The next 12 months

February 27th, 2015 by Simon Bollon


Boutique II-154

At this time of year there’s an abundance of content about the last 12 months, the year ahead, what to expect and what will change. Having consumed several of these reports from agencies, clients, media owners and ‘thinkers’ I’ve pulled together some key points on what we at Boutique have identified as key considerations for our business, clients and partners in the year (or so) ahead…

Collaboration rules

We work with 21 different creative agencies across our client base and we cherish every relationship. It makes us better, makes the other agencies better and critically drives better results for clients through one, holistic, integrated approach to communications. When agencies work together, better results are achieved. We intend to further enhance those relationships and look to build more rewarding relationships with brilliant agencies.

Be close to creative

As above, collaboration matters and, in practise, that means us being as close to the creative as possible. Ensuring we understand the thought process and how to leverage creative in the media is vital to response. We’re not a creative agency, not by a long shot, but our granular level of how media works can, and is, important in assisting the creative thinking, so we continue to ensure we work closely with creative and often take part in the creative workshops. More holistic communication will make for better results.

Content… But not for content’s sake

Have you heard about content? It’s kind of a big deal right now. It’s important. Important for developing brand understanding, engagement creation, interaction and scaling equity as well as, when used correctly, being a powerful tool for organic search. But here’s the thing, don’t just do content for content’s sake. It must engage and reward whether that’s through entertainment, providing knowledge or being useful. Make sure it ticks those boxes and if it doesn’t, don’t bother. We’ve seen enough cats falling off window sills.

Strategy first

Obvious really, but you’d be surprised. A recent account win for us came from a strategy of ‘audience, proposition, media’, thinking about who we were talking to, how to talk to them, what we had to say and then finding the best media and how to use it. That was a diversification from their previous ‘buy media cheaply and build cover’ method. Price matters and buying power counts but, if you don’t have a compelling strategy, media is so fragmented – it just won’t work. If you see your agency as commoditising media, you’ve misunderstood the value of the modern, strategically focused media agency.

Data for the many?

The big and powerful have invested significantly in data so guess what? They need to monetize it. Talking about ‘big data’, how to understand it, use, plan and buy media accordingly off the back of data analytics is a key challenge for agencies… But it needs to be only a part of the process. Big Data from a broad set of clients is extremely useful and a powerful tool that can refine the planning and buying process. Knowledge, experience, creative thinking and a personal touch is still vital. A reliance on data will create thoughtless campaigns lacking in creativity, so a combination to include systems approaches is important.

Programmatic won’t change your world

Programmatic has a place… But people and brains are still critical to effective marketing. There are clients and campaigns where the value of programmatic buying in broadcast media may be relevant but to maximise campaign efficiency, personal input is critical. I can’t see that changing in the short term.

People change

The growth in age of the UK population, the change in buying patterns, the diversification of demographics and ethnicity; society has changed dramatically, and don’t expect those changes to slow down. Understanding customers, who they are, where they are, how they buy, interact and engage is critical. That takes me back to strategy first. Understand, then plan.

Don’t follow the big boys

The big brands have deep pockets. They also tend to have very high engagement levels, brand equity, social reach and influence. Too many times smaller brands see what the big boys are doing and want a piece of the action. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it isn’t. Be mindful of your position in the consumer’s mind. Sure, look to change it if that’s right, but don’t be Rola Cola and expect engagement achieved by Coca Cola. Create your own strategies based around your brand, don’t copy.

We believe in right agency, better results. Clients who work with agencies that match their thinking, beliefs, culture and processes will deliver heady results, so ensure you have the right agency that understands you.

 

Learnings from London Fashion Week

February 27th, 2015 by Charley Downey


London Fashion Week Boutique

As a newbie fashion and beauty blogger, I have a real personal interest in London Fashion Week (LFW). To some, the event is just another date in the diary, but to us at Boutique it’s slightly different.

I’m not implying we purchase a Chanel dress or two during LFW, or that we strut into the office looking like Victoria-Beckham-meets-Anna-Wintour, we just appreciate the originality behind the event.

The thing is with fashion weeks, be it Italy, London or New York, the amount of work, time and effort put into each design is incredible. The designers take tremendous pride in their creations and, of course, no two designers’ lines are ever the same. If you are a follower of fashion, you’ll probably be able to recognise your favourite designer’s work almost instantaneously (or have a pretty good guess). This is a perfect example of strong brand-building; adopting and maintaining a unique style, in this case with their clothing lines, allowing them to stand out from the crowd. Oh and of course the trends we see on the catwalk mould the high street trends for the rest of the world, so fashion week is a pretty big deal.

We love the creativity. We love the raw, innovative designs. We love the identity, and over all we love the fact that the designers create whatever the hell they want to, regardless of what others think. This is something any person, or any business can take from LFW.

If you have an idea, go with it. There’s nothing better than feeling proud of what you have achieved, or seeing your own idea come to fruition. Apply this rule to all aspects of your life, and you’ll walk with a stride in your step.

This theory describes us, and the work that we do, perfectly. We are a creatively-led team who believe whole-heartedly in the power of brands and creating a unique, recognisable presence.  LFW is all about representing personality through branding, and this is a technique that can be applied to any market. As a business, it is important to adopt a style and tone that differentiate you from the rest- regardless of whether you’re a Moschino, Gucci or Balmain.

If it’s creating quirky news, writing an unusual blog post, or thinking outside the box for advertising campaigns, we’re all about being different and standing out from the crowd.

Client win: Costcutter Supermarkets Group

February 25th, 2015 by Simon Bollon


Costcutter appointment

We are very happy to confirm that we have been appointed by Costcutter Supermarkets Group to handle its media strategy and implementation following a four-way pitch.

This is a brilliant win for us; a client that saw the value in our ‘think and do better’ proposition. Our approach is around matching products with audience and utilising the most pertinent media in a new and creative manner. We will be also be playing a fundamental role in the gradual integration with digital. The cultural fit between the businesses was evident from the outset, and we’re confident we will be integral to an exciting growth period for Costcutter Supermarkets Group.

The decision to recruit a new media agency comes as the Group embarks on a brand new operations and marketing model – a change which will present positive opportunities and growth potential for its retailers. Working on a 17-period a year system, our media plan has been designed to complement the extensive marketing activity being undertaken internally.

Costcutter Supermarkets Group Marketing Director Jenny Wilson said of the appointment, “Our new vision and model marks a significant step change for us, and we were keen to work with a new media agency who would provide a fresh, strategic media plan with a difference. Boutique stood out as they displayed real creativity combined with an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve. Their industry experience offered the best of both worlds – an ability to support us on a full-scale, national level whilst supporting our ‘proud to be local’ ethos.”

The importance of talking

February 20th, 2015 by Sarah Gough


©iStock.com/weareboutique

Ah, talking. Something we used to do before emails, texts, tweets and Facebook messages.

Blimey, how technology has transformed our lives for the better and created so many platforms for personal and business growth, but it hasn’t come without its social drawbacks. The changes are all too apparent on my morning commute when at least 95% of my fellow commuters are glued to their phones, half of which I’m pretty sure are pretending to be busy to avoid eye contact with anybody else.

Throughout my childhood, my (absolutely heroic) grandfather told me so many more nostalgic stories than I could possibly store in my naïve mind, but there’s one particular tale that stuck with me as it relates, on some level, to my industry. Grandpa told me how he used to attend sports games with his father who was a sports journalist in Bradford. Far from today’s instant, mass produced system, Great Grandpa handed his commentary to Grandpa who hopped on a tram across the city to hand deliver the report to the newspaper office. This would then be typed up (via typewriter, of course) for the local paper.

Among other stories I remember are those of early days of his relationship with Grandma – the letters of which were somewhat more romantic than today’s texts, dating sites and apps. So, where are we now? What do these changes mean in reality, and what even is reality anymore?

So many modern families no longer sit down to eat their evening meal together round a table; they eat in front of the television. No conversation.

Many of those who would have once visited the theatre, or attended concerts, probably now watch TV on their mobiles or tablets or watch YouTube videos of their favourite artists.

In business, many of those who would have regularly attended face to face meetings now rely on Skype sessions and conference calls. Furthermore, most phone calls have now been replaced by a reliance on email.

As I type, I am aware that I sound like my mother when I was a teenager texting my friends instead of talking to her (N.B. on my super cool Motorola Razr). I’m 25; I am the ‘tech’ generation and by no means am I saying I haven’t embraced it. I’m as reliant on the internet as anybody else and my job seems beyond impossible if we lose connection in the office. I also acknowledge that the incredible technologies have enabled international business and clearly we can’t travel the length and breadth of the country and world every time we need to speak to a client!

However, as much we embrace the unbelievable advances made in technology (arriving thick and fast), it’s important to maintain a level of humanity in all areas of our life. Take clients out for a drink or meal – engage with them not only by social media, but also in person. Sit around a table with your family and leave your phones in the lounge. Give children colouring books, not your mobile (it’s alarming how many children I’ve seen who can’t speak but who are very skilled on iPhones!)

One of the things about Boutique that appealed to me was its emphasis on people. We are actively encouraged to meet and chat with clients, media owners and journalists. There is a genuine desire to build lasting relationships and, as cliché as it sounds, make business personal.

There’s no replacing real life. That’s engaging.

 

Rajar results Q4 2014

February 10th, 2015 by Charley Downey


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The quarterly Rajar results provide a comprehensive update on the radio market, looking at both station performance and listening habits. The latest (Q4 2014) figures have been released and, as we anticipated, the results are interesting. The way in which audiences are consuming radio content is the key change in the market place but before detailing the latest findings on that, here’s some numbers…

Rajar have announced that 47.9 million adults (to put that in perspective, that’s 89.4% of the UK adult population) tuned into their favourite radio stations each week during the fourth quarter of 2014. This has increased by a whopping 237,000, soaring above Quarter 3’s 2014 figure. On average, people are spending 1.02 billion hours boogying/humming to their selected stations each week – that’s around of 21.3 hours per listener.

Alongside the overall increase in who’s listening, the reports details how people are listening.

Digital listening remains the constant change with more and more switching from traditional dialogue to modern digital methods. Roughly 26 million adults have access to a DAB receiver, which is up on 7% on last year’s figure. DAB accounts for 67% of the full 385 million digital listening hours, so it’s pretty much the way forward.  In addition, people tuning in digitally via DTV is currently at 12% with online listening sitting comfortably at 16%.

Digital listening is set to increase further after Q4 as a significant growth in new car sales has seen the volume of digital radios increase, so we expect this to impact further over the next 2 quarters.

And a quick overview of the UK’s beloved radio stations…

Firstly, Heart has remained the radio champ, solidifying its reign with four consecutive quarters at the top. With more than 9 million weekly listeners, it’s the leading national commercial station.  Capital UK falls closely behind with a respectable audience of 7.16 million, losing 2.5% of its weekly reach against the previous quarter. And despite losing a few listeners over the year, Classic FM is the third largest national station with 5.57 million. So all in all, it’s been a good year for our favourite stations.

The challenge ahead for radio is reaching a disparate listening network and ensuring content is available across a plethora of platforms rather than viewing them as a threat. Commercially, Global have addressed this head on with a new sales platform.. Can others follow?

If you want to take a look at the actual Rajar report, you can find it here.

Client Wins for Boutique

February 10th, 2015 by Thomas Selby


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It’s been a great start to the year! With five new digital client wins already under our belt, and a large, full service client win soon to be announced, 2015 looks to be an extremely busy and hugely successful time for Boutique.

We’re delighted to announce that Fortune Frenzy, Beads Direct, Be Protected Insurance, Lawyers United and Oakam Personal Finance have all joined the Boutique family.

The scale of this achievement should not be underestimated; some of the accounts are significant, and were won through fighting off stiff competition from some of the country’s largest, digital-specific agencies. It’s clear that our quality service, personal approach and focused strategy are working well for us!

Over the last 12 months we’ve refined our ethos and how we position ourselves to prospective clients. This new positioning – as a strategy and implementation agency – helps us get across the point of thinking and doing better. Simply being cheaper no longer cuts it.

Another key driver for growth has been client selection. We take the time to carefully select the businesses we approach; each company has been picked because they fit our skills and experience and, most importantly, excite our employees.

We know we’re well positioned to help growing entrepreneurial businesses thrive. Our own growth, of 30% YoY for the last 4 consecutive years, is testament to that. In the past 6 months we have added 5 new members of staff, all recruited to support both our won growth and our ability to service our clients growing needs.

We’re expecting big things for 2015, for both ourselves and our clients. After all, with the success we’ve had so far, our bullish attitude and our successful collaborative business model, who wouldn’t?

Six Nations Sweepstake

February 5th, 2015 by Charley Downey


©iStock.com/weareboutique

Here at Boutique, we love competitive sport and are no strangers to a good ol’ game of rugby. Considered rugby union’s greatest championship, the Six Nations kicks off tonight when Wales will tackle England in the Millennium Stadium, and we’re getting excited.

As competition is running high in the Boutique HQ (since our fitness challenge began) we have decided that going head to head in an office sweepstake is the perfect way to get involved with this year’s games. Will the Irish lose their crown, or will they remain victorious?

Twelve of us are taking part, so will be supporting in pairs. Of course, it’s all luck of the draw when it comes to a sweepstake, but it’s a way of keeping involved with the event and it also allows you to support a team you may not usually take an interest in! A bit of friendly competition is never a bad thing and, of course, it gives us something to natter about first thing on a Monday morning…as well as a whopping £12 for the winning pair.

We’re really looking forward to this year’s battle and will be cheering on our teams! Will you be watching?

I have issues – Rules for pitching agencies

February 5th, 2015 by Thomas Selby


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I have issues… serious ones.

We all do; constantly defining ourselves and working out who we are.

Everything needs its place, its own defined set of rules and parameters.

We define, rationalise and compare everything in a bid to understand the world around us and, more importantly, help others see and think the same as us.

It’s these same factors driving me to write this post. In an attempt to share my thoughts and rationalise some information, I’m going to use the power of comparisons to make my point.

We’ve conducted a recent survey asking senior marketing personnel about how and why they pitch out to agencies.

According to the survey, a whopping 92% of companies review their agency structure because of creative stagnation, closely followed by poor account management at 85%.

It’s a bit like dating; if you keep eating at the same restaurant every week and stay out of contact for long periods of time, you’re going to end up single.

Continual account reviews are a must. Keep listening to clients and challenge the status quo. Just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean it will work next time.

If your partner keeps hearing from their friends how much fun they are having on dates, they will start feeling like they are missing out. You’re going to end up single.

Another huge factor driving account reviews was a change of personnel (55%). Agencies must hang onto key personnel. We don’t own stock or machinery, our assets are people, ideas and talent. Taking time to select the best people and then retaining them is as important as trademarking a brand or patenting product. I’ve written a blog about this here – http://weareboutique.co.uk/general/five-of-the-best/

Be yourself and be consistent because no one wants to date a schizophrenic. You’re going to end up single.

The survey also found that over 80% of the time the incumbent has a good chance of retaining the business. Agencies should always re-pitch, unless the relationship is unsalvageable.

You never know if they might still have feelings for you, tackle the issues head on and win them back, otherwise you’re going to end up single.

We also know that just under 50% of businesses review their agency structure annually. Tracking the review dates for prospective clients is imperative for agencies targeting growth.

If you forget an anniversary you’re going to end up single. If you’re already single, make sure you go out on Valentine’s Day.

40% of clients moving to a new marketing role review immediately with a massive 80% doing so in the first four months. Agencies must stay in touch with clients throughout their careers – forming professional yet personal relationships is key. Get interested and take them out once in a while.

It’s pretty hard for me to draw a similarity here but burning bridges is never a good idea, you never know when you might bump into someone. Awkward……

Life, work, life, work, balance. etc. etc. etc. Now I’ve got the clichés out of the way I can get to the point. Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, so why should we put less effort into the relationships we build there than the ones we build at home?

People want to work with people they like so unless your clients are masochists, act like you’re dating.

 

 

The next 12 months

February 2nd, 2015 by Simon Bollon


Boutique II-154

At this time of year there’s an abundance of content about the last 12 months, the year ahead, what to expect and what will change. Having consumed several of these reports from agencies, clients, media owners and ‘thinkers’ I’ve pulled together some key points on what we at Boutique have identified as key considerations for our business, clients and partners in the year (or so) ahead…

Collaboration rules

We work with 21 different creative agencies across our client base and we cherish every relationship. It makes us better, makes the other agencies better and critically drives better results for clients through one, holistic, integrated approach to communications. When agencies work together, better results are achieved. We intend to further enhance those relationships and look to build more rewarding relationships with brilliant agencies.

Be close to creative

As above, collaboration matters and, in practise, that means us being as close to the creative as possible. Ensuring we understand the thought process and how to leverage creative in the media is vital to response. We’re not a creative agency, not by a long shot, but our granular level of how media works can, and is, important in assisting the creative thinking, so we continue to ensure we work closely with creative and often take part in the creative workshops. More holistic communication will make for better results.

Content… But not for content’s sake

Have you heard about content? It’s kind of a big deal right now. It’s important. Important for developing brand understanding, engagement creation, interaction and scaling equity as well as, when used correctly, being a powerful tool for organic search. But here’s the thing, don’t just do content for content’s sake. It must engage and reward whether that’s through entertainment, providing knowledge or being useful. Make sure it ticks those boxes and if it doesn’t, don’t bother. We’ve seen enough cats falling off window sills.

Strategy first

Obvious really, but you’d be surprised. A recent account win for us came from a strategy of ‘audience, proposition, media’, thinking about who we were talking to, how to talk to them, what we had to say and then finding the best media and how to use it. That was a diversification from their previous ‘buy media cheaply and build cover’ method. Price matters and buying power counts but, if you don’t have a compelling strategy, media is so fragmented – it just won’t work. If you see your agency as commoditising media, you’ve misunderstood the value of the modern, strategically focused media agency.

Data for the many?

The big and powerful have invested significantly in data so guess what? They need to monetize it. Talking about ‘big data’, how to understand it, use, plan and buy media accordingly off the back of data analytics is a key challenge for agencies… But it needs to be only a part of the process. Big Data from a broad set of clients is extremely useful and a powerful tool that can refine the planning and buying process. Knowledge, experience, creative thinking and a personal touch is still vital. A reliance on data will create thoughtless campaigns lacking in creativity, so a combination to include systems approaches is important.

Programmatic won’t change your world

Programmatic has a place… But people and brains are still critical to effective marketing. There are clients and campaigns where the value of programmatic buying in broadcast media may be relevant but to maximise campaign efficiency, personal input is critical. I can’t see that changing in the short term.

People change

The growth in age of the UK population, the change in buying patterns, the diversification of demographics and ethnicity; society has changed dramatically, and don’t expect those changes to slow down. Understanding customers, who they are, where they are, how they buy, interact and engage is critical. That takes me back to strategy first. Understand, then plan.

Don’t follow the big boys

The big brands have deep pockets. They also tend to have very high engagement levels, brand equity, social reach and influence. Too many times smaller brands see what the big boys are doing and want a piece of the action. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it isn’t. Be mindful of your position in the consumer’s mind. Sure, look to change it if that’s right, but don’t be Rola Cola and expect engagement achieved by Coca Cola. Create your own strategies based around your brand, don’t copy.

We believe in right agency, better results. Clients who work with agencies that match their thinking, beliefs, culture and processes will deliver heady results, so ensure you have the right agency that understands you.