Abacus is an integrated marketing agency in London – we work with a diverse range of clients, including blue-chip corporates such as Canon, Kuehne + Nagel and Bloomberg, as well as with lots of start-up enterprises and SMEs (small to medium-sized businesses). The needs of each client are of course always going to be unique – however, the need for our services is largely determined by the size of the client we are working with, and they tend to fit into one of these two categories. We tend to work with forward-thinking, ambitious businesses who understand the benefits of working with a passionate and trustworthy marketing agency such as Abacus.
Why does marketing support need to be integrated? Well, of course it doesn’t, but there is a huge benefit to working with a media-neutral integrated agency like Abacus, as they are able to look at the big picture in order to identify the right f strategies to deliver the best results for your organisation, rather than try to push you into a solution relating to the type of media they offer. We often talk of efficacy and efficiency at Abacus, as this sums up what the word “strategy” really means (i.e. the best use of scarce resources to achieve a stated objective).
Invest in a bolt-on marketing team
By supplementing your existing internal team with an external integrated marketing agency, you gain access to a professional network of skills and expertise which works as a bolt-on marketing department for your organisation without massive overhead, not to mention all the effort and risk from such an investment.
Nimble, fast-moving businesses often operate in reactive environments, which means making time for focusing on marketing strategy is challenging. An agency is able to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, ears and brains to create and implement a structured and efficient approach to the strategic marketing process, ensuring that time and resource is utilised in the most effective way.
Working with an agency enables you to draw on their experience of delivering similar work for many other businesses with similar ambitions, growth organisations which have probably encountered similar challenges and problems to ones you are going through yourself at this time or are likely to encounter in future.
Before an effective marketing strategy can be determined, you really need to have a business plan and financial forecast in place. If you don’t, you can still be successful, but it will demand a more intuitive approach and a large dollop of luck – or incredible entrepreneurial talent and a workaholic mentality. Thinking about it, all of these factors are probably useful in a growth-oriented organisation..!
The business plan provides clarity on the direction of travel for your business – today, tomorrow, next month, next year – as well as planning around exit strategies. You really do not want to embark on any marketing campaign nor allocate budget to any activity which is not taking you in this general direction.
The financial forecast is crucial in order to assess what your sales goals are to be, and therefore to understand what size of budget needs to be allocated to deliver a marketing strategy of a scale to achieve these goals.
Choosing the right marketing agency
It can be tricky to choose the right marketing agency. Some agencies are strong on strategy but weak on creative. Others are strong on creative but lack strategic nous. Agencies that are good at strategy and creative can often be poor at delivery. A high-quality integrated marketing agency delivers exceptionally well across all three elements – strategic planning, creative concepts and campaign delivery. And if they are a trustworthy partner, pleasant to work with and offer great value for money too, then you have all the bases covered. This is what we always aim to offer at Abacus Marketing.
An integrated marketing agency
An integrated marketing agency is able to take your business all the way from planning to execution. Working with an agency in this way is more efficient and achieves greater coherency across all your marketing activities, which is more challenging to achieve when multiple agencies are contributing to planning and delivery, especially true for start-ups and SMEs where time is such a precious commodity. When working with one agency from the outset, they should become embedded within your organisation and feel as if they are a virtual extension of your marketing team.
Another way of describing an integrated marketing agency is that they are able to operate across all target market audiences (that means, B2C, B2B and complex distribution channels), all marketing communication platforms (such as website design and development, videos and films, brochures and leaflets, exhibition stands and corporate presentations), and all sales activation activities (such as advertising, digital marketing (such as PPC, SEO, social and email) direct marketing, event marketing, promotions and internal communications). The one thing we always recommend, however, is that clients appoint a specialist agency to deliver PR-related activities. It has never been our experience that a marketing agency can deliver good quality PR work – or vice versa.
Creating a marketing plan
Whether you are working with a number of different agencies, or have decided to work with just one integrated agency to deliver all your marketing needs, be clear on the outcomes that need to be achieved at each stage in the process. The consultancy phase must come first in order to establish the fundamentals of the marketing plan in order to create a viable marketing strategy. This will create a plan with realistic goals and budgets. Whether there is a new market to explore, a different demographic to engage with, or a review on product development in question, the consultancy phase will help identify the right course of action, and then put the right plan in place to achieve what is wanted. Here are some key things to consider:
• You can’t be all things to all people, so do you know who your customers are? You and your agency need a clear picture of who you are trying to reach. Do your team share that clear picture? Everyone in your business needs absolute clarity about who each product and service is aimed at in order to service that demographic effectively. You might have a few different types of customer, so how do you find ways to ensure your communications are relevant to these different types? Have you looked at defining your segments both demographically and psychographically? In other words, do you also understand both their rational and their emotional needs?
• Research who your main competitors are and find out what they are doing well. Sign up to their newsletters and social media channels, request a brochure, browse their website regularly, email, call and even visit a showroom if they have one. How does their customer experience differ from yours? You might spot a detail or process that you can emulate. You can learn so much from your marketplace. We consider it to be one of the best forms of research for delivering useful and cost-effective insight.
• What are the key features and benefits of your product or service? We would advise against trying to turn that into a traditional unique selling proposition (aka USP). Unique is always challenging characteristic to live up to in a mature and crowded marketplace especially and remember that your competitors are also regularly researching your proposition, and can easily adjust their product development to counteract your USP so it can soon be out of date. Instead, focus on the key attributes of your products and services. A USP these days is really an amalgamation of everything you do – that is why having a clear brand proposition you can communicate to the world is so important.
• Is your team happy and motivated? Do they understand your vision for the business and are they on board? Are they getting appropriate training opportunities and ongoing performance appraisals? Look further afield than your immediate team. Do your partners and associates understand your vision and really want to contribute to it? Your suppliers, contractors and freelancers all need to share your ethos and values in order to deliver the desired brand experience at every customer touch point. Your immediate and extended team are all brand ambassadors for your organisation, and you need them to be aligned with your principles and standards. This is an area for concern for many SMEs. It often takes an external consultant to come in and see things as they really are, and we have helped a number of our clients to overcome challenging internal issues before they are able to implement a successful marketing strategy.
• The brand pyramid is integral to planning and implementing effective marketing campaigns. Being able, to sum up what your business is all about in a few words that incorporate your basic values, passion and purpose clarifies for both your internal team and your target market what you’re really about. Think of a big brand that you admire; you can probably think of a few words, phrases and statements that sum it up perfectly. If you asked a friend to do the same, would their words be similar? What really resonates with your brand? This is where you get to create a unique entity that mirrors your own values as a person. Your business is unique because of the individuals leading it, and these personalities are integral to the business. The resulting business environment can’t be recreated by anyone else, and customers are choosing to engage with you, so identify those defining characteristics and values, and ensure everyone on the team lives and breathes them. This matters much more than most people realise. We all think we are rational human beings who are totally in charge of their choices. Well, the uncomfortable truth is that we are all emotionally-driven, and we think psychologically if you will excuse the pun, rather than just logically. This means that our decisions are predominantly driven by our subconscious, rather than just by our conscious.
Marketing company in London
If you’re interested in finding out more about how working with a marketing company in London could be of benefit to your business, please contact our Strategy Director, Stephen Brown, on 020 3858 7836 or email him at [email protected] – you can also visit our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk. We are happy to meet up for a chemistry meeting without cost or obligation to discuss your business challenges in more detail so that you can make a more informed decision about whether we are the right integrated marketing agency in London for you.