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Last Thursday we hosted the second ever Up North and it was amazing to be back at Victoria Warehouse, welcoming 400+ people to our annual Manchester marketing festival.

When we first started planning the event concept back in 2022, we wanted to create a unique northern marketing event to inspire and motivate our attendees. Something to bring the best minds in the industry together with content covering marketing, creative, business and personal development, and we hope we’ve achieved this with Up North.

We want to say a huge thanks to our speakers, sponsors and c3 team for making the event happen – we’re already excited for next year!

Contents

Speakers

01

Venue

02

Vlog

03

Event imagery

04

Stage one overview & slides

05

Stage two overview & slides

06

01

Speakers

We curated a one-of-a-kind speaker line-up that included marketers, content creators, social media experts, entrepreneurs  and business leaders, hearing from the likes of REFY, Luxe Collective, Lounge Underwear, TikTok Shop, Google, Meta, Neom Wellbeing and so many more. When choosing the event content and speaker line-up, we work hard to ensure we hear from different voices and perspectives and cover topics that will educate, inspire and motivate our audience.

02

Venue

We were back at the fantastic Victoria Warehouse venue in Manchester and the location did not disappoint. The historical city centre venue was the perfect backdrop to host over 400 attendees. It was important to us that there was more to the event than just the great content and the cool and quirky venue helped us achieve that. Set across two floors, the upstairs area was where you could find networking, our sponsors and a social area for lunch and coffee breaks. Downstairs in the basement, we transformed the space into two stages where we were able to host our 30 sessions. Throughout the day there was complimentary tea, coffee, pastries, and not forgetting our Aperol Spritz bar to round off the event.

03

Vlog

Up North wouldn’t be complete without our BTS vlog, check out what we got up to during set up and the event itself.

04

Event imagery

Our sister agency, Refract productions, were on site all day to shoot incredible photography. Check out some highlights below.

05

Stage one overview & slides

Ben Gallagher – Founder, Luxe Collective
How to properly understand social media in less than 30 minutes

Ben Gallagher from Luxe Collective emphasised the complexity of understanding social media despite having posted thousands of videos and amassed billions of views and millions of followers himself. The first step is acknowledging one’s limited understanding of social media. Gallagher advised overcoming the fear of posting by realising that others’ opinions are often irrelevant and suggests consistently posting to build confidence. The second part to understanding is volume and he stressed the importance of volume over perfection, comparing social media to a language that requires practice and repetition to master. Gallagher’s framework for success is why, what, how, how, how and includes defining the purpose of your brand on social media, determining the content type, and utilising various delivery methods and structures to engage the audience. His framework involves creating content that makes viewers stop, stay, and act, refined through continuous analysis and adaptation.

Download Ben’s slides here.

Charl Geoghegan – Head of Brand Marketing, REFY
The power of people &the new era of influence

Charl Geoghegan from REFY highlighted the significance of people and the evolving landscape of influence in social media, particularly noting the brand’s success as fully female-founded and funded. She favours celebrity influencers but acknowledges the broadening scope of influence, where platforms like TikTok enable anyone to have an impact. Geoghegan emphasised the powerful effect influencers can have on sales, citing substantial increases in product sales due to influencer promotions, such as a 107% rise in brush sales on the site (DTC) and an 850% uplift in mascara sales at Sephora following promotion from Bronwyn a REFY customer turned influencer with 10k followers. She underscored the shift from traditional influencers to customer advocacy, noting that 92% of people trust recommendations over advertising. With trust being crucial, she advocates for focusing marketing efforts on genuine customer interactions. Simple, resonant content and aligning paid and organic social strategies are key, while leveraging social media as a cost-effective channel. Geoghegan also championed the importance of customer experiences, incentives, and recognising loyal customers to foster a reciprocal relationship and drive recommendations.

Download Charl’s slides here.

Sonia Hussain – Brand Manager, Lounge underwear
Why brand building matters now more than ever

Sonia Hussain from Lounge Underwear discussed the critical importance of brand building, especially in today’s market. She distinguished between a business, which focuses on functionality and the bottom line, and a brand, which is the reason customers choose you. Hussain identifies three key pillars: purpose, position, and personality. Purpose involves adding value and having a long-term vision; position requires understanding market challenges and defining a unique selling proposition; personality encompasses messaging, tone, and visual identity. Building a brand involves communicating these pillars, reaching new customers, and maintaining brand awareness and salience. She highlights successful examples like REFY and Gymshark Women, which tap into micro-communities and prioritize authentic, eye-catching experiences. Hussain advised starting with a modest budget, embracing data, planning both large campaigns and smaller sustaining efforts, and consistently telling the brand story to entertain, educate, or inspire. She stressed the need to remain agile, continuously learn, and be the brand’s advocate within the business, despite performance marketing often taking precedence.

Download Sonia’s slides here.

Will Britain – Head of Social, connective3
Code red the 7 paid social test you can’t afford not to run

Will explained that in the evolving landscape of paid social media, it’s essential to run 15 different experiments annually within Meta, introducing a new test every 3-4 weeks. This involves seven key tests divided into four practical and three strategic categories. Practical tests include multicell placement and format testing to avoid oversimplified A/B results, utilising more text in assets due to relaxed meta rules, multi-cell bid strategy testing post-iOS14 for performance maximization, and using engaging visuals through the “Pope in the Pool” technique focusing on user-generated content. Strategic tests involve measuring search lift to demonstrate the value of Meta ads, using profit steering signals for competitive advantage, and leveraging organic social media as a testing ground to refine paid content strategies based on audience feedback.

Download Will’s slides here.

Elle Louise Wilmot – Founder, Truly Twenties
How to supercharge your career through creativity, community and connection

Elle Louise Wilmot from Truly Twenties delved into the transformative power of social media for career advancement, illustrating her journey from feeling stuck in nuclear energy to leveraging TikTok to showcase her skills creatively. She explained how she created a compelling online CV through a dedicated TikTok channel and utilised social media trends to land her dream role at TikTok. She explained how this helped her standout in a saturated market but understands how this approach can be time consuming and should be reserved for your dream roles. Wilmot highlighted why you should target specific brands, understand the subjective nature of creative ideas, and not strive for perfection. She underscored the value of networking, which can be time-consuming but ultimately crucial, suggesting that redundancy can serve as a redirection rather than a setback. Emphasising creativity, community, and connection, Wilmot advocates for building a strong network, as it can eliminate the need to apply for roles and significantly bolster one’s career. There were so many great take-aways from this talk, but the one that stands out the most is to ‘never let anyone dull your drive’.

Download Elle’s slides here.

Broghan Smith – Fashion Retail Key Account Lead, TikTok Shop
An introduction to TikTok shop

Brogan Smith introduced TikTok Shop, showcasing the platform’s massive reach with 1.8 billion monthly users and its significant impact on e-commerce. With over half the population engaging with the app daily and the UK being the third-largest e-commerce market, TikTok is revolutionising shopping. Social commerce is thriving, with 80% of participants likely to buy during live sessions, and the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has amassed 86 billion views. TikTok Shop combines entertainment with shopping in a seamless, closed-loop ecosystem that keeps consumers engaged from discovery to purchase. Users can shop through live sessions and creator collaborations. Looking ahead to 2024, TikTok Shop plans to enhance its CRM tool, integrate with Shopify, optimise social search SEO, and expand into new European markets like Ireland and Spain.

Slides not available. 

Keira Penney – Head of Creative, Girls in Marketing
Elevating every corner of your career with creativity

Keira from Girls in Marketing, shared practical tips, real-world examples, and actionable strategies to help you unlock your creative potential and transform your career. She explained how boosting your career through creativity is essential, as the more you harness your creativity, the more it grows. Career success is subjective and defined by individual priorities, yet creativity is a common thread in all definitions. Despite a decline in creative thinking since the 1990s, with 75% feeling they haven’t reached their creative potential, leveraging lateral thinking can set you apart. Embracing a framework of adaptation, innovation, connection, and reflection is key. Adaptation involves managing your career development, innovation means rethinking traditional processes, connection expands your network, and reflection assesses your progress. Building a career you love involves autonomy, connectivity, and competence.

Download Keira’s slides here.

Janis Thomas – Managing Director, Look Fabulous Forever
The value of older consumers in ecommerce

Janis Thomas from Look Fabulous Forever started off her talk by saying that more brands are talking about diversity, but how many still focus on millennials and Gen Z? Over 65s are the fastest growing customer group in ecommerce and many have a more secure income than their younger counterparts. Historically, branding focused on exclusivity, but now, branding must evolve to emphasise inclusion and a sense of belonging. Consumers over 50 constitute over 40% of the population, and so accurate representation and understanding where older consumers shop are essential. This demographic spans three generations, and so shouldn’t be shoehorned into ‘the over 50’s’. To get a true representation of this diverse demographic, you should have a tailored approach and continuous feedback through support groups, social listening, Trustpilot, surveys, and behaviour observation. Examples show that including older consumers fosters loyalty, positive feedback, and referrals, highlighting the business benefits of good accessibility and inclusivity.

Download Janis’ slides here.

Women in marketing panel (Q+A)

connective3’s Rosa Mitchell hosted our first ever women in marketing panel with Olivia Mae Hanlon (Girls in Marketing), Janis Thomas (Look Fabulous Forever), Claire Stanley-Manock (connective3) & Rejoice Ojiaku (Nelson Bostock Unlimited)

The panellists answered specific questions asked by the audience, here’s a summary of what was discussed:

Question: Describe different leadership styles

Collaborative: Emphasising the importance of giving everyone a voice, collaborative management values each individual’s unique contributions. This approach fosters an open and inclusive environment.

Human perspective: By minimising hierarchical structures and prioritising transparency, managers can cultivate innovation and a sense of equality within the team.

Autonomy and leadership: Empowering individuals to take ownership and leadership roles within their tasks encourages a sense of responsibility and growth.

Challenge appropriately: While it’s important to challenge team members to reach their potential, it’s equally important not to push them beyond their limits.

Core values: Honesty, transparency, and collaboration are the foundation to effective management, ensuring trust and collective progress.

Question: How to negotiate pay?

Research thoroughly: Investigate salary ranges using resources like recruitment agency surveys to understand what is reasonable for your role and experience.

Aim high: Begin negotiations with a higher figure that stretches the employer’s expectations, positioning it as your desired salary to give room for compromise.

Long-term Goals: Express your awareness of the role’s pay range and indicate a willingness to compromise initially, with the aim of reaching your target salary over time.

Question: How to measure success?

Small wins: Recognising small achievements, such as learning new skills or making new contacts, is crucial as these incremental successes contribute to the overall success of a business.

Question: How did you decide to build your own business?

Creating impact: The desire to make a significant impact and create meaningful change drives the decision to start a business.

Passion: Passion is essential for overcoming challenges and achieving success in entrepreneurship.

Question: Importance of finding mentors in the industry

Valuable advice: Mentors provide insights and advice that might be unavailable within your direct network, offering broader perspectives.

Community: Being part of a mentorship community connects you with experienced professionals and fosters a supportive network.

Question: Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Embrace fear: “Feel the fear and do it anyway” encourages taking risks despite uncertainties.

Risk-taking: Being willing to take risks is essential for growth and success.

Authenticity: Staying true to yourself in all your endeavours ensures genuine connections and integrity.

Push boundaries: Always strive to take things as far as you can, challenging limits and seeking continuous improvement.

DIGITAL BITES TRACK

For this track we had seven quick-fire 8-minute talks.

Talk 1: Itamar Blauer – Senior SEO Director, StudioHawk
How to unify digital marketing teams

To unify digital marketing teams, Itamar Blauer of Studio Hawk emphasises the importance of enhancing communication, noting that 86% of workplace failures are due to poor communication. This can be improved by using shared project management tools, regular check-ins, and communication software. Developing a unified strategy is also crucial; while individuals have their own KPIs, it’s important to identify broader goals that impact the entire business and foster collective achievement. Additionally, leveraging each team member’s skills by assessing capabilities, repurposing content across different channels, and utilizing diverse talents effectively can significantly enhance team cohesion and productivity.

Download Itamar’s slides here.

Talk 2: Eirini Theodoridou – Digital PR Manager, connective3
How to make your campaigns work harder

To make your campaigns more effective, c3’s Eirini Theodoridou suggests starting by asking the right questions: why you are launching the campaign, what interests your customers—gathered through tools like BuzzSumo and social listening platforms such as Linkfluence and Brandwatch—and how you can creatively present your data to tell a compelling story. Additionally, consider when you can reangle the content to align with local awareness days or events, enhancing relevance and engagement.

Download Eirini’s slides here.

Talk 3: Azeem Ahmad – Digital marketing consultant, Azeem Digital
Resilience in action – how to move forward during tough times

Azeem Ahmad highlighted key strategies for building resilience during tough times, including establishing a robust support system, practicing self-compassion, and prioritising relationships with loved ones. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed, ensuring you have the necessary support to navigate challenges effectively.

Slides not available.

Talk 4: Katie Taylor-Thompson – Managing Director, Katie Lingo
Content goblins & SEO heists: who can we trust?

Katie Taylor-Thompson of Katie Lingo addressed the growing distrust in the industry due to AI, fake news, and constant updates, with only 33% of people believing what they read online. To establish trust with both Google and readers, it’s essential to adopt a holistic approach that goes beyond search engine results. Invest in brand-building, including out-of-office campaigns to generate organic content. Prioritise user experience, consult with real experts, ensure strong fact-checking, and leverage social proof through user-generated content and reviews to enhance credibility and reliability.

Download Katie’s slides here.

Talk 5: Ella Wright – Social Media & Content Manager, Neom wellbeing
You’ve been told you need UGC for social? Here’s where to stop

Ella Wright of Neom Wellbeing highlighted the importance of user-generated content (UGC) for social media, noting that 85% of people find UGC more influential than brand-created content. UGC builds brand trust, provides valuable feedback, keeps customers central, generates numerous views, and diversifies organic content. For paid social media, low-fidelity UGC is perceived as authentic, enhancing trust through peer recommendations. On websites and CRM platforms, featuring diverse customer imagery allows viewers to see themselves in your brand. Best practices for UGC include understanding goals for each channel, seeking permission from creators, leveraging content across all marketing channels, ensuring alignment with brand guidelines, and consistently monitoring results.

Download Ella’s slides here. 

Talk 6: Rejoice Ojiaku – SEO Manager, Nelson Bostock Unlimited
Building content briefs with SEO in mind

Rejoice Ojiaku of Nelson Bostock Unlimited emphasised the importance of building SEO-focused content briefs. An SEO content brief targets specific search queries, ensuring writers understand the content’s intent and objectives, which minimises revisions and aligns with SEO strategies. Without these briefs, the content creation process can become inefficient, leading to poor SEO performance and misaligned content. Effective briefs improve rankings, expedite delivery, prevent content duplication, and enhance quality, which is crucial for Google. They should guide writers with targeted keywords, search intent, titles, meta descriptions, competitor examples, internal and external links, word count, and target audience details to ensure content is helpful, authentic, and engaging.

Download Rejoice’s slides here.

Talk 7: Karim Adib – Digital PR Manager, Fatjoe
An 8-minute guide to ideation

Karim gave advice for how to effectively brainstorm and get the most out of ideation sessions. He explained that you can get inspiration from diverse sources like national news, Google Trends, and influencer insights. Master methods such as story layering, the shoulder topic method, and tapping into TikTok trends to craft engaging content. By leveraging past successful examples and relatable topics, you can create angles that resonate with a broad audience.

Download Karim’s slides here.

06

Stage two overview & slides

Luciana Beker – Strategic Agency Manager, Google
Put Google AI to Work for You

Luciana tells us that the way people search is changing, and with the acceleration of AI, the way we do marketing is evolving. Consumers are more complex and have more touchpoints than ever before and tracking has become more difficult with the deprecation of third-party cookies. Yet, while facing these challenges, CEOs have heightened business expectations from their marketing teams. Google AI acts as an enabler to help marketers solve these modern problems, providing an opportunity to grow. Gemini, for example is Google’s largest and most capable model to date, with the capability to combine language, images and audio into Google ads and help build better campaigns.

Download Luciana’s slides here.

Mahmoud Nagiub – Agency Partner, Meta
The evolution of short form video formats and the art of creative testing

Mahmoud starts his presentation by emphasising that entertainment isn’t what it used to be. Entertainment is now everywhere and more accessible than ever on mobile devices. As a result, the way people consume entertainment has changed. Marketers need to cater to changing media consumption; people want to consume entertainment quickly, see ‘repeated 1 seconds’ and embrace lo-fi techniques preferred by Gen-Z. Reels are the perfect way to turn attention into action; over 50% of time spent on Instagram is on reels, and 98% of the UK audience taking some kind of action after watching a reel. Mahmoud suggests using the walk, run, sprint framework to get the best results.

Download Mahmoud’s slides here.

Claire Stanley-Manock – Paid Media Director, connective3
The dark art of persuasion

Claire shares with us that while people are financially better off, there is a reluctance to spend with 71% of all UK adults cutting back in spending, and an increase in action points throughout the purchase journey. In the face of more challenging market conditions, how do you leverage the dark art of persuasion to increase sales? Firstly, brands need to be present at every touchpoint of the customer journey. Next, they need to implement social biases and Google’s 6 step framework, including social bias and the power of now. Finally, use AI to enable and inspire.

Download Claire’s slides here.

Adam Blomberg – VP of Product and Partner Marketing, Funnel
Why you need to trust your marketing data (and how to get there)

Funnel’s Adam Blomberg explained that the phrase ‘advertising has reached the status of a science’ was used 100 years ago but the same could be said in today’s world. But, in today’s world, we’re not just looking at correlation, but finding causation. There are three main methods to do this – incrementality, marketing mix modelling and multi-touch attribution. However, each comes with its unique set of challenges. The best approach is triangulation which tallies the testing between the three different methods, making it more accessible and affordable.

Download Adam’s slides here. 

Tom Capper – Senior Search Scientist, STAT Search Analytics
The way to hell is paved with good intents

Tom explained that each year, ranking for a keyword becomes increasingly labyrinthine. It’s less obvious which SERPs make sense for your site, what type of content is best suited when it does, or whether any features or positions are really even in play. In his talk, Tom showed us how to tease apart all this complexity to find targeted opportunities in your space. He explained how full funnel organic search is on its way out and the SERP landscape is more competitive than ever before, especially with the looming presence of Google’s SGE ( Search Generative Experience). However, there are still some wins to be had. The top of the funnel is still viable in some places, not every commercial SERP is highly contested and bricks and mortar SERPs can be easy to compete in.

Slides & report available here.

Jimmy Rippon – Global Head of Search, Swoop Finance
Scaling SEO internationally: 6 mistakes I’ve made so you don’t have to

Jimmy shared that the biggest mistakes he’s made in his career when scaling SEO interntationally with the biggest mistake not implementing geo-targeting optimisations for international SEO sooner. His key takeaways include moving from ccTLDs to .com, fixing hreflang errors, tailoring trust signals and accessibility to each individual market.

Download Jimmy’s slides here.

Rosa Mitchell – Business Director, connective3
Supercharging your business performance with a fully connected approach

Rosa focussed on the importance of needing to apply a wholly connected marketing method, rather than solely sticking to our channel disciplines. She touched on how you can ‘supercharge your performance’ by implementing a connected approach, and delved into how to create an effective multi-channel marketing plan. Through bringing different services together, Rosa argued that it’s possible to both boost campaign effectiveness and maximise results. She also highlighted the importance of understanding audience personas, as well as how we can actively drive users down the marketing funnel.

Download Rosa’s slides here.

Steve Paine – Head of Data Journalism, SISTRIX
Best of women’s fashion SEO – Trends, leaders & analysis

In this talk Steve offered insider tips on SEO patterns for success when it comes to women’s fashion. To do so, he talked us through data handpicked from various keywords, plus high-performance content hubs. Steve offered insights into the increase we’ve seen in those searching for categories based on aesthetics, not just product types – for instance ‘day drinking outfits’, or ‘bottomless brunch outfits.’ He delved into various case studies, and highlighted the savings those in paid search are making due to more organic rankings. Steve suggested that when it comes to women’s fashion SEO, it’s all about having visible content where these search trends are.

Steve’s slides available here.

Andy Beckwith – Head of Design, Tall
Brand beyond the buzz

Andy gave the audience insights into how the world’s biggest and most iconic brands live and breathe their brand identities. He delved into his own experience of working with recognisable brands such as LEGO, and how he realised the significance of embedding a brand’s core values into even the smallest of interactions. He touched on the value of gathering teams together (from creators to strategists) and educating everyone on a brand’s key guidelines and values. Andy suggested that this is where the magic happens, and this is when teams are at their most creative. Overall, Andy highlighted how we can ensure a brand is fully adopted across all outputs.

Slides not available.

Isa Lavahun – Freelance Search Strategist
The future of PR: Why bridging the gap between PR and SEO is the only way forward for PR professionals

Isa started off her session by suggesting that if PR wants to stay influential, it needs to evolve. Isa highlighted how the lines between PR and SEO are merging, and that if we transition into using more SEO-driven PR strategies, we can boost results. Isa then stated that search-led insight is crucial to PR, and that keyword insights give us popular, sometimes secret search queries that audiences are seeking answers for. So, SEO can help to identify missed opportunities, and in turn, we can craft compelling stories and campaigns that resonate. Finding these content gaps is key to achieving a competitive edge.

Download Isa’s slides here.

David White – Content Marketing Director, connective3
The new era of link building: Navigating the ‘Messy Middle’ with digital PR

David gave a talk titled: ‘The new era of link building: Navigating the ‘Messy Middle’ with digital PR’. He opened by discussing the history of PR, and highlighted just how much the industry has changed over recent years. David stated that while digital PR is often viewed solely as a tool to link-build and boost SEO, it can also be used to influence customer decision-making. How? Well, he stated that a crucial part of the customer journey can be defined as ‘the messy middle.’ The messy middle is the stage in between initial interest, all the way up to a purchase. Digital PR can help to decode this ‘messy middle’, influence customer decision-making, and boost SEO visibility to deliver ‘tangible outcomes.’ David highlighted the importance of helping brands decode this ‘messy middle’ to successfully motivate customer actions.

Download David’s slides here.

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