Ascentor initially engaged Watertight Marketing to undertaken a marketing transformation programme, and then went on to retain a Certified Practitioner to maintain marketing momentum.

Client: Dave James, MD |

How the power of emotional impact gave this client a whole new platform for engagement

What makes the Watertight Marketing approach stand out from the crowd of fluffy marketeers is direct linkage of effort to return. All marketing activity is carried out because it leads to improved sales. The no nonsense approach was a revelation and a relief.”

Dave James, MD — Ascentor


Ascentor are information risk and cyber security consultants. They help businesses, public sector organisations and government suppliers keep their information secure. Founded in 2004 by Dave James, Paddy Keating and Steve Maddison, they are based in Gloucester and have worked with Watertight Marketing since 2011.

Ascentor are typical of many growing consultancy businesses. They have a huge depth of experience in their specialist field, but they didn’t have the time to devote to marketing or the resources to employ a full-time marketer. What they did have was the identification of a problem — and the realisation that they needed marketing help.

As MD Dave James explains, “Our existing clients knew what we did but we were finding it a challenge to reach new ones — and we often found their perceptions of us were wrong. We were missing out on opportunities that we should have been winning. We needed to find a way to make sure the right messages got through.”

How Watertight Marketing Helped

The first step was to work with with Bryony Thomas to map the business against The Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks™. This is a unique review process that helps businesses identify their specific marketing priorities, based on achieving sustainable profitable payback.

See related post: What are the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks?

In Ascentor’s case, three leaks stood out as the key focus:

  • Leak # 12 — Not being known for what you do: People were categorises Ascentor as as IT provider, rather than as holistic strategic consultants.
  • Leak # 13 — No emotional impact: Information security can seem very distant, and being something that’ll “never happen to us” so as to appear non-urgent.
  • Leak # 7 — Information overload: Ascentor was jumping straight into the deep detail of their specialist skills, without taking people on a journey of understanding why they might need them.

The mental filebox and cutting through with impact

Not being known for what you do can have a hugely frustrating and damaging effect on a business. This is when potential clients have you filed wrong in their own minds. People misunderstand your services such that the business you could be doing — and should be doing — is often awarded elsewhere. This leak caused a narrower perception of Ascentor’s services, cost them revenue, and needed to be fixed.

Ascentor MD, Dave James explains, “Although we’re well known to our existing clients as a consultancy business, potential clients often perceived us as ‘technical’ or ‘IT’— and they thought they had that angle covered. Our marketing challenge was therefore how to engage on a different level — one that made them realise that information risk was much bigger than ‘just’ an IT issue.”

Human Face ResourcesThe solution came about in parallel with looking at Leak # 13 — No emotional Impact. The rationale for creating a strong emotional impact is simple. If something stirs an emotion, your audience can’t help but notice it.

For Ascentor, a solution that addressed both emotional impact and increasing understanding of what they offer came about by developing a message that made the threat something their buyers could truly visualise. Ascentor tapped into an emotional response by commissioning their own research on a controversial topic — would employees steal data from their employers?

From this initial core idea, we worked with Bristol based content specialists Valuable Content, to produce ‘The Human Face of Information Risk’. It revealed frightening statistics that over half the UK population would be prepared to compromise their employer by way of sabotaging information.

Now, as an HR or IT Director, that goes from a faceless attack from overseas, to something much more real. Ascentor found they had the attention they wanted, and were more readily perceived as strategic partner. Even better, the publicity created from the research and subsequent presentations gave them a whole new platform for engagement.

As Dave James explains “The Human Face research was the perfect platform to demonstrate, with real evidence, that information risk was a business issue and wider than IT. It was a powerful awareness campaign for us”.

See related post: What are the real triggers in a sales process?

Consistent messages to clearly position expertise

The powerful emotional messaging of the Human Face of Information Risk campaign certainly helped to raise awareness of Ascentor, but this needed to be set within a clear and consistent key message framework, and have a commitment to regular short form content to draw people in.

Ascentor knew what they wanted to talk about but their earlier messaging had been suffering from Leak #7 Information Overload. They were covering many topics, in too much in-depth. This meant jargon-filled materials that were hard to get to grips with quickly.

To simplify things, they worked with Bryony and the team at Valuable Content to agree on three core themes to focus on. These were:

  • Securing your information strengthens your business
  • Information risk is not an IT issue
  • Information risk is a matter of context

Dave James comments, “Having our themes in place made it much easier to plan things like our blog content — and much easier for our customers to grasp what we do. If the content suggested underpinned one of these themes we used it, if not, we didn’t.”

See related post: Being known for what you do: Clarity, Consistency & Context

The breakthrough — consistent commitment over time

Ascentor has experienced a 400% increase in website traffic and found themselves ranking in the top 3 of Google search results for some of the niche terms relevant to their business. Over time, certain blog articles have hit a rich vein of interest. Viewing figures for some of their content is now approaching 20,000 unique visits, and still attracts several hundred views every month. For a 12-person, niche business-to-business consultancy, these are impressive numbers.

The outcomes from embracing the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks methodology have helped Ascentor become better known for what they do within a very specialist sector. This is credited in the most part to the work on their marketing messaging, and in building a highly visible and respected blog.

Ben Wheeler - Marketing Planning WorkshopWithout any in-house marketing resource, Ascentor wanted to ensure the results they’ve achieved were sustained over time. As Dave James explains, “We originally came to Watertight Marketing saying we needed leads — but what we’ve benefitted from most has been a Watertight system. Now that marketing is embedded in the business, we wanted to keep the momentum going.” 

To ensure this Ascentor has retained the services of Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner, Ben Wheeler, since Autumn 2014.  Ben is there to make sure marketing activity supports the strategic plan and, on a month-by-month basis, that all the right marketing activities are delivered on time and budget.

On-going strategic sounding board…

Dave James puts the advantage this brings into context for Ascentor, “As an Accredited Watertight Marketing Consultant, Ben has an input on strategy, helps create our website content, manages our social media and brings fresh ideas to the table each month. Most important of all, he saves us a huge amount of time and makes sure that our marketing, messaging, and visibility remain on-track.”

The future for Ascentor

Five years into their relationship with Watertight Marketing, Ascentor are as committed to the methodology as they were at the start. With new services in development and new markets to reach, they have recently commissioned a new Touchpoint Leak Assessment as a means to focus priorities. This fits perfectly alongside their work with their Certified Practitioner and creates a longer term plan with clear actions to incrementally and sequentially address each leak in manageable ways in order of priority.  In reflecting on the relationship, Dave comments: “It gives me great satisfaction to find that we are consistently on the first page of Google for our key search terms. The work over the past 5 years has created the awareness and momentum that generates the level of enquiries we get today.”

© Watertight Marketing Ltd | This marketing case study was prepared by Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner – Ben Wheeler.

Ascentor was acquired by EMB Group in 2017. 

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