Max Wakefield, New Business Manager reveals to IIBN that Verve is a Creative & Digital Agency which houses a multi-disciplinary team of creatives, storytellers, techies and thinkers – as well as the producers, makers and doers who make it happen.

You can visit the Verve website here

We work with a variety of clients across all industries on campaign concepts, design, creative & digital strategies while also executing experiential campaigns and events such as employee and consumer engagement activations, always making sure that the client and their brand or message is front of mind. In our 30 years as an industry leader in event management, we now apply this experience to virtual events. Our office is based in London with our headquarters in Dublin as well as a hub in Amsterdam allowing us to work with clients on a European level e.g. Diageo’s sponsorship of the Guinness Six Nations.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My role is to bring new clients to Verve and look to expand our presence in GB. We have grown exponentially over the past 6 years so we are now compounding that growth.

What are your biggest challenges?

At the risk of rinsing and repeating the current narrative, the impact of the global pandemic has been extreme on an industry that relies so heavily on mass gatherings, consumer participation and face to face engagement. Our industry has been standing down since March. This has naturally been a major challenge for us and will have been for all creative agencies globally. We have overcome that rather elegantly in the short term with our fully equipped digital team and moving to Virtual and Hybrid events, pivoting quickly to work within government guidelines and still deliver for our clients.

How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?

While we continue to work on strategies with clients on campaigns that might just be further down the calendar year, the Covid-19 crisis has given us great scope to shout about our Digital Department. We have had a strong digital team in Verve for five years and some people may only know us for events. We have engaged with clients on virtual offerings in the past so now we like to think we are ahead of the game and know what solutions we can provide to clients who want to turn a face-to-face conference into a virtual conference. With brands now taking their marketing spend online, we are happy to strategize with them to ensure they are still reaching their target audience whether locally or globally. As we collaborate as a team more than ever across our London and Dublin offices, the strategy of pivoting the business with the main focus on virtual experiences is beginning to reap the rewards.

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

While we do a certain level of creativity for Verve as a brand, we rely on the trust and relationships of our clients to keep our industry alive. Though it’s tempting to stay on the side-lines, brands who take their heads out of the sand can really make a difference. Brands have a balancing act to master, fast, to ensure that they are not full of negative messaging. We are working on client strategies around product launches, consumer sampling and employee engagement in alternative ways to show that our industry still serves a purpose for brands 360 marketing just maybe in a new way for a while. We are a company who like to think outside the box and at this time we are challenged to do so even more.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

As global conferences are going virtual, there is an opportunity for us to facilitate more of these regardless of where in the world our client is. It is opening up Verve’s capabilities to new audiences. The fast shift for lots of companies to go online has led to a demand for our digital team in rebranding websites and turning them into functional and commercial sites, with a focus also being put on social media strategies, to allow brands and businesses to keep their message front of mind with current and potential consumers.

You now offer Virtual events to clients. How do virtual events work?

We are currently doing a variety of virtual and hybrid events. The difference being that virtual events have no real world element, are solely online and are accessed from computers or mobile phones. Hybrid events still have some real world activity, but due to social distancing protocols and adding layers of comfortability and safety and the use of one way systems, the in-person numbers are severely reduced so there is still a virtual element where attendees can join online.

With virtual lobbies, trade stands, an agenda of speakers and breakout sessions in combination with a reduced real life event, virtual and hybrid events provide an excellent way to bring people together online when meeting in person is impossible. They can even introduce clients to new audiences with global reach, accessible content and excellent ROI while being budget friendly. With customisable and bespoke elements, we can scale up or down based on client needs. Whether it’s pub quizzes, training webinars or a 4 day B2B conference with a hub and bespoke digital offering, Verve have a solution. In delivering value, we can elevate the attendee experience by organising direct mail pieces in advance to allow sponsors to communicate their message through branding and content.

Virtual events still require the same skills and finesse, touching every part of the agency – our creative studio for the creative assets, our event management and account management teams to act as the driving force and our digital team overseeing the entire process to ensure we are delivering a seamless experience.

Are your customers typically in any particular sectors? Or could you classify them in other ways (for example, by size or location)?

What is great about Verve is that we have a set of skills and specialisms that lend themselves to almost any business. We are cross-sector, cross-industry and have a huge variety of projects within the building.

What are companies telling you are the key challenges they are facing at the moment? What are they concerned about now and in the future?

Consumer sentiment has been completely overhauled during the crisis. We have done an in-depth study on the trends and what this crisis is inducing. What we are noticing is significant behaviour change in particular areas. We’re helping our clients to respond to those changes, pivot their businesses and stay at the bleeding edge of creative ingenuity.