‘Marketing in the 21st Century’: Lessons from the Open University

Every day gives you the chance to learn something new or build on your existing skills and, in a fast-paced PR industry, it’s always beneficial to reacquaint yourself with the fundamentals of how successful brands are built.  

During the early stages of lockdown, many institutions made their training courses free, so I took the opportunity to broaden my horizons and revisit the basics with an Open University course, Marketing in the 21st Century.

With six hours of study time, I blocked out two morning sessions with my manager, got to work and here’s what I learnt. 

Back to basics

The marketing world is fast-paced and continually evolving, so to keep up with and solve strategic challenges, you need to know what the latest trends are to assess whether they are simply fads or if they are more worthy of consideration for any campaign planning. But, before any of this, you must always ensure the basics sit at the foundation of any activity.  

In order to deliver effective marketing, you need to not only identify and anticipate your target audience but continually assess message penetration and commercial performance to make sure the activity stacks up. What you did even last month might not be the best tactic for the next placement, especially in the ever-changing Covid environment.

This infographic, courtesy of the Marketoonist, nicely demonstrates the pitfalls of losing sight of the core tenets of effective marketing:

Source: Open University’s Marketing in the 21st Century

Adding value

The key to brand loyalty is recognising the emotional connection your customers have with the brand1.

Whilst the product or service you provide needs to remain the focus and be of high quality, adding value to your brand through other marketing tactics will benefit your organisation and build your reputation.

Using emotion in your marketing tactics is a great way to engage with your audience and create a stronger bond. Consumers remember the brand that made them laugh or cry over those that simply promoted products. And it pays back with more resilient brands and higher levels of ROMI.

A great example of this is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Aiming to build self confidence among women and young children, Dove created advertisements, videos, workshops and events. Using real life models of all body shapes, Dove challenged the norm and interacted with an audience on a much more personal level.

Ethical trading

Company ethics is an important and growing discussion within marketing, from the perspective of both marketers and consumers. As the latter are becoming increasingly aware of ethical issues this shines a spotlight on all activity, not just marketing and holds brands accountable for keeping a high standard.

Brands such as Amazon often come under attack on issues around tax avoidance and treatment of workers. As a mega-corporation, they are often under scrutiny and are judged on how they respond. Spokespeople for the company actively reply to comments by claiming they are investigating the issue and regularly monitoring processes.

Responses like this however raise the question ‘is this enough’? Should companies be held more accountable for their actions? PR can be vital to diagnosing any issues and finding the answer to these questions. Using a range of methods including sentiment trackers, polling the public and hosting focus groups will help to establish the best way to communicate a company’s voice and start to rebuild trust and reputation.

Here at One Brand Magic, we can help your brand ensure that your messages appear in all the right channels to connect with your audience as effectively as possible. You can get in touch with us via email at [email protected] or give us a call on 0161 968 6900.


1Open University – Marketing in the 21st Century 2020

How the construction sector can ‘bank’ on expertise

Whilst the construction sector tends to be an exaggerated reflection of the wider economy, current forecasts for this year* put it firmly in line with the bigger picture. With output expected to fall by 23% and projections estimating a £34.6bn reduction in output throughout 2020-24, things are looking pretty bleak with the ‘Brexit hangover’ and Covid-19 the main causes.

An important part of the UK’s economy, the sector accounts for 6% of output and 7% of employment, yet it is unique in its structure and profile with countless micro-companies and just a handful of major players. Trades and specialist contractors accounted for 75% of active companies in the sector in 2018*, an unusual distinction versus other sectors which underpins the benefits of small, agile businesses offering skilled workmanship.


In broad terms, the collapse of Carillion in January 2018 mirrors that of Lehman Brothers in 2008; a catalyst to the recession and a harsh wake up call to the dangers of having an over-reliance on public sector contracts.    

Whilst many didn’t see either downfall coming, they’re both stark reminders that bigger doesn’t always mean better. The safety of a large corporation can be comforting to those who hold the purse strings, yet they usually lack the flexibility and nimble nature of smaller businesses.

As a small business ourselves, we understand the benefits that working with one can bring – less red tape, lower overheads and a more personalised (and personable) service.

There is a general acknowledgement amongst construction industry peers that joint-venture projects are growing in popularity, so could collaborative delivery be the future recipe for success?

Whilst dealing with multiple suppliers versus one main point of contact, as would be the case with a major contractor, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, businesses should play to their strengths in order to provide the best service to their customers.


As far as we can see, forecasts can be broadly pooled into three categories:

  • Warehousing and industrial – should continue to benefit from the buoyancy of recent years and the subsequent impact of the UK requiring greater levels of logistics from Brexit
  • Retail and office – impacted majorly by Covid-19 and the lifestyle changes it has caused. Speculative development and office facilities, in particular, will dwindle
  • Leisure and entertainment – more than 3,000 jobs are at risk at the time of writing***, yet there seems to be a growing demand for such facilities when social distancing is loosened

As the Government continues to announce initiatives to help the UK economy grow, smaller businesses should be leveraging their size and expertise in order to capitalise on post-Covid opportunities.

More than £5bn of capital investment projects were announced on 30th June 2020 as part of the drive to ‘Build, Build, Build’ and, whilst tenders and new business opportunities are always highly competitive, investment in marketing will ensure a company, product or service is effectively communicated to project decision makers.

For example, if your business is strong in warehousing or industrial projects, then make it known in order to capitalise on the projected growth in this sector. Or, if you’ve developed a creative way to deliver socially-distanced floorplates, then shout about it.

Here at One Brand Magic, we help brands across the construction sector – including housebuilders, major contractors, design services and building products – with creative ways to reach and talk to customers. We would love to talk about your marketing challenges, so why not get in touch with us or give us a call on 0161 968 6900.


* Mintel Construction: inc impact of COVID-19 – UK – April 2020

** BBA Banking on British Jobs, October 2015

*** https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/thousands-of-jobs-face-axe-in-leisure-sector-w6jkgfbd2

One’s double win at the Manchester young talent awards

We’re celebrating here at One after two of our senior marketeers walked away with trophies at this year’s Manchester Young Talent Awards!

Alex Hamilton, Head of PR and social, was named ‘digital, media or creative professional of the year’.

Katie Beckham, our PR account director (who was also celebrating her birthday on the night!), was crowned winner of the ‘sales, marketing, business development and PR professional of the year’ category.

While we’ve always known just how talented they are, it’s fantastic to see them receive recognition for their hard work and achievements!

The Manchester Young Talent Awards is an annual event, ran by networking group JCI, that recognises outstanding professionals across the city of Manchester, between the ages of 18 and 40.

The awards ceremony was held on 15th November at the Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester.

Hoover consolidates UK PR and social brief into One

We’re pleased to announce we have further expanded our contract with Hoover to provide PR and social media services across the Hoover Candy Group in the UK.

Having represented the major domestic appliances (MDA) part of the business for a decade, our PR team was appointed by the small domestic appliances (SDA) division in May 2017. We have since been tasked with providing social media services to the built-in and floorcare companies, in addition to supporting a range of brand marketing activities.

Alongside supporting the multi-million-pound ‘Hoover, That’s Who’ advertising campaign, we have aided the launch of a wide range of cooling, cooking, laundry and floorcare appliances and also, most recently, promoted its sponsorship of James Martin’s Saturday Morning.

Hoover is a very exciting client to work on and almost every employee has inputted to the account, either directly or indirectly, at some point since we started working together many years ago. The brand has evolved a lot, particularly during recent years since it launched the UK’s first collection of smart appliances in 2015 and it really is a true innovator in a very competitive market.

The account has grown organically over the years, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication demonstrated by the account teams and there’s some very stylish products launching this year, which will provide us with a fresh approach to our activity.

Antony Peart, director of brand and communications and Hoover Candy Group, has said: “I only joined the business in September 2017 and have been very impressed by One’s knowledge, creativity, tenacity and ability to work to extremely tight deadlines.

“Consolidating our PR and social provision into one agency made complete commercial sense and enables us to streamline our activity and maximise our marketing investment.

“Having an integrated agency on hand means we have a trusted and scalable resource for any and all activity and One has been the perfect partner for Hoover on our ambitious journey to become the brand of choice for retailers and consumers alike.”

Employing in excess of 500 people in the UK, the Hoover Candy Group is headquartered in Monza, Italy.

Offering digital, PR, social media, advertising and design to a range of B2B and B2C clients, our client roster includes Hoover, Taylor Wimpey, United Utilities and Bupa and we’re elated to have further developed this key relationship.

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