As the hot weather continues my USB desk fan has been working overtime. Obviously this is only partly due to the weather as the team have all been working at a furious rate for the last few weeks. This is due to us endeavouring to get our Clearing webpages up even earlier than before.

Part of our online campaign. Follow
the hashtag to see all the goings on
It seems that in this world of every organisation pushing the other to deliver more the goalposts have been moved, and where everyone used to get their Clearing micro-sites up just before results day it's now a full six weeks earlier!

Based on our findings from last year we noticed some key trends on the type of visitors we were getting. Firstly, the majority of them were coming through our paid search channels further proving what a vital part of our online strategy this is. Secondly, the usual push for brand messages were pretty superfluous as people were just interested in which courses we still had places on. This meant that our online techniques were to be much more simple this year with courses (our products) pushed to the very fore.

One thing I've been wanting to tackle for a while is how our website works on mobile devices. Whilst the homepage did resize little things needed looking at (e.g. our banners would not show on smartphone screens). Therefore, we have implemented phase one of our homepage redesign project and have made it more responsive than it was previously. Just take a look at our homepage and resize your browser to see how nicely it now adjusts itself!
 This was also a chance to showcase our new integrated campaign. I'm particularly happy that the visuals we've come up with compliment the ones in print and that the students featured have follow on videos filmed by the team. I also like that the visuals are quite kinetic and have lent themselves to some nice little intoductory animations:

We still have a fair way to go with this campaign and are currently in the process of designing leaderboards, skyscrapers and MPUs to be featured on a number of third party sites.We also have

In other news the last few weeks has given me the opportunity to get out of the office on a few occasions. Firstly, on a manager's away day and secondly to the Heist Awards 2014 in Manchester. The latter was a good experience and we managed to make the most of the trip by meeting our new media buying agency at the same time.

My hotel room. All that was missing
was a chandelier
It was then off to the Palace hotel to check into our rooms. I definitely did the best out of this with a three-storey room complete with beams and an emperor size bed. Obviously, I was above showing photos of this to my colleagues at every opportunity and gloating about the tea and coffee making facilities...

Despite being nominated in three categories we came away empty handed on this occasion. We had a great time though and the carnival theme of the night definitely meant it didn't drag! There's always next year and the fact that this was the biggest Heist Awards yet (with more entries than ever before) did make us feel a bit better on the train ride home from Manchester the following morning.

I also slept so soundly in my fancy hotel room (have I mentioned that already?!) that I'm now fully energised to hit Clearing at full throttle. I'll definitely need the energy if last year is anything to go by!
Following on from my last post, on keeping my video editing skills up to date, below is a little video I've just finished which we hope to launch alongside our new Clearing campaign. This one is particularly personal to me as it features the voice talents of two of my children!

This genesis of this was that I wanted to create a video which gives some useful information about Clearing, whilst at the same time being entertaining and not a big sales pitch. It would have minimal branding and operate outside of our big campaign (which is now in the final stages of being built). We noticed a number of universities doing this last year (with mixed results) so set about planning what our take on it would be.

As someone who primarily uses social media for work (i.e. my Twitter account) I've decided not to post pictures of my children on public websites. This is mainly to save their blushes when they're older and to not keep a public record of their antics for all to see. With the exception of a locked down Instagram account (which my parents LOVE) the internet is a 'Fryer children free zone'.

A still from the Haribo Starmix
boardroom advert
Therefore, early in the planning stages I was a bit reluctant to volunteer their services but felt that by using them we could definitely exploit the 'cute' factor! There's also been a big trend in Marketing to do this recently with both Thomson and Haribo being great examples. With this in mind, the team sat down to write a script and draft some storyboards. We ran this past our Admissions team for accuracy and then began a few animation tests.

After lots of experimenting we stumbled upon Powtoon which is a great little tool for creating basic animations for presentations. I then set to work on recording the voiceover (which was surprisingly stress free with some great ad-libbing which I left in the final video) and finding a soundtrack. The end result turned out to be a bit 'Charlie and Lola' but everyone I've showed it to so far has finished watching it with a massive grin on their face. Watch this space to see how it does once we launch the seeding strategy on 18th July.

No artistic licence taken here!
The whole process was a great team exercise and further illustrates my arguement for keeping as much creative activity in house as possible instead of using agencies (something of which there is a lot of in HE). Don't get me wrong, it's definitely true that if you think you can do everything then clearly you can actually do very little. All the best designers realise that they need to continue increasing their knowledge if they're to stay ahead of the game. This is especially true in digital marketing as there are daily changes/updates and new ways to get your content seen across the internet. I'm not completely against outsourcing (we do this for our website development work, campaign analysis and cinema advert production) but it does mean you're then at the mercy of whichever agency you choose - so choose wisely!

Powtoon contains some great character art
By upskilling and creating stuff internally there's a much greater sense of ownership and it means any amends needed are not a long and costly process. There's also the ability to act fast and get hold of the information you need immediately to prove how a campaign is performing. Surely no-one is closer to the brand and the end user as you so consult them every step of the way to test what sort of content engages them best.

By insourcing like this it shows an investment in the team, which will often build morale, increase retention, and create a great environment for innovation. By creating and nurturing thinkers and doers you can save money, increase efficiency and make your marketing organisation shine. Time will tell as we go live with all of our work for Clearing later this month but one of the important factors is that we feel good about what we're delivering. By deciding to be bold and try something new you can stand out from the crowd and be innovators and not followers.

I know I still have a long way to go and may not ever truly get to where I'd like to be. Hence Jack's last line in the above video - "Are we there yet!?"
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home