Q & A: Ben Briggs, Managing Partner, Join the Dots
With over 18-years’ experience in the media industry, Ben leads the helm at bespoke media agency Join the Dots and is responsible for client strategy and the overall direction of the business. Join the Dots mission is to translate your retail brand’s data into insight and turn that insight into innovative media plans to support customer acquisition and retention campaigns.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have over 18-years’ experience in the industry, and my position as Managing Partner in Join the Dots means I’m responsible for client strategy and the overall direction of the business. I’m a founding member of the DMA Media Council and a Fellow of the IDM, and I’ve also had the honour of being a Judge for the DMA Awards on five occasions and was part of the DMA Award-winning team for my work with the RSPCA.
I strive for a happy and fulfilled team and am passionate about training and educating the next generation of media planners. My plan for the future is to shake up the media agency landscape with a new look on media planning and focus on innovation, bringing media and technology together.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Join the Dots is an award-winning media agency committed to working in a transparent, sustainable manner to help our clients meet their acquisition goals, regardless of channel or medium.
We have a long history of working with retail clients, from national chains to smaller regional businesses, helping them acquire new clients via various acquisition strategies.
To me, Join the Dots means simplicity and creating connections. Dots like data on their own are meaningless, but when you start to join those data dots together, turning that data into insight, you start to bring those dots to life. Connecting audiences to communication channels, online with offline, acquisition to retention, and analogue with digital to drive better business outcomes.
What’s special about your approach?
At Join the Dots, we create our own way that’s right for us and our clients.
We’re tired of the stale way some media agencies approach retail clients, claiming to offer bespoke services but placing them into one-size fits all campaigns, which don’t properly account for the brand’s size, stature in the market or the target shoppers.
We’re proudly independent, not driven by delivering buying quotas or side-lined by other priorities. We operate with neutrality in our media selection, guided by data and insight and placing strategy at the heart of what we do.
We’re not a dinner and drinks type of agency, we’re a night at The Crystal Maze, getting stuck into solving problems, collaborating and having fun while doing it type of agency.
Real difference in approach, really different results.
What advantage does it add?
Lots of agencies say they are data-led, but few really are. By making decisions genuinely based on what the data is telling us, we can drive better results for clients. We understand their audiences better which enables us to create strategies that achieve their objectives and drive response from people more likely to convert. Our process ensures there is zero wastage in targeting making sure media budgets work as hard as possible.
How does a service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
To start with, for every campaign we look at the current customer demographics, behaviours, attitudes and their mindsets using customer profiling, then we assess the overall landscape of both the sector and specifically the brand’s competitor set to seeing where the opportunity is. We help advise on everything from the positioning and creative strategy to the media implementation and then analysis and optimisation to make sure retailers are delivering their targets, and then some!
How are retailers using your solutions to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
If only there was a winning formula or best practice for retailers, but the honest answer is it really differs depending on the brand, the call to action (CTA), whether they are online or high-street and a whole host of other considerations.
For instance, we often see higher average basket values and number of products in store (due to the power of the instore assistants), so we need to optimise the campaign to drive footfall, but then if you are an online only retailer the strategy to drive to store is no longer relevant.
One high street retailer wanted to shift more people in store for this very reason, higher order values, so we devised a Door Drop campaign that had the name of their local store on the front, plus a map of the location and included a note from the Store Manager welcoming the prospect to their store with localised information. This increased RR% significantly, at no extra cost to the client as all print was lasered and so the variations were not more expensive. The next campaign we added the small incentive of a gift with purchase when in store, which increased the basket value instore and shifted the total number of transactions for that campaign to be higher in store than online.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We work with a rage of partners to deliver client’s objectives. These range from printers who carbon balance our print jobs, to the UK’s biggest door drop provider helping us reach millions of consumers in their homes. We also work with a wide range of data providers to give us the widest perspective on audiences and channels. Using a single dataset only allows you to understand one element of an audience from a single perspective. Every audience is multi-faceted, so at Join the Dots we use a combination of different data sets to gain as full a picture as possible.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2022
There are major opportunities for retailers this year, the re-shaping of the high street after COVID means empty retail units, and sites going for a fraction of what they would have cost previously, and as this will be the first full summer without covid restrictions sub-sectors such as leisure, travel and sporting goods retailers are going to see renewed interest in their offerings.
That said, hybrid working is undoubetedly leading to a reduction in footfall into bricks and mortar stories, whilst the rising cost of living is going to have an impact on consumer spending.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Our planning process enables us to reach audiences wherever they are. So even with a shift away from the high street or retail parks, we can still reach audiences at home or in their leisure time. And because we target those most likely to convert to sale, we can still help retailers achieve their sales targets, albeit through different channels than they may have previously used. An example of this is the use of homemover data. When someone moves house, they are in a switching mindset and are more likely to change supplier or make purchases for their new homes. We source address level data from estate agents or conveyancing firms (or any other source which indicates a home move is imminent) and we supply this to brands such as home furnishing or DIY retailers. They can then mail the addresses with tailored offers to drive sales. Because the retailer is reaching them at the right time with a highly relevant message, the conversion levels for homemover data exceed lots of other cold acquisition channels.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
One of our brand values as an agency is innovation. We always have an eye on the future and long-term success. We have just launched some really exciting print products which fuse the tangibility and high production values of direct mail with the immediacy of digital response. This is an ideal way for retailers to showcase products in a very targeted way and directly convert the awareness to incremental sales. We expect to see a high level of take-up of this new product across retail, and other verticals.
Any final thoughts?
We like to think of our clients as extended members of our team, and collaboration makes us all better at what we do.
We’re always seeking out new opportunities and challenges, take a look at our website and socials (give us a follow on LinkedIn) to get more of a flavour of our team, the ways we work, and what we can do for your company. And don’t forget to download our latest report, it has really useful insights on the optimum times to be reaching new customers and retaining your existing customers during the home moving experience.
To find out how Join The Dots can help your retail operation, click here.
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