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Loud Net Rep = Ned Poulter. I'm a geek and aspiring digital marketer... This blog is a place where I share my creative exploits as well as putting forward things that I come across that are design, marketing or generally 'geeky' that I feel the need to share with the world...

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Barry Spelling IDM Summer School

So it seems so long ago now that I can’t really remember the application process to the IDM summer school. However, I do remember meeting Kate (from the IDM) on a live webchat who then promptly informed me to apply, the only problem being that application deadline was the next day! I devoted the rest of the day to completing it. A month or so later on I was invited to the IDM offices in Teddington where I took part in an application day, this gave me a good understanding of what the week [if I was to get onto it] would entail. I was tested thoroughly, with a mixture of a group assignment, an interview, a numeric and a proof-reading test that were spread out throughout the day. But the nature of the day was generally quite laidback without a scared ‘top down’ feel that I’ve experienced at other assessment days, and it made me feel as though it was really something that I wanted to get involved with…

The Sunday just before my week at the IDM began with a crushing feeling, England went out of the World Cup (again!). Without taking too long to mope about the defeat I packed up my bags and headed to St. Mary’s university where I had pre-arranged to meet up with the other guys who had made it onto the IDM Barry Spelling Summer School. We’d sorted out meeting and going for a meal to get to know each other before starting our week together, and whilst I was still grieving defeat, it was already began a great experience with everyone being very similar; chatty and enthusiastic.

This first day started with a bang, going straight into an introduction from Janice Pickard and with a short break went full speed ahead into presentations, this was something that I appreciated after being to similar events where a huge amount of time was spent on prolonged introductions to the week. This way I knew it meant business, and the excitement was visibly growing amongst the new group of budding marketeers spread around the room. We began with an inspirational talk from Derek Holder, Managing Director of the IDM, on ‘The new discipline of direct and digital marketing’ which set out the complex current landscape of the marketing world and served as a great introduction and laid the foundations on which we were to build on throughout the week. Next we were briefed on the case study that we would be working on in small groups throughout the week and pitching on the last day to a number of potential future employers. This was delivered by Nina Hedman from the EHS 4D Group. After a lunch break, we then went straight into an introduction to account handling, letting us understand the career path that many of us may go into and what ‘a day in the life of an account handler’ exists of. Ally Davies and Lena Burjony from Geronimo delivered this, and it was great to learn that Lena had attended the IDM Summer School only the year before (2009) leading to her getting this job! After finishing a mentally tiring but altogether information filled first day it had been arranged for us to move on to the nearby Park Hotel to have some sociable drinks, sit down for a lovely meal and to really get to know each other better. Whilst also quizzing some of the previous years IDM Summer School leavers and the IDM themselves about whatever we wanted.

The second day started with ‘Communications in the digital world’ from Liz Baines (Account Director at TEQUILA), something which I was quite excited about as it was on digital, being a geek I felt like the nerd in the class with his hand always up! This presentation was great and afterwards, even though I had said too many times that ‘digital was my thing… I’m a geek’ to people it was great at getting everyone excited. Mentions of AR (augmented reality) and geolocation technology got everybody looking at the smartphones around the room, something I loved as a genuine contemplative look could be seen in everyone’s eyes as if to say “what could I do with this as ‘the future technology’…?” This was followed by, quite frankly, an hugely inspiring talk on ‘the client perspective’ from Martin Troughton (Marketing Director at Anglian Home Improvement) someone whom I was not familiar with but afterwards I envied in every way. The stories that he had to tell were great and the advice he gave on how to get into the industry led everyone to feel a little at ease, after the fast paced start, and also seriously start to think of what we had to offer the industry in a logical and realistic sense. As someone who had, quite literally, ‘done it all’ he explained how marketing was all about competition and that in our position it is all about being the best. He also said that the barriers of entry for starting your own agency is also a very realistic thing and, unlike every careers talk I’ve had until this point, encouraged us to move jobs, to get stuck in a rut, and to be dynamic. Tuesday afternoon we were whisked off in a [very hot] taxi to RAPP to see the agency environment first hand. This experience was great, having a variety of speakers from all aspects of the business explain what their job role really entailed and answering all of the questions we were all dying to answer. After a great afternoon session everyone was noticeably flagging even whilst trying to live ‘The Apprentice’ role that we’d joked about after really getting to know each other quite well now. This waning of the group was cured by a trolley of beer, wine and crisps that showed us another aspect to the agency environment, the “work hard and play harder” adage that we’d already heard from every speaker; they were incredibly well received too!

Wednesday began with a talk by Chris Jones and Sarah Stratford from Archibald Ingall Stretton, they spoke about how life as a Client Services Director and a Planner (respectively) was. They also talked about some of the great campaigns they had worked on, including a look at the o2 3D rugby event that ran nationwide, part of their vision to foster ‘fandom’ through their marketing activities. This gave a real perspective on how direct marketing isn’t just the mailshots that you read about in books and how integration is now a powerful and important tool. Later that day we heard from The Marketing Store, who came out in force, and spoke about the experience of their graduate training programme as well as some of the key accounts that they work on, primarily their partnership with McDonalds. The afternoon then allowed us free reign to get our teeth stuck into the brief that had been set for our pitch, this was a great experience to let our creativity and business acumen shine. After spending hours brainstorming and starting to think about Friday’s pitch, we relocated to the pub to get our ideas down and to begin actioning them.

Thursday began with a talk on ‘Data, the key to driving business performance and growth’ by Christine Andrews from the DQM Group. This allowed us to fully explore the importance of collecting customer information and its use in direct marketing, a process that has become easier through the proliferation of computer use and Internet based collection methods. Also an interesting point of this talk to me was the discussion on data governance and how this is something that will only increase in the future, with most things ‘going the German way of being opt-in rather than opt-out’. After this I was getting rather excited and had been Tweeting about how I was going to meet one of my marketing heroes Rory Sutherland, unfortunately he was unable to make it due to illness (something that he tweeted me personally apologizing for!). So we had a talk from Claire Middleton from OgilvyOne on creativity, this was a great talk that showed us some of the, arguably, ridiculous lengths direct marketing reaches for niche and hard-to-reach segments, filled with examples from BA and American Express two of Ogilvy & Mather’s major clients. After this a short time was spent recapping on the ideas thought up the night before (in the pub) regarding the pitch. Then we were bundled into a taxi (apprentice style!) and whisked off to London’s Goring Hotel where we were having a meet-and-greet session over evening drinks with some of the ‘big dogs’ and ‘fat cats’ of the direct marketing industry. Armed with a guestlist that read like a ‘who’s who’ of the top marketeers from some fantastic agencies and companies including: Archibald Ingall Stretton, Barclays, DQM Group, Geronimo, OgilvyOne Worldwide, ReynoldsBusbyLee, Royal Mail, TEQUILA, Huw Davis Partnership and Vodafone Global Enterprises; to name but a few! The excitement and nervousness amongst the group was palpable. The evening was amazing and the setting was even better, the IDM summer school attendees had built up enough confidence to speak to some fascinating and inspiring industry leaders. Personally I found myself having some great conversations with Magnus Wood (Business Director at TEQUILA), Huw Davis (MD of the Huw Davis Partnership), Chris Jones (Client Services Director at Archibald Ingall Stretton), Peter Galdies and Lisa Bentall (Directors of the DQM Group), Pauline Smith and John Deyner (Head of Communications and Marketing Manager at EDF Energy), Keith Jones (Head of Data Services at Royal Mail) and Paul O’Donnell and Sam William-Thomas (Chairman EAME and Managing Director of OgilvyOne Worldwide), in addition to Derek Holder (Managing Director of the IDM) and the other lovely people from the IDM. As well as others that I can’t even remember their names, maybe it was the wine…

Friday saw some very early mornings (and all-nighters!) from some of the groups in preparation for the pitches. Whilst we were all very tense once the pitches began I can honestly say that I was utterly taken aback by the solid presentation style, deliverance and creativity of all of my IDM Summer School colleagues; and the feedback from the people who had come to see them affirmed this. At this point we had not only got ourselves engrossed in the world of direct marketing to strengthen our existing skill-sets, we had built such a rapport with one another that I was sure I now have a contact list of some 20 people who I know I’ll see a lot in the future, whether on business terms or not…

Friday, 23 April 2010

Geek Art Hits The Mainstream - Round 2

So a while ago I wrote about the increase of infographics being used online, because of the information overload that we all suffer due to the proliferation of articles on the Internet. An interesting thing that I've seen is an increase of is inforgraphics being used to summarise or compare, examples include a showdown between Foursquare and Gowalla on who's winning the geolocation war which I saw after being tweeted by @domrodwell from Manchester's CheethamBell JWT and the Visualizing 6 years of Facebook (taken from Mashable).

Some brilliantly specific infographics (such as the many for
the Beatles) and increasing intricate ones are crawling through the woodwork. After looking and admiring many recently I found my ultimate piece of 'geek art' so far...

(Taken from Information Architects, click on the image to see a higher res version)

The Web Trend 4 infographic is based on the Tokyo subway system, something which I can appreciate as I went there when I was 20, and represents the entire world of online, the key companies and players. What's breathtaking about this also is that the not only is it created based upon the Tokyo subway system, but the layout of each company is representative of the districts in Tokyo too. Personally I learned a lot from looking at this, mainly from discovering sites that I was unaware of to explore more!

If you've seen any infographics that you particularly love then please share them!

I will certainly be ordering this as poster (I'd recommend you do it too!) my bedroom wall will soon be graced by its first piece of geek art. I'll be sure to upload a picture when it has been hung, watch this space...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Digital Civilisation is being formed from people congregating in online 'villages', to following the trends of the major online 'cities'

Something that has been of great interest to me over the last year of trying to advance my knowledge of digital marketing in an effort to make myself more employable, whilst also pursuing my geeky nature, has been the real growth of technology within everybody's lives over the past decade. I am very lucky to be a person born exactly in the 'digital age' and can remember using laptops since I was 5, something that I am very proud to say to people and I am very glad that I went to a school that advocated this. This 'digital age' stretches far beyond your mobile phone, your TV and your laptop, to the realization that (for me at least) technology is used so many times throughout my normal day-to-day activities that taking the time to count would strike off an hour everyday at least, so I'll get an app for it ;p

The emergence of this Digital Civilisation is, in fact, groundbreaking but like other major events in history no-one will accurately document the changes that have happened until these events have passed, 20 or 50 years from now. Because of this we are therefore surfing the metaphorical wave of this revolution and whilst we can only keep up with everything. By reading everything we can and 'staying up to date' in any ways that are made available to us (and I'd strongly advise you do) we can put ourselves in the best position to learn and this Digital Civilisation is all about learning.

An interesting article  in The Marketer, deals with this well and along with my undergraduate dissertation, which I have just completed, are what drove me to write this latest post.

This article considers that people now operate online by mostly visiting the 'villages' they are familiar with such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, AOL, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, BBC and iPhone. However something I believe is a trend for us geeks is that staying within the metaphorical prose of what I have dubbed in this article as the 'Digital Civilisation', is that we now visit the digital 'cities' to keep up with the latest trends, I'm talking about your Delicious, Reddit, Mashable and your RSS feed news aggregators such as Feeddemon or NetNewsWire; the key here is that these are social; they're what people are talking about. As conversations with consumers are meant to be the future of marketing, then trend creation in the digital 'cities' is definitely the future of knowledge exchange; particularly amongst us geeks!

Online marketing is now overtaking offline marketing spend, the worldwide recession has somewhat served as a catalyst for this change. The amazing thing, which has held me in thorough and incredibly interesting conversations with fellow geeks who work in the digital marketing industry, that I have come across through networking and looking for graduate employment, is that the potential implications of this grow day by day, creating more and more opportunities at an exponential rate. We just need to find the opportunity to tap them. This is something I am very excited about...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

GaGa a Guilty Pleasure, a Lesson in Social Media Marketing, or Both...?

While to begin with, I was rather reserved at jumping on the Gaga bandwagon when I first heard hits like 'Pokerface' and 'Just Dance, I now have no qualms in defending the fact that I think she is a rather damn good musician, songwriter and a fantastic performer. Not only will I now happily bob along to her music and debate at length the fact that she is the new Madonna, she is more than a pop star, she's a brand; and a bloody good one at that!

Rather than making this a blog post in homage to Miss Gaga, it actually has slightly more relevance to what I normally write about, which is the fact that she is a fantastic lesson in social media marketing too... a great Adage article discusses this and I'd really recommend reading it.

Some key points to take from Gaga's social media impact are:
She boasts 2.8 million Twitter followers and more than 5.2 million Facebook fans.
A comparison between Madonna taking 10 years until her first massive endorsement (from Pepsi in 1989) and Gaga taking just 18 months until Virgin Mobile endorsed her Monster Ball tour and she had "created her own brand of headphones, Hearbeats by Lady Gaga, with record label Interscope; and landed her own (cherry pink) lipstick as a spokeswoman for Mac Cosmetics' Viva Glam, benefiting Mac's AIDS fund." and become Polaroid's creative director...
The release of her Bad Romance video exclusively on the Universal Music Group site caused it to crash it was so popular.
Her online video views surprises further when I glanced at this weeks viral video chart which holds Lady Gaga at positions 3 and 6, with her 'Bad Romance' and 'Telephone' videos, with a colossal total of 40,716,004 and 239,160,207 views respectively... What's more when you see the individual breakdowns of the number of blog posts, Tweets and Facebook shares for 'Telephone' and 'Bad Romance' you can understand their truly viral appeal.

So whether you dislike her music, think she's really a guy or dislike her brand... I'd suggest you sit up and take notice when she engages social media again because I think she offers some lessons for all of us...

SEO Copywriting a Great Introduction & Consideration for my Career...

So after already having one great response from Fluid Creativity regarding employment in the digital/online marketing industry Another great Manchester based company I-Com have also provided some great tips in starting out in SEO copywriting, including some great free guides available on the Internet too!

Out of the points made in the SEO copywriting 101 there are some great links, of particular use to me were:
The link to the SEO Copywriting guide on Copyblogger which, quite frankly, if you're going to read anything on copywriting, I'd make sure it was this!
Other useful pointers such as:
Having a play with Google Analytics (I've attached it to this blog, for instance), Google Insights and Google Adwords: Keyword Tool, if you have an interest into going in to SEO. From many things that I've heard so far from industry professionals is that graduate employers don't expect you to be an SEO whizz just yet, but having played about with the tools that are used as an industry standard, coupled with the willingness to learn, is what really interests employers.
Setting up your own blog, the guys at I-Com recommend Blogger or Wordpress. Personally I would completely agree with this (after all what do you think this blog is for? :) and would really recommend it. In my experience I have had a bit of a play with HTML, been able to integrate some SEO tools with the site and have also gained personal experience in copywriting; even though it is (hopefully) improving as I go along. If you are interested in a job in digital/online marketing then I'd seriously recommend having a play yourself, after all you can't go wrong so there's nothing to lose!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Guide on Altering Title Tags to increase Search Engine Traffic

Continuing my journey into the depths of SEO practice, I found another useful guide to change the search results displayed for my blog where instead of Google listing from blog title to the name of the post, it now will display results more logically (when reading left to right) with the name of the post followed by the blog title.


Google Analytics Added

My years experience at Warner Bros. Pictures International gave me my first opportunity to work on an SEO campaign for films such as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Hangover, but in honesty I was dealing with an agency contact at Quirk eMarketing who was doing the geeky stuff. I wanted to get more involved and understand more...

During my Digital Marketing and ERM elective course in final year I managed to do just this, reading everything I could get my hands on and having a play with some of the tools available on the net. Until then I hadn't quite realised the true usage of SEO and how integral it was at all levels of online/digital marketing and after finding this out I was even more keen on finding out as much as I could.

One thing that really helped my understanding was attending the SearchSchool at MMU where local professionals spent a day teaching us all about SEO, its uses and also giving us dead useful tricks for optimizing campaigns! The presenters let us in on all sorts of secrets and, what was arguably most useful, answered all of our questions, many of which were simply to find out what they'd recommend reading for someone like us starting out. Matt Davies from Fluid Creativity a great local (Manchester) web design and online marketing company wrote a really good starters guide, which I'd certainly recommend for any budding SEO geeks out there!

I'm now looking for a graduate career in online/digital marketing and am especially interested in getting involved in SEO, thanks to the guys who presented at SearchSchool. And I'd strongly recommend that you do too!