Databases and Cold Showers

We had a difficult start to the week last week.  It started with a cold shower on Sunday morning.  Then, on Tuesday as I was sat in my office at home playing with data in a spreadsheet, I realised it should not be raining indoors.  We had a leak.

After our early morning call of desperation on Monday  – you really miss hot water when you don’t have it – our regular plumber diagnosed that our water pump had broken down.  At some point during the fitting process, a pipe was dislodged from the tank in the loft.  And so, our unexpected indoor water feature.

Marginally calmer on  when the immediate drama was over, and the plumber had been and sorted out both the symptom and the cause of the leak, I was running queries in the database, it struck me how much database and CRM management as in common with plumbing.

We have kit we depend on – be it a boiler or a database – and have to do our best to look after it so in turn we can get the benefit from it.

We have an annual service for our boiler so we know it is in good shape and will run well – and in our database we run regular reports so we can adjust our performance according to the results we see, and may even have a spring clean and tidy up results every now and then.

We set a timer to manage our hot water and heating resources efficiently – we code activities and have set data entry processes to improve our data efficiency.

But no matter how well we may look after our boiler, there will come a time when something breaks down, furs up or starts clunking away behind the scenes.  We can try fixing it by having a good look around at obvious stick points, asking someone in the office who might know or via a judicious bit of Googling to try and find the root of the issue.  But the usual recourse is that  we have to get someone in who knows what they’re doing to take a look at it.

CRM systems are no different – they can really benefit from the attentions of a professional who knows their way around the inner workings. They can point out where inefficiencies may be causing blockages or issues and identify new integrations (new parts in boiler language) that will help things work more smoothly and maximise and extend the life of your system so it will provide you with the benefits that you need.

On the rare occasions that the boiler breaks down completely, it’s time for a new one – the average lifespan of a CRM system is around 7-10 years so there is usually lots of time to anticipate the need for a development or change in system.   Just as your service engineer is a good starting point for recommendations for a new boiler, so is a CRM expert for your database.  Both will be able to identify what will fit your space, share what the options are on the market and the pros and cons of different models, give you an idea of cost and how long the task will take to complete.

Likewise, they will probably have given you a warning too about when the change might need to happen during their regular servicing so you are not unprepared and are able to plan for the change too.

Does your CRM need a service?  Call Keith today to chat through our CRM Database Health Check service:

 e: [email protected], or t:  0845 458 0250





Welcome to our new clients, and welcome back to existing customers!

Welcome to our new clients and welcome back to existing clients.

What *is* the point of doing this, sharing this news?

You could (like I have been in the past) be a little bit cynical about companies that splash logos for the organisations they’ve supported all over their website and promotional material. But if the logos or information about other clients aren’t visible, questions start forming at the back of your mind – don’t they have any clients, why won’t they tell us who they work with?   But likewise, when we do share who we’re working with, the question is often then ‘what are you doing for them – it’s all very impressing working with ‘big name we’ve all heard of’  but did you do a big job or a tiddly job?’

There’s no pleasing us customers, eh!  So here’s what why we share news of new clients and what we do.

Purple Vision provide case studies, testimonials and quotes so you can see the kind of organisations we work with (big, small, tiny, huge and in very diverse campaign areas!).

But what you won’t always find is what we have done for a charity we work with.   With some of our clients, we’re involved in longer-term projects, and so won’t comment until the project is finished which can take months and months.

In other cases, our clients are happy to say they worked with us but want what we did to remain confidential – not because they’re not happy with our service, often they are very happy to give a direct reference for us.

Others still are actually just too busy rolling out, embedding or learning about the new tools, projects or actions we’ve delivered so they don’t have time right away to help with a case study.   Plus, we don’t publish a case study for every job we undertake anyway – quite frankly, it would be quite boring for you to plough through them all.

We will only publish quotes or case studies when a client is happy with the service they received.  We will always have a snapshot of cases and quotes on the website, and more to hand when we need them.  So when we chat to you about potential work, and you ask ‘have you done this for anyone else?’ we have a range of client cases to draw on.  And we will always happily provide details for clients we’ve worked with when you want a direct reference.

When we do share new clients via our newsletter, what is our goal, then?

Its twofold:

  • to share the diversity of clients we work with so you know you are in good company if you want to work with us
  • we are immensely proud of working with such a breadth and range of organisations.

We are excited to work with people are inspired to grow, develop and improve what they offer clients, members and beneficiaries.  Who are energised and engaged by the idea of using the data they have to deliver better campaigns, communications, or fundraising activity.  Who are looking for solutions to a challenge or problem, rather than letting it become something they just have to live with.   We are inspired to work with people who are so knowledgeable about their causes and subjects.

Very selfishly, we also grow and develop our own knowledge of issues and subjects by spending time with our clients.  We have a real sense of pride when we see campaigns and activities which are flourishing – we really root for our clients and share what’s great about what they do with other members of our team.

It’s great to work with clients who are inspired and challenging, and to work with an internal team who help deliver results that can help change the world, tiny bit by tiny bit.

In your position as a client or potential client, I would have been quite pleased and delighted to know that about us and understand why we enthuse about the client’s we are working with.

Click to view image  [includes links to clients websites]


3 things about … brand activation

Three things about … re-brands and brand refreshes

You might have noticed we don’t look like we used to.  We had a bit of a re-brand.  Well, to be more technically accurate we had a brand refresh, an activation if you will.

‘What’s the difference’, I hear you cry.  Well, our values, company, goals, people or services haven’t changed, nor has our proposition, position, price or approach.  If those elements had changed we’d be a new brand or a re-brand,  but as it is, we are much the same as before (albeit with a slightly bigger team and an office which we didn’t have before!) and so we are simply ‘refreshed’.

If you knew us of old our logo was a plum.  A purple plum, granted. But beyond all the fruit jokes you could ever hope to make into a salad and call dessert, none of us could really explain the plum very well. And so obviously, it was time to move things along.

I’ve been involved in delivering brand work several times now.  Here’s three things I have learned:

  • It will *always* take longer than you think

Even the best planners among us will find that decisions are delayed, or just don’t come in time.  The critical path starts to look a bit too critical at some points and when usually everything that was the ‘received wisdom’ that you worked to is up in the air.  You can’t proof the brochure if you haven’t done the training in the new written style and rules – and you can’t do the training for people until all the details are pinned down.  And when they are, the web copy writing team need to look at them too … it feels like a perfect storm of deadline and decision.  And everything will take longer than you think it will as a result.

  • People care. People care a lot. And they care about things that will surprise you!

Who would have thought line spacing, the style of grammar you adopt and whether bullet points should always be in a contrasting brand colour would be so fascinating to so many people? Well, most of the time we really don’t give two hoots. But suddenly decisions like this pop up and need to be made, often with the input of a varied group of brand who all do things very differently to start with need to find a single way forward and be able to apply the rules easily when the initial work is done.  Its fun to an extent – you find out who cares passionately about the use of the Oxford comma, and who understands the complexities of pulling different elements together.  It’s less fun when  a final decision is reached and one least person (often quite influential) pipes up with a strong objection. And then you find yourself going back over the conversation again, right from the start.  Usually at the expense of another decision being delayed, but hey.  At least they  care, right?!

Of course, the subject of most passionate response is on colour palette, font and imagery.  I am surprised there are not professional lobby groups for the use of certain fonts (Comic Sans Criminal will give you an idea of what I mean!).  Such passion! The comma lobby are quiet, and usually understated but firm.  Font and colour commentators can get quite visceral by comparison.

  • Most people underestimate how much work goes into each of the different elements

Even a well structured work plan falters at the sheer volume of elements that need to be delivered.  Truth be told, no brand is ever fully finished.  But there are core tools that need to be delivered – stationery, websites, social media, presentations, updating old document versions, redrawing diagrams.  The diligent among us will discuss with colleagues which ones are a priority, and which ones have a longer time-scale for delivery.  None of it can happen overnight (much to some people’s surprise – it’s ‘only a website’ after all).  And so you create a list and work your way through it.

However diligently you work through the list, there will be heart-sinking times when someone asks innocently “When can we have the-super-important-thing-we-only-gave-a-low-priority-to?  We need it tomorrow!”.  Or worse “can you just update this?” expecting a whole presentation to be made into a wide screen version immediately, while you juggle a print deadline and gently point out that that is not on the priority list.

You have to laugh (you do, or you *will* cry into your gin) especially if the brand update was your idea. You will find your enthusiasm waxes and wanes.  There are times when, frankly, you don’t care if you never see it ever again.  Yet, you’re a professional so it somehow all happens.

And when someone says, wow! thanks – that looks brilliant, so much better than before, you will find your enthusiasm is all buoyed up again and you actually start to enjoy it all over again.