Vertical is celebrating its 25th anniversary!

We’re delighted to be celebrating our 25th anniversary!

This past quarter of a century has been quite a journey. Thank you to all our staff, customers, partners & colleagues for helping us have such a successful history. With all the current exciting changes in the world of marketing, we’re just as excited about the next 25 years too.

Vertical Client Wins Award for Creativity

Creativity knows no bounds at Vertical Marketing, as demonstrated with a key client, Rebound Electronics, winning the accolade of ‘Most Creative Marketing Campaign’ at a recent industry dinner.

The award was presented as part of ES Live 2012, an exhibition specifically focused on the UK electronics component industry, held on 24 May this year. Readers of Electronics Sourcing (ES) magazine voted for the campaign as ‘Most Creative Marketing Campaign’. The campaign aimed at driving visitors to Rebound’s stand at the exhibition.

Campaign elements included competitions relating to the Olympics, email marketing, editorials, adverts, social media, design materials and giveaways, all combined into an integrated creative marketing strategy. It was extremely successful, with readers of ES rating Rebound’s activities as more creative than any other exhibitor’s pre-show publicity.

David Myers, Rebound Group Marketing Director said, “We’ve worked with Vertical on many marketing initiatives, and creativity is definitely one of their strong points. As business becomes more and more competitive, a company needs to stand out from its competitors for all the right reasons,” said David. “Working with Vertical, we’ve been able to do this, achieving some remarkable growth over the past 5 years, and I’d like to thank their creative team plus Electronics Sourcing’s readers’ for recognising this and voting for us.”

Paul Barlow, Vertical’s managing director said, “It’s fantastic that Rebound has been highlighted nationally through this award, and to be recognised by the readers of one of the UK’s leading electronics trade magazines. We strive to help all our clients develop their brands to stand out from the crowd and increase sales in their respective markets, not only through creative design, but also creative strategies, unique solutions and inspired marketing activities.”

Vertical is an integrated strategic and marketing communications agency, providing services to clients in B2B technology industries globally. With over 24 years’ experience, Vertical works with clients to create intelligent, customised marketing strategies and solutions. For more information click here or call 01202 842250.

B2B Marketing Efforts Must Work To Shorten Procurement Cycles

According to research (SiriusDecisions), B2B procurement cycles have lengthened 22% over the past five years: a significant increase that must be addressed by B2B agencies and their clients, this according to B2B specialists Vertical Marketing (Wimborne).

The reasons for longer cycle lengths are many and include the fact that the number of stakeholders has increased. Further, reduced budgets mean tighter purse strings and an increased reticence to spend without complete due diligence.

The trend is not likely to abate in the current economic climate; so the challenge for B2B agencies and their clients is to develop strategies that can help shorten the process and speed the final sale.

“Our technically-oriented clients, in particular, are finding the longer cycle to be a drag on profits and growth,” explains Paul Barlow, MD of Vertical Marketing. “As marketers we want to help speed the cycle by delivering the right information needed to the right person, in the right format at the right time at any point in the process. In the recent past, it wasn’t cost effective to personalise, if you will, the product offering and concomitant information: every primary stakeholder got the entire information package, usually at the beginning of the cycle. That was that. The information didn’t change to address particular questions or individual data needs. Today, with the advent of social networking platforms, it’s possible and necessary to identify each persona and his or her information requirements, and then deliver a customised package in the preferred format as soon as it’s needed. Not before, not after.”

B2B offerings tend to be complex and purchase decisions are rarely impulse driven; buyers usually spend a lot of time on upfront research. It’s important for companies to be a part of that information gathering process. Social networking tools offer exceptional avenues for knowledge sharing that can educate prospects and facilitate faster decisions. By providing this almost real-time, two-way communication, companies not only inform but also build trust and credibility that can work to complete sales in less time.

Achieving a shorter procurement cycle has a direct impact on the bottom line, of course; and there’s an additional advantage: a shorter cycle reduces the chances of things going awry during the process.

“Clients and marketing professionals have questioned the use of social platforms in B2B and rightly so,” notes Barlow. “With increasingly longer procurement cycles we are confronted with a substantial obstacle to profitability. It’s a challenge and one that social networking and integrated marketing can help resolve.

From the perspective of shortening the procurement cycle, social networking and marketing strategies can be used to:

• Enhance the prospect’s confidence in the company, in part, by establishing thought leadership and positively affecting preconceived notions;

• Position the product for easier acceptance by ‘preselling’ advantages, features, costs and financing options and addressing concerns early in the cycle;

• Explain product benefits to each participant in terms they understand, citing only those benefits that are of interest to that stakeholder and made available on the platform each prefers;

• Standardise the sales force behind a consistent message.

Barlow continues: “In the current economic climate, there is nothing more critical to our clients’ success than helping to make each step of the sales/procurement process as efficient, smooth and, in a sense, as enjoyable as possible to all stakeholders. The narrative we tell each persona and the clearly personalised information we deliver comprise the essence of what’s been dubbed ‘the new marketing.’ Honestly, we believe it’s either adapt and prosper or… well… there’s really no other alternative, is there?”

Twitter Statistics... Believe at Your Own Risk

Like Internet stats in general, these numbers may not be true but there is some truth in them.

What they seem to say is that Twitter can be a good platform for reaching emerging countries; and since 2009, Twitter has become more of an international phenomenon and not just another USA fad.

The top country for Twitter use as a % of the Internet population isn’t the US, or indeed the UK, it is the Netherlands where 22.3% use the micro-blogging service.

This is according to Comscore, which also shows significant Twitter penetration in emerging markets with around 1/5 Internet users in Indonesia (19%), Venezuela (21.1%) and Brazil (21.8%) accessing it.

Comscore says that in the UK, 1/8 (12.9%) of the Internet population uses Twitter, while a separate Pew study in the US at the end of last year put the figure at 8% – with non whites, women and urbanites most likely to use the service

All this makes Twitter much more of an international and multi-cultural service than what it once was. Consider that back in June 2009, Sysomos found that over six in ten (62%) of Twitter users were in the United States.

LinkedIn #2 Social Media Platform in US

This July, LinkedIn become the No. 2 social networking site in the United States.

LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors in June in the U.S., compared to MySpace´s 33.4 million; Facebook had 160.8 million. Short messaging blog Twitter is closing in on MySpace, with 30.6 million, and Tumblr had 11.7 million.

“I think we´re seeing the U.S. social networking market come of age,” Andrew Lipsman, comScore´s vice president of industry analysis said in an email to “While Facebook has clearly emerged as the dominant player in this market, several other social networks — Linkedin, Twitter and Tumblr — are carving out strong niches.”

Also of interest was his comment that given Facebook´s size — it now has 750 million users worldwide — that its future growth in the U.S. is “likely to come more from increasing usage per visitor than its ability to attract new users in perpetuity. One impressive stat to note is that Facebook’s average U.S. visitor engagement has grown from 4.6 hours to 6.3 hours per month over the past year, so it appears to be succeeding in that regard.”

Whether the same will hold true for LinkedIn — where people tend to get in and out quickly to check or make connections — remains to be seen.

The rise of LinkedIn is good news for B2B marketers, particularly those in high-tech industries. In the UK, particularly, LinkedIn is the one platform that B2B companies understand… they know that their customers are driving LinkedIn. If the rise in the US LinkedIn usage reflects what´s happening in the UK and Europe, and it should, B2B companies now have a powerful marketing ally.

Bottom line: LinkedIn participation, joining groups, starting groups, responding to pertinent questions, etc., should be central part of your social media plans.

And notice the Facebook numbers: 3/4 of a billion users!!!!! How can B2B marketers continue to ignore this audience? Sure, you may not like Facebook or understand its value, but you can´t argue with the numbers.

What´s the #1 Skill You Need To Be an Effective CEO?

A recent IBM survey polled 1,541 CEOs, asking respondents to rank in order of importance a list of the most essential qualities needed by effective business leaders.

Surprising results, really.

One would think that things like ´fairness,´ ´openness´ and ´humility´ might score very well – after all, no one likes to work with an arrogant, arbitrary dictator. Guess again. In fact, humility and fairness were last on the list.

What scored highest? Creativity… yes, creativity.

It seems that in the topsy-turvy, constantly changing world of international business, we´re looking for a leader who offers out of the box solutions: new ways to work, new places to do business, clever ways to promote that business and more efficient ways to turn a profit.

To quote IBM:
“CEOs recognize that leading creatively will require them to shed some long-held beliefs. Their approaches need to be original, rather than traditional. They must be distinct and, at times, radical in their conception and execution, not just marginally better than existing models or methods.”

The second most important trait was ´integrity.´

Success of the CAB meeting

“I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the CAB, however I found the session extremely useful and worthwhile. It’s a great way of communicating our feedback and ideas, as well as meeting with other Vertical clients, and sharing ideas and experiences”, said David Myers, Group Marketing Director of Rebound.

This was just one of the positive comments received following our Customer Advisory Board (CAB), held last night (15 June).

As part of Vertical’s commitment to its clients, the CAB aims to find out their feedback on the agency, its services and what it can do to improve its service offering.  Key discussion points were centred around briefing to billing procedures, reporting systems, and general feedback on what the agency are doing right (and wrong!).

“I’d like to thank all of the people who gave up their time to attend the CAB” said Paul Barlow, Vertical´s managing director. “Initial feedback shows it was a worthwhile activity, with lots of debate and interaction taking place. I’m looking forward to receiving the key points and discussing them in depth with the full Vertical team, following which we’ll put together a plan on how to implement the relevant ideas.”

 See our b2b marketing survey results here

The not-so-young American is back...

The not-so-young American is back… as Bowie might say…

Nick Lester is back with Vertical Marketing after an 8-year hiatus. He was part of the Vertical team through the 1990s, running the US office. After a few years as creative director for a large cosmeceutical/nutraceutical concern, he’s returned.

Nick´s remit initially required him to conduct research with Vertical´s customers and to look into our social media. This has led to an increased knowledge and understanding by the Vertical team as to the power of social media, and to identify where social media is of relevance to our customers in the B2B technology field.  Vertical is now implementing social media campaigns with clients, where appropriate.

Some might recall that Nick was the founding editor of Printed Circuit Design and Printed Circuit Assembly magazines and European publisher of Printed Circuit Fabrication… and editor of the original SMT UK and Circuits Design.

Business continuity for our clients

We´ve updated and improved our data protection strategy to ensure business continuity for our clients. The plan includes insurance for lost files, lost work and lost data if there should be a fire, flood, or other disaster.

We want to indemnify clients for time and work lost if the worst happen. Shouldn’t every agency have a similar plan?

Project management two years on…

Vertical ‘celebrates’ the second anniversary of it’s online project management system. Introduced in 2009 as a way to help staff and clients managed current project goals and developments, and exchange large files (up to 100 Mb) from anywhere in the world, the system has proven to be irreplaceable.

Basecamp is a part of Vertical´s flexible toolkit. Clients are in control and in touch, and Vertical can track project segments to make sure deliverables are on-time, on-budget and to the brief.

“Although we felt certain that this system would deliver what it promised, you never know with these things. However two years down the line, we’re more than happy with the way Basecamp works”, said Paul Barlow.