Archives for category: Planning

We all make new year resolutions at this time of year. Some we keep, some we….. ermm, don’t. But in the spirit of 2013, the new year is an opportunity to change, to reinvent your brand.

From a happy designer perspective, here’s five resolutions that should improve your brand presence.

1) I’ll have a salad…

Look at how your company’s brand is seen on and offline. Is it looking a little bloated? Struggling to communicate its intended messages? Then perform a design and messaging health check and devise measures to make it leaner, fitter and able to communicate your message more effectively. Fonts, colours, layouts, themes, make sure that they are consistent. Look through all your touch points and ask yourself if they are doing an effective service or just making up the numbers. Making your brand a little healthier has many health benefits and customers may remark that you’ve changed, that you look good.

2) I’m going to run 500 miles…

We all want to be fitter. Are your brand messages easy to find? Do users have the strength to find them? Spend some time reducing the amount of information that people have to read. ‘Keep it simple’ is a design principle that will never change and is very important in these days of mixed media to keep up to date with. Look at your brand with fresh eyes and identify the areas it needs to improve. Keep your USP’s precise and utilise positioning and space to make them impactful and relevant.

3) Keep in touch more….

In a market of likes, tweets and everything is delicious, the people that we keep in touch with regularly extends beyond your business, family and friends to potentially everyone with access to the internet. Put in place a social media strategy for the year, so that regular posts and tweets are appreciated by current contacts and new potentially interesting people. Social media channels provide unique ways to communicate with customers in an individual way and create brand ambassadors who can provide positive messaging to new markets. Using these channels in new, different ways disrupts how people receive information and gains their attention.

4) I accept your challenge…

Safe options have their place, but challenge the way that you think, the way your brand operates. Can it change? Or is it just accepted that the brand has always looked, acted this way and will always be that way? The market place as we all know is very different and challenges are made from many different sources. Try not to always accept the safe idea or the tried and trusted path. Pushing through creative ideas that are ‘a bit out there’ may be daunting, however it’s these types of ideas that may position your  brand in a more favourable light with potential customers over ‘safer’ competitors.

5) I love it when a plan comes together… 

You need to know where you are going before you can plan where you’re going. The design equivalent of forgetting your shorts on a summer holiday is designing something and forgetting to add any calls to action. Both make you feel a little sheepish. Plans, provide momentum, actioning this plan means that you have achievable milestones to reach your destination. Look at your objectives and plan what you need and who you need to achieve your goal. Plans made early and with your suppliers ensure that everyone knows what happens and no one gets left behind.

So there you have it… 5 great new year’s resolutions for your business for this brand new year. I wish you the very best of luck and don’t forget that if you get stuck at any stage, Happy is always here to help.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

So, you’re a B2B organisation. You’re not in a consumerable industry.  You’re busy. Should you still be marketing this Christmas?

Many businesses see Christmas time as a great opportunity to target their customers. After all Christmas marketing is generally expected isn’t it? However, with Christmas hype creating  an overcrowded marketplace and rife competition, it is often a fight for attention from those key customers.

With this in mind it is important to have a solid strategy behind your ideas, to ensure that your marketing is noticed.

Here are some helpful tips of how to create campaigns that don’t get lost in the snow…

1. Review

Take a look at the success of your marketing last year- What worked for you? What didn’t? Who responded? Who didn’t? Was the message successful? Were targets achieved? Learn from the patterns to ensure an even stronger campaign this year.

2. Think ahead

Creating a plan early in the year, as part of a full strategy will aid any campaign. An early plan of action will help ensure you are targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right message as opposed to jumping on the Christmas band wagon.

3. Pre and Post

Ensure you are thinking pre and post Christmas. What else do you have in mind? What will you do as a lead up to Christmas? What happens if they don’t respond to your Christmas messaging? Be prepared in advance.

4. Set targets

What do you want to achieve? When do you want to achieve this by? Is this realistic? How will you know when you have achieved this? Setting benchmarks is a strong base for a good strategic plan, and a great way to help with planning next year’s  Christmas activity!

5. Know your audience

Do your audience respond well at Christmas? Is this a quiet time for them? What are they doing? How are they spending? Knowing your audience ensures that your Christmas efforts are not wasted. Each audience will vary- do your research, find out exactly what they want and give it to them.

6. Analyse the competition

What are your competitors doing? When are they targeting those same customers? Make sure you are ready to pip them to the post, or target just after when messages are fresh in your customer’s minds. That all depends on your strategy and what works for your customers.

7. Do it!

And give it all you’ve got. Commit yourself. Every campaign should have 100% effort and passion.

Follow these small tips and you’ll stay off the naughty list this Christmas. These are the foundations for a successful Christmas campaign (and other campaigns throughout the year).

Emma Dobson is a branding expert and Touch Point guru at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

Today I’ll talk about something that affects my working life every single day: briefs.

Briefs take a lot of thought and the whole point of it is to ensure that you allocate your resources to hit your marketing/campaign objectives. The right brief leads to the right campaign execution and the right campaign execution leads to the right results, which is what agency and client want to achieve.

Do you have a marketing challenge? Or perhaps a full campaign that you want an agency to plan and create for you? Or maybe you just need an advert designing?

Whatever it is, it all starts with the brief. If you are new to briefing or even if you have been doing it for a long time, here are my 8 top points to be considered.

1. Give background information.

Get together as much information as you can about the company and the product or service you want to promote. What has and hasn’t worked before is also a great help.  Any information of how you have communicated before is not a waste of space in your brief, as it will give more insight into your audience, which nicely leads me to the next point…

2. Find out about your audience.

Campaigns work because you know everything (you can) about the people you are targeting.  It is these people that you are hoping will ultimately want to respond and buy. Research and analyse your data to figure out what makes your target audience tick, what they want and what they may expect from you. And then go and exceed their expectations.

3. One line says it all.

Think about what you are trying to achieve with your marketing and then put this in one line. Think: ‘if I could achieve one thing and one thing only, what would this be?” This helps you with prioritising your objectives and focusing on your main proposition.

4. Think about how daring you want to be.

Whatever you are promoting, chances are that you know your audience better than most people. So tell us if you think it’s time to shake things up. Tell us if you want to surprise them. This type of information can completely change the way things are developed.

5. Don’t like this, don’t like that.

Yes, we want to know your (and your audience’s) likes and dislikes. If there is a particular colour/tone/image that you/they hate don’t be shy, put it in the brief.

There is nothing worse than producing good creative work that doesn’t hit the spot because of likes and dislikes. So get them out of the way at the start.

6. There is always a price tag

Be clear on the budget. If you are not entirely sure, try to give some level of indication. The budget has to be realistic and in accordance to the scope of your campaign. It’s also good practice to say how you intend to measure success, so we can put some steps in place along the process to help you be able to do that. There should always be a response rate in mind so we can calculate the success of the activity in real ROI terms.

7. Say what you expect

Include your requirements, particularly in terms of timings.  Then everyone knows what is required for when.  Not doing this at the start can result in a whole heap of confusion and can lead to expensive mistakes. By being exact with what you need to have planned, created, produced and reported will aid in the cost effectiveness and success of your activity. By being precise with what you need, the success of the communication is greatly improved.

8. ‘I know that now!’

When all is done and dusted, a good tip is to look at the brief you supplied and take into account how your project or marketing activity went on that occasion. It’s good to think about what went well, what didn’t go well and what can be done better next time. If you create a process and follow all the steps consistently, with refinements over time, you will be on the way to creating great outcomes for your business in every brief you write.

And now you know all about the perfect brief, what are you waiting for?

Marilia Spindler is an Account Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

First to win gold at the London 2012 Olympics, Heather Stanning and Helen Glover are two very happy ladies. It’s a momentous achievement given that Glover only started rowing 4 years ago. Incredible. There’s no doubting they have a huge amount of talent, that they had focus and that they had dreamed of this moment for many years. But wasn’t that the same for the other competitors at Eton Dorney? The conditions were the same, the boats are were all the same? What made them different? What made them the winners of London 2012 Olympic gold?

Whilst they may feel like the luckiest ladies alive, one thing we can be sure of is that in no way was this achievement down to luck. I would suggest that their success comes from planning. A serious amount of planning.

Rowing to gold was the culmination of years of planning. And what we witnessed this week was wonderful in the extreme. But, what we haven’t seen is everything that has gone on behind the scenes. The early morning rises, the diets, the training schedules, the honing of skills, the gym sessions, a steady building of the plan, knowing what was happening when, and identifying key milestones on their carefully planned path.

It’s the same with marketing; whilst the finish line is different and the things we do along the way will vary enormously, one thing that underpins it all is planning. Yet planning is often the bit that is ignored in our haste to actually do something. It’s a British trait after all – we just want to crack on. Get things done.

So limber up, dust down your kit and prepare to win medals, here’s 3 tips ….

Bronze: Make the Plan; It may sound obvious, however the number of companies of all sizes without a marketing plan is staggering. OK so we may not have to change our diet or learn how to wield an oar or perform an Arabian roll but we can fix our goal and build activity around it. Know your customers, attract your prospects, understand behaviours, watch your competitors, bolster your conversions, change people’s perceptions. Know what you will do, and when you will do it. Whatever your playing field, a well thought out plan will help you master it more quickly.

Silver: Be prepared. There will be obstacles;The road to Olympic or marketing glory isn’t paved with, well, ‘gold’. Along the way there will be low times, tough times, and a good dose of potholes. When Mr Competitor pops up at the finishing line with a product just like yours, when a social media faux pas alienates customers, and when sales go through the roof, knowing your plan inside and out will prevent the heartache.

Gold: Measure; I’m no swimmer, but I bet in the Olympic pool the swimmer doing backstroke knows just how many strokes they need to complete each length. When the nation’s newest hero Wiggo (aka Bradley Wiggins) won gold he knew exactly how he was performing – receiving regular information from the road that is his ‘market place’ and producing an awesome performance as a result. Knowing your numbers will guide you and help you make decisions. Know your return on investment, your retention numbers, your acquisition hits, your conversion ratios. Know them, measure them, idolise them.

Just like every athlete, the way you prepare to achieve your plans will be different. But you do need a plan.

In the spirit of London 2012 make your marketing plans your personal best. Step onto the podium proud of your golden performance. Let’s do it for the nation.

So … if planning were an Olympic sport, how would you reach gold? Answers on a postcard please … oh and here’s some stamps …Alternatively leave your message below …












Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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