How to livestream like Lady Gaga

What if this is it?

What if this is as good as it gets? A lifetime wearing face masks – or rushing back home to find the one you forgot, just so you can buy a loaf of bread. A life wearing baggy pants with a few cooking stains for your most important client meeting because your lockdown tum-down is mercifully hidden by a Zoom screen. 

And what if we are faced with a lifetime of Vera repeats and no new middle of the road middle-class BBC dramas to help us escape the humdrum of our lives for an hour every Monday at 9pm? And god forbid what if temporary lockdown home schooling just becomes schooling?

What if I never get to see Take That in concert again apart from a live stream into my living room brought to me by a meerkat?  

Every crowd-based event that we once took for granted will look and feel so very different. Theatre, comedy, musicals, gigs, opera, D-list celeb pantomimes, the races, awards ceremonies, corporate networking or sales events and big brand launches may never be the same again. No crowd surfing, no back slapping, no more big, bright, brash hats,  no more he’s behind yous, no sales spin and swopping of business cards, no heckling, no Rule Britannia and no branded freebie bags full of stress balls and plastic pens or the obligatory after event drinks with new-found best friends.

Instead we will sit on our comfy sofas in our comfy pants and log on and tune in – trying to get involved and get in the mood. Trying our best to look engaged and immersed.

So how does it feel to attend a virtual event? Flat or fabulous? Who loves or loathes them? As a planner how to you make it a success and as a business or brand how do you make them lucrative?

Planning a virtual event a few years ago would have sounded so futuristic and so out there. But in our era of Tik-Toking teenagers and crypto coin dealing through to online zoo and museum visits, it doesn’t sound out there at all anymore.

Tech and social media have allowed the smallest of gigs to the biggest of conferences to cut costs and carbon footprints and open up the invitation to a boundary-less, limitless worldwide community. Lady Gaga’s star-studded ‘One World: Together at Home’ virtual concert was livestreamed to millions of people in their homes across the world. Easy for celebrities with trillions of Twitter and Instagram followers. But how do businesses get people to log on, live stream and live tweet without strings of number ones, award nominations and record labels backing them?

Not so easy. But here are 5 tips to get you going.

Tip 1 – It’s all in the preparation

Your plan of attack should be to first answer these 10 questions to form your event concept and strategy.

  1. What kind of experience do you hope to deliver?
  2. Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
  3. Where do I want the content to be seen?
  4. Will access be gated or free?
  5. When is the best time for the event?
  6. Will you require event registration?
  7. How will you promote the event?
  8. Do you plan to work with an advertiser or other partner?
  9. Will people still have access to the event once it’s over?
  10. What KPIs and data do you plan to track?

Tip 2 – Timing is of the essence

Getting the date and time right is essential, so do your research. Before you commit or send out invites to save the date to your network, make sure there are no events or holidays that would compete with yours. Check analytics to see when your community is typically online or consider posting a poll for preferred dates.

Don’t forget time zones if you are going global – pick a time that works for as many of your customers and followers as possible. It’s useful to ensure content is accessible after the live presentations for those who couldn’t make it.

Tip 3 – Shout if from the rooftops and laptops

Be focused on the key selling points of your event and shout it loud in all your marketing and social media. This could anything from a gift incentive, a noteworthy speaker or an opportunity to network to discounted pricing, live demos or a sneak preview of an exclusive new product or service.

Registrations tend to peak 2-3 weeks before an event so maybe ramp up marketing activity around this time, with LinkedIn’s InMail ads which may be a better way to extend invitations than impersonal sponsored posts.

Take advantage of the social media tools available such as creating an event countdown in Instagram Stories or list your event on sites like Eventbrite or wherever your audience will be surfing and searching.

Speakers can become influencers and brand ambassadors, so provide them with the details they need to share and shout about your event with their army of followers.

No virtual event should be without a link to a registration form or your Instagram or LinkedIn profile and don’t forget to share an event hashtag to drive conversations online.

Tip 4 – Hitches and glitches

It may seem obvious but rehearse and test. Test your Internet connection, rehearse again and refine and get speakers do the same. Prepare backups of visuals, demos and presentations in case tech lets you down.

Be mindful that some guests may not be tech savvy so anticipate the troubles people may encounter by preparing easy to follow guides or FAQs that are easy to access.

Tip 5 – Get engaged

Create opportunities for engagement by getting people involved. Just because it’s not face to face doesn’t mean it can’t be personal.

Encourage questions and comments through a chat tool, ask people to participate in polls or quizzes, encourage live tweeting, take requests and invite suggestions. And at the end of the event, ask for feedback.

Failing all that, ask Beyoncé to sponsor your event.

Ten sectors that will thrive post-COVID – from the obvious to the unexpected

Coronavirus has turned our world upside down.

The UK and global economy has experienced a seismic shock in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – and much has been spoken about the losses, both financial and social.

But while doom and gloom has understandably overshadowed any good news in recent times, commercial life has not hit the buffers.

Many companies have adapted like chameleons to the new business environment, restructuring and reorganising to cater for new needs. Furthermore, as we look forward, new opportunities and creative solutions will emerge.

Although we may not have a crystal ball, we have identified ten sectors that are already showing signs of recovery, growth, or that have good reasons to feel upbeat about their post-Covid futures.

1. DIY beauty

For many of us, lockdown brought with it the jettisoning of our daily grooming and beauty standards. Some found this liberating, others discombobulating.

For those of us that fell into the latter category, a desperation to maintain beauty routines translated into a surge in DIY beauty treatments.

According to data from IMRG, sales of beauty products during the week commencing 15 March rose by 32 per cent year-on-year. McKinsey, meanwhile, reports that online sales of prestige-brand nail polish in the UK have seen double-digit growth every week since lockdown began in March. In the US, Nielsen reported year-on-year rises in the sales of hair dye and hair clippers by 23 and 166 per cent, respectively, in the first week of April.

Returning to the salon will be a priority for many – when they are able to do so. But with money tight, and social distancing concerns over professional treatments, regular salon visits for others, for the foreseeable future at least, may become a thing of the past.

This may mean a flourishing post-Covid market for DIY beauty – from digital makeup classes to online cosmetic products – as we reassess what treatments we can do ourselves at home, for a fraction of the cost.

2. Home fitness

No gym? No problem. While gym memberships were put on hold during lockdown, the world of home exercise has boomed.

In fact demand for home fitness equipment has soared by 170 per cent globally, according to Research and Markets.

All the while we have seen a surge in people following workout routines taught by fitness coaches online, from the nation’s PE teacher Joe Wicks to Hollywood super-trainer Tracy Anderson.

Will we return to sweating en masse again when life returns to a semblance of normality?

Not all of us according to David Minton, director of market intelligence firm Leisure Database Company. He predicts that one in five of us may forgo our gym membership for good in the new post-Covid world.

Where one door closes…

3. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has become big business, and as we continue our ‘industry 4.0’ journey, its strategic importance is sure to only increase.

The trend towards an increasing dependence on digital tools and new working models will only accelerate post-Covid, with more companies moving services online and more employees working from home, using personal mobile devices to connect to home networks.

Consequently, despite the tightening of purse strings, it’s an investment that cannot be easily dispensed with.

Indeed, research by investment publication LearnBonds has revealed that 68 per cent of major organisations plan to increase their cybersecurity spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The growth of cyber insurance might also be expected to continue, as companies and individuals alike exploit all the possible avenues to mitigate loss.

4. Virtual meetings

Virtual interaction has become a mainstay of our daily lives in recent weeks, and so it should come as no surprise that the video conferencing sector has seen phenomenal growth.

At the end of April Microsoft Teams had 75 million daily active users, up 70 per cent from just six weeks earlier. It is the company’s fastest-growing business app ever.

Zoom, meanwhile, reported 169 per cent year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2020 and expects full-year sales to increase by $623m in 2020.

As we emerge from the crisis, many of behavioural changes are likely to endure – we’re unlikely to be attending real world events or having regular face-to-face business meetings, for example, any time soon. What’s more, we have become a lot more familiar and comfortable with using these video conferencing platforms.

Tech providers are recognising the opportunities that lie ahead and are investing in their platforms apace in a bid to attract new customers, and to stay one step ahead of the competition. Check out our recent guide on how to engage customers in this new virtual world.

5. E-commerce and logistics

Thousands of businesses have shifted their focus to online sales during Covid-19, and the impact on the e-commerce sector is set to be huge.

According to analysts at Edge Retail Insights, the pandemic is expected to add £5.3bn to UK online sales this year – and significantly, industry experts are not expecting a retraction to pre-Covid levels.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has almost certainly had a lasting impact on the retail sector, reshaping consumer shopping habits, and the priorities for retailers and brands,” said Xian Wang, Senior Director of Product and Content at Edge by Ascential. 

The warehousing and logistics market, which was buoyant prior to the pandemic, will also become stronger as our reliance upon this core infrastructure intensifies.

6. E-learning

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the e-learning sector was fast growing. Lockdown accelerated this growth overnight, with demand for e-learning platforms reaching unprecedented levels.

According to the research firm Global Market Insights, the size of the market it is now set to exceed $375 billion by 2026.

And it hasn’t just been school pupils and university students turning to online resources. People in all walks of life, across all age groups, have been taking courses on everything from floristry to fishing.

The demand for smart education and learning solutions is expected to continue as digital technologies proliferate, techniques such as gamification and adaptive learning advance, and the benefits of easy and cost-effective access to educational content are increasingly recognised.

7. Healthcare

Over recent weeks, companies around the world have been racing to develop treatments for Covid-19 – and governments have been committed to supporting them.

As we emerge from the crisis, the widespread desire to spend more on health will remain and demand for healthcare products and services can only intensify.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies have been leading the charge of late – and infectious disease prevention and treatment research is sure to continue with a vengeance – but opportunities for innovation and growth exist across a wide range of disciplines.

At Willis Towers Watson’s pre-Covid Health & Benefits Disruption Event, AXA Marketing and Innovation Director Gordon Henderson told delegates that healthcare “has changed more rapidly in the last two decades, than at any time in the last 2,000 years”.

New technologies, for example, are transforming how we think about healthcare. Amid Covid-19 fears, many patients have been forced to turn to virtual consultations, and this may help to trigger a boom in telemedicine platforms over the next few years. Other forms of digital and remote healthcare services, for both physical and mental health, may see a similar uplift.

The LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index found that professionals in healthcare are more confident about the prospects of their industry two years from now than the UK average.

8. Gaming

Video games have become a mainstay of the home entertainment industry. The sector continues to enjoy high-volume sales, and rather than seeing revenues wane in the wake of the pandemic, it has instead received a lockdown boost.

The immersive nature of gaming has offered welcome escapism. And while there have been understandable concerns that this binge may lead to an increase in gaming addiction, it is sure to have also opened the door to an even larger market of users.

Microsoft and Sony will officially launch their new games consoles later this year, which will trigger the next generation of game creations.

The industry must of course continue its innovation trajectory if it’s to retain its place at the heart of our entertainment media, but while creativity abounds, the sky’s the limit.

9. Cleaning and hygiene

As coronavirus spread, demand for cleaning products and services unsurprisingly surged.

Good hygiene practices have become so engrained in our day-to-day lives that returning to a state where we wash our hands, or disinfect work surfaces, less seems improbable

The future for companies that sell and distribute cleaning and hygiene products, or offer cleaning services, consequently seems a safe one.

Both the British Cleaning Council (BCC) and the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA), however, have issued warnings about profiteering.

“The public needs to beware of some organisations outside the established cleaning and hygiene sector playing on people’s fears about Coronavirus to take advantage of the unprecedented demand for cleaning and hygiene products and services,” said BCC chair Paul Thrupp.

“We are aware of many instances where the products and services they offer have been exceptionally overpriced, with no kind of guarantee that they will do the job.”

10. Augmented reality

Post-Covid, augmented reality (AR) – which provides digital enhancements to the real world – may have an important role to play in retail, manufacturing and healthcare.

Augmented reality in retail can render items in 3D to give buyers a more experiential experience of products in their home, online environment. In the post-Covid retail world, this may be embraced with vigour.

Highlighting the benefits this can deliver, earlier this year, Burberry launched a new augmented reality (AR) shopping tool, linked to Google search technology. When searching for Burberry items using Google Search on their phone, consumers can see an AR version of the product at scale against other real-life objects. 

In manufacturing, AR can be deployed as part of the design, prototyping, inspection and maintenance processes, while in healthcare AR can help surgeons visualise areas on which they intend to operate.

According to an industry report by market research company Technavio, the global augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market is expected to grow by $125 billion between now and 2024.

The social media route to getting your sales pipeline back on track

Businesses around the world have been hit hard by COVID-19.

For many, the last few months have been some of the most testing on record, but as the UK enters the next stage of the pandemic, the focus now turns to getting back on track – and that means injecting life back into the sales pipeline.

So how can social media help?

Social media should have already been an essential part of your marketing strategy, but with business being conducted almost entirely online for a large chunk of 2020, now is the time to take full advantage of the shift to digital and use it to translate leads into sales.

Here, we share seven key tips to using social media to drive sales in the wake of the pandemic.

1. Choose the platform that’s best for your business

Research by GlobalWebIndex found 71 per cent of company decision-makers say social media is influential when researching a new product or service for their business, while more than a third use it to discover new products and services.

It’s easy to create a company account on most social media platforms. But do you really need a presence on all of them?

If your target audience tends to be men aged 40-plus, Pinterest might not be worth your time. Similarly, Snapchat might seem like a good idea but will you be regularly creating ad-hoc video content to share with users?

Analyse your current customers – their age, gender and location – and think of the channels where they are most likely to be found. Scrutinise how your competitors do social too – what platforms do they use? Do they get many engagements or is it a wasted effort? What type of posts are most successful on each channel?

For B2B companies, LinkedIn tends to be the key platform, as well as Twitter and YouTube. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. There needs to be a balance between being visible and not spreading yourself too thin.

2. Provide engaging content

While you want your social media strategy to generate sales, being too overtly promotional will have the opposite effect.

No one wants to follow a company that constantly puts out sales messages – it can be regarded as irritating, boring and rarely offers any real value to consumers. It can also risk driving customers and prospects into the arms of competitors.

What’s more, it can impact the reach of your posts. If no one is engaging with your posts due to them being too salesy, social media algorithms – the way posts are sorted on a user’s timeline based on relevancy – simply won’t prioritise your content in a user’s feed. Fundamentally, the more engagement your posts get, the more likely they are to be seen.

So how do you get your content in front of potential leads?

Brands should look to follow the 80:20 rule – 80 per cent original content (such as advice features, infographics and videos) and relevant third-party content (such as news stories and blogs), and 20 per cent promotional content.

By creating your own advice-led content, it also helps position your company as an expert in its field, offering customers and prospects insightful information on the subjects they are interested in.

If you want to use your content for lead generation, consider making a proportion of it gated. That is, ask prospects to provide valuable data, such as their name, email address and company in exchange for viewing marketing assets, such as whitepapers.

3. Show your personality

Many B2B companies fall into the trap of just posting ‘business-only’ content on their social channels, but ultimately everyone is human and ‘personal’ content will invariably achieve higher engagement rates.

People want to know who they are dealing with, so involve staff in your social media postings. Share mini ‘meet the team’ videos or a Q&A with your MD to demonstrate to prospects that you aren’t a faceless brand with no personality, but rather a knowledgeable group of individuals that they can trust.

Shout about your award wins, new appointments and contract wins – but at the same time, share images that reveal your company’s culture such as your office pet or your participation in charitable events.

Let your followers get to know you.

4. Share customer stories and testimonials

As an unbiased, trustworthy voice, customer case studies and testimonials can be a powerful weapon in the battle to convert leads to sales.

Third-party endorsement helps to prove the value and success of your company’s products and services, strengthening the reputation of your brand.

Share posts linking to your website case studies page, post customer quotes with attractive visuals and retweet or share positive feedback received via your social platforms.

Short video testimonials can also act as a social media magnet. A real person associating their name and brand with your company helps to build brand trust and authenticity, as well as providing your sales team with content to share when pitching to a potential customer.

5. Employee advocacy

Employees are your company’s greatest advocates. By encouraging staff to promote company news and content, you are not only expanding your brand reach, but also helping build trust among your target audience. Indeed, research has revealed consumers are more likely to trust posts from individuals rather than from organisations.

A sales team that is active on social media can also have a direct bottom line impact. Research has found 73 per cent of sales professionals that use social media as part of their sales process outperform their peers, with 23 per cent more likely to exceed their quota. Moreover, the top-performing sales reps who close 51 per cent more deals than their peers say social media platforms are ‘very important’ to their success.

An investment in LinkedIn Sales Navigator is also worth considering, enabling your sales team to reach out to prospects outside of their LinkedIn network and opening the door to opportunities based on previous search history, profile views and saved leads. Sales Navigator can also integrate with your CRM to help better manage your sales pipeline.

6. Run paid ads

More than 27 million people use LinkedIn across the UK – that’s more than 27 million business professionals you could be engaging with every day.

Not every one of those users will be interested in your products and services, but the network can empower you to reach out to a highly relevant audience. Its advertising solution offers refined targeting, reaching professionals by job title, company industry, company size, user age, job function and more. 

When compared to Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn advertising is more expensive, but it typically delivers the best results for B2B companies.

7. Monitor social interactions and engage

Social listening is a frequently underused tool in generating sales from social media.

There are times when social media users will voice their need for a particular product or service, asking their followers or connections for recommendations. This calls for a swift response.

Some might not be asking for product advice, instead posting about a topic relevant to your business. It is still important to engage and get involved in these conversations.

Social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social, can simplify this process. Just set up the relevant keywords and hashtags and reply to those that are most appropriate.

The new world of virtual sales and marketing – 6 practical tips for engaging customers online

With the majority of us still working from home, the digital world has become the go-to means of interacting and communicating with clients and prospects, almost overnight.

And now, as we emerge from the crisis, we can expect many of the changes to customer behaviour to remain in the collective psyche, at least for the foreseeable. None of us are likely to be attending industry tradeshows, real world events or regular face-to-face meetings any time soon.

Indeed, looking forward, recent research conducted by McKinsey found that B2B companies now regard digital interactions as two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.

The flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness of virtual meetings, events and webinars are undeniable. But the lack of real life interaction can also be very challenging.

Most of us can relate to the side-splitting ‘conference call in real life’ video that went viral, and it served to highlight the difficulties of communicating in a virtual world.

With this in mind, we bring you six practical considerations for sales and marketing professionals who may be less than familiar with some of the hurdles and pitfalls of engaging prospects online.

1. Find a platform fit for purpose

A successful meeting, presentation or event can be made or broken by the platform used.

There is no single best solution however, nor a one-size-fits-all. It very much depends on how you intend to use it – and it is important to determine this at the very outset.

Are you looking for a general conferencing solution, a platform to host non-interactive ‘webcast’ presentations, interactive ‘webinars’ or more expansive virtual events?

TechRadar have recently published helpful guides to the virtues of some of the leading video conferencing software and webinar tools.

The functionality of webinar platforms, such as Zoom, and WebinarJam, is becoming ever more sophisticated and these can now be used for bespoke events. But for events that may involve hundreds of participants, a wide variety of virtual spaces, virtual exhibitions, conferences, presentations and roundtable discussions, dedicated event software such as INXPO, Hopin or VFairs offers the more appropriate solution.

Furthermore, consideration should be given to the customisation functionality. To what extent can your company’s branding be integrated across the platform? This can be particularly important for virtual events, where a consistent brand experience is paramount.

An ability to capture and record an event can also be important, allowing attendees to access the information you’ve shared with them at a later date.

2. Make your customer’s experience a visual and interactive one

In the real world environment, the speaker will generally be the focal point of presentations.

But in the virtual world, the focus will invariably be on slides, either as the principal visual aid in webinars or as a tool to help reinforce key messages in one-to-one sales presentations. This makes the need for presentation visuals to be all the more dynamic. Leave your audience’s screen static for too long and you risk them switching off.

The use of multimedia here – from charts and web pages to videos and animations – can offer a powerful antidote to the monotony of traditional presentations, and it can go a long way to boosting audience engagement. Think of presentations in the virtual world as a ‘visual magnet’.

Most video conferencing platforms will also allow you to run live polls, with the results display graphically back to the audience, and interactive Q&As that can allow more experienced speakers to adapt their presentations on the fly.

3. Set up to minimise distraction

Did you see Professor Robert Kelly’s children gate-crashing his live BBC interview about South Korea? He managed to keep his composure, but it was far from easy.

Taking steps to avoid interruption is important, but it is just one aspect of ensuring a good set-up to minimise distraction.

Whether you’re in a sales meeting or presenting a webinar, if your audience have to work hard to hear or see you, you will soon lose their attention. Ensure your internet speed can handle your VOIP connection and consider a USB microphone, which will generally provide clearer audio than a laptop’s in-built mic. A room with soft furnishings will also help to reduce echo.

Position your eyes level with your webcam to give the illusion of ‘making eye contact’, make sure you’re in a well-lit environment and consider your background carefully. If you’re struggling to find a suitably neutral and professional backdrop, your video conferencing software will normally feature a background blur option to help ensure you remain the focus of attention.

Most important of all, make sure to test your set-up thoroughly.

4. Less is more to keep ‘screen time’ energy levels high

In a virtual sales meeting, it is highly likely that your prospects will be on webcam – and because they can be heard and observed, it will be generally easier for you to retain their attention.

Equally, however, people don’t tend to have the same attention span in front of their screens. Keeping your presentation tight, and the pace and energy levels high, is even more important in this environment than in the real world.

With this in mind, particular attention should be paid to the structure of the content you present. It is advisable to break it down into three or four key topic areas and to keep the detail clear, simple to understand, relevant and focused on where it is likely offer most value.

5. Enable networking without a handshake

Networking opportunities remain one of the key event drivers for event delegates – so virtual events calls for virtual networking.

Even relatively simple platforms will offer live chat streams, allowing attendees to communicate with one another or to ask questions of the speaker.

Encouraging interaction on these streams, however, can be difficult, with questions often limited to the likes of “is anyone having problems with their audio?” Adding a Twitter feed can help overcome this, allowing people to communicate in a way they’re more familiar with.

Platforms such as Hopin will allow you to create dedicated networking spaces, where attendees with an interest in a specific topic can participate in video discussion groups. Using event registration data, you can also link attendees with similar interests and personally invite them to relevant group sessions.

6. Promote, promote, promote

The challenges of securing a virtual meeting with a sales prospect remain the same as for a real world face-to-face.

Webinars and virtual events, however, call for active promotion – multiple communications across multiple channels, including email marketing, social media and website banners.

An important, but frequently overlooked, consideration here is the tech savvy nature of prospective attendees. Virtual events may run the risk of turning technophobes away. Clearly signposted support prior to the event, in the form of FAQs and contact details for those that can help overcome technical issues, can help to boost registrations and your final attendee numbers.

5 reasons for businesses to (still) be cheerful

Switch on the TV or cast an eye over our newspapers business pages and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the global business ship is on a one-way nose dive to the ocean floor.

We have become accustomed to a forbidding drumbeat of bleak news continuing day after day.

But while the coronavirus pandemic has indeed given the global economy a seismic shock, we should never lose sight of the power of positive thinking – it has long been the cornerstone of business success.

The current situation will inevitably test the resolve of even the most sanguine among us, but in a bid to boost business spirit just a notch, we’ve outlined five reasons to retain a sense of optimism as we set our sights on the post-pandemic landscape.

This is a health crisis, not a financial crisis

This isn’t a banking liquidity crisis like the one we saw in 2008, which caused banks to stop lending. The banks are in a relatively strong position and money should continue to flow into the economy.

Although bank credit can never make an insolvent company solvent, it remains vital in helping to keep the wheels of business moving.

What’s more, this means we can still harbour hope of a V-shaped recovery – a steep decline followed by rapid upturn – according to Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane.

“There is a debate about which letter of the alphabet will best describe the path of the economy,” he said in a speech at the end of June.

“It is early days, but my reading of the evidence is so far, so V.”

Other economists may have refuted this, but Haldane repeated this assertion to MPs on July 20.

Life may be still be tough for a little while, but an upswing will come, and we can take comfort in this.

Government stimulus will help business bounce back

In a bid to protect the economy throughout the downturn, the Office for Budget Responsibility is estimating the final bill for the UK government will stand at more than £300 billion.

We can reasonably expect further initiatives from the Chancellor as we strive to bounce back from the economic malaise. According to the ‘Bailout for Business after Coronavirus’ report from the Institute for Government, former No.10 adviser Giles Wilkes argues that the cost of supporting business through the crisis is affordable if it helps us return to economic growth.

And governments throughout the European Union are also implementing a variety of fiscal measures while the US, which has long been a catalyst for global economic growth, has approved stimulus packages totalling around $3 trillion.

No return to austerity

Beyond the UK government’s more immediate stimulus measures, what economic policies can we expect it to adopt as we look over the horizon?

Many economists have argued that the austerity measures introduced after the 2008 financial crisis exacerbated the economic downturn. But this strategy, it appears, will not be repeated.

“I think the economy will bounce back strongly, I think that this government will want to encourage that bounce back in all kinds of ways,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson proclaimed in a press conference.

He added that austerity “will certainly not be part of our approach.”

In another speech in Dudley, he reaffirmed his intentions.

“We are not going to try to cheese-pare our way out of trouble, because the world has moved on since 2008.”

This should come as a welcome boost to help encourage both consumer and business spending – and this will ultimately prove the driving force for our economic recovery.

The lights of commerce will keep burning

As businesses come to terms with the post-Covid landscape, spending plans will increasingly fall under the microscope.

However, history and shown us that while many may choose to batten down the hatches, there are others that, in times of crisis, seize the moment to lay down the foundations for their future success – sustaining, or even doubling down, their investments in innovation, marketing and growth. They recognise that the cost of not doing so far exceeds the benefits of any short-term savings.

As Angela Ahrendts said during her time as CEO of Burberry: “I was taught to never waste a good recession.”

These are the businesses that will not only gain a vital competitive edge and increase market share, but they are the ones that will also act as a catalyst for recovery, helping us to keep the global cogs of commerce moving.

Fostering the spirit of togetherness and ingenuity

Over the past few extraordinary months, the world of commerce was forced to adapt to new routines, new strategies, and new ways of communicating and servicing clients. At the same time, companies and entrepreneurs alike made vital social contributions to help us through the crisis – just when we needed them the most.

Employees, meanwhile, remained dedicated to the cause. Productivity among our UK workforce did not fall away, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. A survey by Willis Towers Watson found that two-thirds of companies had more than 75 per cent of employees working remotely – but only 15 per cent felt that this had had a material, negative impact.

The agility, ingenuity and togetherness has been truly remarkable and it should serve as a reminder of just what is possible when our backs are against the wall. If these virtues are channelled back into driving business success in our post-Covid world, we can rest assured that our economy will return to the fast lane sooner than many doommongers will have us believe.

The good, the bad and the ugly: brand behaviour during COVID-19

Getting the message, tone, language and style of marketing campaigns on point is vital to protecting a brand’s reputation – and during a crisis, the care and consideration that must be given to this is magnified.

Are you being empathetic? Is it a positive move? Could it be seen as insensitive or tone-deaf?

Ultimately, the coronavirus pandemic has demanded new approaches and campaigns that were planned before COVID may no longer work. KFC UK, for example, launched an ad campaign back in February that involved the licking of fingers – lots of it actually. In the current climate, where there is a heightened focus on hand hygiene, the ads were seen as inappropriate and attracted a number of complaints, leading to the campaign being pulled.

We’ve looked at some of the brands that have got it right during COVID, and those that got it (very) wrong.  

The good

1. Budweiser – Whassup in the COVID era

Remember the days when people would answer the phone to each other with ‘whassup?’ from the iconic 1999 Budweiser advert?

Well, it could soon be doing the rounds again over Zoom and Facetime thanks to Budweiser UK.

The company reworked the classic advert for quarantine, using footage from the original version and re-recorded audio.

It does have a purpose other than making you want to buy beer though. With one in five Brits living alone during lockdown, the advert shows one friend checking in on another to make sure he’s ok, with the final words on screen being ‘Buds support buds. Check on yours #TogetherAtADistance’.

The company also launched ‘Save Pub Life’, an initiative to safeguard the future of pubs during lockdown through the purchasing of a giftcard which can be used at pubs when they reopen. The giftcard value will be then matched by Budweiser and the total amount will go direct to businesses within two weeks.

So go on. Give your mate a call, see ‘whassup?’ and put a date in the diary for a pub visit in (hopefully) the not too distant future.

2. Brewdog – swapping beer for sanitiser

When lockdown measures were introduced in the last week of March, alcohol sales increased substantially, with an additional £104 million spent compared the previous week.

So you’d think alcohol companies would be ramping up production, right? Not exactly. Aberdeenshire-based beer giant, Brewdog, decided to transform its distillery and turn its hand at making hand sanitiser to help with the national shortage.

To date, the company has given away (for free!) more than 50,000 units to the NHS and local charities.

3. Nike – play together, separately

Sports giant Nike knows the power of emotional branding. The company’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign has been rolled out year after year since its launch in 1987, inspiring consumers to go forth and get fit, strong and never give up like their favourite sports stars.

The ‘play inside, play for the world’ campaign is no different. The ad unites famous faces and ‘normal people’, all exercising from their homes rather than their usual gyms, stadiums and courts. Viewers are asked to adhere to social distancing by working out separately but ultimately become part of a team looking out for each other: “today we’re playing for 7.8 billion people”. Emotional or what?!

The brand also got athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Dina Asher-Smith to share the message on their social channels, as well as having them take part in the #livingroomcup – a competition that sees sports stars challenge those at home to beat their workout score.

Now, pass me my trainers please. My teammates are waiting for me.

4. Scouts – discovering the great indoors

While the Scouts usually encourages its members to get outside, the organisation launched a new initiative focused on activities inside the home during lockdown.

‘The Great Indoors’, lead by Chief Scout Bear Grylls, involves more than 100 activities being made available online for free to help youngsters tackle boredom and cabin fever. Each game, activity or craft has been developed to entertain and educate, allowing them to learn new skills and advance existing ones.

What’s more, some challenges are also supported by other organisations, such as The Royal Air Force, Mind and the WWF.

Are we sure these are just for kids? We wouldn’t mind learning how to make a lollipop catapult – it might come in handy when fighting over the last chocolate digestive!

5. Bread Ahead Bakery – bake like us

Based in London, Bread Ahead Bakery do exactly what they say on the tin – they’re bakers, bread-makers and also have a baking school to boot.

Since mid-March, owner Matthew has been treating the company’s Instagram followers to a live step-by-step tutorial each day at 2pm, sharing tips and secrets on how to get the best bake possible.

What’s more, Bread Ahead have also created a new ebook that is free to download but has asked for donations for the ‘Meals to the NHS’ fund. At the time of writing, they’ve raised more than £15,000.

Not only are Bread Ahead keeping people sane, but their generous nature – whether raising money for charity or just sharing their excellent recipes – looks to be doing wonders for brand awareness.

NB: We would highly recommend the cookies and hot cross buns. Next one on our to-make list is the goats cheese and pesto brioche!

6. Marcus Rashford – food for all

This one technically isn’t a brand – but we had to give a shout-out to local hero, Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United forward has been working with the charity Fareshare to make sure the 600,000 children who usually rely on free school meals don’t go without food during the crisis.

Supermarkets like Tesco, Asda and The Co-op have donated £20 million-worth of food and cash, while smaller businesses and the general public have also been donating.   

Marcus has also recently lent his support to The Co-op, appearing in the company’s new television advert to help boost urgently needed food bank donations.  

The bad

1. McDonald’s Brazil – socially-distant arches

While we understand the idea behind the separating of the fast food restaurant’s golden arches, the move was deemed insensitive and resulted in a backlash from consumers across social media. But why?

McDonald’s outlets in the UK shut down completely to ensure the safety of employees, however, over in the US, a large majority of restaurants still remained open for drive-throughs, take-outs and deliveries.

Tweeters slammed the chain for not practicing the social distancing that their logo preached. Others, including Bernie Sanders, called for workers to get paid sick leave as well as a living wage, seeing the ‘act of solidarity’ as a hypocritical move. They also criticised McDonald’s lack of action taken to help fight COVID, with one social media user saying: “I don’t want your cute logo play McDonalds. I want you offering a million free meals to those in need. I want you turning your drive thru into safe testing sites. I want you doubling down on that happy meal box content for kiddos who are stuck inside”.

The campaign was soon pulled from the McDonald’s Brazil social channels.

And the ugly

1. Sports Direct – the new frontline?

When the government ordered non-essential stores to close to combat the spread of COVID, the high street became a ghost town overnight.

Pharmacies remained open though, as did food shops. Oh, and Sports Direct.

Not exactly an ‘essential’ business, I hear you cry. Well, according to Frasers Group who own Sports Direct, the company was “uniquely well-placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis”. Ok…?

While a lot of people turned to exercise during lockdown to boost their mental and physical health, critics condemned the company for deeming itself a vital public asset and putting lives at risk.

After the backlash, the chain quickly u-turned on its decision…

…But then put its prices up online as “a way of relieving the pressure” of stores closing. *Face palm*

Fortune favours the brave

Spend, spend, spend…

Why should businesses increase their marketing spend in an economic downturn? We look at the lessons that can be learned from history.

For many, the Covid-19 pandemic has switched the commercial focus from growth to survival, as organisations have strived to safeguard their immediate futures and protect the livelihoods of workers.

No one saw this coming. And the instinctive survival mode response of battening down the hatches was to be expected. But where does the world of business go from here?

It should be remembered that commercial success has never been about just surviving the storms – it is about emerging from them thriving.

The ripple effect means that the decisions we make today, tomorrow, and in the weeks ahead may be still be felt in years to come. Get them wrong, and the impact can prove devastating.

So should businesses be firmly closing the lid on the marketing coffers, or is now the time for them to actually be increasing their share of voice?

When the call to continue, or even increase, marketing and PR activity comes from the mouths of marketeers, there will be inevitable scepticism – ‘well, they would say that wouldn’t they?’

The evidence to spend, however, and reap the rewards, is irrefutable. Although it may feel counterintuitive, history has clearly demonstrated that fortune really does favour the brave.

Those that have opted to double down on marketing – and wider business innovation – during recessions and economic downturns have profited, gaining a precious advantage over their competition.

Numerous studies have confirmed the returns on investment of pursuing this strategy. An analysis of the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies (PIMS) database1, for example, has revealed companies that maintained or increased marketing spend during the financial crisis of 2007–08 gained an average market share of 1.3 per cent.

A separate study by McGraw-Hill2 found that companies increasing or maintaining advertising spend during the 1981-1982 recession enjoyed a dramatic increase in sales, both during and after the recession, of 256 per cent over those that chose to cut budgets.

So here we shine a spotlight on some of the companies that have held their nerve in the eye of the storm, and for whom positive marketing investment strategies have paid off.

When times are tough…

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt life as we know it, Marketing Week3 reports that Procter & Gamble believes now is the time to remind its consumers of “its brands and their benefits, rather than cutting back on marketing spend”.

On a call with analysts CFO Jon Moeller said that while other companies were looking to cut media support, P&G was “doubling down”.

This has long been the Procter & Gamble approach.

“We have a philosophy and a strategy,” former Procter & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley, was famously quoted as telling The Wall Street Journal more than a decade ago. “When times are tough, you build share.”

Indeed if it weren’t for this philosophy, the company may never have made it this far. Look further back into the history books and Procter & Gamble’s decision to actively pursue new marketing opportunities, notably in radio, helped it survive the Great Depression of 19294.

Food for thought

During the 1990/91 recession McDonald’s opted to cut its marketing spend, according to Forbes5.

Restaurant chains Taco Bell and Pizza Hut took advantage, both deciding to continue with their marketing campaigns.

McDonald’s sales declined by 28 per cent. Taco Bell, meanwhile, increase revenues by 40 per cent while Pizza Hut’s sales grew by 61 per cent.

An appeal to the heart

Back in 2009, Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer for Subaru, told us: “You can introduce a product during a recession and still do well if you do it right. Doing it right means being true to who you are and positioning the product properly6”.

Indeed, during the recession of the time, Subaru ran its now famous ‘Love’ campaign. Despite the economic crisis, Subaru gained a notable share of voice and in 2009 became the 11th most popular auto brand in America7, up from 19th just one year earlier.

Continued innovation

Another company to thrive during the recession of 2009 was Amazon, which saw sales grow by a remarkable 28 per cent8.

Much of this has been attributed to the company’s commitment to continued innovation, including the launch and promotion of the Kindle. For the first time in its history, on Christmas Day 2009, Amazon customers bought more ebooks than printed books.

The creative route to driving success

During the 1970s, Toyota launched some of its most memorable marketing campaigns ever, using tag lines that included “You Asked For It/You Got It!” and the hit “Oh What A Feeling!”

Despite the recession of 1973-75, the company’s decision to continue investing in marketing saw it emerge at the end of 1975 as top imported car manufacturer in the US9.

Virgin Atlantic, flying high

During the global financial crisis of 2007-09, as the airline industry was seeing passenger numbers falling, Virgin Atlantic took the decision to increase its marketing spend with a focus on brand-building communications.

According to an entry into the IPA Effectiveness Awards in 2010, in January 2009 the company celebrated its 25th birthday by launching its ‘Still red hot’ campaign. While it was running, the campaign is estimated to have accounted for 20 per cent of company revenue, equating to a payback of £10.58 for every £1 invested10.

1Evidence presented at a March 2008 IPA conference.

2McGraw-Hill Research. Laboratory of Advertising Performance Report 5262, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.

3P&G ‘doubles down’ on marketing as demand soars, Marketing Week, April 2020

4Five Great Depression Success Stories, The Wall Street Journal, May 2019

5When A Recession Comes, Don’t Stop Advertising, Forbes, September 2019

6All Brands Are Niche Brands, Strategy+Business, August 2009

7Bloomberg Businessweek, May 2010

8Recession Reinvention, AdAge, October 2018

9Toyota company history, Toyota pressroom, April 2020

10IPA case study,’Virgin Atlantic: Still red hot, even in a downturn’, 2010

Four key steps to using content marketing during COVID-19

Not a day goes by or indeed a minute when we don’t use the C- word. It is the topic that has literally gone viral affecting every aspect of our lives – work, rest and play.

It therefore stands to reason that marketeers have jumped on the bandwagon to get involved in the biggest and most controversial conversation since Brexit. Some doing so out of necessity – such as finance, insurance, legal and health brands – others shoehorning it in, or filling a void to replace delayed or abandoned campaigns, when they really have nothing of value to add to the dialogue or debate.

Here are four ways content marketing can truly add value as we all navigate blindly through this unprecedented pandemic that has the world under siege. Actually five if you include humour. Afterall, if we all come out of this crisis with our health, sanity and a smile, we’ll all be winning.

1. Provide empathetic alerts

As we all adapt to juggling remote working, social distancing and home-schooling, getting tone and content right has never been more vital in order to realign with the new norm. While some businesses are flourishing, others are failing. Individuals are losing livelihoods and loved ones and need to be treated with compassion and sensitivity – not contrived, corporate content or meaningless monologues.

However, many companies have a duty – legally or morally to inform users of changes and updates in response to this crisis. But how they deliver this is key.

One of the most effective ways to alert users of important COVID-19 information is using a specialist hub on your homepage.

Email comms should be timely, relevant and concise – and only broadcast when you have something important to say. Don’t bombard people when they are already burdened.

During such a stressful time, your target audience that is affected by COVID-19 should have easy access to straight-forward, honest and empathetic information – don’t add to their stress with confusing or conflicting information that is hidden eight clicks away. Be factual, useful, non-judgemental and avoid being political.

Brands and businesses who communicate and treat customers and staff with respect and integrity during this crisis are more likely to survive than those who don’t. A sympathetic ear goes a long way in building trust.

2. Be proactive

Answer your customers’ and prospects’ questions before they need to ask, or before they have even thought of the question. Give them one less thing to worry about –  from sharing information about business opening times, delivery details, legal updates on furloughing or mortgage holidays to health and wellbeing advice or online tutorials about how to use remote working or teaching tech. Make their life easier when it is anything but.

Any legal or governmental advice you share must be accurate and factual – and from a reliable and trustworthy source – it may not provide the most entertaining content, but at times it’s better to be serious than sorry.

Before you put pen to paper to create new content or update old, walk in your customers’ shoes and write what you would like or need to read.

3. Be extraordinary

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures to create content when you don’t really have anything to say or sell. With guests and shoppers stuck at home, DoubleTree and Ikea decided to reveal their infamous chocolate chip cookie and meatball recipes to the world. Fans have been posting their cooking efforts on social media, creating a self-sustaining buzz that has resulted in an effective content marketing campaign – even when business is dormant.

Proof that a crisis doesn’t have to kill creativity.

4. Spread the good word

This may be stating the obvious, but this isn’t a time to prey on people’s fears or insecurities. No content should be exploitative or forced – not every brand needs to get heavily or actively involved in COVID comms. Sometimes they can just be a breath of fresh air with good news, happy and humorous stories of being – and doing good.

If your content can educate, inform, and generally make someone’s life a little easier or happier, then you should do it.

Kindness in content will always be well received. Just ask Captain Tom Moore.

Get clued up on content marketing trends

Seth Godin calls content marketing “the only marketing left” – it’s authentic, useful, and perfectly suited to the internet generation.

As content wizards ourselves, we’re on board with the far-reaching impact of good content.

The marketing industry grew under the misguided impression that more content equalled better content.  However, it is now recognised that whether audio, visual or text, it’s the value and relevance of the content that matters, not the size or length.

Never has this been truer than today.  The businesses emerging bruised but not beaten by the coronavirus pandemic are scrambling to be heard over the noise that is post-lockdown marketing mania.  

Everything you produce, from a two-minute promo video to a 2000-word blog or 20-minute podcast should be better than the stuff your audience is currently reading, viewing or sharing – particularly when it comes to what your competitors are doing and saying.

Leave your audience satisfied so they have a reason to engage with you, share your content, and come back for more.

In the turbulent year of 2020, content marketing is evolving dramatically.  The channels, tactics and tools used to create and distribute content are adapting to the current climate, at a faster and more furious pace.

So, keep up with what’s in vogue with our top 10 tips:

1. Video and live-streaming take the limelight

Aside from blog posts, video content is the go-to content stream for brands looking to engage, inform and entertain customers – and the lockdown era has only served to accelerate this trend.   

Seemingly everyone, from B2C to B2B brands, have jumped on the video and live streaming bandwagon to remain front and centre of client and prospects’ minds during this disruptive period.  It is often in times of adversity that innovative thinking prevails, and brands are quickly adapting their marketing techniques to reach their audience and video is a sure-fire way to engage with key demographics.  Just some examples of what brands are doing include:

  • Webinars
  • Instructional/advice videos
  • Q&A sessions
  • Product demos and reviews
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Interviews with experts
  • Live case studies
  • Testimonials from happy customers
  • CSR events, awards or accreditations

Whatever the concept, it’s important to repurpose your video content in a variety of formats in order to transfer the content into full or edited pieces, audio-only or transcribed into text.

If you create the right video for your message on the right platform to reach the right audience, you will create a mini army of followers and influencers who will help you get more exposure for your business.  Video platforms include YouTube, TikTok, IGTV on Instagram and, of course, your own website.

2. Podcast-mania

Around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts each week. That’s one in eight people and is an increase of 24% over the past year – and more than double over the past five years.

This trajectory is set to continue, as audiences become more and more engaged with their timely and topical content. If you have something relevant to say, build audio content into your marketing strategy and reap the rewards of this highly engaging platform.

3. Let’s talk about conversational marketing

It’s good to talk – even if it is to a virtual person. Chatbots or online live chats are growing in popularity as audiences look for quick answers or fast navigation to more in-depth content.

With the advent of social distancing, virtual chat has become a pivotal channel for marketing, as traditional means of communications have become more difficult to maintain.  

By engaging in conversation with your audience, you can learn more about their specific needs in real time. Conversational marketing tools minimise frustrating downtime or the need to fill out forms or being put on hold on a call. It is therefore vital that your chatbot tool is able to easily find this content on your site.

4. Content tailored to voice search and smart devices

It’s understood that 50% of all web searches will be conducted by voice this year. Brands are now starting to optimise their content for voice search which will help smart devices answer queries more accurately (currently only around 60% of answers are correct).  

So, get ahead of your competitors and update your existing content ready for voice SEO – understand the difference between what your audience will write compared to what they will say. Get it right and it will be your content that’s shouting out of smart devices in the future. You’ll be Alexa’s first choice.

5. Personalised content gets even more personal

Fortunately, as the consumer’s need for personalised content increases, so does the development of technology to facilitate these demands. By using dynamic content tools, you can automate the creation and delivery of highly-relevant content to individual customers based on their preferences, needs and interests via multiple communication channels. One size never fits all.

 6. Build topical authority

Google’s algorithms now assesses the holistic value of a given page within the entire site, not just the content on a single page when ranking. So, for example, a car brand offering advice on safer driving technology would rank more highly than the same topic offered by a general gadget site – even if the content was equal in quality.

Building credible authority is done by creating long-form pillar pages that act as a base for your content marketing. Build on this foundation over time by creating pillar content covering a wide range of topics that support the original ‘pillar’. Become the voice of authority.

7. Sometimes a snippet is all you need

Google’s ability to deliver ultra-relevant pages and content based on a search term now goes one step further by presenting ‘snippets’ within the first results page. Appearing at the top of results pages, snippets provide an impactful, brief overview of the key points within a piece of content.

The result of this development is that content creators must recognise that the number of ‘no-click’ searchers is on the rise. Over 50% of Google queries resulted in no clicks last year, indicating that Google is evolving into an answer engine more than a search engine. Therefore, creating content that ranks on Google may increasingly require marketeers to adopt a question-driven content strategy.

It’s becoming more and more common for users to search for a longtail keyword, so that Google will present a quick and easy snippet with all info they need without them having to click through to a full website.

8. Data-driven content creation

Content should be created based on hard evidence of what works and what doesn’t – not a gut feeling of what you think your audience wants to hear.  Key to these insights is data and a data platform that allows you to monitor and report on the successes and failures based on KPIs or the ROI of past campaigns. Listen and learn then do it again – better.

9. Search intent should drive content

There are 4 types of web search to be aware of:

  • Informational – when the user is looking for broad information (e.g. how many calories in a banana)
  • Navigational – when the user wants to visit a specific site (e.g. instead of typing “,” the user searches on Google for “Facebook”)
  • Investigational – when the user wants advice (e.g. best headphones for runners)
  • Transactional – when the user wants to do buy something (e.g. book flights to Berlin)

Google’s algorithms have now brought search intent to the fore and can detect the type of search a user is conducting (along with more specific aspects of intent).

So, ensure that each piece of content you create for each search intent includes either a call to action or relevant further information that will lead your audience swiftly to the next stage of their enquiry.

10. Fast and focused content

At last but by no means least, it may seem obvious but ensure content is relevant to the customer search.

Content should be easy to digest and focused on getting readers to their desired information – fast. Filter list posts (with links, headings, buttons, icons) based on exactly what your reader is looking for by segmenting the topic into obvious and easily digestible sections.

Choose a PR agency

  1. Be realistic. Don’t be wowed by the agency which comes up with the most interesting or unusual ideas.  Wacky ideas can sound impressive in a pitch, but they can also be highly unworkable.  Ask them for a media plan to hit the ground running and look for an agency who is realistic, honest and up-front about the job they can do for you.
  2. Horses for courses: Find out who will be actually working on your account. You may be meeting the slick presenters at the pitch but then be passed over to the newest recruit straight out of college to cut their teeth on your account.
  3. Proactive not reactive: Find out how proactive they are in creating news. Your PR agency shouldn’t just sit back and wait for you to give them story leads.  They should be using a combination of imaginative thinking and hard graft to unearth opportunities for you.
  4. Short-stay: Ask them how long their clients stay with them on average. This should give you a good measure of their levels of commitment.
  5. Skin deep: Find out how much of a priority your business will be to them. If your account manger is spread too thinly working on 12 different accounts at once, how can they ever hope to really get under the skin of your business and understand your market?
  6. Take aim: Look for a B2B marketing agency which will agree to setting campaign objectives together, not one who makes up their own objectives for your PR programme and then congratulate themselves for achieving them. PR is cost effective but it’s still an expense. Everybody deserves to know what return they’re getting on their investment.  You should be getting regular updates on results.
  7. The whole truth: Check what’s included in the monthly fee so you can avoid being hit with a long list of ‘extras’ they omitted to mention at the pitch.
  8. Eats, shoots and leaves: Yes we know social media speak has taken over but there’s still no excuse for sloppiness.  If emails and proposals from the agency have grammatical errors and typos, chances are all the subsequent work will be too.
  9. Ask to speak to current clients: they should be the agency’s best advocates and if they’re not, you need to know why!