More big projects on the horizon!
I definitely find driving into work to begin the week much easier when I have a significant project in motion. Recently I've been managing two high profile digital initiatives. These are Kier's disposal of Mouchel Consulting and the publication of our 2016 annual report.

The former has been quite straightforward for me as our marketing teams have had a good working relationship to this point. So, I've been engaged in delivering CMS training, asset library and login transfers and generally ensuring a smooth handover.

Our annual report is a key document for engaging with shareholders and of similar importance. It communicates not only the work we have done but outlines the vision for the coming year. Last year I championed the build of a page on our website which pulled out the key highlights of this report. Before, digital had been an afterthought with the annual report being published online just as a large PDF. Of course, the drawbacks of this were that it was not searchable and it meant anyone engaging with our content would need to download a 10MB+ file.

I'm pleased to say that this year we've gone a step further with a much more integrated and user friendly page. There was some work to do on cherry-picking the correct content, but already the combination of financial results and case studies has seen twice as many unique visitors as last year. This is a case in point of the importance of adapting content depending on the medium. You wouldn't expect a film adaption of a novel to simply project the scanned pages onto the big screen...!

Trying to find a role for digital in everything is essential in proving the ROI of what the team do. With this in mind I've been investigated how we bid for new work and the opportunities for us to add value. Winning new contracts and projects is at the top of the list when it comes to turning an operational profit. We're favoured to be well regarded enough to be approached to bid for work but must then do everything we can in order to win it. Here is how I think digital can help with this process:

Externally seeding content:

Whether this be via social media, our blog or video production we can do a lot to highlight our experience and expertise. For example, if we are bidding for work in a specific geographical area we target relevant content in the form of client testimonials. Planning this in advance means that the potential client is well aware of our reliability and skills both before and after the final pitch.

Selling expertise to clients:

With a professional and well qualified in house digital team we are in many ways more advanced than most of our competitors. In fact, we've just been shortlisted for 'Marketing Team of the Year' at the Construction Marketing Awards to further highlight our credentials. These skills can be leveraged to show where we can add value to a project were it to be awarded to us. This may be in assisting in the build of a microsite, brand strategy or social media communication and training.

Cross selling and the integrated offer:

Finally, we have been leading on a project to educate colleagues before they enter into a bid. In many cases Kier are already working on a contract either with a council or organisation. By building a bespoke app highlighting where current work is taking place it fuels the conversation and cements the impression of a joined-up company ethos. This app also has up to date contact information allowing colleagues to get in touch with each other to ensure full transparency pre-pitch. The client can then be educated on the full benefits of having an integrated workforce who communicate in the same way.

Championing digital as a set of technologies which can both improve and evolve how we do business is essential in to continue to adapt our operational models. People's behaviour is still evolving in the way they interact with technology and we need to ensure we are looking to do all we can to add value and open up new markets.
As my paternity leave comes to an end it's time for me to switch back into 'work mode'. In many ways it will be good to get back to the routine just as I have become a pro at school runs, laying the breakfast table and swimming lessons! Obviously, I'm going to miss the family - especially our new addition! Even though he's our fourth child it doesn't take away the sense of wonder at a new little human being born into the world. Having to handle the delivery myself may have something to do with it but seeing a perfectly formed little boy enter the world is the most amazing thing you can witness.

Having had a quick glance at my emails it's definitely going to take me the best part of a week to get through them. Just sifting through the amount of sales emails promoting their latest 'unique' marketing technology product is a morning's work! I've tweeted before an excellent 'supergraphic' by Scott Brinker which categorises 3,874 different marketing solutions on one slide. This demonstrates just how many potential sales approaches I could get from different companies - an 87% increase on last year! I have even contemplated putting it up on my wall and crossing them off after each approach. Take a look below:

This could make potentially overwhelming reading as to work my way through all these would be a mammoth task in a constantly changing landscape. It also means my work phone is likely to be ringing hotter than ever as more sales people hunt me down via my LinkedIn profile. You can also see that there does not seem to be one platform that does everything that is required. Meaning no two marketing departments are likely to be using the same tools.

Fundamentally, all marketing campaign platforms are all quite similar just with their own small eccentricities or slightly easier to use interface. At Kier, we use Dotmailer which is an excellent platform for our email sends but I've used Pure360 in a previous role and the differences are negligible. The former has a great user friendly interface but the latter has excellent workflow options.

We are currently in the market for a new social media monitoring platform and this problem is showed in the pitches in which I have been present. It seems the platforms either specialise in scheduling and account management or analysis and reporting. Not having a platform that can powerfully achieve both means you have to be clear about your brief.

There's also the danger that I may have become hardened to the capabilities of these platforms. I'm yet to see anything that differentiates or impresses me. The longer I work in digital marketing the more I expect a technology platform to do. In a previous role we worked with an agency who had built a bespoke brand monitoring platform - some of the insight was therefore completely unique. Yet, knowing the capabilities of the platforms I was always challenging them to go one better. Eventually they managed to impress me but it wasn't easy - it's a good job we had such a good working relationship!

I've written before about constantly heightening expectations when it comes to technology. Our internal focus was to try to build a self service platform containing everything for our marketing community. Yet there is a danger here best described in the excellent Cantonese phrase which translates as "Equipped with knives all over, yet none is sharp"(周身刀,無張利). Whilst one company is busy trying to produce an all-round technology platform they will be losing ground on their competitors in one aspect. The ever increasing popularity of digital not only is showed in the amount of platforms but also in the rate they are evolving.

As our jobs get ever more complex we are all destined to become more demanding. I look forward to the day when a new platform or product impresses me in the way something like Google Analytics did over ten years ago. Or maybe, after witnessing the birth of my four children I'm going to be impossible to impress ever again!

PS: If you want the database of the above 'supergraphic' then you can download it here. I find it useful for recording notes on all  the platforms with which I've come into contact.
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