Companies I've come to trust and respect
Recommending a company or individual to another is never straight forward, for one the reasons you rate them may not matter to the other individual. I have spent many years working with some fantastic and equally terrible companies so I have compiled my list of companies of a few that I have most enjoyed working with, that I would trust to do a fantastic job and would have no worries about recommending. It might sound very simple or obvious but for me what makes a company worthy of making it on to my recommendation list is often as much to do with the people behind the company/brand than the product itself. You can have a fantastic product or service but if the person who you have the work with with isn't equally as fantastic then it can lead to a very short lived relationship.
I worked for many years with Daniel Westlake from Cursor (formerly known as Artsgraphica), on The Gluttonous Gardener website and I have yet to find another company with a more can do attitude. A pleasure to deal with, when we put the website re build out to tender Daniel and his team were the only ones who took on the challenge of a complicated checkout functionality which had by many been deemed impossible, Daniel and his team proved them all wrong. The team has continually kept up to date, adapting their offering to keep up with changes in the market and quite rightly winning many awards for their work over the years. Offering so much more than just web design if you have a digital project in the pipeline then be sure to take a look at Cursor
For newsletters then it has to be Newzapp (www.newzapp.co.uk). You can find thousands of newsletter software providers out there so distinguishing the good from the bad can be tricky but when running a small company with limited hours you want something that does all the hard work for you and Newzapp is most definitely the answer. Rules and regulations surrounding emailing customers is a constantly changing beast so what they allow you to do is have a beautifully designed newsletter that you can simply fill with your content in their easy to use CMS, safe in the knowledge it will reach your customers inbox and not end up marked as spam. You'll be lucky enough to deal with gorgeous people such as Annette West who is a design wizard or Darren Hepburn who is a fountain of knowledge of all things email. If like me you're little obsessed with analytics you'll have to drag yourself away from their campaign analytics which will show you in real time who's opening your gorgeous email, what they are clicking on and so much more, I warn you now it's addictive! Whilst not the cheapest option when it comes to email marketing the team are incredible and you'll be using an first class provider with talented staff, wealth of knowledge and importantly a product that you can trust to use when representing your brand.
For delivery it has to be DPD, they have above all other couriers invested heavily for many years into their technology which has resulted in them being the industry leader within delivery. The delivery company is very often the only human contact your customer has with your company so it is vital that the service matches and is a fair representation of yours. Their notifications of their timed service is still in my optinion unrivaled by the majority of couriers within the market, I once asked our driver how is it that you can ask get the parcels delivered in the exact time every time? Quite simply the answer is that they combine both human knowledge and technology together in order to create their schedule for that days delivery in the morning. So often management within courier companies ignore the biggest fountain of knowledge at their disposal ....their drivers! The drivers know their routes inside and out so it makes perfect sense to allow the driver to set the route in the morning, they know what parts of town are at grid lock in the day etc etc. I was really impressed with DPD for actually utilising the drivers knowledge and I am sure this also something to do with their drivers staying with the company, this attitude ensures that both driver and customer are happy.
For PR I was often the one sending out the press releases but every so often we would need the expertise and experience of the wonderful Honcho PR www.honchopr.com run by the talented duo Amanda and Charlotte. When it comes to PR there isn't anything these two incredible women don't know. It's safe to say any company will thrive in their hands from product launches to seasonal press and everything in between. Based in London their expertise covers a wide base from consumer goods to the latest in tech, they always deliver seamless campaigns which get results. I was fortunate enough to take Glut to a few of their Press Days and was always impressed with the quality of journalists and bloggers that they had invited, it always resulted in some press coverage.
The common theme for me when it comes to recommendations is that very often I'm describing how lovely the people are before I'm going on to rave about their product /service. For me this is so important, when running a small company taking the decision to pay a company for their services can be a big decision and investment so it's important that you trust them.
Please keep an eye on this blog as it will update from time to time with more recommendations.