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.

Get the retail doors open – our top 3 tips for landlord packs.

Map of London and a pin

Research out this week from LDC (Local Data Company) is showing us that vacancy rates are falling by -2.3%.

There was also a surge of bad news stories, where the same numbers were showing long-term vacancies rising by 24% and the accompanying launch of KPMGs regeneration project creating headlines with pictures of un-loved retail space.

So it’s a complex issue and we’re finding it’s not ALL boarded up shop-fronts for some of the brands we work with. Our hospitality and casual dining clients are facing increasingly competitive pressures in finding the right locations.

Only the other day I heard of over 16 companies bidding for a relatively small space on a local High Street, where over half were national chains. This was a space of approximately 800 Sq Ft and not where I would immediately think the retail and leisure economy was booming.

Yet over 16 brands were bidding and 15 were going to fail!

So it got me thinking. How many brands undertake a pitch for space every week? Statistically speaking, if I simply look at my anecdotal evidence, the answer they will get is more often “no”. So how do brands make sure their efforts to secure the right location actually work? Many work with agents, however the work has to start with the brand itself.

Here at Dunk Design, we’ve done our fair share of Landlord Packs over the years and have recently been supporting both a skin care brand and a Scandinavian bakery looking to secure space in London. This work is where we present the brand concept, including appeal, target, interiors, visual merchandising and marketing.

It’s can be an intensive process. We have to present the brand concept in a way that allows the Landlord to see how it will work in the overall mix they want to achieve for their location.

The packs can be over 30 pages long, including technical drawings, or one-pagers telling the compelling brand story. These are all aimed at differentiating the brand in what is invariably a highly competitive market. Granted we do a lot of work in airport concessions and shopping centres, where the F&B sector is most competitive, however the process is one where a clear brand concept is a must to get the landlord’s attention, gain their approval and ultimately throw open the doors.

So Our Top 3 Tips for Landlord-Packs;

  1. Refine your brand concept – be able to clearly bring your concept to life and take them on the journey. Being able to visually demonstrate how it will look and feel is crucial. And work with your suppliers! You’ll need good design, visual merchandising and don’t forget your own people. Everything from rendered images for interiors, to menu development is a crucial investment for the brand concept story.
  2. Know your Landlord’s goals – ask for background on what the Landlord wants the space to be. Understand the current retail traffic, the strategic mix of retail the landlord may be pursuing and your competition – your agent can help with this. All this will give you an understanding of how you can best connect your brand to what the Landlord’s goals are.
  3. Have clear marketing to reach your new customer base – and don’t forget to clearly communicate how you’re going to increase the right kind of retail traffic. You want customers, as does your prospective Landlord of retail space. Don’t forget to tell the story of how you will play your part.

BONUS TIP – all this takes time! Don’t underestimate what’s required to get it right.

Internal comms – transformational heroes!

Business men dressed as superheroes

But why and what role is marketing communications playing?

As the roles in what “was” traditional human resources evolve further, we see the parallel evolution of what I’m calling “internal comms”. These are the marketing practitioners who focus their skills on employee engagement, talent acquisition, change management, brand development, and the list goes on.

These are the champions who work with corporate communications specialists, who focus on investor relations and CSR; as well as external facing brand and marketing specialists, who focus on connecting with customers and markets for commercial success; and with HR colleagues, who are driving employee engagement across the entire employee & employer relationship.

Phew! A lot to ask.

So how exactly is internal comms evolving?

Peter Cheese, Chairman of the CIPD, gave us some context at a London HR Connections event back in January of this year.

He said we were at an inflection point in business thinking, and it’s the most exciting time for HR. He also said we need a bonfire of HR policies and to look at employee engagement differently.

He was talking about the changes in how we work, where we work and the scope of our roles. So with more virtual working, networked business models and even brand partnerships, the landscape for the internal communications role is facing a revolution.

But marketing disciplines are changing too and this is where our internal comms heroes can steal the lead in this revolution.

The age of the company intranet is over. Sharepoint, Yammer, GoogleDocs, and even our favourite emojis on IM are all changing the way we align and engage with our colleagues and the employer / employee relationship.

Internal comms practitioners are at the heart of this revolution and are able to engage with performance data, behavioural economics and organisational design.

These are the individuals who are networked into the data scientists supporting corporate communications analyst-packs; as well as the marketing and design agencies that are delivering cut-through campaigns for customers; and the IT infrastructure teams that are helping HR connect with every single employee.

Theirs is the little black book worth having; and you can bet your bottom dollar that, for them, it’s no longer about newsletters and the company intranet. Now it’s all about well designed messaging that supports a fully integrated campaign across multiple platforms and metrics.

Take a second look at your internal comms people, they’re an asset worth knowing for the future.

Millennial cynicism, or not?

O Refreshing Stuff – campaign poster by Oasis

I first saw it when caught in traffic. I noticed the poster on a bus shelter and it made me smile – the directness just appealed to me.

Then, during a client meeting, the simplicity of the Oasis drinks campaign came up and we all agreed that it was an interesting creative direction to take, but we couldn’t decide who it was aimed at.

And, this morning, a connection liked a photo of the campaign on LinkedIn.

Having now found out a bit more about it, it was apparently designed to target teenagers. None of the people talking about it, including myself, are teenagers or Millennials.

I’ve been assured this is the perfect mix of cynicism and pragmatism for the millennial generation, but is the message just too mature?

“You’re thirsty. We’ve got sales targets.”

The campaign created by The Corner agency is a brilliant eye catching piece of honesty, but does it say to Millennials that Oasis can be trusted or is it just appealing to their pragmatic attitude?

The Brookings Institution, one of America’s oldest and wisest Think Tanks, says that Millennials are the least trusting generation on record. Yes, they love their social impact motivations but they also believe that people can’t be trusted. They say this combination of social impact and mistrust shows itself in a truly pragmatic approach to life. I get that.

So how does the new Oasis campaign reach that generation?

I decided to call three Millennials that I know, including a teenager (although, I had to IM one of them because he’s too busy being an entrepreneur at the age of 22).

The responses were as follows:

“Sorry, I don’t get that.”

“Sounds to me like someone couldn’t be bothered or just doesn’t care.”

“Umm, I’m not sure I know what that means.”

Although the message was pragmatic, is the message just too mature? Can cynicism be used as currency, or is the Oasis message cynicism for another generation?

We loved it! We’ve even bought some Oasis drinks because we thought it was so clever. But is that the result Oasis was looking for?

Dunk Design white crest

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