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2016: The good, the bad and the ugly

Here we are on the cusp of Christmas and the end of a year that most of us are more than ready to forget. Before we do though, here’s our round-up of 2016.

We started this year intentionally quiet with a number of new retained clients who deserved our undivided attention. By the end of spring, we’d gathered pace and have maintained it ever since – delivering above and beyond what we thought would be possible in our third year in business.

Of course, much of our work is bound by strict confidentiality agreements, but we wanted to share with you a few highlights, key learnings and personal highs and lows to summarise what has been a memorable year.

Retention vs acquisition

Nurturing long-lasting client relationships is what we pride ourselves on and for us, client retention is just as (if not more) important that client acquisition. We’ve welcomed demolition experts The Coleman Group and regional estate agency Green & Company to our books, as well as a handful of top creative agencies from the Midlands who bring with them a variety of big names from the third sector and trade worlds.

As ever, the variety of work we’re tasked to deliver is what makes working as freelance consultants most rewarding – switching from a local roofing firm to a FSTE100 global corporation in a mornings work. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the subjects we’ve covered this year:

  • Tech unicorns
  • Castable ceramics
  • Blast mitigation
  • The advent of online estate agency
  • Heating and ventilation
  • Renewable technology
  • Government legislation
  • Asset protection
  • 3D printing
  • Workplace inactivity
  • Retail law
  • Performance coatings
  • Gas fires

Oh, and let’s not forget; coats, crisps, coffee and canopies.

Supporting heavyside B2B businesses as they move online

Writing is the cornerstone of our business and providing editorial content for trade magazines will always be one of our favourite tasks. Lucky for us, it’s something which is still firmly on the agenda for many B2B businesses – especially those in the construction, manufacturing, industrial and engineering sectors. That said, many of our clients have invested heavily in their online presence this year, with an upturn in people wanting support with their social media content, blogs and front-end SEO.

Whilst it’s fair to say that heavyside B2B businesses have been slow on the uptake of digital marketing, many clients are now asking for us to generate content that can be easily translated across both online and offline platforms. Tweets accompany editorial features as standard now for these clients, and we will often create a blog post from the approved copy to improve ROI and increase their exposure on screen and on paper.

SEO was our development goal for 2016

Most of our clients employ us because our skillset is current and we’re always up to speed with industry trends, algorithm changes and must-have copy techniques. This is something we work hard to maintain and at the beginning of this year we knew we needed to improve our front-end search engine optimisation (SEO) offering.

Working with a leading voice from the digital marketing sector, we developed a six-step process to front-end SEO so that we could deliver website copy which supports the web developer’s wider SEO strategy, whilst performing well in search engine rankings.

Thanks to the improvements we’ve made this year, our website copy now comes with:

  • Research into which search terms are commercially viable and realistic for your business using SEMrush and other similar tools
  • A table of search terms (or suggested alternatives) and how many times each term features in the website copy
  • A clear list of which web-page we’ve optimised for each search term
  • All page-specific and brand search terms highlighted in the copy document for clarity
  • A specific copy check to ensure the homepage ranks for the brand term

The feedback we’ve had on this process and how it’s presented at the front of the copy document has been really positive, so it’s definitely something for us to build on going forwards.

Rebrand management is one of our new favourite things

If you follow us on social media, you’re probably sick to the back teeth of our rebrand management successes this year, but just in case you missed it, we recently launched the new look Green & Company estate agency across Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Great Barr and surrounding areas.

We’ll be releasing a case study on this soon, covering our process from start to finish which included competitor research, repositioning the company’s key messages, introducing a new tone of voice, rolling out the use of emotive lifestyle photography and plenty more. Special thanks goes to our design partners, Adventure Graphics and Method Agency who were both integral to delivering this eight month project.

Inside The Enamel Works

Speaking of rebrands, we did of course evolve our own brand back in September, moving from ‘Enamel Copywriting’ to ‘The Enamel Works’ in a bid to better reflect the wider variety of comms services we now deliver. We started a completely new Twitter feed (are you following us?@theenamelworks), the new business cards helped clarify the awkward “are you married?” question and the rusty material textures used across our online channels reflect the markets we are most well-known for working in. Here’s a pic of the business cards in case you missed them:

IMG_2396

If we were to summarise 2016, the words ‘challenging’, ‘rewarding’ and ‘successful’ would just about do it. We’ve parted company with some really special clients, welcomed plenty of new ones and brought a vintage Chesterfield sofa for the office (you can’t work in the creative industry without one!).

So, to draw the year to a close, here’s how we’ll remember 2016: The good, the bad and the ugly:

Pete: “The good has to be a continued stream of national coverage for one particular client, with hits in The Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The Express amongst others. The bad would be accidentally deleting three weeks of work from our cloud storage and only having a week to rewrite it, and the ugly was definitely crashing a client’s company car with the client in it.” (Note: No clients or Enamel employees were hurt in the making of this ugly 2016 low point)

Marie: “For me, the good would be writing so much for one of my dream sectors – materials science. Having touched on it for many years, I finally got to dive in head first across two different clients. The engineering behind such complex materials and the level of technicality required in the writing is right up my street. The bad would be having to relinquish one of Enamel’s first ever accounts because it grew too big and the ugly would be the invitation I received to attend a meeting about hypnotherapy for orgasms – thank god it was cancelled at the last minute!”

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our clients, design partners, suppliers and friends a very restful Christmas and a healthy, prosperous 2017.