Working with forward-thinking companies on brand development, marketing strategy and planning, internal communications and customer communications. Other services include event production and management, copywriting and editing, presentation content and coaching.
“Combining strategic thinking with creative flair, I deliver practical solutions to business objectives. I am unafraid to address the elephant in the room to achieve results.”
“Sharon has made an immense contribution to the establishment and development of the business we are today. In everything she has done, Sharon has brought very high standards and a relentless pursuit of professionalism.”
Mark Aitchison, Managing Director – Frontier Agriculture Ltd
Frontier is the UK's leading crop inputs and grain marketing business,
turning over £1.5 billion and employing over 1,000 people across 46 sites nationwide.
“Sharon’s key strengths are her ability to understand and be considerate of the different relationships that need to be managed and a skill for cutting through all the noise to create clear, concise communications that people can understand.”
Ben Wielgus, Associate Director – Sustainability, KPMG
“If you are looking for strategic marketing advice to develop your brand, then I would strongly recommend working with Sharon.”
Simon Parrington, Commercial Director, SOYL
“Sharon has an enviable ability to quickly understand and define the current situation, set clear objectives and get buy-in from everyone involved, then plan and manage strategies to get the job done to a high standard, on time and within budget.”
Steve Sears, Creative Director, Limpet Marketing
“Sharon cares deeply about the internal employee audience, making sure communication strategies are thoughtful, clear, timely and empathetic. Her stakeholders value her partnership and strategic advice; she serves them by positioning their messaging so it is first and foremost in service to their audience, and through the lens of the company culture, mission and values.”
Alyce Thompson, Internal Communications Manager, Airbnb
“Sharon’s ability to work out not only what the message should be, but how to put it across clearly and with impact, has made a big difference to the standard and delivery of our presentations.”
Robert Preston, Regional Sales Manager, Frontier Agriculture
“Sharon is very strategically aware and has an uncanny knack of grasping a brief instantaneously. Her copy writing skills are excellent and she over delivers even on very complicated messaging.”
Graham Jones, Sales & Marketing Director, SMWF Ltd
“Sharon’s events [for Frontier] are genuinely planned, prepared and practised for the benefit of the audiences attending. In all my years of working at conference events I have never seen feedback results from a conference as consistently good as those from Frontier.”
Bob Caren, author of ‘No Rules: What if everything you knew about presentation was wrong?’
The last 25 years of my career can be neatly divided into my time running a successful marketing agency and my time working as marketing director for the UK’s largest agricultural business. You could say one led to the other – Frontier Agriculture was an agency client before I crossed the road and joined them full time. There are benefits to both, of course. In an agency you have the advantage of variety – much of my knowledge comes from the wide range of businesses, problems and solutions I have worked on. As the client, on the other hand, you have the advantage of ownership – so you can look beyond any one project and consider the bigger picture.
As a marketing consultant, I enjoy the best of both worlds. I work with a range of companies and individuals, with very different aims and issues, but I do so as an integral part of their team, making sure the work I do is aligned with their business goals.
Some clients retain me for the support of an in-house marketing director, but without the associated cost. Others task me with specific projects. Whether I am helping a company with long term brand building, writing content for brochures, or coaching an individual to deliver an important presentation, my clients rely on me to be practical, creative and deliver results.
I am interested in working with companies or individuals that have a story to tell. Sometimes that story needs developing, and I have a lot of experience helping people work out what the message is and how to present it. Other times the story is there, it just needs telling well. I know how to do that in a way that will inspire your customers, employees or whomever is listening.
Copywriting and editing
Almost all the work I do involves some writing. I write advertising copy, web pages and staff announcements. I write speeches for individuals, content for brochures and sales messages for email campaigns. I write press releases, policies and audit documents.
Whatever I’m writing, there are three things to agree before I start: audience, content and style.
Who is your audience? Let’s be clear about who you are talking to and why. The more specific we can be, the better. I like to be able to imagine the reader whilst I am writing.
Content is King. People often don’t devote enough time to working out the message. What do you want your reader to think, feel and do as a result of reading your copy? I will help you answer those questions and then write copy that delivers it for you.
If content is King, then style is Queen. The language and tone of voice must reflect your brand. Consistency is important, so it becomes familiar to the reader, the brand brought to life. Once the style is established, it can be formatted for different channels – so your social media feed won’t sound like your health and safety policy, but both will still sound like you.
Customer communications is a broad title for this section, but it covers all the different ways you can get your message across. From brochures, direct mail and advertising, to communications powered by digital technology, I will work with you to choose the most appropriate media to achieve your objectives.
I work in partnership with a design agency when my clients ask me to manage the production of marketing materials, and with a digital agency for all things technological. This allows me to maintain responsibility for the quality of the work, writing your copy and managing your brand, whilst bringing in experts to help. I also have excellent working relationships with creative, reliable photographers, film editors and freelance PR consultants. Where appropriate, I will commission work on your behalf, briefing and supervising suppliers as part of my remit.
Event production and management
A successful, inspirational event leaves everyone on high: the audience, the speakers, the crew and the organiser. I have delivered events for companies including AstraZeneca, Britannia Building Society, Mears and, of course, many for Frontier Agriculture. Whether I’m producing a million pound conference for thousands of employees, or a seminar on a shoestring for just 30, my approach is the same.
Start early. If you put the effort into planning well in advance, the event has a much greater chance of meeting its objectives. I work with my clients to understand exactly what they are hoping to achieve – what they want their audience to think, feel and do* as a result of the event.
Agree the message. Lots of companies decide who their speakers are and then work out what they will say. I think it’s more effective to agree what needs to be said before deciding who is the best person to say it. This is one of my strengths and I have a lot of experience working with speakers from first timers to board level to develop powerful content and deliver it well. Effective use of tools such as video, breakouts and entertainment may also support the message.
Look after the delegates. You want to give your audience the best possible experience. This means paying attention to detail, from venue selection to travel options, invitation process to feedback mechanism, catering to entertainment. Nothing is left to chance. I will always look for opportunities to deliver those little extras that make people feel cared for, part of something wonderful.
Pick an exceptional crew. In my experience, organisers (and presenters) live or die at the hands of their crew. I am lucky to have built relationships with the leading technical delivery companies in the North West and know how important it is to have the right people on your side. When the gremlins appear, as they invariably do during a complex event, I’m always grateful for the expertise and commitment of my crew.
Measure success. In fact, don’t just measure it, record it, revel in it and then build upon it! I can help you with that too.
*with thanks to Bob Caren for teaching me about ‘think, feel and do’ many years ago. Read Bob’s book ‘No Rules’ in which I am proud to feature as someone who gets it right!
Brand building, culture development and employee engagement all require effective internal communications to be successful. I really enjoy the challenge of internal communications, from developing the message to fit the different stakeholder groups, to identifying the most appropriate channels to put those messages across. The best internal communications work both ways:
Talking to your employees: This is, in my view, as important as talking to your customers. Making sure your people understand your values and what they mean in terms of behaviour is critical to successful brand building. The culture of your business stems from the way you behave, usually from the top down, so cascading the right messages is vital. Technology offers some efficient, interactive methods of communication, and I have also had great success from inspirational conferences and thought-provoking films.
Listening to your employees: This is probably even more important than talking to them. If you understand what it’s like to work for the business and where the sticking points are, you can often make people’s jobs easier and more productive with some simple changes. Listening with an open mind and responding positively to feedback can lead to dramatic improvements in employee engagement. I am lucky to have been involved in best practice for this at Frontier Agriculture, where high employee engagement scores became the norm and people truly believed it was a great place to work.
Marketing strategy and planning
All businesses need a marketing strategy, but there is so much theory out there that putting one together can be a daunting prospect for many companies. My practical approach to marketing helps clients develop strategies that are easily understood, communicated and implemented: strategies that deliver results.
Where are you now?
Start by looking at your current situation. This may involve some research, for example brand perception or customer engagement, and certainly an analysis of your existing customer base and where your opportunities lie. Understanding why your customers buy from you ahead of the competition is key. It’s also worthwhile getting feedback from your employees, particularly around customer service and satisfaction.
Where do you want to be?
Is your vision clearly defined? If not, we will work on it, otherwise we’ll focus on the needs of your target customer and how you could support them. We’ll talk about your products and services and what is unique about them. This would be a good time to look at your brand positioning and make sure your people’s behaviour matches your values. Then we’ll set objectives, agree timescales and consider your priorities.
How will you get there?
Your marketing plan will define your measurable goals, the activity required to achieve them and what it will cost. I will help you work out the messaging and we can be creative about the channels and tools we use to reach your audience. The way you implement the plan to the agreed calendar will depend on your available resources. I can support as much or as little as you need.
Marketing strategies develop over time, evolving to take account of changes in your markets and your business. Monitoring this and updating your plan regularly is essential.
Presentation Content and Coaching
Most people will find themselves standing in front of a group of people at some time, whether at a conference, in a meeting, or even at a family function. Some find public speaking daunting; I find it exhilarating, energising and empowering. I also believe everyone has the potential to do it well, even if they never enjoy it as much as I do.
The key to good public speaking is to get the content right. Start by considering what you want your audience to think, feel and do* as a result of listening to you. That will help establish the message. Then we can think about structure. I like to take the audience on a journey, starting and ending with something important. Finally, I believe in scripting. Even if you don’t intend to use a script, it’s worth drafting one just to be clear about how you are going to say what needs to be said.
Once we are happy with the content, we’ll look at delivery. Lots of people worry about where to stand, what to do with their hands, how to stop swaying or dancing on the spot. Everyone has quirks when they are presenting; my job is to help you make the most of your quirks, not waste energy and focus trying to eliminate them. We’ll work on pace, tone of voice and the power of the pause. And we’ll make sure you’re comfortable with the words you’re using. If you stumble over a word or phrase, we’ll change it to something you can say easily. We want nothing to distract you.
Then rehearse. Out loud, standing up and often. Every day for a week if you can. If it’s important enough to do it, it’s important enough to practise. It makes a huge difference to your success.
Lecterns, slides, notes, autocue – these are all up for debate. Sometimes you won’t have a choice, so we’ll work on how to use them well. And if you’re going to take questions or be part of a panel, we’ll practise that too; it would be a shame to throw it all away in the Q&A.
*with thanks to Bob Caren for introducing me to ‘think, feel and do’ many years ago. Every event producer I know uses this when developing content, which shows how effective it is and how popular Bob is!
Presentation content & coaching
Copywriting and editing
Marketing strategy & planning