Awards case study: How Earnest elevated Vodafone from product provider to strategic partner

See how Earnest worked with Vodafone to create an integrated digital campaign built on a foundation of rich, engaging and genuinely useful content


Traditionally Vodafone is known as a mobile phone operator but they can now support businesses with their total communication strategies – helping business become more agile and better connected, improve talent retention, and get closer to their customers with innovative technology and solutions. Earnest's most important job was to support Vodafone’s business objective to shift perceptions from mobile operator to total communications provider; tactical price-driven supplier to trusted strategic partner; outbound and ATL product push to inbound and relevant.

B2B customers are changing the way they buy. Earnest knew it had to be relevant, knowledgeable and helpful to earn its consideration – even more so with senior decision-makers in large organisations. The agency had to talk to them at the highest level about the business issues that concern them most. 


In order to get this ambitious offering off the ground, Earnest needed to:

1. Develop a persona-driven content framework:

  • Delivering content mapped to each stage of the buying cycle.
  • Easily adaptable across any vertical industry.

2. Create a campaign plan:

  • Bringing the content to market by being in all the right places at the right times.
  • 100% digital.
  • Using search intelligently.

3. Develop content, mapped to our framework:

  • Rich, engaging and different: not just another white paper.
  • Business-issue led.
  • Vertical/industry focused.
  • Genuinely helpful.
  • Adaptable and easy to localise.
  • Built on Vodafone’s Ready Business brand platform.

4. Develop a set of supporting materials:

  • Ensuring campaign success by educating local marketing teams.
  • Providing both sales and marketing enablement tools.
  • Aligning sales and marketing in a united message. 


1. The content framework

Earnest created a content framework that bridges the gap by moving prospects from awareness, through exploration, to purchase. The framework is 100% adaptable to fit any vertical, mapping out the relevant content deliverables for each stage in the buyer journey. As well as allowing marketing to create appropriate and timely content, it enabled sales and marketing to align their messaging. 

In Vodafone, marketing budgets vary considerably from country to country, so the framework was designed to create a few key pieces which can be made into snackable assets and deployed quickly and cost effectively. 

2. The campaign plan: media, channels and techniques

Content distribution recommendations were aligned to the buyer journey and buyer personas. Earnest looked at what they were likely to be researching and where they would be looking, ensuring it was in all the right places to offer them help with their business challenges.

So, this was primarily an Inbound marketing campaign:

  • 100% digital
  • With heavy use of social media
  • And search considered at every stage.

3. Developing the content

All the content was mapped against our framework and was templated so it could be replicated efficiently across new verticals. It was also designed so that countries could adapt it with limited resources – Earnest made it 80% “generic” (i.e. vertical specific but not country specific) with 20% that could be tailored with local stats or solutions, etc.

And it made sure the content was as rich, relevant and useful as possible to draw prospects in – telling clear stories, illustrating real technical opportunities and then giving the “why Vodafone” message supported by use cases.

Formats were engaging and enjoyable – delivering the maximum of useful information for the minimum of effort on the part of the audience. Vodafone began by piloting two verticals – retail and healthcare – and then followed up with two more – finance and ready cities. Two further are in planning for 2016.

4. Developing a support package

Different countries are at different levels of maturity with their marketing capabilities, so as part of this programme Earnest created a suite of practical guides to help them to create and disseminate their content.

These included:

  • Content marketing execution guide
  • Social media guide
  • Buyer Persona Insight guide
  • Automated marketing guide.

As part of the global engagement plan, several workshops/webinars were held to ensure each region understood how these vertical content packages could fit into their ongoing vertical marketing activities and helped them build their own tailored go-to-market plans based on a campaign blueprint.

And to help a country get started, they have a 10-point execution checklist – starting from 'engage sales channel' and ending with 'track/measure'.

Timescales of the campaign

Time to set up first: 

  • Immersion: three weeks
  • Content strategy and framework: two weeks
  • Content development: eight weeks
  • Go to market guides: six weeks
  • Metrics ongoing.

Ongoing vertical packages:

  • Immersion, content development: 12 weeks.


These details were provided to judges in the original submissionbut are commercially sensitive and therefore confidential.

Results from manual tracking of pipeline 

These details were provided to judges in the original submissionbut are commercially sensitive and therefore confidential.


"Without exception, colleagues across our business – in marketing and sales – are impressed with the approach and quality of the content. And now we’re seeing business generated, it’s attracting even more interest – it’s magnetic marketing!" Sally-Anne Burwell, senior marketing manager, Large Enterprise

"Enormous quantity of fantastic content. Let’s get it all over social media. Relevant and innovative – the best I’ve ever seen at the enterprise and vertical level." Sector sales lead  


B2B Marketing Awards 2016

This submission won the Best use of content marketing at the B2B Marketing Award 2016: ‘The art of magnetic marketing’ for Vodafone by Earnest.

See the winners