The Importance of Storytelling

The Importance of Storytelling

By Mandy Nelson

We love to create stuff that is in advance of popular culture. Our own brand promise, developed about five years ago, is: ‘We bring your story to life’. We are modestly chuffed to confirm that we were ahead of the pack on recognising storytelling as a marketing tool. Our brand promise remains relevant today and concisely encompasses everything we do.

In detail, that means G&A Creative Agency provides a complete range of marketing services, from sourcing research through to producing a live website, print promotion or newsworthy original event, by providing the creative talent, technical skills and network needed to build and bring that product or organisation’s unique story to life for their target market.

We love the symbolism of storytelling since it is similtaneously cross-cultural, ancient and contemporary. Stories have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, communication and instilling moral values. The art of storytelling predates writing yet stories can be written; stories can incorporate imagery, costume and music, flow through every medium and stimulate every sensory organ. Yes, even those ones.

We think there are several stories that should be told at different stages of your customer’s life-cycle as you work through your organisation’s customer touchpoint programme.

1)   Your brand story. This is the legend your must build first around your product, service or organisation based on its values and unique marketable point of difference. It is not something your customer will typically see: however, it will underpin every promotional campaign you create and must be authentic.

2)   Your creative campaign story – the most visible story. You need highly original stories for each promotional campaign that support your brand and values and belong together like a family, and are distributed through appropriate marketing channels: i.e. highway billboard versus free public lecture versus social media campaign or YouTube video.

3)   Your customer relationship story. You might benefit from writing the story of your ideal or typical customer’s journey through your touchpoint programme from initial awareness to advocacy. Don’t forget to record conflict and how you resolved it; work through the aging process if relevant and its implications on your customer; and consider whether the user of your product is the same person who actually makes the decision or purchases under instruction.

A ‘Good Thing’

A ‘Good Thing’

Never let it be said that we can’t recognise a ‘Good Thing’ when we see one. All of us here at G&A have an eye out for every kind of ‘Good Thing’ – from a frigid beer on a Friday afternoon, to bubble machines and double rainbows, right through to anything that might encourage world peace. Sometimes, after the frigid beer at the tail end of a hot Friday, we start to believe that if we swapped out weapons of mass destruction for bubble machines, world peace would spontaneously break out. That might be the ultimate ‘Good Thing’.

We are always looking on behalf of our clients, with their wondrously varied stories to tell, for promotional opportunities outside of the ordinary. They do crop up all the time but you need more than a working pulse and your brain set on ‘Receive’ as opposed to ‘Transmit’ to make the most of them. You need an openly creative mind, experience, and training in marketing strategy. Or the services of a great creative agency.

Of course we are ideally qualified to spot opportunities for ourselves and were delighted to hear that respected business strategist John Spence is coming to town. We are serious about business strategy and have a sound grasp on how it needs to integrate with excellent marketing so we grabbed the chance to associate our good name with his as one of the sponsors of his Christchurch seminar.

For those who don’t know him, we can tell you that John Spence has a huge brain and is Garrulous and Affable! John delivers up-to-date ideas on how to grow and promote a business like nobody else. He is funny, fast-paced, charming and articulate but speaks in layman’s terms. John cuts across the BS and pares information down to essentials, delivering serious messages about business with a light touch. We relate to that. We bet our clients do too.

John’s official bio and promo blurbs describe him as a trusted consultant, respected advisor, experienced strategist, passionate speaker, well-read author and Top 100 Business Thought Leader. He helps executives and all kinds of organisations, from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, build success. More than 500 client companies have called upon John’s expertise including Bank of America, Microsoft and Apple, and dozens of private, non-profit and industry association organisations.

John has thrice been named one of the Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America; and once as one of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers in America and one of the Top 500 Leadership Development Experts in the world. His consulting and training expertise means he is in demand, working with companies all over the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia and Africa.

In particular, John is known for his ability to absorb massive amounts of research and combine it with his personal hands-on experience to deliver timely, focused, results-driven programmes. John’s passion and credo is: ‘Making the Very Complex… Awesomely Simple’. He reads a minimum of 100 business-related books each year and also listens to 30 – 50 audio books, giving him an incredible depth and breadth of knowledge to draw from. He creates customised events that reflect the newest business research and most current thinking. Having John present a business growth seminar here in Christchurch is, we reckon, definitely a ‘Good Thing’ and you should probably not miss this chance to attend. You will learn something and you will be entertained. See you there!

Date: 25th March, all day
Venue: Isaac Theatre Royal

Table of 10: $6995 (plus GST)
Single: $795 (plus GST)

Register for this event here:

Serious about Social Media

Serious about Social Media

By Mandy Nelson

You’d have to be Gagged and AWOL to miss the growing potential of social media for marketing purposes these days. Like us, you will have heard all sorts of success stories about people who have built huge businesses through online trading, or have expanded their existing bricks and mortar enterprises as a result of adding online media promotions to their marketing portfolio. Of course, not only business but also many organisations including charities, clubs and educational institutions will also benefit from branding and marketing themselves online.

Promoting your company through such channels is an excellent option for many businesses. New ways of gaining people’s attention online are opening up all the time and the potential for fine tuning a message to a specific target market continues to expand. Ever alert to what works best for our clients, the G&A team is thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with technical experts in building campaigns over social media, the Auckland-based company Easy Social Media. We welcome Easy Social Media to Christchurch and now share our office space with their Christchurch social media manager, Moses Robbins.

Moses Robbins social media milk and honey marketing

Moses Robbins – Social Media Guru

G&A Creative develops original concepts that are designed to raise brand awareness across several media, or alternatively, can be specific to one medium. Now that we share a nest with Easy Social Media, it is simple and immediate for us to collaborate when we feel social media channels are the right fit for a client’s branding and promotions. Our experts are on the spot.

Let’s look at what type of organisation or business will benefit from a strategic marketing programme that incorporates social media channels and other online exposure:

1)        Any organisation that wants to connect directly, person-to-person, with their clients and customers.

2)        All small-to-medium enterprises.

3)        Organisations wanting to get better value out of their marketing budget, i.e. more bang for their buck.

4)        Any organisation wanting to target their prospects, customers or membership list more accurately.

5)        Organisations and businesses that want more control over their publicity and relish the opportunity to respond directly and immediately to positive or negative feedback.

6)        Those seeking new business who want to improve their lead-to-close-of-sale conversion rates.

7)        All organisations wanting to create more touch points, interact more often and more meaningfully with their customers.

8)        All businesses and organisations wanting to gather better quality data about their prospects and clients.

9)        Organisations that want to increase search engine rankings and visits to their website.

10)      Organisations wanting to expand their geographical reach.

11)      Organisations that value trust. An accessible brand appears like a trustworthy brand.

Clearly most organisations, whether they are a business, not-for-profit entity, education institution or some other flavour, can meet many or all of their promotional goals and needs online. The right social media marketing programme presents an opportunity for them to directly contact clients and then immediately measure the results of that effort. Social media is not a temporary fad. It will keep evolving and it’s here to stay. The G&A team loves kicking against the boundaries of social media as a marketing tool – and remains on amber alert, ever ready to spot new ways of promoting our clients.

The End is Nigh

The End is Nigh

By Mandy Nelson

G&A is Grateful and Appreciative this month. It’s been a year of change and development at G&A like no other and we are Grateful and Appreciative the end is nigh. We are all taking a deep breath, getting our heads down for the last few days of hard graft, and looking forward to time out partying, walking, relaxing – and soaking up some sun and a few cold ones on the far side of Christmas.

The year started with a move to new premises in New Regent Street from the boondocks known as suburban Casebrook. No offence intended to our bovine and avian neighbours, but we did feel a little isolated out there. We are now happily ensconced in New Regent Street enjoying its passing traffic of assorted tourists, wizards, thespians from the Theatre Royal, business types, a random beagle puppy and a couple of steampunkers, all leavened with chattering smatterings of small people dressed in fairy frocks partying up at the bead shop. No tiny bejewelled fairy, or puppy, has yet been flattened by a passing tram for which we remain very Grateful.

We are deeply Appreciative of the hospitality outlets in our new location. It’s no secret that when we feel the need to get institutionalised, we are inclined to visit The Insititution craft beer and cocktail bar. If the sun is shining, and we can’t be arsed making it to the other end of our short street, we have been known to park up and bask right next door at No. 8, late on a Friday afternoon. And The Last Word Whisk(e)y Bar is the perfect park after dinner or the theatre, for a revitalising wee dram. Over lunch hours, we can chill out sitting in the street garden with an exquisite gelato from Rollickin’ Gelato or, at the Gloucester end of the street, a coffee from Caffeine Lab. We are at home!

G&A creative agency christchurch new regent street

Christmas in New Regent Street

Change just keeps coming. There are those in this industry, as well as out there in the wild, who have been overheard to whisper ‘Print is dead!’ We don’t believe that for a moment but daily acknowledge that print is only one potential medium out of many options we can use to spread brand awareness. No, print is not dead: it is simply shrinking, as one does in old age. Sound strategy and creative concept work is the essence of a stand-out brand. Of course, finding exciting, new and unexpected channels to market requires as much imagination and storytelling skill as developing the creative content of a script, illustration or ad campaign. The medium does indeed form part of the message.

Taking our own advice to heart, we formed a strategic business relationship this year enabling us to now provide a full social media management service onsite, within the context of our wider marketing and branding offerings. It’s the perfect vehicle for certain brands and small-to-medium size enterprises in particular are loving it. Social media is affordable. All content posted is instant, up-to-date, easily changeable and can be specifically targetted to a particular demographic. Results are generally easily measurable too, often in real time. When we manage a client’s social media, for the long-term or a one-off promotion, the client maintains full access to all their social media accounts and, if they want, can continue to post in addition to content we provide. We continuously explore channels to market for our clients. We don’t know what new outlets we’ll pick up on next – but we do know we will embrace positive change. We’re Grateful and Appreciative of the opportunities we have turned into new business for clients and ourselves this year.

The Name Game

The Name Game

By Mandy Nelson

Sometimes we get asked what the ‘G’ and ‘A’ in G&A Creative Agency stand for. Those letters originally stood for the initials of our names – but that is now so irrelevant and such a small part of the current picture that I am not even going to remind anyone what those are. We’re moving on.

We’ve decided that those letters can mean whatever we jolly well want them to. Or indeed, whatever you want them to mean – positive associations only of course. Yeah, yeah, any of us can up with rude acronyms or silly and gross stuff – that’s too easy. We’re sticking to acronyms that are imaginative, creative and challenging, and say something about the values and culture that our agency stands for as well as the ideas that challenge and excite us.

Embracing my inner child, I hearby decree that we’re allowed to pick a theme and change what G&A stands for whenever we like, as often as we like. Thank goodness this name game began after October when my inner child might have demanded Halloween theming along the lines of Ghoul and Avatar, Ghost and Apparition, or Ghastly and Abhorrent. (Time to distract the inner child with large quantities of disgustingly sweet but gluten-free confectionery that looks like dead babies covered in blood.)

I’m starting with simple and obvious words: I may not be able to resist the tempatation to move through the Lexicon of Difficult Words in due course but, for this month, G is for Gifted and A for AwesomeGifted describes the members of the G&A design team. G&A employs only the most Gifted creatives who resonate with our agency values of Never Ordinary; Collaborative Creativity; Straight Talk; Constant Learning; Guiding; and Laughter Each Day. Our designers consistently come up with exceptional creative concepts and deliver technically accurate artwork to clients, day after day, week after week and year after year. Bouquets to our designers!

Paul and Emma

This is a chance to introduce the two newest additions to the design team: Emma Cameron and Paul Richardson. Emma started with G&A early this year. Not only is Emma a talented musician and songwriter fronting her own band, she is also a remarkably organised young woman with a down-to-earth approach. Her natural creativity comes packaged with high attention to detail and a wonderful way with the clients, an unusual combination in a designer.

Paul has been with G&A for a couple of months now. Highly-qualified, with a masters degree in design, Paul takes concept work to extraordinary creative heights. A true original, he brings design flair, academic thinking and a sense of humour to G&A as he challenges and expands our team’s creative thinking every single day. When he is not thinking hard, he is playing hard: cycling and paddling his way to extreme fitness.

‘Awesome’  was the spontaneous verbal client reaction we got to our most recent creative presentation – and the reaction we aim for, every time. We love to surprise a client and provoke them into saying ‘Awesome’ at a concept presentation. We have a couple of big presentations looming before the end of this year and look forward to a chance to spread more awesomeness.

So, what will it be for next month: Grand and Aspirational? Grounded and Authentic? I haven’t yet decided but, when a few words have wriggled around inside the heads here at G&A for a couple of weeks, something unexpected will manifest.

Using Your Sphere of Influence

Using Your Sphere of Influence

By Mandy Nelson

Let’s face it: I am unlikely to come up with a plan that halts global climate change or calms the conflict in the Middle East any time soon. That big-picture stuff is currently beyond my sphere of influence – but we at G&A always want to put something back into our own community and industry. That feels achievable. So, when way back in 2006 the production manager at G&A heard about a colleague connected to our industry being diagnosed with breast cancer, we were open to helping. This was in the days before there was public funding for the expensive treatment our colleague needed. We recognised there was an excellent chance we could actually make a difference to our colleague, potentially helping her back into work. G&A swung into action.

Our production manager decided the best way to raise money was to hold a ball and a charity auction. We calculated we needed to raise between $50,000 and $80,000, also known as truckloads, which of course then raised the question of how we could properly manage that sort of cash flow and keep it separate from G&A accounts. I came up with a solution. I set up a charitable trust – The Full Colour Trust – and I coerced three other print industry colleagues to join me as fellow inaugural trustees. The talented design team at G&A branded the event and created all the promotional material; our production manager temporarily became an event manager; and a bunch of hard-working volunteers across the design, advertising and print industry co-ordinated sponsors and got the ball rolling, so to speak. Everybody pitched in. People donated their artworks, their jewellery, booze, sporting memorabilia and all sorts of luxury goods and experiences for the auction. We smashed it. We raised over $80,000 in one fabulous, glittering night and we used most of it to pay for a course of Herceptin.

The inaugural Full Colour Trust Board of Trustees at the ball, 2006: Mike Dawson, Mandy Nelson, Nicci Becconsall, Bruce Gibson.

The Full Colour Trust was left with some small change and a reputation for throwing one helluva party. With a legal lifetime of 80 years under New Zealand law, the Trust is still a baby. My vision for it has always been to grow it and carry on helping colleagues in our industry who face a crisis and can’t get sufficient help from private insurance or the public health system, and get them back into work. The Full Colour Trust continues to do exactly that, having paid out more than $121,000 to beneficiaries since 2006 to fund ear surgery, hearing aids, brain surgery, alternative cancer treatment, child care, and long-distance transport to visit an injured child in hospital among other things.

There is more! Not only was G&A instrumental in creating The Full Colour Trust, our team has also been intimately connected with Dress for Success Christchurch. This charity works in Christchurch and Canterbury to get between 300 and 400 women on the pathway back into paid employment annually. Over the past two-and-a-half years, G&A has supplied complete marketing services to the Christchurch affiliate of the international charity. In that time, we’ve created a tele ad for them, branded their glitzy fundraising gala events and their more prosaic clothing sales; and created signage, print ads, newsletters and brochures – all at no cost. It seems our efforts have been noticed: the gala event branding look we created has been picked up by other affiliates overseas.

Other charities, causes and start-ups we have helped include The Court Theatre and The Court Foundation, The Champion Centre, and Rubble Artists Editions. For The Court, we reworked the logo, and offered branding and marketing advice over many years. For The Court Foundation, we designed a logo, wrote text and designed brochures. We developed a print ad campaign for the wonderful Champion Centre. Start-up enterprise Rubble taught us about practical gifting partnerships between enlightened business people and a young entrepreneur, in order to promote emerging artists and develop a new creative commercial reality. We lent Rubble our display space for their exhibition. We love all these local organisations that inspire us in some way and are so proud we have been able to make a difference to them. Let’s encourage and support those entities in Christchurch who work within their sphere of influence in unexpected or altruistic ways that contribute to their business communities and our city’s regeneration.