#BEMLeeds Review: Jennie Fisher at Provident Financial

Jennie Fisher, Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Provident Financial, shares her own unique experience from attending last week’s Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass #BEMLeeds, which was hosted at Elmwood’s office in Leeds.

We’re Marketers and we like to delight our customer by giving them tailored messages and products and services! Oh and we know everything about Marketing!

No. No we don’t.

We think we know everything and we like to put people in boxes and give *groups* of people tailored messages and products.

Identifying those groups used to be quite straightforward and I thought I really understood who I was looking at until I listened to a presentation by Dan Monteith and Tim Leonard from Elmwood.  Now I am questioning everything. And. It’s. Awesome.

No really!

I work in Financial Services.  We have one service (a short-term loan) which we provide to around a million people across the UK and Republic of Ireland.  Now whilst there are some similarities between customers they are not robots or clones.  They are all individuals and it was good to be reminded of that.

Just like it was good to be reminded that despite the numerous spreadsheets I look at, Marketing is still not a pure science.  Every day, regardless of which sector you are in, we are constantly trying to make people like us. Yes you can ask customers to say out of 10 how much they like you or trust you or feel something fluffy and warm inside about your brand and produce a lovely chart, but that’s just a snapshot of that moment in time.  Maintaining and building that fluffy feeling i.e. getting people to feel engaged with your brand takes time, data and a bit of a gut instinct, it seems.

Getting these reminders can be difficult though, especially if you happen to work and live in the North of England.  If you are in London, there are tons of opportunities to go and listen to a new viewpoint and discuss the latest trends or ideas with your peers.  If you are in Bradford, those opportunities generally come with a 6.30am train departure.

Not anymore!

I have had the opportunity to attend both Masterclasses hosted by John and I have come away from both with that “I knew that but I never thought of it like that…” a feeling which is great.  The last thing you want is to sit through three hours of PowerPoint and feel like you haven’t gained anything.  Ok so nothing that I’ve heard has been new to my ears.  Frankly, I’d be a bit worried if it was but each speaker has given me a new perspective on a topic that maybe I’ve not really thought about for a while. It’s been the inspiration for me to question not just why we are doing something but why we are not doing something.

And I didn’t have to get up at 5am to get it.

If you’d like to attend the Digital Leaders Masterclass, which takes place in Leeds on Tuesday 3rd November 2015, please click here to book your seat.

Speaker Spotlight: Dan Monteith (Elmwood)

In today’s edition of Speaker Spotlight, which will be the final one featured in the #BEMLeeds series, Elmwood’s Global Provocation Director – Brand, Dan Monteith, reveals the influence of ads in the 70s and 80s on his decision to enter a career in brand marketing.

Dan will be presenting with Tim Leonard at next week’s Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass, and in their session – The Death of Who: The Birth of Me, they’ll be looking at the changing face of demographics and how smart brands are responding and rethinking the very meaning of targeting.

What or Who inspired you to enter a career in brand marketing?

The ads of the 70’s and 80’s –  the golden age of brand communication in the UK. And of course the people who created great and disruptive work, like John Hegarty, Tim Delaney and Dave Trott. I started as a writer, so clever and funny copywriting and brand’s with a unique tone of voice have always inspired me.

What is the single biggest challenge that brands face when it comes to ‘Brand & Audience Engagement’?

Cutting through the noise in a genuine and emotionally engaging way.

What is your career defining project to-date?

Being part of the team that won a big chunk of P&G business for Elmwood.

Who would be your ‘Dream’ client – if you could win their business?


What is the 1 book that changed your thinking and approach to your career/job?

There’s a few in recent years that I’ve loved and recommended to friends and colleagues. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters for starters. And How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen is fabulous. Oh and The Art of the Idea by John Hunt of TBWA was funny, inspiring and beautifully produced. I could go on…

Preview: Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass #BEMLeeds

Next week, senior marketers from a selection of the UK’s biggest brands will attend the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass, to listen to a number of leading industry experts share their experience and strategic thinking on brand engagement.

The event is the 2nd installment in the ‘Marketing Leaders Masterclassing’ series, and will be held on Tuesday 14th July 2015 at Elmwood’s office in Leeds.


  • Carol Smith, Director of Brand Engagement at WRG
  • Nicola Carey, Head of Strategy & Planning at Jaywing
  • Dan Monteith (Group Client Services Director) & Tim Leonard (Brand Provocator) at Elmwood
  • Tim Sinclair, Managing Director at Wolfstar
  • Sam Oakley, Co-Founder at Stashmetrics
  • Caroline Skipsey, Managing Partner at Igniyte

The masterclass in association with Elmwood, Network Marketing and The Consumption and Experiential Marketing Knowledge Platform (University of Liverpool, Management School) will be officially chaired by Wolfstar’s Managing Director Tim Sinclair.

To find out more details about the speakers, agenda and delegates who are attending, please view the official brochure below.



Speaker Spotlight: Tim Sinclair (Wolfstar)

In today’s #BEMLeeds Speaker Spotlight, I wanted to try something a little different to the previous editions by introducing our official chair for the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass – Wolfstar’s Managing Director, Tim Sinclair.

In this short video, Tim shares his thoughts on the importance of storytelling and measuring campaign effectiveness, when it comes to ‘Brand Engagement’.

Tim will be delivering his session with Sam Oakley, Co-Founder of Stashmetrics, at the masterclass on Tuesday 14th July, and will take a closer look at ‘The art of brand engagement and social listening.’


Speaker Spotlight: Carol Smith (WRG)

In today’s edition of Speaker Spotlight, WRG’s Director of Brand Engagement Carol Smith, reveals the importance of ‘Trust’ when it comes to brand engagement.

Don’t miss Carol’s session: Trust me – I’m a brand at the masterclass in Leeds on 14th July.

What inspired you to enter a career in brand marketing?

Ads. I distinctly recall a phase in my teenage years when I realised that I was looking forward to the ad breaks more than the programmes. I started to wonder who had made them? How did they make them? Why? This was pre-internet so after a few frustrating sessions at the school careers office, I eventually landed some work experience with TBWA (then BDH) and the rest as they say is (my career) history.

In your opinion – What is the single biggest challenge that brands face when it comes to ‘Brand & Audience Engagement’?

I think one of the key challenges that brands face is the degree of trust we’re all placing with strangers online – and how to control or influence it. Trip Advisor, Amazon, Yelp – more and more we’re relying on reviews from people we don’t know. Social Media is punching above its weight in terms of influence – at times it can feel like your brand’s a tweet or review away from reputation meltdown.

 What is your career defining project to-date?

My most enriching experience has been outside my day job. For the past six years I have been a member of the charitable fundraising board for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – this always feels like marketing with purpose!  www.rmchcharity.org.uk

Who would be your ‘Dream’ client – if you could win their business?

Right here? Right Now? The Labour Party.

What is the 1-book that changed your thinking and approach to your career/job?

Disruption by Jean-Marie Dru. The TBWA network of course handle Apple who remain one of their greatest examples of Disruption. I was lucky enough to witness first hand, in downtown Los Angeles, the relationship and trust between Steve Jobs and Lee Clow. In terms of how it shaped my career, it was – to coin a phrase – priceless. It taught me the importance of ‘changing the rules’, wherever possible and never being afraid to challenge convention.

Speaker Spotlight: Tim Leonard (Elmwood)

Elmwood’s Brand Provocator Tim Leonard shares an insight into his career defining work on the Morrisons Market Street project.

Tim’s session ‘The Death of Who: The Birth of Me’ at the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass will look at the changing face of demographics and how smart brands are responding and rethinking the very meaning of targeting.

What or Who inspired you to enter a career in brand marketing?

The amazing planet we live on and the fascinating creatures (humans) that run around on its surface! I’m personally very interested in behaviour and consumer insight. The better we understand people, the better we can make the experience when people come into contact with a brand. Ultimately this will make the world a better place, and it’s my job to try and make a difference.

What is the single biggest challenge that brands face when it comes to ‘Brand & Audience Engagement’?

Indifference. It’s the anaesthetic of the familiar. The bland, the safe and the unadventurous has no point of view. It can’t hope to bring people out to play.

What is your career defining project to-date?

Morrisons Market Street. We needed to set Market Street apart from the other supermarkets – create a more engaging customer experience, give Market Street a sense of ‘theatre’ and develop a unique and ownable new identity and personality. During the initial strategy work, we carried out customer journey mapping to gain a better understanding of how customers shop and where we could optimise the experience. A very involving project with an impactful end result.

Who would be your ‘Dream’ client – if you could win their business?

Whilst I love working with small challenger brands (rule breakers are so much fun) I’d love to work with Lego. A multi-generation brand that blends physical and digital – phygital if you will!

What is the 1-book that changed your thinking and approach to your career/job?

Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck. By Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Would definitely recommend it.


Speaker Spotlight: Nicola Carey (Jaywing)

In today’s edition of ‘Speaker Spotlight’, Jaywing’s Head of Strategy & Planning Nicola Carey shares her thoughts on all things brand engagement.

At the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass BEMLeeds, Nicola will deliver a session on – The Dating Game: The importance of brand seduction in the age of information

What inspired you to enter a career in brand marketing?

When I was in my early teens I didn’t have photos of Take That on my wall. I had Absolut Vodka Ads. (Not sure what this says about my upbringing!) Also, and I know it’s a cliché of advertising, but whenever I need lifting I watch the Guinness show reel – the idea that a brand through its communication could make me ‘feel’ something was what brought me into marketing.

In your opinion – What is the single biggest challenge that brands face when it comes to ‘Brand & Audience Engagement’?

I do think there is a big challenge in cutting through all the ‘buzzword bingo’ to enable brands to get to the heart of what engagement means for customers as individuals. It may indeed be that the engagement sticking point is one of ‘making sense of all the data’ or ‘creating exciting content’ but in my experience, it is very rare these play out consistently for brands across sectors or even audience groups. I guess you could say that the greatest challenge for brands is actually defining their own ‘rules of engagement’.

What is your career defining project to-date?

That’s a difficult question as my career has been pretty varied! I would have said it was spear-heading a 12 market insight project for BBC News which saw me understanding the role of the BBC brand and how it engages audiences in everywhere from Afghanistan to Seattle.

Who would be your ‘Dream’ client – if you could win their business?

For me, this changes all the time. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of brands that might be thought of as classically ‘sexy’ brands to work with – Red Bull, Diageo, EE and most recently First Direct. However, and without wanting to sound too earnest, it’s the unique challenges and problems and the client’s attitude towards tackling them which makes a client a dream client.

What is the 1-book that changed your thinking and approach to your career/job?

Neither of the two things which come to mind are actually books. Simon Sinek’s whole ‘Start With Why’/Golden Circles philosophy (as best summarised in one of his TED talks) really helped bring to life brand purpose for me in a way which felt meaningful. Being a planner, I also often look to my peers for inspiration. There are so many good blogs out there but the one which stands out for me is Richard Huntington’s Adliterate, full of interesting thinking and provocations.


Speaker Spotlight: Caroline Skipsey (Igniyte)

Caroline SkipseyAs part of the build-up to next month’s Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass #BEMLeeds, I put a list of questions to our industry experts who’ll be delivering a series of talks on the day – to find out more about what inspired them to enter a career in marketing and much much more…

In today’s edition of ‘Speaker Spotlight’, Igniyte’s Managing Partner Caroline Skipsey takes centre stage.

What inspired you to enter a career in brand marketing?

My career path into marketing isn’t the norm. I only entered the brand world in full four years ago and it was quite unexpected. I spent the first 10 years of my career working in TV production in the UK and the US. In the last few years at ITV, I got involved with a digital department and back in 1999 it was all quite new and exciting.

I’m not really a creative person, but I’ve always worked in creative industries because I love the buzz and the characters. I guess my roles have always resulted in me being the sensible and practical person, probably a bit of a trouble-shooter. I like bullet points rather than stories; so my characteristics probably aren’t aligned to typical brand roles. But I think in terms of risk and brand protection, I like to think I offer practical advice with a good deal of knowledge.

In your opinion – What is the single biggest challenge that brands face when it comes to Brand & Audience Engagement?

Rising above conversations and content online…that you have no control over. For most companies, particularly consumer-facing companies there is conflict between the brand messages and content circulated by the brand and the conversations that their customers are having about them (& often without them). Know your audience, listen to them and address their concerns – or promote further their praises.

What is your career defining project to-date?

Having a defamatory Facebook page taken down in two days, the page had cost a large multinational company millions of pounds in lost sales not to mention the brand and reputational issues. They had been given bad advice. The content was personally threatening, defamatory and it was ranking under their main website with an entirely inappropriate title and Google snippet. It took us two months to convince them to send the letter and I’m pretty sure that they wished they had found us three years earlier.”

That said, I also get a lot out of helping individuals. Some of our private client work is the most personally satisfying.

Who would be your ‘Dream’ client – if you could win their business?

A client I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on is Thomas Cook. They need some heart back into their business. And if I can have a second – John Lewis; great stores and brand but online they have review and forum issues.

What is the 1-book that changed your thinking and approach to your career/job (if possible)

Otherwise known as Sheila the Great” – Judy Blume – if you have young daughters I can’t recommend it enough. I’m actually a loather of “self help” and management books. Less theory, just get on with things.

To find out more about Caroline’s session at the masterclass – click here

Strong Line-Up Confirmed for Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass

I’m delighted to announce that the speaker line-up for the Brand & Audience Engagement Masterclass has now been confirmed with leading experts from Elmwood, Jaywing, WRG, Wolfstar and Igniyte  – presenting a series of engaging sessions on Tuesday 14th July 2015.

The masterclass in association with Network Marketing and the University of Liverpool will provide delegates with a powerful series of insights, strategies and tactics from five industry leaders who will share their latest thinking on brand and audience engagement.


  • Developing the right brand engagement strategy
  • Creating and promoting powerful content through owned, earned and paid media channels
  • Tactics for driving customer acquisition and retention through better online brand engagement
  • Measuring the effectiveness of brand and social engagement
  • How to deliver an engaging online user experience

Who’s attending?

  • Head of Marketing Operations, O2
  • Global Vice President – Brand Strategy, Arla Foods
  • Professor of Marketing, University of Liverpool
  • Marketing Director, Joe Browns
  • Marketing Director, Taylors of Harrogate
  • Global Marketing Manager, Mamas & Papas
  • Head of Community & Social Media Marketing, Premier Farnell
  • Head of Marketing, WageDayAdvance
  • Digital Marketing Manager, Irwin Mitchell
  • Regional Marketing Manager, DLA Piper
  • Marketing Manager, Yorkshire Water
  • Senior Manager – Brand Operations, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Customer Strategy & Planning Manager, Yorkshire Building Society
  • Customer Insight Manager, Asda
  • Marketing & Communications Director, Capita
  • Brand Activation Manager, Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate
  • Digital Marketing Manager, The Co-operative Group
  • Senior Manager – Online Content, Brand & Communications, TD Direct
  • Head of Customer Knowledge & Insight, TD Direct
  • US Marketing Coordinator, Pure Collection
  • Digital Content Coordinator, Pure Collection
  • Retail Development Manager, Warburtons
  • Brand & Social Media Manager, Superbreak
  • Customer Retention Manager, WageDayAdvance
  • Customer Retention & Engagement Manager, Satsuma Loans
  • Communications Manager, Xerox
  • UK Marketing Manager, Smoothwall
  • Marketing Manager, University of Leeds
  • Head of Marketing, Pets Choice
  • Social and PR Manager, Pets Choice

If you’d like to attend, please complete the contact form or call me on +44 (0)7796322894.