Wonderly is one year old. Well, kind of. We’ve been helping our clients with much more than content for decades, but we rebranded and repositioned just over a year ago. You see it had become increasingly apparent just how fundamental our contribution was to our clients’ whole growth strategy. We were driving a shift in approach, not merely delivering services. Then came a eureka moment when we understood precisely why we had become so important to our clients and the mechanisms by which we were helping them to thrive.
With the addition of a couple of key services, we soon realised we had something very different and valuable to offer. And so, in March 2019, Haymarket Network ‘the content marketing agency’ became Wonderly ‘the owned media agency’. With a clear purpose, a coherent strategy and a new type of full service built around the specific requirements of owned media, we set about helping our clients think strategically about their owned media in order to unlock its full potential as an engine for growth. Since then, we’ve been very busy doing just that. Here are some of the highlights of the past 12 months…
Helping the Army smash its application targets
The Army is enjoying its most successful recruitment period in more than a decade and we like to think we’ve had something to do with it. In support of the Army’s This is Belonging campaign, we developed storylines and content to bring modern Army values to life in a way that connected with young adults. We produced videos for distribution on social channels and a good ol’ fashioned lifestyle magazine that was so popular it had to be reprinted (who said Gen Z doesn’t read magazines?). The overall result was scorn and opprobrium from Piers Morgan followed by a 20% surge in applications — a pleasing result in both regards.
Helping The FA generate a record surplus and take our national game in the right direction
Through our content and premium matchday programs, we have helped the FA get closer to its fans, elevate the women’s game and generate a record-breaking surplus that has allowed it to invest £128m into grassroots football. And, perhaps even more importantly, we’ve been able to support The FA in delivering its For All strategy, a concerted effort from the custodians of English football to reassert the right values on the national game. It’s important work which we’re proud to support.
Helping make athletics the biggest sport in the world
We’re not the only ones to have rebranded. Back in October, our long-standing client IAAF shed the moniker it had used for more than 100 years to become World Athletics. As it was for us, the move was inspired by a newfound clarity of purpose. World Athletics’ goal is to make athletics the biggest sport on the planet and we’re helping it by shaping its data and technology strategy and delivering against an ambitious technical road map. In the last 12 months, we have delivered a new (rebranded) website, a new brand portal, a commentator information system, websites for major events (including the Athletics World Championships) and a unifying marketing and data platform that, for the first time, gives World Athletics a single view of its customers and personalisation capabilities. Watch out football, athletics is coming for you!
Helping Kia Motors deliver category-leading customer experience
Kia consistently outperforms the market in the UK and, according to Brandwatch, was the best performing car manufacturer for customer service in 2019. OK, so that’s not all down to us, but we’re proud to be playing a part in its ongoing success. In the last 12 months we have helped Kia make its owned media better in more ways than ever before. As well as its sales brochures, we’ve created videos, graphics, animations and content for the UK website and produce educational resources for its electric vehicles and fleet services.
Helping RHS help more of us fall in love with gardening
The RHS is the sort of venerable institution you might expect to be content to rest on its laurels (or Prunus laurocerasus as it would say) or wither on the vine (Vitis vinifera). But you’d be wrong. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an institution more committed to growing its relevance by seeking new ways to bring the joys of gardening to more people. Our recent My Garden project for the RHS is a case in point. We worked closely with the RHS digital team to design and build a new web app that helps gardeners by providing them with personalised gardening tips and advice based on their specific needs, circumstances, and level of expertise. It’s a breakthrough development, at once deepening RHS’s relationship with existing members, helping it engage new audiences and above all, helping more of us fall in love with gardening. The RHS has grown its membership and revenues every year for the past five years and with bold digital initiatives like My Garden, only a fool would bet against it doing the same in the next five.
Helping Volkswagen Group stay connected to its dealerships
Volkswagen Group (VWG) knows that a great customer experience is only possible when the people it has dealing with customers day-in and day-out are motivated and well informed. That’s why, with our help, it has created owned media channels purely for the purpose of connecting and communicating with those who represent its brands in showrooms and workshops across the UK. Over the years, this has become such an important pillar of its strategy that we now have a team of 14 specialists permanently based at VWG’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes. This year was significant though, because we rolled out a major upgrade to the websites at the heart of these owned media channels offering end users a better experience through personalisation, customisation, simplified navigation and improved search. The results have been profound. Not only does the site help VWG head office deliver essential internal communications, it drives behaviour. The campaign we ran to drive dealer engagement with a new sales app in SKODA, saw dealership app use increasing from 10% to more than 70% in three months and an estimated £1m+ in incremental product sales.
Helping local garden centres operate with national scale
Perhaps our biggest and certainly one of our most complicated projects is for our one client that you may not recognise. Tillington Group is a buying consortium representing 11 of the UK’s proudest independent garden centres. Most are family businesses and all are phenomenally successful, while maintaining their cherished status as much-loved local institutions. Our job is to drive footfall to the local centres. We do this by producing highly bespoke magazines for each of them, that reflect their unique character and the differing tastes of their discerning local clientele while providing the benefits of scale from the broader group. Think ‘farmers market authenticity’ meets ‘Amazon scale’ and you get the idea. To be honest, we’ve been doing it for so long now that we can’t remember whether it’s just ‘logistical mastery’ or ‘actual magic’ that allows us to pull it off. But we do pull it off, that’s for sure. In the past 12 months, we have lovingly crafted 47 ‘highly bespoke’ magazines ‘overflowing with unique character’ for ‘discerning local clientele’ and distributed more than 10 million copies!
Helping the IBO create a better world through education
The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is another one of those phenomenally successful organisations with a crystal-clear purpose that just seems to quietly go about its business. Revenues are up 6% year-on-year and in the last five years, the number of students sitting IB diplomas has grown by over 35% to 103,000, facilitated by a corresponding growth in the number of programs offered worldwide. How has the IBO achieved such enviable growth? Undoubtedly, its ongoing commitment to nurturing and mobilising a strong community through content and experiences is a major contributing factor. And in the last 12 months, we’ve helped it in this respect more than ever, producing more content for its blog and social channels and producing special editions of its magazine IB World.
Helping Berkeley Group articulate its difference
Not every brand has a story worth telling but happily for us, that’s certainly not the case for Berkeley Group. Yes, Berkeley builds top-notch houses but more importantly, it has enduring beliefs and values that shape its action. A great example is how its belief in ‘the power of communities to improve lives’ inspires it to build places that actively encourage community spirit. This sort of thing makes our job easier because frankly, most of us are much more interested in ‘life’ and ‘living’ than we are in housebuilding. And, it was this insight that helped mould our strategy for Berkeley Life, a new content strand and magazine that brings to life Berkeley values for its key communities and audiences. Among other things, we’ve written about a bespoke watchmaker, biodiversity, a pro-cyclist turned entrepreneur, desert islands, historic buildings and art galleries, all the while helping Berkeley build connections with important communities and articulate its difference. Not every brand is ready for owned media, but if ever there was an example of one that is absolutely right to prioritise it, it’s Berkeley Homes.
Helping the CIPD grow its influence and membership
A couple of years back, CIPD challenged us to think broadly and creatively about its owned media estate. Show us, our CIPD contacts asked, how we can increase our relevance to the business community, drive member engagement, diversify income and unlock growth. We said, leave it to us. First, we worked closely with the CIPD leadership to create an owned media strategy – a framework that would allow us to rapidly scale up on owned media activity. In the past 12 months, we have run more than 100 live events on CIPD’s behalf, ranging from intimate forums for senior fellows, to the Festival of Work, a massive two-day event with more than 160 speakers attended by over 11,000 delegates. We have refined and improved People Management and Work (the two membership magazines we publish on CIPD’s behalf) to the extent that the mags are more highly valued by members now than ever before in their 35-year history. And we have significantly grown reach and engagement on CIPD’s digital channels, grown first-party data, introduced new digital revenue streams, and launched a new podcast series. Is all this working, you may well ask? Well, CIPD is celebrating its seventh consecutive year of growth so we must be doing something right, right?
Two newcomers to the Wonderly family
This year we have onboarded two significant new clients, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Motability. We’re thrilled to be helping our neighbours, Kew, to build deeper relationships with members, boost loyalty and inspire advocacy. Our first project was a revamp of its membership magazine. The first issue of the new-look mag has just landed and, with HRH the Prince of Wales as guest editor and an exclusive interview with Dame Judi Dench, we think it’s an absolute ripper but we’ll let you decide for yourself. You can check it out here. Motability, the charity that runs a scheme providing mobility solutions for people with disabilities, has enlisted us to engage its members and generate new revenues for reinvestment into its charitable causes. As with Kew, our first job is a revamp of its member magazine. Of course, you can expect the magazine to be amazing but it won’t be available for another week or so yet so you’ll have to wait a bit to see it. Beyond the refreshed magazine, we’ll be working with our colleagues at Whatcar.com to produce a content hub for all things related to the Motability Scheme.
So there we have it. It’s been a wonderful first year for Wonderly and, more importantly, for our clients. We’ve helped them all to advance their missions and, in many instances, to make important shifts in their communications strategy and that’s why we’re here.