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Simpler Entry Process for MKBAA 2017


As organisers of the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards, presented by the Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP), Interdirect have played a significant role in the evolvement of the awards since their debut in 2014. 

MKBAA has gone from strength to strength since its first year, recognising more of the city’s principle industries and welcoming more businesses from each sector. The awards now receive entries across 12 categories, spanning community impact, innovation and technology, hospitality and many more, reflecting the diversity of Milton Keynes businesses.

A crucial part of expanding MKBAA has been encouraging entries from more and more local businesses year on year through feedback from previous entrants. As the first step in entering the awards, a smooth entry process is a crucial: it must be both easy and quick, but informative enough for judges to ensure the right businesses find themselves on the stage.

For the 2017 awards, this process has been further streamlined to make entering as easy as possible for businesses whilst obtaining the information judges need. To enter for the 2017 awards, businesses need only to answer four questions with a maximum of 700 words for all four. In previous years, entrants would need to provide financial details, case studies and supporting evidence, amounting to a lengthy word count.
 
In addition, entrants no longer need to submit their final application – provided work is saved every time the application is edited, entries will be automatically reviewed when the application period closes.

Upon becoming nominees, entrants will then have to elaborate on their original answers so that judges can select finalists for each category.

Business looking to enter the awards can find instructions and tips for the best entry on the MKBAA website, as well as information on previous winners.

The entries period for Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards 2017 closes on 23rd November 2016 – good luck!

Interdirect Nominated for 7 MK Digital Awards


Milton Keynes leading full service marketing agency, Interdirect, has been nominated for 7 awards at the 2016 Milton Keynes Digital Awards. The MKDAs, now entering their second year, recognise the innovation and progressive thinking of businesses, individuals, events, charities and educational establishments.


Nicholas Mann, founder and managing director of Interdirect, commented on the MKDAs: “I appreciate the importance of recognising and celebrating local success, and I am hugely impressed by the fantastic calibre and creativity of the digital industry in Milton Keynes.”


This year, Interdirect is nominated for:
•    Best blog for Interdirect’s blog
•    Best website for Telford & Wrekin Council
•    Best school, education or charity website for Willen Hospice
•    Best tourism website for; Grand Central Birmingham, Telford & Wrekin Council, The Hub Milton Keynes

Last year, Interdirect won a hat-trick of awards for best website (gold), best responsive website (silver), and best website for lifestyle and culture (silver). With a series of latest-technology websites and concepts, launched in the last 9 months for new and existing clients, the Agency hopes to leave the 2016 awards with several more trophies to add to its shelves. 


The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 13th October at Jury’s Inn Milton Keynes.

Launch Event Opens MKBAA 2017

Interdirect were delighted to see the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards (MKBAA) launch in September. This will be the fourth annual event, which celebrates the success of businesses across our region.
 
Organised by the Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP), in association with Interdirect and event management experts Evolution Live, the 2017 awards come at an exciting time, as Milton Keynes celebrates its 50th birthday.
 
The launch event, which welcomed local businesses, supporters, sponsors and previous winners was held at The Transport Systems Catapult, an innovative and exciting business located within Milton Keynes.
 
As part of the celebrations, 50 red balloons were released to mark the 2017 theme of MK50 and Dr Philip H Smith MBE, Chair of MKBLP welcomed guests, explaining that;
“Businesses and their wealth creation have been at the very heart of what has made this city so successful over the last 50 years.
 
“This year’s event will be a fitting tribute to those 50 years of business achievement in Milton Keynes”, concluded Philip.
 
The awards, established in 2014, recognise the achievements of Milton Keynes businesses of a variety of sizes and sectors. Entries are now open, with twelve categories including innovation and technology, young business person of the year, and energy and environment available to enter at www.mkbaa.co.uk . The prestigious Business of the Year and coveted Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented on the night at DoubleTree by Hilton, Milton Keynes. Previous winners include Christian Horner, Pete Winkelman and Dr Ann Limb OBE DL.
 
Following the success of last year’s two stage entry process, entries have been further streamlined for 2017, with the first stage closing on 23 November 2016.
MKBAA 2017 will be held on Thursday 9 March at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel.
 
Continuing the pledge from the MKBAA steering group to foster the Milton Keynes business community, net proceeds from the awards ceremony will once again go towards the trust fund established by MKBLP with the MK Community Foundation for start up businesses in deprived areas of the city.
 
To enter the MKBAA, or to book a table at the awards ceremony, visit www.mkbaa.co.uk. To find out more follow @MK_BAA on Twitter, and join the discussion on LinkedIn.

We are really excited to be involved yet again and are looking forward to them being a great success! 

Datacentre or Cloud: is there a difference?

In a world where we expect internet speed to be exceptionally fast and without glitches, the technology that provides this has to be top notch and the level of support on par.


The terms ‘cloud’ and ‘data centre’ are regularly batted around, but it can be difficult to understand what they mean and if there are any differences.  Which should you chose for your website? How will this impact the business?


The main thing to note when comparing a cloud and a data centre is that there isn’t really any difference at all: the term cloud is used to define a cluster of servers maintained within one or multiple datacentres that all do the same task. There are, however, many different types of cloud infrastructure, but they all boil down to the same idea of multiple servers working together to provide a service.


Here at Interdirect we pride ourselves on our website hosting environment and have a designated area within a datacentre in Manchester where all of our equipment is stored. We have owned and maintained our own equipment within the datacentre for many years now and have extensive knowledge and capabilities in this area.


Our datacentre hosting environment is:   


Well maintained: we have our very own techie enthusiasts who meticulously maintain all the equipment themselves rather than relying on a third party to do so.


High performing: the datacentre servers are efficient in handling great loads so you can rely on us to ensure your website, touchscreen, app, intranet or bespoke system is going to be running smoothly and quickly.


Backed up: all the information stored on the servers is backed up and with disaster recovery provisions in place.


Highly secure: the datacentre itself is incredibly secure with a 24 hour security guards and a huge number of CCTV cameras. The data itself is equally secure and only those with company-approved credentials and equipment can access it. We continuously monitor and enforce user controls specified in the PCI Data Security Standard.


In summary if you are looking for a reliable, stable, secure and high performing hosting environment then Interdirect can offer you just that.


By Nicola Mason, Account Manager at Interdirect.

2016 Highlights so far at ID

 

2016 has already been a year we Brits won’t forget, whether it’s because of Brexit, Bowie, or bowing out in the Euros to Iceland. It’s not all doom and gloom however – as eternal optimists we know that good news is brimming, if you take time to look beneath the front pages. 


As well as the many jaw-dropping moments which have occupied the headlines, there have been many which have caused us to break out in a smile – and we’re only half way through the year!


Our list of top 10 moments in 2016 includes:


1.    Launches – in the space of the last 6 months we’ve launched some truly ground-breaking websites for organisations such as Telford & Wrekin Council, Allen & Son and Willen Hospice. With more great websites in the pipeline, we think 2016 will go down as a year when we really pushed ourselves to follow our creative visions to the max.


2.    New additions – in June our Senior PR Account Manager Anne brought little Lucas Walsh into the great wide world, and into our offices just a few weeks ago to introduce himself!


3.    Awards – we were delighted to win the ‘Best B2C Technology Innovation’ accolade at the BrightSparc awards, for our website for Grand Central in Birmingham which was launched in September of last year.


4.    Community – early in the year Interdirect became an honorary Member of MK College’s Partners’ Programme, demonstrating our commitment to the college as a hub of mainstream as well as professional learning and networking. We look forward to all that this partnership has to offer to the city!


5.    Recruitment – ID has expanded in 2016 and taken on some fabulous new talent! We’ve welcomed Jake Hall, our New Business Development Manager, Emma Mullings who joined our team of Account Managers, and Alice Jenkins as Senior PR Account Manager alongside Anne.

 

6.    Charity – we’ve always been key supporters of local initiatives and love an excuse to don fancy dress and do some good for the community. Our latest charity project was just this weekend, taking part in the Midnight Moo midnight walk, when we rose over our target of £250!


7.    Wins – we’ve taken on some fantastic new clients so far in 2016, including Bedfordia Group, Webb Hotels & Travel and Tarmac, as well as doing more for our existing clients.


8.    Ringing bells – Senior PR Account Manager Alice got married and went from a Bramall to a Jenkins! The sight of her decorated desk isn’t one we will soon forget…


9.    Expansion – in June we launched a new website promoting SiteLite, our innovative and affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ web design services. Bridging the gap between websites you build yourself and a bespoke site (with a price point to match), we’re on a mission to help small businesses in MK and surrounding areas.

 

10.    Events – in March we helped organise and produce the biggest and best MKBAA so far! More than 550 of Milton Keynes’ finest business people attended to see 14 awards handed out to local businesses by compere Debra Stephenson. Bring on MKBAA 2017!


As you can see, it’s been quite a year so far! We wonder what the next 4 months have in store…

Why Online Reviews Should Become a Marketing Priority

We might think of reviews as one of the final potential perks in the marketing cycle – come up with our product/service, hone in on our target market, use marketing to reel them in, engage with them, sell, engage some more, and then hope for favourable feedback to grow our brand influence. Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself pushing clients more and more to focus on reviews as a starting point rather than an ending one, and that’s not simply because I like to eat pudding before my main course. 

These days it seems so much of marketing has become highly technical, often confusing, and requiring specialist help just to ensure steady footfall and sales. Reviews remain one area which (although digitised) seem to have remained crystal clear in their purpose: to spread awareness through authentic word of mouth.

According to the latest Nielson study, over 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family: “word-of-mouth is quickly becoming the million dollar commercial” says Nika Stewart, SEO of GhostTweeting.

So just what do reviews bring to your online marketing and SEO strategy? The answer is – “much more than you might think!”

1.    You take up more space in search engine listings

The simplicity of reviews means that whilst other areas of marketing have succumbed to digital black hat tricks, taking words from the horse’s mouth is perhaps the most authentic material consumers can see when making purchase decisions – and Google is no stranger to this fact.

Numerous features have cropped up in search engines in recent years to facilitate the presence of authentic feedback online, most notably Open Graph which allows reviews and testimonials to appear in search results (SERPs), social media and other places. Reviews have been a longstanding feature in Google My Business too, translating into reviews appearing in Google Maps.

Star ratings in SERPs require at least 5 reviews. This may sound like a small number but it can be tough to achieve for smaller businesses with an online presence, relative to their size. Spending the time and/or money on a strategy to drive reviews can make an enormous difference nonetheless – just look below at how much more your business’ listing stands out, with a star rating compared to your less eye-catching competitors.


 
Tip: Once you’ve started the ball rolling, you’ll tend to see that new customers are more likely to leave a review. No one likes to be the first in line, and the digital world is no different, so start by asking your closest clients, who will be happy to get things off on the right foot.

2.    You’ll be higher up on page 1

In short, reviews make a huge visual difference to your visibility in search engines, but it doesn’t stop there. They also impact your ranking, as well as visual appeal! According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to constitute around 10% of search engine algorithms’ ranking decisions, amongst other factors such as physical location, backlinks to the website and social media activity.

This means that if you’re a small to medium sized business, relying heavily on regional custom, those reviews are a crucial element of whether you’re at the top of page 1 in SERPs, or slipping towards page 2 and beyond. Being small in size also tends to mean a more personal connection with your customers, so you may feel it is easier to encourage them to leave reviews.

Tip: This can be done in so many simple ways, from adding a review request and link in your email footers to loyalty incentives or just upfront asking!

3.    Happy customers are your best salespeople

Lastly, we’re forgetting their most basic purpose – to encourage other customers to buy. Although talking yourself about how great your products or services are can work, but no one can sell them as well as a happy customer. They are also a great source of genuine feedback for you to feed into your business’ development.

Make sure you engage with customers here as online reviews are another touch point where you can make a personal connection with them, especially those that may not have been so complimentary.

Tip: Always respond promptly and professionally to negative reviews, and invite the reviewer to contact you to chat about it. Use Google’s red flags too when necessary – these flag highly inappropriate content such as reviews with heavy swearing, racism or other unacceptable comments.

So, what could make more sense than using the efforts you’re already making in product development, customer service and marketing to your advantage? There are so many review websites, from the giants like TripAdvisor, Yelp and online retailers such as Amazon, to smaller industry specific review websites such as DentistFinder.net (as an example!).

Reviews can be one of the simplest ways to boost your marketing and SEO strategies, with little to no knowledge necessary. Set yourself the goal of achieving a realistic number of online reviews each month, and you could see your search engine listings, rankings and sales all improving in the coming months.