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Email gets a much needed face lift

Our experience on the world wide webular has changed hugely over the past decade. No longer do we dwell in a land of static content, but roam free amongst the fields of the interactive.

Apps! Animated page transitions! Machine learning! It’s been quite the journey, it really has.

And yet, one thing has largely stayed the same. Our inbox. Left out in the cold for reasons I can’t fathom, the virtual form has been left neglected, like a skanky old bag of lettuce at the back of the fridge. 

Because when you really look at it – what is an inbox? A bunch of messages that eventually go out of date? A jumping-off point for finishing a more complex task? For a model that an extremely large percentage of us use on a daily basis, email has been surprisingly stagnant for long enough. 

Enter: Google. 

Better late than never, in March 2019, Google announced Gmail dynamic email as a new beta feature for their Enterprise and G-Suite clients. And following the success of this testing period, the whole database is now getting a shiny, new overhaul, with dynamic emails appearing in Gmail inboxes from July 2.

What does this all mean? Fundamentally, getting shit done just got a whole lot less fiddly. From RSVPing to an event to filling out a questionnaire; Gmail users can easily take action directly from within a message itself. Pretty major. 

The update also ensures users are always seeing the freshest information. An example being, instead of receiving incessant email notifications when someone mentions you in a comment on Google Docs, you’ll now see an updated thread in Gmail, where you can reply or resolve the comment without opening any new tabs. And when you put it like that, it really is absolute madness it hasn’t been done sooner. 

And our mates at G-tower aren’t the only ones giving some much needed TLC to our dusty, old inboxes. Companies such as Booking.com, Doodle, Pinterest and OYO Rooms have also started implementing dynamic emails. The full Marie Kondo treatment. Clutter out. Coherence in. 

Whilst this is a massive (and necessary) leap for UI, the rollout also means a big-ass change for email marketing. When companies start to deploy dynamic mail, those precious click-throughs will be minimised. Cue collective gulp. Alas, fear not. This same technology will now mean consumers can click on that ‘buy now’ button in their email. That’s the middle man gone from your customer conversion journey. 

This is a monumental shift in email, one that it’s important businesses pay attention to. Dynamic could change the way we look at CRO, and you can bet email optimisation is going to start taking up a lot more time in your weekly content meetings. And it should. This is exciting. Stay educated. You’ve got mail.  

What we could all learn from Jack in Titanic

Jesus. Hodor. Jack in Titanic.

The poor bastards had it rough, didn’t they?

And whilst I’m not talking about being able to fit onto a floating door in the middle of the freezing North Atlantic Ocean here (am I?) I am talking about something that is often overlooked in our industry: sacrifice.

Defined as ‘to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations’ in the Oxford Dictionary, the word comes with a shit load of its own biblical, political and cultural baggage. But in business? It feels raw. Moderately untouched. Fresh-out-the-box.

So, what can we learn here? All hail the 3 S’s of sacrifice:  

Sacrifice as story

It can be terrifying to sacrifice something that is potentially valuable or unique. But, by sacrificing something in your storyboard, campaign, or business strategy, it forces you to centre your energy on something else. A shift in focus. A shift in the storytelling. Trying to do too much is holding you back – so strip it back. Even when you’re winning, the bravest amongst us ask: what needs to be sacrificed to open up new narratives?

It is those whittled-down, honed-in ideas that will be remembered. That’s where you find your diamonds.

Sacrifice as success

Business is, at its very core, a give-and-take process. The more you invest and the more you’re willing to part with, the more you’ll reap the rewards. That can mean you working late a few evenings a week, identifying the people that aren’t serving your organisation and showing them the door, or just recognising the organisational structures that simply aren’t working. Sometimes, if sacrifices aren’t made, success simply isn’t possible.

Detect the static. If it isn’t evolving then you probably just found why your business isn’t moving forward.

Sacrifice as strategy

Some brands have danced with the big S; Tesla not initiating patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use their technology; Patigonia forsaking short-term sales by asking consumers not to buy their jacket in order to help our environmental crisis. Communications that negated immediate business adjectives, but contributed to long-term sales. Sacrifice can refine brand meaning. A defiant act that can take your relationship with consumer above functionality, and into a deep and emotional connection.

 

Sacrifice is all about articulation, ie. if you come across a good idea, don’t keep adding things to it. And if you find you have, take a step back, assess and lose anything unnecessary. You’ll save on resources, time and fundamentally – cost.

In a crowded marketplace where everyone is overwhelmed with choice, we need to learn a new way: in how we do business, in how we create, in how we speak to one another. Could sacrifice be the answer? I get the feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg (sorry Jack).

Frankly my dear, I don’t gif a damn

We’re living in the age of visual communication. That’s a given. Where we might once have settled for a simple ‘thanks Geoff, see you tomorrow mate’, we now frantically scroll through clips of goats in sunglasses.

You see, the goat says it all. In fact, the goat says so much more!

Hilarious! Geoff will love that. Geoff loves goats…

…probably.

These snippets understand us. They get us. In ways, thousands and thousands and thousands of years of language never could. Go figure.

GIF (short for Graphics Interchange Format) is now a way of life. Incorporated GIF searches are a must for social media platforms, and in September 2018, Giphy, the world’s number one gif website, reported 300 million users a day. What’s more, according to a survey published in Time in 2017, nearly two-thirds of millennials felt that GIFs got across their feelings better than words.

Complex messages expressed in a matter of seconds, does it come as any surprise that we’re hooked? The convenience of it all is too tempting. Why use the many iterations of the English language when Homer Simpson backing slowly into a bush can say it that much better?

In an era of ‘I want it and I want it now’, the pace of the GIF fits into the pace of our times. They’re our new digital dialect. Your joy, your excitement, your sadness, your pain – encapsulated in one little clip. More than words, more than emojis, this is immediate storytelling – entertaining and accessible to everyone, no matter their background.

So, time to get animated?

Maybe. A lot of brands are already using GIFs in their marketing to boost engagement, using it across their social media channels, blog posts, email campaigns and more. Meaning GIFs are no longer merely a bit of bants over the group chat. They’re legitimate tools of engagement that can be used to target your audiences online, and make your business more relatable, more human.

‘It’s all about joining in and entertaining,’ says British journalist and novelist Justin Myers, aka The Guyliner, who has earned a reputation for using GIFs in his online dating columns, ‘they’re almost impossible to misread. A sarcastic tone in a tweet might be misconstrued, but a GIF of Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development rolling her eyes at what you just said doesn’t take the Enigma machine to decipher.’

Take heed, people are using GIFs to convey their own sense of identity, anchoring themselves to TV shows, movies, or even news clips. A short and sweet way of saying ‘hey, this is me’.

So, pay attention. Watch. Enjoy. Get to know your audience. Laugh with them. The conversation is visual.

Image result for obama mic drop gif

Look who’s talking

I’m human. Aren’t I? You’re reading words spouted out of a fully-fledged chunk of flesh. You’re sure? Absolutely sure? No niggling doubts? No bots in the vicinity?

As the line between digital and human voice blurs, consumers’ suspicions are on the up. And rightly so. Bots’ capabilities are accelerating and distinguishing exactly who you’re talking to isn’t the picnic it used to be.

From Facebook messenger to text messaging, more and more brands are handing the baton over to chatbots to service their customers and sell their products. By leveraging machine learning and natural language processing, AI is one step ahead; accounting for each customer’s conversation history, understanding the intent behind customer requests and responding to questions in a more human way. Terrifying? Mildly. Efficient? You best believe it.  

By collecting information about users, the bots are helping businesses understand what their audience wants, how they want it and when. In an age of ‘brand experience’ this isn’t just a case of customer service, bots are feeding into crucial personalisation, vital to the brand experience.  

Alexa. Siri. Google Assistant. They know us; the good, the bad, the ugly. The more they learn about us, the more they are right about us. Trust grows, we disclose more.  

So, does your business require a virtual assistant? There isn’t one answer for all. But as customers continue to crave convenience, the demand for digital chatter is certainly increasing. The world’s leading research and advisory company, Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. Chinese WeChat bots can already set medical appointments, call a taxi, send money to friends, check in for a flight – the list goes on.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a bot for the sake of a bot – it is something to be aware of. If you want to move forward with bot support, you need to determine the below early on:

  • Goals: clearly define the list of functions your bot needs to perform.
  • Channels: understand where your audience prefers to communicate – your website, mobile, Facebook Messenger, app, or any other messaging platform.
  • Application: choose your way of creation, using ready-made chatbot software or building a custom bot.

Here at BBT, we, of course, have the know-how to get you up and running. Our team of experts have the capability to implement your preferred software or build you a personalised custom bot from scratch.

As for machines fooling us into believing they’re human? We’ve come a long way from Alan Turning’s famous test, but I think we can all agree we know when there is a human behind the keyboar00010100010100011100

$26 Million Down the Drain: When SEO Goes Wrong

When you think about what makes a website successful, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Chances are SEO is one of the last things you’ll think about. That needs to change.

Simply put, SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, is often the unsung hero of your website and can be the difference between your website becoming a powerful revenue-making machine or actually holding you back.

 

SEO 101 – SEO is the practice of optimising your website to ensure it is easy to find when people search for relevant keywords or phrases on search engines, particularly Google. Now, it is a bit of a minefield, but, it is critically important you get it right. In today’ environment, where search engines are the number one channel for people searching for and connecting with businesses, the cost of getting it wrong can be dire.

ASOS, the global online retail powerhouse found this out first hand. In their latest financial report, they announced their profit had dropped from £29.9 million to £4, which is a whopping 87% drop. The reason? A massive drop in organic website traffic caused by some ‘instability’ in their SEO performance.

Over the past few months, ASOS has been going through the process of “improving” its website, and actually, trying to make it more SEO friendly. On the surface, the steps they took to improve their SEO performance were the necessary steps. However, from our perspective, it appears they lacked accuracy in their execution.

 

The thing about SEO is it’s an inexact science, and Google like it that way. For our team, a large part of optimising a website for SEO is building trust with Google and getting them to like you. Google’s aim is to create a faster, safer and more user-friendly environment. Which means they are constantly looking to improve their algorithms to ensure we easily find the information or answers we need. They don’t like fluff, they don’t like dodgy or complicated sites and they hate slow loading speeds.

The tricky thing is, Google is constantly changing the rules of the game. In their attempts to make their search engine better, they are constantly tweaking and updating their algorithms. The goal posts are constantly on the move. But because Google is the biggest search engine in the world, we are all forced to play by these ever-changing rules.

Ultimately, what happened to ASOS was unfortunate but it could happen to just about any website. While ASOS’s intentions were to improve their SEO performance, clearly something went wrong. We will never know what went wrong, maybe there was backend issues, maybe they didn’t react to changes in the algorithms or maybe they just didn’t have a strong enough understanding of the beast that Google is.

 

A large part of our SEO team’s job is to understand this beast so that none of our clients’ experience a similar fate. Whenever we are talking to our clients, or prospective clients, about new websites, website rebuilds, campaign landing pages or even their social media platforms, SEO is often one of the first things we discuss. We strongly believe that every part of a business’ online presence needs to be fully optimised for SEO. The reason for this is simple, in an information and data-saturated world, where people have more choice than ever, you need to do everything possible to be found.

Having a beautiful website, top line products and amazing content, largely means nothing if consumers can’t find you. It’s like paying for a billboard but placing it behind a wall. No one will see it.

 

If you are thinking your business needs a new website or you simply needs to update it, make sure you keep SEO in mind. To help you out, here are a few tips (free of charge).

Speed kills. Google is a speed-demon. They love fast things and hate anything that keeps them waiting. So it’s no secret that website speed is one of the most important things in determining how well a website performs. And, Google isn’t alone. Studies show that if your website takes three or more seconds to load, people often move onto the next.

Build with smaller screens in mind. In our fast-paced world, people are increasingly using their mobiles or tablets to search the internet. The important thing to know, is a website built for the large screen, doesn’t necessarily translate to smaller ones. Thus, make sure your website looks and functions optimally on all devices.

SEO touches every part of your website. Your website is a complex stack of a million different pieces and all of these pieces can either hinder or help your SEO performance. This includes URL structures, titles, meta descriptions, content and picture titles.

Understand the role search engines play in your sales funnel. Where do your customers come from? If you rely on search engines for traffic and new customers, as ASOS do, getting your SEO right is a no-brainer.

Lastly, if you don’t know or don’t understand SEO, don’t try and wing it. It simply won’t work. The world of SEO is notoriously difficult and ever-evolving and for experienced SEO gurus, it’s still complicated. As we’ve talked about, even big brands get it wrong. But while they might be able to weather the storm, your business may not be able to. So, seek guidance from an experienced digital agency (like us) to at the very least advise you on it. The cost of going it alone, and getting it wrong, is far greater than asking for help.

 

At the end of the day, SEO may not be the sexiest part of your online presence, but it is arguably the most impactful. Google is the largest shopping mall ever created, and it’s only getting bigger, busier and more competitive. Hence, you need to do everything you can to attract potential customers.

SEO touches every part of your website. It will impact your UI/UX, the content you write and even the development processes. And, it’s critical you get it right. Over the past few years, we’ve built, written and optimised countless websites for businesses with SEO best practices in mind. Our team are constantly staying on top of Google and looking for ways to get the most out of every website.

If you have any questions about the world of SEO, let’s chat!

Don’t Get Suck in Your Ways

Late last month, we all woke to the news that Apple had dropped another big announcement. Personally, I was hoping they were finally making a battery that didn’t die every three hours. But no. In fact, their announcement turned out to be something much more interesting and thought-provoking.

The announcement was not about a product It was about the brand new services they are rolling out, specifically a news outlet, gaming service, content streaming and the Apple card.

Which is interesting because for so many of us we think about Apple as the creator of awesome (yet expensive) devices, not as a gaming platform. However, that is exactly what Apple want’s to change, and they are not alone.

 

Many of the world’s leading creators of much relied upon pieces of hardware are doing the exact same thing as Apple. Slightly shifting their focus away from the physical products, the toys, towards increasing the features and services that their toys can do. But, why?

Essentially, at its core, it’s because they want to keep us engaged and build a sense of loyalty amongst their customers. And, the way they are achieving this, is by attempting to move everything we do in the digital world into one account, that can be accessed on any of their devices.

One initial reaction to this, great, we are moving away from the days of having to remember several passwords and security questions. But after taking a deeper dive into the announcement and looking at it from a business perspective, it is also a means of boosting customer loyalty, which is at an all-time low.

In today’s environment, customers are notoriously disloyal. They’re always on the look for the latest and greatest products or services that are going to make their lives easy. Which is exactly what these tech giants are attempting to do.

 

Apple doesn’t want you to use your Mac to watch Game of Thrones on Netflix while scrolling the New Zealand Herald on your iPhone. Instead, they want you to watch Oprah’s new talk show while playing games in the Apple arcade. They want to convert you into a fully fledged Apple Fanboy. And, all their competitors are trying to convert you to their side.

While these global brands are playing on whole another level, there are a number of lessons that local businesses can take from their shift in focus.

First things first, we’re not saying products are dead. For businesses that classify themselves as product-based, they are your lifeblood. And, even for us service-based businesses, we still create and offer products. Like Apple, businesses need to keep evolving and looking to create new offerings. The question we are always asking our clients’ and talking about internally is: ‘what’s next?’

 

But how do you answer this? Is there even an answer to this question? For a starting point, look at the numbers. If you are collating the right data and presenting it in the right way, much of what you need to know about your customers is communicated by the data your business produces. The adage “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” comes to mind.

Collecting this data doesn’t require a massive budget or loads of resources like the big brands. It simply requires having the systems in place to collect and interpret your customers and markets data. And, in today’s digital landscape that is easy.

When we look at Apple, they obviously have sophisticated tools to collect data on their customers. Apple knows exactly how many people are using their devices, what they are doing, where they are and while collating all this, in a market that is reaching (or has reached) maturity, they saw growth slowing and understood the need to invent/react. That is exactly what you can do with smart digital platforms and an understanding of your customers.

For many businesses, it all starts with understanding what is in place, and what you need to get this understanding, both internally and externally. A website that has the functionality to follow visitor interaction. From there we are able to build out their online presence to better capture the behaviours and intentions of your target audience. With this insight, you are well positioned to make calculated decisions on your offerings.

 

We are lucky to live in a time where data and information are all around us. Literally, every one of your offerings or platforms produces tangible and useful data. Whether it’s your Facebook page or CRM, data is everywhere. For product-based businesses, this is especially true. Whether you are a full eCommerce store or brick and mortar.

With the right systems in place, you too have the ability to make calculated decisions, like Apple, about the future direction of your offerings.

SSL Certificates: Why You Need to Get Yours Sorted

Your website is now the hub of your business. It is often the first place potential customers find you and it is the place where the majority of your leads are generated.

While a website is a business’ new shop front, what happens when your business’ shop front can’t be found or looks dodgy? The short answer is you lose out on a whole bunch of traffic and potential customers. In a time when customers have more options available than ever before, losing out on that traffic is not sustainable.

A lot will play into how visible and trustworthy your website is. Everything from a straightforward and rememberable URL, functional and attractive UI/UX design, relevant blogs and articles, and even links to your social media platforms all make an impact. However, what many businesses fail to recognise, is there is another vitally important part of your website, an SSL certificate.

Whenever we are looking to build a new website or make updates, or even simply review their current performance, one of the first things we look at is whether or not the SSL certificate is current. When we talk to new clients about this aspect of their website, we are still surprised at how often many of them ask ‘what is that?’

 

Basically, an SSL certificate is the equivalent of the blue tick on Facebook and Instagram which verifies a person or businesses identity and legitimacy. And in today’s environment, getting this certificate can no longer be an afterthought.

But what does an SSL certificate look like? It is not a physical certificate that you put next to your degree from university. It is a lot more discrete and less show-offie! It is a simple, padlock that appears in the URL bar at the top of your browser. Here, check out ours…

 

What may seem like a fairly inconspicuous feature, could actually be the root cause of an underperforming website. In fact, we have seen an 80% decrease in website traffic as a result of some websites not having a current SSL certificate.

For a fairly small upfront fee, you could put your website in a position to be seen by a large portion of people interested in your industry and offerings. But, there are also countless other benefits of ensuring your business has all its ducks in a row. They include.

Protects data

Protecting the data and information your visitors generate as they navigate the internet, needs to be a top priority for your business.

The way SSL certificates do this is by encrypting the data, such as credit card details, passwords and geotags, that is shared between servers and recipients. By encrypting the data, the server is essentially bundling all this data up and locking it, and only opening itself once it reaches its intended target.

This makes it incredibly hard for those pesky hackers who tirelessly try to access and steal valuable data, to get in.

Reinforces your identity

Now, remember how we said an SSL certificate is like those blue ticks that let you know Donald Trumps Twitter account is actually his, this is the same with an SSL certificate.

In a world where data security is a massive talking point for all businesses, and where people are more cynical than ever, having an SSL gives you that added layer of legitimacy.

In order to get an SSL certificate, websites have to go through a fairly rigorous validation process set by an independent authority. Completing this process ensures that no other party can set up a fake website under your name/ domain or access your customers’ data.

The search engines require them  

We all know how important search engine rankings are for businesses today. With search engines the most common way for potential customers to find businesses, the higher you are in these search results, the more likely you’ll be chosen.

Google in their pursuit of a faster, safer and more accurate internet have made two clear points that businesses who don’t have an SSL certificate are not welcome on their platform. The first in 2014, when they changed their algorithm to give websites that have an SSL certificate favour over those that don’t. Secondly, in 2018 they decided to flag all websites that don’t have an SSL certificate and to notify the user when they are about to enter a noncompliant website. We have all seen this flag pop-up, in the form of ‘Not secure’ in the URL bar. Check out one we prepared earlier…

A websiet that doesn't have an SSL certificate

There is no telling what the next step in the punishment of sites will be. Maybe they’ll be completely undiscoverable in the near future.

Every eCommerce site needs it

All eCommerce website, whether you sell clothes out of your house as a side-hustle or your business has a 10,000 strong catalogue, an SSL certificate is a must have.

That’s because if you receive any form of online payments, regardless of how large or often, you must be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI/ DSS for short. And, one of the 12 steps to becoming compliant is to have an up to date SSL certificate.

You’re more trustworthy

Installing an SSL certificate on your website will do wonders for increasing the trust customers and potential customers will have in your business.

At a simple level, even if people aren’t aware of what an SSL certificate is, imagine what they think if they visit your website and see a ‘Not secure’ button in the URL. What would you do? We’d say bye-bye. Thus not having that button, basically signals to the customer that your website is trustworthy and backed by Google.

On the other hand, the majority of people select a website on the first page of a search result. And these search engines are the most trusted platforms in the world. If your website is on page six because Google has punished you for not having an SSL certificate, you won’t be generating much traffic. And, at the end of the day, unless they’re a returning customer, most people will trust Google over your business.

 

 

For those that aren’t aware, SSL certificates may seem like another tedious task that may not seem that important. But, we are here to say that is simply not true. An SSL certificate is the most important part of your business’ website and something that could drastically impact your business’ ability to generate traffic.

If you are unsure if your website has one or not, or needs to renew their SSL certificate, let’s have a yarn and work through getting you an up to date SSL.

Speed Kills: Is Your Website Speed Holding You Back?

For decades now, we have had literally been punched in the face with the message that ‘speed kills’. The message is deeply entrenched in the Kiwi psyche, so much so that you ask anyone what it means and they’ll basically be able to re-enact the last few speeding ads they saw or heard.

However, in this respect, we’re not talking about speeding on the roads. And, unlike on the roads, where speeding is illegal, the faster you are on the digital roads the better. In fact the slower your business is on the internet, the quicker you’ll kill your business. But, why does speed matter?  

First impressions count

It’s not just on the dating scene where first impressions count. In this increasingly digital world, where you are found on the internet before anywhere else, a slow website, is a killer.

Potential customers are no longer walking by your shop front, peering in and deciding whether or not to engage with you. Instead, they are checking your website out. If your website loads in the blink of an eye, great first impression. If it lags behind, you’re starting behind the eight-ball.

From a psychological point of view, fast websites are portrayed as trustworthy, industry-leading and generally more professional. On the other hand, slow sites are perceived as unsafe and untrustworthy – regardless of whether that is true or not.

Don’t get painted with the second brush because while one visitor may not be a massive deal, over time that one visitor could turn into hundreds and even thousands.

We love Speed

In this digital world, consumers have become accustomed to having everything available at their fingertips, and not waiting for it. We want everything now, now, now! And, if we have to wait, chances are we’re not coming back. In fact, 40% of website users will completely abandon your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

This love of speed increases drastically when we are on our mobile devices. And really, this is a no-brainer. In today’s business environment, where everyone is always on the move, the way we interact with websites is changing as well.

An increasing number of Kiwi’s are choosing to use their mobiles as the primary source of using the internet. And, think about how we’re using it, we on the move, waiting for meetings and looking for immediate answers. Thus, speed is imperative.

Enhance UX

Nowaday’s, every market is heavily saturated. With so many options available, businesses constantly need to be looking at ways to be more attractive to their audience, and user experience is truly one of those means.

At the heart of UX, it’s about creating an outstanding experience that a customer can not receive anywhere else. For your website, this boils down to providing the answer to your visitor’s questions and getting it to them quickly. Thus, you need to create a website that is capable of doing this. Because the moment a visitor gets confused or frustrated with your site, there’s no coming back.

Is it killing conversions?

As we’ve mentioned above, slow websites are killing your ability to attract and hold onto people that are seeking your website or an answer to their problems. Now, regardless of how good your product or services are if people are abandoning your website before it even loads, that is going to impact your sales.

Now, if you are a small or medium sized business that is reliant on generating sales through your website, the future of your business could suffer.

You’ll slide down the rankings

Now, if we’ve got to this point and are still questioning why speed is important, go ask Google. Google has made it well known that their ultimate mission is to ensure the internet is simple, easy to use, accessible and faster than Usain Bolt.

In fact, Google’s aim to make the inter-web as fast as possible is so important to them, that website speed now ranks as one of the signals used by their algorithms for search engine ranking.

We all know how important those search engine rankings are in terms of driving traffic to your website. While site speed it isn’t the make or break point, it’s apart of the overall algorithm, and every little bit counts. However, if your site is akin to watching paint dry, that is when you’re in trouble.

 

People are impatient beings. Our attention spans are shrinking but our expectations are increasing. Businesses need to recognise this and adapt how they communicate and interact with their target audience.

From our point of view, your business website should be the first element you look at as you finetune your presence. Everything from the UI/UX, speed, content and search engine rankings are absolutely vital to your business’ long term success.

If you are concerned about your website presence or don’t know where to start, we’re only one call away.

Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

It’s no secret, you are only as good as the team of people you surround yourself with. In business, much like in sport, no one man can carry a team to success. So ask yourself, how do you build a successful team?

Over recent weeks I have found myself listening to a lot of podcasts and interviews from the controversial academic, Jordan Peterson. Now, he is well known for his brutal honesty and unwavering points of view on just about every social issues. One of the many issues he often finds himself debating is the whole ‘left vs. right’ issue and how he believes that in order for society to be prosperous and productive, there needs to be a fine balance between the different points of view.

Before we go any further, just to be sure, we’re not getting into a discussion about politics and the ‘left vs. right’, because that would require a whole magazine, but it has got me thinking about BBT and the different personalities that make up our close-knit team.

 

Coming from a sports background, I’m no stranger to operating as a member of a team and all the cliches that come with them, but looking at it now, those same ideas have carried over into BBT.

A team is a melting pot of different personalities, backgrounds, skill levels and experiences – they are wonderful things. I look around our office and no one is the same. We have alpha personalities, the quieter types, methodical thinkers, people who thrive when the going gets tough and an Australian… But, this melting pot of individuals has allowed us to grow into the agency we are now.

I’m sure we all understand the significance of building your team with a wide array of people. However, what is just as important as building a team with diverse personalities, is the processes and structures you put in place that allow everyone to thrive and utilise their individuality. Here are a few of the practices we implement that allow us to tap into our melting pot.

 

Before we are able to tap into these different personalities, we must create an open and supportive environment that encourages everyone to speak up and voice their opinions. For us, we are at our best when our team is collaborating and where no one person dominates. Sure there will be times where someone needs to take the lead but in most circumstances, everyone has an equal voice.

This is something that will need to come from you as the leader. You will need to actively encourage your team to share their thoughts and ideas. For us, we do this by having weekly meetings where we keep everyone in the loop on projects and what’s coming up. But more importantly, we’ve recently made these meetings less about the work, in order to open the floor up for people to share what they are seeing within the business. The result… we have taken a few massive strides forward and cleaned a few things up, which has allowed our entire team to thrive and focus on being productive instead of battling old processes.

 

Outside of building an environment that gives everyone an equal voice, look at the tools you use around your office, are they holding people back or facilitating productivity? If you find they are hindering your team’s ability to produce results, it is time to switch thing up. Whether you implement dedicated project management tools, such as Asana, or simply ask everyone to keep their calendars updated, try to keep everything as clean as possible to ensure there is no wasted movement due to poor organisation.

 

As we have grown, I have learnt that if BBT is to achieve anything, I need to empower my team to make decisions and trust their instincts. I talk to a lot of business owners about this point and it is something that we all grapple with. However, it is the key to achieving success. We need to remember that our team are the experts in their field, they understand more about front-end developing, Google Analytics or UI/UX design then we do, so we can’t stand in their way. By giving them the freedom to fly, it shows them you trust their abilities and that they have the power to create great things.

 

Lastly, get to know your team outside of the office setting. Remember not everything has to be deadlines and client meetings, get to know what makes them tick, their values and interests. This is not only a great way to show your team you appreciate them but you never know what secret talents you might uncover which could be useful down the line.

 

The people you surround yourself with and how you nurture them will largely determine how successful your business will become. Thus, as business leaders, we must take the time to build the team we need and then empower them to do great things. Because at the end of the day, our team will be the driving force behind our business’ success.

Make 2019 Your Most Productive Year Yet!

It’s that time of year, the post-holiday blues have come and gone, and business is in full swing. The machine is chugging along nicely and we are back to our normal go go go routine. But ask yourself, are you busy or productive?

While they may sound like the exact same thing, they’re not. In fact, they are two completely different things. Being productive is when you are actually doing meaningful work, kicking goals and ticking boxes as you push your business forward. On the other hand, ‘busy’ can mean just about anything.

As I talked about in last months M2, a lot of people throw the word busy around like it is something to be proud of, which it isn’t. When we’re ‘busy’ often time we are just chasing our own tails or trying to catch up on things that have fallen through the cracks.

To avoid getting caught up in this ‘busy’ trap and to set yourself up to achieve good, solid productive work, here are a few things that I fall back on.

Routine, structure and consistency

Three keywords: routine, structure and consistency. I believe they are the cornerstones of being productive and without them, you will be fighting a losing battle.

If you are anything like me, you’re a creature of habit that thrives off routine and structure. Get yourself into the practice of structuring your day in a manner that best suits your working habits. If you know you’re a morning person, schedule your most important tasks for the morning, smash it out and then see to the rest later.

However, the key to a routine is consistency. If you often break routine to go for lunch or check your emails, you will be right back at square one. They say 21-days makes a habit. So, if you are finding it hard to constantly stick to a schedule, challenge yourself for 21-days, I guarantee within a week you will never go back to your old ways.

Is it really worth your time?

Now as business leaders, our to-do list is never-ending, our inbox is always overflowing and someone is always wanting a second of our time. But, do all of these issues require your attention?

Chances are the answer is no. Not everything requires your direct involvement. While it is good to have visibility over what is happening in your business, figure out what is mission critical and what isn’t.

Hand it over

Now that you know what is worth your time and what isn’t, you can start to funnel responsibilities down the chain onto team members who may be better equipped to manage those issues.  

By having the confidence and trust in your key team members to hand over certain day-to-day tasks you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. One, you’ll be able to focus on revenue generating activities that’ll help grow the business. Two, the daily operations will be handled with a higher level of detail and consistency.

Have an agenda

Now, we’ve all been to those meetings where there is no structure and the conversation seems to dart from one place to another. In my experience, these are the meetings where nothing is achieved, they are a waste of time and costly.

To avoid this, get in the habit of distributing an editable meeting agenda to all parties involved. This will provide everyone with a clear outline of what is to be discussed, thus keeping you accountable to ensure everything is covered.

Resulting in no wasted movement and guaranteeing all parties leave with a clear understanding of what’s next.

Always be talking to each other

We’re living in a time where we are more connected than ever before. Between emails, instant messengers, texts, skype calls and any other communication methods you use, nothing should slip through the cracks. But, unfortunately, things do, briefs are misinterpreted, feedback is lacking and office Chinese whispers are common.

To counteract this we need to always be talking to one another, both digitally and face-to-face. In this digital world, nothing beats a good old chat. What can be explained in a short five-minute stand-up meeting, may require a 20-email long chain that requires people to backtrack and look for keywords just to find one sentence, waste of time!

By having regular chats, you will be ensuring everyone involved is on the same page and questions or concerns can be raised. Leaving everyone more time to spend on a project, instead of trying to read between the lines.

While the line between being busy and productive may be fuzzy, in reality, it is night and day. In our experience, these are generally the key areas where people are wasting their time being ‘busy’ when all it takes is a quick adjustment in your actions to become more productive.

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