Category Archives: Client questions answered

Arguing the toss

I want the logo bigger and in the middle!

There’s too much white space, let’s fill it with pictures!

I want to add more information in!

Can we have some flashy, moving stuff?

Been here before? I have. It’s easy to get pent-up when you’re dealing with a client who either thinks they know what’s best or won’t budge on something you believe to be a risk to the project but, the key is to remain calm, objective.

Define the requirement, assess the associated risk and implications then recommend a strategy that ticks as many boxes as possible thus keeping the client happy and not putting the expertise of the project in jeopardy:

  • Define the risk. Saying it will ‘mess the while design up’ or ‘effect the website usability performance’ is not defining the requirement. Clearly specify to your client, in their language (i.e. not technical jargon in the hope it will wash over) exactly what you mean. Why will the design be messy, can you mock something up to demonstrate your concerns? In what way will the website underperform, and why? At what point will the requirements asked for by the client start to interfere?
  • Assess the risk. Keep your cool and make sure you’re not reacting. Do you still think there’s a risk to the project if you implement the changes requested? How serious is it? How certain can you be that these performance problems will actually happen? What will the impact be on the users if they do? Most importantly, what is your rationale? Can you back your argument up with case studies or facts? You’re the expert here, the client has come to you for your opinion but make sure it’s a just and balanced one and solidify your point with back up, this will give the client little room to argue the toss with.
  • Recommend a solution strategy. Is there a mid-way solution? What’s the best way to implement it? And again, how can you back this up? Can you mock a prototype? Demonstrating rather than talking nearly always gets the client on board.
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Some corkers

A colleague sent an interesting article around recently about ‘Funny and Frustrating client types’, it’s quite an interesting read (it’s here if you want to look at the full article).

It got me thinking about some of the clients I’ve worked with over the years and in every meeting it’s true, there’s always one. So I thought it only fair that I flick back through my notes and publish my own top ten ‘questions or comments’ that I’ve noted over the last few months… well, it would be rude not to:

1. So if digital radio catches on will the meaning of clockwise disappear? (this one actually got me thinking but I still think it’s a corker)

2. Google’s changed recently, it’s stopped giving me UK options as a separate! (turned out on looking at the results page he was in .co.uk)

3. We have a lot of USP’s that I think set us apart.

4. I love the idea of going online but it’s too expensive so we’re just going to do TV again.

5. The brief: I want to advertise like Apple. The budget: £8k. The response to the proposal: It’s too creative, can we tone it down please. aaaaargh! (thus proving the argument in the article above that this is a common aspiration for clients)

6. Our target market is everybody, obviously, everybody uses hairspray.

7. Don’t you guys just have a ‘create website’ button or something?

8. What’s that thing you do with Google, the secret word things? (That would be Pay Per Click Mr Client)

9. Anyone that surfs on the internet is just looking at porn so everyone that flicks to our website isn’t going to be concentrating.

10. I want to raise our brand profile but I don’t want to be on the internet because people will find out about us.

aah bless…

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How does your company measure marketing effectiveness?

Whether it’s based entirely on a hard financial measure or softer metrics such as brand awareness or share of voice it’s key that you do have some measure in place to ascertain whether your marketing has been successful , or not.

You don’t necessarily have to go the hold hog and develop a complete ROI model, in some cases if this is the first time you’ve tried to allocate metrics against your activity that might prove a step too far ahead at the moment. However whether you’re looking to track an increase in traffic to your website , an increase in online sales or measure ‘buzz’ online, knowing how your activity performs is key to being able to accurately allocate future spend against media attribution.

An increasing trend with most of the companies I work with sees a larger split of marketing budgets moving towards online but that is not to say that traditional advertising has had its day and the whole future relies on the internet. This trend merely supports the consumer’s way of accessing and absorbing information in today’s world.

It’s true to say that it’s easier to track, optimise and report online activity but there are also accurate assumptions you can make between press circulations / reach and DM mail outs for example.

The bottom line is that reporting on effectiveness shouldn’t be an end consideration to your activity; it should be considered and planned in from the start. By identifying your key metrics for success at the beginning you can clearly and accurately report back on whether or not you deem your marketing activity successful or not.

So ask yourself, what are you trying to achieve and what in your eyes would you deem to be a success? What do you want the results to be?

That’s your starting point, remember it’s an ongoing process and by measuring the effectiveness of your marketing you can continue to optimise your spend. What is right now may not be right 12, or even 6 months down the line.

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‘eee pet – t’interweb’ll never catch on’… uh huh yeah sure, where do I start!

When I first started my foray into the online world over 10 years ago, when I first started designing websites 7 years ago, even when I switched to the dark side and started to manage accounts 5 years ago I was fully prepared to battle proudly against all the negativity that surrounded online marketing. If I had £1 for every time I heard someone utter the words ‘It’ll never catch on’,  I’d have set up my own business and called it ‘I told you it would’,  3 years ago.

Honestly though, I was amazed when a client (a new one just to clarify) uttered those words just the other day, I really thought that even the most remote Neanderthals had realised that ‘t’interweb’ is here to stay. It would appear not however, so here’s some statistics for you, hot off the press from the latest Econsultancy Internet Statistics Compendium:

  1. 18.3m households in the UK (70%) had internet access in 2009, an increase of 11% from the previous year. (source: Office for National Statistics)
  2. At last count (May 2009) there are 36,820,000 unique UK internet users (source: comScore)
  3. The UK has the highest active online population in Europe, with the highest number of daily visitors (21.8m), the highest usage days per month (21 per user), and the highest average time spent per month per user (34.4 hours). (source: comScore)
  4. 63% of all UK households had a broadband connection in 2009, up from 58% in 2008. (source: Office for National Statistics) – just to clarify this point; yes that does mean that people aren’t just using the internet to ‘skive off work’.
  5. Out of those with access to mobile broadband, 75% use it at home, 18% use it at work and 27% use it whilst travelling. (source: IAB UK)
  6. The online population now reflects the demographic make-up of the UK as a whole, with a 52%/48% male/ female split. 21% are 25-34 years old and the over 50’s represent 30% of the total time spent online. (source: IAB UK)

I think that proves my point.

And if you are reading this and you’re still a sceptic, can I politely point out that you’re online at the moment…

<rant over>

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Is social media right for my brand?

I get asked this A LOT!

Today was no exception. Social media has fundamentally altered online marketing by opening up the way that consumers can share information, create information and ultimately therefore, add or take, value from that information.

Your brand is no longer in your control online, the conversation is happening but the question clients are afraid to answer is whether they should be a part if it…

The hype that surrounds social media can make it difficult to distinguish which factors will effectively integrate into your overall strategy, but with the right strategy in place it can revolutionise how you communicate with your consumers.

The key to success is the approach. Setting up a Twitter page or Facebook page and asking people to follow your brand or ‘like’ you won’t work. To effectively cut through all the noise your brand needs an informed social media strategy.

Carefully considered insights, best practice case studies and real-time monitoring of your brands buzz will help inform how to implement the most effective social media activity in line with your wider marketing plan. With ongoing monitoring of the conversations sparked online you can then build upon this to inform your brand decisions moving forwards, this information has proved invaluable to thousands of brands already.

I will say again though it does need to be planned, failure to effectively target your consumers can leave you open to ridicule across the web, so I guess my answer is; Social Media can be right for your brand if planned and implemented in line with a relevant and considered strategy. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it.

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the value of digital to brands today

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had clients try to dictate how a product is sold to a consumer, what the consumer needs to feel and how they need to react to something.

And as I patiently sit there and explain that they no longer make the rules you see a mixture of fear, a dawning of realisation that today in our connected world channels come together on behalf of consumers. As a brand or product they now to need to align themselves around the consumers.

We’ve always said that the customer knows best and therefore they are in control, the difference is that now, they have to mean it. The consumer really is in control. Not only that but it all happens in real-time, seasonality is becoming less relevant, clients need to focus on micro targeting to different consumer needs rather than enforcing a message dictated by them en mass.

With the internet bringing together consumers in so many ways, when will they realise the conversation is happening anyway?

The question I put back to them is do you want to be a part of it?

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are we Google pawns?

It’s pretty difficult to fully get your head around the epic scale of the ongoing battle between Microsoft, Google and Apple. Ridiculous sums of money at stake, entire business strategies hanging in the air and umpteen routes to a delicate balance between success or failure hang in the balance.

It’s not so much the size of these businesses, in the 90’s monopolisation was defined in the dictionary as ‘Microsoft’. Where there was a computer there was Microsoft.

And then along came Apple, they conquered music, revolutionised mobile phones (sorry to all the blackberry/ HTC/ Android phone lovers), I might be so bold as to say they made the computer industry sexy (gasp). However Apple only really dominate (controversial I know) closed information appliances with lots of third-party apps.

And then there’s Google, all roads lead to the internet, and the internet is pretty much Google.

So are we all just pawns in Google’s worldwide game of chess? Discuss…

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