Touch me, feel me…

Merlin Entertainment discount tickets

I was on holiday on the other side of the world and having a drink in a local bar. The waiter asked where we came from and it’s always easier to say ‘Windsor’ – we’re close to it and most people know who the Queen is and where she lives. I was surprised to hear our young Sri Lankan waiter say that he had visited Windsor the year before when staying in a tiny Berkshire village.

But then something really amazing happened. He opened his wallet and showed me the tickets he kept to remind him of his trip.

I was overwhelmed, as one of the tickets was one that we had designed for Merlin Entertainments – a minimum charge job, designed in our office in Windsor, sent to the US for a huge print run and presented back to me in a bar in Sri Lanka. It was a ticket that was for whether you wanted to see a fish, a waxwork or some famous building blocks; kept as a souvenir of a fabulous day at Madame Tussuads.

He was keeping one of the smallest design jobs we did as something to show people what he did on his holiday. An e-ticket wouldn’t have evoked the same emotional attachment.

Digital marketing has revolutionised how frequently, accurately and cost-effectively marketers are able to communicate with prospects, customers, stakeholders and suppliers. No one can argue with the range of options it has opened up – how easy it is to test creative, how quickly you can turn on or off any offer. Our clients love it and we really love the dynamism of creating digital campaigns.

But does it provide the longevity in emotional connection your print can?

So in a week when we’re printing over 1 million vouchers for a client, and recent reports indicate that the popularity of ebooks is stagnant as people want to hold real books, let’s hear it for the print!

Calling all marketers: CSR needs you!

Corporate Social Responsibility - we can do it

The reason it was heated was because of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and the role marketing talent has to play.

I was arguing CSR was an excellent way to align and engage employees, with many subsequent benefits. Benefits like productivity, lower staff turnover and even talent acquisition.

This wasn’t what got so heated. What got heated was the reference to using internal marketing to support CSR – to use tried and tested skills in marketing to help align internal stakeholders to the desire for truly effective CSR.

Made complete sense to me. Not so much to my long time friend. So in marketing’s defence, I went digging.

A HA! A paper from 2010 on the use of “internal marketing” to engage employees in CSR, from the Doughty Centre at Cranfield University, supports my argument.

“Training managers in internal marketing tools is a good investment”.

It goes on to say that involving all stakeholders in CSR policy development, or the creation of external value, can only be good.

Then it hit me. My peer and friend was still operating in the old paradigm of marketing, and how external value is created (something the Doughty Centre paper went on to warn me about).

The confusion: Internal marketing isn’t stepping on the toes of good HR practices, or org design, or even good internal comms. Internal marketing makes use of research, design, analysis, feedback and insight. Marketing is no longer about directing the flow of goods, it’s about connecting stakeholders, supporting relationships and developing value, both internally and externally. And I’m pleased to say CSR can only be the winner in this new paradigm.

So I want to say, that although marketing is now integral to most organisations, I think we still have a branding job to do for marketing (and I’m not talking about a logo). It’s not just about mutual respect, it’s about truly understanding how we’ve all changed. We’ve all evolved professionally in our different disciplines, and now we have to continue that journey for the likes of CSR, new markets and most of all, our colleagues.

Designing the most effective solution cannot be done in isolation.

* Thanks to David Grayson of Cranfield University and M. Isabel Sanchez-Hernandez of the University of Etremadura in Spain, for your paper in 2010, for the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

Why B2B is good design.

Grapes exhibition stand design 2015

Hats off to our friends at Grapes Design, along with Studio William and Rough Stuff, for the design innovation they showed this year.

I found it interesting that most of the exhibitors approached their stand design as though they were targeting consumers. Sure the attendees of the show have consumers as their customers and, yes, it is important to see how a product or service will improve the customer experience. But, as a business buyer, there is much more to the decision making process.

So often a supplier will take a space at a show, organise a stand, leaflets and some giveaways and think success will come. And, if you’re at the Ideal Home Show, that might just be enough – a sample in a consumer’s hand and a voucher might just tip them over to buy your product.

But B2B shows need a different approach. Your stand needs to be designed to convey business benefits quickly and clearly. Your staff need to qualify prospects, their influence in the decision to purchase, what drives them and what alternatives they are looking at.

But what I mainly experienced was people thrusting freebies in my hand and telling me I should try their products without any of that vital qualification. As soon as I explained I too was a supplier to the sector, they all walked away, without exploring what I know and just who I might be connected to.

For me, B2B is about networking, collaborating, sharing ideas and innovating. Regardless of whether I’m a budget holding decision maker, or simply a marketer with years of experience, everyone has a role to play. A well thought through stand design, and tools to help your staff have a meaningful conversation with a prospect (from a simple form to slick electronic data capture), will go a long way to helping you leave a show with valuable leads, rather than just with empty giveaway boxes.

Moving straight from lunch to casual dining…

The Restaurant Show 2015

Besides the free crisps, and even a bottled ‘hangover cure’, we were able to meet with a couple of clients and prospects about making their design work for their brands in this increasingly important market.

(I have to say the hangover cure didn’t work. I tried it over the weekend and I can’t say I’d recommend it. Sorry.)

But feedback about the brands we saw at the exhibition from the team was varied:

“Over complicated.”

“A great energy about the sector.”

“White noise was all I heard. There is a huge opportunity for a different brand to cut-through the dull sandwich that is ‘lunch’.“

So is ‘lunch’ a simple concept that has become an overcomplicated and saturated market? Or is brand differentiation lost in generic design?

I have a feeling it’s the latter.

So now’s the time for some brave new concepts in the food-to-go market and next week we’ll be at The Restaurant Show at London Olympia, seeing what the mood is like across casual dining sector.

We’ll be meeting our long-time friends Grapes Design – who specialize in interior design – and we’ll be meeting a few good friends to discuss how we can make brands work across marketing planning, menus, POS, and even helping them pitch their concepts to Landlords for that elusive optimal space.

But mostly we’ll be watching to see if we can’t find that concept that we believe can really make a difference to the casual dining sector, at any time of day.

We love working with the brave, so let me know if you’re around for a coffee…..or any other casual dining or food-to-go concept indulgence you’d like.

Dunk Design white crest

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