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How To Spend Your Marketing Budget – Stop Assuming. Start Knowing.

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I felt my stomach rumble before I heard it.

I suddenly became aware that myself and my colleagues hadn’t taken a break in hours. After 7 hours of concentrated mental effort, we were now into the final hour of our Value Proposition Workshop.


Our Client Director Chis, Marketing Manager Claudia, Content Strategist Angela and I had all spent the majority of the day defining the individual attributes we bring to Insightful UX. It was going well. But it felt like time was running out. Probably because it was.

Whilst this sounds like an exercise in ego, the reality was we were deep diving into understanding the essence of Insightful UX – that point of special brilliance. A business is only as good as it’s component parts. The culture is the direct result of the personalities of the team. The movement away from B2B and into P2P is gaining traction.

Taking four members of the team out of the game for any length of time, even for a day, creates a resource void and I was conscious of the outcome I wanted. What we needed was a value proposition told through a strapline. We needed to communicate that point of special difference outwards, to create enough intrigue to stop our audience in their tracks and create the level of curiosity that would compel them to seek out more information about us.

In the closing minutes of the Workshop, we finally came across a potential winner.

Fearlessly Truthful

This hit home. 

One of the reasons I set-up Insightful was because I wanted to be a different kind of agency. One that was grown up and told it as it is. 

So that’s exactly what I did 4 years ago.

Isn’t that difficult?

Don’t get me wrong, this can and has led to difficult conversations with clients at times, but it also provides our clients with the confidence they need to move forwards with their marketing. I’ve deliberately steered away from hiring ‘yes people’ into my agency or worse still, anyone who makes empty promises to prospective clients, just to get the sale. 

We don’t pretend we can control our clients’ industry. If a client’s marketplace is fiercely competitive and it’s going to cost them more to acquire a customer than our client’s business model allows, rest assured we’ll tell them. Establishing this for some clients when exploring taking new products to market has saved them thousands.

I know for a fact that some of our competition would have reassured the client and run for the hills with the client’s precious marketing budget. I personally want to sleep at night knowing that we have told the client the truth. Hence, Fearlessly Truthful.

But of course, it wasn’t that easy.

‘Fearlessly Truthful’ didn’t sit right with the team. That’s what happens when you don’t hire a bunch of ‘yes people.’ Though it is a primary characteristic that describes Insightful UX, it doesn’t sum up what we do or why people should work with us. Clearly more work was needed.

By hour 8, I was starting to lose heart. The Workshop was starting to feel like a lost cause. After such a marathon session my brain was drained.

But then… an entirely new phrase emerged:

STOP ASSUMING. START KNOWING.

What does it mean? 

It’s a call to arms for our audience. What if you could stop assuming how and where you should be spending you market budget, and started knowing.

This a theme that emerges with new clients regularly. ‘I wish I just knew.’

Where Insightful are different is in our insight-driven methodology. We remove the guesswork that is so often underpinning the marketing of even the largest of businesses.

It was perfect and was a philosophy I had been living even before the notion of Insightful UX had even been conceived.

Let me tell you a story

It was early 2016. I had been at Gallaghers for c.2 years and as many of you may have experienced in corporate life, the rug very often gets pulled out from under you at a moments notice. I was feeling confident. 

The previous year had seen us make great strides with a digital transformation programme that had seen us develop a website with the capability to build other websites for the groups many brands. It was providing an effective cost saving by removing the need to build new websites from scratch for each of our brands. 

Most importantly, we had interviewed real customers and prospects as part of this process and the initial results from rolling the website out for the first brand had seen conversion increase from 6% to 22% making it sustainable for the business to invest in digital. Before this digital marketing was too expensive in terms of the cost per sale. 

The rug being pulled from underneath me was a move away from a centralised marketing team to individuals being placed within specific brands. 

At the time I wasn’t confident enough to challenge the thinking. Something I still regret and will never repeat.

Plotting my next move

The fact that I couldn’t find my voice and stand and fight for an action I saw as a negative step for the group. Anyway I hope this sets the scene as to why I was plotting my escape. I say that jokingly. I did love working at Gallaghers and found out a lot about myself and learned a lot that armed me well for setting up Insightful UX. 

So, I sat in the office thinking about what would be my next move. 

My first thought was that I wanted to be in control of my own destiny for reasons just mentioned. The next, I genuinely wanted to add value. This has always been very important to me and therefore once the idea of setting up my own business set in I knew I didn’t want to set up just another ‘agency’ that did the same thing as everyone else. 

But where to start?

I therefore started speaking to agency owners and looking back at how I had added value to the businesses I had worked for and with (I also have a history of working in agencies servicing large brands). I also started to think more about the agency relationships that had not worked for me and why. This took my thinking deeper to a place of analysing the theory of marketing concepts I had learned at university and how this differed from the real world. 

Suddenly, it all became clear.

Marketing had lost its way. It had become a bi-word for sales and finding the needs and wants of our audiences had been abandoned in favour of at worst, assumptions and at best, quantitative data. 

The problem with this is that data tells you what someone has done. Not WHY they have done it. This leads to people having to assume the WHY because businesses don’t typically understand this principle around what data gives you. 

Let’s be clear, it just doesn’t give you a complete enough picture on which to make any key business decisions. 

Hey, I think I’ve found my voice.

The What and The Why

I then set out to develop a Digital Audit that would help brands know what they were getting into before launching or scaling. This was based very much on the data telling us the WHAT. We then added research services to help explain the WHY. 

From this Insightful UX added more and more services in response to demand and we are now at a place where our whole philosophy is centered around helping clients to KNOW, to aid them within the decision making process, and allow them to mauve forward with confidence. This take the form of audiences, competitors and marketplace data and research (these should go hand-in-hand) and complement each other. 

What’s next?

Starting Year 5 I am very proud of what we have achieved for our clients and our own growth as individuals. 

But I’m not resting. Never one to take the easy route we now have aggressive growth plans for the next 5 years. To aid this journey, we won’t be assuming but following our own process to understand the best way to get there, quicker, smoother and in a more enjoyable way. 

So, all I have to say now is Stop Assuming. Start Knowing. 

If you want to Stop Assuming, and Start Knowing, get in touch with us today. We promise to tell you the truth.

Written by
Lee Hill

Lee Hill

Founder and MD

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