Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

“When you blend data, analysis, strategy, creativity and all the other elements that give CRM power, you amplify the effectiveness of each”

Amaze One – Seven Questions for Neil Evans, Managing Director, Amaze One

Another one of theMarketingblog’s seven questions articles. This time we ask …

  • How did Amaze One come into being?
  • What do you mean by ‘out of the ordinary’?
  • What’s different about the agency compared to its competitors?
  • What particular problems do clients currently need help with?
  • How does Amaze One assist clients?
  • How does Amaze One fit into the wider St Ives Group?

How did Amaze One come into being?

Amaze One was formed as part of parent company, St Ives Group, in November 2014. We launched publicly on January 5th this year, with offices in London, Manchester and Bristol.

We are a customer engagement agency and we launched with a simple, clear vision: to deliver out of the ordinary CRM campaigns for brands. We do that through a unique combination of data and digital marketing expertise.

The concept for the agency grew from a conversation I had with Natalie [Gross, CEO of digital agency Amaze]. As Managing Director of data-driven marketing agency Occam, it occurred to me that a new agency which combined our respective expertise in data and creative could give us a unique offering in the CRM market.

At Occam, for example, we’ve had a lot of exposure to tier one businesses, very few of which can turn their data into an amazing customer experience. Most retro-fit data within an interesting creative concept. We are at the other end of the telescope, using data and information to drive the creative idea.

We want to challenge conventional CRM practice – and we’re doing that by fusing information and ideas to create CRM that creates extraordinary solutions for our clients.

What do you mean by ‘out of the ordinary’?

For us, the key to profitable CRM is in connecting each element. CRM is traditionally a rather silo-based discipline. We want to unite those silos, because when you blend data, analysis, strategy, creativity and all the other elements that give CRM power, you amplify the effectiveness of each.

I think you could make a pretty powerful argument for saying the usual way of doing things has held CRM back. The Amaze One way of working takes the shackles off, and allows us to create CRM that’s more than the sum of its considerable parts.

Our people come from Amaze and Occam. We’ve also recruited experts externally and will continue to do so. What they all have in common is huge talent and a fierce passion for showing what CRM, done properly, can do. And the fact we’re operating without the traditional silos means the glue that binds us is that much stronger, and we’re better positioned to create joined-up customer journeys.

Our statisticians, mathematicians and planners sit with designers and copywriters as one team. That gives everyone a common understanding of business problems and allows us to communicate with the client in one voice. It makes life far more satisfying for us, but it also has a huge impact on our clients – because a joined-up approach makes it easier to demonstrate how our suggested actions will help them to deliver their commercial requirements.

What’s different about the agency compared to its competitors?

It’s the way we translate ideas into brilliant customer experiences. CRM has become a little stale: the same sort of unimaginative, process-driven solutions that follow the same established patterns. That’s not good enough. For Amaze One to be noticed, we need to offer something beyond what’s currently expected of, and delivered by, our competitors. We don’t offer ‘CRM by numbers’.

Instead – and this is what’s truly unique about the way we work – we blend disciplines to get to the heart of what really matters, so each discipline informs the next and amplifies the power of each. We unite the silos that make up the traditional step-by-step CRM process. We deliver real insight, giving our clients a real understanding of their consumers, and can put that understanding to use.

So ‘out of the ordinary’ also describes the interactions and relationships we create, and the results we produce.

What particular problems do clients currently need help with?

It all comes down to understanding customers. You can’t personalise and target your communications properly without the insight to drive them.

Our clients are wondering how to stitch everything together, and the starting point is often to rationalise the information that’s already available to them. They’re good at capturing data these days, in the main, but most of it still resides in the silos we’ve talked about.

For example, the digital team doesn’t want to engage with the marketing team; they live on separate islands. Meanwhile, the insight team sits on another island, cranking out propensity models and customer segmentation. It amounts to a business version of the Bermuda Triangle. The nearest you get to joined-up communications is people shouting across the sea at each other, or viewing each other through telescopes, and the message drowns between them.

How does Amaze One assist clients?

We start with the basics. What does the client know about the consumer, what data do they need? What type of relationship is required with their end customers?

We’re different because, for us, CRM isn’t a process; it’s a collective blend of disciplines, a fusion of methods that combine into one approach. We don’t do silos; we don’t separate the elements of CRM into a linear process – doing that means thinking gets lost. We don’t simply connect, we unite to create real value out of what appears to be ordinary information. We stitch everything together for greater return.

Our clients must stand out in a sea of brand communications. That means harnessing the business benefits of CRM done properly: informed and inspired relationships that are smart, useful, agile and lasting.

Our offering includes a breadth of channel and data understanding in a united suite of services – each informing, and informed by, the other; be that research and insight, database design and management, campaign planning, lifecycle management, acquisition and retention, or multi-channel customer experience.

We are also planning new products that bring together on- and offline data. That’s a big part of our strategy, so watch this space.

How does Amaze One fit into the wider St Ives Group?

Ultimately, St Ives Group owns Amaze One. We’re a trading division of both Occam and Amaze, sharing our people, processes, practices, back office systems, clients and revenues.

As separate agencies, Amaze and Occam offered both halves of the suite of services Amaze One now delivers, but they didn’t offer an end-to-end proposition. By joining the two services and companies together we complete the CRM jigsaw – and that makes a big difference to our clients.

Occam and Amaze will continue to operate as separate businesses in their own right, as well as collaborating with other St Ives Group companies where it is of benefit to clients. Meanwhile, Amaze One creates additional opportunities for both Amaze and Occam, as well as new revenue for the collaboration itself.


Who are the key people within Amaze One?

The agency is led by a board made up of:

• Neil Evans, Managing Director (also Managing Director at Occam)

• Dougy Watt, Practice Director

• Natalie Gross, CEO at Amaze

• Sandra McDowell, Managing Director at Amaze Communications

Reporting to the board is a growing team of experts including:

• David Ancell, Commercial Director

• Paul Normington, Creative Director

• Sarah Hooper, Planning and Communications Director