Author Archives: Gill Hutchinson

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Great blogs & vlogs win Aardvark Marketing UK Content Creator Award

Great blogs & vlogs win Aardvark Marketing UK Content Creator Award

Great blogs & vlogs win Aardvark Marketing UK Content Creator Award

Aardvark Marketing Consultants have been recognised by Corporate Vision Magazine for their contribution to the world of blogs and video blogs as great Content Creators 2019.

As we continue through the 21st century the trend of people turning to content creation as a means of making a living continues to grow. From YouTubers to Bloggers, companies and individuals are continuing to monetize their skills to make a successful living with some of the top content creators making over a million dollars year in year out.  CV Magazine are running this inaugural award programme to showcase those who go above and beyond in creating great content, from web designers, vloggers and bloggers to those creating images and videos for the web, the 2019 Content Creator Awards give credit where it is deserved.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Great blogs & vlogs win Aardvark Marketing UK Content Creator AwardFor the last nine years, co-directors at Aardvark Marketing, Gill and Chris Hutchinson have been regular bloggers. “We write about all aspects of marketing, sales and management” says Gill Hutchinson. “As technology has advanced, we’ve added webinars and video to our written blogs.” In 2018, Aardvark launched the Marketing Manager service and their experienced marketeers produce a range of regular blogs for clients.

“Consistency adding new content helps us drive more traffic to our clients websites in two ways.” says Gill “ Firstly, it improves the website rankings with search engines such as Google (SEO)  so more organic search traffic is generated and  secondly attracts more visitors coming via social media platforms when the blog content is shared. New software that automates social media scheduling means we are more efficient at delivering social coverage, which allows Aardvark to offer a very attractive, cost effective service.“ Outsourcing content creation and social media management has proved to be extremely popular and Aardvark are constantly adding to their list of clients using the service.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Contetn Cretator award 2019 - leading specialists in marketing automation solutionsDiscussing the success of their winners, Edward Faulkner, Awards Coordinator commented: “There are so many content creators who are influencing today’s modern business market, and I am proud to recognise them through this awards programme. It is with great pride that I congratulate my winners; here’s to more great content going forward!” read more about Corporate Vision magazine here.

If your business could benefit from having regular new content created, call Aardvark Marketing on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How full is your stress bucket?

How full is your ‘stress bucket’?

How full is your ‘stress bucket’?

I had the good fortune to attend a “Mental health in the workplace” seminar earlier this week.  Of the many interesting facts and ideas shared with the audience, one particularly resonated with me.  The speakers from Mental Health UK talked about the concept of a stress bucket.  You can find more information on their website  but here is my take on the idea.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How full is your stress bucket?The ‘stress bucket’ has a number of feeds (rain clouds in the diagram) which are the things that cause us stress.  They could be work related, but also from our personal lives, health or even wider factors that we can’t necessarily control but increase our stress level.  At the bottom of the bucket are outlets (I think of them as taps), which we use to reduce our stress.  Examples could be exercise, socialising or listening to music.  Over time our stress levels go up and down depending on the flow of stress into our bucket and how much stress we release through our taps.

There were three key observations which I took away from the seminar and I want to use in my work and home life:

Firstly, everyone has a different size stress bucket. Some people have buckets the size of a skip, while for others it’s more like a thimble.  That’s just the way it is, we can’t change it.  In practice it means some people have more capacity for additional stress before they need to open their taps, while others have a limited capacity and need to keep opening taps.  The flip side is also true; those with a smaller bucket can de-stress faster.  We need to be sensitive to those around us and recognise how big their bucket is and do what we can to accommodate this and support them in managing their stress bucket.

Thinking about the stress bucket and how it works made me realise that as my stress bucket fills up, I tend to self-sabotage.  I tell myself that I don’t have the time to do the things that are my ‘taps’ – exercise, read, meet up with friends … Not only does this prevent the release of stress, the fact that I know I should be doing these things adds more stress!

Related to this is the harsh reality that it’s almost impossible to help someone else with their stress levels, or in any other way if our own stress bucket is full.  Managing our own stress bucket, opening our taps gives us capacity to help others and also sets a positive example to everyone around us.  Taking time out to get back in balance when we need it isn’t selfish; it’s the first step to helping the colleagues, friends and family we want to support.

If this is a subject that interests you or you want to learn more about mental health in the workplace, there are two more seminars in October and November, click here to find out more.

Chris

 

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Aardvark Marketing win prestigious Technology Innovator award for 4th year running

Aardvark Marketing win prestigious Technology Innovator award for 4th year running.

Aardvark Marketing win prestigious Technology Innovator award for 4th year running.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants are again winners of a prestigious Technology Innovator award, this year for Best Social Media & Content Marketing Providers and the Excellence in Outsourced Marketing Solutions award. The company have been selected because of their consistent track record, delivering a superior marketing service that delights and retains long-term clients from start-ups and small business to international and high-grossing companies.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Aardvark Marketing win prestigious Technology Innovator award for 4th year running

Aardvark’s client testimonials send a clear message that they provide a timely and knowledgeable service, which delivers significant results. Across the board, their customers attest to the company’s professionalism and expertise. The information gathered by the research team shows that Aardvark’s reputation has been consistent for many years as a long-successful marketing company providing strategic and technology-enabled solutions. Their services include marketing team training, sales generation and strategy evaluation.

In addition to their service, the marketing automation solutions provided by Aardvark Marketing substantially increase their clients’ marketing efficiency. Aardvark’s top performing companies utilise their automation solutions, and their client feedback continues to show the effectiveness of these services.

“For many businesses, having a continuous and consistent presence in their marketplace is a challenge” say Gill Hutchinson, Director at Aardvark Marketing “ because creating quality  content is  difficult and the world of marketing is constantly evolving making it hard to stay up to date with the latest software tools”.   The beauty of outsourcing marketing is that we take away the headache of creating that professional presence for your website, social media, PR, emails etc no matter how busy the business owner becomes. It’s cost effective too, because the business doesn’t have to hire, train and retain a permanent member of staff on the payroll.

 

Laura Hunter, Awards Co-ordinator at CV Magazine, commented “Now celebrating its fifth year, the Technology Innovator Awards return in 2019 to showcase the talented individuals, teams and firms that form the backbone of this dynamic industry. We aim to raise the profile of those who’s innovative thinking and commitment to technology make the industry what it is today. Technology is vital to everyday life therefore it has been a real pleasure to be able to showcase those dedicated to making innovations happen. I would like to congratulate my winners and wish them the best of luck going forward.”

For a free and confidential consultation about how Aardvark Marketing can help your business call Gill or Chris today on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | It's easy to confuse our 'rational' brains

It’s easy to confuse our ‘rational’ brains

It’s easy to confuse our ‘rational’ brains

I spent a few hours today testing a virtual reality (VR) experience that has been built for one of our clients for a major trade show this summer by a specialist company in Birmingham. The project is highly confidential at the moment, but if you would like to know more, please contact me.

Prior to this project, I was aware of VR, but had never had the opportunity to try it.  The experience has been a complete revelation to me.  I think I’m quite a rational person, but when the VR goggles and headphones go on, it’s amazing how fast my brain ‘forgot’ the reality that I was stood in an open plan office and completely accepted the VR environment that had been created by the technical wizards.  Even the ‘computer game’ graphics didn’t confuse my brain.  Within seconds, it felt really real.  If you haven’t ever tried VR, do give it a go.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Virtual reality - if you haven't tried it, give it a go

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps inevitably, it got me thinking again about how marketing communication works.  How many times have you heard someone say (or maybe said yourself) “I’m not influenced by advertising”?  Most of us like to think of ourselves as rational beings impervious to flashy advertising campaigns and sales promotions and yet the evidence suggests otherwise.

Don’t believe me?  OK, here’s a challenge.  Open your food cupboards, your garage, your loft or garden shed and look at all the things you have bought but not eaten or used.  Evolution moves slowly and we are still ‘hard-wired’ to consume in times of plenty, ready for the periods of shortage that lie ahead.

Emotional marketing messages trigger that ‘want’ overriding the rational assessment of ‘need’, planting the seed of desire in our brains.  Often we then try to rationalise our desire initially to ourselves and then if necessary others. From the person who bought a big powerful 4×4 car because of the “excellent driving position” to the grocery shopper who came home with 3 packets of chocolate biscuits because “they were on ‘3 for 2’ and I won’t eat them any faster” we are all doing it, often subconsciously.

I you’re in business, have a look at your own marketing messages – are they tapping into the emotional appeal of your products and services or are they full of rational features?  If it’s the latter, you’re probably missing out. If that looks too difficult to do alone, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 for a free and confidential chat?

Happy marketing,

Chris.

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Visit the BNI stand the Chamber Expo

Warriors BNI exhibiting at H&W Chamber Business Expo

Warriors BNI exhibiting at H&W Chamber Business Expo

This event is the largest networking event of the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber calendar. It’s free to attend and there’s even free tea and coffee! We’d love to say hello to you on the BNI Warriors stand!

Date: Thursday 7 March 2019

Time: 9:30am-2:30pm

Venue: Three Counties Showground, Malvern WR13 6NW

The expo will feature over 120 exhibitors and there will be hundreds of visitors attending. Gill Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing will be joined by fellow BNI Warrior members to talk to visitors about this new  and exciting referral networking group at the heart of Worcester, and answer any questions you may have.

While you are there why not join one of the free seminars or make new connections in the Networking Zone?

This is the go-to event for anyone starting or growing a business as well as for business professionals looking to improve skills and develop key relationships through networking.

Click here to find out more about BNI  

To register your place in advance click here

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Join us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo

Say hello to us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo on 8th February 2019

Say hello to us at the Birmingham Chamber STEM Expo on 8th February 2019

Venue: Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG

Time:  10.30 – 3pm

Say hello to Aardvark Marketing at the STEM Expo, for businesses who are focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Maths related areas.

This forms part of a series of events aimed to expand and improve the capacity of STEM businesses in the Greater Birmingham region.

It’s a unique opportunity to get your name out there – both within the business community and the wider public – to grow your network, attract new talent and expand your business.

If you’re new to Chamber events, the Team will be on hand to introduce you to delegates and make you feel welcome. Just come and see us on the day and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

About Aardvark Marketing

Unlike most marketing agencies, Aardvark work as outsourced marketing specialists, so you have access to skilled sales and marketing expertise, as and when you need it.

This results in more customersmore sales and most importantly, more profit, without the need to employ a full-time member of staff.

In 2018 we were voted Best UK company for Excellence in Marketing Management Services and the Best UK Social Media & Content Marketing Specialists.

Over 200 organisations have benefited from Aardvark’s advice, they range from start-up ventures to international companies with multi-million pound turnovers.

 

 

 

 

Expo visitor offer – Visit our stand and get one-month free  marketing support. 

If you would like more details, please email events@birmingham-chamber.com

It’s free to attend as a delegate, book your place here.

 

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Aardvark marketing Consultants | Bring a Night Out to your Workout!

Bring a night out to your workout!

Bring a night out to your workout!

Love exercising? Sue and Tina, 2 crazy Worcester fitness instructors are running a full-on, two-hour Clubbathon in aid of Sight Concern Worcestershire, which promises to be enormous fun. If you like club classics, a bit of a boogie and a laugh then this is for you!

Aardvark marektingWhen  Saturday, 23rd February

Where Christopher Whitehead School, Bromwich Road, Worcester WR2 4AF

Time   1.15pm until 3.15pm

Tickets cost just £10 and are available through Gill Hutchinson gill@aardvarkmarketing.co.uk  or from Penny Weir at Sight Concern, p.weir@sightconcern.co.uk .

This is going to be amazing!

Worcester Clubbathon for Sight ConcernAardvark Marketing have chosen Sight Concern as their charity for 2019. Many people are absolutely terrified when they walk through the Sight Concern  door.  They have lost – or are losing – their sight. They don’t know how they’re going to cope with every day essential tasks like choosing clothes, making a cup of tea or getting from home to the work or to the shops.

They don’t know that they will soon be coping day to day and many will be enjoying life, developing new interests and taking up new hobbies. It’s amazing what they can do!

Your support helps Sight Concern to continue this life-transforming work for people affected by sight loss.

Sight Concern Worcestershire support blind and partially sighted people in the county to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Sight Concern Worcestershire is the only charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with sight loss in the county. They don’t receive funds from other national charities for people with sight loss such as RNIB or Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

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Aardvark Marketing experts win UK’s Outstanding Marketing Award in Global TMT Awards 2018

Aardvark Marketing experts win UK’s Outstanding Marketing Award in Global TMT Awards 2018

Aardvark Marketing was created to help SMEs achieve better results from their marketing activities. The firm has just won the 2018 TMT Global Excellence Awards as the ‘Most Outstanding Marketing Consultancy in the UK’. This success follows hard on the heels of CV Technology Magazine 2018 awards for social media & content marketing and marketing excellence making 2018 the company’s most successful year to date.

Gill Hutchinson, Director at Aardvark Marketing says “At Aardvark we firmly believe good marketing starts in the boardroom, adding value to a company’s bottom line. It’s the reason we emphasise strategy as well as tactics to our customers.” In this digital age, some businesses have learned to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of their industries, capitalising on the advantages that technology, social media and online advertising offers. Others, especially SMEs, need a helping hand to navigate the potential pitfalls and perks of the often-challenging marketing arena. Gill continues, “Aardvark’s leadership team have both UK and International marketing backgrounds in brand marketing and trade marketing, and we get great results for our customers by applying the proven principles of good marketing used in big business into smaller organisations. We’re sticklers for setting the right strategic direction, planning, measurement and review. This means our customers achieve and sustain great results.”

Aardvark approach their services from a perspective that, whilst perhaps unusual, makes sense for their market. Namely, they see themselves as providers of outsourced marketing services. Gill explains, “It is much more cost-effective than a full-time hire for our customers.” Aardvark provide expert services when their client’s need it most, without the commitment and costs of an in-house team.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Most Outsatdning Marketing Consultancy 2018Laura Brookes, editor at TMT Magazine said “TMT Magazine wanted to take the time to acknowledge those companies and individuals who went above and beyond in their respected industries. As such, the 2018 Global TMT Awards have been designed to celebrate the visionaries, whose innovative ways have helped them climb the ladder of outstanding success. Each winner is chosen based solely upon merit and merit alone. Once we closed the voting form, our in-house research team were set to work, leaving no stone unturned as they analyse the past 12-months of each nominee to ensure our prestigious accolades only go to the most deserving.”

For a free and confidential consultation about how Aardvark Marketing can help your business call us today on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here

You can read the full TMT article about Aardvark Marketing here.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | I can say what I like...

I can say what I like…

I can say what I like…

I seem to hear this more and more often, usually by someone defending their right to communicate a point of view that a large number of people find offensive in some way.
This week I was talking to a business owner who found a 1-star review had been placed on a well-known platform. On closer examination, the person who placed the review (which also included a quite damning comment or two) had never been a customer or even a potential customer. The only contact between the reviewer and the business owner was when the business made a personal enquiry to a company where the ‘reviewer’ worked and then subsequently declined to deal with the company. It seems that the reviewer has acted purely out of a desire for revenge. When challenged, the reviewer’s response was effectively “well that’s what I think, and I’m entitled to free speech”
Also, this week, the Labour Party’s NEC agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism with an extra statement relating to free speech.
And every time there seems to be a case of Internet ‘trolling’ there seems to be a defence of the abusers along the grounds of freedom of speech. In the era of social media, it seems many people forget that what 20 years ago would have been a comment to a friend over coffee or a beer, is now published for anyone to read. Social media platforms continue to insist they are not media owners, but we all know that Facebook, Twitter and Google etc. are powerful media channels.

All this made me curious about what ‘Free Speech’ actually means from a legal perspective. According to Wikipedia (I know this isn’t necessarily accurate) the correct term is actually ‘freedom of expression’ and there are around 25 listed exceptions, which I assume means things you can’t say. These include abusive or insulting words, defamation and trade secrets.
It appears then that in the eyes of the law you can’t just say anything you want and claim the right to free speech.
When creating marketing communication, there are some core principles which build effectiveness:
Firstly, we need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve.
Then we think carefully about the target audience – who is going to receive the communication and what do we know about them, their beliefs and behaviours. How will this communication be received and what effect will it have on them?
We should spend time designing the message text and visual imagery – an effective message needs careful crafting, should be single-minded and expressed as simply as possible.
We also need to carefully select the medium – the medium and message need to work together, and the medium should have a good fit with the audience, not just readership, but the way in which it is consumed.
Finally, we should measure and learn – did the message get through and did it have the desired effect?

I can’t help but think that most instances of ‘free speech’ on social media that causes upset would benefit from taking the marketing approach. Thinking about who the message might reach (given the platform), and carefully considering the message, might just cause less offence.
But if you have an overwhelming urge to say something offensive, the pub might be a better place than Facebook or Twitter.

If your business could benefit from more effective communication, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here

Happy marketing!

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | SaaS is a raw deal

SaaS is a raw deal

SaaS is a raw deal

Software as a service (SaaS) is here to stay. Suppliers have moved to a new model, the ‘pay as you go’ system. Those of us who remember the old-fashioned way to purchase IT, when you bought a disk with your program for a fixed, upfront price that you downloaded onto your computer, are increasingly seen as out of touch ‘dinosaurs’, whose ‘rose-tinted’ views are frequently dismissed as being hopelessly behind the times.

It’s easy to see why software providers have taken this route. From a service provider point of view the monthly subscription model practically guarantees a regular and more predictable cashflow into the business, with users paying each month rather than when they buy an upgrade. The monthly fees look manageable to a prospective customer, they don’t have to find the whole cost and pay for it upfront. No longer do you have to provide support for customers who don’t want to replace or upgrade their older systems, as upgrades are done for everyone, automatically. Because change is always disruptive, users will be reluctant to move to a competitor once they’ve made the switch to your software. Finally, our legislators sometimes play into their hands by insisting that we switch. Recent GDPR legislation and the UK’s forthcoming ‘Making Tax Digital’ requirements have allowed the industry, with its well-placed and influential lobbyists, insist that every business – no matter how large or small – comply with the same digital rules which are difficult or impossible to do without upgrading your IT software.

But is this a raw deal for the customer? Have we got SaaD (Software as a Disservice)?

It’s possible.

Here’s why

  • Pay as you go means you’re still locked into the product in precisely the same way as before because coming out still means moving data from one system to another. This means management time, effort and hassle to change systems. It’s still risky to switch provider.
  • Monthly fees can easily outstrip what you would have paid over the lifetime use of the product e.g. a £300 one-off price tag is the equivalent of just over a year at £22 per month subscription. Given that most purchased software would last a business more than 2 to 3 years before it needed upgrading, that’s an increased cost of £492 or over 2 ½ times the cost of buying outright.
  • Problems with products are not always dealt with by the supplier and can develop after the initial installation. If a business had a problem installing a new product this would result in a complaint and getting the issue fixed. With pay as you go, glitches are not always detected and resolved at the outset, leaving the customer with a product that doesn’t work and the unappealing prospect of trying to get through to a real person in the software company that has the knowledge to fix it. I personally abhor the practice many suppliers use of hiding their support contact phone number and instead keeping you waiting through their email ‘ticket’ systems. In practice, this means a user with a problem cannot fix it without delay and disruption to their working day, which has a negative effect on productivity. Often their website directs you to videos or ‘How to guides’ that don’t always, in practice, tell you enough detail to fix the problem yourself.
  • Often you are paying for functionality that you’ll never need or use rather than just buying the product that is right for your business. The same phenomenon happened with mobile phones, as the technologists driving the new product development added more and more functionality that wouldn’t, in practice, be used by most of their customers. Once you’ve bought SaaS you are constantly being bombarded with new upgrades, emails telling you about new functionality and getting confused as the dashboard and menus are changed without your prior notice or consent. This is rarely conducive to improving productivity and occasionally the company insists that your monthly fees go up to pay for something you never asked for in the first place! Conversely, larger organisations that may wish to have more customisation of their IT systems are often limited in their ability to do this.
  • Honesty regarding functionality of the software. Occasionally, in my experience, you contact a support line only to find that the software company knew there were issues with connectivity. For example, we use one of the best-known accountancy SaaS packages, but it has intermittent problems connecting to our bank feed. The company in question, when asked to help us deal with this, knew from the outset that there could be issues, but this wasn’t explained on their website before we went ahead and moved our systems over, nor was it picked up during our 2-week free trial period. Talking to the company concerned did not get a sympathetic response or a reduction of the fees we pay to use it, even though we are still unable to get this to work correctly several months later. Our previous system, which just lived on one PC, didn’t integrate with our bank account, but a monthly bank reconciliation was relatively quick and painless to perform.
  • Another reason to be wary of this way of doing business is data security. Your previous business server might have been old, and it may have been a little slower than you’d like, but access to it was restricted. With the new ‘cloud based’ servers a customer no longer controls the physical location or has complete control about whether the data can be accessed by a hacker. Remembering passwords has now become a full-time occupational hazard (here at Aardvark Marketing we even have specialist software that helps us deal with this) and if you forget to bring your mobile phone with you the 2-step security log in becomes not a safety feature but a barrier to legitimate entry. It’s all too easy to click to open a rogue email masquerading as an important upgrade from your banking software, your accountancy software, your email systems, your CRM etc. That means we all need ever more expensive IT back-up systems to take care of us. Our data, and our customers data, has become a little less secure because it’s all interconnected.
  • Finally, control. We’re now in the hands of our software suppliers as never before. If they go out of business because of mis-management or lose out to a more competitive product, we can potentially lose access to our precious data, systems and processes. Just like those customers who bought into Betamax (for better quality sound and vision) rather than VHS video, your software could be obsolete, and you’ll have to invest time, money and effort in replacing it with a different product. Recently, we had access to our cloud-based project management system blocked because of tightened cyber security measures added by our service office internet provider. Like the driver at the steering wheel of  a driverless car, we have no choice about these settings, someone external to our organisations is effectively imposing ‘controls’ on our behalf.

    Here at Aardvark Marketing we’re not luddites, we were early adopters of many of these new and exciting systems. We’ve won numerous awards for innovation and some of our own customers are building their business on the SaaS model. If I could wave a magic wand I’d like more thought from our software providers (large and small). Yes, the world is your oyster as far as breaking modern technology boundaries is concerned, but good marketing starts with really getting under the skin of your customers. There is a difference between customers who are huge fans of your software and those who merely bought it because it is the market leader or even because they were misled into believing it the latest silver bullet.

    If you’d like all your customers to be raving fans, why not talk to us on 0121 222 5743 or contact us here.

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