Why do sheep stand on hills? Why we should all be asking stupid questions

September 30th, 2014 by Charley Downey


Sometimes, despite an overwhelming urge to the contrary, we avoid asking stupid questions during polite conversation. Yes, we’ve avoided the distinct possibility of rosy cheeks and the desire for instant retraction, but we have also stunted our curiosity and potentially missed out on a dialogue-inducing nugget of information.  Well, who’s to say what is and what isn’t a stupid question? In our younger years, we are blessed with a thirst for knowledge – unafraid to question anything or anyone. Inevitably, children aren’t entirely aware of topics that could be labelled as unethical, or queries that could be classed as offensive, but the overall attitude of challenging anything they are unsure about is something that, as adults, we tend to ignore.   This innocence and curiosity, free of inhibition, is an often-overlooked quality that could hugely improve both working and personal relationships.

Here at Boutique, we’re proud to say we are good at what we do due to our honest relationships with one and other, as well as with our clients. We adopt an open-attitude and encourage the ideal that no question is a stupid question. Our PPC King (his preferred job title), Luke Lynam, is a perfect example of how maintaining an open and outspoken approach to queries can reap rewards in terms of knowledge-gained and personal growth. An example and our conclusion being…

Luke’s question: ‘’Why do sheep always stand on hills?’’

Conclusion: Clearly, every time Luke passes a group of these fluffy animals the question of why they choose to stand on hills, as opposed to flat ground, has played on his mind. Who are we to judge? If Luke is eager to build on his knowledge of farm animals, why shouldn’t we help the guy out? The answer is… Well we’re not actually sure on the answer (another team member initially told him that it’s due to two of their legs being longer the other, which Luke’s gullible mind lapped up without question) but, the fact of the matter is he asked, and we did our best to provide a resolution.

Ok, so this was niche – it’s not the type of question we’d expect on a daily basis, but the sentiment remains the same. If you’re at work and there’s something you’re not too sure about, or something you do want to question, go ahead and ask – because you’ll never know until you do.  Whether this is from a client or colleague’s perspective, people respect honesty and life is much easier when people understand one and other’s thoughts.

Additionally, from an employer’s perspective, it’s important that employees don’t talk down to people if they ask stupid questions. If you’re in a position of responsibility, embrace and nurture it. From personal experience, it’s incredibly comforting as a new starter when you are encouraged to ask questions. Rather than shying away and taking longer to do the task at hand, there’s almost always somebody in the room who will only take a few seconds to answer the query.

Regardless of authority, job position, closeness of relationship and so on, why not just keep everyone in the loop? After all, the smartest minds are ones that ask questions, even stupid ones.

Boutique Reports: National Press isn’t dead

September 26th, 2014 by Elliot Jones

National Press First Page

At Boutique we like to think of ourselves as thought leaders. We stay ahead of the game, meaning our clients do too. As such, we regularly produce reports and thought pieces to keep you up to date with the happenings of the media world.

The emergence of digital has led to significant decreases in National Press circulation figures, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead and gone. The following report looks at the current National Press market, and highlights how and why it’s changing.

Click the link below to see the full report, and let us know what you think by tweeting @BoutiqueMC!

National Press PDF

We’ve Recruited! (Again…)

September 24th, 2014 by Sarah Gough

A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to two new team members: Rory, the next addition to our PPC team, and Charley, our new Account Executive. Now, we’re delighted to welcome yet another new face to the office – Sarah, who’ll be heading up our Earned Media department.

Sarah Gough – Head of Earned Media

Sarah Gough Boutique

Sarah has joined to head up a new public relations-led strand of the business. She has four years’ traditional and social PR experience, having worked with clients ranging from regional tourism hot spots Harewood House and Yorkshire Air Museum, to national brands including Hallmark and Revolution bars. A self proclaimed domestic goddess with a penchant for world travel (her favourite place in the world is Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa), Sarah brings culture and excellent baked goods to the office. She also joins Elliot in the Received Pronunciation division of the business – who’s got the poshest voice in Boutique now, ey?

MD Simon says: “The appointment of Sarah as Head of Earned Media further expands and develops our truly integrated proposition, and ensures that we are delivering across every communication platform. Our client’s engagement strategies are ever more convoluted, and Sarah will help drive the integration between owned and earned media, meaning better results.”

Want to know about our new starters? Drop us an email, tweet us @boutiquemc or visit our Facebook page!

Customer Journey Focus: Sports Nutrition

September 22nd, 2014 by Simon Bollon

The customer journey protein supplements

Buying protein might not be one of the first things that would spring to mind when looking for inspiration on a brief, but the customer journey taken when purchasing this muscle sculpting product is a good example of how purchasing habits have changed, and how complex media engagement strategies can impact on them.

So the journey is simple: need protein, hit Google, buy product… Right? Well, yes, but it’s a little more complex than that, and the drivers for choice have changed somewhat over the years. Let me explain.

In 2009 we worked with a nutrition company who wanted to grow their market share. At that time, the supplements market was on a steep incline. The market was widening and the customer base was shifting from the niche body builders to a broader ‘average’ man. Generally, the fitness and well-being market was increasing. Low cost gyms were on the increase and society was becoming more health conscious. That’s not to say these were new developments to the world, they were just growth markets.

In a nutshell, we provided a strategy around acquisition and a need to develop ambassadors; people who could represent the brand and demonstrate what supplements (and lots of training… And a very strict diet!) could do for you. Body builders, body models, fitness models, personal trainers, boxers, martial artists etc. were all ideal ambassadors. Sure enough, the client built an impressive list – muscle bound hunks a plenty! They were leveraged across all content, on the website, in catalogues and on packaging.

The strategy worked; they saw significant growth, retention increased, average spend increased and engagement with the brand grew significantly. These ambassadors had become the face of the business and were essentially ‘Team X supplements’ (I won’t name the client as I have no authorisation to do so).

Fast forward 5 years and we’ve just consulted with another supplements brand. The market has grown again, and there are now more significant competitors so it’s a fight for share. There remain one or two key players who have a steal on the market and a mass of others competing for their ounce of share.

The challenge for us was to identify how to create stand out, build loyalty and steal market share (long term, not just short term gains).

We tackled the brief by experiencing the market and made some interesting discoveries. Firstly, Brand X we had worked with in 2009 were/are in rapid decline. Secondly, My Protein were totally dominating the market. Why? Because they understood better than anyone else what the customer journey looked like and they responded to it, whilst client X hadn’t moved on since 2009. The guys behind My Protein are now behind ‘The Protein Works’ which has quickly become the challenger brand. Same question, same answer; they know the customer and their needs.

In simple terms our research had shown us that the audience had changed. Demographically it was pretty much the same as 2009 (Men, 16-34) but what they did, how they trained and what ‘fitness’ now looks like is different. The ethnography, mental approach, desires and culture of fitness has changed.

We’re not copywriters and we’re not creatives, so don’t judge the strapline, but consider the statement when I explain that we now summarised the audience as an ‘Aspirational audience who trained without compromise’. Cross Fit (if you don’t know this you need it in your life: www.crossfit.com), adventure running and obstacle races have created a new breed of athlete. They no longer aspire to professional athletes, body builders and fitness models, they aspire to that IT guy who goes to Cross Fit and looks like an extra from the 300. They aspire to be like the dude from Finance who competes in adventure races on a Sunday morning. Essentially, normal people, achieving their goals and living a normal life. but doing incredible and inspiring stuff, without compromise.

Add to this that consumers are content hungry, they want to engage with brands, they want brands to connect with them, share knowledge, demonstrate an understanding of their needs and essentially give them free shit.

So, back to my first point of ‘need protein, hit Google, search, purchase’. That happens and short term gain can be taken by an aggressive search strategy, but to create share, retention and brand equity you must engage with the customer and give them what the market wants which, in this case, is knowledge, information and… Free shit!

In a nutshell, we suggested a strategy of a content hub driven by the consumer where they would share diet plans, recipes, training plans, goals, fitness objectives, and results. We’d create personas allowing people to fit in a segment and we’d create permission marketing on a very targeted level. Content would be seeded across a plethora of social channels and it would be generated across a multitude of platforms.

Interestingly, like most nutrition companies in this market, they too had ambassadors. Our research told us it was quite the opposite of motivating. A boxer is a boxer, full time, earning a living from it and earning millions. They are not representative of the average man and in fact, they are not inspiring or the aspirational figure that this market now looks for. Professional athletes, whilst held in high regard, are not people that the average man connects with simply through imagery, so the use of ambassadors needs substance. In this instance, the content hub works. Ambassadors can be used for creating content. They can bring their training to life, offer inspiration, knowledge and create a much more real link between the product, them and the consumer.

So at the core of all this the critical point is: people change. Habits change, the path to conversion changes. Consumers will still need product, Google it and buy it based on price but if you target individuals, engage with them, gain permission to interact and share knowledge and information, brands can build stronger connections. They provide a reason for someone to brand-search rather than perform a generic product search, and ultimately grow share, improve volume and improve price point where applicable.

Customers change and as obvious as it may seem to shape a business around customers, too often it doesn’t happen, and businesses are shaping the customer experience around what works for them strategically, internally and culturally. Re-engaging with the customer journey and understanding not just how people buy from you, but how you can interact with them in an appropriate and engaging manner, is a good starting point for creating or answering a brief.

St Lucia campaign goes live

September 15th, 2014 by Sarah Gough

Our latest campaign for the St Lucia Tourist Board has gone live. The digital campaign, which comprises of display and PPC activity, promotes the fantastic holiday deals offered in St Lucia. Spots have been secured on the Mail Online.

St Lucia Display CampaignYou can find out more about the digital campaigns we offer by dropping by our digital division or tweeting us @boutiquemc!

Five of the best

September 11th, 2014 by Thomas Selby

As a small business, each time we add a new member to our team it has a huge impact. Because of this, we take real time to hand-pick the best people.

My question is… Does this apply to all of our competitors?

In agency land, pitching for, servicing and retaining clients is a bit like a game of FIFA 98.

Bear with me.

For those who don’t know, FIFA is the world governing body for football, and FIFA 98 is the official FIFA video game from the 97-98 season. They bring a game out every year with updated squads and teams for the new season. There have been many iterations, each more technically advanced than the other.

So why have I picked out a version that’s 16 years old?

FIFA 98 is a bit special, it was the last time a five-a-side mode was included in the game. Pitting the best five players from the best teams in the world against each other on a tiny pitch was a massive highlight which unfortunately we have not seen since. Why FIFA… Why?! It was so exciting because the biggest and best 11-a-side teams in the world weren’t necessarily the best at five-a-side. It was all about who had the best top players, not the biggest squad.

I imagine you are probably questioning the relevance of a seemingly ancient football game to life in agencies.

When you look at how accounts are won and managed, whether it’s in a global network or a smaller independent, there are probably around five key people who will come into contact with and manage them on a regular basis.

When competing for new business agencies send their best, most relevant five people onto the pitch (pun definitely intended).  We flex mental muscles, talk strategy, show creative flourishes and use the experience of the people on the pitch to eventually win the day. Just like a good game of five-a-side.

In bigger agencies the team sheet can change regularly and rapidly, and odds are the majority managing the account won’t be the same five people who went out and won the pitch.

Experienced professionals go out and impress, then the work is handed over to less experienced, potentially less capable people. Clearly this isn’t always the case and I’m not here to throw stones at big networked agencies; they do a great job for the right clients and deliver work for businesses that smaller agencies simply couldn’t service. But unless you spend big bucks (in media terms upwards of £3-5 million) you probably won’t realise the same levels of service.

It’s in these situations where smaller independents really come into their own. At Boutique we talk about ‘our five people’: basically we think our five best, most relevant people will be as good, if not better, than any other agency that does what we do.

These five people will include the director-owners of the business and handpicked team members with the best skills to get the work done. Those people who the client meets, likes and ultimately invests in will deliver the work day to day.

A director will always be the main point of contact. And when those directors have come from similar positions in the big networks there can be few reasons left for ruling us out.

If we played five-a-side we’d be top of the league.

Tweet us @boutiquemc to find out more about our five of the best!

Which Inbetweener are you?

September 9th, 2014 by Thomas Selby

Which Inbetweener are you?

I’m going to start at the end. Sort of.

As a sales person, I’ve wondered if someone like Jay from the Inbetweeners (a caricature of a typical 80s sales wide boy) could be successful in reality.

As I’m sure you’ll be aware, there’s a second Inbetweeners movie out at the moment. It’s great to see British comedy doing so well on the big screen. The Inbetweeners is one of those special ‘shows’ that has a bit of everything; great gags, clever plots, impressive acting and, most importantly, hilarious characters.

The key to these great characters is how easily we all relate to them. I’m sure you’ve all had the discussion in a group, trying to work out which of your mates is which. Mine is always unanimously (and begrudgingly) the same character… I’ll share who it is with you later!

When I’m not diligently seeing to client’s needs, perpetually improving my pipeline or tirelessly striving to better myself, my mind does find occasion to wander. Where I go on these short brain walks is largely a mystery; a journey quickly confined to fuzzy sub-conscious memory. However, from time to time, I do amble out the other side with genuine thoughts and ideas.

I have a feeling a radio ad or some kind of sinister subliminal messaging had drawn me to thinking about the Inbetweeners, onto my mates, then in a slightly less linear fashion which Inbetweener I was. Not the Inbetweener my mates saw, but the one my colleagues and clients saw. So I’ll pose this question: when in the workplace, which Inbetweener are you?

Here’s the lineup:


Top exaggerator, yarn spinner, over egger. All comments must be taken with a bucket of salt. The frequency of blatant exaggerations have seriously affected credibility. Very convincing to the uninitiated and could make a big initial impact, however has questionable longevity and paper thin arguments upon closer inspection.

Also a massive bellend.


Not as smart as he thinks. Horrendous social skills and zero emotional intelligence. Has an inability to empathise with others and will rarely get the cooperation he needs. Good general knowledge, however uses marginally above average intelligence to belittle others and as a guise to exert authority. Outspoken at the wrong times.

Dresses like a Member of Parliament.


Not the sharpest knife, gullible and lacking in the most basic common sense. He’s never going to join MENSA, win awards for thought leadership or redefine an industry. He will however just get on with it, wind him up and let him go.

If you need a simple job doing without any grumbling Neil’s the man. Just don’t let your customers meet him.


A bit of a romantic. Easily influenced by others. Probably capable of being good at something but let’s others lead him astray. He’s good with other people but constantly chases after lost causes. Needs to stick to his guns and learn to pick his battles.

Crap hair.

So in an ideal world which Inbetweener would you be?

I think the answer is… All of them. In reality we all share traits from each of the four, it’s all about how we mix them up.

Be Jay. Bring stories to life, adding enthusiasm and a bit of well-reasoned exaggeration will make you stand out. Don’t lie or over promise, credibility takes a long time to build and seconds to disappear (I talk from experience).

Be Will. Understanding your business, product or market is a must. Conveying it in a clear concise way makes a real difference. Don’t be a know it all, people respect intelligence not arrogance. Relate to colleagues and clients people will go out of their way if the genuinely feel valued.

Be Neil. Don’t grumble, there’s something to be said for a sunny disposition and an uncomplicated approach to work. The world needs doer’s, we’re all so busy trying to be leaders.

Be Simon. Dream big, set goals. Ambition will get you out of bed in the morning. Setting, reaching for and missing unachievable goals wont. Try to help those around you, think of it as credit and hopefully people will pay it back when you really need it. Being liked is just as important at work as it is in the pub. Make sure you balance this as best you can, don’t end up being the office lackey. Make people work with you because you add value not because you’ll give them a free lunch.

According to my ‘friends’ and as far as I’m concerned somewhat dubiously I’m… Jay.

Which Inbetweener are you? Tweet us @boutiquemc and let us know!

We’ve recruited!

September 5th, 2014 by Elliot Jones

We are Boutique, and we’re growing fast.

The past few months have seen rapid growth, with client acquisition at an all-time high and massive opportunities rolling in. We’ve always prided ourselves on exceptional service levels no matter the account, promising clients a first-rate relationship along with first-rate results. That’s why we’re delighted to introduce two new additions to the Boutique team!

Rory Dunlop – PPC Executive

Rory Dunlop

Rory joins the paid search team with plans to usurp our current Keyword King, Luke Lynam. After studying in Newcastle and gaining a business degree, he spent the past couple of years exploring the world of sales and marketing before realising that PPC was his calling.

Vital Statistics

Height: 6′

Loves: Hairspray and golf

Hates: Vegetables, unless they’re mixed into the sauce of spaghetti bolognese

Charley Downey – Account Executive

Charley Downey

Charley joins Boutique after working in accountancy, where she quickly realised that a career in media was more her bag. She’ll be learning the agency ropes, gaining a qualification in marketing, and concurrently brightening up an office that’s overwhelmed by grumpy old men.

Vital Statistics

Height: 5’1″ (she stopped growing when she was 12)

Loves: Dancing, Greggs, and feeding monkey nuts to parrots

Hates: Fish

Boutique’s new, talented individuals will add great value to our integrated agency, and we’re very excited about our rapidly growing team. Want to say hello? Tweet us @boutiquemc or drop by our Facebook page!