During my career I have been fortunate to work on a number of creative and innovative marketing projects, some example of which are shown in this projects area of my website. Coming from a technical background and having a personal interest in applying new technologies in a marketing context has allowed me to develop a reputation for producing and delivering original and high quality projects. I enjoy learning about new technologies and during my time at GXS I have really been able to apply an entrepreneurial approach to everything I do. I have acquired a number of technical skills that have allowed me to become fairly self-sufficient when it comes to creating graphics, producing videos or developing new media such as mobile apps. I will highlight some of these projects below.
One area which I believe I have excelled in over the years is graphics production. My time with the McLaren F1 team, with their high reputation for brand image and attention to detail, has helped me to forge my own approach to what makes an outstanding piece of graphics production. Whether this is simply manipulating photos or creating graphics from scratch to highlight or demonstrate a particular concept idea, I have certainly developed a good eye for detail and I know what looks ‘right’ so to speak from a detail perspective.
Take the simple example to the left. Back in 2007 when the original Apple iPhone was launched I wanted to produce an image that could be shared internally within GXS to show how our Trading Grid network could be accessed via a dedicated mobile app. I mocked up the app across several images, paying close attention to look and feel as well as usability and I was able to produce a fairly convincing interpretation of how our customers could get access to the transaction based information flowing across the GXS network.
With more and more companies beginning to embrace mobile platforms it was important for GXS to ensure that we could be seen to leverage these new mobile platforms as well. These concept ideas were distributed within GXS to help explain how we could potentially mobilise our range of network and software as a service applications. This was especially important as at the time many companies were just starting to think about how to provide mobile access to their enterprise business systems. I think this is also a perfect example of how I can provide a vision of where our products could be, based on feedback that I was hearing at the time from customers across the manufacturing industry.
I guess one of the areas that I have excelled at whilst at GXS is blogging. Not only have I written over 200 blogs but in most cases I have created my own graphics to support the topic being discussed in the blog. For example my former manager at GXS, Steve Keifer launched his own book called ‘Herding Geese’ which charted the history of EDI and eCommerce. I decided to give him a helping hand in terms of its promotion. The book was an instant hit with UK Prime Minister David Cameron 🙂
Over the past five years I have written an annual blog on how Santa Claus uses GXS solutions to manage his present delivery network. It may seem a strange thing to try and blog about but as with everything else I had my reasons, namely just before Christmas the IT press tends to run festive themed articles and my blogs have been picked up and re-purposed several times over the years. Not only did I have a great time explaining how Santa’s North Pole operations use every piece of GXS technology but it also gave me the chance to be creative in other ways. For example if Santa needed a mobile app, what would it look like?, how easy would it be to use?, which back end business systems would it hook into etc. OK so an extreme example, but again ‘SantaPad’ shown below is a perfect example of how I apply my creative skills to my every day role.
Over the years I have gained a bit of a reputation as a Powerpoint Ninja 🙂 , whether building presentations from scratch or helping other team members refine their own presentations, this is one area of work which I have enjoyed over the years. Communication is an important area of marketing and even though many people do not like ‘death by Powerpoint’ type presentations, if slides are well thought out and easy to understand and can explain a concept or piece or technology within a few slides then I believe Powerpoint still has a part to play in today’s business.
Whether producing product, solution, industry or thought leadership related presentations, having a well structured presentation that flows correctly and is easy to follow can be a daunting task for some. However I have a good eye for detail!
I have certainly found SlideShare to be a useful social media website to host many of my presentations and I have been very proactive in terms of posting presentations to SlideShare as they tend to get picked up very well by Google and hence helps with inbound traffic to our website or blog.
Over the past 12 months I have been experimenting with Prezi, a relatively new presentation tool that uses a range of animation techniques to create engaging presentations. Think of it as Powerpoint on steroids. The example to the right is a relatively short and simple presentation that I created to help promote a webinar that I recorded with one of GXS’ customers, Michelin. The reason for creating this short presentation was so that I could convert into a video trailer which could be uploaded to Youtube and provide a way for people to find out about the longer thirty minute webinar via Google. This particular webinar was produced with kind thanks to Michelin, a GXS Managed Services customer. When you consider that the average engagement time for a viewer of YouTube videos is only 90 seconds it is important to try and embrace this time frame when producing these types of video. The Michelin webinar trailer can be accessed by clicking on the image to the right.
Over the years I have worked with many external video production companies, one of the most complex video projects that I was involved with was related to the launch of the Collaboration Centres at PTC. An example of one of the videos we produced is shown to the right. However time and technology moves on and given that I come from a technical background I have taken the time to learn one of the more popular video editing packages, Camtasia from Techsmith.
During my time at GXS I was fairly self-sufficient when it came to webinar production and given my exacting attention to detail I didn’t mind producing these, nearly tewenty videos to date. Camtasia provides a much higher quality recording, in terms of picture and audio quality, than the other webinar recording systems we were using in the company. From producing thirty minute videos through to two minute ‘teaser’ videos for YouTube, my ability to re-purpose collateral for different social media applications has become a core part of how I have worked over the years, especially as a way of embracing the various social media sites.
Here is another video production technique that I experimented with using text to speech animation software. The intention was to create a suite of B2B chat show type animations that could be converted into videos and uploaded to YouTube. The software used to create these animations had some great features and allowed you to develop fully customised environments if you wanted to.
Unfortunately Xtranormal, the company I used to create the video shown to the left, is no longer in business but it gives you a good idea of what you could do with their animation software. Hopefully the company will re-appear under a different name in the near future.
I built my first web page in 1995 whilst I was at Computervision, in the days when everyone was using a Netscape web browser, remember those ! I built a number of web sites to help support the software demonstration environments that we were building back then. From simple web pages to complex demonstration environments, I was really getting into website design back then as it fitted in perfectly with what I enjoyed at that time. A few examples of the websites I designed are shown below. CPC.Net shown on the left was developed to manage the network of Cllaboration Centres at PTC, the second one shows the PTC Naval Systems demonstration portal and the third one shows a management information system that I mocked up as part of my work at the International Automotive Research Centre, a partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). During my contract at WMG I looked after all branding related marketing activities including website design, brochures and powerpoint templates.
I guess my only regret way back then was not setting up a web design company as the web was only just being taken seriously back in the mid-nineties. I even went on to use these web skills to produce a number of multi-media CDROMs for sales enablement purposes. A few examples are shown below and the key thing to remember here is that these were designed without the help of tools such as Dreamweaver, I had to build these sites manually using good old Unix shell windows and Microsoft notepad, those were the days!
At GXS I have taken a step back from actually building websites, instead I tend to provide a lot of the content to help build out some of more important microsites. At GXS we have been very successful in leveraging microsites to help bring more inbound traffic to our main .com website. Many of our sites, up until the acquisition by OpenText were built using WordPress, the same tool that I used to construct my own website that you are viewing now. Just goes to show how easy it is to use 🙂
As I mentioned above, I look to try and re-purpose content as much as possible, may be starting with a blog, then developing a webinar or video for YouTube. I produced the following chart to show how different pieces of marketing content can have a different level of ‘social pervasiveness’.
The final area I wanted to highlight in this section, which I guess is related to my attention to detail, is the ‘branding’ of all my social media sites. You may have noticed a rather good looking sports car in the header graphic of this website. The car is actually a McLaren P1, a recently introduced super car produced by McLaren Automotive. For me the car represents the pinnacle of automotive engineering and I guess provides a direct link with my time working for McLaren. I have used the same image across nearly all of my social media sites. In the same way that a company has a logo to associate with their business I wanted to use an eye catching image that visitors to my various social media sites would instantly recognise as being associated with my web and social media presence. It just so happens that blue is one of my favourite colours so I guess you could say the image is a perfect fit, especially with my initials on the number plate 🙂