The work experience ‘EXPERIENCE’

It’s always nice when someone takes time out to say something positive about you, but it’s even nicer when the person giving that positive feedback is a talented young work experience placement that in his two weeks here at Precedent HQ, took the office by storm.

And, after his two week stint in East London, working like a trooper, he shot off to the wilds of Wales for a nice relaxing week of army training, with tiny tents, heavy backpack’s and very  limited sleep. Incredibly, he found the time (and the internet connection) needed to write us a blog on his Precedent experience, so here it is:

My work experience at Precedent By Jake Myhre

When I received the list of my school’s work placements on offer this year, Precedent instantly stood out as something that could really be fascinating.

I have always been interested in marketing agencies (my Dad is an executive in a global marketing services network) and I am very passionate about technology and art, particularly photography, film, social media and web design.

So Precedent seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to be introduced to the world of work.  I look back on my time at Precedent as an extremely valuable and inspiring experience so I want t share with you 6 reasons why my it was awesome:

1. Great people – from the minute I arrived at Precedent I was greeted by hugely friendly and welcoming people. Obviously talented, skilled and passionate about their specialities. Everyone was an expert in what they do and yet they work in an environment of collaboration. I really think this is a key to their success.  They were also patient and encouraged me to get on with things and feel free to ask questions and ask for help if needed.

2. Great atmosphere – I really think that creative people need room to breathe. Precedent is a great environment for talented people to collaborate in a nurturing and really friendly environment. Very open plan and open spirited plusI loved the daily fresh fruit!

3. Great space – London is pretty new to me, having spent the last million years on my school campus in Sussex, but the Precedent offices are in a great part of London. Shoreditch is a magnet for up and coming talent in the digital world and I loved being part of it. I especially enjoyed my £3.00 lunch at the nearby Tesco Express, all good.

4. Great work – Precedent is really cutting edge in terms of the kinds of work they are doing. Clearly the digital world is constantly changing and Precedent seems to understand this and keep refining what they do to stay at the forefront of digital work. This was really eye opening for me.

5. Great clients – all agencies are in the end measured on the work they do for their clients and Precedent works with an incredible roster of some very impressive brands. They are also selective in the clients they work with. If they don’t feel like they can do great work that makes a difference for the client that continues to build on Precedent’s reputation of great work, they politely pass.  This I think is another key to their success.

6. I learned a lot – my experience at Precedent was very inspiring and very valuable. It encouraged me to really think about my work and ultimately my career. I really loved being in an environment with so many talented people who worked together to create amazing work for their clients. It has been very motivational for me in thinking about what the next generation digital agency can achieve and what I might like to do in my career. I hope that I contributed in even some small way to Precedent’s great work. Awesome experience and thank you for the opportunity.

Jake, if this was TripAdvisor, i’d be booking my visit to Precedent, so thank you for the kind words. We’re all glad you survived your time in Wales and hope to see you back in the office in the not so distant future.

UK to Australia – my Mobile observations

By John Campbell

In my role as Head of Mobile for Precedent I have just returned from Australia working with our teams in Melbourne and Perth running several mobile seminars and strategy discussions with clients. I am genuinely interested in how digital strategy, trends and acceptance differ across countries and sectors. My  last strategy work in Australia was in 2011 for a government department, and so with anticipation I set out to see what changes there have been in mobile reach.

Carrying enough mobile tech (tablets, phones and Ultrabook) to keep the most connected person engaged I found to my surprise the HP Slate 7inch android tablet for sale at the airport for a £100. This is an indication itself how we are moving towards a tablet society. Statistics show us that tablet sales have now overtaken laptop and predicted to outsell desktop next year. Buying the tablet for family use I started my digital journey to Australia.

In Melbourne the coffee culture is impossible to ignore, with small independent coffee shops attracting clients with quality of coffee and free WiFi. This was a key observation, as WiFi is not as prevalent in Australia as it is in the UK and is seldom free and often poor quality. This is surprising as the Australian mobile network is very strong in places with 4g widely available. So after my own mobile provider O2 telling me I had spent £16 for just looking at the map on my phone and checking my email for the hotel address I switched off data roaming and became a WiFi slave and continual connection hunter. Enjoying the weather and Precedent offices, the view from the Perth office shown below, I looked at how things are in Australia from a mobile perspective.

 

Perth view from my desk

Apple is kingpin in Australia with 75% of mobile users, Android is noticeable by its absence when discussing devices and  Blackberry is practically non-existent. When asking during the seminars who had more than one phone, a common occurence in the UK, very few people raised their hands. Interesting, I also found a generally low level of tablet ownership or usage from our seminar audiences, as only a third of attendees had both a tablet and a smartphone – in the UK its usually more like 60%.

On a very slick and modern train service in Perth, I saw fewer travelers glued to their phones compared to my commute in Edinburgh, and I very few tablets being used. In cafes then it is obvious that iPhones are used by all ages although only a few Android devices seem to be making an impact.

Thinking about the business side of this picture, ensuring your brand is well presented on mobile should be considered critical, however I found less than 20% of the organisations I spoke to had any mobile offering. This is significantly lower than the UK, where there is an active swell towards mobilising brands. However, Australian organisations can be very progressive, so I expect very quickly mobile optimisation will develop across all sectors. Business change is rapid in a fast developing digital culture, and following discussions on mobile strategy with leading companies, my conclusion is that there is growing appetite to develop which surpasses that in the UK. As in the UK the tendency is to wrongly assume a responsive mobile approach is always optimal, we must think of the user and context of use first, rather than simply reflowing current content – remember to emphasise the joy of use on the mobile.

Digital mobile introduction has picked up speed in the last two years since I worked with clients in Australia and I predict the next two years will see a rapid development of mobile optimisation, catching up with and potentially outpacing the UK.  Australians have a “can do” attitude to all things including creative thinking and the use of technology.

We might be able to beat the Australian’s to the Ashes this summer but I do not expect we will keep ahead when it comes to mobile innovation with their ‘lets get it done’ approach. I look forward to seeing and being involved in the interesting digital path being plotted in Australia.

 

 

The value of commissioned imagery

By David Curless, Art Director

It was all looking so positive. Dynamic client, interesting sector, decent budget.

And then I read the final paragraphs of the brief: “We use a royalty-free image library. We will not be commissioning bespoke photography for our new website.”

With those two sentences, my whole enthusiasm for the project drained away. Why am I being such a design drama queen about this? Because it gives a clear indication of the lack of importance the client is placing on the quality of their content. Just another website viewed as an empty vessel into which they can pour the same old content and job done. We’re online.

THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Imagery is an incredibly powerful and efficient way to communicate complex messages and all of us are hard-wired to understand and analyse imagery in the blink of an eye. That’s 50 milliseconds. Or to put it another way, we can process and understand imagery 60,000 times faster than text. So in that blink of an eye, your visitors are making their mind up about your organisation. Do you look credible? Do you look like an organisation they might want to do business with?

We are equally adept at recognising, and dismissing, clichéd stock photography. All those handshakes, water droplets and gleaming white teeth are registered immediately as false and having no real connection to your company and values. Hackneyed imagery of this kind is positively damaging to your brand. It draws attention, in a very public way, to the fact that you either: can’t be bothered to think about what you want to tell visitors about yourself; or even worse, you don’t even know what it is about your organisation that makes you special.

Either way, you are sending a very negative, muddled message and in today’s highly competitive marketplace, customers have little, if any, tolerance of this sort of lazy thinking.

So, if you want to communicate clearly and positively, think carefully about what makes you stand out from the crowd, tell the great stories about yourselves, show your personality (come on, you must have some), decide on the key messages you want your visitors to come away with and get bespoke imagery working hard on your behalf. The care you put into this will place your organisation ahead of the competition. In the end, what you pay for commissioned imagery will be repaid time and again by the benefits it brings to the perception of what you stand for and the values you hold.

Job done.

 

When UX takes over your life!

By Ryan Sackett, UX Consultant

Outside of my day to day as a UX Consultant at Precedent Towers, I  decided that balance was needed for a better work life balance, so I decided what better hobby to take up than – you guessed it – more UX stuff!

I have helped run UXPA Scotland, a network that is designed to support people who research, design and evaluate the user experience of products and services for the past few years now. Over the last year I have taken charge of the ever growing events schedule, and, specifically the programme of speakers.

Despite occasionally wondering if without realising it, ‘has UX slowly taken over my life’? I get so much out of it that I know doing more is better than nothing at all. But like many of us with out of work ‘professional hobbies’, my efforts are sporadic and time intensive and you find yourself in a constant juggling act , trying to ensure you can accommodate it all.

A few weeks ago, after being approached to help out with the forthcoming UX Scotland conference, yet another UX work/hobby that I couldn’t turn down, I found myself reviewing a huge stack of submissions from members of the UX community looking to speak at the event. Delighted and daunted just about summed it up.

I couldn’t escape the fact that there are so many interesting facets to UX. The discipline is so vast and varied that choosing the right mix of speakers and topics was no mean feat.  I was grateful that I had so much involvement finding speakers and content for the events programme for UXPA  Scotland as the task ahead was a daunting,  and in truth, reviewing talks for a paying event felt like a different beast altogether. When the quality is so good and those submitting talks are people you respect, judging becomes all the more difficult.

I made my choices, made them again, then again and after a bit more deliberation I got there in the end. I’d been supplied with a criteria, but in the end found that gut instinct seemed to balance out three key factors – how current the topic was; if the talk felt practical; and, finally if the content sounded interesting.

I am happy to report my selections all satisfied at least two of the three criteria and I’m looking forward to seeing them, and as many others as I can squeeze in, when the conference rolls into Edinburgh on June 20 & 21 this year.

 

 

Guest Blog: Destination marketing and how families decide where to go on holiday

Making the right decision is a constant issue for parents

Life is tough for parents, not only do they need to make sure they can earn enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads, they also need to worry about education, their child’s safety, if they are bringing up a child that is going to be a positive member of society etc etc etc.  The last thing they want to worry about is deciding where to go on holiday, what movie to watch in the cinema or what smartphone to buy.  Making th`e right decision on what restaurant to go to for your sons 8th birthday can end up generating an unfathomable amount of stress, getting it wrong is just too costly.

Helping parents with these decisions will pay dividends

Brands that help people do far better than brands that just sell to people.  Helping someone might not pay dividends today but it pays dividends tomorrow and for as long as you continue to add value to their lives.

So, it goes to reason that brands that help parents with decision making will reap rewards in the long run.  And those rewards can be sizable, each year families in the UK spent around £187B, that’s £20M every hour of the day and night.

In order to help you must first comprehend

In the past lazy marketers assumed there was a gatekeeper, one person who was the head decision maker, with the unilateral power to decide for everyone.  Back in the 1920s to 1940s this was the man of the house, then in the 1950s and 1960s this changed and marketers went after the women as the decision makers.  Then in the 1980s pester power came into fashion and markets believed they could get the kids to annoy parents into submission, and thus they drove the decision making frame work.

However, a new approach is emerging, but the problem for marketers is that it is not about approaching a single demographic that sits nicely in a media quartile, it is more complicated than that.  You can’t just talk to one person and get them to bring the whole family along with them. Over the last year we have spoken to nearly 2,000 families from all over the world, asking them about how decisions get made within the family. Through this research we are seeing an emergent family decision dynamic where the decision making is more democratised across the whole family.  No single person makes a decision, it is made in collaboration between all parties.

Obviously some families collaborate more than others, but we believe the number of collaborating families will only be increasing over the next 5-10 years. Families that collaborate more tend to perceive themselves as time poor; they think the children in the family are experts in some categories; and they are not ‘traditional’ nuclear families.  Each of these factors is on the increase in families around the world, meaning, in our opinion, collaborative family decision making is on the increase too

All collaboration isn’t the same

Sectors where collaboration is the highest (beyond sweets) are the entertainment industry (both movies and games) and the destination industry (holidays abroad and trips in this country), however even though they have similar levels of intergenerational collaboration (children actively involved in around 50% of purchases in these sectors) the actual dynamics of the child’s involvement is dramatically different, and the drivers for involvement are also different.

Let’s have a look at how decisions are made in the UK around holidays to be taken in the UK.  We know this is a particularly collaborative decision, we also see that it is more collaborative in families who perceive themselves to be time poor.  As part of the qual research we carried out it was clear that families that didn’t spend much time together (or at least felt they didn’t spend much time together) would involve children more in deciding on where to go.  This was to ensure they got the decision right, the last thing they want to do was pick a holiday and when they get there have the kids declare “This place is rubbish”.  This would be a real waste of the precious time they get to spend together.  Should holiday companies help parents by creating assets that ensure kids have embraced the holiday before they arrive and thus minimising the likelihood of complaints when kids get there?

One in 9 holidays in the UK are initiated by the child, and for one in 20 holidays the child (6-11 year old) actually does the research into where to go, yet how many destination sites have kids in mind when they are showing what you can do and laying out the benefits?  Kids deserve more. If they are out there picking where the family is going to go on holiday should we not be making their lives easier and not harder?

Make collaboration easier

This specific set of decision making roles is unique to ‘staycation’ holidays, how decisions get made for what TV to buy, what car to get or what to watch on TV are different and nuanced in their own way.  Sadly, although there are a few guiding principles, there is not a simple formula you can apply to how this fascinating family decision making dynamic works.  This means we need to rethink how we approach creating experiences that engage the whole family.  The ultimate strategic output is no longer ‘which member of the family do you target’, you need to be smarter than that.  It is not a single gate keeper, there is no simple theory that you can apply that will help you understand what the proposition should be, or how and when the messaging should land. You need to really lift up the bonnet and not just study the data but talk to families.  To really win you need to understand, enable and empower the collaboration, and not try to pick off the individual.

Following on from the launch of our DREAM day out report we have been having lots of interesting conversations about how destinations interact with their audiences to drive attendance. One such conversation was with the authors of this guest blog  The Little Big Partnership who help organisations connect with children, young people and families.

A world away from all your digital tech

In this fast moving world where we constantly have a connection to our favourite piece of digital tech maybe our phone, tablet or games consol.  The flat screen TV mounted on the wall at home bombarding you with broadcasting gems of today and the radio always on in the car. As a tech addict myself it is challenging but refreshing to have a weekend where you have no option – no tech allowed. The rules of the Highlander Mountain Marathon I took part in is that you have no technical help or access to any device and you are focused on navigating around the snowy Scottish mountains in a team of two with you tent and everything you need on your back. The team work, the challenge and escape to another world (photos below) for a couple of days is the best lift you can have.

Laggan hills - Sat 27th

All you have is a map – where’s my GPS when i need it?

I am not suggesting everyone does a Mountain Marathon but try and leave behind your digital connections for a couple of days, just experience life as it was. It is refreshing in the world where digital addiction has potential of becoming a problem.
John Campbell,  Head of Mobile

 

3 lessons from a weekend artoholic

By Lindsay Herbert, Head of Digital Marketing

This weekend was a heavy one. I meant to stop after just one on Saturday at the Tate Britain at the Schwitters exhibit, but before I knew it, I was binging on Lichtenstein and ‘A Bigger Splash’ at the Tate Modern, followed by blowing the last of my mind on Sunday at the jaw-dropping Russian exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery.

To try and redeem myself this Monday morning, bleary eyed and sore, I’ve collected three thoughts that relate well to my work as Head of Digital Marketing that I hope will also be a help to others. Two of the thoughts have a strong digital connection, whilst the last is just a general thought I need to remind myself of more often.

1) Untitled. (Really?)

First, knowing what a picture is about doesn’t just help to understand it, it can give you an appreciation of its value. Cartoon-like tattoos of chains and sad, busty women on moustached men, looking not unlike aged portraits of Shoreditch hipsters in the Saatchi Gallery, took on unsettling new meaning when the captions revealed them to be the gang tattoos of lifelong Russian criminals. Or at the Lichtenstein exhibition where the captions showed just how many of the paintings were borrowed from private collections – meaning that despite their iconic status and societal value, when the exhibitions ends we’ll likely never get to lay eyes on many of these famous works again.

It made me think back to my work on the web and the time it takes to load those big carousel banners many brands are so fond of (or at least, fond of the in-fighting they often resolve internally), and it’s worth thinking of the potential value added when making the call on whether to include space in the carousel template for that precious, value-adding editable text.

2) Yours sincerely, the Tate Modern

My second thought relates to the DREAM Destinations seminar series we’re currently running (next stop, Edinburgh!) and how attractions like galleries can (and are) using technology to forge closer connections with their visitors, and bridge the time between in-person visits.

The moment I scanned my membership card at the Tate Modern, an email popped into my Hotmail account asking what I thought of the Lichtenstein exhibit. Whilst I thought the wording could have been a little less praise soliciting (‘Looking at the comments so far, it’s clear that people have enjoyed…’) I was still impressed, first by the efficiency and then by the fact they thought to ask at all.

It’s also noteworthy though that it was my second visit to the exhibition (yes, I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my membership!) and the second time receiving the same email. Should the second email have been different and recognized me as a repeat visitor? In an ideal world (where the Tate gets the unlimited marketing resource and advanced CRM it deserves), yes, but it did prompt me to wonder what other ways the Tate could have bridged the virtual and real life gap.

For example, I was disappointed when my favourite paintings weren’t available for sale as prints at each of the galleries I’d visited – could I have been asked to vote online for which additional prints should be procured for their online shop? Could QR codes have been added to the paintings so scanning saved them to a list of favourites that I could then share and refer to later (rather than have to surreptitiously snap photos of the captions for my own un-shareable records)?

One thing I will say, even though I didn’t click through on either email from the Tate, was that I was touched to see the curator’s name pop up in my inbox. It was a sign they are keeping track of my interactions with them in a meaningful way – one that should later result in fewer ‘email all’ messages down the road – but more importantly, tells me my visit is helping them shape future visits for everyone.

3) Art: The brain’s drain cleaner!

The last thing I’ll mention is how standing for hours in four different galleries this weekend, overloading my brain with creativity and introspection, is making me oddly eager to get stuck back in at work this snowy Monday morning. I don’t know how some of the most impressive things I saw (like a giant painting at Saatchi gallery that from far away looks opulent and intricately detailed, but close up is actually made from systematically torn and paint-soiled cardboard sheets) are going to factor into the projects I’m working on, but the feeling in my head right now is a bit like the one you get right before a great idea pops in.

Not a new revelation I suppose, but a good reminder as to why we should all reboot our brains and trade staring at pixels for paint strokes whenever we get the chance.

Forsake an advert, look at your website

By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research 

Attractions should ensure that every aspect of their digital engagement works simply and intuitively in order to minimise drop out and maximise conversion rates.

One of the main recommendations I made in our recent DREAM day out report was that attractions should be constantly evaluating and refining the usability of their websites in order to maximise conversion opportunities.  In truth it was difficult to find examples of effective ticket booking interfaces in all but a few of the 200 odd websites I looked at to compile the report, and there was little evidence of considered user-journey mapping, or UX design principles.

Jakob Nielsen a renowned usability guru has maintained for many years that 10% of any digital design project’s budget should be spent on usability. He contends that such expenditure will result in an average improvement in key performance indicators of 83% (see http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-roi-declining-but-still-strong/). Of course this is for a new project, but having looked at so many attraction sites recently it strikes me that the vast majority could benefit significantly from improved usability.

I was struck yesterday by a massive promotion of the new ride at Alton Towers in the Sun newspaper. Around four pages of the red top was dedicated to an offer encouraging readers to collect tokens from the paper to secure a couple of free tickets to the Towers.

Now I am sure that such activity increases awareness and to an extent footfall in the real and virtual attraction worlds, but I am convinced that attractions, particularly Alton Towers, would benefit by forsaking one or two of their traditional marketing activities and using the money saved on increasing the effectiveness of their websites in order to ensure conversion and actual ticket purchases.

As Dan Baker, our Head of UX says in the report “A philosophy of measurement and continual improvement needs to be adopted which, if fully embraced, is guaranteed to deliver digital success”

Go mobile, go social, go regional

By Robbie Deng, International Consultant and Project Manager

While conducting research for our latest report into digital marketing for visitor attractions in the UK and Australia I had a particular focus and interest in what destinations are doing to target and improve their communication with overseas tourists, particularly the growing number of people visiting from East Asia.

A recent nation-wide survey of Internet usage in China by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) revealed that nearly 80 per cent of Chinese web users searched for travel information online in 2012. The really interesting statistic however was that 52.1% of users who made online bookings searched for information on food and nearby attractions.

Overall, the report revealed the potential for visitor attractions to engage Chinese visitors via mobile as China has over 400 million mobile Internet users. And this trend applied to tourists from other countries as well (See Overseas Visitors to Britain.

Go mobile responsive

In looking at around 200 attraction websites to inform our new report A DREAM day out – Digitally promoting and enhancing the attraction experience, we noted that there were few examples outside of the very big establishments that seemed to have an integrated mobile strategy. Furthermore, very few of even the larger attractions provided information in foreign languages, over and above maybe a PDF document, or single web page.

Certainly, a number of the internationally renowned British attractions, such as the British Museum, National History Museum and Edinburgh Castle have mobile websites in English, but rarely did they provide mobile responsive sites in other language options. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a responsively designed site that adapts to the access device being used by visitors. Interestingly, it welcomes its international visitors with multi-lingual sites, but its mobile site does not feature the language options available elsewhere.

Regional preferences of social media platforms

Although all of the above mentioned attractions have social media integration in place, they seemed to overlook the distinctive regional preferences of social media platforms especially for audiences based in East Asia. Yes, Facebook and Twitter do enjoy a large fan-base worldwide, but in China, Weibo (micro-blog) is one of the top social media channels; in South Korea, there is KakaoTalk; and Mixi still dominates the social media market shares in Japan. Alas, in the digital age, provision of language options can no longer meet global audiences’ needs, understanding how they communicate digitally and its regional nuances is imperative.

 

Closing the marketing loop – The digital engagement cycle for visitor attractions

By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research 

Recently I have been researching and writing a report looking into how attractions use digital to promote and enhance the visitor experience of their venues. The report’s central premise is that today, more than ever, digital communications and engagement plays a crucial role in not just recruiting visitors to an attraction, but also in ensuring that they have a satisfying and rewarding experience at it; one that they will want to talk about and share with their family, friends and peers.

To this end the report is framed around the DREAM model. The implication of which is that attractions need to look at their digital landscape holistically in order to complete the engagement cycle. The tricky parts of this are the stages at which the visitor actually attends and after they have left. However, in terms of word of mouth recommendation, and attracting the next tranche of visitors there is no stage more important, get this bit right and marketing efforts have the potential to be less scatter-gun and more targeted and personal.

With this in mind I was intrigued to see an article last week describing Disney’s new initiative aimed at making their visitors’ experience of their parks seamless and cash-free http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671616/a-1-billion-project-to-remake-the-disney-world-experience-using-rfid#1  The idea is that visitors have an RFID wristband, which allows them to eat, drink, buy souvenirs, and potentially interact with Disney characters hassle-free. Disney will be able to collect data on their visitors’ habits from the time they enter their parks to the time they leave. Monetisation of the experience must be front of mind for Disney, but so too must be the enhancement and improvement of the experience, identifying pain points and remedying them as best possible.

This is all fantastic of course, but other than visitors not having to get their wallet out, how does it enhance the visitor’s experience, and could it actually add to the apprehension of a family on a limited budget? There is of course an app that can be downloaded from the Disney site that helps visitors plan their day, see queue times etc, but a look at what it offers suggest that there is little attempt by Disney to include in the app tools to allow people to share their experiences as they happen, or to encourage visitors to interact with the ‘Disney community’ subsequently.

Maybe with a brand like Disney’s it is all about the experience, and ongoing user-generated marketing material and word of mouth recommendations come naturally due to the aspirational nature of their attractions. For the less well resourced there are any number of digital approaches that will help them close the circle and use their satisfied customers to generate real digital assets and goodwill contained in our report – The DREAM day out – Digitally enhancing and promoting the attraction experience. To find out more download a copy of our free report.