HAPPY BIRTHDAY INVOKE MEDIA: 6 YEARS OLD TODAY

Invoke Media: A Brief History

Today we are celebrating 6 years of Invoke Media…kind of. 

Much like the queen, we’ve actually got two birthdays. The day we started trading, and the day we became incorporated as a limited company, which as it happens was the 1st August 2013.

Our story has previously been untold, and to be honest there’s probably not that many people interested…but allow us to be self indulgent for a day. It is our birthday after all.

2009-2010: The Planning Years

The idea for the business came way back early in 2010, in a remote patrol base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. An unusual starting for the business to say the least, but our director was serving and in his down time came up with the ideas and plans for the business & the events that it was to organise and market. 

Having been involved in the planning and promotion of events before and during his service, he made the decision to return to ‘civvy street’, attend university and concurrently set up business to organise and consult on events marketing. A prospectus was sent out and ideas for successful events to come were thrashed out in the sweltering heat of Southern Afghanistan.

2011 – 2013: The Early Years

The first 18 months were spent working closely with local licensed trade, UCLan Student’s Union and numerous small businesses in the Preston area. There were many successes, many more failures but things generally were going well.

It was on 1st August 2013 that the business was incorporated on the advice of our accountants (who we still work with to this day) Woodville Accountancy. Being a limited company gave us more legitimacy and our client base grew. Rebel Marketing & Promotions Ltd. was born.

Rebel Marketing (Invoke) organised, marketed & sold out many successful events. Including a 2000 capacity festival.

2013 – 2015: The Formative Years

Our client base diversified and we cut our teeth in new industries, with the business moving away from events and licensed trade (for the most part). We honed our skills in lead generation, paid social and PPC. Our reputation grew and after a successful consultancy project disaster struck!

Our director was headhunted by an agency in Manchester. He became a director in that business and for a short period, Rebel Marketing as it was then known, became dormant.

2015 – 2018: The Birth of Invoke Media

The current Invoke Media brand was born in Manchester, servicing clients in the city and across the North of England.

Whilst working in a busy Manchester agency was exciting, the clients considerably larger and well known, and the Manchester lifestyle extremely appealing; our director decided to return to his passion and reignite the entrepreneurial freedom of working for himself.

He left the agency and reactivated Rebel Marketing, with several key clients moving over to the business. 

Rebel Marketing was born in and branded for a different client base and in a different time, it was time for something new. So in 2015 Invoke Media was born.

Over the next 3 years the business went through highs and lows, expanding and contracting, moving with the market and developing its offering. 

Old skills were honed to perfection, new skills were learned and new strategies and tactics were innovated.

In this period over 6 million pounds of customer ad spend was spent, new industries explored and a solid reputation was developed.

2018 – 2019: The Return & Rapid Growth

Once again our director was offered a directorship in another business, a business centre located in Preston, his home town. Learning from the mistakes of previous years, the role was time limited and the focus was clear…Invoke was to be the priority.

In the immediate 6 months after taking up this role, something became clear…Preston had changed. 

The development and investment in the city was impressive, the attitudes & success of local businesses was positive and entrepreneurial spirit plentiful.

In summer of 2018 Invoke Media streamlined its operations, closed up shop in Manchester and moved to Cotton Court Business Centre in Preston. 

Becoming an active player in the local business landscape, expanding & developing networks and securing multiple key accounts, revenue has nearly quadrupled. A testament to the thriving business ecosystem, positive attitudes and support being provided in the Central Lancashire area.

The addition of hospitality and recruitment wings of the business is well underway after a series of high profile wins and successful campaigns. With the team growing and 2020 looking to be another record year for the business.

So today we celebrate 6 years of being a legal entity, highs, lows, successes & failures. We look forward to another 6 years of marketing excellence in a city that is going from strength to strength.

Invoke Media partners with local hospitality heavyweights

Invoke Media announces a major client win, securing the digital marketing contract for The San Marco Group of restaurants.

The family owned and operated group of Italian restaurants have a footprint across the Central Lancashire area, operating five highly successful established restaurants and bars.

Since late January, Invoke have been providing marketing consultancy services to the group and each establishment individually, as well as implementing a social media and email marketing strategy.

Understanding the importance of maintaining a clear & engaging online presence, the group approached Invoke to pitch a proposal for the future marketing of each restaurant and the group as a whole; with Invoke revelling at the opportunity to work with such a respected brand.

 

Invoke Media Director Jack Barron says…

“This is a great opportunity for both businesses. We’ve had some interesting discussions on how to progress the brand online and we’re excited at the results of those conversations.

The strategy is sound, aligned with the prestige of the San Marco brand and is aimed at engaging an already loyal customer base, as well as attracting new customers who haven’t had the pleasure of dining with them yet.

I have personally been eating at restaurants from across the group since I was knee-high, so I fully buy into what they stand for and am already a strong brand advocate. I’m also looking forward to passing off regular meals out as market research that’s for sure. I really didn’t need any more excuse to go to Angelo’s or Stratos after work.”

 

Invoke Media’s Jack Barron (left) and San Marco Director Carlo Bragagnini (right)

 

San Marco Director Carlo Bragagnini says…

“We’ve tried numerous approaches to our digital marketing over the years and understand the importance of not only maintaining our online presence, but driving forward with new tactics and techniques.

We’ve had some great success at doing this over the years but it’s hard work keeping on top of the latest developments and implementing them effectively. We felt that it was time to bring in the experts, and had contact with a number of marketing agencies.

Invoke came highly recommended by a number of close contacts and we felt that their proposal was by far the most aligned with where we want to be and the brand overall.”

The partnership comes amid a series of high profile local client wins for Invoke, having only moved their operation back to Preston from Manchester earlier on in 2018.

 

All online marketing for the group will now be managed by Invoke, with brands coming under their remit including:

The San Marco Group

Trattoria San Marco

Angelo’s

Pinocchio’s

The Italian Orchard

Stratos

Services Provided:

Marketing Consultancy

Paid Social Advertisements

Social Media Management

Email Marketing

 

Further Information

Invoke Media are a marketing consultancy based at Preston’s Cotton Court Business Centre, having moved from their Manchester base in 2018.

Specialising in consultative strategy and paid social advertisements, they service a range of local and national clients across both B2B and B2C markets.

 

Press Contact:

Jack Barron, Director

Email:

Jack@Invokemedia.co.uk

Telephone:

01772  921 109

SMEs: Do you know well your marketing is performing?

One of the main benefits of digital marketing in comparison with traditional marketing & media channels is readily available & accurate data on performance.

Many forms of traditional marketing rely heavily on assumptions, presumptions or sample data.

How many customers not only saw, but took action from your last newspaper or magazine advert? How many people screwed up your latest flyer and how many took notice? It’s not impossible to gauge, but it’s certainly very difficult and not very accurate.

The rise of digital mediums provided marketers and business owners alike, with rich actionable data in realtime. It’s an absolute dream for gauging success, tracking return on investment & gaining customer insight.

 

The Benefits

  • Insight into customer behaviour
  • Understand who your customers actually are
  • Track R.O.I. from different campaigns
  • Understand the value of each customer
  • Establish the cost of winning new customers
  • Make informed business decisions

 

The Problem

As digital marketing platforms evolve and become more complex, so too can the data they provide.

It’s very easy to be blinded by science, overwhelmed with insights or just not know which of the thousands of tools out there are best suited for your needs.

Even if you’re an experienced marketer, it can be hard to make sense of the data in front of you. Even more so if you’re the owner or operator of an SME with limited experience in analytics or marketing reporting. 

The Solution

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and reporting metrics are an important first step. They help you filter out the noise of data overload and concentrate on the information that matters to your business.

Work out what matters to you, whether it’s how people people view your website each month, the number of enquiry forms you receive or calls received from your website; establish the criteria that you’re going to measure your success from.

Once you’ve established what it is you want to track, set the parameters to gauge your success and have filtered out the noise, it’s time to get to it.

Set the time frame that you want to measure your marketing performance from and start reporting! We usually find that monthly report (from the 1st day of the month to the final day of the month) is more than sufficient for most businesses we work with.

 

How To Go About It

If you’re pulling data from different sources you’re going to want to use one common means of storing it, for ease of accessing and comparison. Traditionally we used to use an Excel Spreadsheet, but we’d highly recommend you consider using Google Sheets if you’re a small business.

Not only does this allow you the ability to share an editable document with other members of the team, you’ll be able to create visually appealing charts and graphs to make the data easier to understand and translate.

Include the KPI’s and metrics you established earlier on, and get inputting that data!

 

Finally

Inputting your marketing metrics can be time consuming but it’s an important part of any marketing campaign or overall strategy.

If you don’t know how well (or badly!) you’re doing, you can’t test, adjust and pivot accordingly. How will you know if your Google Ads are worth the money you’re investing, or whether the time spent on writing your blogs is having a positive effect?

We’ve included monthly reporting as one of the key services in our marketing support packages for small businesses.

We’ll provide you with a monthly marketing report that brings together all of the data from across your marketing channels and put it into a visually appealing, easy to understand report so you can measure the R.O.I. of your financial and time investment.

For those that don’t want all of the benefits that our marketing support packages offer, we also offer the monthly reporting as a separate low-cost service for SME’s! Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Jack Barron

Managing Director – Invoke Media

 

interim head of marketing

Consider this if you’re hiring an interim head of marketing

Interim Head of Marketing

 

If you’re looking for an interim head of marketing you’ve either had a recent and unexpected departure, or have identified the need to expand your senior management team. Either way, you’re looking for an experienced marketing professional with the ability to drive your business forward and direct your team.

 

Hiring an interim head of marketing is an excellent way to plug a skills gap in your company and keep things moving forward, but it also comes with several considerations.

 

Recruitment Cost

 

The UK recruitment industry is worth in the region of £34bn per annum with temporary placements making up the lion’s share of that figure. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation estimate that agencies operating in the temporary and contract market averaged £380,792 in sales per employee, with margins around the 20% mark.

 

In other words, business is booming for temporary and contract recruiters, and in addition to the cost of employing your interim head of marketing, you’re going to have to pick up the tab on the cost of recruitment.

 

When you’re looking into hiring an interim head of marketing, make sure you take into consideration the additional costs of recruitment and beware of what you agree to, even in casual email correspondence. Agencies often have complicated terms that tie you in at an early stage.

interim head of marketing recruitment

Time

 

Another consideration when hiring your interim head of marketing is of course time. Both the time it takes to recruit your new team member, and the time you are looking to hire them for.

 

If you’re using a recruitment agency they can usually source you a suitable candidate pretty quickly. They’ve got access to large databases of professionals and dedicated teams of headhunters, but if you’re looking yourself then it may take considerably longer.

 

Another time factor to consider is the length of the contract or agreement. If you’re only hiring for a short time, then you may find that both using agencies and sourcing yourself will have inherent issues attached.

 

The Right ‘Fit’

 

CV’s and experience aside, often the most important factor is ensuring that your interim head of marketing is the right ‘fit’ for your team and organisational culture. Because of the temporary nature of interim roles and the high cost of recruitment, replacing your new hire just might not be an option. You’re likely going to be tied in to keeping your interim hire until the end of the agreement, so it’s important that they are the right fit, you can work with them and most importantly, that your team can work with them.

 

Always ensure you get a face-to-face meeting with candidates, even if this delays the hiring process. Some agencies may try to rush through the placement, but ensure you get enough face-time with your potential candidates and get to know them before committing to a decision.

 

Recruiting from Within

 

Another consideration is to recruit your interim head of marketing from within the team. Whilst there are obvious benefits, such as them already knowing your business and industry, it does also come with potential problems.

 

If you remove them from their existing role you’re going to need to fill the space left beneath them. You’re just robbing Peter to pay Paul, but could have some significant cost saving as a result. If you ask them to dual hat, you’re likely going to see it affect the level of work in one or both roles.

 

The main issue with this solution is that at the end of the interim arrangement they will likely be a bit deflated if they have to step back down and someone else comes in to fill the role, even if this was always on the cards and made clear. Other team members will also likely feel some level of resentment towards them. It could be a short-term solution but have long lasting issues in the effectiveness of your team.

 

An Alternative Solution

 

A solution you’ve possibly not thought of is hiring a virtual marketing director or manager as your interim head of marketing.

 

We’ve created two services specifically for filling the marketing capacity at senior management level, placing highly experienced marketing professionals into local SME’s, with a focus on flexibility, cost-effectiveness and low commitment for the business.

 

Our virtual marketing director and manager services can be placed in less than a week, with minimum commitment on length of agreement and without the high costs associated with using recruitment agencies.

 

You can read more about our virtual marketing services and if they’re a good fit for you by clicking HERE.

 

What Marketing Teams Want From Their Leaders (Research Results)

Over the last 18 months we’ve been conducting research to support the development of an e-learning solution for in-house marketing teams. A large part of that research has involved speaking to marketing executives from across the North of England to ask their opinions, feelings and thoughts for the future.

Inevitably, the subject of marketing leadership (or lack of it) featured prominently. We decided to dive a little deeper into the topic and find out what in-house marketing teams want from their immediate leadership, the directors and senior managers that they report to.

The full research is due to be published alongside the launch of the e-learning platform, but I wanted to give you a sneak peak at some of the results in advance, in the hope that they can be used to effectively manage and lead your own team now.

There were a few common themes that ran through the research.

General Satisfaction

In general, people are satisfied or happy with their leadership but acknowledge room for improvement.

Marketers were asked to rate the leadership/management style of the person that they report to on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely satisfied and 1 being completely dissatisfied.

The average score was 3.9, showing a general disposition towards being happy with how they’re managed.

Who They Report To

Those who reported to a marketing director were more satisfied than those who reported to a managing director or sales director.

Participants were asked about their general satisfaction at work and the performance of their leaders. They were also asked who their team reported to. We then used this data to assess if there was a correlation between the person they report to (and their role) and perceived performance and satisfaction.

The most satisfied marketers reported to a head of marketing, marketing director, digital marketing lead or senior marketing manager.

The least satisfied reported directly to the managing director or sales director, with reasons ranging from a lack of understanding of the marketing function, too much of a focus on sales (by sales directors) and being held back from trying new channels/tactics from lack of understanding.

Things They Liked About Their Leaders

The things their leaders did well were generally soft skills and qualitative.

Which areas do you think your leadership does well?

Positive Attitude 75.9%

Commitment 62.1%

Honesty 56.9%

Passion 62.1%

The Things That Need Improvement

Communication and time management were common themes throughout the research. Many of the qualitative exchanges revolved around clear communication, last minute or unrealistic deadlines and being incorrectly briefed.

Which areas could your leadership improve on?

Communication 37.9%
Time management 32.8%

Inspiring Others 29.3%

Creativity & Innovation 22.4%

Delegation 20.7%

My Thoughts

Whilst the research is ongoing I think it’s important to take a step back and look at the data so far to see if there are opportunities to explore other areas of emerging themes. So far it’s given us some lines of enquiry for further investigation.

It’s also massively important to realise that research alone doesn’t give a full picture. The most value has come from the qualitative exchanges between my team and in-house marketers and the open ended questions we’ve included in the research.

My experience of good leadership both in my prior line of work and in business has ultimately boiled down to a leader listening to, considering and engaging their team. That to me is one of the key differences between managing and leading a team to success.

This research has certainly given me some food for thought and there is obviously a clear demand for marketers to be led by someone who understands their job, communicates clearly and with commitment. I’m looking forward to publishing the full results in the near future!

Jack Barron

Managing DirectorInvoke Media

Group Marketing DirectorThe Cotton Court Group

virtual marketing director remote

Deciding whether to hire a virtual marketing director

Has your business got to the stage where it needs to hire a new marketing director?

 

If so then you’ve reached an important time in your businesses lifecycle, but there’s no need to dive straight into hiring a permanent member of senior management just yet. You’ve got options!

 

Of course hiring a dedicated on-site marketing director would be an ideal solution for many businesses, but it isn’t always necessary and there’s the obvious cost associated. The average UK marketing director salary sits at around £84,000, and when you take into consideration national insurance & pension contributions, sick days, holidays and perks you’re looking at well over £100,000.

 

Another option to consider is hiring a virtual or remote marketing director. While many of those on offer are completely remote from your business, Invoke Media have managed to strike a happy medium between the on-site and virtual solutions.

 

Our virtual marketing directors spend most of their time off-site, but on-hand to handle any queries and checking in with the team at various times through the week to ensure progress is being made. In addition they hold weekly skype team meetings and will be present on-site at least once per week.

 

Jack Barron, Invoke Media’s Managing Director and one of our Virtual Marketing Directors says:

 

“Our virtual marketing solution is a new take on two existing ideas. We understand the need for an on-site presence and regular contact with the team, but also acknowledge the cost benefits of the virtual solution. We were quite surprised not to find anyone on the market providing such an offering and jumped at the opportunity”.

 

The virtual marketing director from Invoke offers businesses who have the need for a marketing director to access the skills and experience provided by one, but also makes it accessible to those businesses who are not quite ready to pay for a new full-time director.

 

They offer flexibility and access to wider network of contacts, professionals and future customers. The real winning factor with a virtual marketing director however, low commitment needed by businesses.

 

“Businesses are initially committed to a three month agreement, but after that it turns to a 30 day rolling contract. This ensures that we don’t get any time wasters, our directors have enough time to plan and implement strategy, but most importantly our customers don’t feel as though they are trapped. Their new virtual director has to stay on top of their game month-to-month. There’s no room for complacency,” Barron says.

 

Another major advantage of a virtual marketing director is of course the cost. On average businesses can save over £76,000 by going virtual.

 

“By shifting the overheads to Invoke and keeping on-site hours, benefits, national insurance and pension contributions out of the picture, businesses can save a staggering amount. We’re living in the digital age where business need not be bound by geographical limitations. This allows us to burden the cost, but spread it amongst several clients. You’re receiving the same level of commitment, experience and skill for a quarter of the price. The difference between an in-house employee and virtual director is staggering. That money can either be kept within the business or reinvested into marketing spend,” Barron continues.


The decision on whether to hire a virtual marketing director versus an in-house employee is heavily dependent on your business circumstances, available budget and willingness to adopt new work practices. Hopefully this article has provided some further insight and helped you with your decision.

 

Invoke Media moves operation to Preston

Manchester based Invoke Media have announced our intention to move our operations full-time to Preston, Lancashire after 4 years in the second city.

Invoke have always had strong links with Lancashire’s administrative capital with director Jack Barron originally being from the city, and a large number of clients being based in the Central Lancashire area.

Recent times have seen a close working partnership with The Cotton Court Group, who operate a diverse portfolio of businesses in the Lancashire area, including Cotton Court Business Centre in Preston City Centre.

Jack Barron, Director at Invoke Media says….

“It’s been a tough decision to move Invoke away from Manchester in many ways, but an easy one to make in others. It’s the right decision to make for the business and our clients right now. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Preston due to my involvement with Cotton Court, and feel that closening the relationship between the two businesses is the next logical step. To do that, I think we have to be physically close, even in the digital age”.

He continues…

“I’m originally from Preston and historically it’s been portrayed as a bit of a grim northern town with not much going on. After spending considerable time back here recently I’d argue with anyone who perpetuates that false image. The city has grown so much in the last few years and is going through some major developments & investment. I’d like for Invoke to be a part of that development from the early days and really commit to strengthening its position as a part of the powerhouse that is the north of England”.

Indeed, after suffering setbacks in recent history the city has seen a flurry of investment from local entrepreneurs, the council and key stakeholders. The city is making a real push to make itself more attractive to local talent and take its place alongside other regional powerhouses like Liverpool and Manchester.

Invoke intend to retain a presence in Manchester, it’s a city we love and have a strong connection to. However the development and investment in Preston, and close connection with The Cotton Court Group provides an opportunity to be a part of something great. As one of many high class marketing and media agencies in Manchester, there is little impact we can have on the positive development of the city, being at the forefront of Preston’s own revival and the growth of Central Lancashire is an opportunity just too good to miss.

The full switch is expected to take place by the end of July 2018.

virtual marketing services

Virtual Marketing Manager or Director, which is right for you?

 

If you currently don’t employ a marketing manager or director, there may be some confusion as to whether a virtual marketing manager or virtual marketing director would be best suited for your company. While there is certainly some crossover in the skills and attributes of each, there are few distinct difference which will impact on your decision.

 

What are Virtual Marketers?

 

Before we continue, let’s establish what exactly virtual marketers are.

 

There are no universal definitions for what virtual marketers are. For some they are just freelance marketers who operate completely online, providing specialist skills for an hourly rate. For others they are integral parts of a team, fulfilling the complete marketing function or slotting into an effective team of in-house marketers.

 

We at Invoke have come to define our own meaning of virtual marketing. We do not believe that an SME can be fully serviced from thousands of miles away without there being a breakdown in communication and a lapse in quality.

 

We’ve created virtual marketing positions that primarily operate using technology, but also have an in-house presence; creating a happy medium between an employee and online outsourcing.

 

The two positions that we’ve seen most demand for, are those of marketing director and marketing managers, so we’ve created our virtual marketing manager and virtual marketing director positions based on the feedback & advice of SME operators across the Northwest of England.

virtual marketing manager

The Virtual Marketing Manager

 

A virtual marketing manager is someone who would slot into your existing marketing team underneath a managing director, sales director or equivalent position. Their main role is ensuring the implementation of an existing marketing strategy, and keeping the team accountable and on track.

The effective virtual marketing manager will be experienced and use his or her skills to support and supplement the current marketing team. It might be that the marketing team is only small or is lacking key capabilities, in this instance the marketing manager would help plug that skills gap.

 

The main focus of a virtual marketing manager is ensure campaigns are delivered and delivered on-time. They have regular check-ins with the team and directors throughout the week, and provide a visible presence at monthly meetings.

 

virtual marketing director

The Virtual Marketing Director

 

The virtual marketing director differs slightly from the virtual marketing manager. They operate at a strategic level, devising and creating the plans that will drive the business forward. Their main role is to plan and monitor the implementation of a marketing strategy, ensuring that work is completed on-time and milestones are met.

 

The effective virtual marketing director will have worked in a marketing executive and managerial role at some point, drawing on his or her experience within the industry to understand the wide range of options available, and then make recommendations based upon it. They may get involved in the actual implementation of marketing if the necessary skills were not present in the team, but would generally act from a supervisory capacity, reporting back to the business directors directly.

 

The main focus of a virtual marketing director is to devise a strategy, create a plan on how to achieve it, and then ensure it is delivered to a high standard. They have regular check-ins with the marketing manager and team members, keeping them on-track and accountable, and report back to the directorship or board with any issues or progress. In addition to check-ins, they provide a visible presence on-site in the month to ensure progress is made.

 

 

Which is right for you?

 

Deciding on whether to hire a virtual marketing manager or virtual marketing director completely depends on the requirements or circumstances of your business. If you have an existing marketing director and strategy in place, it goes without saying that a virtual marketing manager will be the most suitable option. If however you don’t have marketing strategy in place, then there is no plan for a virtual marketing manager to work from and therefore a virtual marketing director would be more suitable.

 

We’ve created some quick fire questions to help you assess which assistance is best for you.

 

Marketing Strategy already in place or have Marketing Director?

Yes – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Manager

No – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Director

 

Does existing team need more hands-on supervision?

Yes – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Manager

No – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Director

 

Do you have a clear vision of your business marketing objectives and how to reach them?

Yes – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Manager

No – Best Solution: Virtual Marketing Director

 

But what if you need both?

 

There’s nothing to say that you can’t hire both a virtual marketing manager, or virtual marketing director, or that it has to be two separate people. While the functions of the job are different, most effective marketing directors will have had marketing manager experience.

 

Invoke can provide a tailored solution that brings both of these roles together for a reduced and cost effective rate, supercharging your businesses marketing. Get in touch and ask us how…

 

Want to see more about virtual marketing services, what’s included and how much it costs? Click here.

 

Lancashare Day

Over 50% of Lancashire SME’s will fail within the first 5 years