This blog has been rather a long time coming. Back in December 2016 I was asked by PensionBee if I would take part in their very first outdoor and digital marketing campaign. The idea of being a poster girl of any sorts part thrilled me and part terrified me, but I said “yes”, on the condition that I could write up a behind the scenes blog for Digital Marketing for Grads.
I thought it would make a great case study and insight into the world of marketing for those of you who are interested in embarking on a marketing career. So here goes…
Who is PensionBee?
PensionBee is an online pension provider of sorts. They are a service that is shaking up the traditional pension world good and proper. A fintech brand. With your permission, they find the pension money that you may have accrued from various employers and they pull it together, safely invested and accessible from your very own online account.
It’s not what you’d consider a terribly glamorous fashion or beauty brand – I’m not sure I’d get picked for such a campaign! But it is the VERY FIRST campaign of this type for PensionBee who launched their brand to the UK market in 2016. And that’s what made it exciting for me.
I love working with start-ups and seeing them succeed. They are the life blood of the UK economy. And when a start-up disrupts a traditional industry (as PensionBee is doing) you know there’s likely to be fast-growth, furious recruitment, a ton of press coverage and loads of awards won – which makes it an exhilarating ride for anyone involved.
Why did they ask me to take part?
Well, first of all I am a customer of theirs. And I was one of their first customers known – in the business – as an early adopter. I also fit the mould of one of their target customers (more detail on that later) and I happen to live in Brighton and Hove – the target location for their very first outdoor campaign.
And now for a small disclaimer, it also turned out that I worked with the VP Marketing of PensionBee, Jasper Martens, a good few years ago, when we were both working as marketing leads for our companies. If you embark on a career in marketing, you will find that it’s a small world, and you will repeatedly come across the same people, and end up making some good friends.
When Jasper got in touch, I was really pleased to hear from him, and that connection made it much easier to get involved, and feel less nervous. Here’s an explainer video of why I became a customer of PensionBee:
The campaign details
When Jasper got in touch he said that they have teamed up with the award-winning photographer Jonathan Oakes whose work is now in the National Portrait Gallery. And they wanted me to be on their billboards (gulp).
They had planned the shoot for the end of January and they’ve only asked their 5 most suitable customers to be featured in the campaign. The campaign would consist of posters (known as outdoor advertising) at train stations and bus stops around Brighton & Hove, a series of digital ads that would run across the various web and mobile networks, and some video testimonial for the PensionBee site.
He also told me that the advertising agency would be The Builders Arms and Dominic Slade would now be my point of contact and he would organise everything from there.
You know I told you about it being a small world – well it happened again – I also know Dominic and The Builder’s Arms guys, as they were my ad agency when I was the Marketing Director for Readly in 2014. So I was thrilled to be working with them again.
Planning a multi-channel marketing campaign
When you plan a campaign of this scale it is usual to employ a creative (ad) agency. Their job is to come up with the over-riding campaign idea, create the ads in whatever format (print, digital, video) and manage the execution. A good agency will also manage the campaign and make you feel (as the in-house marketing team) that you have nothing to worry about.
In addition to the creative work someone has to buy the ad space. In a smaller business you may do this yourself; you could hire an ad planner to do it for you; or with a bigger budget, a large advertising agency (think Mad Men) may offer ad planning as part of their service. But the point is, you have to decide where to put your ads, balance how much it will cost with how many people you can reach, within what timeframe.
In PensionBee’s case they wanted to target business people who commute to work so they opted for an outdoor transport campaign where they bought ad space at train stations and bus stops.
Now ad agencies and paying to advertise don’t come cheap, and so it is a huge investment for a start-up, where every penny counts. As the marketing person in charge of gaining customers you have to plan the campaign with precision and know before you start what you hope to achieve and what is reasonable to expect. I asked Jasper how he planned this campaign”
“As a startup you need to test your product and your message but also your preferred marketing channel to acquire customers. We’ve been pretty good at testing a wide range of digital marketing channels and we’re now at a point that we want to test outdoor and other more traditional marketing channels to supersize our brand campaigns.
Testing these channels is more difficult but if you pick a region and concentrate your efforts there, you’ll be able to measure the impact in that region vs. the rest of the UK.
We’ve picked Brighton & Hove because it is a relatively wealthy young audience that are more likely to try new solutions. It’s similar to areas such as Bristol and Edinburgh and it’s much easier to isolate the results than a big area such as London.”
The initial ad ideas
The Builders Arms are a fab agency. They specialise in working with both fast-growth start-ups and small businesses and big brands, and so were absolutely the men for the job. They sent me and the other four customers taking part some examples to explain the types of ads we were likely to be featured in. They were:
Outdoor transport display:
Posters at various transport locations with the headline and ad text optimised to allow for a person who is lingering at a train station and someone who would view the ad whilst walking past. The ads need to be impactful and easy to understand quickly. And the idea is that the commuter remembers the Pension Bee brand from seeing the ad day after day on their commute. This is a billboard mock-up, and yes that is Helena Bonham-Carter – not me!
This is the 6-sheet mock-up which will appear in digital display and print display. Called 6-sheet because they are printed in 6 sheets and assembled together. It’s a common size for a bus stop shelter:
Digital display advertising
Digital display adverts are the ads you see when browsing websites. Sometimes you may notice that ads appear for a brand whose website you have just visited. This is a form of display advertising known as re-marketing, where the company shows you an ad after you’ve visited their website, to reinforce their brand message, and to (hopefully) remind you to buy.
In this case the digital display ads would allow for a more complete customer story. They would take the outdoor message and expand the story. An example of this is here:
Brighton Car Ads
The last form of advertising PensionBee were thinking of experimenting with was car ads. The idea is that the ‘If he can, so can you’ message would work on the move:
Capturing the idea on film
Jonathan Oakes the photographer was the next person to be in contact. The man who was employed to make the images of the five of us fit the campaign idea. He explained over the phone that he was hoping to photograph us in an environment that was representative of our personality and regular pursuits.
Being that the ad campaign was airing in Brighton and I had very recently launched Digital Marketing for Grads from Brighton, I was keen that he focussed on me as a start-up business owner to capitalise on my involvement in any way possible. It was, after all, probably the only time I’d get my face on a huge electronic billboard!
The big day
The next time that I was involved was on shoot day on a cold, but bright February morning. I arrived at the PensionBee offices in London Bridge only marginally aware of what was in store for me.
I didn’t expect to be primped and preened quite so much. My make-up was touched up every few seconds, I was dressed and re-dressed in outfits befitting of an entrepreneur, and I was paraded around various Borough Market locations as well as a swanky office location.
It was fun but exhausting. I really had no idea that it would take so long to get the “perfect shot”. The ad agency guys were reviewing images with the photographer; the in-house PensionBee marketing guys were organising the scene and keeping the gangways free of people; the make-up artist and the stylist were dedicated to keeping me shine free and smart; and the photographer and his assistant were continually taking shots, tweaking the lighting, and taking more shots… until finally, they all agreed that they had what they needed. Phew.
But that wasn’t it. No sooner did I breathe a sigh of relief, now that I was no longer the model, Mark, the Pension Bee content marketing guru, whisked me up to the top floor of their building to meet Edwin be Boer, founder of ReelDealTV. Here, filmed against the London skyline, I was rigged up with a mic and asked a series of questions about why I became a Pension Bee customer, and Edwin caught it all on camera ready to edit for the PensionBee customer testimonial video.
Three or four takes later (I can’t remember how many times I fluffed my answers) the ad guys had all the content and images that they needed to start creating the ad campaign ready for launch.
As of now you can see the testimonial video front and centre on the PensionBee homepage (and I’ve also pasted it below):
The benefit of creating a customer testimonial video cannot be under estimated for a business. When customers give an honest appraisal of your business, and are prepared to go on film to do so, it adds enormous weight and credibility to the brand. And in the case of this marketing campaign, if you visit the PensionBee site because you’ve seen one of the ads, you can see the five of us giving our appraisal of the business. It shows that we’re real customers, and endorses the ad campaign.
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
The ads in the flesh
If you’ve read this far, I guess you will want to see the output of the campaign that I’ve been describing. It aired in Brighton and Hove two days ago, on Monday 22nd April and is set to run for 2 weeks. This is the billboard…
And, this is the 6-sheet digital display in Brighton station…
And that’s a wrap…
Now the campaign is live, I thought it would be great to hear what the ‘ad men’ think about it:
“Developing this campaign with PensionBee has been a great experience. A campaign built around the idea of “They did it, so can you” and using actual customers like Lucy, is a highly effective way of building trust for Fintech brands.
Working with exciting brands that are disrupting their categories was one of the main reasons for us starting The Builders Arms. As an agency we believe strongly in the power of collaboration. So we like working as closely as possible with our client partners to help build their brands.
I would advise anybody thinking of getting into marketing or advertising to embrace this approach – boxing people into “client side” and “agency side” or even marketing / non-marketing prevents you being able to tap into a diverse range of thinking and inspiration.” said Dominic Slade, one third of The Builders Arms.
Stay tuned for a follow up blog, where I will discuss (with Pension Bee’s permission) some of the results and outputs of the campaign. And if you liked this article, this video gives a great behind the scenes look at the whole day:
If this type of activity floats your boat and a career in marketing sounds like it’s for you. Get in touch with us today, to find out how we can help you land the job of your dreams.