Author: James Wilkins and Laurent Lejeune, managing partners at ICF Next
25 Mar 2020
Marketing means much more than slapping an advert in the newspaper: it is about being creative, engaging people and instigating change. The best agencies understand this and work closely with their clients to formulate a strategy that helps organisations make a genuine impact in a world full of distraction.
At ICF Next, we take our skills – consulting, programme management, technology and creative engagement – and combine them to solve our clients’ biggest challenges. We are able to assist a broad client base, targeting our ‘three Cs’: customers, citizens and colleagues. Not many of our competitors have such a big impact on all three audiences.
A fluid approach
People are the main driving force for change, but they’re usually viewed in siloes, meaning companies never fully understand their target market. We view people more fluidly – they can be a customer, colleague and citizen simultaneously. The better we understand the many intersections of life, the more effective we are at creating connected, engaged communities.
We realise how important technology is for modern businesses. That’s why it sits at the centre of everything we do
In contrast to other consultancy firms, we bring expertise from two industries: consulting and agencies. We lead with a consultative approach, then assemble and apply full-service capabilities to our solutions. We focus on mobilising people and seeking active participation to generate pace for our clients.
In addition, we realise how important technology is for modern businesses. That’s why it sits at the centre of everything we do. Our work sets the benchmark in the industry, and we’re investing heavily in areas like artificial intelligence to stay ahead of the curve. We’re also always expanding our platform partnerships and helping organisations gain the most value from the technology they use.
Besides our use of advanced software and digital strategies, we understand that data is paramount to measuring the success of ICF Next’s services, whether that means running fact-finding workshops, testing and developing our solutions, or tracking results against our clients’ goals.
Participating in change
ICF Next’s core capabilities fall into five areas: strategy and consulting; customer marketing; creative engagement; insight and analytics; and technology and channels. With these, we can offer a diverse and inspiring range of services to our clients.
Many experiences – for customers, colleagues and citizens – are falling short. We believe this is due to a lack of empathy. Most organisations focus on what they think the audience should want, rather than what they actually want. Changing this requires businesses to engage with their work and the audiences they are targeting.
We focus on mobilising people and seeking active participation to generate pace for our clients
Fostering engagement is easier when you encourage participation. At ICF Next, we guide our clients through the participation curve, which provides a visual representation of how to move audiences from being passive to becoming advocates for a brand or issue. Organisations need to build an active, reciprocal relationship between their customers, influencers and advocates in order to encourage participation. Loyalty is the first stage of participation and is usually achieved through a traditional loyalty programme. The most active stage of the participation curve is advocacy, which is when a loyal customer begins to work on behalf of a brand or issue.
Our transformation initiatives are about enabling a client to define and achieve their goals. We drive meaningful outcomes and have the numbers to back it up; we helped Hilton achieve 100 million loyalty club members in its 100th year, as well as increasing employee engagement by 240 percent for Vodafone.
From an industry recognition standpoint, we have received several accolades. In 2019, we won a number of gold and silver awards at the Cannes Lions festival and took home six awards at the Innovation SABRE awards. We have worked with the European Commission to produce many different events, website developments and campaigns. We have also helped transform performance management at a leading British bank. The project was central to the culture and customer experience at the company, and sums up everything ICF Next stands for.