Julie Brook

Recent Posts

Barriers to growth, and how marketing can help: Culture

Posted by Julie Brook on May 10, 2018 7:56:40 AM

Company culture provokes much discussion: over what it is, and how best to create and encourage it. Best practice often leads us to Google, which rarely seems to be out of the ‘top places to work’ lists, with its free meals, massages and dry cleaning.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Tactics

What should your marketing dashboard look like?

Posted by Julie Brook on Oct 17, 2017 1:53:00 PM


This article was previously published on the Vistage website, at http://blog.vistage.co.uk/what-should-your-marketing-dashboard-look-like. Marketing has a reputation for being a bit... nebulous. Qualitative. We’ve even heard it described as ‘fluffy’. Your efforts (should) have a tangible impact on the bottom line, but too often business owners find themselves wondering exactly what their marketing team are up to. Marketing can't afford to be vague; it can and should be as accountable as every other department. Marketers should be able to tell you what they're doing and why, and how their efforts are improving results for the business.

Read More

Topics: Brand Building, Lead Generation, Marketing Team

The 7 Ps and the 4 Pillars: What IS marketing anyway?

Posted by Julie Brook on Aug 14, 2017 7:46:00 PM
Many business owners have a fuzzy vision of marketing, even if they run successful companies. A lot of businesses attempt to cover their marketing bases by simply turning their Sales Director into a Sales and Marketing Director and moving on, assuming that the marketing box has been comprehensively ticked. This is what happens when business owners confuse lead generation with marketing. Lead generation is a part of marketing, but it’s really just the visible bit of an iceberg - the obvious bit that everyone sees. The much bigger picture lies beneath the surface - the activities that happen prior to lead generation. So what does happen below the surface? What is marketing?

Marketing Planning v Marketing Communications

You might have heard of the seven Ps of marketing:
  • Product: What are you selling and to who?
  • Price: Is the price aligned with the perceived value of the product?
  • Promotion: What messaging will you use to describe your product? What is the right combination of words and tone to strike a chord with your target audience?
  • Place: What are the most appropriate routes to markets for your product or service?
  • People: Have you got the right service delivery and sales teams in place?
  • Process: Have you defined and documented your methods for delivering your end product or service?
  • Physical Evidence: Have you defined a tangible “thing” that the customer will receive, even if the service is intangible? (An insurance certificate for an insurance policy is a good example, if you’re stuck on this.)
Looking through these, there are some areas that you might not immediately associate with marketing - setting the price of products, sales processes, service delivery. But that is the point; marketing permeates every element of the business. Price, for example, is part of marketing - finding out what people are prepared to pay to have their pain points addressed. This is the crucial difference between marketing comms and marketing strategy: comms is a culmination of a whole host of deeper strategic work.

The Four Pillars

To explain the key functions of marketing, The Marketing Centre has developed a strategy which simplifies these ideas down to four key pillars:
  • Define: Know what your potential customers look like, and what your product or service can do for them.
  • Find: Identify ways to target them, based on their behaviour and habits.
  • Win: Devise strategies to close sales and create customers.
  • Keep: Monitor customer churn (loss) and create retention activities to remedy it.
Whether you’re talking about seven Ps or four pillars, the message is the same. Clearly define who you are, what you sell and how you sell it. Know who you sell to and ascertain the best methods for reaching them. Have the processes in place to nurture leads and convert sales, then keep these customers on board, or have a plan to win repeat business.

A note on leads

The key objective of marketing is to help increase sales and grow the business, but a lack of leads is rarely the problem . Very few business owners want to hear that the problem lies in the product or the planning, but this is more than often the case. And sales teams can be especially reluctant to accept that message, who often prefer to have more leads than do a decent job with the ones they’ve got. Revisiting what was assumed to be a successful formula is never a welcome task for those who created it. This investment of time and effort in the status quo means those people often struggle to be objective about any shortcomings. This is when a fresh pair of eyes – like those of a part-time Marketing Director – can make a difference.

Back to Basics

Success often comes down to fundamentals. In marketing, the fundamentals are not the channels you choose. They are not social media, PR, direct mail, advertising or content. The building blocks for success come from understanding what you are selling, who you are selling it to and why they should buy it. That is why marketing is rarely a case of ‘he who shouts loudest’. It’s a nuanced, agile and measured approach that factors in every element of the business. Generating leads is an important part of this process, but not the only one; not by a long shot.  

Read More

Topics: Business Growth, Lead Generation

Customers are less loyal, so engage early, hints first McKinsey report of 2017

Posted by Julie Brook on May 11, 2017 7:58:00 PM

By Tim Ellett of The Marketing Centre At first glance, McKinsey’s quarterly marketing and sales report for 2017The new battleground for marketing-led growth – 

Read More

Topics: Brand Building, Business Growth

Segmentation for success

Posted by Julie Brook on Mar 22, 2017 2:18:00 PM


We’ve all done it. New Year’s hits and we’re filled with resolve. We’ll exercise more; eat better; spend more time with family, and – of course – sleep more. We do it all. All for one week.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Tactics

Professional services firms are changing. Here’s what you can do about it.

Posted by Julie Brook on Jan 18, 2017 7:03:00 PM


High street stores aren’t the only businesses falling victim to online competitors. Professional services firms are suffering equally, and must react to survive. For many years, established small and medium-sized solicitor and accountancy firms relied on word of mouth, loyalty and location to ensure a regular supply of custom. Multi-generational client relationships – the stuff of Charles Dickens novels – ensured that wills, conveyancing, small business accounts, tax returns and other always-needed activities continued to provide steady and predictable profits for firms and their partners.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Tactics

The Marmite effect: Brands as tools for business negotiation

Posted by Julie Brook on Dec 2, 2016 8:18:00 PM

 Marmite: you either love it or hate it. Or so the advert goes.Well, those that love it, really love it.Following Unilever’s recent row with Tesco, dubbed ‘Marmitegate’, consumers flocked to Twitter, signed petitions and complained loudly to news channels.Threatened with a 10% price hike for many of their best-selling brands, the retailer withdrew a significant number of Unilever lines from their shelves. Brits from Dover to Dundee were incensed; the press waxed lyrical about the episode as a post-Brexit portent of doom, and £3 billion was wiped off Unilever’s share price.

Today, we can rest easy: Marmite (and Ben & Jerry’s, and PG Tips) are back on Tesco’s shelves. But their prices have risen – despite the supermarket’s claim that the stand-off had been resolved ‘successfully’ . The episode raises uncomfortable questions about market behaviour following the Brexit vote. More positively, however, the row demonstrates the important role brands can play in influencing distribution strategies – something all business owners should take note of for 2017.

Brand power

Put simply, Unilever was able to back Tesco into a corner thanks to the star power of their brands, actively and carefully nurtured over years. Unwilling to risk losing their customers, who Tesco believed would shop for their favourite brands elsewhere, the supermarket shrewdly came out fighting, positioning themselves as ‘champions of the people’ (or at least the High Street). In the short-term, Tesco dealt a decisive PR blow to their supplier. But the real winner was Unilever, who was able to make the retailer – and consumers – absorb their increased costs following the fall in value for the pound.

The Brexit effect

The Tesco-Unilever price row should act as a valuable – if extreme – example of the market shifts to expect following the Referendum. The falling price of the pound means UK importers will increasingly be able to squeeze their British suppliers, as Unilever have done. 

Read More

Topics: Brand Building

The marketing director’s guide to protecting your intellectual property

Posted by Julie Brook on Nov 17, 2016 7:55:00 PM
As a business owner, you’ve got a million and one things to think about. With a to-do list as long as your arm, there are always those niggly jobs that get pushed to the back of the queue on a regular basis. But one thing you ignore at your peril is intellectual property (IP). Without a firm grasp on your business’s IP, you can seriously undermine the value of the company when you come to sell. Protecting it ensures the organisation retains its competitive advantage and safeguards future revenues. IP comes in many forms, and touches nearly every element of a company’s brand, and carrying out an audit of existing assets may uncover surprising elements which have never been considered as valuable IP before. So what is IP really, what are the key things you need to know, and how do you protect it?

The four pillars

Intellectual property breaks down into four main areas:
  • Copyright
  • Trade marks
  • Designs
  • Patents
Each of these has a different legal focus and requires a different approach.


...is where an author has exclusive rights to an original piece of work. These exclusive rights allow the author to make and sell copies of the work, as well as limiting what others can do with it. To claim copyright the author or writer needs records showing the original creation of the work, and should include a copyright statement that shows the author and the date.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Tactics

Is sponsorship right for my business?

Posted by Julie Brook on Jul 28, 2016 11:53:00 AM

Sponsorship is a great way to advertise a business. Seeing your logo on sports shirts or charity event materials is going to generate a boat-load of leads. Isn’t it? Let’s not mince our words here; The answer is no, it won’t. Spending on sponsorship to drive sales is a mistake.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Tactics, Marketing ROI

5 marketing lessons from the Brexit campaigns

Posted by Julie Brook on Jul 1, 2016 8:08:00 PM

Brexit has brought momentous change in British politics, and could have happened very differently had either side pursued a different marketing strategy. Regardless of how we voted or what the future holds, the campaign offered so many lessons on how not to market effectively that we can’t resist looking at the five things Remain and Leave failed to offer.


Negative campaigns don’t work. “Buy ours because theirs is awful” doesn’t sell anything when the customer has a choice. Comparing Angela Merkel with Hitler was certainly a lowlight, but only one of many examples aired each day of the campaign. The major argument to Remain seemed to be “ look at all the things that will get worse if we leave ”, while the Leave campaign presented “ look at all the things we have to put up with, let’s get out ”. Neither side offered a coherent positive reason to side with them. In turn, many voters felt fatigued by June 23rd, having been offered so little to feel passionate about.


Successful campaigns are united around one big idea, stated clearly and delivered consistently. What we saw here, on both sides, was a mishmash of conflicting ideas sprouting like weeds, presented by a loose amalgam of competing interests - even on the same side. Consider the case of Labour Leave , advocated by right-wing columnist Guido Fawkes and supported by Tory party donors . With political adversaries working behind one another’s backs, is it any wonder their messages were so scrambled, and voters so confused.


Potential customers need to believe in your product and your ability to deliver it. Prominent Remain campaigners had clearly failed on their immigration commitments to date, but refused to address immigration directly, preferring to redirect the debate onto economic issues . No matter how solid the economic case might be, answering a question by changing the subject doesn’t make you look credible. Elements of the Leave campaign, meanwhile, attempted to associate every political and financial ailment the country faced with our membership of the EU, whether the claim could be proven or not . Neither side looked prepared to confront the facts.


Both campaigns made extensive use of expert comment and endorsement, which was largely ignored. It doesn’t matter how many celebrity endorsements you secure : if the product isn’t right and the supplier isn’t credible, the testimony won’t make any difference. Remain and Leave campaign materials were both found to need fact-checking . Whatever claims they made about the benefits of their offering were not quantified, not specific, and so not provable. The upshot? Few believed the messages they were being sold.


Effective campaigns are based on one clear, clearly explained, idea. Here there was none. What did this mean for the referendum itself? German philosopher Nietzsche once said “there are no facts, only interpretations”, and interpretations carried the day for many voters. Many voted because of long-held opinions, emotions, or personal stakes in the outcome: millions of voters now regret their choices, in the light of the facts and the result.

Read More

Topics: Marketing Team, Marketing Tactics

Want more business insights? Subscribe here: