April’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers and Shakers so here is a summary of the latest company news and exciting new appointments that we recommend you keep an eye on:

Hearst Magazines UK, the publisher of ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Harper’s Bazaar, has appointed Anne-Marie Curtis as Editor-in-Chief of ELLE.

The magazine has also announced the appointment of James Wildman as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Fiona Ross recently resigned as Managing Director of plus-size womenswear retailer Evans, and will be replaced by Anne Secunda, who will also continue in her current role as Managing Director of Evans’ Arcadia Group stablemate, Wallis.

Elizabeth Arnett is leaving her role as head of corporate affairs at Irish Water to join Ulster Bank in as Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications.

Diageo has snapped up Carat’s global digital director Jerry Daykin to become its first Head of Digital Media Partnerships, a role that will call on his former ties to FMCG business Mondelez International.

Andrew Crawley, current Chief Executive of IAG Cargo, is to become Chief Executive of Avios Group Ltd, with immediate effect. Andrew sits on the IAG management committee, reporting directly into its Chief Executive Willie Walsh.

Design Council’s Chair and Trustees have welcomed Sarah Weir OBE as its new Chief Executive.

Sarah will take Design Council into an exciting new phase, building on its current success and developing new programmes and services.

Lisa Henderson has been appointed Head of Marketing at Manchester Arndale, bringing experience gained from marketing numerous global fashion brands.

Online home shopping group Findel has announced the appointment of Phil Maudsley as Chief Executive with immediate effect.


POKE has promoted Tom Bayliss, its head of client services, to the role of Managing Director, and named Christina Marks, a business leader on some of the agency’s key accounts, as the new Head of Client Services, replacing Bayliss.

Bayliss will take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the agency, and will oversee continued growth of the business, continuing to work with Nick Farnhill, co-founder & CEO of POKE and recently appointed CEO of Publicis London, to focus on the integrated growth and strategic positioning for both businesses, which remain separate entities within Publicis UK.

French Connection has appointed Maryam Farrahi as PR Manager. Maryam was previously Global Press Officer at Cath Kidston.

Neal’s Yard Remedies has promoted Jessica French from PR & Social Media Coordinator to Social Media Manager.


Business owner and former CEO James Phipps takes the Executive Chairman position at leading Vodafone B2B dealer, while former Vodafone commercial marketing director for enterprise Peter Boucher has been appointed as the new CEO.

British contemporary fashion brand Whistles has announced the appointment of Sadie Watts as Global Head of PR. Sadie was most recently Communications Director at Tommy Hilfiger and formerly Head of UK PR at Paul Smith. Sadie can be contacted for interview requests with CEO Jane Shepherdson as well as brand enquiries.

WiggleCRC has appointed Will Kernan to lead the recently merged online retailer of cycling and tri sports equipment as Group CEO. He succeeds Stefan Barden as Chief Executive.

Yo! Sushi has appointed former BA marketer and BBH Sport executive Luisa Fernandez to run the Japanese restaurant chain’s marketing department as Marketing Director.

Tesco Mobile have reshuffled at the very top of the company with Chief Executive Anthony Vollmer replaced by Claire Lorains. Lorains will start her new role on 2 May 2017.

Asthma UK has appointed Graham Kelly as its new Director of Fundraising, effective as of 24th April.

Wasserman has appointed Jade Garrow Newport as a Business Director to its experience division. The former Head of Marketing at Miss Selfridge, part of Arcadia Group, will focus on nurturing senior client relationships with a specific focus on the agency’s Bacardi account.

L.K.Bennett has appointed Jess Beck as Senior Marketing Manager. Jess was previously Senior Marketing and Events Manager at notonthehighstreet.com.

Wagamama has appointed Jane Holbrook and the brands new Cheif Executive of the pan-Asian restaurant chain. The former Flair exec will be joining the Richmond based business on Aril 24th.

Bandai UK has named Nic Aldridge its new General Manager.

Meanwhile, Clive Smith will be stepping into the role of Managing Director while Tess Parsons-Broome has recently been promoted to the new position of Marketing Manager.

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March’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers and Shakers so here is a summary of the latest company news and exciting new appointments that we recommend you keep an eye on:

ExCeL London has promoted Lucy Merritt to the role of Head of Marketing ahead of what is expected to be the venue’s busiest year to date. Boosting the venue’s conference and events team, Merritt will take on new responsibilities, including digital marketing, CSR and corporate communications.

Coffee chain Costa has appointed Thrive PR’s Esme Knight as Corporate Communications Manager. Knight takes responsibility for corporate communications, policy development, and crisis and issues management within Costa’s comms team.

Sophie Marshall has been appointed Senior Global PR Manager at Warehouse. Sophie was previously at BPCM as Account Director.

Publicis UK

Publicis UK has promoted Publicis London chief executive Karen Buchanan to the newly created role of Chairman of Publicis London and Chief Client Development at Publicis UK, while co-founder and chief executive of Poke Nick Farnhill will take on her previous responsibilities at the London shop.

Dom Boyd has also been appointed as Chief Strategy Officer in a bid to strengthen the company’s strategic offering.

Thames Water has poached SSE’s head of finance Brandon Rennet to replace CFO Stuart Siddall who is to retire next year.

Accountant Rennet, who has worked in the power sector for 14 years, will take over as the water company’s Finance Chief in March 2017.

Tesco has hired Mindshare’s veteran chief client officer Nick Ashley to be the supermarket’s first Head of Media.

Ashley will report to group brand director Michelle McEttrick and have responsibility for Tesco’s media across brand, food, mobile, bank and general merchandise.

Mothercare has hired Monsoon Accessorize’s international director Kevin Rusling, who will join the business in March next year.

Kevin Rusling will take over responsibility for its international business as Chief Executive.

Mindshare has promoted chief commercial officer Joanna Lyall to be the media agency’s first UK Managing Director in four years.

The WPP agency said it has brought back the managing director role to bring together individual teams that have been launched over the past year, including Fast, Purpose and Grow.

Accolade Wines has confirmed that Adrian McKeon will return to wine as the Accolade Wines UK & Ireland General Manager. 

Wagamama has appointed Emma Woods as Customer Director.

Starting at the company in April, Woods will join the Executive Team and report directly to wagamama CEO, David Campbell.

Lego announced that Marina Edwards will join as VP & General Manager of UK & Ireland.

The Football Association (FA) has recently announced the appointment of Marzena Bogdanowicz as its new Head of Marketing and Commercial for women’s football.

The appointment coincides with The FA’s launch of their new women’s football strategy ‘The Gameplan for Growth’. The strategy outlined The FA’s approach to its three core goals for the women’s and girl’s game by 2020: to double participation, double the fanbase and achieve consistent success on the world stage.

Amaze, the digital marketing, technology and commerce specialists, have confirmed Alex Comyn in the post of Chief Strategy Officer, helping to marry data intelligence and experience design within the company.


Satellite navigation specialist Garmin has hired two new marketing executives at its UK headquarters in Southampton.

Chrissy Winchcombe joins the company as Marketing Executive for marine, fitness and wellness, while Katie Harrison is now the Marketing Executive for outdoor and golf.

Luxury tailor-made tour operator, Carrier, has announced the appointment of Mark Duguid as its new Managing Director. Based at the company’s headquarters in Cheadle, Cheshire, Mark will join the company at the beginning of April, taking the helm from Steve Kimber who is retiring after a successful six and a half years with the company.

Sir Philip Green’s fashion chain, Topshop, is losing its trailblazing managing director Mary Homer to The White Company.

Mary Homer helped make the retailer into a global brand that constantly managed to lead fashion on the High Street.

Wiggle has poached the White Company chief executive Will Kernan as Group Chief Executive, replacing Stefan Barden at the helm.

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February’s Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers and Shakers so here is a summary of the latest company news and exciting new appointments that we recommend you keep an eye on:

Co-op Group

The Co-op Group announced this month that Richard Pennycook is to step down as Group CEO and will be succeeded by Steve Murrells, currently CEO of the Co-op’s food business.

This announcement is part of transition arrangements for the Group as it prepares to move from the successful Rebuild phase of its turnaround to the Renewal phase.

Net-A-Porter has announced the appointment of new Global Marketing and Communications Director Dana Gers.

Gers joins the online fashion group from a six-year stint as senior vice president of global marketing at Jimmy Choo.

She will start the newly created position in mid-April and lead Net-A-Porter’s brand communication strategy, ensuring customer acquisition and retention, as well as driving sales.

Liverpool FC’s commercial director, Billy Hogan, has been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director as the club’s chief executive, Ian Ayre, will leave at the end of the month.

Hogan’s additional duties as managing director will now see him take up the responsibility for the management of the club’s marketing and digital media departments.

Additionally, Michael Edwards has been promoted into one of the most powerful roles at Liverpool Football Club – the newly-created position of Sporting Director.

Ghada Idrissi joins Inmarsat as Market and Competitor Strategy Manager. He will be responsible for developing and disseminating global government user demand trends, global market data, and relevant competitors to define Inmarsat’s strategy.

Ogilvy PR London announces the appointment of Anna Burns as Head of New Business and Marketing.

Georgina Lewis has been named as the new Head of Marketing at the Football Association (FA), the governing body of English soccer. Lewis will assume the role full-time on 27th February.

Peugeot UK

Kerry Livesey has been appointed PR Manager. Reporting to James Parfett, who took over as Head of Communications for PEUGEOT in January 2017, Kerry has over three years of experience within the PSA Group, having started as a graduate trainee in 2013.

James Parfett will assume the role of Head of Communications, the brand recently announced.

Jill Easterbrook, the former top marketer and chief transformation officer at Tesco, has joined clothing brand Boden as Chief Executive.

Dara McMahon, who heads up the NewBrands Ireland representative body for national and regional newspapers, has been appointed as Aer Lingus Marketing Manager.

UNICEF UK promoted Isobel Dumont to Head of Direct Marketing this month, from Director Marketing Manager – Acquisition. In addition, Louise Lane was promoted to Director of Fundraising Strategy & Knowledge.

Christos Angelides will become Chief Executive Officer of U.K. fashion chain Reiss Ltd., spurning an offer to run Marks & Spencer Group Plc’s struggling clothing division.

Angelides, 53, will succeed the retailer’s 73-year-old founder David Reiss. The move is part of a “planned succession,” Reiss said Monday.

Mamas & Papas has hired Neil Sumner to lead its ecommerce and marketing teams as well as oversee the maternity and nursery chain’s digital strategy as Global Digital Director.


Eleanor Orebi Gann has been appointed as the new Director – Collaboration, working within the Visa Innovation and Strategic Partnerships team, Eleanor leads design-thinking engagement and workshops with Visa clients to create new commerce and payment solutions.

John Roberts, the man who founded online electrical retailer AO World after a bet in a pub, has announced he is stepping down as chief executive after 17 years with the company.

The AO World Founder will retain a new role on the board- as Founder, Executive Director – and will be succeeded as Chief Executive by Steve Caunce, currently chief operating officer.

Phil Lynch has joined Manchester United as the Chief Executive Officer of Media, where he will be responsible for overseeing the club’s digital media strategy, as well as the management and operations of MUTV (including the new MUTV app, available in 165 countries around the world), the creation and editorial oversight of the club’s official match day programme and monthly magazines, as well as the club’s digital media partnerships and direct-to-consumer products.

The wildlife charity WWF-UK has appointed former Save the Children fundraising director Tanya Steele as its new Chief Executive, replacing David Nussbaum, who is leaving after nine and a half years.

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January’s Marketing Movers and Shakers

Working in Business Development, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes and the latest Movers and Shakers so here is a summary of the latest company news and exciting new appointments that we recommend you keep an eye on:

John Lewis

The UK upmarket department store has promoted Paula Nickolds to be the first female Managing Director in the department store group’s 152-year history. Nickolds, 43, will take over from Andy Street in January.

Nickolds takes over at a tricky period for the department store, where profits slumped 31% to £32m in the first half of this year as it struggled to adapt to the shift to online shopping.

She will have to help increase morale and find a way to maintain the group’s quality and service credentials while cutting costs, particularly in stores where sales are falling. Nickolds may also have to consider pruning new store developments and finding new uses for store space that is no longer needed.

ITV bolsters creative leadership with new senior appointments in ITV Network and ITV Studios. Rosemary Newell will become ITV’s Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, replacing Angela Jain as she moves to ITV’s production business as Managing Director of ITV Studios Entertainment.

Deliveroo has appointed former Amazon marketer Jamie Swango as its first UK Marketing Director. She’s joined the three-year-old restaurant delivery company earlier this month from her previous role as Head of Marketing for Amazon’s one hour delivery offering, Prime Now. She will be responsible for leading consumer, restaurant, and rider marketing in the UK and Ireland.

Aveva Group, a provider of engineering data and design IT systems, has confirmed the appointment of former deputy chief executive James Kidd as Chief Executive from 1 January.

He will be replacing Richard Longdon who has stepped down from his role as chief executive and director of the company from 31 December 2016.

Brien Winther, the current president of Pandora Australia & New Zealand, will be the new Managing Director of Pandora in the UK. Pandora believe Brien Winther’s leadership skills and passion for people development make him the right person to lead its British Isles team and retail partners as it aims to develop its business.

MSC Cruises has appointed Thomas Cook’s Andrea Stafford as Head of Retail. Stafford, who was a regional manager for Cook, will begin her new role on 3 January. Her main responsibilities in the newly created role will include managing the newly formed team of regional sales managers and developing the multiple and consortia relationships for MSC Cruises in the UK.

Lakeland has appointed BP’s Catherine Nunn to succeed Sam Rayner as the company’s new Managing Director as of January 1. Nunn will be the first person outside the Rayner family to run the business. She will take on the kitchen accessories specialist’s ambitions for international growth as well as its continued progress on home soil, while Sam Rayner steps up to become company chairman.

“Great strides have been made to expand the company into a broader market and I am confident that my experience will help Lakeland to reach an even wider customer base” says Nunn.


One of the UK’s leading independent energy providers OVO have announced two senior appointments to build the company’s award-winning brand and drive its ambitious growth plans. Adam Rostom joins the company as Chief Marketing Officer and Katie Thompson has been appointed as Communications Director.

Rostom will focus on elevating OVO’s brand, growing awareness of its unique customer proposition to bring energy into the 21st century through innovative products and a seamless digital experience.

Their arrival comes as OVO received international recognition for its success in building a powerful and trusted brand, with a focus on putting customers first. In September, the company received the prestigious ‘World’s Best Energy Brand’ award at CHARGE, the world’s first energy branding conference that took place in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The Internet Advertising Bureau UK’s (IAB UK) Chief Operating Officer Jon Mew will succeed Guy Phillipson as CEO from 13 January.

Mew has worked at the IAB for eight years, joining as its first head of mobile, before becoming director of mobile and operations, which involved merging mobile into the core part of the business. He was promoted to chief operating officer in September 2014.

Mew spoke to Campaign earlier this month, saying that his priorities would be “reasserting positivity around digital” and “better involving brands and agencies.”

Nickelodeon UK & Ireland has appointed Virginia Monaghan, formerly head of the marketing, press and creative teams across both MTV and Comedy Central, to a similar role at the children’s network. Monaghan will begin her new position on 9 January.

Kia Motors (UK) Ltd

Kia has appointed Steve Hicks as Sales Director, who was previously Regional Director for Nissan. Hicks will oversee all sales channels including retail, fleet and new and used cars through the Kia dealer network. He will also contribute to the development of the company as a member of the executive board and report to commercial director, Simon Hetherington.

Dave King is to leave Telegraph Media Group after 12 years to become UK Managing Director of Exterion Media, starting his position 23 January. He replaces Jason Cotterrell, who moves to the newly created role of group development director at the out-of-home company.

Thea Rogers has become Deliveroo’s PR Chief, while the food delivery business will appoint new consumer and corporate agencies after ending work with Havas PR since October of last year. Deliveroo will reportedly be announcing their new consumer PR agency in the coming weeks.

Yoox Net-A-Porter

The group has appointed Deborah Lee as its new Chief People Officer.

Starting her new role in January, Lee will be responsible for defining the HR vision of the company – which owns online retailers Net-A-Porter, Yoox and Mr Porter – through culture, leadership and management strategies.

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In Conversation: How to Build a Successful Biz Dev Team

This month – amid a heap of heart shaped chocolates and red roses – we got to thinking about relationships…in Business Development.

Often, we see businesses that are looking for someone with an enviable Rolodex who can bring client accounts with minimal effort in addition to being able to write proposals, market your agency, prospect, manage accounts when necessary and command the respect of the team.

But, like many relationships, not having a realistic view at the outset of can run the risk of setting that relationship up for failure.

So, how do you build that successful Biz Dev team with the enviable Rolodex? What elements should be present in order for this relationship to flourish? What are the qualities to keep in mind when building your dream Biz Dev team?

To better understand what makes a successful Biz Dev team, we sat down with Upfront Sales Director Guy Edwards to get his take on #relationshipgoals in Business Development.

What would you say are the five essential qualities in a BDM that you look for when recruiting?

  1. Good BDMs are confident, calm, engaging, have an enquiring mind and most importantly, they listen. The old adage of “people buy people” is still as true as when it was first said. When I meet a BDM candidate, I’m always looking for someone I could drop into a large networking event and know they will be able to work the room and speak to the right people.
  1. Questioning skills. Outside of the first 30-second pitch, I look for people who understand how to ask the right questions, and most importantly LISTEN to the answers. In a presentation or pitch/role play stage of the interview process, I want to see a candidate posing smart questions to me that demonstrate their understanding of the business that they are pitching to.
  1. While I place a high value on preparation, in the case of Business Development, all the preparation in the world will only get you so far. Candidates need to be able to work with the information you are given by the prospect and understand how to use that information to drive the relationship forward. Often with multiple disciplines i.e. from an integrated agency offering, you will get so much more traction by being able to pick up what areas of the business the prospect is actually interested in. Good BDMs figure out what the priorities are for the prospect and how they can deliver on those priorities?
  1. Account management. In a industry like Business Development, being able to build good working relationships with people extends past the prospects and into the long-term relationship with the client team. Agencies trust us completely to deliver their new business activity for them and that comes with a huge responsibility for clear communication and trust on both sides.
  1. Business Development can be the best job in the world for the right people. On the Upfront BDM team, we love Biz Dev, and we love winning new business for our clients. I need to see that passion from candidates, because whilst it is the best job in the world for some, if you aren’t passionate about it, it won’t be the right role for you.

Conversely, what qualities in an agency or business do you look for as a Business Development Professional?

Good question! Personally, I’m not a job hopper so I look for a role that I can see myself in for a year or two. But most importantly, I look for a business I respect. I have overheard horrific pub conversations in the past from BDMs slating their work place! I would hate to feel that way about my company.

I look for businesses that have a lower employee turnover. It’s a bonus to see employees who have also progressed through the company, because for me, if a Business Developer is the same role for a prolonged time, that doesn’t excite me about joining that team as that infers there could be less room for growth in the company.

Beyond that, I am looking for the usual clues to give me a better insight to who an agency is and what it stands for – social media posts, content and blog posts, awards they’ve won and how they fit within the wider industry.

As a BDM you want to “back the right horses” so to speak, so I find through that research you get a good feel for the company culture. If it chimes with how I like to work and feel about the industry, then that’s a big tick for me.

Would you say there is ‘ideal’ workplace culture or company ethos that you find most suitable to support a Biz Dev team?

Oh yes, definitely. The agency must know not only what they do, but why they exist. It may sound like a subtle difference, but for me it’s a very important difference. How many times do people simply say what their business does:

“Oh, I work for a digital marketing agency”

instead of

“We exist because our clients trust us to create manage and deliver their presence online”

For me any business wanting to invest in Business Development first needs to have a few key elements:

To be a meritocracy. Good work always rewarded and acknowledged.

Clear and open lines of communication. This sounds simple, but it’s easy for people to get internally focused and then divisions can creep in. This should encompass the senior team.

A clear and open mandate for the business, e.g. the mission statement for “who we are” right now and where is the business going. I think it’s really important for all of the teams to be pulling in one direction.

It might seem obvious but I like businesses who value new business and BDM activity, because that tells me the relationship is already off to a good start and we can work together to get some great results for their business.

Do you have any tips for someone exploring the realm of Biz Dev, either in a BDM role or an agency looking to invest in Business Development?

For those who are looking to start out I would say, find a proposition that you are passionate about, and sell yourself into the hiring manager of that business, if you are right in your assessment of the business and you do love it, work hard and you will fly.

For agencies that are looking to invest in Business Development I would say it’s important to understand your needs as a business, what resources you currently have and what model will work best for your needs. We recently wrote a piece on outsourced vs. in-house Business Development, which covers a lot of the relevant questions agencies should be asking themselves in the initial stages of developing a strategy.

All relationships need good channels of communication in order to thrive. What are some of your favourite tools you use to stay connected with your team and ensure a strong work relationship?

Timetastic is brilliant for leave planning and management, it’s simple, effortless and centralised.

I’m a big fan of Gmail and have been for years, in my personal opinion none of the other email services come close.

I really enjoy a Google plugin called Mailtracker. It allows me to know that my emails are delivered and if I promised to have something over to a prospect – I know I have delivered my end of the bargain.

We are blessed at Upfront to have Upstream as a resource for our BDM activity. It saves a huge amount of time trawling for decision-maker contact details and gives us all the relevant industry insights in one place. You might think I’m totally biased, but I have used the range of these tools over the years and Upstream is head and shoulders above the competition.

We are just moving over to Pipedrive as our CRM and from what I have seen so far it looks excellent. It’s easy to use and engaging, which (having come from Salesforce) is a definitely breath of fresh air.

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How to write astounding copy in Business Development

Reposted from LinkedIn with permission from Joe Carter, Business Development Manager EMEA at Contagious Communications.

If business development is a game, then conjuring creative copy is the joystick.

To reach the boss level (think Sonic on Sega Megadrive), you must get a reply.

The majority aspire to receive a reply from their prospect. A reply is an indicator of interest, they say.

I’d rather consistently book qualified meetings.

So, how do we get there? Here’s 90 seconds worth of opinion…

You’ve heard it before – the subject title is a game changer. Too long and Sonic (my prospect’s name throughout) hits delete. Irrelevant, impersonalised or inappropriate; you lose. Game over.

Avoid templates.

Subject Titles With Capital Letters – you mug. Grab a coffee (never use this phrase) and have a good, hard think about your life.

Never fuck, shit or swear in your subject title. Unless Sonic is a pal. But still, we’re professional, right?

Keep it punchy. Short. Conversational from the start. Maybe ask a question? Unless it’s rhetorical. Humour can work; remember, though, you’re not a comedian.

The personalised, relevant nature of your copy is the beating heart of your success.

Sonic recently got promoted? So what.

Sonic called an agency review? Who cares.

Discover Sonic’s business challenges and research their sector, company, personality (not too creepy) and the way they talk.

Talk to Sonic in the style that he/she would talk to you.

Would you say holistic, nuance or cerebral in a face to face? Write how you talk and inject some personality, too – keep it light and remove jargon.

You > I. Unfortunately, Sonic doesn’t care about you at this stage. Entice Sonic with an emotionally resonant note and Sonic will care.

Sibilance can be sumptuous – use it occasionally, or this literary construct will be as gnarly as similes in prospecting.

A decent rhyme is fine; don’t overdo it or you’ll need to refine your copy [much like this line].

Speling, punctuation and grammar are vital. (c wt I did thre – are you using text language?)

However, you’re not writing an essay. HELLOOOOO! I see you’re still with me – thanks. Abbreviate words like you’re, they’re, we’re, it’s.

If you attach a file, you’re in denial of your ability to convey a strong enough message.

Every sentence counts and it needs to be impactful. Stop. Pause for a sec. Always re-read your copy. Does it make sense? It does now you’ve taken out removed filler words.

Keep it simple. You want to a book a meeting, right? ASK FOR ONE!!! Oh, and experiment with capitalisation, bold/italic, size, colours and fonts.

When works best to meet? > Shall we grab a coffee and talk about another really long sentence that doesn’t make any sense because you’re being too polite.

Use tools like Grammarly. Learn from experts like Heather Morgan and Bryan Kreuzberger. Enrol in a course with Laura & Marie at The Copy Cure. That reminds me – always hyperlink the word. But never use more than 2, or you’ll find a tin of spam. (The same goes for file attachments)

Remember; this won’t happen overnight. The art of copy must be learned – as always, be persistent, ambitious and focused – you will succeed.

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2016 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference – The Future of Digital

On 30th November, a heady mix of marketers, influencers and the like gathered at the Royal College of Physicians to discuss the year’s trends and hear about new technologies and strategic trends shaping the future of digital marketing.

The 2016 Figaro Digital Marketing Conference was a huge success, bringing together an esteemed panel of speakers across a range of sectors to discuss their insights and predictions for how everything from content marketing, social media strategies, AI and big data will influence digital marketing in the New Year.

It was a packed itinerary, so we decided to pull together some of the top insights and takeaways from the day:

Think about your customer

A marketing strategy focused on customers problems, motivations and needs may seem like a no-brainer, but this will play a huge roll in how we look at marketing for 2017. Truly understanding customer needs feeds into all areas of marketing from product development, UX and consumer engagement – all leading to increased sales and a greater digital brand presence if done right.

Robert Crook from Travelex advises to ‘pick apart your customer problems into their most granular parts to find out what motivates people’.

Authentic, transparent marketing is important now more than ever says Anna Whitehouse, creator of Mother Pukka, who reminds us that consumers are savvy to inauthentic marketing, so it’s imperative that your marketing strategy stays true to brand proposition, creating content that will genuinely engage with customers.

UX has never been more important

In the same way that customer-centric marketing focuses on the needs of your consumer, providing clear, accessible and optimised user experiences for consumers is a key if you want to stay ahead of the competition, retain users and engage with new ones.

Not only will it help to enhance your brand proposition, communicate your message more effectively and serve your customers more efficiently, but certain elements to UX like opt-in forms, privacy notices and the infamous cookies law will become the law of the digital land, according to the GDPR.

Steve Henderson at Communicator talks about the responsibility we now have to think about how we can give our customers a genuine choice, providing information that clear and accessible when it comes to their privacy and online experience.

To respond to that need, brands like Communicator and Curated Digital are developing ways that brands can re-imagine these engagement elements of the online experience (like these surveys) in order to promote engagement for data gathering tools that are often ignored or found to be an irritating element of customer’s UX.

Content is the present – and future – of marketing

Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute; as a forward-thinking marketer, you know there has to be a better way.

You guessed it – that buzzword you’ve been hearing all year – content marketing. Simply put, content marketing, which includes social media and distribution, is there to help your customers find the information they need.

While many were sceptical around how content marketing could really take over traditional marketing, brands like Schneider Electric and Shazam stand behind this method, discussing how a strong content marketing strategy can help increase sales, save in cost and resources and encourage engagement with better customers resulting in brand loyalty.

Giuseppe Caltabiano with Schneider Electric emphasised that when developing content, more isn’t always better. Learn how to re-purpose and re-promote your content to save you time and resources. He recommends a Big Rock approach, which is essentially ‘a substantial piece of content based on the idea of becoming the definitive guide to a conversation that you want to own’.

Big data is just a pile of nonsense unless you know what to do with it

Having mountains of data isn’t the sole end goal anymore. Sure, it’s a start, but as Elizabeth De Freitas at Hitwise displayed in her presentation ‘5 Ways To Know Your Competitor’s Audience Better Than They Do’, making sense of all that data can be used to unlock incredible marketing opportunities, campaign strategies and hidden competitive advantages.

She recommends learning from your most successful competition, comparing your results with the wider industry, unlocking incredible hidden market opportunities. From there, you can understand what kinds of content your customers consume and when, which will help to feed into your content marketing strategy.

Richard Summers at Crowdcat melds creativity with big data in order to understand the brain to solve real world problems. With only 1 in 4 million of our thoughts actually making it to consciousness, understanding how people consume ads will help to shape a strategy that can help change the buying outcome and deliver consistent, measurable performance.

AI might be more human than humans

AI may be a source of stress or excitement depending on how you look at it. One thing’s for sure, understanding the capabilities of AI will help your business to determine if its right for you.

It definitely was for Havas. Executive Digital Director Lisa De Bonis shared their experiences with EagleAi, and how AI and big data were able to predict the 2016 Presidential Elections, now known as the night AI predicted human behaviour better than the humans.

One thing is certain. It’s not a matter of one or the other, as both Lisa and Phrasee’s CEO Parry Malm confirmed. At this point (at least) AI should be seen as a complimentary use of technology to be embraced in order to learn what it can do for us and marketing strategies moving forward.

Parry Malm of Phrasee recommends working within a limited data set when using AI for email marketing. He’s utilised artificial intelligence to generate and optimise response to your emails through marketing language science in his entertaining presentation, ‘Marketers, Watch Your Back: Here’s AI That Can Write Better Email Subject Lines Than You…’

The big takeaway?

We live in a world where it can be argued that technology changes faster than our capacity to learn it. Rather than jumping on every technological bandwagon, agility should sit at the heart of your business strategy.

What we mean by agility can be broken down into three steps:

  1. Understanding what options are available in the current market, how they’re being used, by who and who of those are doing it well (and possibly more importantly, who’s not doing it well)
  2. Assess which channels or tools will best serve your business strategy to produce the best insight and value for your business
  3. Implement those channels and tools with a simple process that ensures compliance and business success

Follow those steps 1-3, leaving room for changes and adjustments as needed. Because if this year’s taught us anything, it’s that we must be agile in order to successfully respond to the transient nature of today’s market.

To that end, if we took away anything from the conference, it’s to be open (yet critical) to what’s new, to be agile in understanding how to incorporate that into your marketing strategies and to be relieved that bots aren’t going to take over our jobs – at least yet anyway.

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The Drum Independent Agencies Census

This week the Drum published it’s annual Independent Agencies Census. This benchmarks the UK’s independent agency sector based on financial performance, agency staff size and client satisfaction.

The report provides a great overview of the current landscape – and it was encouraging to hear that 77% of the agencies featured, reported an increase in turnover. A lot of our clients are fast growing independents and we take great heart to see so many taking high positions in the rankings for both financial and client satisfaction.

Congratulations to the winners for each category:

Elite (balance across client satisfaction & financial performance)

100+ staff – Intermarketing

51-99 – MB advertising and Marketing

26-50 – Bluesky Interactive

1-25 – Miramar

Media – Space and Time Media


100+ Elmwood

51-99 – MB advertising & Marketing

26-50 Bluesky Interactive

1-25 – Ink Digital Agency

Media – Sleeping Giant Media


100+ – Oliver

51-99 – Red Brick Road

26-50 – Fold7

1-25 – Friend Studio

Media – The Specialist Works

Please click here to see the full rankings.

We find the Independent Agency Census is a great guide for clients to help find the right agencies. Often clients will want to make sure agencies are the right size for them – they want to be considered as important and one of their key clients, but not too big that the agency will be over dependent on them. And the rankings on client satisfaction, gathered through the Recommended Agency Roster (RAR), help future clients to better understand what it is like to work with each agency.

We find the report a very useful tool for Business Development and something we regularly reference when talking to prospects.

If you do appear in this year’s report, congratulations! Now make sure you share on social and as part of your keep in touch communication; it will help future clients to better understand your agency, build your credibility and give them greater confidence in your agency.

If you would like help building on this to further grow your agency, please get in contact.

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Econsultancy Top 100 Digital agencies 2016

Econsultancy has recently published it’s annual Top 100 Digital Agencies report, the definitive listing of the UK’s largest digital agencies. The report shows that marketing spend on digital in the UK continues to grow with total fee income across the top 100 digital agencies up 20% to pass the £2 billion mark.

The Top 100 Digital Agencies Report lists the UK’s top 100 digital marketing, design and build, technical and creative agencies. These are ranked on their fee income from digital activities in the UK.

In an ever increasing digital landscape, a large portion of total digital spend is now taken up leading consultancy groups who have diversified into digital marketing. IBM iX took top spot, with Accenture Interactive a new entry straight into second place. Last year’s winner Sapient Nitro dropping to third spot.

Click here to see the full list.

Business Development is increasingly important for digital agencies as competition hots up. Exciting new entrants to the list included EPAM, Isobar, BIO agency, Enviqa, Fetch, Poke, ANDigital, ORM, Geeks, Propellnet, Vaimo UK and Delete. Welcome!

Meanwhile, ones to watch for next year are Engage, 383 Project, Exposure Digital, UXB London, The Unit and AB… the ideas agency.

It was great to see so many Upfront and Upstream clients (past and present) with nearly 20 making the top 100. Particular mention to Ayima who jumped 25 places to 63 and Redweb breaking into the top 50.

Well done to everyone listed.

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Upfront clients well represented in Econsultancy top 100 list

Econsultancy has recently published it’s Top 100 Digital Agencies report, the definitive listing of the UK’s largest digital agencies. The report shows that marketing spend on digital in the UK continues to grow with total fee income across the top 100 digital agencies reaching £1.696 billion, this was up from £1.48 billion in 2014.

The Top 100 Digital Agencies Report lists the UK’s top 100 digital marketing, design and build, technical and creative agencies. These are ranked on their fee income from digital activities in the UK. Click here to see the full list.

Congratulations to Sapient Nitro who retain top spot with growth of over 15% last year. They were followed by IBM Interactive Experience and AKQA, with Tribal DDB a new entry at 4 and DigitasLBI slipping to 5th.

It was good to see breakthroughs by 4PS and True entering the top 100, both were highlighted as ones to watch back in 2014. And well done to Branded3 who enjoyed stand out growth of over 100%, jumping 39 places to 49th.

We were very pleased to see 10 Upfront clients in the top 1o0, with an average growth of 20% and very proud to have been a part of this.


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