Are your social feeds more than just pretty pictures?

social media testing

But Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and to a lesser degree Facebook and Twitter are all guilty of making us feel inadequate.  Our garden isn’t dressed like a Moroccan souk, we can’t dance like Diversity and we haven’t managed to whip up a gourmet platter from a packet of rice and a tin of peaches.

Whilst the feeds that do all these things look amazing, what actual commercial value is there in them? They might make us feel inadequate but there is a real chance these feeds are themselves commercially inadequate.

Best use of marketing budget?

In our view, any digital activity – in fact any tactical marketing activity – ultimately HAS to lead to an increase in revenue. Likes, follows, engagement, opens, click throughs and mentions are all nice to have but, without commercial purpose, your FD will soon be wondering why money is being spent on digital and not elsewhere.

Test, test, test, repeat

Test, track, learn, adapt – it’s what we always encourage our clients to do. Test creative, test placement, test CTAs, test messaging, test offers. Track the results, dump what’s not working and do more of what is – even if what is working isn’t the sexiest creative.

It’s now fully possible to test the adage that ‘sex sells’ – and, for your brand, it might. But don’t shy away from what might appear to be run of the mill creative. If it appeals to your audience and converts to a sale, stand by it and be proud of it.

And whilst we are 100% behind brand awareness campaigns, we do encourage you to ensure your tactical marketing is set up to be measurable so as you can prove to that FD why you have made the choices you have, and what benefit they are showing to your business.

Are you testing enough?

How to work from home

How to work from home

How do you find working remotely? It’s a way of life for many people but – especially at the moment – for some it’s totally new and can take a bit of adjusting to.

I thought it was timely to share these tips from an internal comms piece we created for a client, developed to encourage lateral thinking about where a desk needed to be – and to help improve work/life balance.

1. Look after yourself

Most important of all – remember the life part of the work / life balance. Make a concerted effort to get some fresh air and daylight, even if that’s something you don’t manage when you’re in the office. Be kind to yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you take a break to do personal stuff – it’s good for your mental health and overall well-being to have time out during the working day.

2. Schedule a call

Make the most of your scheduling software (Outlook etc) and book calls with your colleagues. Naturally there will be plenty of ad hoc contact, but scheduling an ‘appointment’ focuses conversation and ensures you have regular human contact during the workday, not just e-contact.

3. Explore the wonders of the intranet

Whatever your internal comms platform is, hop onto it every now and again to keep up to date with general company news – you never know what nuggets you might find. Maybe take the chance to skill up – those online courses you’ve been putting off are easier to concentrate on when you’re in a quieter environment.

4. Set up a proper workspace

Set up a tidy, comfortable area to work from – it will help you focus and keep the work part of the day defined, to stop it eating into your personal time. And that area can change through the day – perhaps try a coffee shop, hotel or your local library.

5. Keeping in touch

Find out how your manager prefers to hear from you and let them know how you’re doing from both a business and personal perspective. If working from home is proving a challenge, ask for their advice about how to make it work for you.

Children interrupt BBC News interview

6. Set boundaries

Partners, friends, pets and kids can be excited to have you around – wonderfully demonstrated here . Whilst they can be lovely distractions, do try and let them know when you need to focus on work. On the plus side, you can be distracted by them as soon as your working day is over, as you won’t have that pesky commuting time!

7. Be social

Calls to colleagues don’t need to be 100% focused on work. Check in and see how they are finding the remote working situation, and swap tips if you’ve found the perfect way to work from home. And, if practical, you could arrange to meet for an hour or two locally to give yourselves a chance to catch up from a different space.

Good luck! My own personal tips – 15 mins a day on household tasks (like washing) gives you more free time to enjoy at the weekend. And get dressed – tempting as it is to work in your pyjamas!

What working from home tips would you like to share?

Why is consistent address information crucial to SEO?

aerial photo of city with map pins

When it comes to putting together an overview of your business, it’s not unusual to agonise over the smallest of details, writing and rewriting copy.  But one thing that is seemingly simple to sort can have a big impact on how you are viewed online – your address.

It’s common knowledge that regular updates to your website, blog and social media feeds help improve your Google visibility, but your address is one place where Google loves a constant.

And you may well think you’re being constant but, if you think about all the places online your address is listed, are you? Are you Limited or Ltd, or both?  Are you in Berks, Berkshire or both? Is your phone number +44 (0)1753 854995 or 01753 854995 or 0175 385 4995.  All of these will still help potential customers find you but, crucially, Google almost penalises you for these differences.

The first place to start is to review your Google My Business entry and make sure it’s correct for each location you trade from. Here’s a handy Google guide.

Once that’s watertight …
  • Check your email signatures and website to ensure they are in the same format
  • Google your business and check how you are listed in any business listings, directories, review sites – remember that your details might not have been entered by someone from your business
  • Ensure all employees know the new rules!

When you think of everything you invest in to build your business, spending time ensuring the above is correct seems like a no brainer. Can you afford not to do it?

Digital Housekeeping is just one of the many design and marketing services we offer our clients.  Get in touch to find out how we can help you increase your online visibility and get more commercial return from your digital investment.

Gloves on – it’s time for a brand health check.

Gloves on – it's time for a brand health check

But when did you last ring your contact centre and pose as a customer? Or apply for a job and see how your business presents itself? When did you last review your billing interaction with customers or payment interaction with suppliers? What does your car park look like? What state are your customer washrooms in?

Working on the basis that anyone at all can be a prospective customer or advocate, your brand deserves all of these channels to get a decent degree of attention from your marketing team.

Some recent examples that give me shivers:

  • on LinkedIn, an industry influencer posted a photo of a customer toilet in need of attention and asked, ‘does the state of the customer facilities influence your thoughts about the care taken in the kitchen?’ The overwhelming response was ‘YES!’
  • BT taking a month (with countless phone calls, engineer visits and general disruption) to confirm if we can have fibre broadband in our office – we can’t but they billed us for it anyway
  • Walking into a casual dining restaurant in Windsor at 2pm and being refused a table – ‘they’re all reserved’ – even though 75% of the tables were empty

When it goes well, it’s a thing of joy. A contact is currently going through the interview process with M&S – what an organised and encouraging potential employer! At every stage of the process, there has been a thorough briefing of what to expect, with full feedback post-interview. They might be struggling on the high street, but are something to aspire to in terms of living brand values throughout the business.

It’s not always easy to pose as a customer or supplier, but it’s worth considering all human touch points when conducting a brand, comms, marketing and messaging audit. It’s not about starting a witch hunt; it’s about getting the most from the significant investment in your brand.

And if you need help with those audits, feel free to get in touch.

Sunny Spells? It must be Christmas.

Father Christmas on a beach sitting in a deckchair

At last the sun is out and it’s time for salads and ice cream – but that’s not all it’s about for those working in leisure and hospitality marketing, procurement and HR. Now is the time to think turkey and Christmas pudding.

Planning early for calendar events not only helps you think about resourcing early – it gives time to test offers, recipes and designs, get training plans in place and ensure promotions offer a good ROI. Getting prepared early in the year helps you buy materials and ingredients at the best rates, so as you get maximum return on your outlay.

But what’s the one thing that will help you stand out from the crowd? That will make customers choose you to spend their money in, and keep them coming back in the New Year? The secret lies in – well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret …

Whether you’re an owner manager with a single site, or work with a nationwide brand; whether you have an in-house design team, or use a top tier agency for your design and marketing, our experience working on extensive, creative, profitable projects can only be of benefit.

We might even share that secret with you!

Licensed to print.

close up of printed eye

But print marketing?

Would you be surprised to hear it can be all those things and more? Because, in the right hands, it is. That’s why companies continue to invest in quality print to represent their brand.

The Sticks’n’Sushi menu is mesmerising – 20 glorious technicolour pages of dishes. As an aside, tasted as great as it looked in the menu – go and try it!

Audi look to be spending a fortune on their brochures with a range of finishes employed – even though consumers are likely to research prices and specs online and make their buying decision based on a test drive. Audi get a mention here as we’ve got a brochure in the office – but it’s the case for all car manufacturers. High value products clearly warrant a high spend on print finishing.

Charities rely heavily on direct mail to keep donations coming in.

Even our stationery supplier, who are essentially an online business, produce and mail us a promotional catalogue at least monthly.

So why do businesses still invest in print? Printed materials can be a physical representation of your business – a tangible reminder of who you are and what you do.

Design agencies like ours take the time to understand what that is, or what you want your customers to think it is, and advise not only on the design, but on the size and finish of the printed items. We work with a panel of printers to ensure we can offer the perfect solution – from a one-off, highly personalised piece, to a run of millions of leaflets, and everything in between.

Well-executed design and well-executed print will help you stand out from your competition; ensuring customers remember you and what you do. And isn’t that what marketing is all about?

Brexit & burgers!? The next battle ground for casual dining.

Burger and chips

Firstly, the good news.

Staycations are going to rise. 45% of those surveyed would be taking more holidays here in the UK and inbound leisure tourism is set to rise due to the weaker pound. Fantastic I hear all my lovely clients, partners and friends in the casual dining sector, cry.

The bad news.

39% of those surveyed will cut eating out, with 34% cutting ‘going out’ all together. Not so many happy returns and exaltations about that news this festive season.

The result.

More competition. None of us needed the nice people at PwC to tell us that. But what they have given us is insight on connecting with those who will be ‘going out’ and ‘eating out’, so we can adapt.

Standing out from the crowd is nothing new but we can all leverage the likes of CRM, our service standards and good promotional design better. We need to design our promotional strategies, plan our offers and execute fulfillment better; all in order to compete for those looking for relief from the Brexit chaos while welcoming those looking for that British experience.

Direct-to-consumer model – shall I print that for you?

Farmdrop direct mail

The Ecommerce Foundation predicted in April of this year that the UK’s turnover in DTC models would grow by over 10%. That growth is slowing from over 14% in 2012, but still.

These Direct-to-Consumer business models aren’t just disruptive, they are the new economy, but it’s not just about digital is it?

In a simple A5 door drop, the friendly people from were able to educate me on many things, and tweak my interest. It included an explanation of their direct model, aptly called Click-to-Harvest; as well as ‘Milkonomics’, appealing to the ethical consumer in me; supermarket pricing differences, appealing to my wallet; their environmental foot-print, including the hours my food traditionally spends on the road clogging up the highways and my lungs; and a nice little attribution planning code (discount code to you and me) that could get me £20 off my first order. (All conveyed simply through good graphic design by the way.)

Now I know their business will continue to deliver greater efficiencies through digital operating practices, and I’ll no doubt begin to see banner ads now I’ve visited their website, but I did think it was ironic that this digital disruption journey began in print.

Although I know attribution modeling is the key to understanding all this, as Christmas approaches I will be enjoying my cashmere catalogue, my favourite high-street gym-clothing catalogue, and my not-so-high-street gift Xmas catalogue.

It would seem print is still a key to the customer journey.

Kodak – Don Draper would be proud.

Kodak logo

It turns out that they did some research and 58% of respondents recognised the K. I’d love to know how that breaks down by demographic. I would gamble there might be a lot of generation X & Y in there, and not so many Millennials.

It’s actually going back to the iterations launched in both 1971 and 1987, using the iconic K. It has taken inspiration from founder George Eastman and his scientific and creative vision and given birth to something new, but still familiar.

As it turns out, this all coincides with the launch of their new Ektra smartphone and the real differentiator is the camera. Genius.

For all of us who know, remember and love Kodak, that’s what we remember it for. Not necessarily cameras, but great photography, quality memories and tangible sharing of experiences.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, checkout the Mad Men scene where Don Draper introduces us to the Kodak Carousel.

So a big thumbs up from us, for using great design already burned into our memories, and making it relevant for a new generation as part of their day-to-day lives. Ektra Smartphone, or the Carousel, Kodak is in the business of making us feel emotion.

Animation for apprenticeships.

Aeroplane and sky animation with clouds

We recently created a video for our client, Cobham, looking to attract millennials for their apprenticeship and graduate schemes. They wanted to show potential candidates they can make a difference and be inspired, all while they achieve great things for their own careers.

The message was clear and all talent acquisition strategy boxes were ticked; be clear about how your brand is making a difference; what are your brand behaviours; and what expectations and rewards are likely.

But this was a traditional engineering brand looking to attract an enthusiastic new generation.

Dunks Brain turned things upside down and took advantage of ‘moving images’ as Heike Young, Global Content Lead at recommends. Millennials like moving images.

Young explains that moving pictures, animations and video-centric social strategies are what we will see much more of as this generation becomes the workforce of the future. And we decided this was the perfect way to tell the Cobham story.

We’re all delighted with the outcome, client included, and now we continue to watch as Cobham works to reach a whole new motivated and enthusiastic audience – to help grow into a future of enthusiasm for engineering.

Engagement – the silver bullet metric?

Pink thumb like icon on blackboard

I’m evaluating success for 3 different clients. I’m not looking at the obvious commercial results, which are of course an ultimate goal, rather looking at how to understand and measure the success of design engagement.

Understanding your definition of “engagement” could be a silver-bullet metric, especially for those frustrating campaign update meetings with your boss.

Platforms, printed media, digital media, groups, influencers – it’s a minefield. Design and content has to work everywhere. Publisher Dao Nguyen of BuzzFeed thinks about publishing in the age of “distributed content”. (I like this, even though he’s about as far as I could get from B2B.)

Close to 75% of the company’s content is never viewed on their site and therefore difficult to measure. Rather it’s crafted for sharing on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. He agrees there’s no single silver-bullet measure and I think my B2B colleagues could learn a lesson.

We’re used to complex sales cycles, including everything from event attendance, posters, flyers, referrals, email campaigns, blogs and face-to-face meetings. Business development is not a linear process, that’s for sure. So maybe engagement is a view across all this good work?

Regardless, as I look at the results of campaign design I can see that in the end, what “engagement” looks like, can be very different. But each design project starts in exactly the same way. And that is, what does “engagement” mean for you?

Big Bang Data – making digital space useful.

Data stream on computer screen

Whether you embrace data or fear Big Brother, it was fascinating. It showcased the alarming access to ‘semi-private’ data right through to how inspiring the digital age is. We saw the power and importance of archiving, along with how data visualisation is an art form in itself, as well as how it can inform key decisions.

But overall, it has never been more important to know your audience when it comes to design.

The exhibit states that 90% of the world’s data was created in the past 2 years. That’s on a global scale, but every business with a website, social media presence, MES data or just an app, is also exponentially increasing the data they collect. How you use it effectively to drive marketing and design is the next big challenge.

All agencies creating customer and employee touch points for your business can benefit from the data you’re collecting, and do a better job for you when you share it with them (subject to your privacy policy and data protection laws, of course). And that’s from a simple print voucher right through to a complex eCommerce site, data can help to drive and inspire creativity.

So explore Google Analytics, combine it with your market research and try your own hand at data visualisation with Tableau and the like. And please share the outputs with your trusted agency partners – you’ll be astounded at how much more effective it will make your marketing spend.

Dunk Design white crest

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