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Sales & Growth


We beat a failing market by talking our customers’ language

Rick Smith, MD of Forbes Burton, changed the company's language to fit customers
Rick Smith tries to avoid complex terms that could alienate customers

Name: Forbes Burton
Location: Grimsby
Employees: 10
Founded in: 2014
Tip: “Don’t spend so long in the business that you haven’t got time to work on the business.”

The problem

Insolvency and debt specialist Forbes Burton entered the market just as it was undergoing major changes. Its competitors were relying on traditional networks as their sole way of generating new business, but work was drying up for them. Many were being forced to close.

Forbes Burton knew that the word “insolvency” intimidated customers and the no-repeat business model made customer loyalty a problem. It was clear that a new way of attracting customers was needed. 

“It’s not good if another business fails. Once you’ve gone through insolvency, you don’t want to be coming back to us – and we don’t want to see people coming back either,” said managing director Rick Smith.

The solution

Rick and his team started by looking at the language they used. The complex language around insolvency could make people feel alienated and confused, so they wanted to bring a more everyday approach to their communications.

The team paid attention to how their customers spoke to Forbes Burton and the language that was used to discuss their problems. Then, they applied this to all their communications, which helped to show that they understood what insolvency means to people.

To help break down insolvency and make the subject accessible, the firm built up articles and case studies on their website too. It meant that by the time a customer talked to the company directly, the customer could be confident that they were already well informed. 

The results

Using friendlier language in marketing and communications has been an important route to onward referrals and customer loyalty. While many other insolvency firms have failed, Forbes Burton is growing 30 per cent year-on-year and the team has hired three new members of staff this year. 

“We have to make sure our customers are happy and that any concerns have been addressed,” said Rick. “This means that when they’re down the pub talking to friends who are in a similar position, they will say ‘talk to Forbes Burton because they looked after us’.”

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