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Investment

Fearless Adventures seeks next gen digital entrepreneurs

North West-based Fearless Adventures has launched a multimillion-pound fund and novel with the aim of growing the next generation of direct-to-consumer startups in the UK.

Started by a trio of the country’s brightest young entrepreneurs, David Newns, Dominic McGregor (pictured) and Charlie Yates, Fearless Adventures offers their partner entrepreneurs three areas of support: funding, marketing services and talent.

The founders believe this is the key to fast growth and more successful exits further down the line but isn’t currently offered under one roof elsewhere.

Three entrepreneur-led companies are on board already, benefitting from not only the funding but also Fearless Adventures’ best-in-class centralised team of digital marketers, data experts, and talent specialists. The company aims to close up to 10 investments as soon as the end of 2021.

In time for launch, it has already lured top talent from the Hut Group, Social Chain and Mojo Mortgages to provide topflight expertise on everything from SEO to PPC, and business intelligence to data analytics. To serve its portfolio, Fearless Adventures is based in a new high-tech workspace in Manchester, where its partners can also take advantage to work alongside their internal team.

The fast pace of partner onboarding and talent acquisition is characteristic of the Fearless Adventures’ founders – who have started, scaled and sold a clutch of nine-figure businesses of their own. Newns found and sold two companies for £158m within eight years by the time he was 33, taking a seat at the top level of FTSE30 company Imperial Brands in the process, as Group Science and Innovation Director.

McGregor co-founded and sold Social Chain. He dropped out of university to become the company’s COO and grew it to over 700 employees on four continents by the time he was 28, eventually leading it to a public listing. And Yates has advised on the sales of over £1bn of owner-managed disposals, using his exceptional e-commerce and retail expertise to advise businesses on how to maximise their equity and value.

David Newns, founder and managing partner of Fearless Adventures, said: “We want founders and startups that we partner with to reach the world-leading heights that we did with our own businesses. So we asked ourselves: ‘What support do we wish we had access to when we started?’. It was clear there was a real gap for an offer that helped passionate entrepreneurs, not only raise capital but get a high quality, ready-made support system to help their startups thrive.”

Dominic McGregor, founder and managing partner, said: “Having been through the highs and lows of growing successful businesses, we have experienced almost every problem associated with scaling companies. And we’re passionate about putting that expertise to great use with our partner companies that have already demonstrated a successful market fit, are profitable and are led by talented entrepreneurs who are as ambitious for growth as we are.”

Charlie Yates, founder and managing partner, said: “Our key principle is ensuring we have complete alignment with our partner companies and investors. We structure our investments so that we are uniquely incentivised to help deliver as much value to the founders and their companies as possible”.

In addition, the team plans to develop and launch an apprenticeship program, The Fearless Academy. With a strong commitment to diversity, it will offer young, ambitious talent, training opportunities in marketing to equip individuals with the tools and skills for career progression.

Top trends to watch out for as marketing investment makes a comeback

By Saranya Babu, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Wrike  

There is no doubt that last year had its challenges. With the economy at rock bottom and the majority of businesses facing severe financial hardship, marketing departments across the world felt the pinch. Industry-wide cut-backs resulted in a dramatic decrease in spending throughout the year, accumulating in the fourth quarter with 24% of marketers recording a further decline in budgets as a result of the pandemic.  

However, with new vaccinations bringing the hope of recovery – both in terms of the country’s health and economy – the marketing industry is preparing to bounce back. After spending 2020 in crisis mode, many are ready to boost their investments. Earlier this month, the CMO Council found that 65% of marketers plan to increase their marketing spend in 2021.  

The challenge for marketers moving forward will be knowing where to spend that money. Despite future prospects looking bright, the road to recovery is likely to be a long one. There is no guarantee of success, and marketing teams must ensure that the tactics and strategies they choose to deploy deliver the ROI (return on investment) they need.   

Yet, with so many trends and the naturally fast-paced nature of the marketing landscape, it can be difficult to know what to focus on. Although the future is impossible to predict, there are three areas that marketers should take note of this year:  

1) The face of content marketing will change  

Content marketing has long been considered one of the most effective ways to increase audience engagement and develop a brand presence. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a noticeable shift away from its traditional written format.   

Although blogs and whitepapers will remain an important tool for brands wanting to communicate to their customers, the majority of today’s consumers are really after something a little more digestible. This is where video content, in particular, is set to play an important role. In fact, The Content Marketing Institute recently discovered that 71% of B2B marketers and 66% of B2C marketers already use this format to connect to their audiences. Whether in the form of short tutorials or live webinars, we can expect to see even more video content moving forward.  

If this video content is to be a success, we need to apply the usual principles when it comes to personalisation and the consumer journey. Today’s consumers expect more targeted and relevant marketing than ever before, with 66% admitting that encountering non-personalised content would stop them from making a purchase. Therefore, the most successful material will target customers directly and offer true value, without trying to explicitly sell them anything.  

2) Search intent will matter most when it comes to SEO  

We all know that SEO is one of the most important ways a brand can drive traffic to its website. The higher a page ranks on a search engine, the more likely users will click on it and begin that initial interaction.   

In the past, some have relied on keyword stuffing and other dicey strategies to boost their ranking. However, Google has worked hard to improve its algorithm over the years. So much so that it can now determine the search intent behind a specific search query. Whether a user is looking for information about the weather or searching for a product to buy, Google will rank its results based on what it thinks the user wants to see.   

This, in turn, makes it really important for marketers to focus on the end user and their search intent. Regardless of what marketing collateral is being produced – whether written or video – teams need to ensure that it is relevant to the user’s search query. That might mean making sure your landing page is informational as opposed to transactional, with links to separate sales pages for those looking to buy.  

3) Virtual events will become the norm  

When the pandemic hit, in the interest of keeping people safe and limiting the spread of the virus, industry events and tradeshows across the world were put on hold. For many, the solution was to go virtual. Surprisingly, this monumental change has brought about some positive results.   

Companies have found themselves saving money and time. Meanwhile, the pool of potential invitees and attendees has exploded, as people from across the world can instantly join without even having to think about travelling. This virtual landscape also enables marketers to collect valuable feedback and measure results in order to inform future events. Speakers can insert real-time polls or surveys into their presentations and it becomes much easier to gather certain data – such as number and location of attendees – when everyone logs on online.   

Even when things do return to normal and physical events are able to go ahead, the likelihood is that this virtual trend will continue in some format. In fact, 80% of people predict that in-person and virtual events will co-exist moving forward. Therefore, marketers need to prepare themselves for a hybrid future.  

Making the right choices  

The role of the marketing team has never been more important. In today’s climate, implementing the most effective marketing tactics and strategies could be the difference between an entire business surviving or collapsing.  With this year promising an increase in budgets, marketers need to ensure that they are making the right choices and setting themselves up for future success.   

Regardless of what trend the team decides to focus on, the key will be to think carefully and monitor efforts in order to understand what works best for the wider business and its key audiences. It is only then that marketers will be ready for whatever comes next.   

Guest Blog, Tariq Khan: Ensure your marketing technology investment doesn’t go down the drain…

Take a look at the marketing technology landscape at the end of 2012, and compare it to now. What you’re seeing is a tenfold increase in marketing tech vendors in around three-and-a-half years, and the rate is growing aggressively.

How does this make you feel? Is it scary because of the potential expense and business case preparation; not to mention the complex challenges associated with managing the implementation of these systems? Or is it an exciting opportunity to use technology to compete and create more engaging experiences than any of your competitors?

In many cases there will be an equal measure of trepidation and excitement for the future. The chances are, to some degree, you are already on the journey. It’s no secret the marketing landscape is changing rapidly and with it a requirement to think in a new way. According to recent research from executive search firm Russell Reynolds, the first half of 2016 saw the highest turnover of CMOs since 2012, thanks to the rapidly evolving skill-set necessary to be successful in this new data-led era.

So what’s the best way to approach this hypermarket of marketing technology where new aisles and products are constantly being introduced and evolved? More importantly, once you have committed, how do you ensure you get the maximum value out of the technology decisions you’ve made?

The biggest pitfall we see time and again is that the technology hasn’t quite managed to unlock that beautiful strategic vision, and as such real-world ROI hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. According to a report conducted last year by Oracle Marketing Cloud, a staggering 92 per cent of respondents believe their marketing technology investments have not been well-implemented.

Buying the tech will only get you so far. Marketing technology vendors will promise “out of the box” solutions that will transform your business overnight. But simply building a tool will not solve the problems: only people can solve problems. The better people understand the tools, the better equipped you are for success.

That’s why an effective change management strategy is just as important as your choice of technology. Whilst partners can certainly help, the leadership needed to bring this change management strategy about can only come from within the organisation. 

Change, at its core, is a people process, and people are hardwired to resist adopting new mind-sets, practices, and behaviours. To achieve and sustain the transformational change that marketing technology brings about, companies must commit significant resources to ensuring they embed new processes and behaviours at every level.

Here are five practical tips to think about before, during and after a marketing technology implementation:

  1. Don’t underestimate the degree of organisational and operational change needed: Are your individuals and teams knowledgeable and empowered enough to be truly agile? Ensure everyone involved has KPIs that are oriented around serving customers and getting ROI from the investment.
  1. Ensure there is an emotional case for change: Many leaders are great at building the rational case for change, but they are less adept at appealing to people’s emotional core. Yet the employees’ emotions are where the momentum for real transformation ultimately lies. Communication is key here; try creating an on-going email campaign, videos and e-learning modules that help highlight the benefits to all levels.
  1. Carefully budget: If you’ve got a million to invest in marketing technology, spend half of this on training your team properly and on partnerships that put experienced experts in both technology and process alongside your team after go-live. Set sensible targets around when ROI will kick in; it won’t happen instantly.
  1. Aim to implement a significantly less sophisticated product at the start and build up: You learned to drive in the family run-around, not an F1 sports car. Phased releases of software that limits the complexity your team needs to manage will lead to a deeper adoption more quickly. Make sure you’re working with a technology partner who is comfortable with an agile methodology that facilitates this.
  1. Incentivise your marketers to “own” and accelerate the change: Provide a safe environment to push the new technology to its limits. It takes innovation, curiosity and a lot of trial and error to maximise the value of any new marketing technology.

As the marketing technology landscape continues to grow, it is tempting to think the new product on the market will prove paramount to unlocking your competitive advantage. Whilst this can be the case, it’s worth remembering that the machinery will never live up to its potential without the right people operating it. As such, marketers need take advantage of this period of change as an opportunity to break down traditional structures within their business and attain the organisational agility needed to stay ahead of their competitors. 

 

Tariq has 16 years’ of digital management experience working at the Financial Times, LBi & TMW before joining Navigate Unlimited as a consultant. A keen advocate of agile ways of working, Tariq’s delivery experience has seen him successfully lead and consult on hundreds of projects and programmes for high profile clients including BBC, Deutsche Bank, HM Treasury, Nissan, Guardian and Unilever.