Registration Open for Digital Content Leaders Masterclass, Manchester

Registration Open for Digital Content Leaders Masterclass

After the successful launch of last year’s Content Leaders Masterclass, we’re returning to Manchester with our 2nd edition Digital Content Leaders Masterclass, which will take place on Tuesday 16th January 2018.

Our industry leaders will explore the critical importance of content and its strategic link in building brand awareness, online visibility, engagament, trust, loyalty  and customer acquisition in an ever-changing digital and social age.

We’ll be adding further details very soon, so please keep checking the site or follow all our updates on social, to ensure you’re fully up-to-date. The event in association with Forward Role will be the 10th masterclass in the series.

If you’d like to join us at the masterclass, you can secure your seat here


Preview: Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass

Preview: Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass - Manchester, UK

We’re just 2-weeks away from the Data & Insight Leaders Masterclass in Manchester, and with a fine selection of the industry’s leading thinkers in attendance – It promises to be an action-packed experience.

The masterclass, which will be held in the Walters Suite at the 5-Star Radisson Blu Edwardian, will kick-off with a keynote presentation by The Fragrance Shop’s Customer Marketing Director – Nicola Travis.

Keynote Details…

Using data for competitive edge has become increasingly complex with a wealth of providers, options, channels, challenges and more and more data in our organizations. How do we start wading through the data lake, stay afloat and focus on progress without sinking?

Nicola will discuss three areas of data and insight with a focus on potential solutions for some of the challenges faced in retail today. This session will put the challenges in context and look at ways to win with cross-channel customers, the loyalty landscape and the key measures involved. Using examples from today’s retailers, Nicola will discuss the use of analytics in the business for strong CRM.

The Big Issues…

Once Nicola’s presentation is finished, delegates will be able to enjoy a series of engaging roundtable sessions which will examine some of the industry’s key issues including: Joined-up data, single customer view, attribution analysis, smarter targeting strategies and driving data & insight performance.

The masterclass in association with Home, Search Laboratory, Aquila Insight, GI Insight, Greenlight, Black Swan Data, Whitecap Consulting and JV Recruitment is the 8th in the Marketing Masterclass Series.

Sky Betting & Gaming’s Mark Shahid to deliver official keynote at #UXL16

Mark Shahid - Official Keynote at UX Leaders Masterclass, Manchester

At next month’s UX Leaders Masterclass in Manchester, Sky Betting & Gaming’s Senior Experience Architect – Mark Shahid, will take to the floor to deliver the official keynote talk.

The event, which brings together some of the UK’s leading UX experts for a half-day masterclass, will provide an opportunity for delegates to gain an in-depth insight into latest industry best practice, as well as the platform for discussing and debating the biggest challenges across the ‘User Experience’ landscape.

Official Keynote: Shifting Habits Towards a User-Centered Culture
In his talk Mark will address the ways in which the internal UX function at Sky Betting and Gaming has embedded itself firmly into the culture of a traditionally marketing-driven organisation in a deeply competitive industry.

Mark will discuss the methods in with which the Design/UX and Design teams are helping to facilitate the companies’ desire to become “Customer Obsessed” after it grew 51% in the last 12 months. From organisational change and everyday UX “gems” to improving the delivery process, Mark will share an in-depth insight into what worked well and what didn’t.

The masterclass in association with Home, SimpleUsability, Foolproof, Mando and The UX Agency will take place at The Castlefield Rooms in Manchester on Tuesday 20th September 2016.

Latest #UXL16 Delegates


#MLleeds Round-up

The Marketing Leaders Masterclass officially kicked-off in style yesterday at Elmwood’s Leeds office with a fantastic show of support from some of the North’s biggest brands and marketing agencies.

The event in association with Network Marketing (Headline Sponsor) brought together a group of leading experts from the world of digital, social, creative, PR and consumer insight  – who delivered a series of insightful and thought-provoking sessions.

The senior delegation included representatives from brands such as Asda, Co-operative Group, Ernst & Young, Irwin Mitchell, Sky Bet, JD Williams, Provident, TD Direct, Wilko, JCT600 and Victoria Plumb to name but a few, as well as the CIM’s chair of Mid-Yorkshire Branch and Professor of Marketing Anthony Patterson from University of Liverpool.

I would like to personally thank all the speakers and delegates for taking part; Elmwood for allowing the event to be hosted at their beautiful office, Duncan McCallum from McCallum Layton for doing a brilliant job as the official chair, and finally Network Marketing for supporting #MLleeds as the official Headline Sponsor.

All speaker presentations can be viewed below via Slideshare

Please click here to view the extended commentary on the talk by Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner, McCallum Layton.

If you’d like to take part in the next scheduled masterclass which will focus on ‘Brand Engagement & User Experience’, please drop me a message.

Preview: Marketing Leaders Masterclass #MLleeds

Next week, senior marketers from some of the UK’s biggest brands will come together to listen to five of the region’s leading experts on digital, social, PR, creative and consumer insight, at the official launch of the Marketing Leaders Masterclass.

To set the scene for the masterclass, I wanted to produce this blog post to share my own personal experience behind the creation of the event.

What was the rationale behind the masterclass?

As a marketer who has always had to travel to London for events, I personally wanted to create something that would provide senior marketers from across the North of England with a unique learning and networking opportunity; one in which they could gain a greater insight into the bigger picture of marketing – how everything must work together in order to be truly effective,

Last year at a conference in Turkey, one talk touched on the need for marketers to not work in silos, and this sums it up nicely – marketers need to have a greater insight into how digital, social, PR, brand and consumer insight link together to create powerful consumer experiences that drive commercial growth.

What makes the event different to others?

All events have a value associated with them, and quite simply, I wanted this masterclass to provide delegates with a format and location that allowed them to gain the wider marketing insight that would help them to become more effective in their day-to-day roles.

We have some incredible brands and agencies in the North of England, so this masterclass enables delegates to come together from across multi-disciplines and sectors – in a format (3-hours) that suits their busy schedules.


I would like to thank everyone who has made the masterclass possible: Network Marketing for being the Headline Sponsor, Elmwood for allowing the event to be hosted at their amazing office in Leeds, yet most importantly – all the expert speakers and delegates!

#MLleeds Speaker Spotlight: Simon Preece

Simon PreeceWith just under two weeks to go until the Marketing Leaders Masterclass, Elmwood’s Director of Effectiveness Simon Preece reveals the importance of trusting your instincts and challenging yourself everyday.

What inspired you to get into a career in creative?

“Many years ago I was working client side in product and strategic marketing at Asda. I found that I loved the creative process of product development and range development so much that I wanted to do more of the fun stuff day in and day out. I spoke to Jonathan Sands at Elmwood and the rest is history. I’m still here 23 years later and I still get a buzz everyday.”

Best advice you would give to a someone starting their career in creative?

“Be brave. Never be afraid to ask child-like questions like ‘Why?’. Why is something done in that way? Always look at things with a fresh perspective, and look at the wider world around you. Never stick purely to your competitive set. Regularly walk in your customers shoes, take their journey to see what they see, and experience what they do. What you learn will be invaluable.”

What is the best career advice that has helped you?

“Challenge yourself everyday, go beyond your comfort zone and make your own decisions. Trust your instincts, always listen to the little voice in the back of your head. If something doesn’t feel right then don’t let it drift. If something does feel right, be sure to act on it.”

What is your biggest pain-point about the industry?

“Design is the seventh most important ingredient for success in UK companies. It’s the second most important for rapidly growing businesses. Yet design is not represented on most boards of directors. Brand strategy and design is often seen as a cost rather than an investment in securing competitive advantage. People think they can buy it like tins of beans or any other commodity item. However, we know that a highly strategic and fluid creative process builds real equity. Just look at Ben & Jerry’s when it was sold – its turnover was only $227m but the sale price was $320m. So clearly brand value counts.”

Your dream client and why?

“I have already had the pleasure of working with my dream client a few years ago when Adam Crozier was CEO of The FA. Myself and my team worked with him on rebranding The FA, the England Team and The FA Cup. He was an inspirational character who had a clear vision for the future of football. I was inspired to take up coaching, and 12 years later I’m still coaching under 12’s five-a-side football.”

Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass

#MLleeds Speaker Spotlight: Sarah Dear

Sarah DearIn today’s post, Sarah Dear, Managing Director at Elmwood – who will be speaking at this month’s Marketing Leaders Masterclass in Leeds, reveals why she relishes the opportunity to work with brands who are brave and have a vision to do something unique.

What inspired you to get into a career in creative?

“I accidentally ended up in this career (it’s a long story), but I’m delighted that I stumbled into it because I love it. You get to work with some amazing people, use your brain to solve complex problems, and create work you can be really proud of that makes a difference to people’s every day lives. I can honestly say that every day is an adventure and I’ve never once been bored in 23 years.”

Best advice you would give to a someone starting their career in creative?

“Make sure you have a point of view and an opinion and that you challenge what is presented to you. Curiosity is fundamentally important. Look at challenges from all different perspectives to find the best solution.”

Best advice you have ever received, which has helped you in your career?

“Jonathan Sands, our Chairman, gave me this piece of advice many years ago. He said that it’s important to make sure you continually do things that scare you and make you feel uncomfortable. You develop the most when you’re challenging yourself. He was right – but don’t tell him that.”

What is your biggest pain-point about the industry ?

“Creating effective branding is a complex process which is largely under-valued. It’s not always viewed as an investment that requires proper consideration to get right. We are ‘the world’s most effective brand design consultancy’ (a bold claim, but true!) because of the robust processes we have, the quality of our team members and the passion and dedication we put into every single project and client.”

Your dream client and why?

“My dream client is any client who is brave and has a vision to do something unique. A client who wants to work in a collaborative way throughout the process and values the impact that great creative work can have on their business. It’s also good to have fun along the way as it makes the whole process so much more enjoyable.”

 Click here to confirm your interest in attending the Marketing Leaders Masterclass


One question to always ask yourself during a negotiation

We do it everyday in our personal lives – don’t we? We are in the supermarket doing ‘The Big Shop’ when we are suddenly faced with a number of exciting promotional offers as we walk down our favourite aisle. So many choices, but which brand do we buy this week?

As much as I love shopping, I don’t want to stand in the cereal aisle for any longer than I have to, so a decision is made and I go with the store’s own brand of Fruit & Fibre.

As a marketer who may be responsible for spending your organisation’s budget, you have many important decisions to make, as it’s your job to deliver a strategy that will help  your business ‘defend and grow’ the client base, turnover, market share and industry reputation.

Upon embarking my agency-side marketing career back in 2005, I found it confusing when faced with so many different media options for raising the brand profile and generating leads. To me, there appeared to be too many industry events and awards – all claiming to deliver something uniquely different. In truth – not many actually did. The only difference was the huge price that the account manager was demanding for my agency to come on board.

Today, things have not changed that much in terms of the options that are available, however, my greater experience and understanding of my market has equipped me with the tools to quickly assess the value of any proposition being sold to me.

Ask yourself – why should I pay more than I have to? In reality, you don’t and should never, as long as you can benchmark the opportunity cost during a negotiation.

In 2013, I decided to invest in an event that was £60k less than a competitor was paying for a similar event. The decision-making process was very simple, because I knew what I wanted to achieve and how this event could deliver what I wanted. It was nice to save my agency a lot of money, however, I was simply doing my job and my experience and assessment of the opportunity cost meant that I could free the marketing budget up for other things. The event delivered!

If you can continue to develop your marketing radar to the point where you know the right price to pay for a service, based on the ‘Opportunity Cost’ – your ability to negotiate becomes a lot easier.

Why passion is everything when negotiating

We all know that in life and at work, being passionate about what you do makes a big difference. It not only enables you to enjoy what you are doing, but it also radiates to those around you and can sometimes inspire – if channeled in the right way.

In the build-up to my negotiation training workshop, I wanted to touch on its importance as a key ingredient when trying to reach a desired outcome with suppliers, as it may help you achieve a better result.

To be a truly effective negotiator, you must harness your passion with your in-depth market knowledge and ability to communicate with people, as without this spark – people may not be as responsive to your demands.

I remember travelling to London a few years back to meet a supplier to discuss an event sponsorship package and was immediately lethargic and negative upon meeting him – why? Well, I can honestly say that this person did not have a passion for what they were selling and it made me feel uncomfortable during the chat.

I am  not saying that you should jump through hoops and sing from the rooftops, just enjoy what you do and this will make any negotiation more fun, productive and fruitful.

On the other side of the coin, there are many people I have had the pleasure to negotiate with and I must admit their integrity and enthusiasm made the difference in agreeing a mutually attractive sponsorship.

It’s not too late to register for my workshop, so I hope to see you there!

The importance of reputation when negotiating

The ability to negotiate effectively depends on many core ingredients, however, one of the most important is your reputation and how you are perceived by your suppliers and peers.

What does this mean?

It is very important that when developing relationships with your key contacts and suppliers, you do not breach their trust. A good negotiator is not someone who gets a fantastic deal once, but someone who through their ability to develop honest and sound relationships can deliver the maximum benefit for their organisations on a consistent basis.

If you have managed to agree a package with your supplier, always deliver what you promised, as this failure will come back to haunt you in the future, as reputation is everything.

I always enter a negotiation with a clear understanding of what I want and what I will be happy to agree to, and will always deliver on my end.

If you become known as someone that can’t be trusted or who always fails to deliver on a promise – you will find it impossible to succeed at anything.

If you would like to further develop your negotiation skills, I will be running a training workshop in Leeds on Tuesday 24th February – get in touch if you are interested.