Seek inspiration

Alan Calverley
Alan Calverley

By Alan Calverley, director at Department of Marketing.

I love nothing more than sitting in a coffee shop and watching the world go by; just observing everyday life. 

I was born interested in people and the world, and I believe this is why I was destined to become a marketer. In fact, it’s all I have done since university. I have a passion for understanding how people live and experience the world, especially when it comes to business interactions.

I use these insights to inform everyday business decisions. I believe we can learn an awful lot from other industries and their best-in-class products and services. Yes, we all like original ideas but in my experience, it pays to learn from the best. Inspiration can drive innovation, not least in marketing.


Is your showroom the best it can be, for example? For this, we need to seek inspiration from branded car showrooms. Often, they are ahead of the curve with the latest technology, hospitality, displays, layouts etc.

Consider the seating. Often there is comfy seating for the initial chat and then more formal seating for closing the deal. Do they offer free beverages? This can make people feel welcome.

One of the most important factors, especially for those with limited space, is lighting. This is crucial for showcasing your products. Poor lighting can alter moods which can impact decision-making.  Complement physical product displays with aspirational imagery for guidance and inspiration.

Design techniques

We often support clients with design, whether it’s branding, literature or websites. To ensure that these hit the mark it’s vital that we stay abreast of the latest design trends.

It’s surprising how quickly these items can date. The wrong font or colour choice can influence how a product is perceived – rather than modern and innovative, the first impression is outdated. This is a particular problem when it comes to website design.

Once again, household and luxury brands are at the forefront of design, user experience and accessibility.  Look to them for guidance and ideas. Your website should be in a constant state of evolution.

Customer service

But above all else, I believe customer service is where you stand to make the most impact. We can learn as much from bad customer service as we can from an outstanding experience.

Often, it comes down to communication – whether that’s verbal or written, internal or external; good communication is critical for delivering excellent customer service.

Make it your business to know how your team interacts with your customers – face to face, away from the office, and over the phone. Listen and observe.

Then, I would suggest that in the coming weeks you also take time to note things you admire or think to be beneficial to everyday life – whether that’s during a trip to the pub or shops, on social media, or even while booking and taking your summer holiday. What impressed you; what was handled well, or poorly; what piqued your interest and what put you off.

You can do this next time you’re ordering a drink in a busy coffee shop. Study how the personnel interact with the customers, for example. For most it’s a high pressure, fast-paced business model and seeing how they engage and deliver service under these conditions is hugely informative.

Listen to those queuing with you. How do they react to the service, particularly poor service? This everyday insight can be used to inform how your team respond and react under pressure.

To find out how insight and observation can inform your next business decision, get in touch with Department of Marketing for impartial industry expertise.