Farrow & Ball’s sales have grown “exponentially” this year thanks to a home improvement boom. The Drum catches up with the 75-year-old posh paint purveyor’s chief exec to find out how it has been fine-tuning its digital capabilities and baking luxury into its online experiences as it looks to appeal to DIYers and professionals alike.

Paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball is famous for its muted colour charts, on which you‘ll find shades with names such as ‘Downpipe’, ‘Elephant’s Breath‘ and ‘Hague Blue’. Its intensely pigmented paints have earned it a reputation among interior designers and influencers alike, with the aspirational brand selling not only distinctive tins but a lifestyle that goes with them.

This year, the business has seen the best financial results in its 75-year history, powered by a lockdown decorating boom that has pushed digital sales through the roof as people seek to reinvent the spaces they are spending more time in. In the year to August, sales were up 4.1% for the British brand, reaching £87m. Online sales were up 14% over the same period, representing over 10% of group sales versus 9% in the prior year.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in our digital demand,” explains chief executive officer Anthony Davey, the ex-P&G marketer who also sat in the top spot at GHD. “At one stage, our demand had gone up 15-fold online,” he explains, saying that “almost overnight” the business went from selling 90% of its stock through third parties to a 50:50 split between retail and direct-to-consumer (DTC).

This shift was aided by the brand’s small-batch production methods, which see all of its manufacturing based out of Dorset. “It’s quasi-handcrafted, we go through the process twice to ensure that the quality and consistency of our paint is exceptionally strong. So we were able to ‘pick and pack’ for individual customers. Lots of [bigger] companies that are highly scaled with a mass manufacturing approach weren’t able to offer that individual ordering service.”

Its marketing strategy has shifted too. Farrow & Ball has upped its investment in PPC and Google Shopping to capture the demand from buyers. For people who are in the discovery and exploration stage, the company is investing in social media content for its 2 million followers across the “obvious” channels like Instagram and Pinterest.

Its commitment to quality has been evident not only in the assembly of its products, but also in the way it has shifted the services it offers to customers online.

Bringing the Farrow & Ball experience online

When showrooms shut at the start of March, the paint company brought a live-chat function to its website. It has also started allowing customers to book virtual appointments with its specialist colour consultants – seasoned interior specialists who help people pick out the perfect swatches and themes for their homes.

The brand has also run live sessions with some of its more high-profile colourists and designers (the same ones who painstakingly curated a fresh colour pallette for the recently redesigned Museum of Modern Art in New York), giving people the chance to ask questions and receive tips.

“In lockdown, we brought our designers into our social media channels to give customers a ‘daily dose of colour’, which in the past is something we haven’t done much of.

“We want to make sure we‘ve got sufficiently engaging and relevant content, and people want to see us as a source of inspiration and advice. That‘s very much a strategy of the whole business. If you were to go into our showrooms or on to any of our channels, you‘ll find people who‘ve got many years’ experience in interior design or fabrics or all different aspects of design. They‘re much more than just someone managing a store. They have passion for the industry and passion for the category.”

Having recently appointed BMB as its lead creative agency, the company isn’t just focusing on digital – in fact, it has just invested in its first series of TV ads, which gently poke fun at Farrow & Ball’s serious image.

Featuring a cast of neurotic decorators doing everything they can to keep their paint pristine and protect their freshly decorated walls and woodwork from the threats of muddy dogs, messy children and careless wine drinkers, the self-aware ‘Modern Emulsion’ campaign will be stacked against a variety of KPIs.

Davey points to two kinds of metrics – growth and brand awareness, but also engagement and attribution on the digital and VOD side.

He says his firm wasn’t inspired to make its TV debut owing to Covid-19. “It is more just about continuing the evolution of the brand.”

Feature Image Credit: Paint and paper company Farrow & Ball is perhaps best known for its muted colour charts


Sourced from The Drum


Avon is honing in on its ability to transform women’s lives, with a global campaign asking people to reconsider the 135-year-old beauty business. Its chief brand and beauty officer explain why now is the right time to “blow the dust off.”

When you think of Avon, you most likely conjure up images a of handbag-sized catalogue filled with scented pages and pictures of Senses bubble bath and Skin So Soft spritz. And possibly a neighbour armed with a bag full of miniature lipsticks and nail polishes who would regularly ding the doorbell.

However, over the past 12 months the brand has been looking to carve out its own place in the global $532bn beauty and personal care market, heavily investing in digital tools for its army of direct sellers. It now allows its five million representatives in 50 markets to run a business from their phone, create and share marketing content and personalise recommendations for regular customers.

Since the pandemic kicked off, the beauty brand has seen a 200% uptick to digital transactions. In the first half of this year, the number of Avon reps has also grown twofold as social selling becomes more relevant to people looking to embrace a more remote and flexible way of working.

Avon sells three lipsticks every second, seven bottles of fragrance every second (which it claims is more than any other brand) and two bottles of its Anew skincare products every second.

In a world of Glossiers, Beauty Pies and Drunk Elephants, however, Avon has an image problem. It’s failing to keep up with these ‘cool-girl’ brands and engage a younger generation of women. Even its chief brand and beauty officer, James Thompson, concedes that over the past few years Avon has been “underestimated” from a brand perspective.

As a result, its launching ’Watch Me Now’ a significant global campaign that will run in more than 70 markets globally calling on people to reconsider their views of the company.

The premise behind the push is that Avon has been transforming women’s lives by “doing beauty differently” for 135 years. The ads – which will run across OOH, digital and press – nod at Avon’s heritage as a purpose-driven business that gave women the power to make an independent income in the US before they even had the right to vote.

‘Watch Me Now’ underscores the power of beauty to create opportunities for people to earn on their own terms, and highlight’s Avon’s own support for causes including domestic abuse and breast cancer – with the business fundraising £20m for charities relating to the latter cause and teaming up with Coppafeel to encourage women to check their breasts regularly.

The hero ad celebrates the success of the underdog and highlights the unexpected and underestimated aspects of the Avon brand, its people, activism, and products – for which Avon has been granted more than 750 patents and 300 awards.

For Thompson, it’s less a campaign and more a “fundamental repositioning”.

“There’s a parallel with how Avon as a brand has been underestimated over the past few years,” he says pointing to the fact that the brand has 98% awareness but a “much lower” consideration among customers.

“We need to blow the dust off and reinvent ourselves for another generation.”

‘Watch Me Now’ was created in collaboration with Wunderman Thompson but restrictions from the pandemic mean the work itself was produced in-house. The ads are also being supported by an extensive identity refresh.

Avon’s network of reps will also be central to spreading the message. Influencers in their own right, Thompson says the brand’s sellers are its “first media channel”.

“We’ve equipped them with much better technology,” he explains, pointing to the Avon On app which allows them to do everything from invoice customers to built assets for Facebook or Instagram from their phone.

“In the first months of this campaign we’ll be sending them content on a regular basis that they’ll be encouraged to share with customers. Over time, we’ll be giving them tools and education on how to make their own content too within the framework of this campaign. It’s effectively the world’s most democratic marketing programme ever.”

All that said, the brand isn’t planning to ‘do an Argos’ any time soon and ditch its hallmark physical brochure.

“It’s still a really important part of our business. It’ll be updated to reflect our new positioning and we’ll be improving the quality but we’re an omni-channel business – we have stores in some countries, we’re online elsewhere. We need to be where our customers can find us.”


Sourced from The Drum


Cleanup in aisle five! Has there ever been a more disruptive time in retail? To get a better handle on what businesses should be doing to fix this messy situation, The Drum called up long-admired retail trends spotter and PSFK founder Piers Fawkes. Here are the three top actions he recommends:

1. Own the experience. Customers are anxious to return to their everyday retail and lifestyle routines, but stores and physical marketplaces are having difficulty offering any creature comforts as they reopen with limited services. Consumers are looking for brands to step in and streamline the purchase path or even reduce the frustrations of today’s in-store visits ‑ all to make the total shopping experience feel just a little bit more manageable. At Best Buy for example, after scheduling an in-store appointment, customers preparing for a visit receive a call from a store employee ahead of their visit to review store procedures and offer more information about their shopping purpose.

2. Reenergize the relationship. Regular store visits were an anchor for customer/brand relationships. As customers are forced to spend more time on apps, websites, and digital spaces, use this moment to re-establish and reenergize relationships with shoppers by focusing social engagements around community building and amplifying the voices of your most loyal customers. For example, Vans has done wonderful job celebrating, supporting and promoting the subculture of LBGTQ+ skaters called The Skate Witches with a series of online photo, video, and writing workshops. Vans have found the right way to say welcome to this culture in a way that is authentic.

3. Redesign the infrastructure. The retail industry as a whole is realizing a new level of nimbleness and flexibility necessary to survive constant consumer trends, marketplace evolutions, and global economic shifts. In doing so, retailers and brands are learning to navigate and thrive in environments that are less certain and consistent. Part of this evolution involves brands allowing customers to shape your brand’s long-term operational strategy and product direction. Enact this change by inviting customers into the design process, while reconfiguring retail infrastructure to respond to their real-time trends and behaviors. For example. makeup and skincare company Arfa promises 5% of its profit to the customers who participate in creating, testing, and marketing the products.

Piers Fawkes is founder of PSFK. Fawkes has inspiring leading brands, retailers and their partners on trends and innovation since 2004.

Feature Image Credit: PSFK founder Fawkes. / Randee St. Nicholas


Sourced from The Drum

By .

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has interviewed 344 of its members to discover their priorities as lockdown eases. Brands treaded carefully during the pandemic and, it appears will continue to do so, with brand reputation being the priority for most.

The survey ran between July and August. With brand equity the focus over recent months, sales figures are a side-concern for the majority of marketers.

The Drum explores the research here.


  • Brand reputation remained the number one priority for six in 10 respondents, while sales-based activities were sidelined.
  • The communication of employee and public safety messages came in at number two.
  • Online sales were the highest-ranked of sales promotional strategies, emerging as a top priority for 15% of marketers.
  • Discounts and promotions to increase product sales and footfall was a “very low priority“ for the vast majority of marketers (73%). Only 2% said it was their top priority. Generating in store footfall was only a top priority for 3% of marketers.
  • Things have been tough. One in 10 (9%) of the respondents said that they had been made redundant; a fifth took a pay cut (20%) and that they had (17.5%) taken an enforced holiday. One in six (17%) said they had been placed on furlough during the period of the pandemic.


  • Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said it is reassuring to see reputation ranked first despite the very clear commercial difficulties right now.
  • “It is clear that the UK marketing community is not prepared to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term pain,“ he added.
  • He was concerned at a lack of confidence in promotional activity however: “Marketers have worked hard to maintain customer engagement during lockdown. As restrictions now ease it is key they make the most of this opportunity to help drive the recovery we are all hoping for.”
  • What state will the industry be in once the furlough period ends? The survey included estimates of the size of the UK marketing industry. It is estimated to employ 415,000 staff, 37,000 redundancies are expected and 83,000 are taking pay cuts.
  • However, good news may be around the corner. 87% of marketers felt confident or very confident that the marketing sector would bounce back after Covid-19.


Sourced from The Drum

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The somber, early pandemic ads with lilting pianos became something of a running joke. But they did raise the question of whether brands can successfully sell while focusing on negative topics. Mars’ consumer insights lead Sorin Patilinet says extensive neuroscience studies show that leaning into negativity often leads to bad results.

Many people have a negative enough reaction to seeing a video advertisement, period. So layering on a narrative that involves negative emotions is only making matters worse, right? Probably, according to Sorin Patilinet, global consumer marketing insights director, Mars, Inc.

The Mars team has been running one of the largest neuromarketing studies in the world these past five years. It has studied more than 700 ads in an effort to determine which evoke emotions that, in turn, build memory structures that are recalled at the point of purchase. Throughout this study, Patilinet has found that eliciting negative emotions is a tricky proposition. Here, he tells us why:

The negativity must be brief

“If there is a negative emotion, it has to be resolved very quickly or be a set up for something to laugh at,“ says Patilinet. “If not, you’re going to lose a lot of people along the way.”

He cites Cesar ’Love them back’ as an example of an ad that performed poorly because the negativity didn’t resolve fast enough.

The brand cannot be associated with down moment

“If negativity is used in a story arc, you want to show the brand at the moment of highest, positive emotion. You don’t want to showcase a brand during the downturn, but instead bring it in as a hero at the end.”

M&M’s ’Eating in bed’ scored well in this scenario.

Short ad formats are tricky for story arcs

“The challenge is that consumers prefer shorter formats where is it is difficult, but not impossible, to build emotional content.

“You have six seconds on YouTube, so there’s basically no time to create a story. We tried continuing a story by retargeting the same person with the next episode. The idea was great, but the execution at scale didn’t live up to the promise.”

You risk damaging your brand

“The worst thing that could happen is you make a negative imprint. Then, the consumer ends up correlating the brand with something negative, which you don’t want.”

Attention for the sake of attention doesn’t work

“We are looking for ‘polite attention’. We aren’t turning your screen yellow and bumping up our logo against you just to grab that attention, because we know that doesn’t help for the long-term.”

Creating ads for the Covid-19 moment is short sighted

“It’s difficult to try and nail creative for the moment. We believe in running executions for a long time rather than jumping on the Covid-19 ad bandwagon. The general truths and the humour we have used for our brands still resonate today. It takes years for a good ad to decay.”

Overall, Patilinet says the reality is that ads are becoming more practical because of the restrictions of the ad duration. “In shorter ads, the level of emotion declines, which is a challenge because we know that emotions that create memories can lead to sales. Creating a three-second Facebook execution is just your logo and a headline. That doesn’t elicit too much emotion, unfortunately. Those are the ads that are actually seen by consumers, not the ones that are featured in the advertising trades.”

Feature Image Credit: M&M’s “Eating in bed” scored well because it resolved a negative situation quickly.


Sourced from The Drum


Last week, we ran a few polls in the newsletter to learn more about how marketing goals vary between social media platforms. You may use a platform to accomplish many goals, but there is most likely one goal that you both have invested in and have consistently seen a great return on that investment.

We selected four common social media marketing goals to focus on:

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Lead Generation & Sales
  3. Customer Service
  4. Community Engagement

Instagram and Facebook were the first two platforms we selected for the polls. Given the immense user-base of both platforms, plus the diversity of interests and communities found on each, it’s not a huge shock that brand awareness took the lead in both of these polls.

For Instagram, brand awareness took the lead with 39% of participants claiming this to be their primary goal on the platform. This could be an indicator that Instagram is a great place to launch a new brand on social and get noticed.

Social Media Today newsletter

Once again, brand awareness took the lead on Facebook with 30% of the majority vote. Next, with 26% of the vote came generation and sales. Following close after with 24% was community engagement.

Social Media Today newsletter

It’s also not a huge surprise that these two polls shared similar results with brand awareness leading and customer service coming in last. Many marketers link their Instagram and Facebook accounts, adjusting their approach slightly for each, but there is still a connection between the two.


Sourced from Social Media Today


With mask-wearing compulsory in some parts of Victoria, Roger Hogan suggests that marketers, and governments, should create branded face masks. It would help brands, but it might also just encourage the public to widely wear them.

On the weekend, the Victorian government made face masks compulsory in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. As the pandemic develops, the same could happen in other states, perhaps across the whole country. But before other governments rush to follow Victoria’s example, it should consider an alternative, or at least complementary, strategy: branded face masks.

If the goal is to protect our health with as little cost as possible to our civil liberties, harnessing the power of marketing, business competition, and consumer choice is likely to be a better option than compulsion.

Even if we take civil liberties out of the equation, there are still reasons to think that a private-sector solution – branded face masks sold by retailers and given away as promotional items – would be more effective and efficient in the medium and long terms. It would certainly be more colourful.

Imagine a street full (to the extent permissible under lockdowns and other restrictions) of faces half-obscured by anonymous strips of fabric. The word ‘dystopia’ comes to mind.

Now picture that same street, where those strips of fabric advertise footy teams, rock bands, celebrities, super heroes… whatever expresses the passions, interests and humanity of the people behind the masks.

I know which one I’d rather walk down, and I suspect most people would feel the same. But creating a private-sector solution for a national public health emergency would require high-level collaboration between Australia’s governments and the marketing industry.

Compulsion has a short shelf life

Clearly, compulsion is necessary right now in Melbourne and Mitchell, and the Andrews government has understandably extended the state of emergency to 16 August. It’s likely, however, that the requirement to wear masks will last well beyond that date.

That’s relevant, because there are reasons to think that a compulsory mask-wearing regime will become less effective and efficient the longer it stays in place.

The most obvious measure of effectiveness would be the compliance rate—and this is where, in my view, the compulsion model becomes risky for governments. Public trust in governments and other institutions had sunk to an all-time low before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the public’s patience has been stretched further by virus-related lockdowns and other restrictions.

It would take only a few incidents of mule-headed refusal to wear a mask and one or two arrests to darken the public mood further, with potentially adverse consequences at the ballot box.

And how efficient is it, from a taxpayer’s point of view, to spend money on enforced mask-wearing when so much is being spent, and so much debt incurred, on measures already in place?

While compulsion might be necessary, and even desirable, in the short term, a private-sector solution could prove effective and efficient over longer periods.

A branded solution

It’s true that most Australians have not become regular mask-wearers since the pandemic began.

As ABC Melbourne Radio noted recently, this is partly for cultural reasons and partly because of mixed messages in the pandemic’s early stages about whether or not masks were proof against COVID-19.

Messaging should no longer be an issue, as informed consensus now favours wearing masks.

Better still, from a marketer’s point of view, designer masks have begun to pique consumer interest, suggesting there is scope to leverage that interest into sales of masks that carry popular brands. On that basis alone, branded face masks – compared to the compulsion model – would be pushing at an open door. There might (might) be a longer-term pay-off if branded face masks prove so popular that people wear them during normal flu season, once the pandemic has run its course. That would be a major behavioural, even cultural, change for Australians.

There would also be a much lower, perhaps very low, cost to government (i.e. the taxpayer) if the private sector, driven by the prospect of profit, finances the initiative.

Harnessing the profit motive to a national public health outcome would require top-level collaboration between governments and the industry. Perhaps a Zoom call between the federal government and, say, the Australian Marketing Institute would be a start.

Scott Morrison, you’re a marketing man—how about it? And all you marketers out there: You and your brand-owning clients could make some money. You’d certainly be doing a lot of public good.


Sourced from Mumbrella


It has never been more important to be extremely clear on who you are and what you do for people inside and outside your company. You can’t just say how you’re different, you have to BE how you’re different. There’s too much noise and transparency in the marketplace to try and fake your way through with clever sales pitches alone.

had the pleasure of interviewing Kenn Fine. As FINE’s founder and Executive Creative Director, Kenn Fine has served as creative visionary, strategist, consultant, and confidante to leaders in hospitality, wine, technology, and yet-to-be-defined industries since 1994, developing and growing dozens of award winning brands along the way.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Roughly 30 years ago, I founded a mountain bike clothing business, working through all the startup challenges to help make it successful before selling it off and beginning to do spot gigs with other companies. I found that I loved the continuous process of parachuting in to problem-solve creatively, and that my mind naturally used brand as a compass for making all sorts of decisions — not just the more obvious design and communications activities, but the operational and service practices that make the whole organization go. I developed this belief that brand is operations. So, whether it’s the minutiae of choosing which of 100 different varieties of Velcro straps work best in a new breed of biking shorts, or figuring out how to deliver service standards at a global hospitality brand, weaving brand into your operational DNA drives everything. So I’ve just been on one long, exhilarating, rewarding mountain bike ride from the start.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It was back in the clothing company days, before we were even able to afford color printing. I had the genius idea to design a black and white “photocopyable” product brochure with a highly sophisticated scheme of delineated squares that could be colored in — manually! — using a suite of carefully selected colored pencils. I believed I had single-handedly defeated the entire overpriced offset printing industry with sheer ingenuity and elbow grease, while simultaneously imbuing our brand with a more personal and artistic flair! Then, of course, our very first promotional push required 1,000 pieces be ready to distribute within a few days. A few all-nighters and bad hand cramps later, I’d learned a valuable lesson on scale, and the real price of hard cost vs. opportunity cost.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It’s really our belief that brand has the power to make big things happen across your organization and your industry if you treat it as a compass heading for operations, not just a cosmetic layer on top of it all.

We take a vertical approach to brand integration, trying not to get lost in the top five percent of making things look good before understanding what connects the entirety of an organization’s behavior and practices. Again, to us, brand is operations.

We create brands from the inside out and design experience from the outside in. Meaning, we are thinking about the essence of what makes a company unique while simultaneously crafting the experience and expression of that brand as it meets the customer. That gives us the DNA and compass heading for everything from the product and service, to environments where it’s delivered, online and off.

The best stories in our industry come from the gaps that kind of thinking exposes, between what companies say their core purpose and promise is, and how they’re expressing it in the marketplace. We have these meetings all the time where the purported project calls for groundbreaking creative, but there’s nothing to attach it to — it is an empty sales pitch. I remember meeting with a global tech client developing what they said was a revolutionary smart phone accessory requiring breakthrough creative. We filled out NDAs, and flew down to meet with a sizable innovation team under strict security protocols, and shared our best work to be worthy of consideration. When it came time to reveal their idea, with great fanfare they pulled off the shroud concealing what appeared to be a makeshift lamp stand you could use to take photos of documents. To this day, I believe that our immediate, involuntary laughter may have lost us that project. And that perhaps a deeper understanding of brand would’ve led them to a different solution.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

There’s so many. We’ve begun work with Canyon Ranch, pioneers in wellness who are looking to re-center on their mission of transformation that goes far beyond hospitality and into the impact they have on people’s quality and duration of life. The Hotel Del Coronado is completing a massive revamp and we’re helping use brand to guide and shape their vision for a new generation of Del guests to fall in love with that special place. Both follow this theme of re-imagining hospitality pioneers that started during our work with Kimpton several years ago.

Exciting ones in consumer products include our work for Chateau Ste Michelle, who’s evolving beyond traditional consumer packaged goods branding to meet today’s consumer tastes, rethinking the experience on their property and direct-to-consumer across their dozens of unique brands. And we’re working with some real digital upstarts that are changing the world by designing experience — Lime bikes are leading sharing economy urban transportation, and Mojo Lens is actually developing a contact lens that lets digital information integrate into your life seamlessly, rather than you bending to devices. That’s just a few examples of some very exciting stuff with companies who understand they need to dig deeper into how they deliver and communicate value to people in order to succeed today.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Brand is who you are. It’s your DNA. We may “sequence” it using words and pictures initially, and then expand to other important forms of documentation and standards, but it gets expressed in all the ways you do what you do. Product marketing and advertising and even brand marketing are all examples of tactics where brand plays out and comes in contact with your customers in specific ways. The important thing to remember is that a single ad campaign or product line is not your brand; it should reinforce and emerge from it, but in order to do any of these things well and consistently, you need to have a very strong, very clear core understanding that connects them all. It’s not something that gets published only in a visual standards guide; it’s something that gets published, communicated, documented, trained, improved, and proliferated every day for as long as you are in business.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

It has never been more important to be extremely clear on who you are and what you do for people inside and outside your company. You can’t just say how you’re different, you have to BE how you’re different. There’s too much noise and transparency in the marketplace to try and fake your way through with clever sales pitches alone.

We make brands that are “pully” not “pushy”. The more you invest in the brand, the more people will come to it, and the less you will have to add your pushy voice to the chaos of information in the marketplace. You simply invite and introduce.

If you would like your company’s existence to depend upon paid media, buying eyeballs and clicks and one-time sales, focus only on marketing and advertising. If you would like your company to have a foundation of earned and owned customer relationships, focus on nurturing your core brand.

It takes resolve to not resort to quick-hit tactics — there are so many platforms and methods of communication that the biggest issues in brand and communications nowadays are what to say no to. Reduce noise, distractions, and wasted motion. Don’t focus on B2B or B2C marketing, focus on H2H: human-to-human value creation.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

#1: Know thyself. Have a clear brand foundation, value proposition, and experience intent to build upon that’s grounded in the right blend of historic reality and future aspiration. Pioneering brands, like Kimpton and their boutique hospitality or Canyon Ranch with wellness, often have a strong legacy spirit they’re trying to both recapture and reinvent. New brands are trying to build a lasting legacy, like Makr Hospitality that centers on the culinary hospitality vibe of its owner Charlie Palmer, or even Holt Homes who’s building residential communities on differentiation meant to last 100 years. Either way, it starts with knowing who you are.

#2: Be loud and proud. Confidently broadcast your distinction without fear of alienating those not in your audience. The urge to be “all things” or “common denominator” is a vestige of mass marketing past. Our work with wine brands like Ashes & Diamonds or Realm is a good example — they’re not for anyone who seeks a traditional wine vibe, and they’re highly successful at it. Pebblebrook Hotels set up a whole new brand — the Unofficial Z Collection — dedicated to the idea that hotels are not a place to sleep, but to wake up. I think of Mojo Lens, who’s leaning into the transformative impact of wearable tech at a time when some are afraid to tread there.

#3: Map the experience. It’s not just about sales funnels, it’s about knowing when you have permission and opportunity to impact a customer in some way. For Lime, knowing how customer use and need information drove digital communication strategy in a new sharing economy category. Bode is a brand trying to make hospitality group-friendly as never before by engineering a shared experience more reliably inspiring than Airbnb or branded hotels. Hotel Del Coronado expanded their property by mapping guest interest to earn added stays and spend by being more relevant and timely. Be methodical about where you can add value to the way customers think and behave.

#4: Empower your culture. We have a saying: “customers buy brands that employees buy into.” So many industries now depend on finding, attracting, retaining, training, motivating, and aligning their people around a common cause. Our tech clients are nowhere without committed engineers. Hospitality is nothing without great service. Our yearslong collaboration with Kimpton is the case in point. Aligning their customer brand and their employer brand, having those mapped journeys overlap to create “ridiculously personal experiences” is why they’re a great brand and consistently voted a top workplace, too.

#5: Acknowledge your customers. Maybe this sounds too basic, like it should amplify to “the customer’s always right” or “cherish your customers.” But start with this, that in every decision you make you will think of the people who pay the bills. You will find ways of considering their point of view and experience, with clarity and empathy. Doing this helps you keep your brand promises. It also leads you to all sorts of tiny gestures, rituals, and touchpoints that do not go unnoticed. I think of the loyalty program we helped Kimpton shape, Kimpton Karma rewarded guests not just for buying but for doing the things that ensure they had a great brand experience and kept the promise “good things come to those who stay” by acknowledging them all along the way. Also, it leads to lots of very cool brand schwag.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

I think it’s interesting to answer that question not by professional dissection but by observing our own human response toward it. I know in my own life I tend to gravitate toward unassuming natural brands like Tom’s of Maine (at least before they were bought out), or Bob’s Red Mill for many reasons. In my line of work, we get a lot of “I wanna be like Apple” input when we ask what brands they want to emulate and I’ve always been an Apple loyalist. But in recent years, a new brand has emerged to get more mentions: Tesla. We could attribute that to being purpose-driven, as much a cause as a brand. They have a strong loyalist community who will enumerate the ways the product is demonstrably superior, and some vocally conspiratorial detractors who will promote its risks and ulterior motives. They got there by emphasizing design, innovation, and continuous improvement in operations that’s reflected in all the experiences where the car and its driver intersect. Out of necessity, they maintain their own rebel operational infrastructure to provide everything from off-channel sales to roadside assistance. But more than all that, think of the many attempts to start even a standard car brand in the past that have failed while Tesla is inventing a category using no advertising. Their willingness and ability to take on the combustion engine institution and create a highly aspirational consumer and business brand is not much short of miraculous, and if you can approach your brand with half that drive and moxy, you will succeed.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

If your only measures of success attach to the short-term return on media spend investment, you will not build a brand. You can measure those returns in simple behavioral ways, from clickthroughs to purchases at points of sale, online or off, and optimize them over time. But if you do that to the exclusion of all else, you can become a victim of your own success where you begin chasing the market instead of creating one. You lure the wrong audience using the wrong message — often, you begin to discount and bend your message to suit short term returns.

The right measures to layer on top of that will depend a bit on your industry and model, but the things to measure in brand are about the price and margin your product commands (measures like revPAR or ADR in hospitality, average purchase price in real estate, contribution margin in consumer goods, etc), the lifetime value of the customers you attract and retain, and the equity that is created in your company by the “soft” asset that is the brand perception you’ve built in the marketplace. These are the measures that tell you you are no longer a commodity that must pay to maintain its place in the market, but a company that has a strong, loyal customer base willing to pay a premium for your product. That is the game.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

It’s really different for every organization. The important thing is to understand the extent to which social, or really any channel, is a hub or a spoke in delivering your message and connecting with customers.

It can be a very meaningful place to interact with people, and it’s important to treat it not just as a “broadcast” channel but as a place to have a conversation. The slippery slope of social media is when it becomes its own independent “activity engine” that requires constant content that may feel disconnected from the rest of what you do and just there to create noise. So we spend a lot of time orchestrating that using social media “playbooks” that extend from the core brand to do the job that’s right for the channel. And you have to be prepared to use it the way the customers want to use it, which means it will be some combination of promotional messaging channel, owned media, customer service department, and random incident report all mixed into one. The important thing is trying to retain the balance that is right for your company while remaining responsive to the customers who want to find you there.

What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Take care of yourself first, stay curious by doing creative and challenging things outside of work. Then bring your mad game to your workplace.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

People in the creative trades share a remarkable alignment on what makes organizations admirable, and we hold the power to help them succeed or not through our superpowers with strategy, ingenuity, words, designs, images, and ideas. What if our entire industry resolved to work only on behalf of organizations that could demonstrate responsibility for the positive impact of their products, services, and actions on people, communities, and our planet? Those companies we threw our weight behind would disproportionately and decisively win.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. — Lao Tzu

It’s one of those quotes that should speak for itself. But the color I would add to it is that branding doesn’t get handed down from the mountain on stone tablets by aloof, black turtlenecked creative directors. It is created and enacted by aligning a great many people over a very long time who must all feel invested in the outcome.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Tom Robbins. His imagination is an inspiration to me and, I find, unexpectedly very practical as it relates to how I approach my work. He could literally make a can of beans worthy of a story. Everything he did was ridiculously different, completely sincere, rich with irreverent statements on our social context and the human condition. I’d like to find out if you can teach and learn that.


Passionate about bringing emerging technology to the market.

Sourced from Thrive Global


Discover three tactics that can help your SaaS brand become more discoverable and exponentially grow qualified lead volume.

Many SaaS marketers are working diligently but they are just not seeing the marketing qualified lead (MQL) growth they’re striving for.

On August 12, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Garrett Mehrguth, CEO, Directive.

Mehrguth explored:

  • Actionable ways to make SaaS brands more discoverable on search engines.
  • Strategic methods to build brand impressions.
  • The actual math behind why the current marketing funnel is financially broken.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

SaaS Marketing: A Differentiated Approach

Have you ever felt helpless to grow your pipeline?

Are you working hard, but not getting results?

You aren’t alone.

Many marketers are experiencing the same things – for a plethora of reasons.

But one of the biggest reasons is that things have changed with the funnel.

In the old funnel, marketers needed to do top of funnel awareness campaigns because consumers can’t
discover the brand without them.

The Old Funnel vs. The New Funnel

But then websites like Amazon and Yelp started to grow by aggregating people’s opinions of a product.

And now, people are able to get their own interest in something, evaluate their options, then become aware of what exists, and so on.

In this new funnel, what’s so so important is understanding the reality you’re playing.

So how do we adapt to this new reality as SaaS marketers?

The Big Idea: Your Brand Is Better Than Your Website

The big idea that we need to embrace here is that your brand is now more important than your website.

This isn’t to say your website doesn’t matter – it’s just that it matters less compared to your brand.

Bottom of Funnel: Websites Are No Longer Ranking

If you look at the B2C query [best day trading software], you’ll find four ads above the fold:

B2C query

Here, your click-through rate doesn’t widely vary from the fourth spot to the first spot.

Mostly your CPC does OK.

Down below, there are SERP features and then different third-party review sites.

What’s really interesting about this is that individual websites and their core pages are no longer ranking – and that’s for a B2C query.

Now, if you look at a B2B query for [best accounting software], you’ll see SERP features at the top, four ads, and then PCMag.com, Capterra, and other review sites.

B2B query

QuickBooks, one of the most popular software companies among business owners for accounting have a very strong market share, yet you won’t see their website anywhere in the organic listings for this query.

It’s not that QuickBooks has bad SEO.

It’s that the search engine results pages have changed.

If consumers have expressed that they want to hear what other people are saying before they buy a $5
burrito, then they will surely want information before they buy a $20,000 software.

And so what Google decided to do here was put their searcher first.

They realized that these searchers want unbiased information.

So if you aren’t showing up on these queries, you’re missing out on up to 30% of your market share.

SEO is no longer about trying to get your website to rank for bottom of the funnel queries because it can’t – Google won’t allow it.

Another thing is that some third-party and review sites are starting to bid.

This is driving up the cost per click, decreasing the profitability, and it’s cutting competition.

This new reality is happening and we need to be aware of it.

Organic CTR

Almost all SaaS marketers still universally default to advertising at Google Ads.

The truth is, that’s not necessarily the best option.

If you advertise on Google Ads, you’re going to average a 2-4% click-through rate.

Let’s say 100 people are searching for that accounting software query.

If our plan to advertise the people with purchase intent on a search engine is G0ogle Ads, we’re only capturing 4% of the total addressable market.

While the number one organic result is now a listing on a third-party website.

This means you can be a start-up accounting software company, build a great product, and get some raving fans (i.e. 10-15 users compared to the millions on QuickBooks).

Immediately, you’ll look like a true competitor to QuickBooks by simply paying to be X, Y or Z on a review site.

When you change your fundamental and understand how you can position your brand in a strong spot, you’ll have the chance to capture the number one spot and get up to 32%  of market share.

organic ctr

With this, you almost have complete discoverability and that is an important part of being able to drive marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

Across millions of dollars of spend across multiple SaaS clients, Mehrguth’s team is averaging a 4% CTR.

CTR and conversion rate

You don’t necessarily want too high of a click-through rate because ideally, you want to use your ad copy to pre-qualify your clicks.

In other words, if you are required to do X amount of seats or X amount of price, a really great way especially if you’re a mid-market or enterprise organization who doesn’t win on price but instead on quality, you can include
base fundamental pricing in your ads.

Then you’ll essentially be able to disqualify the wrong clicks, qualify the right ones, and lower your cost per
acquisition (CPA).

Many SaaS companies have been brainwashed that the lower your CPA, the better.

What they do is they take your most expensive terms and they stop bidding.

Unfortunately, sometimes your most expensive terms are also your most valuable.

data for advertising - best accounting software

Even though third-party sites, such as Capterra and Software Advice, have much higher CPCs, they have much better close rates and cost per opportunity.

This means you are getting more qualified leads.

Financial Model

How SaaS owners decide to allocate capital is the most important part of marketing.

Simply reallocating where you spend your money can help grow your business significantly.

LTV - CACjpg

To do this, you can follow what’s called LTV:CAC modelling where you are going to understand the actual lifetime value versus the customer acquisition cost of all of your marketing channels.

There are two ways to proceed with this.

LTV:CAC SaaS Non-Trial

If you have a SaaS firm and you don’t do a free trial, here’s the spreadsheet you can use.

LTV - CAC - SaaS Non-Trial

You also have a budget template where you can model out different scenarios and then look at each of your channels in real time.

It also allows you to put in all your numbers (i.e., at the product level) and calculate it.

You can run through any type of scenario and see what’s most efficient.

This is helpful because the second you start modelling this out, driving budget, and working on these types of elements, you’ll get much better alignment from your CFO and build trust with the CMO.

LTV:CAC SaaS Free Trial

If your SaaS offers free trial, you can use a simple but awesome model where you can see how much your team costing,  software costing, ad spend, how many customers you want, etc.

And then it’ll compute your LTV:CAC ratio, as well as months to recover.

You can start to use it as a log to get better at forecasting budgeting.

Validated Tactics

If you’re the CMO of a mid-market to enterprise SaaS firm, here are a few validated tactics to consider if you want to increase your marketing qualified leads.

Paid tactics

  • Google Ads
  • Podcasts
  • LinkedIn
  • Review Sites
  • Terminus
  • Sponsored Webinars

Organic tactics

  • SEO
  • Content
  • Partner Marketing
  • PR

One thing you need to have in place before you get too deep in your tactics is to make sure you have the foundation right.

You may have all sorts of templates or tools to use, but that’s codependent on how people move through your funnel.

Ideally, anyone on your team should be able to go into your marketing platform, get the data they need, and be effective.

Nothing is more powerful than your team having the information they need when they need it – and being
able to actually do it themselves.

So now that you have your spreadsheet right, you’ll also need your data.

What’s next?

With revenue being such a big gap, you should also be thinking about OCT, or offline conversion tracking.

That would entail integrating SalesForce into your Google Ads.

The reason this is so important is because Google has come a long way and you can now trust Google Smart

Directive’s paid search team rebuilt all their accounts in Q2 and migrated away from the old-school way of thinking of single keyword ad groups and started bringing their clients into target CPA.

Now the issue with target CPA is how do you determine it if you don’t know your LTV:CAC ratio?

So this is why using the budget modeling template is really helpful.

1. Smart Broad Campaigns

The way Smart Broad campaigns work is that you’re going to “trust” Google’s engine.

You’ll want to integrate it with Salesforce using offline conversion tracking and then run broad keywords.

You can’t just let your account run wild so negatives are super critical.

Daily management is also extremely important.

Smart Broad Campaigns

2. Conversation Ads

One of the issues with SEO and PPC in the traditional sense is that you can’t control firmographic data.

Google has rolled out some white-label reports with industries and employee size, but the data’s not there yet.

But LinkedIn always had this phenomenal ability to give firmographic data.

For instance, you can target demand gen marketers with x amount of employees in these industries.

You can use “single persona ad groups or campaigns”, write essential one asset, and advertise to a specific target audience.

Now that conversation ads are here, it gets even better.

Conversation ads allow advertisers to “start conversations with professionals and business decision-makers via LinkedIn Messaging.”

You can use this to book a discovery call, leverage gift-giving as an offer, and so much more.

Mehrguth’s team has been working on this and saw exceptional results across the board.

3. Content Marketing with Partners

Content marketing is tough especially for SaaS companies that don’t have a brand.

Producing content is useless if you don’t have a distribution plan in place.

This is why your content marketing needs its promotion buit in.

PR is tough because you are trying to be the guest. Let’s simply reverse the roles.

Consider these ideas to boost your content marketing campaigns:

  • Sour interviews.
  • SaaS marketing competition.
  • Friday roundtables.

Empowering People

Marketing starts with your team and needs to bubble up into your vision at a boil.

Create a culture where your team can submit new ideas and has their own model.

Share this Financial Model for Submitting New Content Ideas to your team members to encourage them to make a business case.

All of a sudden, you’ve just given your team rocket fuel.

They can now drive strategy, have complete alignment, know if a campaign’s going to be successful, and be fully empowered.


Here are just some of the attendee questions answered by Garrett Mehrguth.

Q: You talked about branding. I often find it difficult to justify ROI for spend done behind branding. Have you ever come across such a dilemma?

Garrett Mehrguth (GH): A lot of times, people think about how much money they need to spend to grow.

What I’ve found is that in B2B, we have really long sales cycles.

It’s always challenging to get funding from finance to spend at the top of the funnel. We often get money for the bottom of the funnel because it’s easy to prove ROI quickly.

However, we know that the bottom of the funnel is co-dependent on brand, but it seems like the “results” come just from the bottom of the funnel.

However, time goes by, and you start to wonder why you haven’t built a brand.

So when you think about brand advertising, try to set your budget up to spend just enough, so you never stop, so that eventually you can prove it out.

From there, start to grow that budget slowly.

A small budget used strategically, that you let run its course, with incremental growth is a wise way to change your financial modelling and get more approval.

Q: Our SaaS is dipping our toes into marketing. What are the 1-3 tactics or channels I should focus my attention on so I can get some immediate wins and maximize my small budget?

GM: Review sites, Google ads, and case studies.


Managing Partner at Search Engine Journal and a Digital Marketing Consultant, providing consulting, training, and coaching services at an hourly … [Read full bio]

Sourced from Search Engine Journal

By Jodie Cook.

Sports apparel brand Gymshark has just hit a $1.3 billion valuation after securing investment from General Atlantic. The company, started by Birmingham U.K.-born Ben Francis in 2012, now age 28, has entered into a strategic partnership in order to expand further internationally. General Atlantic will take a 21% stake in the business following the deal, which marks Gymshark’s first ever investment round.

Gymshark began life as a supplements company, before moving into clothing. The apparel, initially consisting of gym vests and t-shirts, was sewn and screen-printed by Francis, his brother and a group of friends after Francis’ grandmother taught him how to use a sewing machine. Francis said, at first, they were just making clothes they really wanted to wear themselves. They enjoyed learning how to create and fulfil the orders they had received, and priced items based on what sounded about right. Here’s how they grew so fast and here’s what entrepreneurs can learn from their approach.

Staying humble

This motto is displayed on walls at Gymshark HQ, and the #stayhumble Instagram hashtag is peppered with selfies from Gymshark fans and team members. Steve Hewitt, Gymshark’s CEO, advised that, “It takes zero talent to work hard and zero talent to stay humble; if you get those things right you will always do well in your journey.” Further advice from Hewitt is to “Learn to fail fast” and “Own as much of the supply chain as you can.”

The lessons: Staying humble is far harder the more success and fame you achieve. Keep things as simple as possible for as long as possible, scale with demand, and remember where you came from. Never underestimate the contribution of those around you and the fortune you’ve been granted.

Focusing on customer needs

Gymshark has a clear target audience of 18-25-year-olds whose lives revolve around fitness, fashion and music. They do not deviate from the audience and everything they do is aimed at their needs. Customers are looked after. In 2015 Gymshark suffered a website outage on Black Friday, resulting in customers not being able to get their deals. Whilst this might have broken many companies, Gymshark’s founder personally hand-wrote 2500 apology letters to customers, including discounts, who weren’t able to purchase during the crash.

The lessons: Proudly exclude everyone except your target audience so you can focus solely on them. Double down on the customer experience. Test your site, and test some more. Utilise the best technology to create exceptional customer touchpoints, via your website and in-person. If you do mess up, own the mistake, respond in an exceptional way and carry on.

Being visionaries

Part of Gymshark’s mission statement reads: “In everything we do, be true to our own vision and respectful of others. We are here to bring ideas to life. There is no idea too big, or too small… We are not future-proof. We are the future.” The brand is known by its fans for putting its own spin on timely topics. During the U.K.’s lengthy lockdown Gymshark employed otherwise out-of-work personal trainers to present on its gym workout app. They raised £180,000 for the NHS with their #NHSsweatyselfie campaign and their own version of the last Black Friday was #blackout, whereby the entire website was rebranded to match the theme.

The lessons: Dream big with what you could achieve and how many people could be involved. Plan your calendar of activity far in advance and be prepared to respond to last-minute events with hard-hitting campaigns. Explore everything that your target audience is already talking about and work out how to make it relevant to your brand in a big way.

Building an influencer community

Gymshark were the earliest adopters of the influencer marketing model, partnering with YouTubers including Lex Griffin and Nikki Blackketter. Now, the brand markets products through its community of Instagram influencers and YouTubers and sponsors a range of athletes, each of whom operate at the top of their game. The athletes include Irish professional boxer Katie Taylor and Ross Edgley, who in 2018 became the first person to swim (1780 miles) all the way around Great Britain.

Francis said, “From the point of view of the athletes we work with, we want to create a real, strong team that speaks to our values. And we work with them for a long, sustained period of time.”

The lessons: Don’t think of influencer marketing as a quick smash and grab, think of it as building relationships with people over a long period of time, for the benefit of both of your brands. The goal isn’t shallow and fleeting promotion. Be prepared to invest in the process and communicate you’re looking for long term. Do the research and keep standards insanely high.

Assembling a dream team

The brand’s HQ houses 500 team members and aims to “create a culture where every morning feels like Christmas morning” according to Hewitt. The Solihull campus also has Gymshark Lifting Club, a state-of-the-art strength training centre reserved for team members and invitation-only athletes.

Although Francis is founder and owner, he has opted out of the CEO role, explaining the decision in a YouTube video called “I’m not Gymshark’s CEO anymore” and recognising, “The most difficult thing for me was learning to trust others to do the things in the business that I used to do.” He also asserted, “You need to constantly be around people who give you a reality check, people who are better than you.” and admitted he rarely communicates via email, saying it’s too slow and he prefers to talk to his team.

The lessons: Hire the right people for the right seats, ensure alignment with vision and values and leave them to get on with executing. As the owner, you don’t have to be the CEO if that’s not your jam, you can design your own role. Work out how to give your team more and more, to ensure their best work and their pride at working for your brand.

Documenting everything

Gymshark uses its busy social media channels to document its entire journey. Videos and images appear regularly, whenever it opens a new premises or takes a new step. There are professionally filmed and edited walkthroughs of Gymshark HQ, Gymshark Lifting Club, plus the in-person events and behind-the-scenes photoshoots by different members of the team. There are topical updates in response to COVID-19 and how it affected their community and fans, as well as explainers of the decision behind getting involved in certain campaigns and opting out of others.

The lessons: The global brands set up before the 2000s didn’t have chance to document their journeys in such detail, but if they had they might be stronger today. Documenting every part of a brand’s journey lets its customers feel like they are getting an inside look. Use social media to be transparent. Everything you do can be remarkable content as long as it’s planned and executed exceptionally.

Building the founder’s profile

Francis has his own YouTube channel, with 162k followers, where he answers in-depth Q&As about his company and role, including how he grew the business and challenges he overcomes. He also uses it to announce news and share his own journey. Francis works with so many influencers, it makes sense that he practices what he preaches.

Video titles include, “My favourite apps for running Gymshark,” “Full explanation: the future of Gymshark” and “Creating the world’s greatest office.” It’s content of substance and it amasses messages of support, congratulations and secures customer loyalty.

The lessons: In documenting everything, include the founder. Be prominent as a company founder. It’s interesting. People want to know what you’re doing so they can associate with your success. They like to tell people when they first found out about you. Hold yourself accountable to staying humble and being personable. Create the public persona and control the news channels. Break the stories before the media do.

Emulate Gymshark’s journey by dreaming big but staying humble, documenting and sharing every part of your journey, including from the founder’s perspective, building long-term relationships with influencers and surprising and delighting your growing customer base.

Feature Image Credit: UNSPLASH

By Jodie Cook

Since starting my social media agency in 2011 I have been fascinated by the influences that create entrepreneurs. I co-wrote a series of children’s storybooks, Clever Tykes, which develop positive, resourceful and creative behaviour in 6-9 year olds; they are now read in every primary school in the United Kingdom and I’m determined to replicate this in countries across the world. I was included in Forbes’ 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs in Europe 2017 and gave a TEDx talk with the title ‘creating useful people’. I’m big on travel, lifestyle design and helping people access the freedom that modern entrepreneurship should bring.

Sourced from Forbes