Posts archive for ‘SEED Muse’

February 2014

Responsible Marketing for Good

CSR blog 6


The importance of growing and protecting your corporate brand reputation in the digital age.

Having worked in the advertising and marketing communications business for many years – I now take great personal pleasure in working on projects that go beyond simply selling more stuff. Don’t get me wrong – selling more stuff is great but the kind of marketing that recognizes a social benefit as well is even greater.

In other words – responsible and purpose-led marketing for good.

SEED Marketing Communications

If I think about it, the role of responsibility has been a key theme in much of my work for many years. As part of Lloydspharmacy’s leadership team, we were the first UK pharmacy retailer to take a responsible stance towards the products we sold. For example-because it is proven that sun cream below SPF 15 provides insufficient protection from the sun’s rays, we took the decision to sell only SPF 15 and above and we made this one of a number of key purpose-led marketing messages. The core team and its partners’ work in this area led to a number of award accolades including Marketing Week – Winner of Corporate Responsibility, The Marketing Society – Cause Related Marketing Award and Winner of raising Awareness Award from Diabetes UK.

And, at the start of my career, I remain proud to have met and been thanked personally by HRH Princess Diana for the contribution I made to raise money and awareness for Capital Radio’s Help a London Child whilst working for Saatchi & Saatchi.

Now, as an independent marketing consultant leading SEED Marketing Communications, a growing proportion of our work involves corporate brand social responsibility (CSR) and managing brand reputation to grow better, more sustainable brands.

SEED Marketing Communications

In 2007, when we established the consultancy, we were fortunate enough to work with Crossroads Care (Now Carers Trust) where we embarked on an 18 month programme building and communicating their brand for the good of the many great carers in the UK. We even managed to get Esther Rantzen on board to help with our communications programme – a relatively easy feat given the good cause we were promoting.

More recently, SEED also enjoyed working with the West Mercia Police Force on a project to help protect children, their parents and their carers from the dangers of the internet. This included working with key stakeholders in the Midlands including schools and the Local Education Authorities.

SEED Marketing Communications

And, although not successful at the final stage, we were asked by the Prince’s Trust to pitch for a very prestigious piece of their business at the end of 2013. Hopefully we will be successful next time.

Today, our current work with a global food client is no less rewarding – bridging the gap between perception and reality with key stakeholders and building a solid reputation for a company that is doing myriad great, responsible things above and beyond the pursuit of profit.

SEED Marketing Communcations

There is no doubt that a strong company reputation adds an undeniable brilliance to the health and performance of a growing brand and that a strong corporate brand is just as important as strong product brands. It provides that all important product quality assurance.

Increasingly, consumers are buying products that are remarkable through their responsible approach and their efforts to do good things for the environment or the community.

Take TOMS Shoes from California.

Their buy one, give one away model is a great example of responsible retailing in action. Amongst others, it’s resulted in copycat concepts from the likes of Starbucks with its Buy One, Get One and Give One promotion.


SEED Marketing Communications

In a similar vein, that’s why SEED supports Kiva. Kiva is the world’s first online lending platform connecting online lenders to third world entrepreneurs. SEED’s pledge to Kiva is this. For every marketing project that we win, we contribute a small micro-loan to a third world entrepreneur to help them grow their business and provide for their family.


SEED Marketing Comunications CSR Blog 9

The power of the consumer to shape and influence brand reputation has been fueled by the internet and the real time generation in which we live – making the importance of planning even more important. And in a world where growing organisations are under increasing public scrutiny, protecting a company’s corporate reputation and the sending out of the right messages is vital for survival. From Corporate Social Responsibility and brand building through to Crisis Management – communication now plays a key role in business strategy.


SEED Marketing Communications

At SEED, we work with senior management, marketing and sustainability teams of smaller and medium sized companies globally – focusing on the good stories these companies have to tell and using the latest communication tools including film and video to tell them. We take a strategic view of the business and we employ our qualified knowledge to communicate with the key stakeholders.


Martin Thurley is an independent brand marketing consultant operating at director level in the UK, Europe and South East Asia. He is founder of SEED Marketing Communications – a full-service marketing consultancy near Birmingham in the West Midlands providing practical marketing solutions for  sustainable business growth. SEED Marketing Communications helps organisations tell their stories with marketing guidance, support and marketing communications with specialist sector experience in Food Retail, B2B and Not for Profit. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing – he has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi as well as client-side for leading UK retailers including Lloydspharmacy and Homebase. His brand growth marketing communications experience includes previous work with – British Airways, Avis, Wines from Spain, RAC, Adams, Olympus Sport, Prudential, Capital Radio, Cunard, The Money Store (US), Courtaulds, Lowenbrau, The Starlight Foundation, Aqua Pura, Eden Valley Mineral Water Company,  Stena Line, Amstrad, Viglen, Selfridges, Imperial Tobacco, CP FoodsWest Mercia Police, Poundland and many SME’s.




November 2013

The Magic of Mentoring for Marketers

Consultancy has always suffered from the rather unfair reputation of advice for which you pay a lot of money for knowledge you already possess. I was certainly struck by this thought while at Reuters as I, from time to time, greeted a small army of earnest young consultants piling out of the lift in pursuit of their sage and imperious leader.

After many years as a consultant myself, I realized that, in many cases, there was no need for me to field a large team, immerse myself in a client’s business, wrestle with strategy and deliver weighty documents.  Once when presenting to a client’s board, the chairman gently observed that much of what I was recommending was “blindingly obvious”, to which, with suitably ironic smile, I responded, “If it’s so obvious, why aren’t you doing it?”

Thus began a long and successful but very light-touch relationship.  They knew their business already, they had the intellect to work through strategy, often they had the imagination to develop ideas, all I had to do was help them ask themselves the right questions.


Mentoring then, by my definition, is helping people to help themselves. Coaching is teaching people to help themselves and consultancy is doing for people what they are often quite capable of doing for themselves.  Mentoring and consultancy are at opposite ends of the cost scale but one mentor for two or three days a month can often (but not always) achieve every bit as much as five consultants working three days a week …and more.

Think about getting from A to B without your satnav. You’ve done the journey several times with “now turn left” and “now turn right” keeping you on track. Take away the guidance and it can be quite hard to remember the route with confidence.  Consultancy is a satnav that you come to depend on …mentoring is finding your own way the first time and never forgetting it.

SEED-communications.com_The magic of Mentoring for Marketers

Mentoring happens a lot at board level, where the mentor may simply act as a sounding board as the CEO, Director or line manager straightens out his thoughts, issues and concerns.  But it can work at every level. A busy marketing director will find it hard to guide four or five direct reports. A couple of days of mentoring per month may be all a new marketing manager needs to give him or her the confidence to get a grip on the work.

The EMEA Marketing Manager for one client stepped up to Global Digital Marketing Manager.  She needed a plan. Once I would have drafted it for her, this time we did a call for one hour a week for six weeks. She produced a very commendable plan and was able to justify it to the management team with much greater confidence.

One of the most valuable applications of mentoring is in helping a client define or refresh their brand.  Consultants will spend many many hours identifying how the brand is seen today and how it needs to be seen, identifying the core proposition, positioning, personality and purpose.  They talk endlessly to employees, understand customers in depth and map where the market is going over where the market has been.

All absolutely essential but who better to think this through than the employees themselves …they ARE the brand and have it in their day-to-day power to deliver what the brand needs to be. With a robust set of handrails, employees from all parts of an organization can define and refresh their own brand and deliver it with much greater conviction if they’ve helped to create it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the end of consultancy.  There are many well documented case where there is no viable substitute. But mentoring in general and in marketing in particular has a great deal more to give.


Tony Wardle is an independent brand marketing consultant operating at director level in the UK, Europe and USA. He is an Associate Partner and Chairman of SEED Marketing Communications – a full-service marketing consultancy based near Birmingham in the West Midlands providing marketing solutions for business growth. SEED Marketing Communications helps ambitious SME’s with marketing guidance, support, mentoring and marketing implementation with specialist sector experience in Food Retail, B2B and Not for Profit. Tony was Chairman & CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi subsidiaries working in advertising, direct marketing and sales promotion. He has also held positions as Group Marketing Operations Director for Reuters and Interim Marketing Director positions for Detica Group, Jones Lang LaSalle and Actant. His brand growth marketing experience includes work with – Welsh Assembly Government, ICL/Fujitsu, Tieto, First Direct, Lloyds TSB, Orange, and many SME’s. When not busy consulting and mentoring, Tony helps with helps with his daughter’s art gallery, The Paragon Gallery in Cheltenham.

November 2013

Why choose a Virtual Marketing Agency like SEED Communications?

Finding the right marketing agency partner is harder than ever.

With the exponential rise of companies claiming to offer marketing solutions and with the ever increasing complexity of channel selection, many less marketing savvy clients find themselves in serial short term relationships with an array of different suppliers each with a set of prejudices and each offering a fair share of inconsistent advice – and finding that they have spent a considerable sum of money along the way!

Not to mention the lack of consistency that the clients’ brands suffer as a result of this inconsistency.

Why choose a virtual marketing agency like SEED Communications

Having worked agency-side, client-side and more recently as an in-house brand marketing consultant for less experienced marketing teams, my views on this subject are clear cut – when it comes to marketing agency partners – less is more.

Why choose a virtual marketing agency like SEED Communications

One client / agency relationship managing one team without agendas is far more productive, cost efficient and effective than managing an array of different suppliers – allowing strategy and key propositions to be exploited more consistently across the media mix.

This is where a virtual marketing agency partner like SEED comes in.

First we discuss the client brief and we assemble a virtual team based on its requirement. Rather than rely on the general experience within a traditional bricks and mortar agency – a targeted team approach allows us to create a team with expertise specifically relevant to the needs of each and every brief. And we work on a project by project basis so our clients pay for what they need – no more, no less.

Our talent pool is an eclectic mix of senior marketing specialists and entrepreneurs – mostly freelancers with vast experience in their specialist fields. From an ex CEO of a Saatchi & Saatchi company to ex London Creative Directors, Illustrators, Art Directors, Web Developers, Journalists and Project Managers – we can cast the skills and experience to fit the requirements of the individual brief.


Why choose a virtual marketing agency like SEED Communications

With no formal offices and low overheads, cost savings are reflected in the fees we charge.

Whilst a virtual Marketing Agency is not for everyone, hiring one can often prove highly beneficial.

The agency is able to secure significant accounts by tapping into a diverse and wide range of sector / channel experience whilst the client is able to secure senior and experienced people to work with them and their teams at a fraction of the cost of a more traditional full-service agency.


Martin Thurley is an independent brand marketing consultant operating at director level in the UK, Europe and South East Asia. He is founder of SEED Marketing Communications – a full-service virtual marketing consultancy based near Birmingham in the West Midlands providing marketing solutions for business growth. SEED Marketing Communications helps ambitious SME’s with marketing guidance, support and marketing implementation with specialist sector experience in Food Retail, B2B and Not for Profit. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing – he has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi as well as for leading UK retailers including Lloydspharmacy and Homebase. His brand growth marketing experience includes work with – British Airways, RAC, Prudential, Capital Radio, Cunard, Stena Line, Amstrad, Selfridges, Imperial Tobacco, CP Foods, West Mercia Police, Poundland and many SME’s.