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5 Minutes With… Paul Honey, Strange

In the latest instalment of our executive interview series, we sat down with Paul Honey, Managing Director at Strange, to talk about his business, marketing industry trends, challenges, opportunities and career advice…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

We run a lot of high performing digital marketing campaigns (PPC, Social, Display and SEO) and design and build websites (Drupal, Magento, Shopify, WordPress) for a range of travel, leisure, retail brands and not for profit clients. We’re located in Bournemouth and Bristol and are celebrating our 20th birthday this year. 

What have been the biggest challenges the Marketing industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Performance of marketing campaigns. ‘Subpar’ performance just isn’t sustainable, ‘good’ performance is often not enough to keep brands ahead of their competitors and brands rarely have the budget to be the ‘best’. So from our perspective it’s all about doing things ‘better’. It’s a simple approach to a complicated problem. 

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We’ve seen a strong rise from brands that are seeking better performance from their marketing budgets and who are looking for a more joined up approach to digital. 

What is the biggest priority for the Marketing industry in 2020?

From a digital point of view, getting ready for the ‘downfall of the cookie’ is a huge priority. For organisations who rely a lot on cookie-based audiences they should be preparing for the day when the main browsers no longer allow marketers to track users using cookies. They could start by collecting as much (GDPR-compliant) first party data as they can from their customers so that they can use this information to build audiences in the future. 

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

As Google and Facebook battle it out for client advertising budgets, we’d expect to see a lot of continued innovation in both platforms – which is a great! And with the increased privacy legislation, we’re also starting to see data further up the funnel becoming more significant.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this coming year?

The humble cookie…Things are changing in digital and the impact is significant.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Probably voice search – it’s predicted that 75% of US households will have a smart speaker by 2025 and the UK will be just a bit behind that number. It won’t be long until Amazon’s ‘keyword trigger’ patent comes to life which could allow brands to advertise based on the smart speaker recognising certain keywords. It will start small of course, but the possibilities are just too significant for it not to become a major marketing channel.  

Which person in, or associated with, the Marketing industry would you most like to meet?

Frederick Vallaeys – one of the architects of the Google Ads platform, an ‘AdWords Evangelist’, and current CEO of Optmyzr  – a tool we use widely. It would be really interesting to get his opinion on the future of paid media marketing, and how far it’s come since he helped create Google Ads. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Marketing sector?

The rate of change that technology enables new businesses models to emerge is fascinating to watch. There are some very cool companies out there now and whilst not all of them will rise to the heights of the current tech giants, a few undoubtedly will. 

You go to the bar at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

More than likely a coffee… 

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Each day usually brings something new and exciting, but nothing matches the team delivering work that surpasses client expectations.

And what’s the most challenging?

There’s not one thing that’s really challenging…There are of course minor ‘annoyances’ from time to time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Spend client’s money like it was your own.” I was given this advice early in my career whilst working in New York City. It’s such a universally good bit of advice for people working in agencies. 

Succession or Stranger Things?

Neither. Watched a bit of both, but they didn’t capture my interest enough to pursue. I did binge watch Vikings though!

5 minutes with… Gary Peeling, CEO, Precision Printing

Precision Printing, an innovator in the print technology industry and leading supplier of litho printing, is one of the most respected companies in the sector. But, how do you manage one of the top printing companies in the UK? Here to share his insider knowledge and advice on all things print is the firm’s group CEO, Gary Peeling…

Can you tell us how you get started in print?

Yes, I began as Precision Printing’s teaboy! And that must have been about 30 years ago.

If we were to take on your role, what would a normal day at Precision Printing look like?

Rising early and getting started is really important to me and helps me get on with my work throughout the course of the day. To start, I’ll walk the production floors to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is better than any dashboard or report, as you can see what projects we’re on, which customers we’re busy with, and the types of products that are selling well.

Obviously, checking how our business is doing is vital, too. So, after walking the floors, I review our ecommerce channels. Often, I also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, analytical or planning work. Then, I check all of my emails and usually follow this with a few meetings — often, there’s one away from our premises and two or three conducted on our site.  I tend to finish work at about 6:30pm.

How do you relax after work?

Family time and separating my mind from work is, of course, important. We enjoy doing things together, and I also love cycling, travelling the world and listening to Billy Joel!

Do you know any industry secrets you can let us in on?

I think readers would be surprised by how fast-changing print is and how much there is to learn. An insider view of print, that many people don’t know about, could be the monetising of emerging technologies, which often includes printing and graphic arts. Good examples of this are e-commerce, digital photography and Apple Mac.

What is it like being a CEO?

At the heart of my job, is the task of leading the executive teams. In a normal week, I dedicate around 50% of my time to analysing and reviewing marketing, sales and business development. Aside from that, I spend about 20% of my time on operational efficiency, 15% on finance and 10% on HR and staff.

Are there any role models in the sector that you admire?

Being in my position, I have decent knowledge of people in my industry and think it’s important to keep an eye on their careers and decisions. One gentleman that I find particularly inspirational is Alon Bar Shany, HP Indigo’s general manager. He’s somebody I really admire. Alon Bar Shany ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

Do you have any advice you can share with us about being in the print industry or working as a CEO?

Harbouring a creative flair and being able to adapt and change with each new trend is critical to anyone’s survival in the print sector. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches. Also, don’t think that it’s ever too late or too complicated to do something — it rarely is.

I’d recommended keeping up to date with advances in tech if you want to excel in print, too. Print is versatile and dependent on new technologies, so being creative, marketing fresh ideas, and producing innovative products. If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

What are the main problems that the print industry is facing?

It surprises me that people today have such reservations about the longevity and capabilities of the print sector. So, dismissing the myths that print is obsolete is a slight issue for use at the moment. Many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

But are things improving?

Well, print is certainly prospering, so hopefully people will start recognising that it isn’t a dying industry. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

Lastly, would you give us your Precision Printing highlights?

As part of Precision Printing for such a long time, there have been many stand-out moments that I cherish. Firstly, I’d say sending out 50,000 orders in just one day was a massive achievement for us. Next, receiving the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007 was a very proud moment. After these, I’ll never forget when I was selected to be Dscoop: Global Chairman, and was delighted when we launched our “Oneflow” software as a commercial business.

James Jarvis

5 minutes with… James Jarvis, Antalis

We talk to James Jarvis, Channel Director at paper and packaging specialist Antalis, about the print market’s biggest challenges, opportunities and predictions for the future…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Antalis is Europe’s leading paper, packaging and visual communications merchant (and number two worldwide). We work in close partnership with the leading manufacturers from around the world to ensure we can offer customers the best and latest products and technologies, first.

Alongside providing customers with access to a leading product portfolio, we build relationships by sharing best practice expertise and learning. It’s crucial that we arm customers with the knowledge and support they need to enhance and expand their proposition in a constantly evolving print landscape. With this in mind, our Antalis Academy – the first facility of its kind in the sector – has quickly become a centre of excellence, providing a broad range of advice and training through the provision of practical workshops, seminars and webinars. Now with more than 30 courses available – all led by independent experts – the Academy has expanded to include a host of new subject areas that cover business skills such as social media training and sales techniques.

We also offer additional support in the form of a free Smart Audit, where our experts will review your current materials and procedures and suggest improvements. Also our dedicated Connect team of paper consultants had been set up to provide tailored advice for all types of printing jobs. These facilities and services have been created to demonstrate our commitment to help our customers remain competitive and stand out from the crowd. Antalis takes this approach because we think we will only thrive if our customers thrive.

What have been the biggest challenges the print industry has faced over the past 12 months?
Against the backdrop of an increasing emphasis on digital media, traditional parts of the print and paper industry are still in decline – we are continuing to see a decreased demand for high print volumes which, in turn, means reduced overall paper volumes. However that is not to say the market is staid; as we continue to see pockets of growth in new applications, markets and sectors. With this, the challenge is for customers to be able to be agile and adapt their offer to align with these new trends.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?
There is a real opportunity in the marketing and creative sectors. With people receiving so many digital communications each day, digital fatigue has begun to set in and marketers are coming to recognise the benefits of a tangible, paper-based item as a way to create stand out. That’s why, although print runs are generally getting shorter, customers are increasingly willing to spend more to create bespoke, aspirational concepts in order to achieve cut-through – offering a perfect opportunity for printers to upsell premium, custom and bespoke options. Aligned to this, printers are now able to cost-effectively create variable data campaigns on speciality materials, and in short-runs, for highly targeted and impactful holistic marketing campaigns which can deliver a higher return on investment.

This in turn means there is a real benefit for customers to partner with a consultant who can provide a tailored approach and recommendations on individual projects.

What is the biggest priority for the print industry in 2018?
For us, the biggest priority for printers lies in progression and growth; whether that’s by embracing new innovation, diversifying into new markets or honing their current proposition.

We see it is an incredibly exciting time to be in the industry as we continue to witness a determinable shift away from standard to creative, personalised and often bespoke concepts, reaffirming the importance of print and paper amid the digital landscape. However, in order to unlock this opportunity printers must remain innovative and creative.

That’s why, at Antalis, we are constantly working to bring print service providers the newest, most exciting products first, designed to help them delight customers and, in turn, create stand-out. It’s crucial that we capitalise on new growth areas as more customers seek to broaden their services and diversify into new markets, and Antalis’ Academy is in place to help do just that.

The time is now for printers to take advantage of stand-alone printed communications or print within multi-channel campaigns and we encourage them to look to inspire and advise their customers on the endless possibilities that paper based communication can bring.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?
As digital printing is able to better meet demand for personalisation, it will continue to grow in prominence this year. Printers are now able to cost-effectively create variable data campaigns on speciality materials, and in short-runs, for highly targeted and impactful marketing. We therefore expect to see an increasing trend for small print runs and, as such, we offer a split pack service whereby customers can purchase our creative papers in smaller qualities at a minimum of 25 sheets.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
There’s lots of innovative products set to make an impact this year, including PowerCoat® Alive – an advanced paper range featuring integrated NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. It works in conjunction with smartphones and other devices to display a programmed web-link direct from the paper and is an excellent example of multi-channel communication at its best.

It truly bridges the gap between printed and online communication in a way which far surpasses what QR codes have done in the past.

It will enable businesses to obtain data via a dedicated analytics platform in order to measure the impact of their campaigns and better understand customer behaviour. In an age where data is king, this approach to paper communications can provide an extremely useful commercial tool.

In 2020 we’ll all be talking about…?
How our industry is always changing. I think the future is bright for the print and paper market. There’s no doubt that there are challenges ahead, as with any market, but print and paper is alive, kicking and full of potential. The industry is continually evolving and there are huge opportunities to embrace new technologies, enter new markets and build new revenue streams. I’m confident this will still be the case in 2020!

Which person in, or associated with, the print industry would you most like to meet?
Timon Colegrove of Hunts Printers. He is mad about print and transfers that feeling constantly to everyone he meets. He’s passionate about training and education in our industry but is also very forward thinking and is constantly pushing the boundary of how print fits into a modern world of multichannel communication. I think the way he constantly tries new ideas is great!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
The constant opportunity I see all around us

And what’s the most challenging?
My boss

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
1. Never give up; there’s always a way
2. Reach out – more brains are better than one
3. Don’t go out with her!

Chris Pitt Vertical Leap

5 Minutes With… Chris Pitt, Vertical Leap

We speak to Vertical Leap’s Head of Marketing Chris Pitt about the search agency’s USPs, the challenges of data analysis, the rise in voice technology and AI, plus the disappointing lack of slides at Google HQ…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Vertical Leap is the most effective search agency in the UK when it comes to scale and depth.  We use data science and machine learning, combined with experience and expertise, to dig deeper, achieve more and operate at a scale that is at least 4x the capability of our nearest competitor.

Our Apollo Insights technology ensures that no stone is ever left unturned when it comes to your search marketing campaign. It collects everything that could possibly be known about your website, your wider online presence, your competitors and your overall market. It combines, verifies and analyses all this data to provide both prescriptive and predictive insights that identify all the opportunities and threats that you are facing. It is infused with artificial intelligence that provides our search specialists with a level of analysis that would simply not be possible manually; more than humanly possible.

It means that we spend more time implementing a finely targeted set of activities that are quantitatively proven to get the greatest impact.  We spend more time on the details that will yield the greatest results.  We spend more time on what matters most – your business.

For over 15 years, we have been leading the way in search marketing, pioneering innovative techniques that keep our customers ahead of their competitors. Our customers range from SMEs to enterprise-level, including the likes of P&O, Harvester, Ordnance Survey, Foyles and University of East Anglia.

We are part of the Sideshow group; an independent group of 170 staff with an annual turnover of £15m and offices in Portsmouth, London and Bournemouth. We are a RAR top 100 agency and a Premier Google Partner.

What have been the biggest challenges the digital marketing industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The balance between the increasing amounts of data needed to be effective and having the time for analysis and implementation

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Machine learning and AI are undoubtedly the biggest opportunities. Where too much data and limited resource is the issue, AI and machine learning are the solution.

What is the biggest priority for the digital marketing industry in 2018?

It is the same as it ever us. Proving the value of each channel in its own right and as part of the whole blend. The context changes from year to year, but the priority should always be about the value.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2018?

Voice could potentially be huge. Smart home devices are growing in use, but aren’t yet being deployed for commercial advantage. As soon as Amazon, Google and Apple work out how to monetise the everyday usage of voice, there will be a new opportunity for business.

Otherwise, expect more technology, AI and machine learning. It is the future and the spoils will go to the early adopters.  It is no coincidence that the biggest companies in the world (Google, Apple, Amazon etc) have machine learning and AI at the core off their businesses.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, see above. But, admittedly, it is more challenging for businesses to integrate AI/ML competencies in to their business. On that basis (and to bring something new to the conversation), we expect to see a new wave of chatbots arriving on the scene. The chatbots that have been built have been underwhelming – little more than chatty FAQs. What is coming will be far stronger, proactive, intelligent bots that can predict your needs and provide the solution at exactly the right time.

In 2020 we’ll all be talking about…?

Brexit, probably. But also, how quickly marketing has moved to be a more symbiotic relationship of human creativity and machine learning efficiency. 

Which person in, or associated with, the digital marketing industry would you most like to meet?

Tim O’Reilly from O’Reilly Media. He is not strictly digital marketing, but does overlap. He calls it right, every time.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the digital marketing sector?

THERE ARE NO SLIDES AT GOOGLE HQ LONDON. I’ve been there. It was a huge, surprising, disappointment.

You go to the bar at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

I’m T-total, so let’s go with a decent cup of tea.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Meeting and working with huge brands. The kind of huge brands you remember seeing when you were young and that you’ve lived with all your life. To then have them as your customers is a unique feeling.

And what’s the most challenging?

Digital marketing offers huge opportunities, but often you have to walk, then run, the sprint. You can see the finish line getting nearer; and you can also see all the other new tools and tactics available. That can be distracting and frustrating, for customers and agencies alike. Managing expectations and staying focussed, balanced with what else is out there can be very challenging.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s not in the form of advice, but I remember when, having just started my own business (a record label) I had secured a meeting with an industry influencer that could open some doors. The first thing he asked me was what I was specifically trying to achieve and whilst I had lofty plans for world domination, I couldn’t answer his question. Since then I’ve always tried to make sure I can answer that question, whatever the situation.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?


Industry Spotlight: We caught up with Click Consult at the Internet Marketing Summit

The Internet Marketing Summit took place on the 9th May 2016 at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London and was once again, a huge success. The Summit boasted keynote speakers, senior decision-makers from some of the biggest brands and the most innovative product and service providers in digital marketing for a day of match made face-to-face meetings, educational seminars and networking.

We caught up with Click Consult’s senior business development manager, James Price, to find out why they are back at the event for the 7th time.

So, how are you finding the event so far today?

In terms of today, for myself, it’s actually been really, really positive, the meetings have all been very good, very well-qualified people that actually want to speak to [Click Consult] about their needs for our products and services – it’s always been the case here, it’s why we come here so much. It’s been very, very good and personally I’ve always have a good return on investment from these events.

What do you think of the quality of delegates this year and last? At all events you have attended?

If I could have planned it, I couldn’t have planned it any better to be honest, they all wanted exactly what we’ve got and they’ve all really responded – I suppose some of that is down to our process as well as an agency but they’ve really responded to the conversations that we’ve had and I think there will be a lot of follow-up, more than any other event I’ve done for a while actually.

Have you received any business from attending these events?

Yes – we have definitely had business from Forum Events which is why we come back. We won’t do these things if there’s no ROI, we’re a business and if there’s no ROI then we won’t do it; we certainly make enough to pay for the event and get some profit as well, I mean we’ve got some of our biggest clients from these events.

Have you had any fast turnarounds?

Yes, we’ve had a couple – not many – because how I see these events and how they are marketed; it’s a case of getting to know people and starting a relationship. I mean we have had some pretty quick turnarounds as well, but mostly it’s been good long-term business that we’ve gotten from them.

Do you attend trade shows or exhibitions?

We used to invest heavily into trade shows. It was really good for a number of years, certainly when I first joined the company. But I think the quality has now gone down, I think where we’ve moved to as an agency we tend to deal with brands pretty much exclusively now – and the place we meet brands is here so that’s why we choose to come – it fits our profile as a business.

Do you find this format more effective than a trade show or exhibition?

Absolutely, yes. [Trade shows] were very good when it was a lot easier back in the old days because you would come away with contracts from them and it was that easy. But now you have to immerse yourself into your clients business and become a part of it. And with greatest respect in the world, if you go to a trade show, you meet junior members of staff who don’t have decision-making power; the advantage of these kinds of events is you are meeting decision-makers who actually make the final decision, so it’s a good way to start that relationship and it helps us immerse ourselves into their business and their brand as well.

Will you be back next year?

Yes, I don’t see why not.

Founded in 2003, Click Consult is an award-winning agency specialising in SEO and PPC. For more information on Click Consult and the products and services they provide, please
click here.  

The next Internet Marketing Summit will be taking place on 8th May 2017 at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, London. To register your interest for this exclusive event, please click here.