Principals: Sandy Purewal, Chairman; Jon Lonsdale, CEO
Since mid-2014, Octopus Group has been on a bold mission: to be the UK’s category-defining B2B integrated communications agency. We became The Brand to Sales Agency to do it – committed to not only making brands famous, but also growing their commercial sales pipelines at speed. 2016 was the year when everything just clicked – but it wasn’t a fluke.
By 2013, Octopus Group had grown to become one of the UK’s most respected independent B2B PR shops. We had a successful business, but we noticed that things had started to change.
Clients were reducing spend on PR. Crucially, our ideas were being adopted by our clients’ field marketing teams to drive sales pipeline. In-house teams were getting smaller and more willing to work with a single supplier for multiple marketing services. Full service was back.
We had two options: bury our heads in the sand like many of our larger competitors (and survive). Or take a deep breath and create big, bold change (and thrive).
We chose the latter, and Brand to Sales was born.
Reinventing our proposition
Brand to Sales positioned Octopus Group as the only UK integrated comms agency to help B2B and tech brands arrive at sales faster. We do this by fusing research, PR, social media, content, events and technology together. All under one roof, and delivered through bespoke methodology and tools.
We completely restructured our business with a new vision, mission, proposition, methodology, services, divisions and talent. We relocated from Windsor to London and developed our own bespoke pricing, planning, reporting and evaluation technologies. All without a penny of external investment.
This amount of change required a singular focus on our ‘Octopedes’. We re-codified our Octopus Group ‘family values’ and focused on building a culture of trust to turn our team into fully-rounded digital natives. We also doubled our efforts to make ourselves a stand-out place to work in agency land. Off the back of independent staff surveys, in 2017, we’ve achieved a Two Star Accreditation in The Sunday Times Best Places to Work list and Bronze in PR Week’s Best Places to Work.
There’s an app for that
We re-tooled our account teams, creating our own technologies to put Brand to Sales at the heart of everything we do. In 2016, we launched TechStack, a cross-company team from Account Executive to CEO, to find and prioritise the latest digital tools and platforms, shortlist the best, and standardise across Octopus Group. The team evaluated 72 tools in the first 12 months!
In order to plan campaigns for clients, we created our own app: The Brand to Sales Calculator. Every digital campaign, no matter how big or small, is productised, planned and priced using it. And our Brand to Sales Dashboard app allows teams to pull in data from all the tools and platforms that drive performance into a central place, so teams can analyse the data and tweak performance week-on-week. It also allows teams to benchmark digital performance against other Brand to Sales campaigns.
The result of all this effort and investment? We scored more than 40 ‘new logo’ contract wins in 2016, including campaigns with Iris Software, Callcredit, SAP Hybris, Fellowes, AdColony and Cloudera. We’ve achieved a 70 per cent new business win rate – double the industry average. Our overall fee income grew 17 per cent, our digital fee income grew 37 per cent, profits increased by 50 per cent, and our average client budgets increased by 25 per cent. And we’ve been nominated for 10 best campaign or agency awards. 2016 was, it’s fair to say, a good year. 2017 is going to be even better.