This year’s Northern Digital Awards showed what amazing talent we have on our own doorsteps


It was a great honour to be a judge at Northern Digital Awards 2019 The Winners were announced last Thursday (31st January)  at Leeds’ spectacular Royal Armouries Museum.

The Northern Digital Awards recognize the very best in digital marketing campaigns and talent across the North, as well as rewarding websites, apps, and software to reflect the online world that public, private and third sector organizations now inhabit, trade and communicate in. There were awards in 30 categories including sector-specific campaigns, best team and best agency awards.

There were some amazing and crazily talented people shortlisted and some very worthy winners. You can find a list of the winners HERE.

This year I was struck by the strength of the submissions from both the 3rd and Public Sectors and that GDPR seemed to have a such a  profound effect on them and may have even spurred some great digital innovation.

GDPR has have been a catalyst for many organizations to update antiquated business processes and to support digital transformation initiatives. Rather than being viewed as a compliance ‘tick box,’ it’s a golden opportunity to embark on digital transformation initiatives that return the customer/end user to the heart of things.

Across all sectors, we have also seen key players embrace. Influencer Marketing, Interactive Chatbots and Voice Search.

Overall its been an inspiring process I can’t wait to see how this year’s winners progress in 2019.

Richard Dawson

What Sir Nick Clegg’s move to Facebook really means

Its come as a surprise to many that Sir Nick Clegg has been appointed by Facebook as their new vice-president of global affairs and communications.

Some, of course, greeted the decision with bewilderment others questioned why Nick Clegg? Interesting no one seems to have questioned the need for Facebook to better engage with the global political establishment

It’s clear that the main regulatory challenge to Facebook is coming from the European Union (EU), and Clegg – who worked for the European Commission and was then was an MEP from 1999 to 2004, He certainly knows his way around Brussels. He speaks 5 languages and as a former Deputy PM in the UK, he also knows plenty about the inner workings of the UK Government.

The EU has a clear agenda to reign in the power of American technology companies so who better than someone with Clegg’s experience to lobby and navigate the interests and structures of Brussels?

Clegg himself sees his role as to ‘build bridges between politics and tech so that tech can become the servant of progress and optimism, not a source of fear and suspicion.’ 

He adds ‘ If the tech industry can work sensibly with governments, regulators, parliaments and civic society around the world, I believe we can enhance the benefits of technology while diminishing the often unintended downsides.’

It’s clear that the tech companies are taking Politics and Government very seriously. Let’s see who Google Uber and Amazon pick?

Richard Dawson

Image Credit: City AM and Charlie Bibby; Bloomberg (Main Image)



Why your Marketing needs to be ‘Real World’ and not just ‘Digital’

They say people buy from people and that’s generally true in my experience.

Human beings are highly non-verbal and so we place a lot of value in face to face interaction.

Similarly we like the physical over the virtual ( I think its known as the ‘kinesthetic value’ ) so for example, a Birthday Card in the post suggests ( perhaps wrongly) more thought and care than a Birthday post on Facebook.

I suppose we can call these ‘real world’ experiences.

I must admit that despite growing up long before the Internet, Amazon.Netflix, the Smart Phone and Google I tend to be rather dismissive of the ‘old-fashioned ways of marketing’ and tend to assume they are dead or dying.

So whilst there is of course real value in our digital interactions we must not, of course, lose sight in the value of our ‘real world ‘ contact with people in business or a social context.

So to give some examples

There is still value in Hand-Written Communication for Business Marketing as I have written HERE.

The Business Card is still important as I have written HERE

Though the High Street is struggling as I wrote HERE it’s still critical for Retail success so long as we understand how to change and adapt it for more of a ‘showroom’ role.

Recently we have seen the recovery of printed Book sales ( see HERE) when not long ago the eBook was predicted to virtually eliminate them.

Similarly, we have seen the re-emergence of vinyl as a viable music format you can see more about this HERE.

So in our marketing mix, we should not forget the value of Print, Hight Street and Face to Face.

As the Internet Psychologist Graham Jones puts it ( note to self especially here ) Digital is not the ‘Holy Grail’ of marketing its just a very important channel and we need to remember that.

Richard Dawson

It would be great to hear what you think so leave a comment !!

If you feel we can help you with how your ‘Digital Marketing’ interacts with your ‘Real World’ Marketing if so Contact Us HERE.

Only Monzo can help retailers like Marks and Spencer be digital innovators

Image Copyright : Great Yarmouth Mercury

The headlines and even a TV documentary this past week have suggested that Marks and Spencer are in an irreversible decline. Will they go the same way as BHS, Comet, Phones4u and so many more?

As the Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner writes HERE ” M&S’s problems are entirely self-inflicted – a dowdy, out-of-date clothing range, a stores format that looks like something out of Communist Russia, lousy IT and logistics, and an online presence that is way behind the curve. The world has changed; M&S has failed to change with it.’ That’s a bit harsh in my view especially in light of the many other retailers who are in considerably deeper trouble. Marks and Spencer’s greatest strength ‘A store on every high street’ has become the exact opposite.

More widely as Sky News’s Adam Boulton succinctly points out HERE the death of the High Street is nigh!

Of course, M&S is just one of many retailers dealing with rapid change in shopping habits and technology.

It strikes me that the ‘wind direction’ has suddenly changed or to mix metaphors we have reached the tipping point. Yet retailers have responded with a remarkably timid approach more ‘managed decline’ than bold change.

As McKinsey say HERE ‘As digital technology erodes profit and revenue growth, why aren’t companies responding with bold strategies?

Marks and Spencer have an excellent CEO but he is an insider. Maybe that’s not such a good thing when the tectonic plates are shifting.

In Banking its social disruptors like Monzo ( an App that’s become a Bank and through Social Proof has grown to 600.000 mainly millennial customers in 3 years) that are achieving real growth maybe that’s the issue here.

To really make the leap they need I think M&S need to be a Social and Digital Disruptorand make a much-reduced estate of stores into showrooms experiences and social spaces.

Maybe M&S need to appoint Tom Blomfield (Monzo’s CEO) as a non-Exec Director! Of course, I’d be happy to help too and even though I’d be cheap by comparison Tom would add so much more value.

Richard Dawson

This article can also be found on LinkedIn HERE

Well which was it ? GDPR or the new Facebook Algorithm ?


I think that on balance its GDPR  whilst the big news feed changes Facebook announced in January ( seems so long ago now doesn’t it !) do put an increasing emphasis on great content and engagement with your community ( not engagement bait) and of course, ads GDPR has a wider significance.

GDPR of course impacts on the management of all data across all platforms online and offline. Its significance from a digital marketing point of view is as a catalyst for a new more open honest and transparent relationship with your customers and prospects.

Thankfully it should see the beginning of the end for Spam of all kinds. Content-driven inbound marketing will become yet more important across all channels, not just Facebook.

What do you think?

James McClymont

Images Credits ( and Owen Video

GDPR or the new Facebook Algorithm- Which will impact Digital Marketing the most ?

Have to admit I have been struggling to write my next blog and have two posts nearing completion one on the big news feed changes Facebook announced in January the other the pending some would say looming GDPR Data Protection changes.

I can’t decide which is more important and profound in its effect but I will !!

What do you think?


Images Credits (  and  Owen Video


Things to watch in 2018

There are so many things to watch out for in 2018 and no doubt there will be several developments in digital marketing and more widely in tech that we wont expect! But here are a few things to watch out for:

Will GDPR and blockchain live up to their hype in 2018? see HERE   

How embracing a product manager mindset will help you improve 2018 SEO KPIs  HERE

Email marketing success factors in 2018 HERE 

Three key success factors for marketers  in 2018 HERE

Six Key Internet Of Things (IoT) Trends To Watch For In 2018 HERE

Microsoft in 2018: 5 big things to watch out for HERE



#OpenBanking is set to revolutionise the way we manage our finances

Thanks to SunTec Group for the infographic

As a passionate Monzo user (I bore my friends rigid about it ) I’m  increasingly struck by the trend to Open Banking  -not just technically speaking but by its massive social capital. I think its another of those disruptive technology moments. For older greyer people like me, it has some parallels with the telephone banking revolution of the 1990s spearheaded by First Direct. I suspect it spells much deeper change for the banks though.

Lots more details on  Open Banking can be found HERE 

Digital Marketing Strategy Specialists