Where it all began
My journey with Flexseal began almost 18 years ago. I was on the way back from a meeting via Barnsley, where they are based, and decided on a whim to do a cold call drop-in and try my luck.
My business development tool back then was a showreel of my work on a DVD, which was beautifully packaged – if I do say so myself. It was certainly impactful in its day and successfully won me new clients in and around Sheffield and further afield – some of which, I’m still working with today. So, I knocked on the door of Flexseal and asked to speak to the Marketing Manager, we had a chat and I left him with the DVD. A week later I got a call asking me to come in and speak with him again. That was how it all started. I became their go-to consultant for all things brand and digital for a good number of years. As with most things, companies, people and objectives change and I eventually stopped working with them.
A new vision requires a new solution
Some years later, we began a new relationship. I hadn’t worked with them for a long time, but I’d always kept in touch. Their new vision was completely different. Flexseal had gone global and become market leaders; they realised they needed to be continuously adding value for their customers — and keep daylight between themselves and the competition. They approached me with the idea of what they wanted to create — an online customer portal and the Flexseal Academy.
“We were scratching our heads to figure out ways how we can maintain a global brand that presents itself in the way we want it to. How can we ensure that the information we’re giving into these markets is not only correct for the type of product, but also relevant for their market as well?” — Ryan Lockwood, Marketing Manager.
Flexseal trade all over the world through regional distributors; across the UK, Europe as well as North and South America. It’s an impressive operation — but it does present some problems around the control of the brand.
The solution was a portal — a cloud-based brand asset management tool that would house all of Flexseal’s brand assets and also function as a marketing catalogue that specific users could access seamlessly.
Delivering the goods, the HERRON + CO way
We always begin with a scoping session with the client. What we’re looking to create is an information architecture; we ask lots and lots of questions and challenge them on what they think they want and need, and how they’ll use the product.
In the case of Flexseal, that scoping session was led by myself and their Marketing Manager, Ryan Lockwood. I created a brief based on that session — once that was agreed and signed off, we built a functional frame, where we could upload a few assets and begin testing.
“Paul and Jeremy gave us some great insight into what else we could do with the portal, and how we could expand it. One of those things was creating regions within the backend of the website.” — Ryan Lockwood
The regional functionality of the portal — what different users could access and view — was important. Flexseal then had the opportunity to dual-brand marketing materials; present them in different languages, or create bespoke assets for a certain merchant or market place. It made marketing much more effective for them on a global level.
Adding value through online learning
The process of creating the Flexseal Academy was a bit like the customer portal. We firstly did a scoping session over a couple of days; the plan, initially, was to restrict the Academy to UK customers. Flexseal has worked with hundreds of builders merchants across the country for 30 years. One of the ways they wanted to add value was to educate their customers on their products through training modules. This would create cross-sell and up-sell opportunities on Flexseal products, and resolve training issues the company had in an industry with such high staff turnover. The Academy could also be used to help train customers on new products before they launch, so they are well prepared on how to sell that product when they receive it.
The Flexseal Academy functions like most online education platforms. As a student advances through a module, their progress is tracked; that information will then be shared with both the customer as well as Flexseal. As a result, Flexseal now has access to a growing collection of data, which they can then use to make better decisions for the company moving forward.
It’s been incredibly successful for them; so much so, that they’ve taken the Academy directly to customers as well. You can now request Flexseal specialists to come and talk about a particular product and train staff on the ground. It’s really elevated their brand and is continuing to evolve — we’ve recently launched a version of the Academy in Denmark.
“As an industry we’re really seeing the impact digital can have on buying behaviour. Paul and the team at HERRON + CO have both the confidence and technical expertise to show us what is possible.” — Ryan Lockwood
What we learned
What we achieved with Flexseal is a great example of why I enjoy working with B2B or industrial brands; it’s a real testament to the power of digital. Many consumer brands are able to sell no matter what; whether that’s a pair of Nike trainers or a Prada shirt. They already have that brand power — as a brand strategist or designer, the effect of your work with this type of brand can be minimal.
With industrial brands, your expertise really does make a difference. If you’ve done your job right, you can see the results of your efforts. To our clients, we’re more than just an agency — we’re digital partners. We become an extension of their company, and really come to understand that business and how to help them evolve in the digital space.
You go on a real journey with these types of companies; for me, that’s what I truly enjoy. It’s where the gold is, so to speak.
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View the Flexseal Case Study