Thursday, April 17, 2014

Triumph over adversity

Up until 1913 no American born amateur player had ever won the US Open Golf tournament.

The first man to do so was Francis Quimet.

Not a name many people know, but his is an amazing story of triumph over adversity.

Firstly, he was relatively unknown and had turned down the chance to play due to work demands. He was convinced to take part but had to have a 'sponsor' as he was not a member of a club.

He was both convinced to play and sponsored by a much older friend who had seen him play as a caddy. This was a 'bet; that was to pay dividends.

After 72 holes of play Ouimet finished in a three-way tie with the two most famous golfers of the time Harry Vardon, and Ted Ray.

An 18-hole playoff the next day in rainy conditions, was eventually won by Ouimet. His victory was widely hailed as a stunning upset over the strongly-favored British, who were regarded as the top two golfers in the world. He was the first amateur to win the U.S. Open, and the biggest crowds ever seen in American golf followed the playoff. His achievement was front-page news across the country.

Ouimet was perhaps the most significant figure in American golf and is hailed as the person who brought golf to the masses in the US.

In addition to this, Ouimet had to use a caddy who was at the time 10 years old. Eddie Lowery was said to be influential in Ouimet's victory giving him advice when needed and shutting up when not.

Both men went on to have significant careers. Ouimet was the first non British person to be Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews,and Lowery became a mulit-millionaire car dealer.

If you'd like to know more about this historic true life story,  a very good book is available written by Mark Frost "The Greatest Game Ever Played" is a great read and also a good film.

What has this go to do with design I hear you ask?

Well, its more to do with business as opposed to pure design. After six years of the most biting recession since 1926 it looks like we are finally seeing growth and optimism again. For those of us still around and still able to provide clients with a good creative service these green shoots bring a ray of sunshine to an otherwise very gloomy half decade. I want to thank our loyal customers for sticking with us and I look forward to helping them and many others in the years to come.

We may not become millionaires like Lowery or champions like Ouimet, but we are all lucky enough to have a chance to make our lives exciting and fun again - hopefully both in and out of the workplace.

If you'd like to chat or fancy a game of golf where we can discuss your next project, why not call me on 01332 291141 for an invite?

Apple vs Microsoft

This funky image is not a retouched photo.

I know,I know, it looks like it. But I can assure you it is a genuine apple onto which has been laser etched the word 'mircorsoft'.

I was recently at a golf event in Munich and this device was on show. It allows clients to 'brand' fruit and other organic products. A laser can etch your name/logo/type onto just about any organic surface.

I am not sure how I feel about eating fruit that appear to be  'tampered with' however, the device was creating quite a stir at the event and giving away customised fruit seemed to be gaining quite a crowd!

Brightens up the office

We were asked to design a poster for one of our favorite clients, Intasave -Caribsave.

As a charity, Intasave-Caribsave has a remit not only to save money, but also to invest in helping communities around the world.

The poster is designed to help both staff and clients to understand that core values of the group as well as illustrate some of the activities that the team work with around the world.

There is a little too much information on this in our view, but we understand that these will used only in locations where there is a waiting time.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Millions in Minutes

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There are several key indicators to solving the problem of social media. Or rather the success of failure of such...

Firstly, are people talking about you?

This may sound like a silly question but it's what social media (SM) is all all about. If people are not talking about you then no matter how successful you think your SM program is, it's not working as well a it could be. It is social after all in a manner of speaking, although it's totally the opposite of social when you really think abut it.

How much value does SM offer your company?

If you believe that all PR is good PR then SM may be for you. What you say today or how you react to something could spread virally. This is both good and bad. The way you handle a response to the way you promote a service can all be shared by millions within minutes. Do the right thing well and it can reap rewards, do it badly and you'll is soon hear about it!

So, before venturing into SM it's worth considering just how valuable it will be to your organisation.

Does your target market use it, if so how and what tools?

Do you have anything interesting to say (that is to say, do you have any real news, not just repeating something that has already been said)

How interesting is your message, is it worthy of activity, does it make a difference to your audience?

If you are one of those companies that simply does announcement marketing then SM may work in certain circles. However if you want to distinguish your business in a real tangible way then you need to think about your message and it's meaning. In simple terms " what's in it for me". As a reader I want something of value and something worth reading or seeing. Not just a message announcing a new product yet again...

The days of simply announcing a new something are over (unless you are a market leader with a known brand or anticipated new widget). However,  if you do have to promote something new then if you aim to use social media you need to do so in a creative way.

The worst kind of sm message is this:

"Announcing our new service"  - Booooooring!

Why should anyone care? You need to tease out the key benefits of what's in it for your prospect  - so if your new service is about a new software application for example, then don't talk about what you do, talk about what you do for your prospect.

The biggest fault of social social media when it comes to business is assuming that all social media is good and will bring benefit in some way. In fact a manufactured SM process is often weaker and actually irritates. True SM is a shared interest in a given subject which is organically developed and shared, with participants adding value and comment as the seed grows.

An aspect of SM is the difference between advertising and is true virally shared information. For example an advert on Facebook is NOT social media.  It's just an advert like any other, albeit  the media is the vehicle. This is not SM, it's advertising.

Likewise, any adverts you see on any other sites, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. These are advert is not true SM. These can of course become become a shared SM experience if enough people share it or link to it, but this requires a huge viral push and genuine individual interest.

In essence SM should be seen as a way to get people talking about you, in some way and sharing that experience.

So, that begs the question: how do we get the best from SM? Well, clearly that all depends on what you consider to be successful. Is it sales, awareness, profit, turnover. Or is it number of hits on a web site? Define the goal first and then a route to results will be easier to implement.

Typical examples of how to use SM tools to enhance your message.

Make a video. It's really easy. For example, Pharrell Williams has a song called Happy - there has been a trend in miming to this and dancing along to the track. This would be so easy to do and would get people talking about you "our" people are happy, happy to help etc etc. it could be done so easily and shared via the usual channels. Benefits - none other than awareness and talk...but this leads to much more.

Be maverick. Don't follow 'corporate' - People will share a quirky movie, image or message but generally will not look twice at a standard announcement message. Just take a look at LinkedIn and you'll see examples at both ends of this spectrum.

Create news, be funny and have an opinion, even if it's controversial...

The golden rule is this : Do something that people will talk about and don't make the mistake of just trying to sell something - this just won't work - you need to think more about creating a feelgood environment for your brand. This will resonate more with your audience and has a much greater chance of going viral.

Of course we can help you to achieve much of this, be it a video like the one above or be it another campaign, we can help - call us on 01332 291141 to find out how.