Project One – clear purpose, great content, stronger business
Geoff Mason, Content Director, Project One. UK change consultancy
Project dates: 2014-2016
A Valuable Content Customer Story
Geoff Mason and the leadership team at change consultancy Project One wanted to get the word out more widely. Clients loved the work they did. They’d grown by word of mouth recommendation as well as hard sales graft. How should they tell their story? How could they use the web to help them achieve their goals? What was the best way to market their award-winning firm?
Project One’s challenge
Project One is the biggest team of change leaders in the UK. It’s a superb company comprising over 100 deeply experienced change consultants working throughout the UK, supported by HQ team in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire. Number 43 in the Times ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list, and a National Champion in the European Business Awards, Project One works shoulder to shoulder with many of the UK’s leading organisations to deliver transformational and business-critical change. The size of the team has been growing steadily over the last couple of years, and the company has ambitious plans for further expansion. They needed a new business development approach to consolidate their brand position, and to fill a growing sales pipeline. They knew that the web mattered, but had recently been burned by an expensive and unsuccessful branding and website project which had left them with a message and site that wasn’t right for them.
Project One’s goal:
- To increase awareness and understanding of who they are, what they do and how they do it
- To further differentiate them from competitors.
- To keep them front of mind, so that Project One becomes the first port of call for companies facing the challenges of complex change.
- A lead-generating website that reflects the spirit and drive of Project One.
- A set of messages that everyone in the business could get behind and was proud to share – a platform for clear, compelling and consistent communication.
Project One’s questions:
Content Director Geoff Mason and the business development team needed strategic marketing and business development advice to guide the new marketing drive. He wanted to know:
What’s the best way to get the message across and meet our business development goals? How do we make sure the website doesn’t bomb again? How can we create really valuable content that engages our senior level executive audience?
The process for Project One
“All great marketing starts with great positioning.”
Our work with Project One has been executed through a series of overlapping projects, broken down into the stages outlined below.
Stage 1. Website analysis
We kicked off our relationship with Project One with an analysis of their existing website.
“We asked Valuable Content to do a review of our current website. All your conclusions reinforced what we thought but you articulated it in a much better way. I’ll never forget one of the statements you made. You pointed out that it was like going into a maze and not knowing where to go next. So we invited you to the office, and it was in that first conversation that you started to educate us. At that stage we thought we just needed a new website, but it became clear that what was missing was a clear message. We needed to work on our message before we worked on redoing the website. Then we thought ‘how do you do that?’ And that was the start of our work with Valuable Content.” –Glynis Ward, Business Development Manager, Project One
Stage 2. Content Lab work on the Project One message
We took Project One through our Content Lab process, conducting a series of detailed phone interviews with clients and consultants. This outside-in approach helped us create a set of messages that could underpin the new website. The work was presented at a series of workshops, where the message was refined.
“It was like you were taking us on a journey. It’s not a leap, it’s a progression. We’ve gravitated towards a message that’s become the foundation for all our marketing. Real change. Real difference. It’s fundamental to our future.” –Glynis Ward, Business Development, Project One
Changes and actions from the Content Lab work:
- The Project One strapline changed from the more internal-looking “We lead. Change Follows” to the rallying “Real Change. Real Difference.”
- A written Project One story and tone of voice guide for Project One communications.
- We worked with Geoff on a prototype content strategy.
- We created an early website wireframe to show how this message could be communicated through their content.
- Project One launched their email newsletter The Real Change Club.
“A key point for me was when you picked out the term ‘real change’. Geoff had the thought to establish the Real Change Club and that helped get some prototyping of the concept in a way that the whole team could get behind, without feeling that it was a whole rebrand. It was quite clever really. I’m not sure we knew it but a lot of that was down to Geoff’s gung ho approach!” –Glynis Ward, Business Development Manager, Project One
>Content creation got quickly underway, testing the validity of the Real Change message with potential clients. Its first outing was in the guise of the Real Change Club newsletter, which took hold quickly, engaging business leaders and pulling in leads.
Stage 3. Content Lab positioning work, developing the message and sharing it with the leadership team
With a strong outside-in view of the message in place, the next stage was to articulate Project One’s purpose more clearly and get the whole team behind it. What differentiated them from their competitors? What was their mission? Why was Project One in business? We worked with Geoff, Glynis and the Project One team to create:
- Core messages and values documents – developing the Why of the business
- What is real change? Animation
- A series of point-of-view articles, guides and white papers on the subject of change.
“We now have a clearer, more confident, bolder and more distinctive expression and message. It has become the golden thread that runs through the whole brand. We have a way of describing Project One in a way we’ve never had before – one that feels comfortable and confident and also distinctive.” –Glynis Ward, Business Development, Project One
>With the positioning becoming clear, content creation ramps up. Consultant knowledge is turned into valuable content that is shared via the Real Change Club, and is ready to go onto the new website.
Stage 4. Project support: creating the new brand
With the new messaging percolating through the business, work got underway to develop the visual brand. Project One engaged Cheshire-based design agency Ultimate for this part of the project. We held the client perspective, and advised from a content point of view.
>The new brand used for the design of a series of helpful Real Change Guides to be used as sales and marketing collateral. We worked with Project One’s team to shape the copy and write in the new tone of voice.
Stage 5. Website: writing website content
Ultimate built the website to our wireframe, we wrote the main page copy. Website launched January 2016. See www.projectone.com
Stage 6. Project Support: using content to help embed the change
As change experts, Project One are more aware than most of the need to get the whole company on board with the new brand and messages. The new direction necessitated a change of tone, and a new way of talking about the business. Geoff, Andrea and the team created a useful Tool Kit which everyone in the business can access online, containing a sample audio logo (elevator pitch), an animation that explained the values, case studies, and other material to help consultants tell the story of Project One.
>Project One has been raising the content bar higher, both for potential clients and their own people. Work on animations, videos, brochures, and guides is ongoing.
Results to date
It’s a long project that’s still rolling out. Results to date include:
- A renewed and shared purpose for Project One.
- Consistent message – a clear articulation of the Project One story and its values.
- Better conversations – consultants are equipped to contribute more to business development. The growing library of valuable content supports sales conversations. More people are contributing to the sales process, in a way that feels natural.
- More successful bids – the work on the message and values has made responding to bids faster and more successful. Project One has plenty of powerful content to hand that illustrates their value.
- Inbound leads from the right type of clients via the Real Change Club
- More confidence in the business – pride in the brand and the website.
- European Business Award for Growth Strategy.
Thanks to the work with Valuable Content on our website, content and brand, we’ve gone from being relatively unknown outside the customers we’re working with at the time to being known about far more widely in the wider market. We now have a consistent message and distinctive way of describing what we do, with a library of valuable content to support sales conversations. We’re seeing more successful bids and we’re starting to see inbound leads from the right type of clients too. Overall there’s more confidence in the business – and a renewed pride in the Project One brand.
Ideas you can take away from Project One’s experience
- Start with the why, as Simon Sinek advises – get your brand purpose and positioning sorted. It all stems from here.
- Find and engage the right partners (not suppliers) to help you make the change.
- Stay in control. Don’t abdicate responsibility – you can’t outsource something this important.
- Know why you’re doing it – you need very clear goals for measurable results.
- Understand that content marketing is a big change for a business– put change management processes in place to make the change stick.
- We needed to and felt able to take some risks – know why your’re doing it, take some risks – we set up RCC – we tried things out.
It has been an honour to work with Project One on this project. We’ve learned much from Geoff, Glynis, Andrea, Ian and team about how to make real change happen and stick – important, as content marketing is a big change for many businesses.
Thanks for your support, guidance, and most all the patience that you have shown to all of us this year. I am delighted at the progress we have made together – you have opened eyes to a whole new world, and it’s a world we are excited about and proud to be part of.