Friday, 29 July 2011

What will Google+ offer Business?

Last week's article discussed the new kid on the Social Media block that's got everyone talking, Google+. Though still a million miles away from challenging facebook's mighty tally of users, it's made a cracking start, with record numbers of people signing up in it's first few weeks.

This is causing some commentators to already speculate on it's future triumph over the more established network. Social Media expert Mark Ross-Innes of Softwerx said at a conference this month, that he believed it's more a matter of when Google+ would overtake Facebook, than if.

An article over at Marketing Week puts the phenomenal uptake of Google+ down to privacy. Though offering a very similar service to facebook, the new network is organised differently, so that it's easier to control who sees what's shared. Contacts are arranged into user defined 'Circles', where a circle of friends may see that drunken party photo, but the work colleagues circle sees only the happy, healthy holiday snaps.

This isn't exactly a new idea and it's already possible to do the same, albeit in a clunky, somewhat complicated way. with facebook. However, the difference with Google+ is that it's the default setting and has very simple usability.

It's actually true to say that pretty much everything that Google+ offers can already be done in facebook, it's just that it's the standard in the former and takes some fiddling in the latter. Google have done what facebook did before it with MySpace and others; cherry picking the best or most popular features, improving their usability and reaping the rewards.

The only problem for Google in this, is that facebook can and mostly likely will do the same right back. Facebook regularly overhauls it's functionality, don't be surprised to see a 'circle-like' system introduced some time soon, especially if it's established that this is what gives Google+ the edge.

And facebook does have time to spare. As I pointed out last week, even if Google+ continues to grow at the same rate, it's still impossible to get 750 million users in a short span of time. It will have to sustain it's momentum, not to mention it's edge in functionality, for a good while yet.

All I'm really saying here is don't announce the winner when the race has only just begun. Facebook hasn't got to where it is today by chance. It's always been responsive to it's marketplace, innovative and constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game. It will not take the challenge made by Google lying down.

How well Google+ serves businesses will be an important factor. It's currently in the process of testing it's own version of business pages, with a view to fully rolling them out later in the year. These have been massive for facebook, with everyone from cottage industries to the world's biggest brands setting up pages to connect with their audience, and they'll be a big part of Google+

A key advantage Google may have in this, is that it already runs the number one way in which people find businesses online, namely it's search engine. Even here, facebook pages often rival their website counterparts for search rankings, but a Google+ business page may well get preferential treatment.

Expect a deeper integration of theses pages within Google search results, with options to 'like', 'share' or 'comment' directly via the results page, rather than having to actually visit the page, as with facebook. This can only help uptake and having this interaction available through search will help embed it with users as a part of Google+, making it somewhat of a one stop shop for all internet needs, whether social or commercial.

Having it's other tools, such as Google Docs and Mail integrated into the network will also be a boon, meaning a page could be much more than the marketing tool of facebook. It could offer a comprehensive solution, giving that sales front end, but also elements available to employees that could for all intents and purposes provide an intranet.

This is speculation and we'll see if it goes that far. There'll no doubt be surprises in store as the two internet giants fight for dominance. War always brings about technical innovation, so no matter who the winner is, we're bound to find an abundance of new and exciting tools and features at our disposal. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

I haven't mentioned here what impact 'circles' and the improved privacy may have on business, as that's been what pretty much everybody else in Social Media has been talking about, and there's no point going over it again. If you haven't read anything on this though, it's discussed at the Marketing Week article above and there's also a very good article on the subject over at PC World's Business Center, giving an overview of how the landscape will change.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lucozade: An energetic history

When a Geordie chemist concocted a wonder tonic in 1927 for use in hospitals, he could never have guessed it would evolve into a vibrant energy drink marketed for general consumption, regardless of whether or not you have a sniffle. Originally called Glucozade, the G was soon dropped to create a product that at least sounded a little less sugary, and which became a household name over the years. The ever-popular Lucozade is now available in many varieties and enjoyed by the unwell and healthy alike.

For decades the packaging was made of glass with a cellophane wrapper, until in 1983, when it was replaced by something incredibly futuristic: polyethylene terephthalate (a plastic bottle, to you and me). It was at this time that the brand rapidly moved its associations away from stethoscopes and bedpans and toward liquid power. This was essential for Lucozade’s identity and sales development, as it opened up the market to people in need of invigoration for whatever the reason, not just due to illness. The old notion of a sickly child in striped pyjamas being given a small glass of fizzy goodness that ‘aids recovery’ (above) was replaced by Daley Thompson and traffic light symbolism. Another advert featuring the Olympic champion decathlete saw him distracting fellow sportsmen by noisily opening his beverage at different tournaments (below). In this swift movement from the sickbed to the running track, Lucozade was reborn as a beverage that ‘Replaces lost energy’.

As the years went by, the brand developed the concept of positive energy. One particularly lively advert portrayed Lucozade causing a Mexican wave of almost superhuman abilities, all taking place within forty seconds. Now if that don’t promote positive energy, there ain’t nothing that will!

The late nineties presented us with a gang of keyed up Mods waiting for their lazy friend, who overcomes his tiredness through a few swigs from a familiar bottle before joining them with his magnificent Vespa. The most memorable part was his mum ruining his street cred by shouting “Jimmy, you forgot your sandwiches” from the balcony. Fast approaching the millennium, the closing message explained that Lucozade was and always had been ‘The original solution’.

A few years later we were treated to Lara Croft, everyone’s favourite Tomb Raider, escaping a bald-headed, tattooed villain with a chainsaw and attack dogs. Just as she’s about to be torn to pieces, the game is paused and the player pops out of the room. Whilst left alone, the CGI characters take a breather and enjoy a glug of Lucozade from Lara’s satchel. ‘The refreshing pause’ was the strapline that spoke to and engaged all those young people out there in need of a pick-me-up during endless gaming sessions.

One of my personal favourites, simply due to its randomness and two-dimensional sixties jazz-style animation, is one known as The Music Factory (below). Demoralised office workers flop their heads in unison to the daily grind until a cuckoo escapes from its clock and invigorates the workplace. And what better way to sum up such a madcap advert for an energy drink than with the simple, affirmative and compelling slogan 'Move it'.

Recently we’ve had far less surreal messages from Lucozade, such as extreme sports enthusiasts leaving jet streams of orange bubbles in their wake, inspiring you to ‘Do more’; and the poster for Lucozade Blackcurrant shows a happy hippie proudly displaying her purple tongue, ‘Energy in a different flavour’ providing a no-nonsense summary of the brand’s latest offering. At this moment in time, Lucozade’s new campaign employs a single word to sum up their entire ethos: ‘Yes’.

Despite these diverse advertising styles, and even a major change in the brand’s unique selling point, the fundamental promise communicated from company to consumer has remained unchanged: Lucozade gives you that oomph you need to get the most out of your day. 

So whether you’re a buyer of good old-fashioned Lucozade Energy; a dedicated athlete that requires Lucozade Sport with Caffeine Boost; need to watch your sugar intake and choose Lucozade Light; or fancy an immediate burst from Lucozade Alert Plus (the ‘two-calorie wake-up call’); slipping down your throat is a restorative mixture that’s remained popular for over eighty years and must surely have an exciting advertising story ahead of it. I’ll drink to that!

eskimosoup is:
A Hull Graphic Design Agency

Friday, 22 July 2011

Is Google+ the Facebook killer?

A lot of what we talk about here at Souper News often concerns Social Media. It's certainly the biggest thing to happen online for some time and arguably the same could be said for it's effect on marketing. More and more companies are embracing the format, with facebook pages and twitter accounts almost rivalling their websites for importance and the benefits they can bring.

With over 750 million users, facebook is the current undisputed king of Social Media. It has evolved beyond a mere website into many peoples preferred way to browse the internet. Though Google is often still the first port of call when searching for a website, facebook provides an alternative route, with users visiting youtube, news sites, etc via their friends links appearing in their News Feed home page.

A product or service may even be searched for without leaving facebook, with business pages offering the chance for a dialogue with a company, as well as that all important recommendations from a users peers. This is where the focus is for many a business, with the unprecedented level of engagement redefining how an organisation communicates with it's audience.

facebook is constantly evolving and improving it's functionality to ensure it leads the pack, but the bottom line for why it's now so important for business is that huge user base. It didn't happen over night and has taken years to build and that's the main problem for any rivals. It's quite simply impossible to compete with those numbers in the short term and any new Social Network would need to keep going and maintain interest for at least a few years before it could hope to.

But Google+ has made a jolly good start. In just three weeks it's already clocked up over 20 million users and that's despite it still being in an invite only, limited release mode. That's one of the fastest take-ups in the history of the internet, but only time will tell if they keep that pace and begin to challenge facebook's dominance.

With the huge numbers of people already using Google's other services, such as Gmail and Google Docs, and these also being integrated into Google+, it certainly has an advantage that it can press. There's also Google's supremacy as a search engine, which it can use to further promote the new network.

All this still doesn't make the success of Google+ certain. It's not their first attempt at a Social Network, with past attempts Buzz and Orkut never really taking off (except in Estonia). There's also the question of whether there's actually a need for Google+, when facebook already provides a very similar service.

Will people be willing to leave facebook profiles behind, after investing so much time in them, just to have to start again?

That's possibly an even more pertinent question for us Internet Marketeers. As well as creating profiles in Social Media, we also spend massive amounts of time understanding the various platforms and developing effective strategies. So, when we hear that a platform such as facebook may have a rival or be on the way out, it can be a nervous time, where so much work and consideration may soon become virtually useless.

This makes it incredibly important that we always have our finger on the pulse and eyes on the ball. We watch the progress of emerging technologies and changes in the landscape keenly, so that we can offer the very best advice to our clients and give them the confidence that they'll always be at the cutting edge with their online presence.

Regardless of whether Google+ dethrones facebook as the king of the Social Networks or falls by the wayside, we know that we'll be able to utilize the victorious platform to it's full potential for our clients and they know it too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Spotlight on Rich Quelch, Marketing and Events Manager

Rich Quelch joined us on a sunny day in July 2010. Since then he’s managed all of the team’s event activity in St Stephen’s (from a huge denim installation called Pure Jeanius to an Enchanted Hollow at Christmastime), performed 10 consecutive hours of keepie-uppies for Children in Need (his record being 105 minutes without letting the ball touch the floor), and acted as humble assistant to Keith Chegwin during the Hull Comedy Festival 2010 (his foghorn of a laugh could be heard over everyone else's). And that’s only the tip of  Rich's eskimosoup iceberg!

Rich has a swanky degree in Marketing and Advertising and has worked in marketing, events and recruitment for as long as he can remember... maybe longer.

Intrepid eskimosoup reporter Rich Sutherland caught up with Rich Quelch between his important meetings, emails and tea drinking (milk and one-and-a-half sugars) to get some inspiration from this King of Commitment.

RS: So, Rich, what would you say has been your favourite project whilst working at eskimosoup?

RQ: I’d have to say Peter’s Story as it’s such a positive and imperative venture, promoting mental health to men in the region. It’s also a very endearing project, a subject that’s close to my heart, so I feel a real passion for spreading awareness and getting the free DVD out there as much as possible.

RS: And what are you currently working on?

RQ: We have a perpetual presence in St Stephen’s that embraces a diverse programme of exciting, educational, cultural and innovative community engagement. Instead of a table stall we might have a gigantic pair of sunglasses with TV screens behind each lens giving information on eyewear, or a suitcase promoting the UK-wide project Retail Centred that’s so big it wouldn’t fit on a plane!

I’m also directing this year’s Hull Comedy Festival, which has some side-splitting acts in store for everyone. On top of that there’s Leeds Let’s Change, an online resource giving advice and support for people aged 50+ in the Leeds area who want to quit smoking, lose weight, drink more responsibly and generally enjoy life through improved health. So it’s quite a mixed bag of jelly beans!

RS: And how about Rich Quelch when he’s at home? I assume you don’t sleep in the eskimosoup office overnight?

RQ: Well, it’s true that I love the job but I have other responsibilities too. I play football for Little Weighton AFC on the weekend and they gained promotion to the Premier Saturday Division for the first time in their history last season. I also love a good old putt around the golf course. Some have even likened me to Tiger Woods… or was it Victoria Wood?

RS: Thanks, Rich. You’re an inspiration to us all!

RQ: No worries. Do we have any bourbon biscuits to go with this tea?

RS: Er... I think we've run out. *munch*

Friday, 15 July 2011

Lots of followers are great, but do they really signify Social Media success?

It's amazing how often marketing activities are conducted without having a way of measuring their effectiveness. Any other spend in business is usually informed by the return on investment, but with marketing, many just hand over the money and hope for the best. This in turn causes these budgets to be cautious and limited, as it's virtually impossible to discern their value.

A simple example of this would be when a business places an advert in a newspaper. They include their usual contact details, and unless they ask every person who gets in touch, they have no way of knowing whether it was the advert that brought them. In this instance, contact details unique to the advert or including a promo code, would indicate where the prospects came from and assess whether the ROI was worthwhile.

Here at eskimosoup, we've always had campaign measurement at the forefront of our process. It's essential that our clients see where their money goes and gain real world benefits as a result.

We use various techniques to achieve this, but when an entirely new marketing method emerges, a whole new set of techniques comes with it. This is very much the case with Social Media, possibly the most powerful and ground breaking tool to become available to marketers for years.

But those techniques are far from immediately obvious. In reality, Social Media is still in it's infancy and marketers are still developing effective ways of measuring it's impact. As the medium is more about establishing and maintaining relationships, rather than direct sales, this can be a tricky prospect.

An article over at Marketing Week highlights this difficulty, with Social Media expert Brian Solis claiming many brands are failing to set the right objectives for success. Rather than the return being simply sales, it's more "action, reaction and transactions", with the engagement and conversations being important, but not in and of themselves. They have to lead to a bottom line benefit for the business.

Having the fan numbers and good interaction are cause for celebration in a Social Media campaign, but shouldn't be the final result. They're a means to an end, which will always be more business for the company. A good Social Media campaign should never lose sight of this and have those bottom line benefits as key goals and objectives.

This what we bring to Aerial Extreme with the Social Media campaign we run on their behalf. Focused around a facebook page, we've certainly increased fan numbers and interaction massively since we took on the project, but these have only been the foundations. This provides us with an active, enthusiastic and fully engaged audience that we can then move onto the next level with.

That next level is encouraging as much of that audience to visit the six Aerial Extreme high rope adventure courses dotted around the country. We do this in the main through competitions, incentives and special offers, with that old technique of promo codes and dedicated contact details to measure response.

And the response has been great, with increased footfall bringing those bottom line benefits and demonstrating the all important return on investment. When all's said and done, that's the only true measure of success in Social Media and if your campaign doesn't have that, it's time to think again.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Can Business and Volunteers work together in Hull's Regeneration?

In last week's article I talked about Local Business supporting a Volunteers group in our home town of Hull. I run the project, Hull Art, which aims to provide support and exposure for the artist communities in the city. Initially purely an online venture, it has recently opened a real world gallery through the support of local business. The donated premises is situated down Beverley Road, a large, central, but sadly somewhat run-down, area of Hull.

The boarded up shops outnumber those that aren't and there's more than a fair share of drunks and ne'er-do-wells . This makes the task of attracting trade to the few businesses on the road all the more difficult.

It's a terrible shame for a place with such a proud history and from the short time we've been there, it's clear that local residents would support any efforts to improve the area. We started to think that more galleries may help in this and wondered about those boarded up shops. Though it was more accident than design that we were there, perhaps we could help a little in it's regeneration, while still pursuing our core objectives.

Just at that point, an article from the BBC was posted to our facebook wall by one of our artists. It turns out we're not alone and all around the country other 'pop up' galleries are appearing in empty retail outlets. The combination of the recession and emergence of online retail has decimated the high street, with increasing numbers of brands either going under or cutting back on the number of outlets they can sustain.

Their loss could be our gain though, especially as the government is offering incentives that could help us. If a unit is unused for over 3 months, the Landlord may have to pay full business rates. However, if they let Charity use the space, they'll get an 80% reduction. This is also possible for Social Enterprises, though not mandatory.

This gave us hope that the end of our current tenure might not mean the end of the project, but also broadened our scope. Several galleries could be a possibility, so instead of a visitor spending twenty minutes in one, then leaving the road, they could spend a couple of hours meandering along an art trail of sorts. This would no doubt bring more business to the other retailers in between.

Then, another lucky find this time in the local newspaper, made this look all the more possible.Surface Architects, with offices in London and Hull, just so happens to be heading a project calledRevitalizing Beverley Road. I met up with them and they had great enthusiasm for the area and our idea, which is is an almost spookily good fit with their approach. They've offered to support us in any way they can, which should be a massive help, especially in finding and approaching landlords and getting the galleries open.

We've also offered help back, with us being well positioned to directly engage with the local community. Surface are currently mapping the area and involving the community is paramount to their strategy, so we can look to ways of doing that. More outlets will give us an even wider ability to do so.

The next step for us is to become official and register as a Social Enterprise, which we're doing next week. We're also meeting with the Local Council to see what support they can provide.

Fund raising, at least for a marketing budget, is on the agenda, with live art being painted, then auctioned in the gallery, being one of our first initiatives in this direction. Streams such as the Big Lottery Fund will become available once we're official, but we're very much wanting to develop ideas for income beyond grants and loans, so as to become self sustaining.

If you're a local business and interested in getting involved with this initiative to revitalize a too long neglec ted part of Hull, please get in touch. Thank you.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Business helps Volunteers in Hull

A little over a month ago we published an article about a personal project of mine, Hull Art, which aims to offer exposure and support to artist communities in our home city. I mentioned there how the not-for-profit venture had recently moved into the real world, by opening a gallery in premises donated by a local business and how we hoped to find further support from others.

This week, I though I'd offer an update on how things are going. Again, thank you to eskimosoup for their support in giving me the opportunity to write about the project, to showcase the Private and Third sectors working together for Social good in our local area.

The first thing to say, is that the gallery is still up and running. Our landlords, Artyfax Commercial Printers, had originally been generous enough to offer the empty unit free of charge, but only for two weeks. This deadline has now been extended for at least a month or two, thanks in main to the great reaction we've had, which is really building momentum.

We started with a virtually empty shop space, but almost immediately had artists through the doors, encouraged by our facebook page, and it soon started to fill up with their work. Their gratitude and appreciation for us staffing the place voluntarily and taking no commission has already made it worthwhile.

There's also been artists and others drop in while passing by, with no knowledge of our two year old online community. This has been a primary aim of having a real world presence, to raise awareness and we've seen the results with numbers increasing on the facebook page. We've posted news there on the coming and goings in the gallery and updates on developments, which in turn, has brought people back in to see us.

Extending our marketing beyond facebook and the web has presented a problem though. A lot of online marketing can be done for no cost, though unless you know what you're doing, the results may fall short what's possible. That's why it's always a good idea to employ a marketing professional, but in our case, we already had me, so that cost is eliminated.

But offline, costs are often unavoidable, with such things as the production of leaflets and posters needing paying for. With no income, how could we do this?

Well, we had our first 2,000 leaflets handed out this week, so how have we managed that? Basically, through sponsorship. The printer and distributor both included adverts for themselves on the leaflet, in exchange for their work. This wouldn't quite cover it though, so yet more generosity and support for what we're doing from them took care of the rest.

Looking around us to the other businesses in our immediate area for more sponsorship may be the next step. These are small shops who would appreciate the footfall. Beverley Road where we're based, doesn't have a great deal of these and it's fair to say it's a pretty run down area. Certainly not where you would expect to find an art gallery.

It's more by accident than design that we're at this location, but since we are, it's increasingly becoming a large element of the project. Beverley Road is the main road through Hull and the wonderful architecture there is testament to it's vibrant and affluent past. Those days are long gone though and it's now just a route into the town centre, rather than a destination in itself.

Next week, we'll look at how the project is growing beyond it's original remit of helping local artist communities, and also becoming about how we can make a significant contribution to Beverley Road's regeneration.

If you're a local business owner and would like to see how you can get involved in Hull Art, please email'. Thank you.