The festive wind down, and the tricky business of taking time out

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Hello! It’s been a while; I hope you’re all well? Christmas has come hurtling around the corner this year and taken me somewhat by suprise, and here we are: standing on the edge of another year and getting ready to enjoy a lovely break over the festive period. Over the last week I’ve been really unwell with a horrible seasonal bug that has completely sapped me of energy and – shock horror – forced me to have a day off work. Those who know me will be well aware that it takes me feeling seriously poorly before I take time away from work, so that’s saying something!

And that brings me on to my single biggest resolution for the New Year:

In 2015, I’m going to take more time off. This year has been exciting, challenging and rewarding. We’ve taken some really big leaps of faith and made huge progress in our business. As a team we are stronger, more focussed and creating some exceptional work. And because the year has been so packed, I haven’t wanted to miss a moment. The result, however, is that I am exhausted. I’m finally having to listen to my body which is screaming at me to curl up on the sofa and hibernate.

I’m eternally jealous of friends who run their own businesses yet manage to waltz off on last minute getaways without a care in the world (how do you do that?). I’m not sure that I know how to be away and not feel guilty that I’m letting someone down. As unhealthy as that attitude is – that’s just how it is. All of us here at Ditto are the same, which probably makes things worse.

I know I’m not alone in my phobia of taking time off, so I’d really love to hear from you. How do you prise yourself away from your desk? Will you be tempted to check in on your email over the Christmas break, or will you be revelling in some well-earned downtime?

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It’s open!! Afternoon tea at the Zed Music Cafe

The Zed Music Cafe window graphic design by Ditto Brand StylistsSo many of you have been asking after Zoe and the Zed Music Cafe, so I thought it was high time to share some photos with you! The cafe opened on Saturday night with a real bang – they were packed out and had some amazing acts playing. I popped up to see Zoe yesterday afternoon for a spot of tea (they have a wonderful range of tea available!) and it was absolutely incredible to see all of our branding in place. I was even treated to an impromptu acoustic session as the team went through sound checks for Wednesday evenings’ live music!

Zed Music Cafe clothing design by Ditto Brand Stylists

Zed Music Cafe branding by Ditto Brand Stylists

Zoe’s interior designer, Polly De Luca, followed our brand vision to a tee and I was blown away by how she’s interpreted our work. The interior is relaxed, homely and welcoming and features an eclectic mix of turquoise studded bar stools, sumptuous velvet armchairs, distressed leather seats and orange industrial-style chairs. The dark wood floor and walls painted in brand colours look even better than I imagined.

I couldn’t help but drift back to my first meeting with Zoe, when she gave me a tour of the ramshackle, dilapidated building she’d bought and earnestly told me she was going to create the best music venue Sevenoaks has ever seen. She certainly had a lot more vision than I did that day! I only wish I’d taken photos to show you just how much work has been done to convert this seriously neglected 450 year old building into the music hub that it is today. This historic building used to be the Sevenoaks tea rooms, and was famously visited by the Beatles when they were filming a music video in Knole Park. Something tells me that Ringo & co would approve of it’s new owner.

Zed Music Cafe, window graphics by Ditto Brand Stylists

Zed Music Cafe Cole Clark Guitars

Zed Music Cafe Sevenoaks

As a branding agency, there are few things more rewarding than seeing your work come to life so seeing the staff wearing the uniforms we designed, and seeing the logo sitting proudly on the windows was just such a buzz. I couldn’t resist picking up my own Zed Music Cafe hoodie as a reminder of the brilliant work we’ve done here. It’s amazing to sit back and say: we did that.

Next time you’re in Sevenoaks, I highly recommend you visit!

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Take Five Minutes: How to plan your marketing for your best year ever

Focus your marketing - Tips by Ditto

Silly season is peeking around the corner, and our attention is turning to Christmas shopping, ordering the turkey and winding down on work in preparation for the Christmas break.

But that’s no excuse to take your foot off the accelerator.

Putting some time aside now to consider what you want to achieve in 2015 will pay off big time come January. And to help get you started, I’ve got some great tips to get you ahead of the game.

Jot down your goals for next year. Be as specific as you can – do you want to launch a new service, hire more staff, or increase your margins? Whatever it is you have planned, commit it to paper so you have something to focus your mind.

Set aside a budget. So many businesses find it utterly terrifying to commit a proper budget to marketing. But the simple fact is that you have to invest to grow, so the crucial thing is to ensure you spend in the right direction to get maximum return on your investment. Your accountant or bookkeeper will be able to help you put together a budget that works for your business.

Think big. If nothing stood in your way, how would you reach your customers and get heard? Grab a big sheet of paper and brainstorm as many ideas as you can. They don’t have to be realistic or practical at this stage – allow your mind to flow freely and scribble down whatever comes to mind. If you have a team, get them involved to bounce ideas around – the more, the merrier! The more ideas you have on your page, the better placed you’ll be to curate your thoughts into actions which are relevant, easy to implement and work within your budget.

Check in with your customers. How’s business going for them? How can you make their lives easier next year? What challenges are they facing? The better you understand what motivates your clients, the better placed you’ll be to create a marketing message that resonates with them and encourages them to buy.

Evaluate your brand. Does it support where you’re heading? We speak to loads of business owners whose businesses have evolved and outgrown their current identity. If that’s the case then fix it pronto; your branding should set you on a path or growth, not hold you back.

Make a plan. How, precisely, are you going to achieve your goals? Writing a plan now (I recommend thinking month by month, and focussing attention on seasonal activities such as exhibitions or events) avoids those panicked marketing campaigns that are rushed together in response to a period of poor sales. It’ll ensure you stay on track, and help you make the best possible use of your budget.

And if you need a hand…

We have a very limited number of slots available for new projects this year. We want to fill those slots with projects for business who want to communicate with heart and hustle, so to incentivise you into action we’re offering very special rates to those who fit the bill. Tell us what you’re up to and let’s see what I can do to tempt you! Email me at hannah@ditto.uk.com and let’s book a time to chat.

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Filed under Business Tips, Ditto News, Thinking Big