With the arrival of August came our first real experience of some quiet business days. It seems some bright shining force in the sky had plucked clients from every part of the world and whisked them away on holiday, leaving emails unanswered, creative projects stalled mid flow and invoices taking a little longer to get paid as it turns out account departments get holidays too … how very dare they 🙂
Even the nuisance call centres have stopped calling this week…
Where we could normally pitch on 10 jobs in a day online to help stir up some new business if needed there are simply far fewer jobs being posted online this past week. Plus our preferred site for pitching for creative animation projects have used this time themselves to launch a brand new site design which has brought a cart load of bugs along with it.
What to do when all your clients go on holiday?
As we’re a pretty fresh startup we’re doing our best to make the most of the quiet work days and not let the paranoia of a slow work day or two build up… though some thoughts have crossed our mind
“… maybe our phone is broken … “
“… perhaps my emails aren’t being sent …”
“… we’re never going to work again…”
“… why did we say no to that ‘cute animals should take up smoking’ commercial earlier in the month …”
Of course the most appealing option is to shut up shop for ourselves and head for the surf… hang out with family and friends and reflect on the business so far over a chilled beverage or 3.
I’d be lying if I’d said we haven’t done any of this but as we’re a young business we wanted to make sure the time was being well spent. So hopefully by putting time into other areas of the business we should see some real benefits later in the year.
So we took an active approach and have tried to use the time to get ready for September and the hopeful arrival of various exciting new high profile video and animation projects. Plus it’s rather nice to sit and reflect on how we’ve been doing plus more importantly how we can expand and improve on our current business offering.
So what can you do during the calm before the storm…
Invest in new area of the business…??
It seems like the right time to invest in some new kit to expand what our business can do and make use of the time to get fully up to speed with it and ensure we’re able to offer a professional service level. It will also give us something new to proudly crow about in any new marketing we put together.
As our core business is professional animation and motion graphic production there are many areas we could look to expand into which would compliment it.
“…It’s hard to look cool in VR…”
We could revisit past endeavours into mobile game design, continue building upon our knowledge and hardware for burgeoning Virtual Reality technology (i.e. Oculus Rift, Vive, GearVR and many more). We honestly believe this area will be a very interesting avenue for both commercial and corporate animation when it eventually arrives and potentially becomes a main stream source of entertainment and communication.
“We could feed our code monkey…”
We could expand our 3D architectural visualisation skills, revisit our audio recording and production setup or improve upon our lack lustre coding ability with an aim to become incredibly skilled code monkeys. All of which have a certain appeal but we’ll save those for another summer.
In the end we decided to be a little less techy and set are sights on another area of creative video production. As well as offering the professional high end animation and editing we already do for business and product marketing videos. We’ve now invested in our own Cinema grade camera, optics, audio and grading equipment.
“We could be a modern day Spielsberg… or has J.J Abrams stolen that title already.”
This allows us to offer professional filming for clients which should compliment our existing 2D and 3D animation service and mean we can now offer a full production experience and many more creative options.
“…Does anyone have any need for some well dressed animated meerkats mixed with professional filmed scenes?…”
The visual quality we can now capture with this kit is simply stunning and really will help to lift our own creative productions to the next level.
“… cometh the lens geek … cometh the man… Sigma 18 – 35mm with Metabones speedbooster makes it an F1.0 … an F1.0!!”
At least that’s the excuse we’re using to allow us to buy this fantastic Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera with all the bells and whistles. I must admit it all got incredibly geeky for a while especially with the arrival of a fancy 18 – 35mm Sigma lens and speedbooster combo which produces some truly stunning results.
The camera also gave us good reason to head out in to the sunshine for some ‘testing’ on various occasions to allow us to get up to speed with the audio and visual equipment.
Book keeping… who knew it could nearly be fun.
The extra time in between the projects has also meant we could get all of our business accounts up todate, which is great to know. We recently moved our book keeping over to a cloud based accounting platform (namely Xero) after having it recommended to us by our lovely Plymouth accountants. It meant there was a small learning curve but now it’s all in place and it really is quite satisfying. Plus it’s almost fun to keep up todate. (*..almost).
Prepare some fresh marketing… this makes the most sense
This quiet period where the whole world has seemingly vanished has provided the perfect opportunity to spend time planning and perfecting our own marketing strategies ready for their return.
Why not spend this time creating marketing content, campaign ideas, organise print runs of stunning marketing flyers, write up copy for future blog articles or a overly long post on LinkedIn.
Try some new area of advertising…
It was a couple of weeks ago when I started tinkering with Google Ads having chosen to finally make use of one of the various promotional vouchers we’d been sent in the post (or offered via our website host).
I’d quickly put together a text advert using Googles Adwords express, which took no more than 5 minutes. I pressed go and left it to do its thing…
We were then contacted a day or two later by a man at Google and an offer to have a ‘Google Ad expert’ put together a professional campaign for us at no extra cost. Obviously it’s in their best interest for us to see the value in using their ad service but as we could stop it at any point there seemed little reason to say no.
We said yes and it’s all shaping up rather well. The ads are ready to target various regions and keywords that work within our preferred cost per click. I haven’t had to spend hours learning the finer intricacies of creating the perfect ad campaign.
As of today we now have an evolving campaign coming into place without investing any more than £20.00 (the amount we had to spend to receive our £75.00 credit). All the text ads look good but the image banner ads they’d built using some automated responsive setup didn’t really do our visual based business justice so we’ve produced our own selection of banner ads that should soon be stalking you around the internet.
We’ll of course be paying out some real money for the ads very soon but if we see some real benefit from the ads than that’s obviously fine and it will have been worth the small amount of effort. It could also pave the way for us to look into the other popular advertising areas such as Twitter and Facebook campaigns and of course YouTube video ads.
We’ve also decided to build on the ‘Put a storm in your marketing teacup’ theme used in these banner ads with a number of printed flyers. We’ll be working with the excellent ‘Hedgerow Marketing’ an Exeter based marketing company to send them out to various South West companies that we’d love to work with.
The above image shows a 10% discount we’ll be offering and the back of the flyer which you can see below lists our key services including our new film production services.
S.E.O. (*SORT EVERYTHING OUT)
Rather than sit twiddling your thumbs or making the 13th cuppa tea of the morning. If you can work on your website yourself or sit down with your web designer it’s a great time to revisit your website and make sure its as optimised as it can be for both your potential customer and for all those tiny binary search engine spiders that supposedly wander around the web.
I got a little obsessed with our Google Page Speed ranking and spent many hours trying to improve it. The loading speed of your site can have an effect on your Google page ranking (if only just a little) and it would be silly to ignore it when it can be improved upon. Also if a site takes too long to load a potential customer may walk away before they arrive or have a bad opinion of your business before they even browse your products and services or press play on your stellar showreel. – http://stormystudio.com/portfolio-item/micro-showreel/
When I first checked out our Google PageSpeed ranking it was pretty abysmal. Scoring 56% for mobile and 79% for desktop. Both of which were flagged with red exclamation marks.
“I like any reasonable human being am terrified of red exclamation marks”
Fortunately sites like Google PageSpeed, Pingdom speed test and GXmetric all give you different tips and guides on what to improve.
After far too many hours reading, learning, optimising, installing and uninstalling various WordPress plugins the ranking slowly edged its way upwards.
We now have a mobile score of 86% and desktop of 91% both in the green.
“… Say no to red exclamation marks …”
There are still things the PageSpeed test would like us to improve but at some point it starts impacting on the design of the site which could out weigh the benefit of a slightly higher speed score. We’ll no doubt revisit it again in 6 months to see if we can shave off another couple of percent.
Now that’s all done…
Of course as with all great plans there comes a time where you should give up being ‘Mr.Business’and go play in the surf…
Unfortunately for me.. whilst writing this lengthy post some corporate animation production work has come in… so the beach will have to wait.
What else do you do when everyone disappears away on holiday?