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“When measuring results, it’s not only about the size of the number – it’s also about the quality of the number – there isn’t a direct correlation between every pound you spend and your results.”

Welcome Jane Nugent

Marketing Director

The Marketing Centre

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Jane Nugent’s expertise covers all aspects of the marketing mix from strategy, campaigns, brand and proposition development, digital channel development and customer insight – having transformed marketing at huge B2B organisations.

Jane’s career journey includes senior marketing roles at Thomson Reuters; navigating a period of huge change in the UK newspaper industry with the huge growth of digital.

Jane also shares her experiences as Marketing Director of £400million turnover, tool & equipment hire company, Speedy Hire – transforming what was a very traditional approach to marketing to a more digitally-focused strategy.

Jane now works with ambitious SMEs helping them drive growth through brand proposition, marketing strategy and activation.

Transcript:

Nathan Anibaba:

Jane Nugent’s expertise covers all aspects of the marketing mix, from strategy, brands, and campaigns, brand and proposition development, digital channel development, and customer insight. She has worked across a range of sectors and held senior marketing roles for Trinity Mirror and Speedy Hire, to her current role, where she is one of the team of 80-plus marketing directors at the Marketing Centre, who provide expert marketing director services to ambitious companies on a part-time basis, supporting aspiring SMEs that recognize they need the skill set and the strategic input of an experienced marketing director but don’t need or can’t afford that level on a full-time basis. Jane Nugent, welcome to ClientSide.

Jane Nugent:

Oh, thank you very much. Delighted to be here.

Nathan Anibaba:

Well, I’m really looking forward to speaking to you. You’ve got a really interesting background as well. Let’s go back to the beginning of your career because you started in the newspaper industry holding a number of roles for Thomson Reuter’s in the 80s and 90s. That’s really at sort of the peak of the newspaper industry. What first attracted you to the industry?

Jane Nugent:

Well, I ended up there, as lots of people do, by accident, really, because I was looking for a role. I saw it advertised in the Newspaper Society, which was the trade association for the regional press. I went along, and they offered me the job. That was the start of a very happy time in the newspaper industry. As you say, newspapers, particularly regional newspapers, really dominated the advertising industry in their markets at the time. That’s where everybody went if you were looking for a job, a car, a house, something to buy or sell, carried all the big brand advertising, all the national companies, and also the local companies. So, it was a great place to be.

Jane Nugent:

I learned a lot about different target audiences, understanding how … I moved around. I worked in quite a lot of different locations, and every location was slightly different. The people in the Southeast were very different from the people in New Castle. You really had to get to understand your particular marketplace to make sure that you were providing the content, i.e., the editorial matters, and working with the editorial team to attract the right readers. Because, obviously, you were selling those readers to your advertisers as a response. So, great learning. As I say, I moved around the country a lot. Got to know lots of different parts of the U.K. Then, the shift started to come in in terms of digital channels.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

People started to set up aggregated content. I think it first started with property. Because one of the great things from a newspaper’s point of view is that they … Because they held the monopoly, really, for those platforms, they were able to charge very high rates and advertisers obviously thought there might be another way of getting to their audience without paying quite so much.

Nathan Anibaba:

Which they found out later, yeah, through the internet.

Jane Nugent:

They did. They did, and that had a fundamental shift for the whole of the newspaper industry, nationals and regionals.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s really interesting being in the newspaper industry at that time when that shift started to take place and spend started going online. They didn’t have the dominance that they once had, the stranglehold on sort of marketing spend that they once had. How did the industry respond? From being inside the industry at that time, what was it like? How did the leadership respond to that sort of shift?

Jane Nugent:

I think there was a reluctance to change. I think they kept hoping it would go away, which, of course, it wasn’t going to, and so it was trying to … They went into defensive mode, really, and then recognized over time that that really wasn’t going to work. So, they then decided to start to embrace the digital channels and the platforms. But they then, it was a bit too late because other people had gone on to … Places like Rightmove were already pretty well established, and so then, therefore, trying to do deals with the state agent and having a newspaper-based property online site. It was a bit behind the times, really.

Jane Nugent:

It’s a difficult one when you’re a very prosperous business. Trinity Mirror was a PLC, so there was a lot of pressures to keep the share price and the shareholders happy with the ongoing profits. Yeah, and that’s played through. It’s quite interesting how that has impacted both the nationals and the regional newspapers. I think all of them have really struggled to find that mix of how you keep a paid newspaper and build your online revenues at the same time and maintain your audience. Probably BFT’s about the one that’s done it most successfully. They’ve got over a million subscribers now.

Jane Nugent:

But it’s a very different proposition, the Financial Times. It’s a really specialist thing. But it proves it can be done if you really know your audience, and you’ve got the right compelling content that you can market to them. They’re in a real niche, but they’ve been extremely successful. I think all the other newspapers have found it a bit difficult to get back to where they really need to be.

Nathan Anibaba:

Quite fascinating. You’re now a marketing director for the Marketing Centre, which provide expert outsourced marketing director support to ambitious SMEs. As I mentioned at the beginning of the show, what type of businesses do you typically work with, and at what stage do they engage you?

Jane Nugent:

We work with both B2B and B2C businesses, although, I think we’re about 60% B2B in terms of the companies that we work for, and they’re usually businesses … A lot of them are family owned, sometimes second generation, or entrepreneurs who’ve set up businesses for themselves. Then, they get to a point when they realize they have been probably doing some marketing because every business [inaudible 00:07:04], but it’s not really achieving anything. That’s because they’re doing stuff rather than having a strategy sitting behind it. Sometimes they’ll have people in the business, the marketing execs or marketing assistants, but again, busy doing lots of stuff-

Nathan Anibaba:

Stuff.

Jane Nugent:

… but not really knowing whether any of it is actually delivering the impact. They can’t see what it’s bringing, or they recognize that they’ve got to a point when they just need to be a bit more sophisticated.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

They’ve refined the business, but their proposition needs some work. Or there’s competition coming along that wasn’t there before, and now they need to find out what their differentiators are. There’s lots of different reasons that they come to us, but it is when they suddenly recognize that marketing isn’t just something that you stick out messages on social media and hope that somebody reads them, that it has to have a strategy behind it, and you really have to build your brand. That’s where we always start with people. It’s all about the brand. If you don’t know what your brand’s about, if you haven’t got a clear proposition, if you don’t know what your positioning is in the market and how that fits against the competition, everything else is a bit of a waste of time.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting.

Jane Nugent:

So, that’s where we always start, with that bit, and then look at who do we want to attract, what do we want to say to them, and what do we need to do in order to bring that interest and those leads in? Usually it’s people needing to do things in a more sophisticated way. Or they’ve sort of run out of steam with what they’re doing, but they know there’s great potential for their business. They just don’t know how to go about exploiting it.

Nathan Anibaba:

Makes sense, and we’ll come back to the brand piece and modernizing businesses a little bit later. But let’s talk about choosing and appointing agencies because you work with agencies in pretty much all your roles up to now. What do you think makes a good client, agency relationship?

Jane Nugent:

There’s got to be a huge amount of trust in there. When you’re working with an agency, be it a digital agency, a creative agency, you are allowing them to represent your business and your brand. You’re wanting them to interpret your proposition and turn it into something better than you can do yourself, otherwise, you’d do it yourself, and it’s having … Also, I think they really need to understand your market. What I’ve done is often choose agencies who’ve got some specialism in the area that we’re in. For instance, I think if you’re working in a B2B business, you need an agency who would work with B2B companies as well because it is still very different to the B2C proposition.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Jane Nugent:

And/or they might have been a bit in your sector if you’re in a particular specialism, so they understand some of the nuances of what you do. I mean, everybody can learn things, but it starts to give you a bit of understanding that you’re not having to explain everything from the start. So, they can come to you with some knowledge and background, and then it’s really so they know they need to have some relevant expertise. They need to be really good at what they do because you are paying them for their input and their specialism. You have to be able to trust that they’re going to do their very best for you.

Jane Nugent:

One of the final bits is I really need to get on with them. I need to like them. I don’t see the point in working with people that you don’t really like. There’s enough of that around [inaudible 00:11:03]. So, finding people that you feel you can develop a good relationship with, a two-way relationship. I don’t find the people that are going to turn out to be my best mate. That’s not what I’m [crosstalk 00:11:15].

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Jane Nugent:

It’s good if you know that you can have some open and honest conversations with them without either party getting offended by that.

Nathan Anibaba:

Too upset, too emotional. Yeah, definitely.

Jane Nugent:

Absolutely, yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s a fine balance, isn’t it? It really is. I mean, you mentioned they have to be really good at what they do. How do you evaluate that when you’re comparing to, let’s say, B2B agencies where one has got really great clients, and they’re doing some fantastic work, but the other one may have also great clients as well, and they’ve also done fantastic work? When it’s quite close, what tends to be the differentiator?

Jane Nugent:

I think some of it’s about how you think you’re going to be able to work together. Also, one of the other things that I will always do, I will always speak to other people that they’ve worked with.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

Not just looking at what they’ve done, but trying to get a sense of how it actually works. One of the other things I think is also important, and I think sometimes happens with agencies, particularly larger agencies, you’ll be courted by the top people. Then, when it actually starts to do your job, you might end up with Betty-

Nathan Anibaba:

Not the top people, right.

Jane Nugent:

No, or Betty who started last week. Which is well and fine, but not what you were sold.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, sure.

Jane Nugent:

So, I think it’s also knowing that they will keep their side of the bargain. I’d rather … Sounds arrogant. I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way around, so I-

Nathan Anibaba:

A small fish in a big pond, yeah. Really good point.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, because I think it’s … My business that I get is really important to me, and I want them to feel that it’s important to them, too. So, I haven’t tended to go with the really big, well-known agencies because I don’t think I would stand out enough, and I want them to really love my business as much as I do.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah, and give you the care and attention that it deserves. I almost feel sometimes that some clients hire certain brands of agency because they come with a certain reputation or certain gravitas. It’s almost like you don’t get fired for buying IBM, even though they end up being a small fish in a big pond.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, I agree. I agree.

Nathan Anibaba:

But having said that, they don’t get the results that they want because they’re sort of … As you said, they pitch with the A team, but then they deliver with the B or the C team.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s a challenge that we see quite often. In your opinion, what are the most important factors or capabilities or characteristics of new agencies that you work with? If they were to get on your radar, what’s the best way for them to do that if they wanted to win you as a client, in your experience?

Jane Nugent:

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, over the years, I’ve had lots of approaches from people, and I think some it’s about actually telling me why I should have a conversation with them. Sometimes, I’ll say, “It’s not the right time because I’ve just appointed people to my roster. I’m going to give them a good go, and we’re fine for now. It’ll be a year before I review where we are. So, there isn’t an opportunity now, but come back to me.” But I think it’s coming to you that they have done some good research into your business and its challenges and its opportunities, so they don’t just come along and say, “Hi. We’re here. We’d love to work with you.” I’ll say, “Why? Why should I be interested in you? What have you got to offer that you don’t think I’m currently getting?”

Jane Nugent:

I think it’s that … It’s like anything. If I was selling baked beans, why should anybody buy my baked beans rather than somebody else’s [crosstalk 00:15:31] come up. So, it’s applying the principles of marketing to your approach as well. Selling anything, you’ve really got to understand who you’re going after and why they should be interested in you. I have picked up and started working with agencies on that basis who have approached me because I’ve been interested enough in what they’ve had to say or that it’s been worth a conversation.

Nathan Anibaba:

[crosstalk 00:15:59]

Jane Nugent:

I’m always happy to talk to people because you just never know what you might learn, or they’ve got a great idea you haven’t thought of. I mean, obviously, you can’t talk to everybody all the time or you’d never get any work done, but it’s not a closed book from that perspective. You just never know when you might need something different. You might be working with a couple of agencies, and something else comes along that you need that you think someone else might be able to do slightly better.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Jane Nugent:

So, it’s a bit of a niche job, for instance, that you don’t think quite fits with the people who might be running your campaign work because it’s not really a campaign. It might be a more brand-lead positioning piece. I think it’s good to have a mix of different skills so you’re not over-reliant on, say, two agencies, for instance.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. But it’s the agencies that have done their research prior to contacting you. They understand who you are and what your challenges are, and they approach you with a relevant message that really gets your attention.

Jane Nugent:

Absolutely. Yeah, exactly. People are busy, aren’t they? They haven’t got time to just be nice to people, unfortunately.

Nathan Anibaba:

Definitely. Let’s talk about giving feedback to agencies. Clients have different communication styles. If they’re unhappy with something, some clients tell the agency straightaway. Other clients go silent, giving the agency suspicion that something’s wrong, but they don’t know that something actually is wrong. What’s the best way of giving feedback?

Jane Nugent:

I think you need to tackle it as soon as you got a concern. One of the things I say to agencies when I work with them, “I am pretty blunt, and I’m very direct. If I’ve got a problem, I will tell you, so don’t be surprised if I do.” So, they know upfront-

Nathan Anibaba:

I think most agencies would prefer that, yeah.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah. I can’t see why you’d just go quiet or something because, hopefully, you’re still wanting them to work for you unless you’re out looking for somebody else [crosstalk 00:18:14]. But they’re still there doing a job in the meantime, and you want everything they do to be as good as it possibly can be. I think you do need to go back to them, and nobody’s perfect. Sometimes they just sort of don’t quite get it.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

Or things’ll come in, and I’ll look at it. I’ll just think, “That’s just not good enough,” or, “It’s not right,” or, “It doesn’t feel proper. It’s not compelling enough.” So, I will call and say, “I’m not very happy about this. You need to look at it.” If the account manager or account director you’re working with doesn’t really get it, then I’ll go up the tree and-

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Jane Nugent:

Because sometimes you need someone else to at it with a fresh pair of eyes because they wouldn’t have sent it to you if they didn’t think it was okay.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Jane Nugent:

So, perhaps they can’t see what the problem is. It’s not trying to be an elitist and say, “I’m only going to talk to …”

Nathan Anibaba:

The CEO or the boss or [crosstalk 00:19:22]

Jane Nugent:

No, exactly. But sometimes, I think you have to because they need to come in and try and look at it from your perspective. Because let’s say the team have probably been trying their best have come up with their best idea, but it’s just not right.

Nathan Anibaba:

Makes-

Jane Nugent:

Usually, that comes back round, and then everybody gets … They’ll say, “Oh, yeah. Right. I can see now,” and it all comes round again. I haven’t ever had to end a relationship with an agency because their work has got too poor because we’ve always been able to have those conversations, and they get back on.

Nathan Anibaba:

I see.

Jane Nugent:

Sometimes in relationship, you just come to the end, don’t you? Everybody’s sort of had enough of each other, really. And sometimes you just need a fresh start.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure, fresh perspective, fresh skills, and, I guess, new energy sometimes.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, you do. You do, particularly if it’s the same people working with you all the time. It’s the same as … I’ve worked in businesses when we’ve had in-house creative teams, and that tends to get … They get quite stale quite quickly because they haven’t got that external impetus that you might get from being an agency team when you’ve got new people in. You’re competing. You’re having to look outside all the time.

Nathan Anibaba:

All the time, yeah, and they’ve got lots of external influences from several different clients, so …

Jane Nugent:

Exactly, and you pick up the benefit of the other clients that they work with.

Nathan Anibaba:

There you go.

Jane Nugent:

Sometimes they’ve tried something with somebody else, and the other person’s been the guinea pig, and you can get on the back of that. Right? We’d love one of those.

Nathan Anibaba:

Or vice versa.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, we’d love one of those as well, please, thank you.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. You say that as a commissioner of services, you have to know what you’re talking about. Don’t be led by your agency. If you have a strong direction in mind, go with that. What do you mean by that? Can you expand on it?

Jane Nugent:

Well, I think you know your business and your product and your services better than anybody else. Well, you should do if you’re the marketing director. A lot of that is then … I will have a really clear idea in my mind from a strategy point of view and an output point of view of where we want to get to. What isn’t necessarily my forte is turning that into visualizing that, coming up with the images and the campaign elements that really bring that to life.

Jane Nugent:

So, I need to know that things that people are proposing to me are going to work, so I said right at the start, I’ve seen a lot of changes during my career. It’s gone from being very print-based to being very … The world of marketing’s very online, and now I think it’s a bit more of a sort of mix of different channels. I think people are recognizing that you need lots of different channels to get to people in different ways. You need to understand how those work because otherwise, people can send you down a road that isn’t right for your brand or your products.

Jane Nugent:

So, even though I’m employing them for being more expert, say, working with a digital agency who might be working on your website, I’m employing them because they’ve got expertise I will never have because I’m not doing that all day every day.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

But I still need to know enough when they suggest something to me whether I think it’s going to work or it’s right. I’m not going to just believe everything they say because they tell me.

Nathan Anibaba:

Just because they tell you. Right, exactly.

Jane Nugent:

So, I have to keep my skills up-to-date. I have to be a jack of all trades, really, which is what you are when you’re a marketing director.

Nathan Anibaba:

I guess so.

Jane Nugent:

You have to know enough about everything [crosstalk 00:23:16] to feel that it’s-

Nathan Anibaba:

About lots of things, yeah.

Jane Nugent:

… right, and it justifies the investment that you are putting into it without just going blind faith after something. Particularly with digital marketing, people can try and bamboozle you with all sorts of specialist-

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah, lingo. Right.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah. Yeah, and they-

Nathan Anibaba:

Data and numbers and all the rest of it [crosstalk 00:23:38].

Jane Nugent:

You might think, “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” so you have to know what they’re talking about because-

Nathan Anibaba:

Definitely.

Jane Nugent:

… so that you do the right thing as a marketing director. You may have your budget, but you always have to be able to justify every penny that you spend when … In businesses, marketing is one of those things that even if they’re quite committed to it, ultimately, it’s discretionary.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative),

Jane Nugent:

So, if times get a bit tight, it’s often training and marketing are the two areas that-

Nathan Anibaba:

One of the first things to go, yeah. Definitely.

Jane Nugent:

You have to be able to show that you’ve spent the money wisely and that you’ve had an impact. That’s hard to do if you’re just relying on somebody else managing everything for you and not really understanding what they’re doing.

Nathan Anibaba:

Well, let’s talk about how your marketing budget, how you measure the impact of your marketing budget when you’re spending it with an agency. Because how can you as a marketing director tell that your marketing budget is working as hard as you are, or even harder?

Jane Nugent:

Well, it depends what you say we’re setting out to do. When you’re working on brand development, it’s always a bit harder, isn’t it? Because you can’t put a number against the fact that your brand is being seen differently. You can eventually, but not initially. There’s not a direct one-to-one, where as if you are running a PPC campaign, you can see the stuff that’s coming in.

Nathan Anibaba:

Straightaway.

Jane Nugent:

Exactly, and how valuable those contacts are, and are they right people, and can you therefore ultimately convert them into a customer? There’s different elements of it, and I think it’s one of the things that I’ve always worked quite hard to do. Because often, you’ll go into a business, and people think they know about marketing, but they don’t really, really know what it does. Nowadays, because people talk about measurements and return on investment much more, people have a perception that there is a direct line between every pound that you spend and what you get out of it. It isn’t quite that clear, and things take time to build. So, I will always try and make sure that people understand that a certain amount of marketing is about investment, and it’s like anything else. If you’re buying equipment for the business, you’re investing in it. Then, over time, you’ll get a return on it.

Nathan Anibaba:

You’ll get a return. Yeah.

Jane Nugent:

And making sure that everybody gets what you’re doing and understands the strategy and the difference so that you can justify the budget and the fact that, ultimately, you will see … Ultimately, you’ve got to see something coming through. You’ve either got to … Your brand awareness will be greater. You’ll be generating more leads. There’ll be more people talking about you. Demand will go up. There are those outcomes that absolute … Ultimately, it’s all about revenue, or profitable revenue anyway, and that’s the thing that the marketing strategy always has to be completely aligned to. That’s what you’re there for. You are there to help support and drive the revenue targets for the business.

Jane Nugent:

But it might not happen tomorrow. It’ll take a little bit of [inaudible 00:27:16] to get there. You know it’s easy enough. You can chuck a whole load of money at your PPC and bring in lots of different leads.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Jane Nugent:

Whether they turn out to be of any value is a different matter altogether.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Jane Nugent:

So, it’s not always about the number. It’s about the quality of the number.

Nathan Anibaba:

Yeah, it really is. Have you worked with any leadership team or business owner that’s sort of quite traditional, and they’ve lost faith in marketing, and they want a return quite quickly? They can’t understand why we’re spending all this money, but we’re not really seeing the return as soon as they would like? I guess they’re a little bit more impatient? How have you managed to deal with someone that thinks in that sort of way and doesn’t really think of the medium to long-term impact that the marketing campaign is having?

Jane Nugent:

I think it comes back to that, sounds a bit ridiculous, the education. But getting people to understand that you have to have … Your brand sits at the heart of everything. Your brand, and your proposition, and your purpose, and why you are there has to be really clear because otherwise, everything else you layer on top of that isn’t going to attract the right people. It’s not going to attract the people who actually want to be your potential customers and long-term customers, which is ultimately what you’re after.

Jane Nugent:

And it is just, again, using your knowledge and your expertise about it cumulated over the years to say, “This is what you need to expect.” It isn’t necessarily going to be stuff coming in. I mean, sometimes you can get things coming in, because they were just doing things so badly. You’re always trying to find a few quick wins to keep people happy but get people to understand that it is a bit more of a slightly medium-term rather than a long-term. Nobody gets the luxury of doing long-term marketing and not showing any growth from it from that time.

Jane Nugent:

And I think people, if they are confident that you know exactly what you’re talking about, which I do, and you can show them examples from other places and how it’s worked, then people have to have that confidence in you. It takes time. I’ve worked in lots of businesses where they have always done things in the same way, and therefore, they are running out. Some of it’s about then changing from a traditional view to a more online approach. But it’s getting people to understand what that means and how you are going to deliver the growth and all the steps that you’re going to go through, and you keeping them up to date and reporting stuff back all the time.

Jane Nugent:

It’s about faith at the end of the day, them having faith in the fact that you will do the right thing, and the results will come in through in the end. I think sometimes that’s why the tenure of marketing directors, I think, over the years, is just getting shorter and shorter.

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s shortened, yeah. Definitely.

Jane Nugent:

Because people are impatient, and I think particularly in certain area, like online retail, I think that’s quite a ruthless world to be in. You’re only as good as your last set of numbers.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right, you’re only as good as last week in some cases. Yeah.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, you are, exactly.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really good point.

Jane Nugent:

That must be a really difficult place to be because next week could be different, and there’s the circumstances that come along that were completely out of your control wouldn’t matter.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

Even if you walked on water, it wouldn’t necessarily have made the difference that [crosstalk 00:31:08] think they’re looking for. The whole move to digitization and online in marketing has been a great thing but also not so great in other ways that it’s driven that impatience and that belief that you do something today, and you always get every positive result tomorrow.

Nathan Anibaba:

Let’s talk about creating briefs for agencies. Now, a good brief just exponentially increases the agency’s ability to do fantastic work. The client sort of sets the start and end point for the project, giving the agency sort of a solid foundation for strategy or creative development. Some have likened it … Well, some have likened the briefing process to almost the way that you brief a surgeon prior to an operation. With that being the case, what’s the best way of creating a great brief for an agency?

Jane Nugent:

It’s those simple things. Where are you now? What are your objectives? What will success look like? And sticking to those things. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you’re not going to get there. You as the client, you have to be really clear about what your objectives are. Not wooly objectives. Quite specific objects, and you also have to make sure you provide all the background information that’s needed so people understand how you got to where you are.

Nathan Anibaba:

I think that’s the key. I’ve seen so many briefs that are so wooly and full of marketing jargon that they almost sound … They want to sound intelligent and impressive, but actually behind it, there’s not really much there. They don’t really know what they’re trying to achieve, and they’re not really articulating that in a way that the agency can receive it and then propose something concrete back, to your point.

Jane Nugent:

Well, it’s that thing. It’s a cliché, but it applies. If you don’t know where you’re going, you ain’t going to get there. It doesn’t matter how great your agency is or the people that you want to work with. They’ll end up going off in a separate direction or a different route because you haven’t been really specific about what you need to achieve. It takes a lot of time as a client to write a good brief because you really have to do the thinking. You can’t just chuck something out there that is wooly because it isn’t going to work.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Jane Nugent:

You have to put the effort into really thinking about what you want to achieve, and giving some really clear pointers about what you think that might look like or whether different elements … You think you need a campaign to do X because these are the products that you actually want to focus on, or this is the segment of people, and some detail around those particular segments. Give people as much information as you can about them that you’ve got from your information. If you don’t know enough about them, then how is someone who’s outside your business ever going to have that depth of knowledge that you should have or should be in your team at least?

Nathan Anibaba:

Very good point. Let’s talk about performance reviews. It’s important to conduct effective performance reviews for both client and agency so they can both provide feedback and improve the working relationship. How often should we conduct them, and what’s the best way that you’ve seen them done?

Jane Nugent:

I tended to do … If we were working on a particular campaign, then we will have a formal review at the end of that with all the parties involved. So, if there’s been a campaign that’s had a couple of agencies with someone working on the website content, and somebody else working on the creative campaign elements, and my internal team, we all get together, sit round the table, and we talk it through.

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

I think that’s important because you will always pick up learnings from it, and it isn’t meant to be just your review of the agency. It’s meant to be a review of how we’ve all worked collectively.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jane Nugent:

Because sometimes as the client, you may not have made life as easy as possible for the agency because you didn’t do what you said you were going to do.

Nathan Anibaba:

Surely not. Does that happen with clients?

Jane Nugent:

Occasionally sometimes. Things get in the way, and you didn’t give it enough care or attention, or you weren’t fast enough in coming back with the things that you’d promised that you would do so they could do their bit. Sometimes projects slip, which it isn’t necessarily the fault of the agency. It might’ve been the client who was dragging their feet on some, or vice versa, but I think it is that. Because, hopefully, you’ll then all be going on to work on another campaign, and you need to make sure that when you do the next one, you do it even better.

Jane Nugent:

So, there is that constant learning and reviews along the way and getting that input. I was always being open to people saying, “I think it could’ve been better if you had done more of this.” Just because you’re the client doesn’t mean that you’re not open to improvement as well.

Nathan Anibaba:

Last couple of questions, Jane, before we get into our quick-fire questions for the interview. You were marketing director for Speedy Hire from 2015 to 2017. The business had a traditional approach to marketing at that time, and you were quite instrumental in modernizing their approach. Talk about what you did, and how did you take them on that journey? Especially since I imagine that there must’ve been some resistance to change if people were doing marketing historically in a certain way, and they didn’t necessarily want to modernize or sort of move with the times? How did you take them on that journey?

Jane Nugent:

Well, when I arrived, I took the job on the basis that I was told I had a blank sheet of paper, and that the marketing really needed completely reviewing and rebuilding. That was obviously a view from the senior team, not necessarily how people out in the depots and the other teams would necessarily have seen it. That’s what I set out to do. One of the issues was there wasn’t a marketing strategy. Lots of people were doing lots of stuff again. I think one of the things I described as we got … It was leaflet-tastic. There was a leaflet for everything.

Nathan Anibaba:

Right.

Jane Nugent:

Anybody who wanted a leaflet, grab one. They all were different. They all said something different. They then held up cupboards, shelves because they didn’t really go anywhere. I think what I did was I just stopped a lot of the stuff that we were doing while we assessed where we were and where we needed to get to. It was, again, starting with looking at the brand, how it had lost its way, so we needed to be clearer on what our proposition …

Jane Nugent:

Hire is a very competitive marketplace. We need to understand what differentiated Speedy from our competitors because otherwise, we would just be going out and doing stuff again. So, it was trying to get people to understand why we were different and communicating that internally as well as externally so everybody understood where we were trying to go as a business and therefore how marketing would support that. So, the marketing wasn’t just about promoting a particular product out for hire, that it was about the wider business and our purpose and how we could compete more easily without having to always compete on price. There was a lot of that bit and sharing that message with the sales guys and people [crosstalk 00:39:21]

Nathan Anibaba:

How did that go down?

Jane Nugent:

Well, I think for some of them, it makes sense. But they still wanted to do things in the meantime, like the example of someone who asked me could they have sandwich bags with a logo on there so they could give them to the local sandwich shop near a site where they were hoping to get some kit hired out of? I said, “No, we’re not going to do that because, A, it’s a waste of time and money, and it’s not really where I see our brand is being positioned. We’re not a sandwich bag business.” Also, the guys who are coming in to get their sandwiches aren’t the people who are going to make decisions about who they hire from.

Nathan Anibaba:

More importantly, yeah.

Jane Nugent:

So, we need to go after the right people. Then, it was understanding segmenting the customer base and getting the right messages for all of those because it’s very different if you’re a man in a van or you are the likes of Balfour Beatty how we need to talk to you. Need it to be very different, and we have to have the right messages for all of those people. It was getting people to understand that it wasn’t all the same for everybody, and we needed to communicate with people better.

Jane Nugent:

The website hadn’t been touched for years. It was really out of date. It had been hard coded. You couldn’t make any changes. The catalog hadn’t been refreshed for a long time. We had products in there that we didn’t hire anymore. We had lots of products that we hired that weren’t in there. There was lots of fundamentals to get right, so we were telling people the right things about our business. So, it was moving it from being very traditional and sort of print-based and reactive to being planned, to having a good website that we could send people to with pride, having a catalog that was talking about some of the innovations and product developments that we were trying to move the industry towards in terms of safety and compliance and more environmentally friendly products, and then putting campaigns in place.

Jane Nugent:

Because in hire, one of the key things for the success of the business is utilization rate. If you’ve got kits sitting in a depot somewhere, and it isn’t going anywhere, that is critical. So, we put campaigns in place, seasonal campaigns in the winter. Like now, on sites, you need lights and you need heaters. You don’t need those in the summer, so it was promoting those and driving up, put in a campaign, getting the right messages to people so they thought us before they thought about the competition-

Nathan Anibaba:

Wow.

Jane Nugent:

… and using that to drive up the utilization. That was one of the measures. Then, once people could see that things were happening, they started to understand that we needed to do things in a different way.

Nathan Anibaba:

Oh, I see. So, once they started to see that there was a result from what you’d implemented, they start to get on board, and-

Jane Nugent:

Yeah, it takes-

Nathan Anibaba:

It takes some time.

Jane Nugent:

It takes time [crosstalk 00:42:35]. It was making sure that they had stuff so if they were going out to see somebody on a site, they had some things that they could take that were relevant, so not something … So, if it was the winter, they had some content they could take out that talked about how great and more cost effective our tower lights were than the competition because it gave them something to have a conversation about rather than, “Hi, how’s it going? Great. I’ll come and see you in another couple of weeks,” [crosstalk 00:43:08] specific, which would help the customer.

Nathan Anibaba:

Of course.

Jane Nugent:

It was all about why we were better to do business with than somebody else. Yeah, it-

Nathan Anibaba:

Huge, huge jump. Huge,, huge transformational.

Jane Nugent:

It was a huge jump, yeah. I think we … I was really proud of what the team and I achieved because they had to take a lot on board as well. They had to change the way that they saw things, and it also gave them a chance to build their skills, to build their knowledge about online marketing and data and CRM systems and targeted marketing. It was just as it is with all of these things. As the marketing director, I just had to keep the faith. I knew I was doing the right thing, and I was doing the right thing for the business. I just had to keep pushing on, even though sometimes it wasn’t always appreciated. Because I knew I was taking those in the right direction, and it would make a difference.

Nathan Anibaba:

Proudest moment of your career so far?

Jane Nugent:

I think one of the things I’m good at is going into places where things need to change, and I think everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been able to bring about some of that change and modernize and make their marketing more appropriate. That’s what I’m always proud of because whichever job I’m in, that’s what I’m trying to achieve. I’m fortunate that I don’t feel that I’ve ever failed to do that, so that’s what keeps me going on. I don’t think I’ve had one moment that stands out more than others because you’re always trying to move forward and do the very best wherever you are. But I know I always leave places better than I found them. That’s something that I’m proud of, and that’s what I’ve been employed to do.

Nathan Anibaba:

Great stuff. Jane, let’s get into our quickfire round. I’m going to fire some questions at you-

Jane Nugent:

Ooh, goodness.

Nathan Anibaba:

If you can fire some answers back at me, that would be even better. Almost like a little bit of a verbal tennis almost.

Jane Nugent:

Okay. All right. [inaudible 00:45:23]

Nathan Anibaba:

Don’t worry. We’re going to start easy, and then we’ll build up to harder and harder questions. What’s the single thing you enjoy most about working with agencies?

Jane Nugent:

The fact that they bring in a creative element to everything, and they can just sometimes really get the essence of what you’re after and turn that into something fabulous. You’ll have your colleagues around the table, and they’ll go, “Wow. Yeah, that’s really great. That is us. They’ve got it. We feel really confident about that visualization and interpretation of the messages.” That really is a great thing that they bring to the party.

Nathan Anibaba:

What annoys you most or frustrates you about working with agencies?

Jane Nugent:

Sometimes that they lose a bit of pace. I push hard. I’m always committing myself to deadlines that I probably can’t meet, and I need them to keep up with that and sometimes I have to remind them that we’ve committed to doing something tomorrow and not next week.

Nathan Anibaba:

From time to time, people go through a low. What do you do to motivate yourself?

Jane Nugent:

I go to the gym.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay.

Jane Nugent:

Yeah. When things are bad, I go to the gym because it helps me clear my head. Then, you can see things far clearer, and helps you take the emotion out of it. Doing something physical removes that emotion out of the situation, and I think that’s sometimes the thing that stops you being able to see a way forward because it sort of clouds your judgment a bit.

Nathan Anibaba:

What excites you most about your current role?

Jane Nugent:

The great thing with the Marketing Centre jobs and the businesses I’m currently working with is that they have all got massive potential for growth, and it’s helping them see what that growth will look like and how they get there because marketing at a strategic level is something completely new to them. It’s great to see how quickly they embrace that and how much confidence it gives them about their ambition because they can see that the things that they thought and felt coming to life. It really helps drive them forward and gives them a sort of visual representation of what they’re really great at and how they get that confidence that they can definitely deliver on their ambitions.

Nathan Anibaba:

If you weren’t doing your current job or working in B2B marketing, what else would you be doing?

Jane Nugent:

I don’t think I’d want to do anything other than marketing. I’ve worked in marketing a long time. I love it. I’ve been so fortunate to find a career that has really allowed me to do good stuff and enjoy it. Of course, there are bad days, but generally, those bad days are few. Yeah, I love being in marketing. I think it’s a fabulous career for anybody. It’s so varied. No two days are the same. It’s forever changing, so you can’t possibly get bored with it. It’s a great thing to do as a job.

Nathan Anibaba:

Jane, finally, if you could live or work anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

Jane Nugent:

I do have a bit of a liking for Australia.

Nathan Anibaba:

Okay. I wonder why. Is it all that sun and sand?

Jane Nugent:

Well, yeah. I think there’s just a lot to see and do, and it’s a very different, relaxed lifestyle. But yeah, at the moment, it’s the cold and the damp and the gray of the U.K. is … You think, oof. The sunshine livens you up. I’ll probably just stay here for now, I think. We have no two days are the same over here with our weather. We’re obsessed with it, so it gives us something to talk about.

Nathan Anibaba:

Good answer. Jane, thank you so much for doing this.

Jane Nugent:

Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you for your time. Good luck with all your other podcasts. It’s a really great idea. I look forward to listening to the others, too.

Nathan Anibaba:

Thank you very much. If you would like to share any comments or subscribe to the podcast, you can find ClientSide on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or wherever fine podcasts are sold. If you’d like to appear as a guest on the show or would like to recommend a senior B2B marketing professional to appear on ClientSide, then please visit fox.agency. We would be unable to produce this show without our very special team here at Fox. Milly Bell is our booker/researcher. Paul Blandford is our creative director. Ben Fox is our executive producer. I’m Nathan Anibaba. You’ve been listening to ClientSide from Fox Agency.

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