August 24th, 2021 by Helen Webber
July 5th, 2021 by Helen Webber
At Future Positive, we’re here to make the complex more compelling, and we’re always looking for ways to go about it. One of our favourites is PechaKucha (not to be confused with a certain yellow Pokémon).
Literally translating as ‘Chit Chat’ in Japanese, it was created in 2003 by a Tokyo-based architecture firm. It was initially intended to attract people to an event space aimed at sharing designers’ work and ideas who wanted to ‘show more, tell less’; but that was just the start. Since then, it’s grown across the world, with more than 50,000 people presenting at over 1,100 global PechaKucha Nights every year.
The format is simple; you present 20 slides with 20 seconds of commentary per slide – meaning the entire thing is never longer than 400 seconds – about the time it would take to brew a stovetop espresso (Rich is fancy) or eat 40 biscuits (Craig’s a pro).
It’s used for comedy, for learning and, increasingly, for business. So what can we learn from its success and how do we use its principles in our own work?
- Humans are changing
A study conducted by Microsoft in 2018 found that the average attention span of a human had shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8 seconds in 2018*. (To put that in context, the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds). This means that long-format, copy-heavy content is increasingly moving down the priority list. And yes, we get the irony that you’re reading this in a blog. If you’re still with us you’re already beating the fish! The unstoppable rise of tech and media overload means we’re constantly visually over-stimulated: we’re all guilty of a bit of doomscrolling whilst watching TV.
PechaKucha dictates just one image per slide – aiming to really pull focus and communicate a single thing in a memorable way. We often use this technique when presenting creative ideas; having just one point to absorb at a time creates an instant connection. And it allows the recipient to listen to the narrative without being distracted by the need to focus on every detail of your busy slide. Which leads us to…
- 1 picture = 1000 words
According to Nielsen Research**, 38% of brand recall, 23% of brand awareness, and 25% of purchase intent result from video impressions that are less than two seconds long. With a bit of focus, it’s possible to make a huge impact in a short time, and using visual shorthand is key to this success.
We tie our creative thinking into recognised characters and concepts to help our clients instantly understand what we’re trying to get across. Through the use of moodboards and photography, the imagery can evoke emotions that we then back up with the narrative.
In PechaKucha, with just 20 seconds to get your point across, you don’t waste time having to explain something that people already understand. Instead you can use the time available to explain the new concept or information you’re trying to communicate.
- It’s about time
How long do you normally talk about your slide? One minute? Two? Talking for exactly twenty seconds is tricky! Practicing your narrative and timing yourself is essential to a successful PechaKucha, so you can cut any waffle and get to the point. It’s also a great idea to have both a ‘core’ set of content and some additional backup content, so if you’ve gone too fast you have some extra to add in, and if you’ve gone too slowly you have bits that you can easily cut out.
Sometimes when we present ideas we don’t say anything at all – simply letting the audience absorb the content themselves. After all, you’re not always around to talk potential customers through your marketing communications, so making sure it’s strong enough to stand on its own is a great discipline to get into.
For some great examples of PechaKuchas or to find out more, visit www.pechakucha.com (we’re a big fan of Feeling PhiloSLOTHical) and if you want to hear Helen’s PechaKucha on Why Ponies are Awesome, Craig’s Top 20 Biscuit Countdown, or help applying PechaKucha principles to your own campaigns just get in touch.
June 4th, 2021 by Helen Webber
So, the Future Positive team asked me the following about my creative process:
“Craig, how on earth do you go about distilling all of the complex information we give you and ultimately end up turning it into a beautiful new brand?”
Allow me to take you on a journey…
Ok. So, I’ve got the project keys from the client. The team have filled up my fuel tank/charged up my EV battery with briefs and a dozen or so reference links. Now it’s up to me to decide which direction to travel to arrive at the final destination and deliver the goods.
The ‘goods’ in my case are usually the visual components of a new brand. Often appearing deceptively simple from the outside, they accommodate a lot of information such as brand purpose, values, mission and customer requirements.
So where exactly should I start? What’s the best route this time? How do I turn all of this into shapes, colours, fonts? How will it animate? Will it use video? Can it change the world?
Firstly, I don’t panic. It’s a fairly long but by now familiar road. I begin by packing some snacks; making sure I have a ‘map’ and estimating the journey time as I plan out my trip; not forgetting the importance of making time for a few carefully orchestrated breaks on the way.
Thankfully I’m lucky enough to work with a very experienced and strategically minded team. They do a lot of research and, more importantly, hold workshops and group sessions with clients where I end up doing a lot of listening.
And here’s the key, I listen. I listen to the client. I listen to my team. I make it my business to understand as much as I can about their goals, their products and services, and their end users.
While everyone has their own path, here are my next steps:
Imagination: I tend to keep away from screens and get quickfire ideas down on paper. Throughout the meetings, I take notes and sketch freely. Remember: your pad is a safe place where the pages don’t judge you (that comes later). I don’t overthink it at this stage. I usually include these initial sketches in presentation decks: this is the ‘spark’ – even if it does end up evolving into something completely different. At this point I don’t get stressed out about typography, colours or imagery; they can feature further down the road, once the engine is really warmed up. I try not to limit my approaches early on. Instead, I prefer to challenge myself, take multiple paths, and see where they take me. You risk getting lost. Taking a one-way street. Ending up in a cul-de-sac. But it’s all part of the journey. Soon you find an open road, and when you do it’s time to hit the pedal. Roll down the windows and crank up the music…
I then try to immerse myself into the customer’s world as much as possible. When working on a project with Fender in my pre-Future Positive days I took my team along to the studio. There we forgot about the task at hand for a while – trying out guitars instead to experience that feeling the customer gets when first picking up an instrument.
And before developing the brand identity for Yukan Canoes, I headed down to the river to get inspiration from the different craft on the water and the natural surroundings. It gave me a sense of the culture and the customer. With an understanding of the craftsmanship and the products, I was inspired to incorporate the grain of marine ply and the construction techniques in the making of the logo. (www.yukan.co.uk).
Experimentation: Once I have an initial set of ‘sparks’ (or spark plugs, to continue our analogy), I move over to the screen and continue experimenting to see how robust and applicable they are.
It’s a time to play and escape the feeling that you must create the final brand identity at this point. And while none of the initial routes should be dismissed at this stage, it soon becomes clear what’s working and what’s not. You learn how to tell a dead cert from a dead end.
Personally, I create mood boards for everything: colour, typography, illustration, imagery, even animation and motion. This is about more than meeting requirements: it’s a great place to show clients and the team something they haven’t seen before; a new place they can take it. Of course the client can always say no to your idea of a 20ft neon sculpture that wraps around their HQ. But at the same time they might see something in it that inspires a new idea.
Once these ideas start gathering momentum, I let them fly and see where they go, giving myself enough space; knowing that inspiration will flow and the ‘magic’ will materialise. At this point if a creative block does appear I go and do something completely different. Pruning the bonsai. Playing the tuba. Milking the cat. It’s true that ideas often present themselves when you’re not looking for them.
I’ve learned to be confident enough to ask for longer if I need it: you have to be happy with where you’ve got to before you present it back. And just like a journey it can take time to get somewhere great.
Presentation: When presenting work, I like to give the client at least three routes to choose from. As a rule of thumb, the first one should at least meet the brief, whereas the others can be more disruptive and push the boundaries. It’s important to challenge the market as you never know how adventurous or ambitious a client will turn out to be, and often they don’t know until they see it. From a visual standpoint you’re looking for immediacy, clarity and punch, so the simpler the better, but it pays to be bold and to try and be different.
At this stage, we’re still collaborating, working with – not just for – the client. Their feedback is crucial, as well as input from the rest of team, so a big part of the presentation stage is listening again.
Evaluation & Verification: After pitching or presenting any creative work the first thing we do is to re-group as a team. Hopefully we either have a chosen creative route to develop or a clearer direction on where to head next. For me this is where the crafting happens: I close the workshop door, sharpen the tools, flip down the visor on my welding mask and get busy. Of course I step out occasionally to run the work past my colleagues and make sure everyone’s 100% happy before we present the finished brand creative to the client.
Having confidence in the work also plays a part. I remind myself to relax and enjoy presenting, after all, a lot of teamwork has gotten us this far. Good or bad, all feedback is fuel: you may have missed a more scenic route, or it may lead you on to somewhere entirely new. Just make sure you enjoy the journey – from experience it always makes for a better result.
If you’re looking for ways to make your complex more visually compelling take a look at the BEAUTIFY service from Future Positive.
May 14th, 2021 by Helen Webber
The first picture of earth from space was taken by accident. It was captured 65 miles above the planet’s surface on Oct 24th, 1946, from a V-2 rocket as it fell back to earth. When the film was recovered from the desert floor, the grainy black and white image gave humans a brand-new perspective on the place we’ve lived for around 300,000 years.
While the rocket was meant to capture images looking out towards space, the shot became the first in a series of captivating portraits of our planet. Now retired, NASA’s former chief historian Bill Barry remarked, “During almost every mission we turn around and take a picture…there seems to be an irresistible tendency to look back at home.”
Today aerial and satellite images are part-and-parcel of our everyday lives: from keeping an eye on approaching weather fronts to checking out what’s in someone’s garden on Google Maps. The ubiquity of these images means they’re no longer the front-page news they once were.
Matt Manolides, Technical Program Manager at Google Maps explains that the company completes the mammoth task of replacing its photos of the world’s major cities every year. “We aim to update satellite imagery of the places that change the most. Our goal is to keep densely-populated places refreshed on a regular basis to keep up with a changing world”.
Yet while the images may now be commonplace, there’s still something compelling about adopting this top-down perspective. Their beyond-human scale means that the complexities and details vanish, and even the largest surface features are reduced to patterns. And it’s the new ‘visual shorthand’ that these patterns create that allows us – thanks to science – to derive meaning.
For example, satellite mapping based on images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 11 allowed the British Antarctic Survey team to discover 11 new emperor penguin colonies – 20% more than they’d previously thought. While even the largest colonies are too small to be seen in satellite images, it was the giant stains that their droppings leave behind on the ice that made them easier for scientists to spot.
A few years back we worked on a satellite services-based project focused on the emerging field of precision agriculture. Improving how existing land and resources are used will be vital to help feed the planet’s rapidly growing population. While farmers have used satellite images of fields since the early 1970s, the new emphasis is about integrating high resolution satellite-based information directly into everyday operations.
Again, it’s the patterns that emerge from this birds’ eye view data – both visual and numerical – that allow machine learning systems to instruct automated equipment, accurately calculate yields and monitor crop health down to the level of individual plant.
So given the right perspective a picture can paint a thousand words. And it doesn’t always have to originate from orbit.
If you have something complex you need to communicate, Future Positive can help you capture it in a single hero image using our VISUALIZE service. Just without the penguin poop…
April 22nd, 2021 by Helen Webber
Since its introduction in 1931, London’s diagrammatic underground map – based on an electrical circuit diagram – has since become a true design classic; imitated, parodied and emulated across the globe.
Having spent almost 20 years living in London, the mayhem and madness of commuting became part of my everyday fabric. Be it freewheeling down Kingsland Road on my fixed gear, the bristle of nylon against my elbow having scored a rare seat on the number 38 bus, or the cosseting silence of the Tube – a place of forced contemplation: headphones in, book out, eyes down, do not enter conversation or do so at your peril.
But with my daily commute came a strange affinity and friendship built over time with a reliable and trustworthy friend: the Tube map and its magical knack of transporting you wherever you need to go in the blink of an eye. During years of underground travel in my good-for-meetings/good-for-style trainers, a mere glance at Harry Beck’s inspired Tube map would get me where I needed; avoiding getting lost and visiting the dusty information desk.
Cramming in an incredible 270 stations, those 11 Tube lines have trains traversing an average distance of 76.4 million kilometres a year. Harry Beck’s map is both a fully-functioning and iconic marvel in equal measures.
Harry’s achievement of producing a map for an underground system now used by billions of shuffling Londoners (and tourists) each year was, and is, probably one of the most revolutionary and inspirational pieces of design ever created.
Since its introduction in 1931, London’s diagrammatic underground map – based on an electrical circuit diagram – has since become a true design classic; imitated, parodied and emulated across the globe.
It’s also gone on to shape the capital itself – providing colourful access to one of the greatest, most diverse and exciting cities in the world.
While Harry’s first map may have evolved, with additions from numerous contributors over the years to bring the information up to date, the artist’s signature remains firmly his.
From Epping to Ealing, Edgeware to Morden, Heathrow to Cockfosters and everywhere in between, its famous underground lines now transport tourists, fun lovers and locals to the best (and, no doubt worst) of what London has to offer, all via a well-orchestrated code of curved, coloured lines and strategically-placed stations.
Notoriously, the map is not to scale, but somehow the journey distances feel irrelevant. Harry’s triumph has been to take one of the world’s oldest, most complicated transport networks and transform it into a thing of beauty, making the complex not only compelling but exciting; guiding you through the nation’s vibrant capital with relative ease.
The result is a truly exceptional travel guide. An unflappable, steadfast and reliable friend that I know like the back of my hand.
Craig Brooks is Art Director at Future Positive – helping clients to BEAUTIFY their brands and campaigns.
September 23rd, 2020 by Helen Webber
Do you have something complicated to communicate? While it sounds counter-intuitive, simplification isn’t always the answer. When you need to preserve key details and can’t risk dumbing things down, how you structure your content can help get people on board: it’s where classification trumps simplification.
Take chemical elements for example. At the height of the scientific revolution taking place in the 19th century, one new element was being discovered every year. From helium to calcium, how could all these substances with vastly different physical properties be brought together and expressed in an engaging way that would be meaningful to the emerging fields of science?
Bringing something new to the table
Building on the thinking of other 19th century chemists, Siberian professor Dmitri Mendeleev found that by arranging elements based on their weights and behaviours they naturally fell into family groupings with shared similarities. The result was the periodic table; an incredible amount of scientific knowledge contained within a single grid: value made visible.
(Just as Paul McCartney was said to have ‘received’ the classic Beatles song Yesterday fully formed in his sleep, it’s claimed that the complete arrangement of elements in his periodic table appeared to Mendeleev in a dream. Sounds like a great excuse for napping at work to us…)
Compared to the graphs prepared by his contemporaries, the periodic table was visually dramatic but universal acceptance wasn’t immediate. Mendeleev was dismissed by critics for predicting that the gaps created by the pattern of his table meant that there were still additional chemical elements yet to be found. He was later vindicated by the discovery of germanium, gallium and scandium. And today the periodic table is one of the most iconic pillars of scientific education.
There’s no denying that Mr Mendeleev liked a bit of order and organisation. In fact, he’s also credited with introducing the metric system to the Russian Empire.
Create your own one-page wonder
So, the next time you have something rather technical you need to communicate to others– a technology, a service or even your entire business – don’t start by stripping out components. Instead, take a leaf out of old Dmitri’s book and dream up a logical way to group and layer your information so that it fits onto one page. The result is a visual reference that will keep all your messages and communications consistent. Sound impossible? Here’s a single-page framework to help your thinking.
And if you still need a hand to corral complexity into shape there’s always the CLASSIFY service from Future Positive.
June 10th, 2020 by Helen Webber
I am not a religious person, but the line “In the beginning was the word…” from John Chapter 1 of the Bible has always had a special resonance for me; ever since standing behind a lectern taller than I was aged 11 to deliver the first reading at a school carol service.
Choosing our words with care was and is critical.
Even in today’s digitally driven, image-obsessed era, it’s still the words we listen to and the headlines we read that shape our beliefs and choices. They build our confidence. Words make things happen. And the use of words has never been more important.
From a marketing perspective one of the key roles of marcoms professionals is to deploy words to generate confidence in a product, technology, organisation, service or person. Building confidence is what we do. And, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, confidence means: “certainty of a proposition or assertion, sureness with regard to a fact”.
To repeat: sureness with regard to a fact. Therefore, whenever we attempt to build confidence within others, we take on a great responsibility. Incumbent on us is the foundation of facts – for confidence to be legitimate – and the facts must be, well, factual. This is a maxim: confidence in any product is underpinned by the veracity of the facts that back it up, so we must choose our facts wisely. There are always alternatives.
Without this connection to a rational and measured reality, the building of confidence plays a darker, more sinister role. This is the ‘con’ in confidence: the confidence trick. This is the confidence built by the timeshare salesman – all promise and no delivery. It’s no surprise then that this is where the term ‘con’ has its roots.
Con (adj.) “swindling”, 1889 (in con man), American English, from confidence man (1849), from the many scams in which the victim is induced to hand over money [or other property such as loyalty or belief] as a token of confidence. Confidence with a sense of “assurance based on insufficient grounds”.
While great marketing generates a sense of assurance based on ‘sufficient grounds’ a great confidence trick is only a hair’s breadth away, generating ‘a sense of assurance based on in-sufficient grounds’.
These days we are all mobbed by words – beamed at us from multiple angles via a myriad of channels. In an age of hyperreality, facts and reality itself are difficult to discern. The message itself has become our reality. Every area of life confronts us with competing assurances demanding our attention and cajoling us, building our confidence to act – enticing us to make decisions one way or another.
The moral of this etymological tale? The responsibility rests squarely on us all to assess marketing’s facts as deeply and rationally as possible – whether we’re building confidence within others or building up our own confidence.
As both message makers and message receivers it’s our obligation to guarantee that the resulting confidence is based on as much fact as we can gather, and that those facts represent reality and have a substance to them way beyond any attention-grabbing headlines. Our confidence must run deep.
From experience I’d suggest that building confidence better than the other guy is a competitive advantage. But I also propose that not all confidence is created equal. Not to put too fine a point on it but when the resultant confidence has little connection to facts and reality then evil creeps in.
We all need to work hard to be sure we can discriminate good confidence from bad. As the saying goes “if it is too good to be true – it probably is…”
– Andy Graham
If you’d like to explore these ideas further or you’d just like to reach out, you can always get in touch with our team by emailing email@example.com
Many thanks to Online Etymology Dictionary https://www.etymonline.com/ – a great resource for all lovers of words
April 28th, 2020 by Helen Webber
What hasn’t changed however is today’s intensely competitive environment. Online platforms and digital channels now allow B2B competitors from anywhere in the world to rapidly set up in your space, create some noise, offer your customers attractive deals and walk away with the business.
In fact, in its 2019 survey of Small and Medium Enterprises1, the UK Government found that the single largest obstacle to business growth is now competition in the marketplace reported by 46% of participating organisations. And with stricken economies keen for growth, international competition is only likely to increase.
When it comes to your brand and marketing, inactivity leads to invisibility.
So, until the economy is back firing on all cylinders it’s time to look at where your team can make some quick wins.
1 Reflect their new world
From the largest multinationals to the smallest microbusinesses, organisations across the board currently find themselves navigating a very different landscape. Any sales strategy based on business plans drawn up just a year ago may suddenly seem impractical or unachievable. Potential customers may have reduced capabilities. Holes in their supply chain. To avoid obsolescence, they may even be considering reinventing how they do business.
So rather than marketing yourself as you’d planned, revisit your messaging and make sure what you say now is aligned with their new priorities, themes and directions. Showing empathy in communications means they’re more likely to be well received and will put you in a more favourable position when the time is right.
2 Speak their language
Having worked closely with business-to-business brands for almost a quarter of a century it’s surprising how many times this one still crops up. It’s especially rife in technical fields where acronyms and jargon abound. While this may be fine when used in datasheets, elevating this language to prospect-facing content risks losing its immediacy. It also places an unnecessary cognitive strain on the reader or viewer having to ‘decode’ your content.
Instead use more everyday conversational language. After analysing over 5 million emails Boomerang found that those written using more universally-accessible language had a 36% uplift in open rates2 compared to those taking a more high-brow approach.
So write for real people, not robots. Be sure to use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ in headlines to help draw readers into your world. And, regardless of how technical the subject matter gets, focus on communicating the emotive end-result that your products and services deliver: the human why behind what you do.
3 Make your valuable visible
With headcounts cut and resources stretched, the days when potential customers had to do all the legwork are long gone. They need to see at a glance not just what you do, but what you can do for their organisation. What makes you the best fit? It’s never been more important to make your brand and its offer relevant to customer businesses.
Think about how you can capture this in a nutshell. Can you put together a new (jargon-free) proposition that sums up your true value to customers in a few well-chosen words? An infographic focused on the right points can add visual impact. Quotes from customers about what you helped them achieve will lend an authenticity. Using the carousel format on a company LinkedIn post is an engaging vehicle for your new, improved content.
Oh, and whatever you create make it easy to share. In our experience if you save potential customers time they’ll thank you for it.
If you’d like to explore these ideas further or you’d just like to reach out, you can always get in touch with our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
April 24th, 2020 by Helen Webber
It’s beyond just business: a brand engages people in a more human, emotive way that the more physical and tangible aspects of a company – its balance sheet, manufacturing centres and supply chain – never could. Brands are all about people and helping to generate belief; and this is the basis of trust.
Experience the positives
During decades of working with B2B companies throughout major industry downturns and global recessions, we’ve experienced first-hand how brand can be used as a strategic tool to accomplish a number of enterprise-level goals.
When times are tough it’s initially tempting to divert budgets away from brand and marcoms activities. This is a default position that stems from seeing the marketing department as a cost centre, rather than its potential as an engine for true value creation.
Here are a few examples of the positive outcomes resulting from the brand effect:
Get everyone on the same page quickly
Inspire an organisation
Get to your goals faster
Combine what you have in a new way
Accelerate product development
Release latent value
Attract the premium price
Keep the competition out
Leave no value on the table
Turn losses into profits
Focus on what’s most valuable
Attract and retain the best employees
Strengthen non-contractual attachments
The brand effect in action
While its competitors suffered a downturn during 2019, Dubai-based TGT Diagnostics did the seemingly impossible and bucked the industry trend, attributing its record performance in part to a new brand platform.
“The business had a record year, outperforming the industry and I’d like to think that the new brand platform had a lot to do with that.” – Ken Feather, CMO, TGT Diagnostics
It’s why we believe that for B2B companies nurturing your brand matters more now than ever. If you’d like to explore this subject further or you’d just like to reach out, you can always get in touch with our team by emailing email@example.com
April 21st, 2020 by Helen Webber
While consumer confidence has always been a fragile thing, at the time of writing business to business organisations appear to be slightly more confident. In fact, a recent poll by Marketing Week1 found that 19% of respondents say B2B marketing campaigns are still continuing as planned, compared to just 11% of consumer campaigns. This may reflect consumers cutting back on ‘non-essential’ spending; something that is much less of a factor in the criteria-based, approval-driven realm of B2B purchasing.
To prepare here are four things you can do right away…
Give them what they need
Ok so customers may not be buying right now, but in such times B2B audiences have been shown to spend more time seeking out quality, accurate background information to build greater confidence in the purchasing decisions they’ll eventually make. Support potential customers performing online research by providing helpful digital resources: how-to guides and infographics, calculators, comparison tables, downloadable tools – anything that can help them decide.
Email is a good platform to keep up your brand presence by sharing updates and changes to strengthen relationships.
Reach out and ask
Staff may not be in the office, but people are still opening work email* – perhaps in a bid to impose familiar structure on their day after an increasing amount of time spent working from home. With a captive audience it’s a good medium to quickly poll customers on what they value most about your existing offer. The results may help you create revised service branding that addresses any new priorities they may have more visibly, or to put together a strategically themed portfolio of products.
* Sent out one week into the UK lockdown, we noted that the click-to-open rate of our last email campaign was more than 10% above the industry benchmark for a subscribed database.
Social distancing and self-isolation have given many of us the time to re-evaluate; to focus on what’s important, which relationships matter, to take stock of our physical and mental health, while restrictions on movement force us to consider how we spend our valuable time. It’s likely that B2B customers are looking at their professional lives through this new lens too. If ever there was a time for organisations to use branding to highlight the deeper purpose beyond the profits and to communicate on a more human level, then this is it.
Build a bridge
You may not be able to diversify your business activities, but repositioning your brand can help by building a conceptual ‘bridge’ between what your organisation currently says and does, versus what prospect companies may be looking for in the future. Will your new position be an evolution? Can you combine things in a new way? The positioning process is also an excellent opportunity to validate any revisions to your business strategy and provide additional clarity.
Remember, it’s what’s happening in the world around us that ultimately defines the value of a product or service to potential customers. So make sure that context forms a key part of your new positioning. And to help you get started you can download our free positioning canvas here: https://www.emberson-brand.com/positioningcanvas/
Whether you’d like an audit of your existing messaging based on a quarter of a century spent in B2B marketing, an online workshop, or if you’d just like to reach out to someone, contact the team today on firstname.lastname@example.org
Underneath it all humans are sociable animals, which is why it’s often said there’s no real substitute for face-to-face interaction and physical contact. But if B2B organisations are to emerge stronger from the current Covid-19 pandemic, we’ll all have to look at what we can achieve remotely. And, of course, this means doing even more digitally.
Without physical offices and with individual staff located around the UK (not to mention customers on different continents) Emberson has been working in a distributed way since it was founded in 2010. Based on a decade of digital operations, here are four key considerations based on our experiences…
1 How does your brand stand up against digital-born rivals?
Even the oldest consumer-facing brands adapt their visual identity to aid visibility in our increasingly screen-based world. This is rarely the case however for B2B brands; even though many are innovators within their industries. We once worked with a transport-based client whose original logo had been created 25yrs earlier using taped-together photocopies. Perhaps unsurprisingly while it had somehow worked okay in print, it didn’t display well on a responsive mobile website. And it needs to: Boston Consulting Group expects the number of B2B queries made on smartphones to reach 70% this year1.
Just bear in mind that if you want your brand to compete against newer, digital-born rivals it may be time for an audit first.
There are some obvious design no-no’s that expose an older brand’s pre-digital origins such as long horizontal names, or combinations of small and large typography that don’t scale down to smaller screen sizes. Thankfully all of these pitfalls are now addressed as a matter of course by any identity designer worth their salt.
2 Adapt sales decks to fly solo
The ban on business travel demands that we all transform our Powerpoint sales decks into self-contained digital sales presenters. As you won’t be there to take prospects through your content think carefully about the order: start with the customer’s pain points and lead into your story from there.
Never put your offer before their context. Ask a colleague (or trusted 3rd party!) to review your presentation and see if it makes sense without the accompanying script: it may mean adding key messaging or takeout statements directly to existing slide content. Remember it’s always better to have a higher number of simpler slides than to overload each screen with bullet points. And to increase exposure don’t forget to upload it to LinkedIn’s popular Slideshare platform and send people a URL.
If you have a particularly charismatic speaker or in-house expert, you could also consider reworking your content into a TED talk-inspired webinar – just as long as you frame it carefully and make sure there’s valuable content for potential customers. You may not think it suits your sector and its complex buying cycle, but it’s worth noting Google found that, even in industrial and manufacturing industries, 67% of purchases were influenced by digital content2.
3 Time for a movie?
In its benchmark report3 Vidyard found that 82% of B2B marketers reported success during 2019 from their video marketing initiatives. While it’s never been easier for individuals to create their own videos, don’t be tempted to point a smartphone at your face selfie-style and start rambling like a YouTuber. Vidyard also observed that average video lengths are getting shorter, so plan how to capture your key messages in concise, easy-to-digest segments. Even the shortest clips benefit from a basic storyboard and script. And work with video professionals so that the quality and tone of your output matches the values of your brand.
At the other end of the scale we’ve been working with clients and specialist production companies to transform what would have been ‘corporate’ videos into more immersive 360° experiences. Originally meant to be shown at events on wrap-around screens, the availability of VR systems such as Google’s Cardboard and Facebook’s Oculus systems mean these videos can be adapted to create a memorable experience for prospects likely to be working from home for the foreseeable future.
4 Make more of what you’ve already got
Now is an ideal time to repurpose existing content from your website and marketing materials and use it to actively reach out to new prospects, perhaps in different markets, as business boundaries are being redrawn.
We’ve found from experience that tying content together with an engaging theme, building a GDPR-compliant email campaign and tracking interested parties can deliver engaged leads for less than many companies spend on a single exhibition appearance. And figures from the Direct Marketing Association found ROI from email marketing now stands at £36 for every pound spent by B2B organisations4.
So there you have it – fours ways you can create engaging digital B2B experiences to help you do business at a distance.
If you want to discuss a digital brand audit, simplifying sales presentations, video storyboarding and scripting, email campaigns or to just reach out, contact the team on email@example.com