Archive for the ‘Mackman Group’ Category

Archive for the ‘Mackman Group’ Category

Housing Association research to make an impact

Greenfields Community Housing

Mackman Research is delighted to have worked with Greenfields Community Housing to deliver the results of their customer service and access survey. Greenfields is a housing provider based in the Braintree district, in Essex.

The study was designed to help Greenfields identify areas for future improvement within their communications to their customers and then to ascertain how these could be delivered. The access questions sought to recognise which customers need help to get online and use the internet. Additional questions asked about the use of the Greenfield’s website, to determine which customers make use of this and what would encourage them to visit the website in the future. To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used telephone interviews and used random sampling to speak with 377 tenants. Greenfield’s stakeholders were notified that the customer survey would be taking place via their newsletter and that one lucky respondent would be selected to win £200 of high street shopping vouchers.

Research Director, Gemma Mackman said, “The Greenfields research study has provided worthwhile data which will make a real difference to the people who use their services; improving customer service, access and understanding of the internet for people who need help. The findings highlighted conclusive evidence of where activity can take place and essentially provides Greenfields with the robust data they need to recommend these actions. We are now working with our communications team at Mackman to ensure the research informs an effective and influential communication strategy for the organisation. This has been a rewarding project and we look forward to collaborating with Greenfields again.” 

If you have an enquiry for quantitative or qualitative insight for your organisation, please contact us at or telephone 01787 3788038

Campaign launch to help region’s care homes

FaNs Kerry-Paul-01

Mackman has been working with the charity My Home Life Essex Community Association, supported by Essex County Council and Age UK Essex, to launch a new campaign website to encourage volunteers to support older people living in care homes across Essex. This new movement is called Friends and Neighbours (FaNs) and its campaign encourages volunteers to 'Make Every Moment Count'.

Jan Lockyer, FaNs Programme Manager said, “We are really excited to see this campaign come to life. The generous help and extra resources that care homes can get from their local community is great, and the benefits are felt not only by the residents and the care home, but also by the volunteers themselves.”

The new volunteer movement is of national significance. Jan said, “FaNs is a movement that started in Essex, but has the potential to extend right throughout the country. It is about facilitating people who know how important it is to make every moment count, for both themselves and for the older people living in care homes, many of whom still have so much to offer us.”

The FaNs movement looks to make people aware of the little things that can make such a huge difference to the happiness and wellbeing of care home residents. Jan added, “There are approximately 405,000 older people in the UK living in care homes and 81% of older people believe talking and laughing with someone is the most important thing to them.”

The campaign invites anyone to become a FaN; an individual person who wants to volunteer some of their time to help a local care home, community groups such as theatres and choirs, scouting and guide groups, and organisations such as local businesses. There is no formal FaNs membership and no specific commitment required; volunteers can be as involved as they want to be.

Individuals and organisations taking an active interest in the well being of care home residents are known as “FaNs Ambassadors.” There are several ambassadors already on board with the FaNs campaign including Mackman, the Essex County Council, Colchester United Football Club, Essex University Students Union, and the Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

Cllr Anne Brown, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Healthy Living said, “We are firmly committed to improving the quality of life for older people living in residential care in Essex and are delighted to be supporting the FaNs campaign. The council actively encourages care homes to engage and forge close links with their local communities, allowing them to benefit from the extra resources they can offer.”

“We acknowledge the benefits of working together in a positive, supportive and empowering way to help ensure the wellbeing of residents living in residential care, and the FaNs movement gives us an excellent opportunity to do this.”

Charity Age UK Essex, is also a FaNs Ambassador. Chief Executive Andrew Gardner said, “I see my friends regularly and talk to my neighbours all the time, helping out whenever I can - to me that's just a part of living where I do. The work of FaNs is an extension of what all of us do in our daily lives and that's why Age UK Essex support the work of FaNs.”

“It's about helping people who live within our communities to feel as much a part of that community as everyone else. It doesn't matter where someone calls home as long as they are happy.”

The campaign will also offer practical help and support to the owners, managers and staff of care homes to take advantage of the opportunities that FaNs can generate.

“The quality of the care home sector in the UK can be perceived in a negative light which often over shadows some of the brilliant work already going on in the area. The FaNs campaign is going to be a fantastic way to encourage more people to support our care homes but also, celebrate the success stories that do happen in the sector, specifically in Essex”, Jan said.

We have worked with My Home Life Essex to deliver the marketing for the campaign, creating the FaNs visual look and interactive website. Bruce Burgoyne, Creative Lead for the project said, “What resonates with people is real life, honest stories. We wanted to create a current and energetic design for the campaign, something that challenges the misconceptions that working with old people is dull and boring. We needed it to appeal and be accessible to several different audiences, inspiring and motivating them through others stories to get involved and make every moment count.”

Further details on the campaign can be viewed by clicking here

Making a difference where it counts

We want to share with you, one particular way in which we support a local charity that has had a profound impact on our team.
We've been working with The Bridge Project in Sudbury for years. It's a charity that exists to provide a 'community within a community', that helps vulnerable people living in the area, whether they have learning, physical or 'hidden' disabilities.

We support the marketing and promotion of The Bridge Project's work, and Paul Mackman is on the board of trustees. Theirs is a cause that's always been close to our heart, as they share our values of supporting people and making a positive difference to the lives of individuals in the community.

In 2012, we were part of a group discussion with other organisations in Sudbury who met with The Bridge Project to figure out different ways organisations in the town could get involved with the charity. Joined by businesses like Waitrose, we initiated a work placement programme that would allow students of The Bridge Project to become employees of organisations within the town and develop new skills, while contributing to the businesses they were joining. After a couple of taster day sessions in our offices with around six students from the charity, we were able to offer two people a place on this new eight week programme. They're still with us today as official employees, and that's a big deal for us.

Michael Balls supports the general operations of the business and is solely responsible for all recycling and the shredding of sensitive paperwork. A keen gardener, he also looks after the runner beans and the roses outside and regularly decorates our desks with freshly cut posies. Michael works independently, with very little supervision and makes an invaluable contribution to our business. He's very friendly and loves a chat, updating us on his fishing exploits and what he's been learning at The Bridge Project.

Patrick Parker works across a number of areas of our business, largely because of his incredible aptitude for computer based tasks. He's a fast learner and works closely with the technical team, inputting data. Patrick has been instrumental in the uploading of information to our accounts software. He's also very interested in design and the work undertaken by the creative studio. Patrick is a hard and thorough worker and has integrated seamlessly with the rest of the team. He's got a cracking sense of humour, and doesn't forget a thing even if you tell him once.

It's important for us to share this with you, because there are students at The Bridge Project who could make a real difference to a business like yours, if they're just given the chance. There is a perception that those with additional needs, or a mental health condition, aren't suited to the workplace. But this simply isn't true.

Michael and Patrick are no different to any other member of the Mackman team, and with the wonderful support of the staff at The Bridge Project, we're able to give them access to opportunities and experiences they wouldn't have been available otherwise. If you'd like to learn more about what this means to Bridge Project students like Michael and Patrick, please get in touch by emailing, or call 01787 388038.

Staff Focus: Sarah Nagra

Sarah Nagra

Sarah joined Mackman as a Client Lead in September 2014. Representing clients at every turn, she works closely with all departments – research, design, technical and communications – to ensure that we’re meeting our clients’ needs. Joining Mackman with a background in marketing, working alongside creative agencies across a wide range of projects, she has the necessary experience to support our clients, and we’re thrilled she’s joined our team.

What is your working background? 

I moved from Coventry to Suffolk in 2009, where I looked after the social media for Trading Standards at Suffolk County Council. I also set up a ‘Consumer Champion Network’, which required recruiting volunteers to educate the community about trading standards issues and protect vulnerable people from scammers. My work won me ‘Best Use of Social Media’ at the UK Public Sector Digital Awards.

I then moved to the University of Essex where I worked as a Marketing Officer for the commercial branch of the university before joining Mackman.

What first attracted you to Mackman? How has it been so far? 

I was first attracted to Mackman at a Chartered Institute of Marketing conference three years ago. I learnt about the work Mackman do from a member of the team and when the opportunity became available to work for the company, I just had to apply.

So far everything has been lovely! It’s been wonderful to work in a creative environment with people who are enthusiastic about what they do and are experts in their field. Having been used to working with marketing agencies, it’s also nice to be the other side of the desk, handling a variety of different projects.

What is the main challenge of your role? 

One of the challenges in my job role is keeping a project tight to schedule, absorbing any changes or extra requirements throughout the process. As challenging as it can be, I really enjoy getting to see a project through start to finish, there’s real satisfaction in that.

What do you do when you aren’t working? 

In my spare time I love to ballroom dance – the tango is my favourite. I also enjoy swimming, visiting friends and all that the Suffolk countryside has to offer – beautiful walks and even better food!

How much data do I need for my research project?

This is a common question we get asked, and one that needs careful consideration because talking to the right number of people or getting a significant number of people to answer your survey is vital to the statistical reliability of your research.

But how do you know how many respondents are enough? How big does a sample need to be in order to accurately reflect the attitudes / opinions of a population / the group of people who you want to understand?

Firstly, it is vital to establish who your population is: if you were doing an all-inclusive employee survey – this would be the entire workforce. If you wanted to find out how and why people use public parks in a particular city, your population would be the number of residents of that specific city.

Once you have figured out your population size, the next step is to consider how certain you need to be that the answers you collect reflect the views of the population as a whole.

In all of our surveys, we specifically consider statistical reliability of the sample size and use confidence levels and intervals.

‘Confidence interval’ is the plus-or-minus figure usually reported in newspaper or television opinion poll results. For example, if you use a confidence interval of 4 and 47% percent of your sample picks an answer you can be “sure” that if you had asked the question of the entire relevant population between 43% (47% – 4%) and 51% (47% + 4%) would have picked that answer.

The ‘confidence level’ is the likelihood of the sample accurately reflecting your population. A 95% confidence level means that if you were to repeat a sample of the same population you would get the same results 95% of the time – This is the most commonly used confidence level and if used, you can therefore say you are 95% certain (plus or minus the confidence level, as above) that the results are true of your whole population.

So how big does the data sample need to be?

This handy little table shows you a rough guide:

Sample size table

As you can see the calculation is not proportionally linear and there is a point when populations in excess of one million will generate the same sample size. At Mackman, we make certain you have the correct sample size for your research, so if you have a research project you would like to discuss, please get in touch.

Mackman take on Sudbury fun run

On Friday 18th April, Mackman's technical department took on the Sudbury fun run. James and Adam both ran the traditional five mile course around Sudbury in just under 40 minutes, ending in Belle Vue Park.

James Royce, Technical Lead said, “The Sudbury fun run is renowned for being a busy event, so we made sure to get tickets early! As our offices are in the heart of Sudbury, it's important to contribute to these events and support local causes. The weather was good to us and it was a great day".

Adam Chamberlin, our Technical Developer said "I'm definitely more comfortable on a bike! However, it was good fun, great to run with so many people".

Michael Balls, who helps with the operations at Mackman was also involved, part of the The Bridge Project funrun team, helping to raise over £2,000 for the charity.

The Sudbury fun run is a major longstanding sporting event for Sudbury, taking place since the early 1980s. This year, The Bridge Project was one of three beneficiaries of the event, that also included East of England Air Ambulance and the Marian Corner Appeal.

Amanda, our Senior Researcher at Mackman, managed to get some action shots of the event. Running an average of 4.54 per km, James and Adam were just too speedy to get a photo head on and we're still trying to guess exactly what James is saying to Adam.

Michael can be seen proudly speed walking his way through the fun run course. Well done Mackman team!

James and Adam - technical funrun teamFunrun-Michael-Balls


Lost digital treasures

In the news last week was the discovery of 28 digital works of art created by the late artist Andy Warhol as part of a commission for the 1985 launch of the Commodore Amiga (remember those?). The discovery was the culmination of a three year project to recover the contents of files found on floppy disks once belonging to Warhol.

Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry at the launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985

Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry at the launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985

Why did this project take so long though? Well firstly, the age of the disks meant that special techniques had to be used to extract the data without risking any damage to the media itself, but this in turn unearthed a greater challenge; how to make sense of the data recovered? Warhol used a long forgotten Amiga art package called GraphiCraft which, common to software of the era, used its own proprietary file formats to store created images (the now ubiquitous JPEG standard wasn't going to be issued for another 7 years). Only months of painstaking reverse engineering of this format by members of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club finally enabled these images to see light of day again after nearly 30 years.


The question has to be asked therefore that if data from only 30 years ago required this much effort to relinquish its secrets, how safe is your data going to be in a similar period of time from now? In looking for an answer, do remember that 30 years ago, we didn't have the standards for the storage and interchange of data that we do today. These standards have been put in place to help, amongst other things, safeguard your data in the future - beware however the proprietary file format!

The 'EasyScript' word processor on the Commodore 64 creating this very document

The 'EasyScript' word processor on the Commodore 64 creating this very document


With more than a nod to the 1980s and a tip of the hat to Commodore, I decided before embarking on this news item that I was going to prepare this text on some retro hardware and software. My weapons of choice? - A Commodore 64 running the 1983 word processor "EasyScript". Unlike the students of Carnegie Mellon however, I had a slightly easier time getting this text back to 2014. Yes, the text was encoded obscurely and then subsequently wrapped in a proprietary file format, but then, I had the benefit of a conversion tool for Windows which I downloaded from the internet for free!



P.S. Does anyone know how to get an apostrophe on a Commodore 64 keyboard?!


CIM National Excellence Award Winners

CIM National Excellence Award Winners

It’s been a good week at Mackman. Not only are we celebrating our 10th Anniversary this month, but we were awarded the Marketing Excellence Award in the Education Category at the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) national awards ceremony.We were one of just 23 winners, selected from hundreds of entries, and accepted our award from comedian, Jimmy Carr.

We won the award after submitting the work we undertook on behalf of Harlow College. The integrated campaign was designed to raise awareness around the number one status at the College and began with two perception surveys with prospective students and parents of students. The results were used to inform some creative designs; developing new posters, video and a microsite, as well as a PR campaign.

Paul Mackman, director, said, “This has been the perfect start to our tenth year in business. We’re delighted as this project encapsulates the spirit of how our specialists work closely with clients to produce integrated campaigns that provide return on investment. Considering the scale and intense level of competition associated with the CIM awards, we’re glad to have done Sudbury proud.”

A targeted and strategic approach enabled our research, planning, communications, design and web development teams to create compelling campaign that achieved significant return on investment.

Simon Boyce, head of marketing at Harlow College, said, “Mackman’s comprehensive campaign delivered huge results for us. Winning the award verifies the standard of their work and passion for what they do. They worked closely with our in-house team and delivered a thoughtful campaign that produced a very positive response.”

Learn more about the project that won us the award, by taking a look at the Harlow College Case Study.

Business to Business Award Winners 2013

Mackman Group

Mackman Group

We're delighted to announce that we won the Business to Business Award in the Essex Countywide Business Awards for 2013. The awards took place on Friday night in Southend and we're so pleased to have our work recognised in this way. Paul Mackman said "To win this award despite such distinguished competition from others in this category is something we are particularly proud of. We would like to thank our clients and people for their contributions to achieving this award and our other successes. Essex is immensely important to Mackman and we count ourselves fortunate for the strong relationships we have with Essex businesses and people".

Researching web personas

The Mackman Research team have been collaborating with the strategy and communications teams this month to develop a set of in-depth questions which will form the basis of our refreshed web persona questionnaire process. Mackman create smart websites that are built on a knowing and understanding of who the website users are, listening to what they need and what they want to get from the website as a whole. By keeping content, design and technical choices centred on this audience, the site will continue to develop with their interests and needs in mind.

We conduct user persona research in the early stages of every website project to determine and understand these audience groups. From this data gathering we start to build a picture of the primary and secondary website users and the research team can in turn create fictional web personas based on main client users of a website.

Through doing this, we identify characteristics and functionality that inform the content strategy and design of the site. We are able to create an infrastructure and tone of voice that supports users with different goals and abilities. Rather than thinking that the whole world is your audience and sending out blanket messages, the process of creating web personas helps our clients think strategically about the different needs of their various audience groups and how their website needs to cater for these categories of people. For more information about our research or web development processes, give us a call on 01787 388038, or email

Researching web personas