Friday, January 18, 2013

A professional home offices delivers key business benefits - especially when it's snowing ...

Recently, I was lucky to become the owner of a large, detached house. An important part of deciding where to move to was the requirement for room suitable for a professional home office - though at first glance, things were not so obviously promising ...

Many businesses think of the home office as the 'poor man's cousin' to a leased office but for E-creation, our driver was aspirational ... the chance to make a more creative & effective working environment for the team.

In December 2012, research by Stamford University indicated that employees working from home outperformed office-based co-workers by 13% (Working From Home research paper). Over the years, E-creation has continually tuned the work environment to match the character & fluidity our team - and last year we decided to close our Wallisdown offices in favour of the 'professional home office'.

When setting up the new office, we had several core requirements:

  • Desk-space for up to four people
  • Dedicated meeting area for up to two clients
  • Character to reflect a creative agency
  • Own entrance / toilet facilities
  • High speed Internet access with 100Mb connection
  • Sufficient insulation to allow music & lively 'discussion' to be had freely
After 2 weeks of hard work sanding, striping, painting, varnishing & working 'desk dynamics', we migrated the E-creation offices from serviced offices at the Enterprise Pavillion in Wallisdown to the fresh new home office in Branksome.

So, sitting here this morning watching the snow falling, I have smiled at the numerous Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIN posts about closed offices & travel issues. My 30 second morning commute, has allowed a fresh & ready arrival to be creative (though the 10 minute walk for some team members was a touch 'brisk').

Running a creative consultancy does by it's nature require an environment that fosters lateral thinking, so in addition to key press publications, our inspiration wall has fossilised fish, dinosaurs, plants and even footprints that are millions of years old.

You might be wondering what type of companies work with other companies with home offices. E-creation provides serious creative & consultancy for many the world's top companies (such as IBM, 3com, RBS & London Underground), with professionalism being essential. Although we work in the 'intellectual capital' age, corporate cultures often place value on 'large & physical', working with people who are part of a group (reflecting the 'Wisdom of the Crowds' ethos).

E-creation's rather 'ephemeral' service (solving problems & making businesses 'cool'), we need to ensure the most professional image, which we facilitate through technology:
  • High speed Internet (100Mb is far faster than anything we could access in serviced offices)
  • Dedicated phone lines with outsourced reception (to filter sales calls & unwanted distractions)
  • HD projector for 'life-size' SKYPE conferences
At heart, the professional home office allows E-creation to focus on the job at hand without distraction, deploying intellectual & creative capital cost-effectively to clients. When working on projects with larger teams, SKYPE enables screen sharing from remote locations to see creative work as it is happening live (and virtual extension of workspace through HD projection from other offices).

We are investigating creating 'virtual water cooler' devices with a two-way connection over the Internet to allow random 'water cooler meetings' to occur with companies across the world, both large corporate & small home office.

E-creation is driven by cross pollination of ideas - and most great ideas occur when people from difference disciplines meet & talk, something which can be difficult in a home office ... but as usual, E-creation has come up with the solution.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Digital Marketing vs.True Business Marketing

Where is the market going? Whilst most businesses are focused on digital marketing elements such as Facebook social media campaign, optimising their sites for Google & ensuring that they have e-commerce & online sales capabilities, we keep seeing that successful businesses still focus on their core business marketing activities over and above digital.

Around 60% of the work that we do is with growing or startup businesses (in other words, ones that are turning over under 100k per year and are in their first year of business). Funds are limited for businesses at that stage of growth - which means that money spent on marketing has to be spent on the most cost effective areas (you'd be surprised at how often larger companies spend money on 'prestige' projects which do not deliver measurable, bottom line revenue benefits).

In 2012, we have worked with 5 companies that are in 'startup' stage and I'd like to look at a specific service we have offered to some of those business to help them grow and succeed.


E-creation has created branding, stationary and a website for a Dutch meditation specialist with a fantastic background in air industry crisis support. Creating a new business with unique brand requirements, we worked out that P2P (person 2 person) marketing is still the most important marketing channel for this sector. As a result, E-creation focused it's efforts on the design of a highly memorable brand and business cards.


This was a business that was at its core an online business - it sells 'preloved designer clothes' using the Magento e-commerce engine. E-creation was asked to launch the website & create the most efficient 'digital marketing' engine for the site. E-creation extended Magento's functionality to directly upload items of clothing into Google's shopping cart with highly tuned product descriptions. This ensures that web users searching for very specific & limited quality designer clothes are always made aware of the fact that they can in fact purchase these very expensive items at a discount online (something that was previously controlled by the designers themselves).


Migrating a business from a successful e-commerce platform up to the next level is never easy. With significant investment in the existing website and SEO, E-creation needed to ensure that all the previous  efforts were transferred over to the new website - something we achieved using page redirects.

This involved looking at the old website, mapping the pages that were indexed by Google and creating a mapping document that sits on the server redirecting visitors who were finding the old pages in Google to the appropriate pages on the new website. This ensures that whilst Google reindexes the website, all the existing traffic from Google isn't lost, keeping the business going.

The important information is that E-creation spent the time thinking about the real marketing behind the businesses rather than simply suggesting the easiest route of adding Facebook pages or creating a Twitter account. Every business has unique selling points that can make or break it - and as business consultants, our job is to find and understand those elements.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Using Facebook Like-gates for Social Media Marketing

I was asked yesterday if E-creation does SM marketing. It took me a second to realise we were talking about social media - so after the initial confusion disappeared from my face, I said, 'of course'.

Social media should not be filled with jargon - it's actually very simple and easy to explain ... but there is one important technical term to understand. The 'like-gate' ...

The simplest explanation of a 'like-gate' within social media marketing is: 'a barrier requiring a Facebook visitor to "Like" a brand’s page before they can access certain content'.  Like-gating is a method to increase Facebook Fans more quickly than otherwise possible.

Most business are using Facebook as part of their social media marketing but often don't use it to the best effect - simply having a Facebook page is NOT enough, not anymore.

The reason Facebook and social media marketing work is because of work of mouth - just now it's easier to publish what we think on our Facebook pages. The core importance of word of mouth marketing has not changed but the delivery device has ...

Some layout examples of Facebook social media marketing, Facebook 'like-gate' and promotional page within a Facebook page:

E-creation's Facebook social media marketing campaign case study using Facebook 'like-gate' for

"Win a designer handbag filled with champagne and lemonade"

Ok, so the prize concept is cool. We linked the brand name (Champagne & Lemonade) with the prize itself, maximising the impact of the campaign (the prize being a vintage designer handbag filled with a bottle of vintage champagne & high quality lemonade).

Because of certain rules the Facebook has in place regarding forcing users to 'like' a page before they are entered into a competition,  functionality must be created using Facebook's Developer area or 3rd party software. However, 3rd party companies often apply their own branding to campaigns or charge a huge premium (Wildfire charge up to £3,500 for a 3 month license for a 'brandless' solution).

Our social media marketing campaigns can be delivered within 3 days for under £2,000 for a simple yet effective campaign, when we integrate 3rd party functionality. What do we deliver?
  • A clever concept for a prize or reward that will reflect your brand values
  • Layout for the promotion page in Facebook
  • Delivery of existing network of friends and business contacts initially seed the campaign.
  • Create Facebook social ads to increase awareness amongst Facebook users.
Some of the rules that Facebook has in place that you need to consider:

  • You cannot run a competition that allows people to enter just by ‘liking’ the page.  Or by ‘liking’ a post, status message, link, picture or video.
  • However, you can ask them to ‘like’ your page before they enter the competition via a third party application or another website (This is were Wildfire helps - but it costs ...)
  • You cannot run the competition directly on your Facebook page.  It has to be via a third party application or another website.  You can promote it via your Facebook page wall but the actual competition has to be via an application or another website (the obvious place is your website or blog).
  • You cannot notify your winners via Facebook at all.  They must be emailed with their notification of winning or told via your website for example.
  • You must add a Facebook disclaimer on your competition application or wherever you are hosting your competition, if the competition is to be promoted on Facebook.  The disclaimer is: "This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user's information]."
  • You must ensure that all entrants to your competition are NOT staff, sponsors or associated with in any way to Facebook.
  • You cannot ask people to create an account with Facebook itself in order to enter your competition.
  • You can collect information about your entrants (such as email address, name, location etc) if you are using an application or web form for your competition.
  • You cannot ask people to upload something for the competition to your Facebook page wall.  This has to be done via a third party application or your website/blog.