Tag Archives: Chris Hutchinson

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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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 | In a race to the bottom who loses?

In a race to the bottom who loses?

In a race to the bottom who loses?

I had the unhappy task today of attending the funeral of my uncle. He died a couple of weeks ago aged 89 and packed a lot into those 89 years. One of the comments made about him was about his attitude to work-life balance.

Now, bear in mind that he retired in the mid-1980s and I’m not sure the phrase had been christened at that point, but he did have a firm view on how he allocated his time and energy between work and family. He was scarily intelligent (he was disappointed if it took more than 10 minutes to complete the Daily Telegraph crossword) and was employed in a senior role in a major insurance company, based in the city of London. He never once missed breakfast with his family, was always home for evening meal with them and “never did one minute of overtime, never took a work call out of hours and took two holidays every year where work was never considered.”

Of course, it’s easy to say that was a different time, before email, mobiles phones, the Internet etc. etc.

But all those things were supposed to make life better for us.

And yet this afternoon, I sat with the rest of the congregation during the service and talked to them afterwards and heard great story after story about my uncle in his work, the time he gave to good causes and how much he put in to being a husband, dad and grandfather. I wondered if any of the technological ‘advances’ of the last 30 years would have made him more admired, better remembered or more loved. I don’t think so.

As with most ‘advances’ there are choices about how they are employed, and we are complicit in those choices. If the digital age just means we all work longer, are more stressed, and don’t give our full attention to those who matter most when they need it, just to avoid being left behind, but don’t gain any meaningful advantage then what’s the point? It’s like discounting – driven by fear of missing out, but the only measurable result is reduced profit.

I would love to think that when it’s my turn (hopefully not for a long time) those who attend my funeral would say as many nice things about me as I heard said this afternoon, but I I know the work-life balance stories won’t be as glowing and that doesn’t feel good.

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Do what you say

Do what you say

Do what you say

My last blog started with a discussion of IT malfunctions and it might have made me sound like a cross between a technophobe and a grumpy old man, but I hope I’m neither.  I like innovation and I think I’m relatively quick to adopt new technology.  What I don’t like is broken promises and unfortunately IT, both hardware and software seem to be an area where they are far too plentiful.

Marketing is all about promises.  Virtually all marketing communication makes promises to the person receiving it, whether it’s a promotional offer, a new product announcement, advertising, exhibition stands or even a business card.  Sometimes the offer is very explicit for example product performance or service claims. In other instances, it’s more subtle, or just implied.  But if you subscribe to the view (which I do) that all marketing should be aiming to change what someone thinks or what they do, then there must be a promise in there somewhere – the ‘quid pro quo’.

Outside of the world of work and specifically marketing, I have always believed that promises are sacrosanct.  If I promise to do something, I will do everything I possibly can to keep that promise.  To me, it’s an issue of trust.  Promises kept will earn more trust in the future, a promise broken may be the last chance we get with that person.  How many promises do you expect a politician to keep?

In business and marketing, I think it’s the same.  When we make a promise, a customer trusts us to deliver and we need to respect that trust and do everything possible to deliver on our promise.  When someone puts their trust in you, they are taking a risk and you have the power to look after them and reward them or let them down and expose them to the consequences.

Have a look at your own business, and your marketing communications – what promises do you make to existing and new customers?  Are you confident you can deliver on them all, or are one or two stretching your capabilities?  Maybe it’s something you would like to be able to do, but it’s not very easy to make it happen every time.  Perhaps you make a promise so you look better (or at least as good) as the competition?  You could even ask some of your customers how they think you deliver on your promises.

If there is a gap between what you promise and what you can guarantee to deliver, something needs to change – capability improvement or watering down the promise.  In the end, customers will find you out and, when they get the chance, move their business elsewhere.

If you’d like a confidential discussion about your business promises, why not give us a call on 0121 222 5743 or email us here.

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | "Do. Or not do"

“Do. Or not do. There is no try.”

“Do. Or not do. There is no try.”

In the week that “the Last Jedi”, the new Star Wars film is released, I have unashamedly borrowed a quote from Yoda in one of the early films. The thought though was triggered by another excellent blog from Seth Godin , how does the ball know? where he talks about follow through.

What both are really driving at is the importance of intent and belief. When we really go for it, the result is generally far more impressive than when we hold back a bit, unsure if we will succeed or fail. A sales coach I know sometimes asks the question “if you knew you couldn’t possibly fail, how would you do this differently?”

In Seth’s blog he uses the analogy of striking a ball in sport. Whether we are using a club, bat, racquet or foot, the advice we are given is invariably to have a good follow through. Seth points out that the ball we are striking doesn’t hang around to admire our follow through, so why does it make a difference? Of course the answer is that if we focus on a good follow through, the contact with the ball will be much sweeter and more powerful than if we are already decelerating as we strike it.

Does the same apply in business and our life in general? I think so. Doing something with intent, and real enthusiasm generally produces a more rewarding result. Playing safe is often a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure or at best an outcome that we know could have been better.

So as you plan your marketing programmes for 2018 to help deliver those wonderfully ambitious sales targets, think about your follow through. Don’t do a single small ad in a new publication and expect miracles. If a prospect is worth adding to a database, make sure you contact them more than once of twice, try them with email and post. And most crucially of all, when someone responds to your marketing activity make sure you follow up – quickly!

If the follow through looks altogether too daunting, we can take care of your marketing for you, call us or email us or a confidential discussion

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Driverless Marketing

Driverless marketing?

Driverless marketing?

“Driverless cars” seems to have been a news story almost every day for the last few months and no sign of it slowing up.  Personally, I’m not keen on the idea – I can’t think of a single piece of IT that I have owned or used that hasn’t gone wrong at some point, so the prospect of trusting software, satellites etc. to drive me at seventy miles an hour doesn’t have great appeal.  Perhaps I’m just being a bit of a grumpy old man – time will tell.

Actually, the other problem I have with “driverless cars” is the terminology.  I don’t think it’s really true.  When I think about my driving or that of other people when I’m a passenger, it seems to me that one of the key functions of a driver is to respond to real-time situations, making quick decisions and implementing them effectively.  From the traffic light that changes to amber as we approach, to the child who looks like they might step out into the road, as drivers we are processing huge amounts of information and using our skills and experience to make decisions on what to do.

In a driverless car, the same information has to be gathered, but instead of a human being sat behind the wheel, there will presumably be a high-powered piece of computing that makes and implements those decisions.  It will have to be programmed to reach its decisions, and that will have been done by a human in an office or factory somewhere.  So, to my mind, this car isn’t driverless, it’s just that the driver isn’t in the car with you.  I don’t think that makes me feel any better!

I’m concerned at the moment that marketing is heading the same way.  The explosion of software, systems, apps, outsourced services and other tools might make it feel like we don’t need the marketing professional any more.  It can certainly be valuable, saving time, automating the routine tasks and processing mountains of data.  But in the same way as with the car, a skilled and experienced marketer is still needed to direct those resources and make great decisions.

I have long felt that one of the most important attributes for someone to be successful in marketing is empathy.  The ability to stand in the shoes of the customer or prospect and perceive the world the way they do helps us improve every one of the marketing ‘Ps’.  Algorithms can’t do that for us – only real people can empathise with another human being.

My advice is to think about where in your marketing you can safely go ‘driverless’, delivering greater results from fewer resources, and where you really do need your own skilled and experienced marketing driver.

If you don’t have marketing experience in your team, why not talk to us about our outsourced  Marketing Directors or Marketing Managers?

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | If a picture paints a thousand words

If a picture paints a thousand words …

If a picture paints a thousand words …

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | If a picture paints 1,000 words

… then these photos will save you reading to the end!

On the left is a photo I took with my iPhone.  On the right is the same subject photographed by Bjorn Ewers, a professional photographer based in Berlin.  I think my photo is OK, but his definitely has more ‘wow’.

This week I have been in Germany with Bjorn at three photo shoots for one of my clients.  Monday and Wednesday were spent in their factories and Thursday in the studio.  It’s an expensive exercise for the client, a great deal of consideration was given to the decision and a lot of time has been spent planning the three days with the factories and the photographer to get the best possible result.

The previous week my daughter who is a musician had some photos taken at a local studio for her website and the photographer produced some great images that will really enhance the web pages.

I have already seen some of the unedited shots from this week and they are fantastic.  A good photographer can look at something we see every day and know that with the right lighting, angles and zoom it can look really special.

Great pictures have the power to grab our attention, engage us, make us curious and in a world where there is so much fighting for the attention of the people we want to reach this is a vitally important tool.

It can be tempting to buy a low-cost library image or take out your smartphone and snap away, and there are occasions when this is completely justified.  But when you need an image to stand out from the crowd, communicate more powerfully than words alone can manage, and stand the test of time, it’s well worth talking to a professional.

Chris

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | How to avoid splashing the cash on marketing

Are you buying marketing without a list?

Are you buying marketing without a list?

Have you ever stood at the checkout in grocery supermarket and wondered how you managed to spend so much?  The big retailers are expert in getting shoppers to buy more than they intended, investing huge sums in research, focus groups, loyalty cards etc. so it’s not a huge surprise that it works.

However, sometimes we are the architects of our own downfall.  Research shows that if we don’t plan our shopping and take a list based on what we really need, 60% of us will spend more.  Another factor can be how hungry we are feeling when we shop.  Hungry shoppers are more easily tempted to buy extra items, especially sugary foods.  The consequence is over-spending, food that nobody actually eats or just goes out of date.  An article earlier this year reported that the average UK household wastes £470 of food every year

All very interesting I hear you say, but what has that got to do with my business?

In my experience, business owners selecting marketing activities are a bit like supermarket shoppers.  There are a great many items for sale, and various options at differing price points.  The best approach is to have a ‘list’ of what activities we are interested in, or at the very least a clear idea of what we want them to achieve, a bit like knowing what meals you want to cook before you go to the supermarket.

The worst situation is when the business needs some quick results – the forward order book is low, or competitors have just got more active.  This is the equivalent of shopping when hungry; lots of things look good and we can end up making a poor decision or just buying too much.

Whatever you do, don’t ask marketing agencies to make a recommendation, no matter how much integrity they have, the incentive to sell you something you might not need is going to be very high – you wouldn’t walk into a supermarket, give the manager your credit card and ask what he thinks you should buy!

A clear set of marketing objectives, regular tracking of marketing KPIs and the use, dare I say it, of an impartial marketing expert will make it easy to identify what activities are required, and a sensible price to pay.  Then you can go ‘shopping’ without fear of overspending and waste.

Chris.

Need an impartial marketing expert? Why not get in touch on 0121 222 5743 or contact us?

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