Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Get the Look

We started playing around with CafePress today, and have come up with a range of branded items... check them out here: CLICK

The great thing about the service is that each item is produced to order, so there's no need to buy bulk - but there's also an option to bulk buy if you wish.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Too many Chefs...

Problems arise when too many people are involved in any decision making process. Design follows the same rules as catering, to many chefs spoil the broth.

Invariably when a SME commissions new creative work, a logo, a website or marketing campaign, it generates a lot of interest internally and everyone wants to have their say on the creative direction you should be taking. Initially all the excitement of getting everyone in the company involved can be quite intoxicating, and can be very positive for morale. But eventually it will be necessary to limit the amount of people involved in the decision making process. It fact it is essential.

The larger the group you have involved in commissioning creative work, the more opinions you'll canvas and the more compromises will be made in order to satisfy everyone at the tables agenda. The biggest casualty of this compromise, will be your company and your customers.

Unlike Politics which relies on reaching a consensus and making compromises to move things forward, when it comes to marketing communications, compromises will stifle the creative result.

Think of Goldilocks and the 3 bears. Each bear liked it's porridge slightly different. If you are presented with a bowl of porridge that is "just right" for you, would you mix it with the salty bowl or the sweet bowl just because your colleagues happen to have brought them to the table? You most likely wouldn't. Yet with creative work, when committees try to pander to everyone's needs, perfectly tasty ideas end up as unappetising stodge, simply because there are too many competing ingredients.

Does this sound familiar?
Typically, larger companies appoint a marketing director charged solely with the job of managing their marketing requirements. In smaller companies, this isn't always practical, but a mistake that is often made is to charge someone junior within the organisation to commission and important piece of corporate communications. While this act is well intentioned – giving someone junior some responsibility – the inexperienced junior is more likely to see this as an opportunity for themselves and their career prospects, neglecting the bigger picture which is "what's in the company's best interests."

Other times, teams are appointed from different areas of the business, sometimes with no direct experience of purchasing creative services. Quickly disputes arise as each individual asserts their agenda or point of view first above that of the company. To resolve this dispute, they then start to compromise and the eventual product is substandard, engendering a sense of mistrust in your appointed creative partner, even though they have ticked every box in the brief.

5 tips for Director of an SME:
1) If price is your biggest concern, and you know someone who can "do it cheaper", then you should grab that bargain. But if it's 'professional' creative solutions, service and support that you are after and you acknowledge that you don't have the skill set in-house - then you recognise that you need to purchase that skill set from an experienced professional.

2) Appoint someone senior in your business to oversee purchasing of creative services and make sure they report to you. This individual should be have responsibility for making decisions, preferably have some experience - a knowledge or interest in marketing communications would be a bonus.

3) Shop around, select an Agency on their portfolio of work and where possible meet the creative agency you appoint.

4) Don't be afraid to ask your appointed creative agency to help you write the brief. Working together will help build trust and understanding.

5) Finally, when presenting creative solutions to your staff, explain that these are changes that the management have decided to make. Your decisions might not be to everyone's taste. This is normal. Staff can be reluctant to embrace new ideas. Remember it is your business and you run the show.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Ferguson Hill Website Update

The object of this task was to turn a renowned speaker designer's website from being a showroom to a storefront. In other words, to drive online sales through effective design and fine-tuned Search Engine Optimisation. This makeover includes Buy Now buttons that take potential purchasers straight through to the store from the front or product pages.

Client Ferguson Hill have observed an increase in their on-lines sales via their website. The site was initiallydesigned  as brochure site, and had e-commerce added to it. With more and more consumers choosing to make their purchases direct from Ferguson Hill, we worked together to identify 'logic' improvements to the site, to make buying direct even easier.

Other issues that came to light during the research was that a minority of visitors did not know what Ferguson Hill did (speakers), while other customers had not quite understood what they were buying. In one instance, a customer had thought the were buying Ferguson Hill's top of the range speaker system, the FHOO1 – which retails at £16,000 – for £395.00. Having mistook the mini system for the more expensive high end System this customer was quite naturally upset when they took delivery of 430mm high mini speakers, when they had been expecting the rather grander 1650mm ones. While, the mistake may have been the customers - possibly buying on impulse,  Ferguson Hill  were keen not to repeat the experience again. As a result all their products are now clearly labeled on the site.

If you'd like to see the before and afters of this exercise, click here.