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Saturday, 28 November 2009

The billion pound-a-gram

Be honest with yourself, how often have you almost fallen asleep as you've had data analytics presented to you. The subject is dry, complex, unemotional and boring. Unless od course you're David McCandless. McCandless has turned data visuaisation into a thing of beauty. He has a unique ability to simplify the most complicated of subjects, contextualise the issues and tell a story in one visual blow.

His latest piece for the Guardian gets beneath the enormous numbers that have been flying around in the past couple of years and helps to show us what the really big numbers really mean and when to understand that Roman Abramovich's £7 billion fortune is mere pocket change.

Click to view enlarged version

To view more of McCandless' visual loveliness I suggest a visit to his website:

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

News – it was a great night for Teamspirit in Marketing Effectiveness Awards last night!

Teamspirit and Teamspirit PR picked up a number of awards and commendations at Tuesday’s 2009 Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness held at Guildhall.

Teamspirit won overall Most Effective Integrated B2B Campaign for Prudential, which was also commended in the most effective advertising campaign category for the same work, with sales increases for Q1 2009 exceeding all expectations and APE sales up by at least by 290% for some wrappers.

Legal & General Retail Investments work was also highly commended in the Most Effective Integrated B2B campaign and also in the Most Effective Public Relations category.

This was a fantastic result for our clients and shows that marketing effectiveness, especially in such challenging economic conditions, is at the heart of what we deliver.

Joanne Parker
Chief Executive

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Give me dull performance any day.

Looking at asset manager advertising in preparation for a pitch this week got me thinking about why we need to see 50% over 5 years and similar big numbers. We’re trained to see these figures as good, but if the last 18 months have shown anything, it’s that the bigger the upside, in general the bigger the downside.

And the real reason that we need this kind of performance is that as a species we prevaricate. It’s only when the problem is looming that we start doing. And when it comes to retirement that’s very bad news. Starting retirement plans in your 30s is simply too late, and even your 20s is leaving it a bit late. No, the real answer is to start preparing for the end of a life when it’s just beginning. Start investing an achievable £178/month at age 1 and you get £1,000,000 at age 66, needing only 5% pa compounding; to get the same sum starting at 30? A slightly less achievable £898. To get that nice round million using £178/month over 35 years that easy 5% pa has to rise to a slightly less easy (and probably more risky) 12.09%. And of course most pensions start later.

So if I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren one day maybe I’ll do something super sensible and take out a pension for them. That really would be a gift that kept on giving!

Jim Poulter
Client Services Director

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Guess the national debt... guess agai...

...and ag...

Just found this from Coffee House - The Spectator's blog. It's scary stuff.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Are we ready for the Re-Set World?

As the FTSE bounces back over 5,200, the savings ratio creeps up to the best it has been since late 1993, there is an audible sigh. The worst of the recession is over. By 2010 we will be ‘back to normal’.

I don’t think so. I agree with Professor Goffee, of the London Business School that “It could be that sections of the economy never recover in the way we understand them now. Financial services will not be the same. Consumers will think about value harder.”

The financial services world will never be (nor never should be) the same again. It truly has been Re-Set. And here’s why.

To quote Mervyn King :“The sheer scale of support to the banking sector is breathtaking. In the UK, in the form of direct or guaranteed loans and equity investment, it is not far short of a trillion (that is,one thousand billion) pounds, close to two-thirds of the annual output of the entire economy. To paraphrase a great wartime leader, never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many. And, one might add, so far with little real reform.”

Not surprisingly, confidence in financial services companies has sunk to a new low as it emerged this month that British consumers even trust the media more than they do the finance industry. Just 7 per cent agreed with the statement “In the current economic climate, I trust the financial services industry to look out for me”, while 60 per cent disagreed. Only 18 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted the financial industry, compared with 34 per cent for the media and 19 per cent for the government – the two sectors traditionally occupying the'bottom rungs of the trust ladde'. Four in 10 added that they no longer had confidence in banks’ marketing messages. (source: DMA Oct 09)

So what is the new Re-Set paradigm for financial services? My personal view is that - there will be retailers who enter the market and put the service back into financial services - who really know how to look after consumers. See O2 money, watch out for Tesco, Boots and Metro Bank. They will all change our relationship with the sector. The new Re-Set world will be about service and experience, not profit and performance.

And consumers will also want reassurance and transparency that they are being treated fairly and the Government will step in and regulate and simplify products – which will mean a brand’s reputation and the social contract they offer with their customers will be critical as a key differentiator.

This Re-Set world should give us all in the sector the opportunity to Re-Start. To think about services and products from the consumers perspective, rather than continuing with the status-quo.

But how many financial services companies are planning for the Re-Set world now?

Joanne Parker

Friday, 13 November 2009

Is peanut butter and chocolate really the perfect combination?

On Monday Linked In and Twitter announced that they would be errrr... 'Linking In' with the introduction of Twitter updates into the Linked In status bar.

For some reason the two companies have decided to use a peanut butter and chocolate analogy that sounds slightly weird but hey that's silicon valley for you. Tubs of spreads are close to those guys hearts.

But what of the Twitter #In combination? At first it seemed to me a rather unholy alliance, but on reflection it's probably an excellent combo with real obvious value for both parties.

Recently Twitter has definitely been striving to be perceived as more of a business tool than it had been previously. The recently added list feature proved this. By integrating with Linked In this seems like the perfect way to connect and demonstrate Twitter's utility to a huge community of social mediaites on Linked In that have failed to see the point of Twitter up until now.

On the flip side Linked In has suffered the opposite problem. It's been stuck in an enterprise user rut and isn't seen as particularly cool. Activity on Linked In can seem like it moves at a snails pace in comparison to other social platforms, but by integrating Twitter suddenly the platform becomes a realtime bonanza.

Time will tell what the impact will be, but this week's most unlikely alliance could definitely prove a winner.

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

Friday, 6 November 2009

The rebirth of Twitter as a social utility

At the end of last week Twitter launched lists. Lists allow registrants to create or follow lists of Twitter users that are useful or interesting to them in a more segmented way and without necessarily having to follow those individuals.

In one very carefully calculated move Twitter has managed to filter the noise incredibly successfully. The idea was jumped upon by the early adopters and by Monday morning there were over 6.5 million lists created.

The move by Twitter coincided with the first major newsworthy celebrity defection (or so everyone thought), followed by announcements by sports teams and the entertainment industry that they were asking their stars to either pull out of using the platform or limit their interaction to conversations outside their core job.It would appear that Twitter is moving away from being a media fuelled celeb filled vanity vehicle, towards being a more powerful social utility. It's a method of linking, connecting, researching and discovering, which has always been there, but had been run over by the media bandwagon driven by Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and the like.

The move hasn't been without its critics some have said that Twitter should have concentrated more on its core functionality before launching lists. Others (and very influential others) have argued that lists actually exclude those that are not yet power users and therefore hampers potential mass adoption. This is an argument that simply didn't wash with Robert Scoble who argued that social media isn't always about one big love in, but actually sometimes needs to be filtered so that users can find the conversations they are most interested in.

Despite these arguments lists have been siezed upon as a tool by organisations who wish to aggregate content more effectively, notably news organisations which have started to filter and segment vigorously. We're at the peak of the hype cycle with lists at present, but frankly the trough of disillusionment isn't going to be very deep. Twitter has definitely taken a giant leap forward in its battle with its competitors and by all accounts it's not finished yet.

If you're not following lists yet we have a few suggestions for you:

The Teamspirit team
Interesting Financial Services commentary
A list of IFAs that Tweet
Most popular Twitter lists

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital