To have and to hold (your client)

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A CMA Original by Alison Krog, Content Strategist, Wonderly Studio

What’s the secret to an enduring client/agency relationship? Ask Wonderly, the owned media agency that prides itself on the longevity of its partnerships with brands ranging from The Army to VWG

You’ve jumped out of planes with them. Planted rose bushes together. Shredded your bodyweight training with Joe Wicks for them. And warded off temptation when faced with the inevitable pitch-year itch. When you travel 6,000 miles to dance with your client to the sound of South African drums, you know you’re in it for the long-haul. At Wonderly, we’re privileged to enjoy some of the longest client/agency relationships in the business. Here’s how we keep things interesting.

Find our soulmates

Family businesses… tick. Horticultural heritage… tick. Fiercely independent… tick. Trusted to deliver, come rain or shine… tick. When you encounter an organisation that ticks all your own cultural boxes, you can look forward to growing old together. Wonderly started working with the Tillington Group back in 2002, publishing annual personalised versions of ‘Beautiful Gardens’ magazine for its consortium of 11 independent garden centres. Since then the businesses have diversified, and in many cases metamorphosed, into local leisure destinations. And as they endeavour to reach out to new, younger audiences, we empower them with all the skills and assets they need to attract more customers through their doors. Three increasingly bespoke print magazines (spring, summer and Christmas) remain at the heart of the project, complemented by a continual stream of quirky social media assets that keep the relationship alive all year long.

Build a future together

And when we say ‘together’ that’s exactly what we mean. Because for the past seven years, Wonderly has had a dedicated editorial team embedded in the Milton Keynes HQ of Volkswagen Group’s UK operation. Now 15-strong, and working on behalf of Volkswagen and its sister brands, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, VW Commercial Vehicles and TPS, the Wonderly editors don’t just benefit from the knowledge that comes from living so deep in their clients’ market. They also gain from being finely attuned to their clients’ personal lives and needs. Because whether it’s knowing what their interests are, or the preferred shade of their cup of tea or coffee, it’s those little things that help build a relationship between us and our clients.

Keep it fresh

The past two decades have proved challenging times for British Army recruitment. But throughout the ups and downs, since 1997 Wonderly has been a constant source of fresh thinking and creative innovation. Right from the start, our award-winning Camouflage magazine was a game-changer that helped transform perceptions of what being a soldier really means. A suite of brochures to help candidates find more about specific Army roles followed. And we created templates for regional marketing activity that increased consistency of message while making significant cost efficiencies. This is a relationship that’s never in danger of falling into a rut as we constantly challenge and deliver beyond expectations. Nowadays we’re focusing The Locker – an exciting sub-brand that is taking the relationship to the next level by connecting with 18-24-year-olds with stories that show them the Army world is not so very different to their own. And because it’s strategically distributed in places such as gyms, airports and at football matches, The Locker is reaching people that may not have previously considered the Army as a career.

Celebrate each milestone

Last year Wonderly helped the International Baccalaureate celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special edition of IB World magazine that was described by one of its stakeholders as an “absolute triumph”. This constant reinvigoration and recognition of what’s important to such a diverse audience (the publication is read by teachers, students, IB coordinators, examiners and stakeholders) has underpinned a decade-long relationship during which Wonderly has tackled subjects as diverse as classroom technology, gender-neutral schooling and pupils’ mental health. We now also publish four IB World Conference Specials and satisfy readers’ insatiable appetite for our content with a year-round programme of posts for the IB blog.

Love the same things

We’ve worked alongside The FA since 2004 – facing together the challenges of organisational restructuring, shifting objectives and industry trends. But what really sets the relationship apart, and is perhaps the secret to its enduring success, is that the team working on the programmes is as fanatical about the sport as The FA. They play football, watch football and love working within its world. And it is this shared understanding of the game at an organisational level, and deep passion for the game at grass roots level, makes Wonderly and The FA inseparable.

Be there through thick and thin

It’s 2015. We’re at the World Championships in Beijing and Usain Bolt is getting ready to run the men’s 100m final. Around the globe, millions of athletics fans are relying on iaaf.org – the official website of the International Association of Athletics Federations – to keep them up to date with this event, and all the other events taking place simultaneously at the Championships. What could possibly go wrong? For the IAAF there’s nothing to worry about, because it knows that Wonderly’s support is on hand 24/7. Not only did we achieve a revolutionary website build that transformed the way users interact with and enjoy IAAF content. But at all the major IAAF events around the world Wonderly has a behind-the-scenes team on standby, day or night, to ensure a gold-standard performance from athletics’ governing body.

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