Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Collaboration or competition?

Up until recently, my experience of 'the competition' was bumping into them in reception, as we were leaving the building, and they were about to go into their pitch slot. I would leave intimidated by the size of the creative director’s cardboard box he was carrying; obviously housing some creative genius that was bound to wow my potential new client. In other words, my attitude to competition was an adversarial one.

Over recent days, with the build up to the launch of The Flexible Marketing Company, and the post recession world of not tolerating unnecessary fixed overhead (a subject for a future blog post) I view the world much more collaboratively.

A few significant things have happened to me to aid and abet this new world view. Firstly there’s Jimmy. Great designer, works for us half the week, and branching out on his own the other half of the week. He often works in our premises the majority of the week. My creative team input to his projects and he to ours. There’s a lot of mutual trust between us and it is a win-win situation. Then there is Paul ( A young freelance designer, the son of long standing friends. I can’t employ Paul, but I can, and have, just passed on to him a client that, after a re-brand, can not afford the studio day rates of a mature agency. So I have hooked them up. (The client is a fantastic client, check out Then there is the fact that we have just sub-let some of our office space to another creative agency! I am not sure I would have done that 2 years ago. Finally, there’s Tim and Pippa at Wixhill ( On the surface, we’re competitors. But we both want significant projects, and we recognise that there are times when we are stronger together, and the sum of our parts enables us to do things we can’t do alone.

But here is the bigger thought. I have another neighbour friend; we watch our sons play hockey at the weekends. He is the European Marketing Director for a global Pharmaceutical company. On chatting about our worlds on a freezing January morning over a Starbucks coffee, he has explained to me that they have two global agencies they use, no small, local, specialist agencies. The reason is they need global reach, and global understanding. Wouldn’t it be exciting if, with the new possibilities of social media (another future blog post), we could make global, collaborative connections that one day might mean I could be bumping into WPP’s creative director in reception, pitching for work previously only won by one of the big global communication boys.

Am I naïve? Probably. Am I idealistic? Maybe. If so, I am much more enjoying the possibilities of this wider world.

Friday, 12 February 2010

In the mirror marketing

Is the world ready for another male body care product, maybe not. And will men really share the same brand that has so lovingly been built for the woman in our lives? But aren't some of us using it already? Is it just me or do other guys reach across the dressing table on the odd cold winter morning for a squidge of that feminine body cream.

If there is a cloaked market out there for male Dove body care products then will men embrace the Dove brand as part of their world? Gun metal grey packaging instead of white, orange and green typography instead of dark blue. And what about that tag line men+care, it's all true isn't it?

Successful marketing campaigns often play back a mirror reflection of who we actually are and then confirm that the product is part of our lives. In Doves case may be it already is a shared experience, so will a 'his' and 'hers' sit comfortably on the dressing table next to each other? I guess it depends who buys the groceries.

Anyway, here's to Dove for celebrating life!

Richard Ward.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

App Store marketing

Apples App store is a curious environment to release a product into. With two thirds of app store users browsing directly on their iPhone (rather than on a desktop machine), marketing an app has become as black and white as making sure what’s been delivered stays in the top 25 download charts. Where as this system of filtering apps into top downloads worked reasonably well last year, the increasing influx of apps that hit the virtual shelves every day is literally flooding the market. Put simply the App store has become so saturated with products that it can’t handle the demands of sorting them adequately using its current system.

Towards the end of last year an app store update was implemented that added a further level of filtration for casual browsers. As well as the top 25 free apps and the top 25 paid apps, users can now look at the top 25 highest grossing apps. Whilst the new system does let consumers view which products are genuinely successful (as opposed to products that are released very cheaply in the hope of quickly stealing the much sought after top downloads spot) it still doesn’t get around the problem of free promotional apps not getting noticed. As it currently stands an App released with no prior warning is likely to sink beneath the masses never to be heard of again.

So is the app store gold rush over and done with? Well yes and no. Twelve months ago even the most ill marketed apps where getting noticed. The one-man outfit behind iFart, a rather unsophisticated soundboard application, was making developer Joel Comm £5000 a day. Nowadays the apps that are succeeding (retaining spots in the top 25) are, for the most part, the apps that are marketed outside of the confines of the app store. The Facebook app has consistently remained a top 25 free download because of its online presence on the Facebook web page. Gaming apps (which make up the lions share of app store content) are more and more relying on external online advertising campaigns to compete in a market that may see three or more similar products released per day.

In April we see the release of Apples full sized media tablet and with it a whole new era of digital consumption. With a whole host of new app possibilities the iPad may well see a return to the app gold rush, but until then the clever apps are the ones that recognise their presence outside of the rapidly decaying structure of the app store.

Rory Muldoon

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A new flexible future

I have been doing freelance marketing projects for the past 6 years or so. I love the variety of work, the unpredictable workload and the thrill of winning a new project. Working mainly with the educational publishing field, I am able to provide extra marketing resource for companies whose marketing departments are at full stretch or who are going through a re-structure.

However I have been restricted on what I can take on as there was only so much time available and not enough of me to go round. There are areas to develop, where I could do more for clients and take on more interesting work. I had been looking for an opportunity to work collaboratively in order to achieve this.

I have known Sandra Bullen in her design agency capacity for a decade and used her agency for many projects. We discovered our shared amibition to create a new company with like-minded individuals who are focussed on delivering great marketing results to clients who need a more flexible approach and so The Flexible Marketing Company was created.

I'm looking forward to an exciting flexible future, offering our clients the type of marketing support they need, as and when they want it.

Jo Dickie

Monday, 1 February 2010

Why all the fish?

We started The Flexible Marketing Company out of a response to business need. We had a name but we also wanted an image. We laid down a challenge for our good friend and creative illustrator Rory Muldoon to come up something neat. The results are visual studies on the Atlantic Mackerel and the story is right up our street!

These fish move at incredible speeds, some thing we often find our selves doing in business, responding to tight deadlines or having to rapidly implement a team into a commercial situation really quickly.

The Atlantic Mackerel are very tactical choosing to swim in groups that are compatible with each other. We find our flexible approach means we offer bespoke solutions that are complementary to in-house marketing teams.

And these fish are beautiful which we are sure you will agree is an attribute of ours once we have successfully worked on a project together!

So thanks Rory you have done a great job.

Richard Ward