order to strengthen your brand and live it, it must be visible. Agree ways to make sure every team member understands the refreshed brand positioning and can see it, feel it and believe it every day within their working environment.
  • Review the brand identity – Review if how you talk (your tone of voice) and how you look and feel (your visual identity) needs to be reviewed to align with your new brand strategy.
  • Brand deployment – Once you’ve got all this sorted bring it to life through all your brand touchpoints and communications.

Smart campaigns can drive business but if you want to take your brand to the next level you may need to define or refine your core brand strategy.  Get in touch if you think you need to realign your brands compass to take your brand to the next level or read our case studies of brand strategies we’ve created for Benenden Health, Ellipse and Key Partnerships

How to develop a content marketing strategy

We often refer to an inbound content marketing strategy as hiring a 24/7 sales person who doesn’t sleep, who never actually tries to sell but has loads of people calling and enquiring months, even years, after communicating.

It’s not surprising therefore that content marketing is becoming increasingly important in a company’s overall marketing strategy, especially in the B2B world when the purchasing journey is often much longer. Content marketing also enables you to build a stronger relationship with your customer, which is crucial in the financial services sector, where trust is even more important due to customers’ heightened financial and emotional investment.

Whilst the majority of companies are doing some form of content marketing, 63% don’t have a documented content  marketing strategy.  However, the most successful  B2B content marketers are far more likely than their less successful peers to have a documented content marketing strategy (65% vs 14%).

A content strategy enables you to ensure that what you are creating is relevant to your audience, to the channel you are using and ensures it works towards your overall marketing and business goals.

If you haven’t done so, it’s time you created your content strategy. Here are 8 elements to include.

What your content marketing strategy should include:

1. Objectives and KPIs

The content strategy firstly needs to outline your objectives. Generally, two of the core marketing objectives will be to:

  1. Improve your organic SEO – enabling prospective customers to find you when they need you which is much more valuable than outbound lead generation as their already have a need
  2. Position you as a thought leader with a genuine desire to add value, rather than just sell. This helps to improve positive brand awareness, putting you in a much better position when a prospects need is identified

However it’s important to outline any specific KPIs you want to achieve e.g drive more traffic to your website, generate more lead data, improve conversions, increase social following etc. Outlining these up front will also enable you to measure the effectives of your content later on.

2. Audience personas

These personas focus on your audiences specific media and content habits, enabling you to understand what content to produce, and where and when to share it.

Use social and google analytics, focus groups and existing customer and prospect data insights to understand:

  1. Where are they in your buying funnel?
  2. What are their media habits?
  3. What channels are they active on?
  4. When do they access content?
  5. What their needs are and what content they might be looking

3. Existing content and SEO audit

If you’ve already been creating content, carry out an audit of what you have so far. Which, if any, of your audiences is this content relevant for? What pieces were most popular? Also review competitor’s content. What are they writing about which you aren’t? Can you see any blogs / posts that readers have engaged more in?

This will help in planning future content and understand which pieces, if any, can be repurposed.

You should also incorporate an SEO audit on your site to identify any technical SEO issues occurring on your existing posts that can be rectified. 

4. Preferred content types

Use the insights you’ve gained so far about your audience, channels and existing content to decide and outline what type of content you want to create.

Most successful strategies include a core set of blog posts featured on your own site, which are then supported with other content types and shared through other channels.  Video content should also be an essential party of any content strategy, as audiences are 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share, and comment on video content than blogs or related social posts.

If you want to ask your prospects to provide their data in order to access your content, therefore generating potential leads, you will need to create larger thought leadership and research pieces. This ensures there is a big enough value exchange to encourage readers to give up their data.

5. Channel plan

Again, with the information gathered so far you should begin to have an understanding of what channels will resonate best with your audience and content types.

In a B2B world, you will likely find your audience on  LinkedIn, so this should form an important channel, alongside your website and potentially relevant trade media partners.

6. Content themes and pillars

Once you know what you’re creating you can start to think about what topics you want your content to feature. Some tools that can help you to brainstorm content ideas include:

  • Google trends – to understand what content topics people are searching for on google, including trends across different months and upcoming topics
  • HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator – enter general topics or terms you’d like to write about, and this content idea generator suggests post headlines
  • Feedly – use this RSS feed to keep on top of topics that are trending in your industry

From here, aim to identity 3/ 4 overarching themes which you can use for your content pillars. This will help you ensure all future content remains relevant and in-line with this overall strategy, and help google see you as an expert in this topic.

7. Content calendar

Once you have your list of topics you can complete a content calendar. This should include the:

  1. date of posting
  2. proposed channel
  3. content title
  4. proposed audience
  5. relevant content pillar

This helps you to clearly see whether you are posting regularly, reaching all your audience segments, making use of all your channels and creating content that is a good mix of all your pillars.  It also helps you ensure you don’t forget to post!

Don’t forget though that your content needs be current. You need to be able to adapt and create new content in line with any breaking news stories and / or legislation changes.

It is important therefore in your strategy to agree any sign off process in advance, as compliance could slow down the creation and posting of these topical pieces if they need to approve very piece.

8. Measurement and refinement

Finally, don’t forget to outline how you will measure the success of your content against your KPIs. Chances are you will need to utilise social and google analytics to understand metrics such as views, shares, comments and website engagement. Don’t be afraid to edit and refine the strategy as the campaign progresses.

 

Now that you have your strategy, read our next post to find out to create great content or find out more about content topic clusters and pillars and how they can help your SEO.

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