A new approach to business growth

Lead generation is a popular online marketing tool.  It stimulates and captures interest in a product from which sales can be developed. By targeting a selected audience with tailored promotional offers, a base of interested leads is built for a business to convert into new customers.   It has potential for high volume, improving the reach, return and, due to its targeted nature, accountability of online engagement.  AJ recommended this approach to one of its most established clients, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Aquability is a leading UK producer of walk-in baths and showers, and has employed AJ as its agency for almost 20 years.  During 2016, AJ recommended Aquability tried a new approach to lead generation because we were looking for new ways to grow business having maximised press and inserts.

The supplier, Magnetise, is running a mixture of online and email formats specifically designed to capture data.  Once secured, the data is supplied to Aquability on a daily basis.  Timing is important.  Unless data is supplied for conversion efficiently, the value of real-time information is lost.

Lead generation requires an offer or call to action.  In this case, potential leads are able to download a product brochure once their contact details have been given.  Telephone numbers are a mandatory field so leads can be followed up by Aquability’s call centre team to generate appointments and ultimately sales.

This approach is popular because costs are fixed and low.  Conversion rates from leads to sales can be low, but converting only a small number of leads to sales generates a high ROI.  A typical lead cost is 20% of a press lead.  Lead generation typically requires 50 leads to make a sale, compared to 12 from press, but still stacks up well and provides additional leads to keep the call centre busy.

Conversely, speed of lead generation is often affected by seasonality and the quality of leads isn’t known until activity begins.  Quantity of leads doesn’t guarantee quality either, so regular feedback to Magnetise allows adjustments to be made and value maximised.  Performance of each source is monitored, refined and optimised on an on-going basis.

Effective lead generation activity makes the sales process and revenue creation easier and quicker.  Using this new way to reach customers, has given Aquability the scope to grow business by adding a new channel.

To identify and try the best new approach to business growth for your company, contact Alice Buttling or Ann Gardiner on 01225 758222 or email alice@aja.co.uk or ann@aja.co.uk.





New Interiors feature for Telegraph’s Saturday

Just two months old, and Telegraph’s Saturday has a new Interiors feature starting this week.  AJ’s Alice Buttling tells us what she thinks.

Alison Cork has a built a strong platform writing advertorial style pages under the guise of ‘hunting’ for great home/garden offers for the consumer.  In reality, of course, advertisers are just paying to be included.  These features have appeared regularly in the Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard as well as, but less so, in the Mail, Mirror and the Sun.

Not long ago, the Daily Mail decided to replace the Alison Cork section with their own version, called ‘Home and Away’.  In addition to home and garden offers, it also includes travel, and has proved extremely successful, now running a full page each week.

Next to follow suit is the Telegraph.  Unlike the Mail, it will continue to carry the Alison Cork pages, but is launching its own ‘Interiors’ page this weekend in the relatively new ‘Saturday’ section.  What I love about it is you get what you pay for; large, medium or small image and text, you pay accordingly.  This is not the case with Alison Cork – it’s pot luck.  In one issue, you might secure the large hero image, but next issue find yourself with a tiny image in the gutter – both costing the same price, with no control.  This has become a real bugbear for our clients who despise unpredictability – particularly when they end up in the gutter the size of a postage stamp!

At this stage, the Telegraph doesn’t have a ‘face’ for their feature.  In contrast, the Daily Mail has chosen its features writer, Harriet Arkell, to source their offers.  Whether or not a ‘face’ is necessary remains to be seen.  I personally think the new Interiors section looks great; AJ has booked three of the nine advertising sites, including the big hero shot for our client Eden Verandas.  I’ll keep you updated on how well it works…………

Checking In

Complacency is an ever-present threat when agency/client relationships are going well.  To avoid the threat becoming a reality, AJ is regularly checking in with clients.  To supplement our on-going contact with clients, now and again we dig a bit deeper, examining all the elements of our service through a short survey. Here’s what they told us.

Creative and production   

Idea generation, responsiveness, speed, quality and approachability – all factors we asked clients to judge about AJ’s creative and production; all scored over 90%.  The best creative comes when clients allow us to truly understand what they’re trying to achieve, then trust us to create from a blank sheet of paper.

Media planning and buying

The 2017 Global Media Thinking Survey by media consultancy, ID Comms, identified two agency weaknesses as failing to ‘provide insight-driven strategic planning’ and not ‘identifying relevant data-fuelled insight’.  Our clients disagree, scoring AJ around 90% consistently for media planning and buying.  AJ’s planning process ensures results are optimised through testing and refining activity based on interrogating robust data generated from unique codes.  With access to client’s data, AJ can plan effectively and maintain press spend performance, growing return on investment.

Account handling/finance

According to FCB Ulka’s CEO Nitin Karkare a long-lasting client/agency relationship relies on factors going far beyond the hard metrics. He says, “The most important being do you really care for their business? Do you genuinely share their highs and lows? Are you available for them when they really need you?”  AJ prides itself on those ‘soft’ factors and so we should, hitting a perfect 100% on account handling and financial management.

Impact on your business

Karkare also says “Success is the biggest glue in any relationship. Every client wants a business partner who helps them win.” A client/agency relationship is going to be short-lived if the client can’t see tangible results.  AJ needs and wants to make a difference – and it appears we do, averaging 5.6 out of 6 for impact on client business.  Responsive creative, fresh ideas, cost effective media-buying and on-going testing all contribute to an improved ROI.

AJ thrives on client feedback, working hard to convert every 4 or 5 to a 6 (out of 6); we refuse to become complacent.  But don’t take our word for it, have a look at what our clients say about us – including this from one survey respondent:

“As you (probably) expect I’ve given you great scores. Filling it in just reminded me what a great job that you and Alice and your team do for us – without doubt the best supplier I’ve ever worked with – I really appreciate the time and effort (and talent) that you put into looking after us.” 

Richard Read, Serious Readers

On the up

School reports might fill some with dread, but not us.  We’ve received glowing results in Campaign’s School Reports 2017, hitting the top 10 agencies for increased growth.

Finding ourselves among the big boys, comprising agencies with up to 50 times our annual billings, we’ve entered the Top 100 agencies in the UK for the first time.  Unlike many around us in this rarefied atmosphere, we’ve seen year-on-year growth of 110%.

Based in Bath, we also feature in the Top 30 Regional Agencies, a specific list celebrating agencies outside London.  We moved up 5 places this year, and grabbed a podium spot for business growth.

These are exciting results for a full service Direct Response specialist agency, and reflect the hard work and dedication of the whole AJ team.  To find out more, contact Lesley Bowman on 01225 758222 or lesley@aja.co.uk.

One size fits all?

At AJ, we don’t think so.  We believe having a selection of ad sizes and formats gives a number of advantages.   Here’s why.

A portfolio of creative gives us the flexibility to:

  • widen the audience by selling the same product in a different way
  • broaden the schedule by tailoring the messaging and style to the readership
  • use a range of sizes to maximise the available short term deals
  • reduce saturation of key titles by having a range of sizes, messages and styles appealing to their full readership in different ways

A typical AJ client has four to six styles of creative in three or four different sizes running at any one time.  Creative produced for reading light specialist, Serious Readers, represents a number of these features.

Individual headlines illustrate a range of product applications


Two customer images demonstrate breadth of product suitability


Tailored copy specific to the publication
Varied sizes and formats allows optimisation of late space deals

These tactics also develop brand recognition by default and lead to increased spend whilst improving ROI through close monitoring of results.

This helps us grow media spend – in some cases by up to 400% while ROI is also increasing. We don’t charge for our creative service, but we clearly don’t sell our clients short either.  Quite the opposite.

To discuss how we can improve your ROI, please contact Client Services Director, Ann Gardiner, on 01225 758222 or email ann@aja.co.uk



Look and feel: why inserts work

Nowhere is the term ‘look and feel’ more appropriate than when talking about inserts. They offer an additional vehicle for lead generation, replacing or complementing other advertising channels. AJ uses them successfully with clients by broadening or re-working existing media schedules, managing the process from start to finish.

Inserts can access previously unreached audiences by using a wider range of distribution mediums.  Catalogues and statements mailings, for example, help you reach those who don’t

read newspapers and magazines, and offer unequalled opportunities to be highly-targeted.   They give customers a call to action literally ‘in hand’, resulting in greater response rates and are proven to drive online traffic.

At AJ, we manage the entire process from creative concept, through print and distribution, to the end of campaign analysis.  We work with a core of reliable printers, booking and placing each job according to the best price on the day.  Rates can be unpredictable, so we never make false promises. We simply promise to buy as cost effectively as we can.

Media and print are priced separately to ensure we’re totally transparent, and there’s no requirement for clients to buy their print through AJ.  Some clients have preferred suppliers or simply prefer to book their own.

We are also 100% impartial so can plan and buy the most appropriate and cost effective programmes; we only recommend opportunities we think are right.

Whether you have never used inserts or don’t feel they work for you, why not see whether AJ can plan and buy better for you?

Contact Alice Buttling or Ann Gardiner on 01225 758222 or email alice@aja.co.uk or ann@aja.co.uk

Titles on the Up

Many titles appear to be accepting an ongoing circulation decline, so it’s great to see others bucking the trend.  How are they doing it?  Are they simply printing more copies, like the Evening Standard?  It appears not.

Common themes are price and producing concise news.

The Daily Star reduced its cover price and in doing so proved cost was an issue for some of its readers.  Not only has the paper managed to halt the decline in its circulation figures but has taken share from The Sun, to achieve a 14% year-on-year increase, now nudging a 500,000 circulation.  At AJ, we don’t use this title very often as it’s not a great fit with most of our clients’ target audiences, but love what they’ve achieved.

The I is another title proving price matters.  With a circulation pushing 300,000, it has overtaken the Guardian and Observer, and is closing in on the Sunday Telegraph.   It’s amazing to see a newspaper can launch in the current day and reach this level of circulation.   We love this title and it achieves great results for our clients’ products; from reading lights to coffee pods, oak extensions to cashmere sweaters.

The Times has also increased its year-on-year figures by nearly 10%.  No price change, just a quality product and, over the last 12 months, more engagement with news and politics.  Without an increase in rates, The Times has become a very strong title for us – a top 3 performer for many of our clients.

A couple of other titles showing year-on-year circulation increases are the Week at 206,000 and Private Eye at a record 250,000, thanks largely to Brexit.  Both these titles work really well for us.

The days of buying newspapers and magazines are certainly not dead.  To succeed or remain successful, titles must adapt to the current times and needs of the population; in some cases, cash rich/time poor, with others just cash poor.   We would encourage national newspapers to test price points and content more often, much as we do for our clients when trying to find the winning formula and maximise returns.  We don’t always succeed first time, but we keep testing and do whatever we can to turn results around rather than accepting a decline.