Awards case study: How Advanced turned to fairy tales to promote its 'right-first-time' solutions
Discover how Advanced used a 'fairytale' approach to its creative content to promote its 'right-first-time' solutions
Advanced is the UK’s third largest software solutions provider and on an ambitious growth trajectory. It was included in the Sunday Times 'Top track 250 company 2015', Deloitte’s 'UK fast 50' and awarded 'Tech company of the year' at the PwC’s UK Tech Awards 2014.
Realising its potential, Vista Partners purchased Advanced in 2014 for £725 million and promptly de-listed the company from AIM. This resulted in a focus on establishing Advanced as a centre-of-excellence – an objective that demanded strong marketing initiatives to support the new marketing strategy and position aggressive growth targets.
The transformation process of reorganisation, rebranding, relocation and restructuring applied time and resource pressure onto a marketing team already busy implementing a rebrand, in addition to daily objectives.
Secondly, marketing communications were historically product or sector-focused, reactive and short-term. While this targeted approach generated demonstrable successes, customers were unaware of the breadth of solutions offered as departments operated as silos, allowing competitors to land opportunities that should’ve been an easy up-sell.
Objectives of the campaign
- Achieve a sales pipeline of £1 million plus
- Promote ‘right-first-time’ solutions
- Raise awareness of Advanced.
To deliver, three challenges needed resolving:
- Alleviate marketing time pressures. Graymatter took responsibility for ideation to delivery, implementing efficient working methods and key decision stage planning. This provided Advanced with clarity about what would be required and when.
- Key decision-makers needed to be taken on the journey. This was the first time an overarching campaign theme that unified different departments had been implemented. This resulted in using easily understood campaign ‘roadmaps’ – single points of reference containing key campaign elements: strategy, funnel, messaging and creative.
- A strong campaign hook with creative content supporting the brand while providing visual differentiation was needed.
The target audience
The selected target audience was spread across 11 sectors, which included: CEOs, FD/CFOs, HRs, CMO/marketing managers, MDs, COO/ops managers, CTO/IT managers.
Media, channels or techniques used
During the discovery phase of the campaign, the conversation turned to industry competitors: what are they doing? Why? Strengths and weaknesses? Sector issues?
Having listened to examples of how things shouldn’t be done, a pattern emerged – of over-promising, under-delivering and selling make-believe. Something Graymatter could only surmise as a fairy tale.
This inspired ideas on how to present the common experience of problematic IT solutions, which rapidly developed into a campaign.
The combination of fairy tales and IT created the campaign umbrella, ‘FairITales’. Familiar fairytale anecdotes were remixed for headlines and storylines and incorporated quirky phrasing such as ‘sophisticatedly simple solutions’ to lighten the tone.
Given that multifunctional oat transformers and giant beanstalks are hard to source, and generic sector photography is prevalent, a differentiating illustrative approach was adopted. Headlines, illustrations and content were all nuanced to align creative with the funnel.
Campaign waves were deliberately non-sector specific to maximise reach but had the flexibility to target sectors if necessary. For example, Jack and the Beanstalk was aimed at the finance sector.
Approach and channel mix
- Audience profiled media and channels mapped against funnel.
- Campaign split into waves – different fairy tale per wave.
- Non-sector specific personalised messaging.
- Personalised DM
- Timed social posts: LinkedIn, Twitter
- Banners: Accountancy age, financial director, computing exhibitions.
- Personalised destination landing pages
- Evidential case studies, whitepapers, video content substantiating what Advanced say pre-populated form fields for easy response.
- Engaged prospects receive thank you emails
- Leads followed up within 24 hours.
Communicating with the audience
Advanced had two choices; play it safe and risk cut-through, or be brave; adopting an approach that may not universally appeal, but would arguably achieve greater recall.
The company opted for the latter, using humour and distinctive creative to encapsulate the challenging proposition of right-first-time solutions to prospects and competitors.
Anecdotal evidence showed trade event follow-ups had high campaign recall, with the campaign also featuring in the trade press. The campaign received a mention in the September edition of Legal IT Insider from a CEO at ILTA remarking how he wanted his software to be “... like the Goldilocks story: not too hot, not too cold, but just right”.
The campaign was working – cutting through, memorable and causing a reaction – but the proof of success would be the sales pipeline value.
Team Advanced are delighted to announce that you can get your hands on a copy of FairITales this Christmas, with all proceeds going to The Prince’s Trust to help disadvantaged young people in the UK get into work, education, training or volunteering.
If you know any children who would love a book of truly modern fairytales, (or any adult B2B marketers looking to see some truly brilliant creative), you can order a copy online for just £10 at
If you have any questions or wish to find out more about the book, the Million Makers project or how you can help, then please contact FairITales@oneadvanced.com.
Timescales of the campaign
Original brief and discover meetings:
- May 2016.
Campaign strategy, planning, concept, roadmaps, sign off and first-wave production:
- June 2016 (wave one)
- Subsequent campaigns (waves two – four) were briefed in the month prior to the launch.
Delivery – campaign waves:
- Wave one – Cinderella (July 2016 launch)
- Wave two – Goldilocks (September/October 2016)
- Wave three – A Christmas Carol (Treated as a Christmas special running over four weeks in November/December 2016 and split into: intro, Christmas past, present and future.
- Wave four – Jack and the Beanstalk (March 2017 launch).
Reporting and review:
- 2016 – August and November
- 2017 – January and May.
“Following our major rebrand earlier in the year, we took a fresh and innovative marketing approach that stands out from the myriad of business communications that our customers and prospects receive daily. This creative campaign delivered a great opportunity to reinforce our brand values and drive opportunity for all business units – as well as being an enjoyable read. I’m pleased to say, that for Advanced, this fairy tale had a very happy ending.” Sally Scott, CMO at Advanced
B2B Marketing Awards 2017 – winners
This submission won the award for 'Best use of creative' at the B2B Marketing Awards 2017: 'FairlTales' for Advanced Business Solutions by Graymatter.