Promoting expertise to provide effective integrated Marketing Services

We are delighted to announce the promotion of Michael Bull to the newly created role of Digital Marketing and Integrated Services Director.

brookscomm started 27 years ago as a traditional technology PR Agency, working for a range of clients, often US tech being promoted and sold in Europe. When the ‘dotcom boom’ moved into the ‘dotcom bust’, brookscomm realised it was vital to develop an easy to evolve business with a flexible and constantly learning team.

Fast forward 27 years, 200+ clients and a series of business evolutions to the brookscomm business of today and these realisations are still completely valid.

The business continues to thrive by understanding the evolving needs of its customers. It does this by working with creative, organised, future thinking, commercially focused, marketing integration specialists. These specialists are key to driving the business forward.

Over the years the business has had several key team members who have been pivotal in moving the business to its next self-creation. Michael is one of these team members and we are delighted that he is taking on this new role.”

Michael joined brookscomm in 2016 as interim digital marketing manager. This promotion acknowledges the needs of current customers and the current brookscomm evolution into a full service integrated marketing agency for tech and innovation businesses.

Michael and I have worked with the brookscomm team, to transform the service offering in line with customer needs. Michael has been key in developing this with his entrepreneurial approach and a focus on the needs of customers. Customers today need a great range of integrated marketing and PR services, a website that delivers a rewarding user experience and a  clear sales and marketing strategy. They need an expert at the centre of this pulling in the right elements of marketing and PR and the matching skill sets at the right time. The integrated services director roles at brookscomm provide this expertise.

Michael has seen many changes in his time at brookscomm, both in his role and the way the industry has evolved. Here Michael shares his thoughts on his client achievements, the changes he has witnessed and thoughts for the future of marketing.

Outline some of your best client achievements since joining brookscomm

Image of Michael Bull, brookscomm

“The biggest achievement has been to help Blink, a US-based smart home security camera company, launch and establish themselves in the UK, Germany and France. Over three years we led the EU digital activities, working closely with the global head of sales on strategy and in that time we helped Blink massively grow its online presence, particularly by marketing on Facebook, YouTube and on Amazon. A highlight for me was a promotion on Amazon.co.uk which generated £1m sales in one day. On the strength of the results, Amazon bought Blink and it was a fascinating experience for us to work directly for Amazon.

Other highlights include providing marketing strategy and implementation to a UK Government project to market business recovery courses for small business owners during the Covid lockdown in 2020. Making sure we used channels to market the course, to get the numbers required to sign up for each course deadline, all within budget was a rewarding experience.”

What has been your biggest learning achievement in your time at brookscomm

“I obtained a post-graduate diploma in digital marketing last year, which incorporates Digital Strategy, Customer Experience, Search Marketing, Social Media, Leadership & Management. This has proved very relevant and topical as the requirement from our clients at brookscomm has evolved to include these elements. We’re collaborating with clients and partners at an increasingly more senior level, helping implement tailored strategies, and using the latest insights and tools ensures we can make a significant difference for our clients.”

What changes have you seen in the industry regarding client’s needs and activities

“In my experience, especially since Covid, marketing strategy is increasingly viewed as digital first for clients. With non-digital activities added in as secondary activities so that the marketing plan is less at risk from future pandemics. Covid accelerated digital adoption, especially in respect to consumers, changing the behaviour of how people search and buy online products and services. It’s a case of businesses either adapting to these changes or risk losing market share.

Clients are more aware of the many moving parts that constitute an effective digital strategy and how they can be aligned with their specific objectives. With PR increasingly becoming more digitised, the overlap between the two disciplines is becoming much smaller. Integrated services, combining PR and digital marketing activities, are the way forward, with both marketing and PR measured, and their impact quantified across the business.”

What do you hope to achieve in the future in this role

“I look forward to working with Mandy and the team to further develop the brookscomm business so that we can be part of more success stories for clients, working alongside pioneering people and businesses.”

Why you need to integrate PR & Marketing to drive your business forward

The evolution of Marketing and PR, with the advances of technology, means that amazing, measurable, cost effective and successful integrated campaigns are now increasingly possible. Fast scale-up tech businesses, such as Blink, have used combinations of Digital Marketing and PR in cost-effective ways, escalating and accelerating their route to global success.

It helps that Marketing and PR as disciplines are ever more measurable and ever more similar. Marketing and PR, advertising and social media campaigns are moving closer to each other and overlap in how they are planned and delivered.

Growing expertise of remote working, initially enforced by the pandemic, using entirely online systems and processes, and providing more instant measurable results, is now opening lots of doors in terms of how we all work together and integrate.

It makes complete sense for our customers that we integrate these disciplines and provide a seamless, customer focused, story led approach for brand communications. It’s also much more rewarding to become a part of the client team and look at the business growth and brand boost challenges and opportunities from the business point of view. Solving problems and delivering longer term solutions as a trusted partner with a client makes much more sense than providing a few individual bits of marketing and PR outputs. An effective integrated set of marketing and PR strategies provides clients with the most effective parts of the marketing mix at the right time, seamlessly integrated with other elements of marketing and PR. This should be straightforward but is it?

The challenge of integrating PR and marketing

Let’s face it – integrated service delivery involves losing the smooth edges, the boundaries of individual expertise, the boxes in which we know our particular expertise can sit separately from our colleagues. This can feel uncomfortable.

George Bernard Shaw remarked that the UK and USA are two countries divided by the same language. It is similar with Marketing and PR (or strategic communications). The processes of understanding business goals, who we are targeting, whether customers or other stakeholders, where we will find them and what we need to say to resonate with them and then how we measure the effect of our efforts in terms of business success is the same essentially, across these disciplines. The terminology and approach can be different.

Strategic communications, or PR, still has an identity problem. From my years of PR qualification collecting, I know that PR is just one element of strategic communications. From those same years spent with customers, I know that customers reference PR more often than strategic communications and many customers and practitioners alike are hazy about the definition of both!

Added value for clients from integrated services

It’s challenging to get it right but when you truly integrate you foster:

  • The opportunity for SMEs and larger businesses alike to have the best pieces of the most useful marketing and PR elements at any one time with a flexibility to switch as required
  • Greater innovation as a consequence of the collaboration of a multi-disciplined team of experienced communication professionals
  • Better visibility and understanding of how the components of marketing services work together and therefore a better service delivery for the client
  • A more client focused approach with all of the team taking responsibility for working towards delivering shared business goals, enabling the client to get on with running their business
  • Less jargon, duplication and avoidance of disjointed, disorganised outputs

Defining Integrated services

For us this means ….

Tailoring a range of marketing and PR component services to produce a combined, harmonious suite of services with a unity of purpose and unified systems control. This minimises time and cost and maximises results. These integrated services are brookscomm delivered, client delivered, and/or a combination of both.

Some businesses talk about integrated services but, in reality, offer a number of different marketing and PR services being delivered by different specialists working in silos. This can result in duplication of effort, disjointed messaging, delays, lack of clarity, and potentially failure to deliver business success.

To ensure the range of services are truly integrated and aligned to our customer’s business goals, there needs to be a focus on team information sharing and knowledge, underpinned by collaborative, efficient systems and processes. At brookscomm we are committed to team education and awareness plus effective shared, secure online systems and processes so that we provide the most effective tailored set of services in the most cost effective, time-efficient, and focused way possible.

This is not only better for profit but also better for people and the planet. Something we are very committed to. But more on integration and sustainability next time!

Finally, back to the human element, this is all and always will be a work in progress and we keep talking to our customers and to our team, sharing learning, rolling our sleeves up, and working really hard to deliver success and satisfaction for our clients.

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How baked beans and Weetabix can help your social media strategy

Do you have your Weetabix with baked beans?

No, we’re not going mad. If you didn’t know, in 2021 a Weetabix tweet went viral (and then some) after the brand suggested that topping your breakfast Weetabix with Heinz baked beans was a viable breakfast option. The post created strong opinions and got everyone talking. Brands such as Dominos, Nando’s, NHS, KFC, Tinder, Lidl, Sky, TfL and Specsavers replied with puns, gags and jokes that kept consumers and other brands alike engaged and talking about it for the rest of the week.

From a marketing perspective, it was fascinating to watch this unfold. A simple post with a (very) bold claim got Weetabix and the contributing brands some of the best engagement they have seen on social media in a long time – with over 250,000 interactions on Twitter for Weetabix alone. Critically, it didn’t stop there. Weetabix has reported a surge in sales of its cereal with Sainsbury’s seeing a 15% sales uplift from the day the post went live.

At a time where there’s more emphasis on digital marketing channels in the midst of the pandemic, what is the secret behind these powerful and funny contributions from different brands? What impact will they have on the brands’ audiences for the long term, and what can Weetabix gain from going viral?

Join the conversation

This social media event is proof that whoever your target audience is, people buy from people. Gone are the days of impersonal or corporate messaging on social channels. Audiences are human and want to engage with another human – especially at a time when seeing others is restricted – and a bit of light heartedness is what we all need right now to keep our spirits up. Contributions from the brands demonstrate their intent to be friendly and customer centric, and may help them get in front of new audiences, or remind their existing audiences they’re alive and kicking.

Customer centricity is not just about how you engage with your customers when you’re speaking to them directly. It’s about the reputation you have, what you do when you don’t know if your customers are looking and how you present yourself to the world.

Avoid the status quo

It’s clear from Weetabix’s image – along with its marketing efforts – that the brand makes a concerted effort to be fun and spark conversation, and sometimes do this by being a little “out there” (!) with serving suggestions. Despite its simplicity, this is part of an intentional marketing strategy to be perceived in a particular way by their consumers.

By having an awareness of consumer perception, knowing what the brand wants to achieve and how to engage with its target customers, Weetabix has developed a social media strategy that is fuelled with creativity which helps the brand challenge the norm and resonate with consumers.

It is easy to stick to what you know when it comes to implementing marketing activity or choosing channels, but brands need to continue to innovate to ensure that their marketing strategy is reaching their target customers and their content is resonating.

Give messaging the time it deserves

Not all brands got their replies to Weetabix quite right: some jumped in to promote themselves, lacked creativity or simply weren’t that memorable. It’s a lesson in the importance of creativity in marketing to compete with large brands, and it emphasises the significance of tight brand messaging.

Messaging isn’t just what you say, but how you say it, when and why. It’s crucial to be consistent with tone of voice across all marketing channels and create a style guide that is easy to follow. This allows brands to respond to opportunities quickly, whether it’s a social post like this, a breaking news story or an urgent customer query.

Here’s some of the brand replies to Weetabix that we loved. What was your favourite?

If you know you need to devise a marketing, social media or content strategy for your business but don’t know where to start, get in touch on hello@brookscomm.com.

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The likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have honed the art of targeting and content delivery to near perfection. For brands it’s never been easier to utilise these digital advertising tools to reach, inform and persuade potential customers to click through to their website.

However, the decision of where to direct the consumer has the greatest impact on the cost-effectiveness of campaigns. This is where a campaign flourishes or flounders, no matter how good the marketing mix of product, price, promotion and placement is.

Simply put, if the destination webpage does not continue the same smooth user journey from social media it will likely result in a costly, wasted click. So, what can be done to improve conversion rates?

Consider a situation where the consumer is directed to a conventional product webpage. The user journey changes from micro to macro in an instant. The distinct message or image they originally engaged with is now one thread of a much wider range of information.

The end is the most important part of the journey

A product webpage displays a navigation menu to the rest of the website, allowing a visitor to find out more about other products, the company, its history, its social media channels, etc. This is useful content which has its place in digital marketing, but from an e-commerce perspective, this provides too much choice which then undermines your conversion rates. A product page is for everybody and to a larger extent converts nobody.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a custom configured webpage that serves the fulfilment objective of the campaign. They are more effective than webpages for digital advertising because they are focused on a single goal. A product web page provides a wealth of information to a range of visitors, whereas a landing page is aligned with the message or offer made in the advertisement, tailored for those that click on it.

The landing page gives digital marketers greater scope to fine tune page elements such as copy, visuals and layout. Using analytics to monitor user behaviour, they can adopt a test, measure and adjust approach to improve conversion rate optimisation (CRO) during the campaign. This is hard to emulate with a general product web page as the profile and needs of users will be much broader.

Here are five defining characteristics of an effective e-commerce landing page:

  • It delivers on the promise: The messaging describes how the product fulfils the need outlined in the advert, leaving the consumer with the logical outcome to purchase.
  • It keeps it simple: The page displays a clear checkout process; it’s not cluttered with off-topic content or other products.
  • It restricts choice: There are no distracting menu options; the page focuses on the product and how to order it. If they do not buy there and then, a voucher could appear if someone moves the cursor towards the close browser button. Alternatively, retargeting could be used to offer visitors a discount, providing an incentive to return.
  • It champions robust delivery and returns processes: Digital advertising drastically speeds up the sales funnel process. A consumer could go from having never heard of a brand to being asked to hand over payment details in the space of one click. A good landing page anticipates any consumer concerns on payment security, and any delivery concerns by offering reputable third-party payment methods such as PayPal as well as secure, tracked, speedy delivery and return options.
  • It includes customer reviews and testimonials: To help assure customers on quality, short positive comments from other customers are prominently placed.

To reduce churn, wasted clicks and achieve a better return on digital advertising, why not consider using a landing page approach on your next e-commerce campaign?

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We are delighted to announce that we have created a new role, appointing Carys Geer as Client Services Director.

The role of client services director is crucial to our business, as evidenced by our recent smooth switch to whole team remote working. Carys joined brookscomm in 2018 as Project Leader and has key industry experience plus a commitment to exceptional service provisions for our clients.

We caught up with Carys to find out more about the role, what it means to her and how it will benefit brookscomm’s clients.

What does this new role mean for brookscomm? 

Marketing and communications as a practice is continually evolving, changing how we consume and share news with partners, customers, prospects and our peers. As an integrated agency, brookscomm has continued to thrive over the last 25 years by staying agile, anticipating and adapting its services to what its clients need. The Client Services Director role is central to the team, exploring ideas to improve the agency’s future delivery and ensuring outputs are aligned to our clients’ strategic goals. This will enable us to develop our service in a dynamic and forward-thinking way. This is critical when rolling out changes in a business to ensure consistency for both the team and clients.

What does the position mean to you?

In my career to date, I’ve experienced a few different agency environments. Finding the balance between successful delivery to clients, advancing the agency from a commercial perspective and investing in a growing team is notoriously difficult. What’s exciting to me is that this role is an opportunity to oversee and maintain this careful balance at brookscomm, working across all facets of the business. The increased focus on business leadership and development is something that really interests me and provides a great progression for my career path. It’s really rewarding to help shape the agency, develop the PR and marketing experts of tomorrow and deliver services that not just meet client objectives, but also wow our clients.

What prompted the introduction of this new role?

The different elements of this role have always existed at brookscomm sitting within different remits in the agency over the years. The creation of this new role reflects our continued commitment to an integrated approach to delivery at brookscomm. We have various specialists across our service areas within the team and so this role oversees the combined expertise, bringing it all together to provide a seamless, valuable service for our clients. Our integrated service, combining various marketing and PR activities, is adding real value to clients’ businesses and we anticipate this area of the business growing considerably, very much supported by the introduction of this role.

Has COVID-19 impacted how this role was designed to look?

Like the rest of the world, we couldn’t have anticipated the significant changes brought on by the coronavirus crisis. And while we’re extremely fortunate that we can continue working and servicing our clients, how we do this looks different to how it did a few months ago. The same is the case for the client services role, however the fundamentals of the position remain the same. Having a client services lead has been critical in transitioning the team to work from home, ensuring that delivery to clients is impacted as little as possible, and ensuring we can run systems and processes virtually for the agency as normal.

What should prospective clients look for when choosing their communications service supplier?

A company should never underestimate the value of a great marketing and PR agency. We’ve found in recent years that companies get more from in an integrated approach to PR and marketing rather than the disciplines operating in isolation, which helps to streamline activities, get better results and measure outcomes more effectively.

The right agency will be so much more than a group of people delivering good results; they will be consultants with great business acumen, partners that have your best interests at heart and will treat your business as if it was their own. That’s always been our approach at brookscomm, which means our clients get so much more from us than what is agreed at the outset of the campaign or contract. It’s no wonder that so many of our client and media contacts have been with us for decades.

Follow brookscomm on Twitter (@PRexpertsUK) or LinkedIn to stay up to date and find out more about our integrated service offering here.