The turn of the year saw us say goodbye to another good year and welcome in, hopefully, another!
It was going to be Harvey’s first full year with us. It was going to be another year of firsts as we keep pushing the business further and further. We decided that we’d start using Instagram more. Afterall, we do tell other businesses they should be embracing social media, so we thought we’d practise what we preach!
We do a lot with the business…Outside of the business, so we thought it would be good to share this with our followers. With a constant battle to get seen on Facebook, we thought we’d focus less on that and more on Twitter, Instagram and use Google Posts more.
As we eased ourselves back into work mode, it didn’t take long for our first highlight of 2018.
We were featured in Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce’s Business Direction quarterly magazine.
This was soon followed by our annual contribution to #MicroBizMattersDay. Plus the launch of the National Autistic Society Herefordshire Branch’s website. As the year plays out, we were to find ourselves heavily involved with the NAS Herefordshire team!
Our passion for supporting the community and local clubs was in full flow. We also launched a redeveloped website for Luctonians’ venue and club house Mortimer Park.
January ended with an exciting meeting with the Herefordshire Means Business team. This meeting would see us given several exciting opportunities!
February started with another first – our first ever project paid for with Bitcoin! We developed a website for the excellent Page Family Tae Kwon-Do. Since ourselves and Brennen are fans and active users of Bitcoin, we welcomed the future of digital payments! We were also pleased to have a shoutout from Luctonians about the launch of the Mortimer Park website.
Since the middle of 2018, we picked up a client, Wills & Legal Services from Malvern. Dan attended our #SmallBiz100 day talks we hosted and from that we have enjoyed a great working relationship. Another great connection we made from our presentations was Jules from the SMBN. Jules gave us a really great shoutout of Facebook! This was simply because we are passionate, honest and work hard. We want to help other businesses. What was particularly pleasing abut this was that Jules wasn’t even a client! She could see that we have a genuine interest in helping and supporting others.
The middle of February saw us attend our first event of the year – the Love Digital.
A great event thats sole purpose was to encourage those who were not currently embracing digital, to come along and find out more. This extended to all areas of digital, not just marketing. The event was the first of many more, and another first quickly followed this!
We try not to spread our love and support for local clubs too thinly, so as other clubs embraced our ideas and were now managing everything themselves, we wanted to see how and who we could help next. This was to be Hereford RFC! We had an opportunity to sponsor the match ball and the Man of the match thanks to Jo and Spencer at the club. This would soon see us become more involved with the club. We also thought it was about time to make Harvey an avatar!
March began with some amazing news that we’d been chosen as one of SME News’ Top 100 small businesses! We were to be featured in their quarterly magazine later in the year along with an award. This high was short lived however. We attended the Midlands Business Awards in Leicester where we were up for ‘Corporate Commitment to the Community’.
Unfortunately we came away empty handed. We weren’t too downbeat about it as we were up against BIG competition. An example was the worthy winner funds house building in poverty stricken African towns. We can’t compete with that! However despite our size, we do feel we do as much as we possibly can, and we are still really proud of that.
There is always a positive however, and that came from a client good news story we shared. Once again, the foundations for this were laid back in November at our #SmallBiz100 day presentations. Julie from Julu, a fellow #SmallBiz100 Alumni attended and found the insights interesting, valuable and relevant that we soon were working together!
From the meeting with the Herefordshire Means Business team in January, we were able to share the first of many exciting involvements.
Chris was selected to be a judge at this years’ Herefordshire Business Awards!
Chris’ presence in the local business community, having been a previous winner, finalist and a sponsor put his credentials in good stead.
Mid-March saw us head to Twickenham through our excellent sponsorship with Luctonians to see the England v Scotland in the Six Nations for the Calcutta Cup. What a game that turned out to be – the epitome of a game of 2 halves!
Toward the end of the month after seeing what we could offer, Jo and Spencer from Hereford RFC gave us the go ahead to help support the club! The work would officially start with a revamped web presence. This would serve the club better than their Pitchero site. We were also pleased to announce that Chris was named as one of the members of the Board of Trustees at Canwood Gallery. This was an honour for Chris but also testament to Hannah, her father and all involved in such a unique addition to the county with an unbelievably charitable heart.
As we touched upon earlier, the clubs we are involved with have successfully taken onboard our training. They were becoming more independent with the day to day running of the websites and processes we had shown them. As the clubs, to their credit, became self-sustaining there were new spaces for new opportunities…
One of these opportunities was in motion with HRFC, one of the biggest rugby clubs in the county. Thanks to Rory, we were presented with an opportunity to support one of the biggest football clubs in the county – Westfields FC. This initially started with the junior section, however the committee soon realised what we could offer the club and so we were now supporting the junior and senior sides. To be given the opportunity to help this fantastic club was an absolute privilege!
Harvey was continuing to learn and develop under the tutelage of Chris and was passing his apprenticeship exams with flying colours. The month also saw us pick up several new clients, so it was a busy month with loads going on!
Our focus for May (and the build up to May) was to prepare a presentation. Plus the accompanying literature for another of the opportunities given to us by the Herefordshire Means Business team back in January. The DM Lab was exhibiting at our second event of the year at the Herefordshire Means Business Expo. In addition to this, Chris was given a slot as a guest speaker.
We hoped would be as successful as the presentations we put on in November of 2018. We also took part in the St Michael’s Hospice half marathon as we do every year. A new route and a beautiful day we recall!
We also sponsored The Fishing Ladz – Harvey’s 6-a-side football team and rugby 7s team. As sevens season was almost upon us and Harvey guaranteed some good results from his team. The won the Knighton 7s but it was all a bit of fun and we were happy to help – plus the kits looked smart!
June is always a great month as it’s The DM Lab’s birthday! However, that was just the first of many cool things this month! We were shortlisted for 2 categories at the Midlands Business and Community Charity Awards! The DM Lab was shortlisted in the ‘Business of the Year’ category and Chris was shortlisted for ‘Most Influential Business Person of the Year’. These awards would be a true test of our external admiration and support, as to make the finals, it would be up to the public to give us enough votes to reach them! We hoped that with our fantastic client base, friends, family and support in the community – would put us in good stead. We would have to wait and see!
It was here that we would showcase the new awards entry system we had developed to encourage more entrants and nominations for this fantastic event that champions the great businesses in our county. We were pleased to be given the opportunity and were proud of what we had delivered. The entry system would rival other awards and would be a fantastic addition to the event as a whole.
Another event outside of work we take part in is the VOGUM.
A 40 mile ultramarathon along the South Wales coastline from Porthcawl to Penarth. In this years’ event we managed to shave off a whole 3 hours, completing it in 12 hours despite the temperature being almost 30 degrees – another truly beautiful day for the event!
This month, we also met up with Ray from neighbouring Worcestershire agency Worcester Web Studio. This would see the start of a blossoming relationship between our team and Ray’s through collaboration and mutual respect for each other’s skillsets. We’re very grateful to work with and not compete against similar agencies, we can deliver better results by working with each other’s strengths and our experience with Ray’s company is testament to this.
Another great month ending with Chris’ birthday!
As seems to be the pattern this year, this month started with amazing news! Another first – we were named a finalist at the Rural Business Awards for ‘Best Rural Digital Communications or Media Business’! The news was well received, and we were pleased to have featured in the Hereford Times – not a first for us and as the year pans out – wouldn’t be the last time this year either!
Mid July also saw the conclusion of the public vote – another first for us! We would have to wait and see if we did enough to make the finals of the Midlands Business and Community Charity Awards!
Throughout the year so far, as well as our bigger contributions to the local community, we have also contributed to several charities through #CharityTuesday. We try to help as many as we can, and we are of the opinion that every little helps! In July we donated to the Hereford Harriers Tough Mudder fundraiser.
We also took part in the HOWUM
Another ultramarathon, this time 30 miles through the hilly heart of Wales! We completed this event in 8 hours, another first for us.
Achy limbs and sore feet were quickly forgotten as we received news that we had made the finals of the SME National Business Awards in 2 categories – ‘Business Person of the Year’ and credit to Harvey – ‘Apprentice of the Year’! These would be held at the Bobby Moore Suite at Wembley Stadium in December!
Chris also presented a content creation workshop for our friends over at ISO during July. Something that Chris was excelling at from both a presenting and teaching point of view.
Just when we thought the month couldn’t get any better, we received more news that we had reached the finals at the MBCC Awards! It was however in just the one category for ‘Most Influential Business Person of the Year’. We were pleased for Chris but disappointed that we hadn’t progressed in the category The DM Lab had been in but grateful to have made the finals, nonetheless.
We also attended our third event of the year this month – the Hereford Skills Show.
Where we were invited to showcase what we could offer youngsters looking for a career in digital.
We also sponsored the excellent Beer on the Wye festival – an event we go to every year and every year these guys pick the best weekends for it!
Our chosen charity to donate to in July for #CharityTuesday was CF Warriors as our friend Rhys (of Pegasus Ultra Running – the events we take part in) had undertaken ‘The World’s Toughest Foot Race’ – a 135 mile race through the hottest place on earth…Death Valley. A worthy effort for a worthy cause!
Following a packed July, August started off really well too! We were delighted to be invited to Westfields FC’s season opener against Windsor FC. A game which saw our sponsored player, Billy Murphy, open the scoring and Westfields winning 5-0. An emphatic scoreline that would continue to be a theme for the club!
Following suit as we’ve done throughout the year, we donated to help support the Wellbeing Cafe for #CharityTuesday. Not only this we were featured in SME News’ quarterly magazine as an officially listed 1 of 100 business elite!
With Westfields FC’s season now in full swing, we’ve being heading over to Allpay Park as often as we can to support the lads. Westfields continue to excel in the Hellenic League Premier Division.
August was concluded with some incredibly exciting news we had to keep under wraps until it was officially confirmed…
We are proudly running the 2020 London Marathon on behalf of the fantastic NAS Herefordshire branch and we pledged to raise £4400 for the team to continue offering the incredible service to families that need it, dedicating their own time as volunteers to unselfishly deliver for others is admirable and worthy of reward so we hope to raise as much as we can for the. Please visit our JustGiving page to read the full story and since it’s the season of giving, please donate. It’s for them, not us.
We were also very, very busy with something else throughout August which we’d worked hard toward finishing ready for September…
September began with another first for us – an office move! Since 2010 we had worked from a purpose built, converted garage. However, with the addition of Harvey, and potentially more staff in the very near future as we continue to grow and create opportunities, we made the decision to relocate. We spent August preparing our new office in Penn House. Repainting, redecorating, cleaning, ordering equipment, assembling furniture and getting the place ready to work in as of September. It was a success and we are proud of the transformation, location and enhanced credibility it gives us!
We also saw our new shirts being delivered to Belmont Wanderers U16 Girls who we are sponsoring this season. Keeping on the theme of sponsorships, September saw the start of the season for Hereford RFC in Midlands 1 West. We went to the first game and we were very proud to see our board on the front of the clubhouse. To coincide with the start of the season, we also launched the new website we had developed for the club. Check it out here, we’re proud of how it looks and how it will benefit the club long-term.
The rest of September was getting used to the new office
New routines and finding ways of improving the space and leaving our mark on it. This included illuminating our meeting area and windows!
September ended with our feature in SME News’ Q3 Autumn issue, which you can view here on page 16.
Another notable achievement of Chris’ on a more personal level was that he had been nominated and become a finalist at the Sunshine Radio Pride Awards for ‘Sporting Achievement of the Year’! We’re big supporters of the awards. We won ‘Entrepreneur / Business of the Year’ in 2017. Sponsored the awards in 2018. Because of Chris’ efforts outside of work with the club he runs, Belmont Wanderers FC, he was recognised and awarded for his endeavours! Well done Chris – a great example of his dedication and passions excelling outside of work.
We were very honoured to receive invites to Westfields FC’s Sportsman’s Dinner in early October. We met the guest speaker Bruce Grobbelaar and were fortunate enough to get him to sign our top! It is now proudly on display in our office, along with our other signed shirts we’ve been collecting a while now. The Sportsman’s Dinner was another first for us and we hope it won’t be the last!
The day after this we made the long journey up to Nottingham for the finals of the Rural Business Awards which we also came away from empty handed. We were beginning to think that everything was going so well, that something had to give – and that unfortunately looked like winning awards!
With the space and an influx of work, we also indulged in another first – an opportunity to give someone work experience.
We’ve been able to offer Lewis this experience in our busy little office and he has been thrown in at the deep end, working on live projects and proving to be a useful addition with his skills!
We also took part in another event as part of our training for next years’ London Marathon. It was a tough 21 mile (turned out to be 24 miles!) along the muddy, arduous Gower coastline. We were clocking up the miles! Following this, we were featured on Headturner Search for Worcestershire’s Talking Heads – every Friday they would feature a local business leader for an interview. You can read that interview here.
October closed with us attending and sponsoring the Herefordshire Business Awards. Throughout October, Chris, along with the other judges, Charlotte and Sharon, had the tough task of determining who would be finalists at the awards and ultimately picking the winners. The night was a success and credit the team for the continually improving the event year on year to help raise the profile of the host of fantastic businesses we have in the county.
Our CSR efforts showed no signs of slowing down as we created a flyer for Herefordshire Mind, the first time we’d been able to help the charity and it was advertising a festive shopping day to raise funds for their cause. After months of interaction with local business champion Alex Spicer, we finally met up at our office for a great and well overdue chat.
We were invited to the National Autistic Society Herefordshire Branch’s Charity Ball at the Green Dragon. Chris was given the opportunity to say a few words about The DM Lab’s support for the team and the branch and about our fundraising efforts for the London Marathon. A wonderful event which included a silent auction.
November was also the month of the Sunshine Radio Pride Awards – which we were really pleased that Chris won his category of ‘Sporting Achievement of the Year’. Not strictly to do with work, but Chris is the heart of The DM Lab so it’s worth noting that he does put as much effort into work as he does outside of it.
The following weekend was the Midlands Business and Community Charity Awards
Which unfortunately Chris failed to leave a lasting mark with the judges and did not win his category. A real shame, as Chris is a real credit to the local business community and all his involvements both inside and outside of work show what a valuable asset he is in business and his other endeavours.
Chris also made the Hereford Times again in their coverage of the Hereford Business Awards. After crossing paths at various events and functions throughout the year with the Mayoress of Hereford Kathy Hey, we were unexpectedly paid a visit which came as a surprise! We had a chat with Kath, and we hope to be able to assist with a few things maybe in the near future as she genuinely has a passion for the county as we ourselves do too.
Toward the end of November, we were given another fantastic opportunity
The opportunity to get the business involved with the excellent River Carnival. Something that we’ve been getting stuck into in preparation for next year’s event. Thank you Stuart and team for the opportunity!
On another note, we’d managed to so far raise £820 for NAS Herefordshire through our London Marathon JustGiving page.
We knew December was going to be busy. No sooner had we dipped out toes into December, we were off to Wembley for the SME National Business Awards. Despite Chris not winning ‘Business Person of the Year’ or Harvey winning ‘Apprentice of the Year’ we had a lovely time at a spectacular venue.
We also made some new friends too so, many positives to take away. We know how deserving Chris and Harvey were, so we tip our hats to those who did win the categories.
Finishing projects and lining up new work to start in the New Year. A great year showed no signs of slowing – which is great!
Halfway through December saw us attend our annual hospitality day at Luctonians. One of many Christmas festivities we have in December! Great day, great food, great company and a great result for Luctonians so one to remember!
We also took part in Save The Children’s #ChristmasJumperDay! Just as we do every year and raised a couple of quid which we’ll send off.