We completed our 9th Supercharged Day at Selesti recently. The previous 8 Supercharged Days have been fantastic, with dozens of app, digital marketing campaign and start-up ideas created; benefiting us and our clients since the concept began in June 2015.

What does Supercharged mean? Throughout 2015 as part of our growth strategy, we invested huge amounts of thought and resource into our team. As a digital agency we are passionate about developing new marketing solutions as part of our R&D (research and development) activities and testing them out for clients.

The government introduced the R&D initiative to encourage companies to invest in innovative projects in science and technology to develop an advance in their field.

The idea behind Supercharged Days emerged from evaluating our VP; 'Supercharged Digital, lovingly crafted to perfection’. It’s not just a day, it’s become core to our daily approach; the way we as a team work together on supercharging campaigns, clients, processes; crafting them like the most skilled tradespeople, to perfection.

Why Supercharge something?

Project work doesn’t always allow the creative flexibility we and the client-side marketing teams we work with all strive for. Budgets, guidelines and commercially sensitive deadlines can mean restrictive work and linear thinking; dulling down a brief's full potential. Supercharge Days are designed to give everyone the opportunity to wrestle their mindset out of their daily grind. We get Account Managers designing, coders thinking up social campaigns and give everyone a chance to work on something new. It’s similar to a Hack Day, with the exception that it’s not solely about coding and we don’t ply teams with gallons of Red Bull.

Supercharged thinking becomes habitual, outside of Supercharged Days we and the clients who have taken part know what we’re capable of and can use ideas and the new approaches we created and learned on those days in everyday digital work. It’s about taking campaigns further and adding even more value, knowing what worked and didn’t work on Supercharged Days. Not all ideas are put into play, but their very conception shows clients and prospects we (and they) can deliver more than just their first draft written brief or their line managers' requirements.

We learn by trial and error during the day, something that's not often advisable on "real" projects. We are then far more equipped to share our experience with real data and evidence with our team and clients alike. And turn those concepts into "real" projects that we can have confidence will succeed.

We liked it, so we shared it

Although this started out as an internal exercise, as clients were loving the ideas we were presenting to them, it made sense to offer for them to be involved and present throughout the day.

The format typically involves allocating 2-5 teams with a mix of seniority and skills. We leave job titles out of the equation entirely, this helps to encourage open and fair say on all ideas and who does what. The competitive element adds a real driver for our talent, we award the triumphant team with a 2 hour lunch at a local restaurant. We put one person from the client's team with each Selesti squad, and sometimes there's a marketing director or senior client-side attendee who acts as judge along with me (Ollie).

We usually give the teams a brief prior to the day to allow them to meet and plan what they would like to work on. We aim to provide 2-3 options; that the teams can choose from to supercharge. But not always, our 9th day, for example, nobody knew the brief nor the teams they were in until 9am on the day.

The brief typically focusses on a few key points that must be taken into account:

  • What value will it bring?
  • Is it commercially viable?
  • Who will it benefit and bring value to?
  • How could it be created, marketed, sustained?
  • How portable is the idea to other clients and projects?
  • Why is it a great idea?
  • How much will it cost?
  • It has to be feasible, no package holidays to Mars just yet!

We leave it up to the teams to decide what their idea will be; an app, a marketing campaign, UX improvements to a website or something completely new! These are led by what the objectives or pain points are that we're looking to "Supercharge", when they've looking to us to find creative and commercially viable solutions to the real challenges they face.

The schedule for the day is entirely down to each team how they manage it. We have a delivery of delicious food from one of the independent stores local to our studio (we're round the corner from the award winning Norwich Lanes retail area). There's then a deadline of 4pm for work to stop and presentations to begin over a few refreshments. Depending on the number of teams, it’s usually a 15 minute presentation with 5 minutes Q&A.

Once completed, the judges for the day pick their winner - the best idea or that which they want to implement the quickest. Often we've found that all 3/4 ideas have been added to the marketing roadmap for the year.

What can be gained?

We continue to try new formats, ideas and keep things fresh for the team to work on by mixing up teams, brief and structure of the day. It keeps people on their toes, we throw in curveballs, and change the way ideas are judged.

By having these Supercharged Days, we learn new things. We try new development frameworks the team have been itching to use, it gets everyone working in different teams and with novel approaches that can be used on real projects and clients. Supercharged Days gives us confidence to R&D and evaluate our process, code, design, production methodology, software, team structure and in conjunction with clients - all to continually better ourselves. The only constant is change, if there's a better way to do something; quicker, more efficiently, profitably and creatively; we will try and implement it once we know it works.

It shows our potential, and that of the client team attending, the thinking power of so many talented people working to the same end; to create great ideas and rapidly deploy them within a day.

It’s not always about a product or improvement. Our Christmas Supercharged was great fun. 4 teams battled it out to create a brand new game! The idea came from school days when the last day before Christmas you were able to bring games and toys in. The teams were able to create a new board game, computer game, card game or anything else they wanted.

That day we had a Donald Trump vs Santa computer game created, 2 new boardgames which were both trialled and one based upon creating a start up agency which we played for hours down the pub!

To summarise our 9th Supercharged Day last week, we opted for 2 large teams to come up with ideas for an existing client and a potential client.

One team chose to create a ring selection web app and campaign called ‘DiscoverRing' for a retainer client, high end jewellers Winsor Bishop, which helped couples choose an engagement ring. The idea was that one partner chooses some basic preferences of style of ring and is then presented with a selection. They then swipe through them in a Tinder-esque fashion and invite their partner to do the same. The partner will try to guess which rings their other half likes, thus helping avoid buying a ring which they really don’t like!

The other team worked on a speculative idea for Naked Wines. These guys are based around the corner from us and beat us to EDP Business Best Employer Awards last year (game on for this year!). We love the way they support independent wine producers around the world with their 'Naked Angels' campaign.