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News of Feargal Quinn’s death received with great sadness

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Thursday 25 April 2019

The professional marketing community throughout Ireland has been saddened to hear of the death of Feargal Quinn.
The Superquinn founder was a business leader and a visionary who inspired many people throughout his life, and he left an indelible mark on Irish retailing.
Tom Trainor, Chief Executive of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, said “Feargal was a Fellow of the Institute, he served as President of the Institute, and  he was a recipient of our Marketing Champion Award. He was a steadfast supporter of the work of the professional body. Our deepest condolences go to his family”.   


Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn makes his acceptance speech after receiving the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s Marketing Champion Award in 2009.

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Coca-Cola and Enterprise Ireland help small businesses grow with the Thrive Project

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 17 April 2019

Petre Sandru
Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland.


Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, discusses how the Thrive Project came to life, how it helps the next generation of food companies grow through unique insights and learning, and how it fits into Coca-Cola's strategy.


How did the Thrive Project come to life?
The Thrive Project that is operated by Coca-Cola and Enterprise Ireland ran initially as a one-year pilot project in 2016. It was established by Irial Finan who at that time served as Executive Vice President and President of Coca-Cola’s Bottling Investment Group. Irial is a Roscommon native and had a 36 year career in Coca-Cola working right up to the highest levels of senior management in Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta. He was invited to participate in the Irish Government’s Global Irish Economic Forum and committed to establish a mentorship programme for emerging Irish food and drink businesses giving them access to senior Coca-Cola leaders and exposure to how Coca-Cola runs its global business. In turn the companies would be challenged to apply what they learned from Coca-Cola to their own business to help them to scale and grow internationally.  Enterprise Ireland kindly agreed to partner with Coca-Cola in this new project and the first eight companies were selected for the initial pilot. And from there, The Thrive Project was born.

Tell us a bit about the initiative.
Thrive has evolved in its four years, but the main principles stay the same. We begin the programme with an intensive two-day workshop at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. There the companies meet senior Coca-Cola executives and hear from experts across functions – supply chain, strategy, packaging, procurement, new brands, and many others. They have a unique opportunity to hear how a company on our scale operates and segments its business. They also meet some of the Irish people who hold senior positions in Coca-Cola’s global management. Due to Coca-Cola’s manufacturing footprint in Ireland there are opportunities for Irish people to develop in the company, and it is always good to connect with them during the programme. After Atlanta Enterprise Ireland run a series of business diagnostics with the companies to identify what areas of their business can feel the benefit of our programme. We then bring the companies to our Western Europe headquarters in London for a crash-course in Coca-Cola marketing. Once again, this is led by one of our Irish leaders who give them an overview of the practices and processes that have helped make Coca-Cola so famous for its excellent marketing campaigns. In London the companies also visit Innocent and hear about their own journey from disruptive start-up to major businesses, and how it manages to maintain its own unique identity and culture while simultaneously being owned by The Coca-Cola Company. The business diagnostic then enters a final phase before a formal graduation from The Thrive project.

How were the participants selected?
Enterprise Ireland select eight food and drink companies with high potential to participate. These companies must be established in the domestic market and are now looking to expand their operations internationally. They must be committed to the programme for six-months and we ask that one individual at senior management level (usually the company CEO and/or founder) participates throughout. This helps the dynamic among the group that is a key component of the project.

Tell us about their journey.
The Thrive Project participants are all fully committed to their businesses. Generally they have been there from day one, as founders or early leaders. They may be operating across functions and very much involved in the day-to-day running of their business. They will have achieved a certain level of success locally but are now seeking to expand their business and their markets. They may be experts in one field of their business but are eager to develop a certain side of their business to the greatest possible extent. The Thrive Project is designed to help them but also to give them some time and space to reflect on how their business is evolving. It also allows them to see that a company the size and scale of Coca-Cola also faces similar dilemmas. We also don’t get everything right. But when we don’t we try and learn from it and build from there. I think that hearing that from Coca-Cola and listening to how we operate our business gives them both inspiration and confidence to develop their own business models.

How does the initiative fit into Coca Cola’s strategy?
The Thrive Project has been a real success for us and is something we are proud of. It is a project that exists only in Ireland, yet other Coca-Cola markets are looking at implementing similar business development projects. For Coca-Cola it is about recognizing our place in the Irish food and drink industry and adopting a leadership position to help others to grow. It is also about developing a strong network of Irish businesses and individuals both within Coca-Cola and in the wider industry in Ireland.

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A Day in the Life of... Sheelagh Hawkins, Head of Client Solutions at Dataconversion

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 17 April 2019
Updated: Tuesday 16 April 2019

Sheelagh Hawkins

What does a Head of Client Solutions at Dataconversion do?

Dataconversion has been architecting and building complex data & software solutions for clients across both the private and public sectors for over two decades. We are passionate about all aspects of the customer journey and believe that brands should not only seek to meet but exceed customer expectations. I’m essentially a solution specialist who works with the client to ensure their needs and requirements are championed within Dataconversion. As a result, it’s a very dynamic role that sees me interacting with all teams across the business, as well as our clients. This is great for getting a feel for how all parts of a company run. I am an enthusiastic solution-driver who puts our customers at the core of everything we do.


What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked in some amazing organisations, specifically in the IT Software and analytics sector. The complexity of some of the projects I’ve worked on has enabled me to bring that experience into my current role. I started my journey in sales in the UK over 18 years ago and I embraced technology very quickly. I got to work with smart people from diverse industries and backgrounds. I’ve worked with both enterprise CEOs and entrepreneurs in Fintech start-ups. I decided I wanted to work for a solutions company given the endless amount of innovation that happens within the digital spectrum. Dataconversion was the perfect fit as it allowed me to apply the skills I’ve acquired from my previous experience. Similarly, it offered me the tools to work on projects that have an influence on clients and businesses.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Client acquisition is always a challenge. We live in rapidly changing times, especially for businesses. As technologies change practically at the speed of light, it’s vital for companies to innovate or be left behind. I need to articulate how we offer value. Providing information about price and features won’t cut it. I need a deep understanding of the client’s needs and pain points. I must ask probing questions and listen carefully in order to get to the underlying motivations for purchasing. This is the only way that enables me to adequately provide value and win new customers. Fortunately, we are in a position of high customer retention and with over 45 years in business we have evolved with the constantly changing technological landscape and the ways in which data has transformed business. This unique expertise coupled with the smart integration of data, technology and communications has enabled us to gain the trust of great clients, including BOI, KBC, SKY and AA Ireland.


What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

As Head of Client Solutions for Dataconversion, having strong interpersonal and client-facing skills are essential. I’m responsible for understanding client needs, serving as a subject matter expert on Dataconversion’s product offerings, and leading successful client engagements. I work directly with the Sales, Marketing, Technology, and Operations teams to ensure flawless execution and superior customer service. I love technology and keeping myself up to date with the current trends in the technology space.


Describe a typical working day.

There’s no such thing as a typical day when it comes to client relationship management - every day is different. I usually take the DART into the office in the morning, giving me time to catch up on emails and plan for the day. As team communication is key, our morning meetings guarantee that we’re all following the same road-map. This establishes where we stand, and it allows us to plan our next steps. If I have client meetings, I always prepare in advance so that I understand their business needs, enabling us to offer a solution that provides them with the best value. I move from meetings into client calls where we catch-up and engage on new initiatives to help solve their various pain points. I am constantly challenged here at Dataconversion, but that is part of the fun.


What do you love most about your role?

I love seeing clients reaching their goals and being part of that story. I love that my job involves understanding how various businesses operate, how they’re struggling and then problem solving. The culture in Dataconversion is motivating in itself. The CEO constantly encourages me to balance my strengths to have the most impact, resulting in finding solutions for the business needs of my clients. I still view sales as the top priority of any company. I get high on the thrill of the deal and I thrive on the puzzle-like challenge of discovering my customers' needs. I live for the buzz at the close of a successful sale. We have recently been shortlisted for an AIM award that we are very proud of and I’m sure there are many more to come.


Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

I am always looking to upskill and learn new things. In Dataconversion we are encouraged to progress within the business. There are endless opportunities. Although I hold a senior position within the organisation there is always room to grow and that was one of the main reasons that brought me to Dataconversion. We have a high retention of loyal skilled staff that continue to grow and further their careers within the organisation.


To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

I recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming”. Obama has also been honest about finding her own path in life, which is what has fuelled much of her success along the way. I also love Richard Branson as he’s a leader who puts his employees' interest first. As a team in Dataconversion we are lucky to have a CEO who gives us the autonomy to do our jobs. We are trusted and not micromanaged which is key for staff morale and continued success. She also happens to be one of the growing number of female tech CEOs in Ireland. 

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A Day in the Life of... Pat Stephenson, Founder and Head of Account Management at Boys + Girls

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 10 April 2019
Updated: Tuesday 9 April 2019

pat stephenson boys + girls

What does a Founder and Head of Account Management at Boys + Girls do?

Working with the team in here to establish and maintain great relationships with clients so that nothing gets in the way of us making great, business building, effective work for them.


What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

Leaving my job in McConnell’s to set up Boys + Girls with a group of 5 like minded naive optimists back in 2009. Taking a leap we believed would pay off centred around a desire to just make better work. It helped I found out my missus was pregnant with twins a couple of weeks into starting up. There’s nothing quite like having to make it work, to make it work.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Trying to utilise my time in a way that is most effective for the business. An agency of 60 people (as we are now) is very different to the agency of 6 we were when we started. It’s easy to be busy. Using my time effectively and on the right projects is the key.


What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

You need an avid interest in life, business, society, culture and people. You need to simultaneously be able to understand a client’s business context and problems, alongside their business culture and ways of working. You also need to have a feeling for what is going on right now and just around the corner in society. Finally pulling that all together you need to be able to create the right environment of encouragement and constraint that produces the best creative work that answers the clients problem.


Describe a typical working day.

A typical day for me is hard to pin down. What my day is planned to look like and what it ends up being are never the same. I try and use the morning for thinking projects but inevitably I come into something that needs attention.

Part of my job is a manager. We’ve a really great team in account management and i want to create an environment where they can be involved in the best work of their career. Part of it is judging when to step in and help and when to let go.

Although I don’t really work on day to day client business there are still accounts that I keep an active role in  - and I still love working with clients. I also am responsible for managing the marketing and PR functions in the agency, alongside new business - but I’ve a great team leading that in here. So my day is usually juggling all those different hats.


What do you love most about your role?

The very best part of my job is being trusted to look 'under the bonnet' of a client’s business. Getting a full and frank understanding of how their business operates. Working out how marketing communications can best help them achieve their business goals. Then working with the client and the team in here to try and deliver something exceptional. It demands the best of your management, strategic, creative and organisational skills. Best job in the world.


Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

I want to continue to help build Boys + Girls into one of the leading creative agencies not just in Ireland but in the world, building on the amazing journey over the past 10 years. We have big ambitions and the talent and people to match so i just want to ensure we continue to make the agency the best it can be for us and our clients.


To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

John Fanning. I had the pleasure of working with John for 7 years and I was never short of inspired by the latitude, depth and creative agility of both his thinking and his cultural understanding. The real founder of planning in Ireland - but to call him a planner does not cover his range of abilities - it was a privilege to work with him. 

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Reviewing Your Strategy? Focus on These B2B Marketing Channels in 2019

Posted By Ian Blake, Squaredot, Wednesday 3 April 2019
Updated: Tuesday 2 April 2019

B2B marketing channels 2019

How have you been reaching out to your prospects and customers?

You can do so with several distribution channels, but this doesn’t mean everything is for the taking. Trying it all out will only stretch your strategy thin.

The key is finding the right mix of channels to master. Focus on a few, relevant channels that connect with your audience best and that fit your brand’s strengths.

Now, digital media is ever-changing.

In the last 12 months, Facebook overhauled its News Feed to accommodate fewer publishers, Netflix spent $6B more on content than last year, and 65% of people with voice assistants claimed not to go back to life without it.


B2B media and distribution channels to leverage in 2019

Anticipate more shake-ups in the year ahead. Here’s a rundown of media and distribution channels to potentially include in your mix:


Email continues to thrive and is here to stay.

It will persist to be a leading platform despite industry newcomers ushered in by newer tech. Facebook Messenger didn’t kill email. Neither did Slack.

Email remains to be the universal key. Didn’t you create your Facebook account with email? How do you recover your password for e-commerce or SaaS user accounts?

As more players enter the B2B field, audiences want brands they can trust. Email’s ability to feel like a personal letter gives you the opportunity to send powerful, authentic messages through this channel.

Longer form content is on the rise amid studies on consumers’ shorter attention spans. Readers tend to ascribe greater value with longer content.

Newsflash: People are still reading—as long as you invest in producing quality content.

How to leverage

Add a personal touch to your sales emails.

Pinpoint who exactly you want to target and identify their pain points. Personalisation doesn’t just mean addressing recipients by name.

It takes a deep dive into who your prospects are: what their problems are, what’s on their mind, who they are speaking to. Use these bits of information to write your emails with empathy and allow automation technologies to create variations for different subscriber segments.



How many hours of video do you watch in a day?

Survey says an average consumer spends 1.5 hours on videos every day.

Watching videos is how people like to learn. When it comes to digesting product information, 72% of customers would rather watch a video about it. The more lifelike a medium is, the more powerful it is.

We’re watching more videos than ever thanks to faster and more reliable data connections everywhere. Now, we can stream hour-long content while on-the-go without worrying we’d blow up the bill.

More marketers are communicating via video. In 2018, video helped 97% of marketers increase user understanding of their product or service, and 76% said video also drove their traffic and sales.

Video marketing trends to watch in 2019:

  • Social media stories (e.g. Facebook, Instagram)
  • Vertical videos (e.g. IGTV)
  • Live streams
  • Influencer videos
  • Explainer videos
  • Subtitles and closed captioning

How to leverage

Squeeze more mileage out of your existing content by turning them into videos. You can keep it as simple as this:


Explore easy-to-use tools like Rocketium, Showbox, and Lumen5 to create engaging videos that are optimised for social media.



Podcast production and listenership grew exponentially in the past year thanks to lower production costs, better technologies, and greater buy-in towards long-form content.

Compared to other media, podcasts are easier to consume while in transit or in the middle of a mindless task. Try listening while doing the dishes or laundry. It’ll do wonders.

Up to 124 million people (that’s 12 million more than in 2017!) tuned into podcasts in 2018.

This made marketers look and see the value of ads embedded into podcasts. Though longer than traditional ads, consumers are less likely to skip them because they’re weaved into the script and voiced by podcasters themselves.

How to leverage

Start your own B2B podcast and use it as a content marketing vehicle.

There are several distribution channels at your disposal: RSS, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and niche channels like

Tell interesting, value-adding stories that don’t sell products but make audiences want to buy from you.

For inspiration, hear how Neil Patel and Eric Sui balance educational and promotional content on the Marketing School podcast.



We hear LinkedIn is cool now—for B2B, at least.

As of December 2018, LinkedIn has amassed over half a billion users. That’s more than enough number of prospects looking to network and grow their business, like you.

With Facebook and Twitter’s algorithm changes, LinkedIn is finding its way to being marketers’ go-to social platform.

LinkedIn has been focused on making its website optimal for marketers. Over the last 12 months, the platform improved its search filtering and made its video ad format more powerful than ever.

This is largely why this medium now drives more than half of social traffic for B2B brands. Not only is it a platform for thought leadership content, but it’s also very much a well-oiled lead generator.

As the winner here, 93% of marketers now consider LinkedIn to be the most effective website when it comes to generating leads.

How to leverage

Set up your company page on LinkedIn.

Make the most out of the platform by creating a content roadmap that details what and when to post. Your content can be in the form of text ads, sponsored InMail, and video ads.

The best time to post is at 12 pm, and the best days to do so are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.



From a paltry 2% in 2017, use of chatbot technology in customer service is expected to land at 25% by 2020.

Chatbots have the advantage of instant messaging with your customers in real-time, day or night, 24/7.

It can carry out several tasks: message back and forth with customers, help them find products and order items, and suggest other products to purchase.  

Up to 1.4 billion people are now using or interacting with chatbots. Many customers prefer chatbots because they reply fast, don’t lose patience, and can give answers based on your entire buying history. 

How to leverage

Build your chatbot around your customers’ FAQs.

Use chatbots to immediately resolve easy, recurring pain points. Answering questions at once also means being able to fix issues quickly.

Channels available: Facebook Messenger, other instant messaging apps, and on-site chatbots such as Drift’s.


Over to You

Half the battle is identifying the right channel that’s perfect for your content and audience.

You can have the best content, but putting it on the wrong platform can mean letting it fall on deaf ears. Deciding your content formats and distribution channels will influence the trajectory of your marketing investments.

As you review your 2019 strategy, consider the evolving trends in your market’s user behaviour.

Also, leverage your organisation’s strengths. For instance, do you have the capabilities to produce quality podcasts or videos? Your inclinations and existing abilities increase your odds of winning at a channel.

After identifying your top marketing channels, invest and iterate. As you discover repeatable patterns, publish consistently.

Keep showing up, and you’ll win them over.

About Squaredot

Squaredot is a creative B2B digital marketing agency based in Dublin, Ireland. We generate demand by connecting brands with the modern B2B buyer. Squaredot uses research and data to create targeted marketing collateral, combined with award winning creative, design and copywriting to craft engaging content that converts attention into nurtured leads. Squaredot’s services include research, strategy, persona development, SEO, content production, design and promotion.

Tags:  B2B  channels 

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