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Managing your risk landscape


IPM “30 Under 30” adds more skills and expertise to the PIMS-SCA promotional skills bank

Mon 27 Nov 2017 @ 11:24

Everyone at PIMS-SCA is delighted to learn that PIMS-SCA’s own Ria Lewis has been accepted on to the IPM’s “30 Under 30” programme for 2018.

For 2018, the IPM said they had enjoyed a very high entry standard from all applicants, with high levels of entry for the Programme and fierce competition. The judges felt Ria’s entry stood out from the crowd and that she would benefit from being part of the Programme, aimed at personal and professional development.

Mark Kimber, Managing Director at PIMS-SCA said: “In her position at PIMS-SCA, Ria works closely alongside agencies and clients in providing Fixed Fee and Over Redemption Insurance. This acknowledgement of her potential from the IPM comes as no surprise to us as Ria has many CII and IPM credentials; and not content with achieving a distinction in the IPM diploma a few years back, she also scored the top result of that year.”

Throughout 2018 Ria will have the opportunity to embrace new skills in everything from negotiations and account management to how to deal with positive stress management and challenging legal issues.

Ria will formally celebrate her place on the Programme at a special presentation on Thursday 14th December in London, when she will be formally accepted into the Programme.

The PIMS-SCA team of experts have always taken pride in knowing how to protect you, your clients and your audiences when running promotional campaigns of any sort and Ria’s participation in the IPM “30 Under 30” programme can only add to the knowledge and deep expertise already within our team; delivering real practical and commercial benefits, not just to her and everyone here at PIMS-SCA but to all of our clients.


More effective customer acquisition for lotteries

Tue 24 Oct 2017 @ 12:02

Should lottery operators and the alternative lottery market turn to the experience of other sectors as they look to grow the industry by building more effective customer acquisition campaigns?

For years, lotteries have achieved market growth by using the same old promotional campaigns and techniques. Whether through focusing expensive spend on huge jackpots, offering 3-for-1 deals to first time players in the Alternative Lottery market, or dressing these same offers up as 70% off a £5 spend. It begs the question, how well do lottery marketers understand the needs of the new to market player in 2017?

In most cases, operators employ similar promotional strategies to each other, with only the gentlest nod towards branding. Customer volume breakthroughs have been reliant on big ad spend, heavy online budgets and even heavier jackpots. The result, a confused and noisy marketplace populated by multiple operators without clear differentiable propositions. There may be subtle differences in site design and product offering but for customers these are invisible.

The problem with a commodity market, characterised by a few big players, and many smaller players eager to gain a slice of the pie is that the quickest, easiest way to grow is to steal share. And that means cutting prices, offering deals and discounts. It’s expensive, cut-throat and everyone is doing it. From an existing player and customer perspective this is all very good news, competing operators offering brand switching deals. The result is everyone wins and everyone loses as players and customers shift from one operator to another and back again. Promiscuous customers in every market will switch all day for a better deal. But the worrying thing for the industry is that this does nothing to grow the market.

Why? Because new entrants aren’t excited by discounting. There are few potential new customers who haven’t considered buying a ticket. Those that want to play are playing. Those who no longer play have rejected current propositions because they don’t see the value in them. New entrants, at the younger end of the spectrum, are simply not excited by the propositions on offer. So, what’s to be done?

If operators start from the premise that they want trial from new players, then the very first thing to do is address customers’ attitude to risk. The biggest barrier to entry remains customer concerns around first purchase risk. The risk factors in this market are many, be it a lack of customer awareness of the branded operators, uncertainty around pay-out processes, or low levels of positive word of mouth.

New customers need the perception of risk taken away from them They want to know what they’re getting before they part with any cash. Which is exactly why sampling, free trial, money back guarantees and testimonials all work as effective trialling mechanics across a multitude of brands in many different sectors worldwide. Brand marketers recognise that customers don’t buy a product or service for the first time just because they’re going to get more of it.

So why aren’t new customers buying? Because the operators aren’t thinking about what the customers might want – not only reduced risk but clear, fun, engaging and impactful offers. Lottery marketers need to embrace change, and get out of their creative and marketing comfort zones. They need to start thinking about how they can add the 4 Is of Promotional Marketing to their current Marketing plans.

The 4 Is?

Impact; Information; Involvement and Incentive. Important as it is, for too long it has all been just about the incentive.

  • Impact – The job of marketing must be to poke and provoke customers into action.
  • Information – Make it easy for customers to engage by clear, simple promotions
  • Incentive – make offers relevant. Look to reduce player risk by adding value, whether through gamification, experiential events, or just fun ways of generating interaction.
  • Involvement – Customers are looking for more involved relationships with brands. The more involved they actually feel, the more willing they’ll be to recommend a new lottery and talk about it.

Lotteries need to start to learn the language of brands and embrace a new approach that is about building an involving relationship between customer and brand that stands apart from jackpot sizes and price offers. Carry on as is and the only winners will be those operators with the deepest pockets, those who hope to outlast their competition, and they’ll be more than happy to do so by buying market share. They can afford to play a long game. Most can’t.


Why do so many brands run promotions expecting so few people to respond?

Wed 8 Mar 2017 @ 15:10

I have been asking myself that question for years.

Why is there less promotional activity going on out there? Is there a thirst for promotions from brands and consumers? How good are promotions at getting people to buy share and try?

At first, in the doom and gloom of the Credit Crunch I presumed that brands had much less money to spend, but today I’m not so sure the answer is quite that simple. I decided to do some research and where better a place to start than my own company?

Each year PIMS-SCA receive hundreds of enquiries from the Promotional Marketing community and our customer’s first question is always what will be the response level to my new campaign? So, I reviewed our data from the early noughties and compared the results with those from a decade later.

It made for a very interesting read.

In 2003, the promotions we evaluated with a stated expected response rate of greater than 3% exceeded 80%. By 2013, that figure had fallen to less than 40%. Digging deeper I discovered that a staggering 50% of the promotions on our database now were expected to generate response rates lower than 2%.

Remember, as a Promotion Risk Manager we are supposed to review those promotions pushing the boundaries of creativity and “financial risk”. And if we are mainly seeing the cutting edge “risky” stuff – then day to day promotional activity must have an even lower expectation of response levels.

Why have things changed so dramatically?

I believe there are several factors that have combined to produce this current state of affairs. Certainly, Client’s promotional marketing budgets appear to be a fraction of what they used to be. And of course, we have a proliferation of URN and Web Check Promotional Mechanics in the market – campaign management tools that whilst making life easier from a brand perspective are clearly a “put off” to most consumers, as inputting URN codes into Promotional Micro Sites is a major barrier to entry.

And while trying not to sound too much like a grumpy old man, the Marketing World’s ongoing “love affair” with Social Media as a promotional channel is another major issue. I recognise it may have its good points, such as delivering brand awareness and raising engagement in a new channel but generating good responses to promotional campaigns is not one of them.

PIMS-SCA are at the “coal face” of response levels every working day and we know what works and more importantly, what doesn’t. We all know that more people than ever are looking for instant gratification, whether that’s in promotions or anything else.

Driving people to a social media platform for spurious reasons is simply adding another level of complexity and driving down response levels for what should be straightforward, compelling promotions.

Both business and audience needs seem to have been forgotten in a rush to employ new techniques and channels as an end in themselves or to employ safe fixed cost techniques such as a Money Back Guarantee, Web ‘Check and Win’ or a Prize Draw in the knowledge that it won’t cost them a fortune.

Real objectives seem to be taking second place to budgetary constraints and the fact that hardly anyone can be bothered to participate doesn’t seem to be important anymore. Any pretence at innovation by locking on a Social Media mechanic is simply wallpapering over the cracks in a campaign.

It’s not where an idea comes from, it’s where you take it

We need to remind ourselves that just because a great, proven, promotional technique has been run before doesn’t mean it can’t be adopted, adapted and advanced with just a little creative thought. Thirty years ago, the award winning Andrex Puppy campaign was launched and yet what else is the current, hugely innovative and creative Meerkat campaign other than a twist on that great, original idea?

Surely promotional campaigns must be about generating real customer engagement like Andrex and They should be about getting customers to do something (buy, try, share) they otherwise wouldn’t have. If there is any rationale to what we are all here for, then it should be about generating a positive customer response, and if not that, then what?

Mark Kimber MD, PIMS-SCA


£1 million prize funds are here to stay

Thu 15 Sep 2016 @ 9:50

Raising the stakes for bookmakers this summer, BetVictor has pushed the jackpots for football prize funds further than most with a £1 million offer.

As part of its Million Pound Goal competition, the betting mogul is looking to outshine its competitors amongst the multitude of promotional offers that are being advertised left, right and centre during the early weeks of the tournament. In a nutshell, if you wager £5 or more during Euro 2016, you can take a stab at the correct scorer and minute of the opening goal in the final for a chance to win the prize fund.

It’s a tempting and quite frankly generous proposition no doubt, but it’s not that surprising to see for anyone who’s been following the gambling market in recent years. Jackpots of or around £1 million are where the market is heading for major prize giveaways and – in the case of BetVictor, at least – is where it’s sometimes already at.

In a sense, this is somewhat reviving an age-old tradition in the UK that existed decades ago. Back then, the football pools – and especially the Treble Chance option – offered the biggest single prize fund in the country. Typically cheap to play, a syndicate of players were the first to scoop £1 million in 1986, and others took home enormous amounts from their lucky bets. Its dominance went downhill after the National Lottery entered the market with even bigger jackpots on offer, but the rise of football-related prize funds today suggest that they’re making a comeback.

So how high will they go? £5 million – maybe even £10 million? It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact figure, but they will undoubtedly be heading in one direction over the coming years. Major events such as the World Cup attract attention from punters worldwide, and the desire to extend further into foreign markets will entice many bookies to see the prize giveaways as investment opportunities.

It will also be interesting to see whether such jackpots rise in correlation with other skyrocketing costs in the footballing world. As transfer fees appear to be on a never-ending upward trajectory, some have speculated on the possibility of jackpots’ inflation staying in line.

But whether they’re £1 million, £2 million or £10 million, having enormous jackpots such as these is important for your average football gambler. It gives them not only hope of an escape from the 9 to 5 drudgery, but a chance at actually winning a life changing jackpot prize.

Want to give away your own £1 Million cash prize? Get in touch to see how PIMS-SCA can help you do this, call 020 7255 7900 or email


Have brands over invested in digital?

Thu 15 Sep 2016 @ 9:43

Is it enough to be liked?

The dramatic growth in spend in social media marketing over the past decade, in both B2B and consumer, has been something to behold. We have all been busy learning and trying to use social media as effectively as possible, blogging here, tweeting there, Facebook likes are real currency one day and then apparently worthless the next depending on which expert you speak to. The UK digital media marketplace has been referred to as the ‘Wild West’ of marketing, where hip young gunslingers shoot it out with metrics designed to send the more traditional diving for their Kotler, and their thesaurus.

But for many of us, for many years, the argument has been around the elephant in the room.

More than 5 years ago I was judging marketing awards in the UK, the Irish Republic and across Europe and for about three years we were awash with campaigns claiming successful commercial results based solely upon the number of Facebook likes and retweets they had, almost regardless of user context or commercial uplift. I don’t know about you but my clients couldn’t afford to reinvest in the business if all they had to spend was ‘likes’ and ‘followers’.

Now it’s clearly just as churlish for me to suggest that these metrics are without value as it is for the entrants to claim they were all the demonstrable value that was needed.

Just what is minimal engagement with a brand through social media actually worth commercially?

The hugely respected CEO of WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell, raised the question last month in an interview with Marketing Week. ‘Brands are starting to question if they have over-invested in digital’ he said, echoing many industry voices including ours that have been saying much the same for years. We have been urging brands not to let social media spend take over their marketing strategy for quite some time, so we welcome Sir Martin’s words, but can’t help thinking that for many the appetite was always there.

If anything, many offline campaigns, such as on-pack promotions and competitions, direct mail and face to face marketing, now have more of an impact than they ever did, such is the saturated state of the digital sphere. The time has finally come for social media to have to fight on its own commercial merits, which is all we’ve been after. When building a strategy for any brand in any market we all need to know the likely commercial impact of any media or communication initiative. One perfect, clear example of the shift towards accountability is Omnicom’s recently announced deal on the McDonald’s account, with ROI built in as part of the arrangement.

Sir Martin’s voice is a strong one to add to the many looking at Google and Facebook’s means of measurability, “we can’t have the players being the referees”. This protest against the lack of independent measurability for Google and Facebook’s marketing platforms is one which could become louder as time goes on.

The reality is we’re in a digital world. But we’re also in a physical world. Social media just as with traditional media has a part to play, let’s just be sure that we’re getting enough bang for our buck from being liked.


Latest news…

IPM “30 Under 30” adds more skills and expertise to the PIMS-SCA promotional skills bank

More effective customer acquisition for lotteries

Why do so many brands run promotions expecting so few people to respond?

£1 million prize funds are here to stay

Have brands over invested in digital?

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