I spoke to Ian Bamford from EG Creative, a marketing communications agency and one of our new service providers, who will be offering our members clear and concise tailor made marketing solutions, helping with branding and messaging across all media. An exciting partnership which we are keen to promote to our members when so many brands and messages are lost with the sheer amount of brands and communications out there.
Giftware Association- Where did the idea of EG Creative come from and who is essentially the core of EG Creative?
Ian Bamford – It stems from a partnership with John Kinsella at Event Guides Ltd, we’re both from the world of agencies, with a combined 40+ years’ experience. I’ve previously worked on campaigns for Audi, KFC, Johnnie Walker, Zanussi and Volkswagen and much more. I’ve also worked at Ascential, as head of brand communications responsible for the development of all marketing communications. This involved working across a great many industries, for example, Autumn Fair, BETT which is an education focused show, RWM which is primarily about Waste, Energy, Water, Renewables and Recycling and Pure which is all about fashion. And John has produced many of the event previews and guides that you pick up at the shows so we’re not strangers to your member’s needs. Working across these industries has allowed us to see the potential in branding and advertising across many different industries, which in turn has spurred us on to turn our efforts to EG Creative, where we can help businesses across these sectors individually with their marketing campaigns.
GA – What is the size of the company?
IB – The company is technically just myself and John, but I have access to the whole of the creative team at Event Guides Ltd., so from any time it could either be two people or eight people. Though working across the various sectors whilst working on event guides, I have many advertising contacts that myself and the team can utilise to ultimately help your members.
GA – How can you help businesses needing your help and essentially our members, and how will you work with our members?
IB – We can help on all aspects of marketing campaigns, from banners and ads through to websites, right up to overall creative development and brand identity. We’ll take a holistic approach to looking at the brief, making sure we can meet your member’s needs and wants in the most appropriate way. I like to think honesty is the best policy. If I believe something other than what’s initially thought is the right course, or something isn’t working then it’s good to have an open conversation so it’s easily fed back upon. I think the first thing I do when I visit clients is to listen and then listen again, It’s easy to ask questions but then that’s almost as if you’re shaping the responses for your own gain, I find it best to let the clients talk about their problems and listen as you’ll get a more truthful version of how they want the business shaped and how we can help in achieving that, and who knows their company better than the business you are trying to help.
GA – How do you research around the different sectors that you work in?
IB – As mentioned above, it’s all about listening and providing the correct solutions that our clients or your members need. We’re confident in retail from having worked on big shows like Spring Fair but we like to bring out the company’s personality and building up a long lasting relationship is key, if they keep the conversations open then we learn more about our customers and their members. I’m starting to write an industry blog and one of my first topics is whether agencies should be brought in house, to learn about the business or always be external and the pros and cons of both. Sometimes there’s a necessity for a company to reach outside for more creative solutions as in-house teams can sometimes play it safe or lose that objective viewpoint.
GA – How is data used after you have done your research?
IB – I believe there’s so much data available on campaigns and websites through Google Analytics or other measuring tools for example, which is great if you know what you are looking for, but if not you can end up with a stack of numbers that won’t offer much insight. I think companies should be more focused on being ‘Insight Informed’ rather than data driven. We should be more involved in getting qualitative responses from campaigns rather than just numbers. Numbers help say ‘what’ but to build a bigger picture you need to find out why certain behaviors are happening. This, in turn, will help shape future campaigns by using customer’s experiences rather than just numbers.
GA – How has social media and the rise of digital marketing affected the way you work?
IB – Social Media is obviously an important tool for most businesses today, but first of all it’s important that everything we do on social is targeted where a business’s audience is. If we’re working on Twitter ads and messaging, and the main bulk of your audience is on Facebook, then it’s pretty pointless. So you need to know where your audience is. LinkedIn is a very important tool to connect with businesses, I’ve found that I use it differently now as more of an influencing tool This can work to help with our client’s strategies too and be used in the holistic approach I mentioned of messages across all platforms.
I also believe we’re in danger of our ‘digital’ world shrinking. With the increase of re-marketing and programmatic marketing, we see the same ads for the same products being sold to us over and over again. You visit or research a website, then as you move on to another, ads from the previous website follow you around. We need to find a way to move away from this. I welcome more variety of ads and the adverts should work better to ensure my digital world doesn’t become an echo chamber.
GA – Have you seen any trends in designs?
IB – Design trends vary from industry to industry, so there’s still lots of difference out there, but I’ve seen a lot of design featuring repetition, and also a lot of geometric shapes, the use of polygons being particularly popular. Use of duo tones within colour is also particularly prevalent right now.
One thing I would say, and this stems back to the issue of moving creative in-house or keeping an outside agency: there’s so much creative that’s inoffensive and ‘vanilla’. It sits in this middle ground, playing it safe. Brands need to be brave to stand out. A brave rule is always think it’s ok not to be liked, which you’ll potentially find more of using an external agency as they’re more willing to take a risk and look at your brand differently. I think my general guidelines are don’t always play it safe and don’t be stuck in the middle If someone doesn’t like something, someone else will have an opposing reaction. For every detractor, there’s a defender, and there’s a conversation to be had there. Your brand will be talked about.
GA – How do you create longevity in the campaigns that you create?
IB – When we start on a campaign we always look at what messages we can use and develop so we can re-purpose the campaign within channels and over time. If we look at it at as a pyramid, the top you have your core message, which is the heart of the campaign, underneath this you have your various ways of communicating the core message, which can be used across all your platforms of social media and whatever medium your audience is on. And then underneath this, you have your proof points, your toolkit of quantitative evidence of what you actually offer your customers and prospects that supports your core message. So this one overarching message across the whole of the campaign can have different variations across it to keep it fresh and updated. This again goes back to having a strong working relationship with our clients so we evolve and learn as they do communicating what needs to be amended or what is working. One last reminder, keeping on top of your audience is key and how they consume media can direct your campaign also.
Thank you Ian
To find out more about EG Creative and how they can help you , contact Ian Bamford at Ian.Bamford@eventguides.co.uk