About Fran Brosan
Fran Brosan is based in Cambridge England, and has 25 years experience in consumer and B2B marketing, including significant financial services and public sector. She has experience working with brands such as BMW, Prudential and Legal & General.
A former Board Director of WCRS and Warman & Bannister, Fran is also a published author and speaker on marketing to business audiences and integrated marketing. She brings a deep understanding of the industry and combines it with modern digital technology to create unique, award-winning communications. Fran is currently the Director and co-owner of Omobono, a digital agency specializing in strategic B2B communication.
Latest Posts by Fran Brosan
There’s an interesting debate going on, in Higher Education of course, centering on the value of a degree. It’s a subject I did my best to be helpful about at a local school careers evening last week.
The question I always get asked is: ‘should I do a marketing degree if I want to get into marketing?’
To which my honest response is no.
From my point of view, as an employer, I want people with good brains who have studied a subject which develops their thinking skills and knowledge of something broader than marketing. I know there are good marketing qualifications out there (somewhere) but as a first degree subject I can’t see it helps if everyone in our industry has read the same books, studied the same case studies and is taught to think in the same way.
Surely our whole point is to come up with fresh ideas, challenge the status quo, martial our arguments, persuade our colleagues and measure our effectiveness – to name but a few of the things that marketing and agency people get up to.
I’ve canvassed my colleagues on the subject. Their qualifications range from the highly relevant (Honors in Graphic Design or Computer Science) to the useful (Economics, Phsychology, English) to the total wastes of time (Sociology, Film & Media Studies).
What do you think – are degrees valuable in the marketing sphere and if so, which ones?
So it’s official. Relationship building websites work. At least that is the finding of a study on P&G’s customer experience website in Greece (the equivalent of www.supersavvyme.com).
This was one of the papers presented at the Academy of Marketing Conference, a convention of academics who study and research what we practitioners do for a living. The paper showed that broadening the customer-company relationship via the website increased positive word of mouth towards the website, and intentions to increase purchase of the company’s products.
So far, so good. Except they haven’t compared it to other relationship building websites. Or outside Greece. And the statistical differences are so miniscule you’d need a microscope to see them. A second paper looked at whether loyalty cards increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Answer? Not really. The reason being that all stores have loyalty cards so it’s a must, not a differentiator.
What was interesting about both these papers is that the research process (which is incredibly robust, uses lots of very complex terminology and some graphs that make you glad you’re no longer at school) revealed what I would argue most marketers know by gut – that making an effort to broaden your customer’s interaction with your brand or company (as long as it’s relevant and useful) is going to make them more likely to want to do business with you. And that marketing’s job is to keep ahead of the game constantly. Once you have a good idea (like storecards) your competitors will catch up – meaning you have to move ahead of the pack again. That’s what makes our jobs so stimulating.
However, while the academic community is pontificating about whether 0.03 is a meaningful statistical difference we are judged by whether it actually made any difference to the success of our client’s companies. So it’s left me wondering why we marketers are so desperate to have our ‘gut instincts’ validated by research?
Would welcome anyone’s views.
The thing about talking on radio, and if you’ve ever done it you know, is that you spend the next 24 hours thinking about what you might have said.
For example, I was recently on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours' discussing the use of World Cup association with seemingly irrelevant marketing campaigns (you can read the whole story here). This is how it went, and how it should have played out.
Julian Worricker (presenter) – “You’ve said marketers are ‘a carbuncle on the sidecar of reality’, is that what you really think?”
Fran Brosan (yours truly) – “Err”
Fran Brosan (should have said) – “I don’t believe that specious connections to the World Cup help our industry build a professional image.” Or even ‘Yes, that was a bit poetic wasn’t it.” Anything but “Err”.
Julian Worricker (paraphrase) – “Do you think it’s a good thing to be doing press releases about the World Cup if you’re not associated with it?”
Fran Brosan – “It depends on what you’re trying to achieve – waffle, waffle – so it depends on what they are trying to achieve.”
Fran Brosan (should have delivered on brand message to emphasise Omobono’s expertise) –“Identifying what you are trying to achieve is really important. All good communications start with good planning which is a really important part of what we do for our clients at Omobono.”
Also completely forgot to tell them we were Marketing Agency of the Year (although they probably wouldn’t have said it).
At least I managed to get out a reasonable definition of marketing when he asked (phew).
Then just as you are beginning to get into your stride the interview ends.
So if you agree (or don’t) – especially with the carbuncle bit - let me have your comments. "Err" is fine.
A while ago, I was reading Management Today and was struck by their article ‘Crash Course in Communicating in Clear English’. Somehow something that enjoins you to ‘have a look at all your written communications’ seems a bit quaint in these days of digital communication and blogging your heart out.
Like most things MT, the tips stand up to scrutiny. One thing is missing however. In order to communicate something clearly you actually have to have something to say. Perhaps it’s worth remembering Jeremy Bullmore’s great adage 'The only time it’s worth advertising is when you’ve done something worth advertising’.
Far too many of us spend a lot of time rearranging words without thinking of what it is we are actually trying to communicate. Advertising was actually really good at this. You had to get your message out extremely succinctly. Since more and more forms of communication (PR, online) now allow you more and more space we’ve stopped valuing the finely honed word which actually carries a message.
Maybe we’re in good company though. Even TS Eliot had problems making words work. See Burnt Norton Verse V.
At the beginning of the ‘recession’ I was interviewed by BBC Radio 4′s ‘The World This Weekend’ about what we wanted the Chancellor to do in his first recession budget. I said nothing.
I don’t mean that I didn’t say anything, I mean that I said could he please leave us alone. Instead they increased NI to a laughable amount which penalises anyone like us who wants to hire people and put up taxes for high earners (great, thanks for that).
Before the last election, I asked my local MP (Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative) what they will be doing for business if we all vote for them.
Answer? Reducing red tape for start ups, helping people in Social Housing start businesses and stopping the government foreclosing businesses because they owe small amounts of back tax.
All of which is good no doubt, but none of which helps our business as it’s been going 10 years, we work in an office and (sadly) our tax bill is rather higher than 48p.
So what I want is this:
1. The cost of employing people to go down. NI is a shocker and I’d rather it went in the pockets of our employees.
2. The ability to move around the UK easily (particularly on public transport).
3. Uniformly high quality skills from graduates. Am fed up with interviewing so called graduates who can’t spell.
4. An improved technology infrastructure. Annoying still to be in some areas of the UK and not be able to get a mobile signal.
5. A more level playing field for public sector contracts involving far less timewasting on the PQQ level.
Be interested to hear what other people in the business really really want.