Are you feeling inspired?

Wow, over the months we’ve been lucky enough to chat with some inspiring business authors and gurus for a project we’re working on.

Some of the advice seems blindingly obvious when you think about it, such as Nigel Botterill’s advice to spend 90-minutes every day working on your business to achieve success. That’s 90-minutes not worrying about your customers, your ‘to do’ list or emails, but focusing on precisely what it is that you need to grow your company. We’re still working on hitting this target, but it makes absolute sense to us.

We also recently talked with Laurence McCahill of the Happy Startup School who, along with co-founder Carlos Saba, created a digital agency before transitioning to helping entrepreneurs to make their business ideas reality. They have an amazing ethos and we’re seriously tempted by their September Happy Startup Summer Camp which looks superb. They’re changing our thinking about networking and conferences – instead of being intimidating and gung-ho, they invite delegates to unwind, deal with the nitty-gritty stuff and do some fun stuff along the way, like learning the ukulele and enjoying a karaoke sauna. Not your average conference –bring on the business revolution!

We relish great advice, and it’s all great food for thought as Chapel Road Creative passes its first anniversary. It’s been an amazing first year, and we’re working with some fantastic companies to help them strengthen their marketing approach. Now our challenge is to focus on the ‘what next?’ step of our journey – growth, expanding our team and potentially a move. Exciting times ahead – give us a shout if we can offer some marketing advice to inspire you.

 

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Springing forward

Celebration

Hurrah!

 

Hurrah! We made it to 1 February. As a start-up business, you probably think we’re focused on survival, but it’s actually quite the converse – we’re growing more quickly than we had anticipated.

It’s a pleasant challenge to have, and we’re heartened by the number of businesses that are reaching out for help in getting their brand and marketing materials in better shape for 2015.

Our belief that a strong business starts with a correspondingly robust brand that’s carried across everything from an e-signature (how’s yours looking?) to a website, van livery and brochure is key to generating a response from prospects and customers.

We’re also finding that many customers are preferring to work with us on a long-term marketing strategy, rather than calling us in to tackle ad hoc problems. It makes sense – it’s the equivalent of a carpenter ordering wood several months ahead, instead of every time he starts a job. Regular attention and forward planning of your marketing will create a stronger, more successful you this year.

If your business could do with a marketing audit to support your business goals in 2015, email hello@chapelroadcreative.co.uk

Digitally diligent

Update your site

What’s the news?

As new business launches go, we’ve been amazed and pleasantly surprised at the warm welcome we’ve received from Norfolk companies looking for some help or fresh thinking about their marketing activity.

In just a few short months, we’ve expanded our client list and have a number of exciting projects to help them develop in 2015, and we recently freshened up our website with details of some of these.

We say it so often it’s almost a mantra, but if you’re not looking at your own website on a regular basis (and by regular we mean at least monthly), you’re exposing your company to risk.

If that sounds dramatic, think of it this way – if a prospective customer lands on your site, would it impress them enough to pick up the phone and talk with you? Does your website look contemporary? Does the content reflect all that your business does, or have you added to your services since it launched but never got round to updating the site? And if your site has a news section or blog, how ‘new’ is the latest post? If you can’t answer any of these questions without looking, chances are you need to take action.

Along with a site that you and your colleagues can be proud to point potential customers towards there are, of course, those lovely SEO Brownie points to be earned through refreshed content, which in turn helps to improve your visibility. If you struggle to come up with ideas for content, can we modestly suggest that you give us a call, we’d love to help you get things straightened out.

www AKA wibbly wobbly websites

ChapelRoadCreative_websites

Getting out and about meeting people, one of the first things we tend to do back at the ranch is to take a peek at the company website on the back of their business card. Now if the business card is a barometer of a firm’s visual identity, the website often runs in tandem or, occasionally, ranks even lower in terms of self-promotion.

Working on the premise that your website is your shopfront to the world – whether you are selling finance services or couture fashion – it makes sense to ensure this reflects who you are and what you do. Today, not yesterday, and certainly not last year.

Just like most things, website design changes and the site that looked cutting-edge in 2000 or even 2007, seven years on looks, well, a bit wobbly. This isn’t just about changes in design (word is that logos need to be considered as thumbprints that fit within most social media display formats – is yours still the width of a business card?) but also changes to the way that websites are viewed.

Seven years ago we weren’t swiping tablets or looking for the nearest hotel or restaurant on our smartphones, but now you need to consider how your website appears on these devices.

Beyond functionality, there are changes to the use of colour and imagery – the latest trend is for fewer colours and use of imagery as a backdrop, rather than contained items. And is the imagery on your site original or of the stock variety – let’s keep it real, people.

There’s also that tricky issue of content to consider. We’ve seen some absolute shockers lately, with drops of copy in all sorts of places, inconsistent editorial styles and even a few grammatical errors thrown in for good measure. Again, thinking of this as the shopfront, it’s akin to having a business meeting with the boardroom table full of papers and dirty coffee cups. Think about key messaging, what needs to be presented in what order and how will the user explore your ‘store’?

Remember, your business changes daily, and your website needs to mirror this. Have your services or products changed or expanded? Does your website reflect this? If you’re not looking at your website as an outsider might at least weekly, you could be missing out on potential new business. Blogs too are a great way of creating a dialogue with customers, demonstrating your expertise in a particular sector or industry and getting yourself on the map as a thought leader.

Chances are you agree, but you’re busy running the business, right? Time to call in Chapel Road Creative – let us help you to tackle these aspects of marketing, rather than hope your customers don’t look too closely at your virtual presence.

Nice to meet you…

Image

Week two, and we’ve been out and about, meeting some of North Norfolk’s businesses.

First we headed to a @WNTweetup, organised by Stella Gooch on behalf of Hunstanton On-line and hosted by ECS Computers. It was a fun evening during which we met a former Department for Trade employee, proving it is a small world indeed (BTW, have you read our interview with Norfolk man Sir James Dyson for UK Trade & Investment’s springboard magazine?) over tea and cake. We were delighted to be asked to create an ID for the group, which you can check out and follow here.

We met a number of companies that have been developed around people’s passions. Louise from Hands4Hounds told us about her amazing dog massage service. The proud owner of three labs, she’s created a thriving business around something she loves doing, proving the oft-quoted Confucius mantra, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ We also met the lovely Mary of Knotty Leads who, with her daughter, Melissa, uses the traditional craft of hand-knotting cord to make personalised dog leads and collars. Maybe a dog’s life isn’t such a bad one, after all.

We also bumped into Kev of The Solar Shed who talks almost as quickly and animatedly as we do. A man of many talents and interests, he aims to get the whole of the UK using renewable energy from his shed at the bottom of his garden. Ranked #43 as an influencer in his sector, he clearly knows his stuff, and we were delighted when he invited us to join him at BNI Hanse the following Tuesday morning.

Despite an early start on a hugely soggy post-Bank Holiday Tuesday, we hurtled along to The Globe to join 23 North Norfolk firms for a busy business breakfast briefing. While Kev set up for his 10-minute presentation, we had a chat with Paul White, senior architectural designer (what an awesome job!) at Russen & Turner, and it was interesting to have him confirm our view that business in Norfolk is gently booming.

What a great time to be starting out! We think we’re convinced about BNI being a good way to expand our network, so fingers crossed we will feel the love of Norfolk’s growth soon. In the meantime, if you know a company needing some help and guidance on marketing and design, send them our way, we’re feeling rather sociable.

What’s that then?

 VintageOffice

 

And we’re off… Chapel Road Creative has been 10 years in the making. I don’t mean that we’ve procrastinated so badly that an entire decade has passed, but our intention to create a content marketing agency that blends our skills and experience in editing and design was hatched long ago.

Unfortunately a great job came along and the plan was hijacked, with the twists and turns of life thrown in the mix. We worked side by side for all those years, but it took the start of 2014 and some monumental mountains to climb in the first few weeks that prompted us to go back to our original premise – that using our creativity to make a simple, enjoyable and successful living really shouldn’t be that hard.

So here we are. What an exciting place to be.

The first question we’ve been asked is, ‘What is content marketing?’

There seem to be a cagillion posts on this hot marketing topic, and I suspect many come from people who don’t really understand either content or marketing. There are some cunning thoughts on tricks and tips to get yourself seen by Google; how to max the numbers on social media channels; and even why millennials only want to read what they can see on their smartphones.

To our mind, successful content marketing is about getting the right message to the right audience in the right form at the right time. Right?

By editorialising that message, there’s a whole opportunity to engage with your customers – existing or potential – with a message that goes beyond the unsophisticated, ‘Look at this then buy it’.

Of course, consistently presenting this in a visually enticing way is equally key – the dullest message can (almost) work with the most fabulous creative and, conversely, a great message can be lost by dull, poorly executed design.

But what if you could strike that happy blend between visual impact and compelling content – bingo! You just envisaged content marketing.

We are so convinced by the power of great content marketing, that it’s at the very heart of our business concept. We’d love to share our vision, so please take us up on our offer of a FREE marketing audit to see the difference it can make to your business.