Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Customer experience: The antidote to 3P*?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

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*pound shops, payday loans & pies

The future of the high street

So, what now for Britain’s high streets? The demise of yet another high profile retailer is another portent for the future of shopping on our shores. Is there life for consumers in our towns and cities beyond the prevalent ‘3P’ offer of pound shops, payday loans and pies? The City wouldn’t appear to think so, with many masters of the universe putting their money where their mouth is in willing the high street to fail.

The Queen of Shops says…

The Portas Review made a set of clear recommendations designed to revive fortunes but mentioned little about customer experience. Was this underplayed? Surely brands big and small need a shot in the arm in the form of a reminder that there is much work to do here, if high street shopping is not to capitulate completely to the omnipotence of the online alternative? Ironic really when you consider how much brands invest in user experience as part of their digital development. And it rings true. When was the last time you had what could honestly be described as a ‘customer experience’ in Comet, Jessops, Blockbuster, HMV et al?

“What can we do better?”

So as not to labour the point, high street brands could start by taking a long hard look at their online counterparts and asking themselves the question “What can we do better?”. Not just a bit better. Not just much better. There’s no option but to be jaw-droppingly better, better on a level that stirs the loins, better that wakes people from a website induced slumber and makes them say “I want to go there”. Brand, service, convenience, environment, integration with digital channels…hey, even our old friend price has a role to play. And let’s not take it for granted that just because a. n. other brand has a presence on the high street, that customers are just going to walk in out of the goodness of their hearts. This is about finding prospective customers, engaging them, keeping them interested, converting them and retaining them.

As it stands, 3P (You read it here first) looks to be shaping our high streets. Let’s hope brands (I’ll say it again, big and small) have the sense to think about customer experience in leading the fight back.

By Neil Perrott

Image credit: Flickr, Bettysnake

Introducing Martin the Third, our Digital Marketing Manager

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

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We’re pleased to welcome another new face into the Katapult fold…Martin Broadhurst, the newest member of our digital team. Sharing the same name as two of the team, this means that a quarter of people who work at Katapult are now called Martin.

Martin joins us as Digital Marketing Manager from a specialist social media marketing company which he co-founded. His role includes implementing inbound marketing campaigns, focussing specifically on content development, driving traffic and converting leads.

Along with his passionate support of Derby County FC, Martin also has an unhealthy obsession with watching mixed martial arts and likes to think he’s a bit of a funny man.

To help you get to know Martin better, we asked him a few questions:

Q: What sort of projects are you most looking forward to getting your teeth into?
A: “Online ones obviously. I’m particularly looking forward to getting some more measurable campaigns up and running.”

Q: Who or what is your digital inspiration?
A: Phil Higgins. Or Google.

Q: If you weren’t so passionate about digital marketing, what else would you want to do?
A: “Fight in a cage. No, I take that back, I’d get my ass handed to me. I’ve always wanted to be a stand up comic actually”

Me: “but you’re not funny enough?”
Martin: “yeah quite simply”

Q: What is the last film you laughed out loud at?
A: “The Candidate with Will Ferrell on the plane on the way back from India. Everyone was asleep and I was guffawing.”

Q: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
*Sighs, as if there are many, before saying something rude and getting told off.*
A: “Staying up until 5am and watching sweaty men fight in cages” (the fact we all know this already suggests he doesn’t feel that guilty about his guilty pleasure)

Q: What’s your idea of a great night out?
A: “Derby beating Forest, followed by a trip to a real ale pub, some pork based snacks: pork pies, sausage rolls, pork scratchings, piccalilli…” (he continues for a while on the food related theme) “and a group of friends up to 8 in size, an open fire and maybe some whisky – ideally wintery outside – and then a taxi home to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship (On reminding him that 3 of his answers are now fighting related, he responds “and even then, that’s not quite enough.”)

Q: What in your opinion is the greatest invention of all time?
A: “The microchip. It revolutionised the way everything works.”

Martin has already hit the ground running but if you haven’t been introduced yet and would like to give him a friendly welcome, you can do so at martinb@katapult-studios.com

Myspace Review: Mixing Social Media and music in 2013

Friday, January 4th, 2013

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After being frustrated by messy looking profiles on the old Myspace and being bombarded with friend requests by bands I had no interest in, I was sceptical towards the new release.  A combination of nostalgia, intrigue created by the teaser video and the impressive new look/style persuaded me to look into it further.

Sign-up

After receiving my beta invite, I was surprised that I could use my Facebook login in order to sign up. It seems that the new Myspace isn’t trying to take on the social networking Titan that is Facebook, but work alongside it. Its new mission is much clearer: to connect people through music.

As promised by the teaser video, the new Myspace interface is clean and simple; high on visuals, low on clutter, which is a refreshing change of pace compared to other highly evolved and wordy social networking sites.

Social Networking Comparisons

The Myspace stream is a lot like Facebook’s News Feed, with updates from your friends. You can see who has made mixes, what music people are listening to and who is connecting. Connections on the new Myspace are more akin to the follow feature of Twitter rather than the ‘friends’ feature on Facebook and with a heavy focus on visuals, the horizontal scrolling feature makes it feel like a music themed version of Pinterest. The biggest appeal for me is the ability to make playlists which are played in your deck whilst browsing, a lot like Spotify.

newmyspace_stream

Profiles

Unlike its predecessor, with the glittery GIFs plastered over people’s profiles, the new layout boasts a large full screen cover image behind your stream. Something that seems to have made a return from the old Myspace is your chosen top eight connections, and the choice to include a profile song (which thankfully doesn’t play automatically like on the old Myspace).

Improvements

However, with it still being in the beta stages, there are still a lot of improvements to make.
The first of which being the user experience, particularly with regards the search facility which is clunky and difficult to find the exact thing you want. The horizontal scrolling feature also feels like random ‘browsing’, making it difficult to find something you saw before, with a jumble of things in between that you might not be interested in. A filter would be a useful addition to sort this, as would the option to choose what to see from a certain person when connecting to them.

Overall, I can see how the site could be used and who might use it. The new Myspace has repositioned itself in line with what it was predominately used for at its height back in the early noughties – a way of connecting to new music. When the user experience improves, the new Myspace will come into its own.

Go to the new Myspace site and leave your email address to request an invite to trial the beta version of site.

By Martin Stewart

Meet mini-Dan

Friday, October 26th, 2012

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A few of us got to have a cuddle with dinky Dylan, our designer Dan and wife Sarah’s new addition when he was officially introduced to the team yesterday. Look at all that hair!

Here he is, a little over a week old and already making himself useful in the studio, scamping and photoshopping at his dad’s desk.

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Introducing Susan, our new office manager

Friday, October 19th, 2012

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We’re very pleased to introduce our new Office Manager, Susan Larmour. With more than fifteen years administration and property management experience, Susan is the queen of organised.

To help you get to know Susan better, we asked her a few questions:

Q: If you weren’t ensuring the smooth running of the Katapult studio what would you be doing?
A: I’d love to run my own cat sanctuary actually. I’d like to spend more time travelling too.

Q: What’s the last thing you laughed out loud at?
A: A man who broke into a breakdance at a pub I was in last week. It was very random.

Q: What’s the first single you ever bought?
A: Kim Wilde, Kids in America.

Q: What in your opinion is the greatest invention of all time?
A: The internet…or the dusting brush on my Dyson but that’s sad isn’t it? (It actually sounds very useful)

Q: What are you most looking forward to about working at Katapult?
A: Having a varied job role where every day is different and feeling appreciated by the team.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of design?
A: My Dyson! (Susan then proceeds to tell us all about the attachment you can get for vacuuming your dog).

Q:What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
A: Ant & Dec. If they’re on TV, I’ll be watching.

Susan will now be the main point of contact for accounts and office enquiries and you can contact her on susan@katapult-studios.com.

Infographic: Facebook reaches 1 billion monthly active users

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Facebook announced yesterday that the site has now reached 1 billion monthly active users. Have a look at our infographic to find out more about the recently released statistics:

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In the frame with Brian Griffin

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Brian Griffin Format Photography Festival Commission

Normally used to leading on the creative front, a few of the Katapult team earlier this week became the subjects for a new commission by internationally renowned photographer Brian Griffin.

Brian Griffin, coined “photographer of the decade” by The Guardian, came to take pictures of Dawn and the team for his new commission for the 2013 Format International Photography Festival, launching in March next year.

Brian recently launched “The Road to 2012″ for the National Portrait Gallery, producing portraits of some key figures involved in the bid for London 2012 and responsible for delivering the Olympic Park infrastructure. The project aims to showcase a lasting legacy of the London 2012 Olympics Games.

Being passionate about photography and having been involved with the branding and marketing for Format for the last five years, we were proud to be asked to be part of Brian’s new commission due to be exhibited in Derby next year. After a thoughtful recce around our building, judging lighting conditions and use of space in each room, Brian finally decided on a location for the piece. Without preconceptions of how he would construct the image, Brian’s imagination and eye for detail in instructing us how to move or where to stand demonstrated amazing creative and technical prowess, which wowed us all. We’re looking forward to seeing the chosen image and displaying it here in the building for all to see in the new year.

Unfortunately we can’t release the background to the commission; the project will remain closely under-wraps until further details are released by Format Photography Festival in the press later this year.

NB: There are now only three days left for all photographers, artists, curators and collectives to upload their work to the Format Exposure submissions site; the theme this year being ‘Factory’.

Cultural Connections fright night at Calke Abbey

Friday, August 24th, 2012

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What a brilliant summer’s evening and a suitably eerie venue to host another great event for our guests: The Woman in Black summer night’s screening at Calke Abbey.

Having worked with QUAD since 2008, we’ve been hosting Cultural Connections, our joint monthly events for clients, suppliers and partners for over a year now. In addition to last year’s outdoor screening of The King’s Speech at Kedleston Hall, we’ve since hosted some fantastic cultural events for our guests including National Theatre Live screenings, exhibition launches, an Olympic Torch Relay celebration party and various film screenings at QUAD.

Arriving at Calke Abbey at 6pm to entertain guests with Pimms and lemonade and strawberries and cream in the evening sunshine, we watched hundreds of others arrive in the grounds to set up picnics and prepare themselves to be scared – pillows and blankets at the ready! We had also prepared some treat bags with a creepy quote from the film to set the tone for the evening. Some of our guests commented on how original it was to spend an evening of informal networking in such beautiful surroundings.

As a location for outdoor cinema screenings, Calke Abbey is not just expansive and visually impressive, but possibly much under explored as a place of historical interest in the region. Currently in the care of the National Trust, the Grade I listed country house estate has an interesting history dating back to the sixteenth century. Before the National Trust took over the care of the property in the 1980’s, it had remained almost untouched for over 100 years. As such, the crumbling paintwork and overgrown courtyards provided the perfect creepy backdrop for The Woman in Black, sharing much in common with Eel Marsh House from the film (and perhaps it even has a ghost or two?)

As the sun began to go down, Calke Abbey came into its own, creating a chilling atmosphere before the film had even begun. Shadows were cast on the walls of the house by people’s torches and candles, really putting the audience in the mood for the jumpy bits that would follow.

Watching everyone settle on the sloping bank on chairs and blankets with candles and bottles of wine waiting for it to get dark, created a feeling unlike that of being in a cinema. It is hard not to feel part of the action on screen when you are out under the stars, not to mention making a film like The Woman in Black hit even harder with its scary punches – cue lots of screams and shouts from the audience along with people ducking under blankets they had brought along (myself included).

With the outdoor cinema events, QUAD have done such a great job in making the most of the limited summer we have; with outdoor screenings taking place at numerous venues around the county between May and September. However, most importantly I think, the Summer Night’s Film Festival has encouraged people from in and around Derbyshire to venture out into the county and explore some of this country’s most spectacular historic properties; and what better way to showcase Derbyshire’s fantastic heritage than providing the setting for some brilliant cinema?

Fancy a Brew? My Work Experience Week by Jess Christie

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Jess on work experience with brand flakes

I knew that my work experience was going to be very different from the normal school week, but I feel particularly lucky to have done my placement at Katapult. As well as being a lovely working environment, it has been a great place for me to learn more about the world of marketing and design. This week at Katapult has been such an interesting experience and has helped me practice my communication skills – as well as making brews!

I came at a great time as during the week, the team have been working on a TV advert which meant I got to see the behind-the-scenes process. This wasn’t easy and it showed me just how much goes into projects to make sure that the finished product is of a high quality.

This week I have tagged along to many visits with the team; for example on Monday I went to a recording studio to watch the voice-over being recorded for the advert – I now know the script off by heart! Another trip was to an editing studio where I watched the final production stages of the advert. I learnt that to be a video editor you have to be very patient as everything has to be down to the second and perfect…probably not the right job for me!

During my week at Katapult I observed that all members of the team have great communication skills, which is unsurprising when they are always meeting and working with new clients. The Katapult team have really helped boost my confidence when talking to new people.

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Katapult for being so welcoming. It’s been a great experience and so interesting! I would definitely recommend contacting Katapult if you were ever in need of a marketing agency.

Introducing Tal, Digital Producer

Monday, April 30th, 2012

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We’re pleased to welcome a new face into the Katapult fold…say hello to Tal Khangura, the latest member of our digital team. Tal joins us in the role of Digital Producer with more then 10 years digital experience. With his combined technical and creative abilities and having led international digital projects for brands such as Jaguar Land Rover and BT Openzone, he makes a welcome addition to the team.

Along with his passionate support of West Brom (leading to immediate rivalry with Katapult Director Neil Perrott – a reluctant Aston Villa supporter), Tal shares MD Dawn Foote’s penchant for audacious hobbies, having done a skydive in Australia a few years ago.

To help you get to know Tal even better, we asked him a few questions:

Q: What sort of projects are you most looking forward to getting your teeth into?

A: Anything that gives me the opportunity to innovate and reach out to new digital markets. I’m looking forward to working with clients that are receptive to ways we can challenge digital ideas together. I believe in a ‘lead rather than be led’ approach to the industry. I’ve already got a few ideas up my sleeve so you’ll just have to wait and see how they develop.

Q: Who is your inspiration?

A: Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert who created Foursquare and Dodgeball (now Google Latitude) and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Before them, the industry was mostly still very ‘shirts and ties’ with a top down approach but then these normal, everyday guys came along with some visionary ideas and changed not only the way we communicate, but our perceptions of the industry as a whole.

Q: If you weren’t managing seamless digital projects, what else would you want to do?

A: I’d love to be a pilot; I’ve always imagined flying a little two seater plane over a city skyline with a beautiful lady by my side. That’s very romantic isn’t it?

Q: What is the last film you laughed out loud at?

A: Life of Brian, I’ve seen it many times but I always end up laughing at something new that I didn’t see last time. Another film that’s always bound to make me laugh is Airplane. The camp guy Johnny in it leaves me in stitches (Tal does a brilliant impression).

Q: What was the first single you ever bought?

A: Embarassingly, I collected 25 Cadbury’s wrappers to get a free single and I actually chose Phil Collins, Groovy Kind of Love (Tal proceeds to sing “When I look at youuuu….”)

Q: What’s your idea of a great night out?

A: A good meal – maybe some Saag – and then dancing the night away at The Jam House in Birmingham.

Q: What in your opinion is the greatest invention of all time?

A: Music as it’s such a great alternative way to communicate (Tal is also a keen player of an Indian classical musical instrument the ‘Tabla’)

Tal has already hit the ground running on our current digital projects but if you haven’t been introduced yet and would like to give him a friendly welcome, you can do so at tal@katapult-studios.com