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It’s not an understatement to say that last year the world was forced to adapt in ways we could never have imagined. Due to social distancing guidelines, we have all had to take our IRL activities online. (Another Zoom quiz, anyone?!)

Sadly, for charities, the cancellation of thousands of mass participation events resulted in a loss of billions in fundraising income. However, whilst it has been undeniably tough for many charities, we are nonetheless staggeringly impressed with how fast-reacting and innovative they have been with their virtual fundraising ideas.

Here’s our round-up of some of the best charity challenge ideas we’ve seen in the last 12 months:

Running a virtual marathon

As the official Virgin Money London Marathon couldn’t go ahead as normal this year (other than for elite athletes), organisers encouraged charities to ask their supporters to tackle the 26.2-mile mountain within 24 hours wherever they could and then submit their results.

More than 37,000 runners completed the race, raising over £16 million for charities.

Whilst the idea of sponsored running for charity isn’t new, we are impressed that such a world-renowned event still managed to find a way to go ahead, despite such unprecedented setbacks.

 Get gaming

The mental health charity, Mind, tapped into the gaming phenomenon by establishing “the biggest fundraising gaming mission of all time”. As part of the event, ‘Switch Off, Game On’, the charity asked supporters to host and promote a sponsored stream or gaming event.

The campaign gets a thumbs up from us because not only did Mind take advantage of an emerging fundraising trend, but the concept was closely aligned to the charity’s purpose; connecting people.

P.S. We may also be influenced because Bluestep were involved in the fundraising event’s creative process. Find out more about that here.

Put on a show

With people unable to go out and celebs unable to film in a studio, Comic Relief and BBC Children in Need joined forces for the first time to present The Big Night In, an evening of virtual entertainment.

The telethon included performances from Miranda Hart, Sam Smith, a lockdown Vicar of Dibley sermon, a virtual EastEnders pub quiz and many more, all taking place remotely via video links.  The event raised a whopping £74 million, proving that technology really can be our best friend.

Easy does it #TwoPointSixChallenge

Were you even listening in 2020 if you didn’t hear of the 2.6 challenge?! Such a simple concept and yet it stirred up a storm on the internet.

The only basis for the challenge was 26 or 2.6, meaning participants could do anything from running 2.6 miles, bench pressing 26kg, or taking part in a 26-minute workout, as long as they were raising money for charity.

The simplicity of the fundraising challenge clearly appealed because the campaign attracted plenty of celebrities including Jonny Wilkinson and Dame Kelly Holmes and has so far raised over £11 million for lots of different charities.

It’s virtual quiz time

While many of us now have sudden hair washing commitments when friends suggest a virtual quiz, there was a time when virtual quizzing really got us going.

Laura Jones, founder of Eventures, raised over £133,000 for NHS Charities Together by hosting a series of themed online quizzes.

She started out with a virtual F.R.I.E.N.D.S quiz at the very beginning of lockdown, which sparked over 130,000 people to join in from across the world! She followed this up with a successful Disney-themed virtual quiz.

The moral of the story? If in doubt, get quizzical!

Virtual walkies!

We’ve all considered how the pandemic has affected human lives, but have we considered the effects it’s had on our beloved doggies? Due to social distancing, it’s likely that a lot of four-legged friends have also missed out on regular playtime with their pals.

The World Big Dog Walk Challenge is a series of dog walks held across the UK, uniting owners and their furry friends, with money going towards different dog charities. Seeing as it couldn’t go ahead in person in 2020, the organisers made it virtual and encouraged people and pooches to clock up their pledged miles in their own time, aiming to hit a total of 40,075km; that’s the circumference of the Earth!

 Online auction or raffle

While you don’t need a private virtual recording with Sting or a virtual cooking lesson with Heston Blumenthal up your sleeve, it certainly helps. This is what premier auction house, Sotheby’s, found when they raised money with a very prestigious online auction set up to raise money for the International Rescue Committee’s Covid-19 efforts.

If you don’t happen to have Sting on speed dial, we see no reason why other virtual auctions and raffles can’t make a real difference. Whether it’s a pledge to do the housework, or to bake a cake every month, charities can ask their supporters to contribute in all sorts of ways.

We all need a hero

Captain Tom Moore aimed to walk 100 laps of his garden ahead of his 100th birthday to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Footage of Captain Tom, resplendent in his military medals, tackling his mammoth task clearly pulled at the heart strings of the nation as he raised over £30 million and became our 2020 hero.

We salute Captain Tom as we remember that, with good intentions and a bit of determination, anything is possible.

 

Good luck if you are considering a virtual fundraising event and if you need any support with design or merchandise, please get in touch.

10 tips on how to make your virtual fundraising event stand out and increase smash your donations targets.

You’ll probably never face a more challenging time for your charity that right now. Not surprisingly, there’s a huge amount of fear and anxiety among charities at the moment. You may have seen a big reduction in charitable donations and decreased participant sign ups due to your fundraising events being cancelled. Many of your key staff may have also been furloughed and your charity income may have been hit hard. It’s difficult to not be disheartened and worried about how it will all end. 

This is why SO many charities are reacting and adapting by shifting their focus to virtual fundraising. As charity sector specialists we’ve helped to create events, their identities and merchandise for many successful charity events.  We believe in sharing with our community and so we thought we’d put together our top tips on how to navigate the virtual fundraising landscape! 

 Follow these tips and you’ll learn what aspects underpin a successful virtual fundraising event & have every chance of not only surviving the crisis but coming out even stronger than before. 

1. Define your target audience.  

As with any event or piece of communication, it’s important to know who you are talking to. If you’re used to holding any type of event, mass participation or otherwise, you’ll know the type of person you attract to those events. You may want to target those same people, or use your online presence to reach a whole new audience.  Either way, it’s best to know who you’re talking too, the more refined and pointed, the more accurately focused your event can be. 

2. Set yourself a realistic fundraising target.  

It may sound obvious but generally speaking, the more money you would like to raise, the more people you need to get involved. If your charity has a wide reach, you can set yourself a higher target. But be realistic too, a wide reach could be better served with several smaller events. The key is that you know your targets in order to know the shape and size of an event. 

3. Set yourself a non-monetary objective too. 

Your virtual fundraising event doesn’t have to be purely about raising lots of money this time around.  You can use the event to increase awareness of a particular service that your charity provides or maybe you have demographic that you would like to be more involved in your charity. Your virtual fundraising event is a mini advertising campaign so maximise your investment… just don’t try and do too much. 

4. Identify key dates. 

The beauty of virtual fundraising events is that they can be done any time.  But not setting a definite timeline or date can be detrimental to involving your fundraisers.  Online events work best when they have a defined period.  This not only makes them easier to manage, it also gives more clarity about when your fundraisers should take part. Whether it’s a day or a few weeks, setting that time makes everything a lot easier to plan around. You’ll be able to introduce the event, encourage participation and increase donations far more easily. 

5. Have an idea.  Or don’t. 

Charity teams are full of creative people and you’ve been creating fundraising events for years.  If you’ve got an idea that’s been dormant for years or you don’t know how to get it off the ground, give it a go as a virtual event, they’re much lower risk than those physical events that require space, property, insurance… (you know the drill).  If you’re scratching your head, we can help. 

6. Give your virtual fundraising event a clear identity.

With a crowded market, it is hard to stand out and with no clear identity it’s easy to be overlooked. Having a clear identity will make your event stand out from the crowd. A clear identity for your event will also ensure that people notice the event and not mistake it for any other comm’s you have out at the same time. Be clear with what your event is about and convey that through your identity.  

7. Have assets to send to your fundraisers. 

If you’re asking your fundraisers to do something online, ensure that they look good or have the tools to do what they need. Share assets that they can use on social platforms to make their space stand out from all their other content. 

8. Have a plan for marketing your event.

It may look simple and easy but you need to give some consideration about how best to reach your audience.  Ensure that your demographic will see your content where you intend to share it and consider where to use paid media in order to reach a wider demographic and new supporters. Acknowledge that you will need to be in front of your audience in a productive way throughout your events timeline. 

9. Thank your supporters just as you would at a physical mass participation event. 

You know that your fundraising supporters appreciate the thank you they receive across your events.  For some they have achieved a lifetime goal, for others, it’s a chance to cement relationships and to feel part of a team.  We know that merchandise continues to solidify relationships with supporters, receiving a medal recognising the achievement or a t-shirt that reminds the team of the camaraderie shared, is often an emotionally well received thank you.

10. Do you have existing resource to manage a fundraising event? 

Do not underestimate an online (Virtual) event, it is important to give all aspects consideration and be able to support the online necessary platform. The good news is that they are easy to manage and a doddle to learn.  But if you need any additional support, we can help. 

 

Need Additional Support? Drop us a line to see how we can help you with your online, virtual fundraising events. 

We recently created a video for our client, the NSPCC, and it got us thinking about how brilliant video can be as a marketing vehicle.

The NSPCC video was designed to demonstrate the wonderful benefits of running the marathon on their behalf. It captures everything from the cheers to the tears, the strength and the triumph, and can be shared and shared to inspire other budding runners to sign up.

Carl, our video production guru, says “Videos are great ways of explaining stuff. Whether it’s a product or service or a complex message, a video is a slick, visual way of communicating it to your audience.

You can give your perfect pitch anywhere, anytime, without even having to be there!”

What’s more, websites with video are actually 50 times more likely to be ranked on Google’s first page. What do you think people will click on first: the text link or the inviting video thumbnail?

In fact, there are loads of stats that prove video is one of the best ways of getting an audience to engage with you:

  • 55% of people watch videos online every day (MWP)
  • Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store (ThinkWithGoogle)
  • 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it (Animoto)
  • 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues weekly (TubularInsights)

So there you have it; video is officially awesome!

If you think video could help you with your next marketing campaign, then get in touch with us today!

On your marks, get set, bake! For another year running, Bluestep have had the pleasure of working with Macmillan Cancer Support on their fundraising packs for The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

Any excuse to bake, and more importantly eat, cake is fine by us. So, when it’s for an amazing cause it’s even sweeter.

After working hard on this exciting top-secret project earlier on in the year, we have been really looking forward to seeing everyone hosting their coffee mornings and watch the products in action.

The 2018 pack includes an array of fun props to ensure hosts and participants get the most out of their morning. This includes flags, stickers, a fundraising box, bunting, tablecloth, bake-related games, cards and ‘mmm’ bunting; which our very own designers created!

1.5 million of these units were printed, stored and shipped back in June by yours truly, at our very own warehouse facility.

The masterpieces for our own coffee morning included a refreshing lemon drizzle, an indulgent red velvet creation and a selection of tasty cookies.

Not one to shy away from the cake, next month sees the launch of our very own Bluestep Bake Off! Keep your eyes peeled on the blog to watch it all unfold. Fingers crossed for no soggy bottoms!

We hope everyone across the UK had an amazing coffee morning raising money (and bakes) for such an important cause.  We’re already looking forward to next year, so stay tuned to see what we have planned…

Here in the UK, our weekend was dominated by the Six Nations. But across the pond, it was all about the Super Bowl. Not only is it a big night for the NFL, but it's pretty huge in the advertising world.

As a marketing agency, we love seeing how the big dogs (and sometimes underdogs) make the most of over 100 million eyes watching the game. With a 30 second slot going for an eye-watering 5 million dollars, it’s big business! If you didn’t catch the game, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the ones we think you should see.

Amazon

2017 was a huge year for home assistant technology, and 2018 is set to be no different. Amazon chose their device, better known as Alexa, as the focus of their ad. Perhaps with Apple’s own home assistant launch looming, Amazon are hoping to remain at the forefront. With a star-studded cast, the advert follows the story of how Alexa has lost her voice, and how a few familiar faces step in to take her place.

From Gordon Ramsay with his colourful language choices, to Rebel Wilson and her no-frills humour, the advert is a great example of emotional pull in advertising. There is not one mention of the products features, but it doesn’t matter as it (probably) made you laugh and it’s likely you’ll remember it tomorrow.

 

Doritos & Mountain Dew

This collaborative ad between the delicious corn chip and America’s popular soft drink certainly stole the show. Like Amazon, this advertisement is all about the comedic value and a star-studded cast. Beginning with Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage, rapping a famous verse by Busta Rhymes from a 2011 hit ‘Look At Me Now’, to promote the new ‘Blaze’ flavour by Doritos. Who better to respond than Morgan Freeman, giving all the sass as he mimes along to Missy Elliot as he sips his Mountain Dew ‘Ice’.

This ad is a great example of using nostalgia. By featuring popular songs from the past, there is no doubt that people were singing along at home. Music is always a favourite for encouraging viewers to retain ads. People will certainly think of Morgan Freeman (and Mountain Dew) next time Missy Elliot comes on the radio!

 

NFL

Not one to miss out on the action, the National Football League featured their own ad this year. In a climate where you can’t seem to escape politics and controversy (something the NFL has been at the forefront of in 2017) what better time to sprinkle some light-hearted humour on the subject with this minute-long ad.

Featuring two of the leagues big stars, the ad refers to the whacky celebrations that players had been performing when they score a touchdown throughout the season. Here, we see Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr recreating that famous dirty dancing scene, including the perfect lift! At Bluestep, we know how to have a laugh, so we really appreciated the killer moves and that the stars don’t always take themselves too seriously.

 

Febreze

Febreze’s ad follows the story of Dave, who’s bleep doesn’t stink. Along the way, we are introduced to various people who explain Dave’s unique phenomenon. Only in the ending scene do we see the product appear. It ties in nicely with the Super Bowl and that many Americans will be hosting their own gatherings to watch the event, and asking ‘is your bathroom ready?’

The campaign’s hashtag #bleepdontstink has had a great response on twitter, even with other brands jumping on the back of it. It is a great reminder that, if it isn’t too forced, a hashtag is a great addition to an ad and keeps the slogan alive.

 

What can we take away from these adverts? Ok, so while not everyone can afford movie stars to promote their brand, two main takeaways are: don’t push a hard sell and above all,  make people smile.

What did you think of the adverts? What was your favourite?

At Bluestep, we appreciate the power of video & animation. If you want to talk to us about your next campaign, we’d love you to get in touch (Although we might not be able to get Morgan Freeman on board, sorry).

 

Congratulations to Alice, Josh and Carlene, our December employees of the month!

Better late than never, right? We know December may seem like a distant memory, but we couldn’t miss out on celebrating our stars of the month.

1st Place – Alice Goddard

Throughout the year, Alice has been amazing at maintaining her relationships with various charity clients, going above and beyond to help grow the business. Not only that, but Alice has smashed her targets with the highest individual monthly figure this financial year. Amazing!

2nd Place – Josh Crawley

Josh has gone from strength to strength here at Bluestep. His continued work with the FA being just one example of how his efficiency and determination pays off. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by our clients, who are always delighted to work alongside him on a variety of projects.

3rd Place – Carlene MacFarlane

As our office manager, Carlene is the organisation queen. December brings the annual Bluestep Christmas party. It was, as always, a night to remember! Thanks to Carlene, the evening was filled with great food, champagne and Santa himself. Her dedication and great ideas on keeping Bluestep a fun and fabulous place to work doesn’t go unnoticed.  Thank you, Carlene!

2017 was another great year for Bluestep, and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings!  Keep your eyes peeled for January’s employees of the month.

Say hello to the latest Bluesteppers!

We got January off to a great start here at Bluestep by welcoming some great new team members. Meet Alex and Claudia!

Alex Welch - Bluestep

Alex

Alex is our latest addition to the ever-expanding web development team here at Bluestep. Previously leading all things web for a photography company, Alex joins us with a great deal of experience and enthusiasm for the field.

Originally from the University of Northampton, his Media & Web Design course sparked his interest in the industry, and he hasn’t looked back since!

When he’s not making websites look beautiful, Alex loves gaming, comics and Netflix marathons.

Claudia Carr - Bluestep

Claudia

Claudia is our new digital marketing executive, working with clients on everything from SEO to social media advertising.

With a variety of marketing experience under her belt, from cosmetic companies to wedding venues, Claudia is a great addition to Bluestep. Once a De Montfort University student, she achieved a first-class degree in Advertising & Marketing Communications.

In her spare time Claudia loves horse-riding, her French bulldog and all things fashion.

 

2018 is going to be a great year, we can just tell!

Interested in joining our team? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

The world of social media is constantly evolving. Following Facebook's recent update, we've collected some thoughts on what it involves, what it means for businesses and how to adapt to the change.

Four days into 2018 and a reflective status from Mark Zuckerberg hinted at some big changes, describing that the platform had “a lot of work to do”. One week later, and this Facebook algorithm update was announced from the Head of News Feed.

So, what has prompted the change?

If you’ve ever come across a post telling you to like and share if you love *insert food/beverage/animal here*, you have probably felt the frustration of spammy posts clogging up your newsfeed. This is just one example of content that is causing a rise in passive users of the platform.

Facebook has listened, and understands that people are missing out on what matters to them. The major algorithm change hopes to reduce the time spent aimlessly scrolling, by facilitating “deeper, more meaningful interactions”.

This means person to person exchanges between friends will be pushed further up the newsfeed, and prioritized over public content from brands and publishers. Put simply, posts with a two-way dialogue, lengthy comments and anything that encourages you to take interest are favoured. Whereas before it was largely based on likes and shares, now the element of dialogue is equally important.

Should social marketers and businesses be worried? Adam Mosseri explained that some pages might feel a slight decrease in reach and referral traffic, but the impact will vary.

We have put together some tips on steps you can take to ensure you don’t fall behind.

Spark a conversation

As comments are king in the eyes of the Algorithm update, try and create chatter on your posts.  For those among us who use Facebook predominantly to drive traffic away from the platform, whether to your homepage or a blog, this could do you more harm than good. With the new update, it is all about interaction directly with the post, so it is important to keep people on your Facebook page.

Make it a two-way thing

It’s all very well encouraging comments from users through your posts, but it is vital for you to get involved too. Try and make sure you reply to all comments posted, whether it is a simple thank you or continuing the conversation, bring your brand to life.

Go Live

As one of Facebook’s prominent features, they will always encourage going live. The interactive nature of live video increases your favourability of the algorithm, and is an exciting way of engaging your audience.  In addition, this is a great way to keep users on the platform, and particularly your page, for longer. Find out all about going live here.

Avoid Engagement Bait

Our final point is more of a what not to do. Ensure the comments you do receive are genuine, otherwise Facebook will consider this engagement bait and push the post further down the feed. Encouraging people to leave one-word comments, for example, will not work with the algorithm.

We’re pretty social savvy here at Bluestep. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about campaign management and social media opportunities for your business or service.

The notorious yellow toy has a special place in the hearts of children, the Queen… and Bluestep!

January is not all bad. Despite the gloomy weather, diets and no more Christmas, there are some exciting things happening. The 13th, for example, brings a very special day indeed: National rubber ducky day.

Originating in the 1940s, the rubber duck was sculpted by Peter Ganine, over 50,000,000 of them were sold as a floating toy around the world.

It is said the Queen keeps a rubber duck by her bath, complete with its very own crown, which caused a spike in UK sales at the time of 80%.

And who could forget about Sesame Street’s Ernie, with his dedicated ‘Rubber Duckie’ song, reaching #16 on Billboard’s ‘Hot 100 Singles’ in 1970!  It is no wonder then that these little fellas sit in the Toy Hall of Fame.

But how did the Bluestep duck come to be? We thought today would be the perfect occasion to tell you.

Merchandising is a big part of what we do, and we are always looking for ways to grow our offering. Back in 2017, the team had a bright idea to pitch duckies as an option for personalised products, and they have been a hit ever since.

We didn’t want to miss out, so our very own blue duck was born. The little guys now live at Bluestep HQ, sit in on our meetings and are almost like a mascot to us.

Our talented designers can create bespoke ducks, whether it’s rocking your brand’s logo or impersonating a famous icon. It is just one example of how we can create unique products for our clients.

Look out for our little blue friends on our future marketing, and however you choose to celebrate, have a quacking national rubber ducky day! Sorry , we couldn’t resist…

We’re at it again. And this time we’re expanding our marketing team with our new Marketing Manager, Paul!

We’re on a bit of a roll at the minute with all these new starters, but with every new starter joining it means our team grows even larger, developing our skillset and improving our offerings to old and new clients.

Lucky for us, Paul popped up at just the right time as we’d been on the hunt for a Marketing Manager for a while to help guide and lead us Bluesteppers through an innovative and thriving digital market.

Paul hasn’t always worked in marketing though, as he originally had a keen interest in motorsports and worked in engineering for F1, developing engines for Jaguar Racing. Deciding to take things up a gear and chase his creative dreams, Paul left F1 behind and joined Volkswagen where he found himself a creative marketing role, allowing him to use showcase his many other talents.

After a long stint working for the car giant, Paul took a different route away from the world of motoring and joined BBH advertising agency, where he would be working with an eclectic range of clients to deliver some major advertising campaigns.

When Paul isn’t working, he opts for a more fast-paced and adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle by showing off his snowboarding skills on the slopes and jet setting across the world. As a keen traveller, Paul has a pretty impressive passport with a collection stamps from the likes of Thailand, Africa, Mexico, Sri Lanka and plenty more. Fancy squeezing us in your suitcase next time?

Paul’s down-to-earth manner and great sense of humour make him the perfect fit for Bluestep and we can’t wait to see what the future holds now that Paul has joined!

Congratulations to Harley, Aron and Chris who are November’s Employees of the Month!

It’s that time of the month again! It’s also that time of the year again too. I know I said before that it was Christmas, but this time it’s definitely proper Christmas. December is in full swing, our tree is decked to the nines, our screens are framed with fairy lights, we’ve got a steady stream of mince pies on the go and we’ve already dished out our Secret Santas!

But despite Christmas quickly approaching, nothing slows down here at Bluestep and we’ve been stacked with projects to finish before the big day. And over the past month there have been a few colleagues who have really stood out thanks to their efforts.

So let’s get to it…

1st: Harley Jacquest

Since Harley joined just over 6 months ago, she’s got stuck right in the thick of it and hasn’t shyed away from some of our larger clients like Aritco and Whittlebury Hall. She’s an incredibly hard-working and talented member of the design team and has taken every challenge in her stride. You can always count on Harley to help you out, no matter which part of the business you work in! A true team player. Congratulations Harley!

2nd: Aron Marriott-Smith

We’re pretty big on web and mobile design in case you hadn’t noticed, and we’ve had a hoard of projects through recently including the mobile-app design for Referment. With so many digital projects coming through our doors, it’s easy to forget that we only have 1 web developer! From proposals and quotes to coding websites and apps, Aron is incredibly hard-working and self-motivated, and you’ll often find him staying late to get the job done! Your hard work has not gone unnoticed – great job Aron!

3rd: Chris Mayes

Chris is a man with many fingers in many (mince) pies right now and has recently transitioned into a bit of a hybrid role, picking up clients from the corporate and sexual health sectors while Becky is on maternity leave. His proactive approach and enthusiasm has seen Chris develop strong relationships with his customers – just one of many reasons as to why Chris is making a positive impact here at Bluestep. Keep at it Chris!

We’ll see you in 2018 to announce who has made December’s Employees of the Month!

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to our Senior Designer Ollie, who has been with Bluestep for 5 years this month!

We’ve had a string of milestones lately that we can barely keep up! First we had Becca promoted to Senior Designer, then we saw Carlene promoted to Office Manager, Sarah has just reached her 1-year anniversary and now we’re celebrating Ollie reaching his 5-year milestone. High-fives all around!

And we thought what better way to celebrate 5 years than with an animation for our longest-serving animator?! Take a look below at our custom animation featuring Ollie himself (thanks Carl!).

Not only is Ollie a design guru but he’s also one of the original Bluesteppers and has seen the company grow from the small and promising start-up it was back in 2010 to the multi-million-pound enterprise that it is today.

As Ollie’s been here for 5 years we decided to keep the blog on the theme of 5. And a lot has happened since he joined, as Ollie will know, so with that in mind here are 5 career highlights about Ollie’s time at Bluestep:

1. Ollie started Bluestep as an intern in June 2012 and was offered a permanent position in September 2012.
2. His office initiation was a trip to Alton Towers! (We’re seriously jealous)
3. He joined Bluestep when they were a small team of 6 and has seen those numbers grow to nearly 30!
4. He’s worked on a variety of different projects ranging from pathology forms, campaigns, branding to animation, websites and apps.
5. Since joining Bluestep he has seen 2 office moves, plus an office expansion of our current office.

So, who is Ollie?

Ollie is one of Bluestep’s Senior Designers, lending his countless creative skillset to our client base, offering graphic design, illustration, animation, web design and much more for some major national campaigns including Choose Well, Patient Voice Panel and Referment – pretty impressive right? But he’s not just a design master, he plays an important role in keeping the cogs of the design studio running smoothly and keeping us Bluesteppers smiling!

Still not sure who Ollie is? We’ve got 5 facts about Ollie that you probably didn’t know:

We can’t quite believe it’s been 5 years already, but we want to say a huge thank you for your years of hard work and dedication to Bluestep and hopefully even 5 more years! We don’t know what we’d do without you!

Yep, we’ve bagged ourselves another new starter and this time it’s in the form of enthusiastic and experienced Dario!

We had a hunch from his interview that Dario was going to take the charity team by storm and fit in effortlessly here at Bluestep, and guess what – he has! It’s only been two weeks and we can already see the value that confident and driven Dario will bring to the team.

Originally studying a diploma in sports development fitness and coaching at college, Dario decided to jump ship and quench his undeniable thirst for sales by moving to Spain to work as a club promoter. Returning to England, Dario jumped straight in at the deep end and has been working as a Senior Negotiator for an acclaimed estate agent for the past 4 years, with a recognised talent for smashing targets out the window.

Born in Croatia, Dario likes to head back to the homeland every year and is a dedicated veteran of Hideout Festival, hosted on the party island of Pag. To get himself hyped for work, Dario enjoys listening to motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, meaning he’s always on the ball!

Welcome to the team, Dario!

Working in the design and marketing industry means you need to be on top of your game and a creative block is the last thing you need!

We’ve all been there, you find yourself staring blankly at the screen wondering what to write (like me right now) and can’t seem to shake off that annoying block. It may not happen often but it’s awkward when it does. Luckily, we’ve got 5 ways to stay creative and find the inspiration you were craving.

Here are just a few ideas to help you get back to smashing your projects:

1. Follow inspiration feeds

By giving yourself a constant stimulus of work to look at every day, you’ll discover a new wave of inspiration that will help you with new ideas. Some popular creative sites include Dribbble, the Hubspot blog, Behance and Pinterest. Sometimes it helps to see what other people in your industry are creating and it can often lead to sparks of new creation.

2. Change your routine

It’s easy to get stuck into a comforting routine of the same tasks every day, but simply switching it up could give you the change you need to find new creativity. Offer to use your creative skills to another department in the company or get stuck into a task that is out of your comfort zone.

3. Attend talks, meet-ups and join communities

There are loads of free events focusing on design, copywriting and digital marketing across the country that are great for getting some fresh insight. Our personal favourites are Glug, BrightonSEO and The London Design Fair, so check them out!

4. Practise new hobbies

Focusing on activities outside of work is an important way to remain creative and keep your ideas fresh. Often, it’s when you’re out of work that you’ll find the most inspiration and spending more time on your hobbies will help you find motivation for your next project.

5. Be spontaneous

Explore that forest behind your work at lunch, go for a road trip, buy that flight that’s on sale to that place you’ve always wanted to visit. Ignore your to-do lists and look at your wish list for a change! Spending time away from your screen is not only a nice break but it’s also healthy for your mind and will help you get a fresh perspective.

The best way to fight your creative block is to stop thinking about the task you’re working on and immerse yourself in other ways of thinking. It’s totally okay to give yourself some space from your work and focus on something else until you find that spark again. We hope these ideas will help!

Congratulations to Josh, Sarah and Janos who are October’s Employees of the Month!

The clocks have gone back, Halloween is over and it’s now November 1st, which means it’s officially Christmas right? We believe it’s a legal requirement to have Mariah Carey blasting from the office speakers until 2018.

As we see in another month, we have another set of Employees of the Month to announce! And the hard work and perseverance of October’s Bluesteppers hasn’t gone unnoticed.

1st: Josh Crawley

Josh has completely smashed his targets this month reaching 318% to target, which is an incredible achievement. It’s not just his amazing sale margins that have been noticed, but his ability to build strong and lasting client relationships is admirable and has even helped him bag VIP tickets to the England vs Brazil match! His commitment and hard work with the FA shows that Josh is ready to go above and beyond his role. Congratulations Josh!

2nd: Sarah Kilgannon

Yesterday was Sarah’s 1-year anniversary since joining Bluestep, so congratulations Sarah! This month Sarah has really stood out, as she’s been making huge progress with building her client base and expanding our corporate sector. Sarah is incredibly enthusiastic and proactive, reaching out to potential new clients, organising calls and meetings to find ways Bluestep can help other businesses. It certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed! Great work Sarah!

3rd: Janos Geczi

The Bluestep warehouse has grown rapidly over the past year and although Janos works behind the scenes, he is an integral part of the business. This month Janos has provided exceptional support to the expansion of our warehouse and has been incredibly busy the past few months ensuring this goes as smoothly as possible. His regimented organisational skills and consistent effort have helped our warehouse operations get back to normal after the expansion and has been a major influence in our success! Well done Janos!

Round of applause for Josh, Sarah and Janos for another great month of work. Keep your eyes peeled to see who’ll win November’s Employees of the Month!

Our partnership with Kingswood has seen Bluestep get our foot firmly through the door of the e-commerce world.

After 7 months of development and testing of the Kingswood e-commerce shop, their online store is now live, allowing their customers to head online for Kingswood merchandise.

With a vast offering of branded products including cuddly teddy bears, stationery and camp kits, they were on the hunt for an external agency to source, store and distribute all of their online stock.

They reached out to Bluestep and loved what we could offer. Thanks to our expansive Grendon-based storage facility, we’re now storing and distributing over 100,000 items for their online and retail shops.

An image of Kingswood's colourful tube pencil holders that are available in their stores and online shop

Kingswood are just one of a few outdoor & education centres we work with and see over 165,000 children visit their activity centres every year from over 75 countries.

With 10 locations across the UK and Northern France, they are one of the smaller activity centres in their industry, however, their growth in retail continues to grow year-on-year and we’re excited to continue our work with Kingswood as they develop.

It’s undoubtedly the biggest charity fundraiser in the UK and we’ve finally been able to debut our Macmillan charity fundraising pack! Plus, it gave us a good excuse to bake cakes…

We’ve been counting down the days until Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, as this year we had the pleasure of creating promotional products for their charity fundraising packs – one of our most exciting projects to date.

The order involved 1.7 million units including branded miniature cake bunting, mini cake flags, ‘Best Baker’ badges and a tablecloth printed and stored at our Bluestep warehouse facility. And we’re no strangers to orders of this size, just see our order for the FA Cup Final!

Not only did we want to use our fundraising pack and get our quintessentially British bunting up, but it also meant we could show off our second-best set of skills – baking.

We love an excuse to get our hands stuck in cake mixture (and our faces), and we like to think we’re pretty good bakers if we do say so ourselves – just see how our Bluestep bake-off turned out. We can categorically confirm that there were no soggy bottoms in the office on this day. Mary Berry would be proud.

Our freshly-baked goods selection included Mia’s deliciously delicate Viennese Whirls and creamy sandwich biscuits, Alice’s crumbly white chocolate and raspberry cookies and Yasmin’s tasty Oreo truffles.

After devouring the lot, it was up to us official “taste-testers” to see whose bakes were fit for the ‘Best Baker’ award. It wasn’t an easy decision, but after much deliberation, we chose Mia as the Best Baker for Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning!

We hope everyone across the UK had a successful World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and enjoyed their cake bunting as much as we did! We’re already looking forward to next year’s event, so stay tuned to see what we have planned…

The London Design Fair saw Bluestep head to hipster paradise Brick Lane to support Aritco at Alexander Lervik’s stand.

Us Bluesteppers know good design when we see it, which is why we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the prestigious London Design Fair at the Old Truman Brewery in sunny Shoreditch.

London is without a doubt the design capital of the World and this year’s event saw Alexander Lervik display his ‘Scandinavian Light Senses’ exhibition, featuring the Aritco HomeLift, which Lervik designed himself.

The Aritco-sponsored stand featured some of Alexander Lervik’s most iconic work, including his contemporary Scandi-style sofa designed for furniture manufacturer Adea, his mesmerising Light Swing designed for Swedish light designers Saas and the Artico HomeLift.

An image showing the Aritco HomeLift at the London Design Fair 2017

After a couple of tests in the swish HomeLift and a quick go on the Light Swing, we decided to venture into the abyss of the design fair and get lost in inspiration.

In what seemed like a maze of design stalls, we managed to soak up a load of ideas for future projects and discover some hidden gems…

An image iof a sun screen poster at the London Design Fair 2017

WEAR SUNSCREEN as commanded by Baz Lurhmann, which always serves as a nice reminder for the few days of nice weather we have in the summer!

An image showing stationery and greeting cards at London Design Fair 2017

We’re big fans of stationery and greetings cards, with one of our very own Bluestep designers creating her own stationery website – Louie Prints!

An image showing interior design at London Design Fair 2017

A lot of stalls focused on interior design and the Scandi-style that’s popular within the industry right now. We’re trying to persuade Ben to let us have that light in the office.

An image showing plants at London Design Fair 2017

There’s no escaping millennial pink at this year’s Design Fair which is safe to say we’re all a bit partial to. We are millennials after all?

An image showing tiny ornamental vases at London Design Fair 2017

We were pretty fascinated with these tiny ornamental vases, fit for a blade of grass! We had to be held back from buying the whole lot.

An image showing Bluestep staff at London Design Fair 2017

At the end of a long day getting lost in London Design Fair, we found a photo booth equipped with tropical-themed props! Spot the photobomber…

We've been saying goodbye to the blues with our new Secret Buddy system!

Thanks to our wonderful new Office Manager, Carlene, our Bluesteppers have been beating the office blues with the much-beloved introduction of her new Secret Buddy system.

So, each month we get all the employees to fill out a questionnaire with questions like ‘what songs do you have memorised?’ and ‘what do you wish you knew more about?’ plus a few others like your favourite food and drinks. We then pick a name from a box and the person we choose is our secret buddy for the month.

Nobody knows who has each other. The idea is that we can get to know our secret buddy that little bit better and brighten up their day with little gifts and thoughtful surprises throughout the month.

Then come next month, we do it all over again with a different secret buddy. It’s the little things!

Secret Buddies is just one of the many ways we try and boost employee happiness in the office; we’re also partial to an office bake-off. Eat your heart out Mary Berry.

Here are just a few of the surprises we’ve had so far…

An image of Shanice from Bluestep holding a box of gin
An image showing a wooden box filled with a mini gin set
Here’s Shanice looking pretty pleased with her new mini gin set!

An image showing a football-themed gnome
Andrew was ungnomingly left a football-themed gnome at his desk when we distracted him away from it. Sorry for the pun. Couldn’t resist.

An image showing snacks and a picture of the Kardashians
We can barely recognise Tom as he fits in so perfectly with the Kardashian clan. Although, not for much longer once he finishes off this haul.

An image showing a notebook and phonecase with the Louie Prints logo
Becca was left with a phone case and notebook with the logo she’s using for her new stationery business.

An image showing a jar of olives, harbal tea and a birthday card for Sarah's birthday
Olives, herbal tea and a tearible dad joke for Sarah’s birthday.

An image showing a brandy pic and the words 'Sunshine' typed out
Carl’s 2 favourite things! “Sunshine” and a brandy lemonade! It is England after all…

An image showing a ukelele
Chris’ love for music saw him walk into the office on Monday morning to a brand new Ukelele! Best secret buddy ever?! We’re patiently waiting for a Bluestep jingle.

These were just some of the secret buddy gifts from August and September. It’s like secret Santa, but without the wrapping paper. Stick around for our next secret buddy blog to see what everyone has hiding up their sleeves for October!

It’s our first time at BrightonSEO and we’ve got our top 5 tips to get your rankings higher.

Twice a year, the hipster capital plays host to over 3,500 digital marketers, SEO experts, and social media wizards to catch up on what’s been happening in the digital world at Europe’s largest SEO conference: BrightonSEO.

You can expect market leaders from Google, Moz, BrightLocal and other marketing agencies to dish out some secret tricks and common practice tips on how to take your digital marketing to the next level.

Not only is it great to hear from industry experts, but you get loads of free swag too – free bags, ice-cream, sweets and even beer! Plus, you can meet thousands of friendly, self-proclaimed digital nerds who love the industry as much as you do. What’s not to love?

We’ve put together our top 5 takeaway tips from our first ever BrightonSEO to help you keep up-to-date on your SEO knowledge:

1. Focus on your backlinks!

We know backlinks mean a lot to Google (they’re very sentimental over them) and this year it was reported that backlinks are the number #1 ranking factor when it comes to local SEO. Yet so many businesses are ignoring these and missing out on vital backlinks that are so easily acquired! If you’ve helped another business out by sponsoring their event, or have been involved in a community project or just shared an amazing blog, then reach out to the right audience and get a link to your site – it’s that easy. Each backlink improves your internet dominance and in turn, your ranking.

2. Voice search is increasing

It’s no secret, voice search is slowly catching up with text searches with Google announcing that nearly 25% of queries are voice-searched, and this is increasing. Nearly half of adults use voice search once per day thanks to Siri starting the trend back in 2011, and we’ve since seen Amazon’s Alexa join the market along with Google Home and Cortana. So, what does this mean for SEO? It means you need to start producing content that will communicate well across these voice-control devices. Using long-tail keywords, giving detailed answers, providing a NAP, having a clean and accessible website that’s mobile-responsive, having rich snippets and moving to HTTPS will help them give their users the right answer.

3. Ditch the clichés

We realise that saying ‘ditch the clichés’ is cliché BUT, it remains true. Amy Harrison’s talk ‘How Inside-Out Copy Makes You Invisible’ looked at avoiding forced transactions in email marketing and offering something that customers want. Something that would benefit the customer, rather than pushing a product in their face. Pull back on the ‘BUY NOW’ ‘FREE’ and ‘DON’T MISS’ headlines and really offer them something that could benefit them.

4. Move to HTTPS and HTTP/2

Want a website that’s faster? Uses fewer resources? More secure? Seems like a dream, right? Well HTTP/2 is the answer and it’s what all sites need! HTTP/2 is the latest update to the HTTP protocol. It’s a complete refresh of the internet, bringing the security and efficiency the internet is currently lacking. However, the likes of Google Chrome, Mozilla etc will only allow support HTTP/2 if your website is using HTTPS – another protocol that secures your site and protects all data communications. Google wants a secure web and they’ve even announced that HTTPS is a ranking factor and that they’re indexing secure sites over unsecured sites, so it’s well worth the move.

5. Optimise for mobiles!

We hear it time and time again and for good reasons. Mobiles have swiftly become the most used devices when it comes to searching online. Gary Illye’s keynote speech mentioned that some important news about the mobile-first index will be announced soon and the best way to prepare for it is to make your website fully responsive. The mobile-first index is nearly here and we’ve already started to see some ranking fluctuations between searches on mobile devices and desktops.

We can see why it’s such a hit with marketers across the country and we’re already looking forward to BrightonSEO 2018!

If you’re looking for a flashy, SEO-ready website or just need a hand with your search engine rankings then give us a call or drop us a message! We’ll be happy to chat over coffee about how we can help.