TL;DR.

 

Something special exists in everyone – it just needs uncovering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I do.

 

Thirteen was founded on a straightforward & single-minded proposition. That 90% of one firm is exactly the same as any other.

So I use Thirteen to give B2B & professional firms the tools to differentiate themselves – by articulating communicating & demonstrating what makes them distinctive.

 

Articulate

Articulating what makes you distinctive is your most important task. When you’ve done that you can build a brand with a clear positioning that lifts you above the generic mass of the competition. Without doing it you’ll be forever seen as a replaceable commodity. And who wants that?

We do this by:

  1. Carrying out market research to understand what people – your clients, prospects, employees, intermediaries, referrers, market commentators – really think of you (if they think of you at all).
  2. Interrogating the findings & distilling them down to the brand essence that defines you in a way that’s relevant, authentic & distinctive.
  3. Segmenting the market according to the meaningful behaviours & beliefs that people share & helping you decide which segments to target.
  4. Using the market research & your brand essence to develop a clear positioning that will differentiate you in the eyes of the people you’re trying to sell to.
  5. Developing a handful of core marketing messages that support your positioning & can be used in all of your marketing & sales materials.
  6. Defining the values & behaviours that underpin your brand essence & positioning, which can then act as the foundation of all people development, training & recruitment.

 

Communicate

Communicating what makes you distinctive is about creating the distinctive brand assets that identify you to the world & reinforce your positioning. Do this well & people will think of you with the right associations & feelings. Do this badly & people will think of someone else.

We do this by:

  1. Developing a marketing strategy that will deliver your firm’s business objectives & enable you to use your people effectively & efficiently.
  2. Assessing your marketing budget to ensure you’re allocating your spend appropriately across brand building & sales activation.
  3. Building marketing campaigns that maximise the effectiveness of different channels, online & offline, based on the business objective & who you’re trying to reach.
  4. Advising on how to win pitches & presentations, ensuring they reinforce your positioning & use your core marketing messages & distinctive assets to be as persuasive as possible.
  5. Creating a tone of voice that reflects your positioning & is applied consistently across all your marketing materials online & offline.
  6. Designing a visual identity that differentiates you through a range of distinctive assets, including logo, colour scheme, imagery & other codes.

 

Demonstrate

Demonstrating what makes you distinctive is about the four elements of client experience: voice of the client; people; measurement; governance. Through this you can build a truly client-centric environment where everyone in the business knows what to do & how to do it.

We do this by:

  1. Analysing existing client feedback materials to understand what people are actually saying about the things they value & want from you.
  2. Conducting new client interviews to gain additional perspectives on what you’re doing well, what you need to improve & what you should prioritise.
  3. Mapping the client journey from start to finish, identifying what clients are thinking, feeling & doing at each stage & how you can deliver stand-out moments that reflect your brand & positioning.
  4. Working with your people so they understand the client journey, their role in it & what they can do to deliver the right client experience.
  5. Building a client feedback programme through which you ask the right questions at the right time & gives you the tools to store, share & act upon what you learn.
  6. Creating a governance structure to ensure that CX becomes a way of life & continues to have a positive impact on the business.

Thinking, speaking & writing.

 

I share as much as I can in the hope it will give marketers ideas, insight, inspiration & support.

Big Ideas are typically research or explorations of meaty marketing topics. Quick Thinking pieces are shorter articles about something that’s caught my attention recently. Checklists are, erm, checklists & how-to guides.

Here’s a list of everything I write, with links to the individual items.

I also share a lot on LinkedIn & Twitter & have recently started a podcast called The Thirteen Commandments.

Hopefully you’ll find something useful amongst all that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All about me.

 

Why did I jump ship from in-house marketing director to independent consultant & agency founder? This could take some time. 

I wasn’t very good at – or interested in – playing the politics of the workplace. I spent too much time doing things I didn’t enjoy & too little time doing the things I did. I wanted to set my own rules rather than follow someone else’s. I’m not good at managing people. I’m bored by routine. I was frustrated by what I perceived as a reluctance to challenge convention & a willingness to accept mediocrity.

I wanted to change the way people market B2B & professional firms. I enjoy meeting new people & learning about them. I like having time to think. I never really fitted in anywhere so exploring different organisations feels bizarrely comfortable. I get a kick from sharing ideas with people. I can do work that will really make a difference & have an impact on a business. I can do my Christmas shopping at 11:30am on a Tuesday when the shops are quiet.

If you want to know the details of my work history the best thing to do is look at LinkedIn. But to give you a flavour, it includes mergers, branding, key client programmes, strategy, positioning, client experience, pitching, client feedback & messaging.

Before moving to Leeds I was the London region director for PM Forum, the group providing insight & inspiration to marketers in professional services. I’m a judge at the Managing Partners’ Forum Awards and organise the annual PM Forum conference. I’m also part of the Planner Therapy group in Leeds, supporting planners in Yorkshire.

 

The Thirteen family.

 

I have the skills & experience to do a lot of work on my own. But when projects become bigger or different talents are needed, then the Thirteen family pull together.

These are some of my favourite people to work with. 

For design work, the creative force of nature that’s Ricky Oh. He’s the founder of The Hackney Creative Collective, which brings together experts in everything from design & video to music production & photography. Apparently the methodology is based on Louis Sullivan’s premodernist philosophy of form following function. Obviously.

Lots of people say they’re customer experience experts. Jerry Angrave actually is a customer experience expert. A Certified Customer Experience Practitioner, he’s one of only six people on the planet authorised to train others for the accreditation. He works with B2B & professional services firms through Thirteen & specialises in working with B2C businesses like airlines, airports & utilities providers with Empathyce.

I don’t know anyone who imbues words with as much personality as Eileen MacCallum. Her background in corporate marketing, performing arts & languages means she knows how words work on the page, the screen or spoken out loud. Nice. You can check out some of her work on the website for her copywriting business, A Wee Birdie.

As web developers go, Gareth Evans is up there with the best. Not just as a techy, but also because he understands a marketing strategy & can grasp the nuances of a creative brief. He’s the director of webfire, who build websites & apps for businesses large & small. His team are lovely as well.

The good, the bad & the ugly.

 

Sometimes you don’t know what it’s really like to work with someone until it’s too late. So to avoid any nasty surprises, here’s what you can expect if you take the plunge with me & the Thirteen family. You can’t say you weren’t warned:

  1. We get that you know more about your business than we do. But we’re not here just to do what you tell us. We’ll give you an opinion & recommendations. That’s what you’re paying us for.
  2. Before we do anything, we’ll define the problem that needs to be solved & agree the primary objective we need to achieve. Everything we do afterwards will be based on that.
  3. We’re not the sort of people who think B2B & professional firms can’t learn anything from other sectors. We’ll bring you insights, ideas & examples from all over the place.
  4. We have a very clear rule about wordsmithing in meetings. It doesn’t happen. As David Ogilvy said, “Committees can criticise but they can’t create. Search all the parks in your cities. You’ll find no statues of committees”.
  5. We’re not interested in giving you the classic three options – a safe one, a wacky one & one in the middle. Instead, we’ll give you the best solution to the problem we’re trying to solve.
  6. Sometimes we’ll push you further than you’re comfortable with. We may even disagree at times, which is a good thing. If a client & agency always agree then one of them doesn’t need to be there.
  7. We like to word hard, but we also like to have fun while we work hard. It’s really difficult to come up with good ideas if you’re not having fun.
  8. We’ll never commit to a deadline we can’t meet. If we think your timescales are unrealistic then we’ll tell you.
  9. We’ll make sure everything we come up with passes the RAD test. It needs to be relevant, authentic & distinctive. Two out of three ain’t bad for Meatloaf, but it’s not good enough for us. Or you.
  10. We know what we’re good at & what we’re not good at. If something’s not for us, we’ll recommend someone else.
  11. We love quotes. One we live by when it comes to branding & marketing is from Judy Garland: “It’s better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else”.
  12. Creative work isn’t a linear process. We’ll zigzag, circle back & take detours along the way – but we’ll make sure we end up exactly where we need to be.
  13. Before we ask if you like something, we’ll ask whether it works. It doesn’t matter how much you like something if it doesn’t work.

 

 

Get in touch.

 

Like what you’ve seen so far? Then I’d love to hear from you.

You can call me on 07867 491 946 or email me – lee@thirteenideas.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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