The future’s so bright for IHTBB (I’ve gotta wear shades)

January 26, 2017

I first met Simon Tabelin, managing director of strategic marketing and creative agency It Has To Be Brilliant (IHTBB), a long time ago when he was running Brilliant Media, an award winning print media services company in London. He is a top bloke, very clued-up and a lot of fun to be around. I’ve lost track of the number of times we have bumped into each other at various industry events, chatting over a drink, with me always offering to pop-in and take a look at the business. This is usually countered by something along the lines of how I’d probably be disappointed because there really wasn’t all that much to look at, so nothing ever happened. That is until this week when I was invited to meet Simon Tabelin and the IHTBB team at its North London HQ where, in the nicest possible way, they managed to completely do my head-in. Here’s why.

About three or four years ago Tabelin realised that times were changing. Social media outreach for brands was already happening, but now new technologies such as RFID and Near Field Communications and mobile apps had arrived, and all of which became the enabler for brands to reach out and touch consumers in more memorable, engaging, and highly personable ways - and that’s when and why Tabelin decided to change tack. 

Recognising that change was the constant factor, and that if you always do what you always do; you’ll always get what you have always got etc. He reached out to creative design, marketing and branding guru Tony Kenton to join him as Strategic and Marketing director and re-branded the company as It Has To Be Brilliant (IHTBB), a strategic, creative marketing agency that focuses on the clients objectives rather than its own. 

Focuses on the clients objectives rather than its own? I didn’t understand at first. Tabelin pointed out that print was now one of the last things the company talked about when discussing its clients needs. Today, IHTBB is focussed on talking to clients about increasing sales, creative marketing concepts, data management, lead generation, graphic design, and exhibition management. The printed aspect is just a given. If it’s required; it can be supplied. It has taken Tabelin three years to undertake a complete metamorphosis from print service provider to a fully blown, full service creative marketing agency that will convey compelling messages for clients across the complete range of media from social media, to video, mobile, print, digital and managed data.

Tabelin and Kenton are zealous about meeting the client’s overall objectives and are not content to sit back and play their part in a marketing campaign as just the printer. The way it works, they enthused, is if a fishmonger wants to sell more fish, IHTBB will help it sell more fish. If a baker needs to sell more bread, IHTBB will sell bread. If a car dealership wants to increase its weekly test drive quota, well, you guessed it, IHTBB will provide a solution to the problem. 

Everywhere you look there are people working in teams on behalf of the clients. There’s a team for marketing services, a team for graphic design, a team for production, fitting, exhibition services - all coming together in a melting pot to combine creative, social, digital and mobile media where the focus is on the client achieving its goal, and not just on the delivery method. They call it Objective Marketing. 

What took my breath away was a huge wall map of Europe covered in highlighted locations of all the towns and cities where IHTBB is distributing its services for retail clients. Each dot on the map indicated a retail outlet where the firm is sending POS, promotional items and display print to a team of local installers who are connected to the company’s bespoke management software via a mobile app. The app becomes a digital job ticket, and when the installation is completed, all the fitter has to do is photograph the job in situ and upload a picture to complete the process. 

The actual print production is controlled centrally through what IHTBB calls its Network of Successful Friends. This is a posh way of saying that it farms out a lot of the production, but the clue is in the name. It does give the impression that nobody is going to want to bite the hand that feeds it. There is also a lot of in-house production too, but for such a solutions-led business there will always be plenty to go round for others to produce, particularly where promotional items are concerned. Better to give the business to a specialist ‘friend’ to produce rather than do it in-house and incur the costs of production. It makes total sense. 

Both Tabelin and Kenton are bullish about not worrying about competition from other printing companies, which is why they are happy to openly discuss their unique approach to business. The pair are unanimous in their opinion that it would take a huge leap of faith for any printer to even consider undertaking such a metamorphosis, let alone the cost, and besides, wouldn’t these companies prefer instead to join their ever increasing circle of Successful Friends? 

Simon Tabelin is a very clever man indeed, and IHTBB has a vey bright future ahead.

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