The temples of Angkor

Our Private Bob has made it’s way to the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
These temples can only be appreciated n person, their scale and detail is just jaw-dropping. Here’s Bob posing in the glorious sunshine, away from the crowd.

This trip is recommended to all but beware, wear comfortable shoes and wake up early before the masses join you. If you’re brave and an early bird, catch sunrise at 5:30am. Hire yourself a tuktuk for just $15 and the driver will stay with you all day taking you from temple to temple. If you prefer having a guide so you can learn about the gods, temples and carvings , a guide is about $30 but beware, you may get information overload!

This or last night in Siem Reap before making our way to Pnomh Penh by bus tomorrow. Bye for now!

IMG_4690.JPG

IMG_4688.JPG

Advertisements

Whistle-stop tour

Backpacking

Exploring the World

It’s been two months since my last post and for good reasons too. I got married at the end of August and I have been taking some time to recharge my batteries after a chaotic couple of months.

Now I am back with a little update.  In just under one month I will be off on a sabbatical with my husband (still feels odd writing that) on a whistle-stop tour around the world. We are travelling to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Fiji, New Zealand and California.
This trip really can’t come soon enough!  It will be an amazing unique honeymoon experience at the start of our marriage. It will help free us from the confines of the daily grind and it should serve as an inspiration for new ideas.  I feel I am at a stage in my career where I need something of my own that I can devote my time and energy to.  I have been looking for some time for this type of thing – a new business idea that I am passionate enough about that generates an income.
If you have any advice you would like to share about starting a business, please post a comment!
As I build my own venture, I will share my progress too, so keep reading.

Live to Work // Work to Live

Ambition

In search of freedom

Most people have come across the saying “Live to Work or Work to Live” at some point. Faced with these two prospects, the idea that we exist to work seems a little dull and in an attempt to console ourselves, many of us justifiably believe working to live is what its all about.

Beginning in December, I am going travelling for three months with my husband – a trip around the world taking in three continents which should give us the chance to pause, reflect and really make the most of the freedom. We will explore new landscapes, cultures, meet new faces and find out more about each other not yet discovered through our hitherto coexistence. I hope that this trip will help give me a fresh perspective on my own life and our lives together. As a creative, I continually seek to form new ideas and I hope this break allows me to think clearly and freely.

We had originally hoped to take 6 months off but we decided we’d like to come back to some savings so the trip was shortened to 3 months. Although, we are both very fortunate to have good jobs and we’re able to forge a unique experience like this, I realize as I am writing it is clear that certain predefined boundaries exist in my normal working life. So, the question I’m faced with is: how can I erase predefined boundaries and become free?

Freedom 

Few people I know of have found employment that affords the kind of freedom I am alluding to. But with a rise in start-up companies – idealists and entrepreneurs are taking steps to take more control of their lives and follow their passions. I am personally still searching and exploring possibilities that have a greater degree of relevance and interest in my own life. I take inspiration from the people who have done it and ultimately hope to inspire others too. For those interested in also pursuing a freer life, check out Free Range Humans.

My friend and founder of Ink Drops, Carla Watkins is in the process of doing just that. Carla has emphasised to me that it has taken her (5+) years to get her business to where it is at today, and she continues to work hard. Importantly, Carla loves what she does and therefore doesn’t fret about whether she is making the best use of her time – she is just enjoying the ride.

Coming soon will be a post interviewing Carla and Ink Drops about the business and its future. Follow my blog to keep posted!

With luck 2015 will be a big year and one in which the type of freedom I am talking about becomes reality.

Six Tactics for User-Generated Content to Tell Your Brand’s Story

An excellent post from Digital Marketing Magazine providing tactics about how brands can (and should) tell their stories. One key statement that stood out which puts companies into perspective in terms of debating whether Content is King.

It’s estimated that Facebook alone receives 684,478 posts every minute. What if your company could tap into that enormous flow of content, and change the topic of conversation to your brand?

Click here to read the full article by Colleen Horan, director of product marketing at Offerpop.

Article: Six Tactics for User-Generated Content to Tell Your Brand’s Story.

I hope you enjoy it and the tactics are helpful to you. //

Tips for Web Project Management

web development

This post is all about managing projects with plenty of prep.

I have just been asked to oversee/consult on a complex “first of its kind” web project at work which has been in development for over 8 months. Having reviewed the web app in detail I’m not overly impressed with it… it lacks connectivity, has a poorly designed layout and offers inferior UX; and it has way too many bugs and glitches.  Given the fledgling nature of the app it is no surprise that there is a period of experimentation and generally I think credit is due to the last PM.

So, now it is my broken web app! In order to move this project along quickly and efficiently I have recruited a small team, one of which was already working on the project and the second is my current digital executive who has a background in gaming. Between the three of us we have (just about) enough skills to push on. Two other members of the team are editing the content, so now we’re set!

Having jumped right into the middle of this project, I want to share some tips with you. These are some things that I have observed requiring immediate correction, so that we can recoup some crucial time. This post is to help you avoid these same mistakes.

Tips:
Tip no1: Get a knowledgeable project manager
The project leader must have some knowledge of how websites work and a bit of lingo goes a long way– you don’t want to be in a meeting and be confused at the first hurdle. The Project Manager should also have a clear view of what the project should deliver. In smaller companies, all members of staff should be involved in scoping out the project. The overall target should include: ROI, purpose of site, timescale for development, testing etc, target audience …

Peanuts Teamwork : Snoopy

Tip no2: Recruit a good team to support you
For a well constructed web project and in my case application, the project team needs to believe in it. If you find that you are trying to sell features to another team member, that individual might not be a good fit. Each member should bring different skills and expertise and as the saying goes, two heads are better than one!

Tip no3: Find an agency that understands you as a brand / company
I think whoever helps develop your project must be, to a certain extent, in agreement with your company’s views and ideas. Without this cohesion cracks will perhaps begin to appear. Spend time with the agency and build up a good relationship so that things can be discussed openly and criticism can also be spoken about without feelings being hurt. The biggest issue that can arise is that the agency wants to part ways with you in the middle of the development phase.

Tip no4: Scoping
Involve all parties. If it is a large project with lots of component parts, the more heads the better (see Tip no2!). The worst thing would be to scope it out on your own, in isolation. Scoping out the web project should be done from the point of view of the user. Think of tiny details — down to the font size. Tiny details confirmed by you before you go to the agency will save you time and money, and will make it much easier for the developer.

web-design

Tip no5: Development
During development, make sure you have a team ready to do some user acceptance testing. “Test, Test, Test” is all I will say on this point!

Tip no6: Launch
Prepare for the launch alongside development. You will be surprised at how much there is to think about.

  • Where will you launch the new web app?
  • How much budget will be allocated to marketing?
  • Who’s in charge of promotion and sales?

The-Future-Banner

Tip no7: The future
Remember that nothing like this should be developed from the point of view of ‘ the here and now’. Always think about evolving the product and adapting to user preference, as well as ensuring that you’re ready to react to rising market trends. If you focus on today only, you might only be successful in the short term: build your brand to last!

I hope you found my seven tips useful and very best of luck with whatever you are working on.

World Cup Fever

FIFA World Cup 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014

Hello football fan!

For the next couple of weeks, millions of us around the world will be watching some, if not all the games, to support our home country (in my case, countries!).

With so many eyes glued to the screen, there are huge opportunities for marketers who are looking for a global platform to show off their brands. Around the pitch, the banners flip from one brand to another – Johnson & Johnson, Hyundai, SONY, Castrol and Adidas. These companies offer very different products and yet they all found common ground in advertising at the World Cup 2014.

These companies not only advertise around the pitch, but also during commercial breaks, sponsorship, in-and-around Brazil, etc. Here are a couple of examples of how MNCs have used the FIFA World Cup as a marketing platform:

The Argentinean team use Head & Shoulders by P&G as the team’s official shampoo. No Beckham on this team, but (possibly) the world’s best player – Lionel Messi – will have the cameras on him throughout the tournament and dandruff is a no no! For this special occasion, Head & Shoulders are offering limited edition packaging for the fans.

My favourite campaign, the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup: Adidas – All in or Nothing (http://www.adidas.com/us/content/soccer/). Their video campaign reflects its “All in or Nothing” motto. Click here to see the video. This campaign brings customers to the Adi shops around the world. The shops themselves have been reinvented to be a World Cup heaven!

We’re only at stage one of the World Cup and some teams will not reach the next stage – The MNCs who have invested a huge chunk of their budgets are looking for ROI, not just in monetary terms but also in brand value.

Good luck to your team, whoever you support!

 

Time Out

Time Out

In Time – Source: Google

Ask yourself the following two questions:

• When do you get to enjoy some time out from daily life?

• Do you ever think about having your own time to relax and think of nothing?

From a personal perspective the answer is mostly “no”. Actually I think there are probably many people who don’t take time to do absolutely nothing. Even planning a stress relieving holiday can be wearisome – whether it be financially, or the matter of where to go and one that affects many is the dreaded school holiday…

But, like the film ‘IN TIME’ (Directed by Andrew Niccol) starring Justin Timberlake  and Olivia Wilde – Time is Money // Time is Power. The first part ‘Time is Money’: in a business sense, it is. But the second part is as important ‘Time is Power’. Time to think about things and not rush to conclusions, time to step back and look at whatever you are doing from another angle. Or, time to catch your breath and regain composure and concentration – this is Power.

As a creative, I believe it is essential to pause and step back to view your work with fresh eyes (go make a cup of tea in the meantime!) We have become slaves of time, of chasing deadlines. Of course deadlines are important, but producing excellent unique work is another. In the business world- time is money. But, in the real world – time is for living and controlling ‘time’, your ‘own time’ is power.

I hope that this post helps you to trace back, look back and pause for a few minutes in the view of looking forward with fresh ideas, not botched ideas. Take your time…and listen to the famous Kit Kat quote!

Food, Glorious Food

baby1

Food – We all need it, but how much attention do we pay regarding its health and nutritional benefits?

Food marketers have had a difficult time in recent years with food labelling a focus in UK retailers. As consumers become more conscious about ingredients and their health benefits (or lack of benefit), RDA, carbon energy, etc. etc. etc., marketers are changing the way our food labels look as well as the information they contain. Does this actually change the types of food consumers eat?

Those more health-conscious consumers pay attention to labels, but only to a certain extent as people tend to be busier with daily lives. As we go around the supermarket doing our daily shop, how often does one stop and read the label before putting the item in the trolly? More often than not, you just pick it up, and put it in the trolly – maybe look at the price.

“Just over half of people don’t understand food labelling, according to CIM research. They want brand owners and retailers rather than government to do more to explain what is in products.” – Marketing Week

Are food labels confusing consumers?

We are overloaded with information on a daily basis and by adding regulations to something that should be simple – in contrary, it is made more complicated. My family are from HK and my grandmother still shops at the local market. Labels? No… Just fresh food, no packaging.

The bit that should have tighter regs is the bit before the food arrives at the supermarket – how on earth did horse meat become beef? Nature gone wrong!? (Yes, possibly humans)