As you know, at Ivy Marketing, content is our thing; eager to spread the word of the latest trends in digital marketing. Wanting to delve deeper into the world of animation, we this week caught up with Jessica Morgan; Founder of award-winning company; Jessica Draws.

Hi Jessica, tell us a little bit about your company, where did it all start?

I am my company so I’ll introduce myself 🙂 Hi, I’m Jess. Designer, illustrator, doodler, cheese eater, wine enthusiast, mother, wife, dog owner. I’m also my sales guy, my marketing guy, my business development guy, my finance guy, (I’m not so good at that last one) and everything else in between. I run head first into things and ask questions later. I say yes to everything and then learn how to do it if I don’t know how to already. I like a challenge, I like to be busy and building a business, getting married and raising kids has kept me busy and on my toes over the last 5 years. That’s the way I like it. I’m a huge animated film fan, sci-fi and fantasy book fan and I absolutely LOVE dragons and wish they were real.

I did everything by the book. I did my Art Foundation course, completed my degree in Graphic Communication and went to work as an illustrator for a humongous greetings company. I was in charge of Santa. Yes, you heard right. It was my job to design and illustrate thousands of Santa Clause’s for use on gift wrap and cards all year around. After two years of a continuous Christmas my eye started twitching and I left to try something new. I went to work as a web and app designer for another company. I lasted about a year there before I realised I hated being told what to do and I hated the rubbish money. I realised if I wanted more, I had to make it happen myself instead of waiting for someone to give me the opportunity. In June 2012 I officially became a freelance designer. I went home and freaked out for a bit, wondering what the hell I’d done but I bucked up my ideas and started working on freelancer sites such as People Per Hour and freelancer.com to build up some work, as well as harassing local companies to hire me.

Slowly but surely, with local recommendations and referrals and repeat customers from freelancer sites I built up a great reputation and a thirst and enthusiasm I’d never had before while working for someone. I built on the reputation and my confidence grew and I started attending networking events and building relationships through groups, speaking events and even more referrals.

I love being a designer and an illustrator but I also love and thrive on my roles as the marketer, sales person, project manager and every other role I have to fill to make my business work. I love when customers come back to me for subsequent work because they were so happy with something I did before. It’s the most satisfying feeling. I love being able to live my life the way I want, working hard but with the flexibility to have family time and doing something different every single day!

I’ve worked in all areas of the design industry from brand development, web and app design, illustration, print design and everything in between but because of my background in illustration and my own personality I like to think I can bring some personality to what could otherwise be super bland and corporate client messages. My catchphrase is ‘strictly not for corporate wallflowers’. I’m all about injecting some personality into print marketing, digital marketing and finding new ways of hooking eyeballs and keeping them hooked! I started off mainly working on print and web design but I made sure I kept up with the marketing trends and I was soon creating infographics (data in images) for loads of local companies including Go Compare, Folly Farm, CE Wales, Cardiff University, local letting agents and many more. I turned this into a speciality and my ethos is ‘whatever data you’re dealing with, it doesn’t have to be dull’. I’ve turned transforming boring data into engaging imagery into an art-form. I expanded on this idea and now offer animated promotional videos to clients which have been hugely popular. I’ve also been involved in some fantastic events and created some bespoke illustration work for major city events like Cardiff Winter Wonderland and worked on some illustrative maps for Carmarthenshire Tourism.

A mammoth excel spreadsheet or data table can be turned into a share-worthy animation that nails all of the salient points in minutes. A bland marketing brochure or sustainability report can be turned into a bold and bright one that people want to look at, touch, and actually read. A dry-as-crackers sales or product info statement can be turned into an infographic that makes a statement (and makes sense).
I now count among my clients, Calor Gas, Cardiff Council, Media Wales, Confused.com, Constructing Excellence in Wales, Jones Brothers Coffee Company Amsterdam, Project Aware Australia, PHS Group, Sainsbury’s, Arriva Trains Wales and many more.

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How can businesses use animation for marketing?

More and more businesses are jumping on the animated video bandwagon, and for good reason. It’s a perfect way to communicate a brand’s spirit and ethos as well as communicate and engage with an audience in a format that can surpass perception of reality. Business can either invest in an animated advert or explainer video, bring their employees to life with character animation, inform and educate an audience with an animated infographic and even transform their dull internal company data into something super engaging and digestible. It really is being used for everything. We’ve just completed a video animation project for a global company who wanted a new way to encourage employees to take part in a company survey. What do you think will get the most response? A short, funny video or a text heavy email or leaflet dropped on their desk. It’s really about finding ways to communicate without letting the audience feel that it’s a chore. With such a fast pace of life for most people, watching a 30s animated video is much more appealing than reading a brochure. Not to mention the possibilities for reaching a much wider audience via social media.

We have noticed that search engines and social media sites are beginning to give a lot more weight to video, what would be your top tips for businesses that are just getting to grips with video marketing?

  • Keep it short! – Users are far more likely to click on a 2 minute video than a 20 minute video. People just don’t have that kind of time anymore.
  • Call to Action! Link back to your website. It’s pointless commissioning a well thought out video if you’re not going to tell users where to go to get that product/service.
  • Keep everything up to date! – You’ve created a video, you’ve added a call to action, and then your consumers arrive at an outdated website with no relevant information. Ooops! Keep all your online platforms fresh.
  • Make it valuable – What are consumers going to gain from watching it. Teach them something new, give them valuable insight or entertain them! 65% of users say they’d share a video if it was informative.
  • Show your brand personality – As the video says, your competitors are probably already marketing with video so make sure you stand out. What differentiates your products and services from your competitors?
  • Don’t scrimp on quality – Did you know that 61% of users have been put off buying a products after watching a bad explainer video
  • Share it! – Use social media and get the video seen! Send it via email marketing to existing and potential clients.
  • It doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming – Businesses are regularly commissioning videos like this one but if you’re a small business with a small budget why not get creative with your phone? Interview a happy customer or introduce a new product that’s arrived and share on social media. But don’t forget the points above!

Are there any trends in animation that you think will be prominent in 2018?

Content has always been the centrepiece of effective digital marketing, but content in 2018 will need to be more personalised to have an impact. People are responding to brands in a very different way when they present a unique story, something original and personal. Calls to action are much more effective when brands offer a personal touch to their video marketing.

Big data will also play a huge role. Brands are able to get much more insight into how their marketing is performing and it will allow them to target potential customers a lot more accurately. Therefore, it will play a huge roll in the clever scripting and style when creating any video content as brands will have much more information in who they are targeting, what this audience likes/dislikes, where they shop, who they share with, what time of day they are using social media etc. Big data leads to more powerful analysis, helping advertisers track conversion rates and other factors easier. This will in turn impact the personalised content they inject into the videos, making them more successful.

The circle of content life 🙂

We hear that you just had a baby! Congratulations! How are you finding juggling a business and being a Mum?

I did, baby number 2 arrived in July this year and now our house and office is a hubbub of creative chaos. Juggling is definitely the right word, it’s tough. Luckily we’ve had quite a bit of practice now as our first born is one and a half now so we’re used to working odd hours. It’s quite normal for us to be working at 2 in the morning and napping at 2 in the afternoon. Or working in the morning and running about for meetings in the day. We have to work in shifts at the moment so it’s a challenge with deadlines but as long as we’re committed we make it work. Luckily, our regular clients find it hilarious when they open their inbox first thing in the morning to find we’ve delivered some work to them about 1:15am. It’s quite obvious that this is how it’ll be for a few years but once schools/nursery starts we can hopefully get back into a routine but for now, sleep is definitely something that happens to other people!

What are the plans for Jessica Draws going forward?

This May (2017) my husband Dave is officially joined the business full time as an animator and tech guy. He’s been working behind the scenes for years so it’s exciting that we are now in a position that he can come on board full time. We also employ another designer, matt who has helped us keep on top of the workload. I still love designing but I have transitioned into a project manager role recently which has been a great experience. I love working with people.

Because of my commitment to helping young people build up a portfolio (I know how hard it was when I was starting) I also hire freelancers on an ad hock basis. Not all designers skills are going to be suitable for every job so I have the freedom to tailor skills to the appropriate job. This allows for happy clients, happy freelancers and a happy business owner. At the moment I have 3 regular freelancers that I work with and the aim is to grow this to 5 and then 10 over the next couple of years. I plan to acquire freelancers of different skills sets; animators, app designers, web designers, illustrators, voiceover artists, composers so that I can offer a range of services and styles to clients. This also means that even when an existing client needs something in a different style or on a different platform, Jessica Draws Media Ltd can still deliver and that makes their lives easier. I do plan to hire another designer full time this year but I’m going to let Dave settle in first! 😉