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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

$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!

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.

Choose Wisely: Your Choice Will Shape the Future

If you’re anything like us, the holidays were jam-packed with plenty of couch time scrolling through Netflix to find a binge-worthy TV series or blockbuster movie to pass the time. No doubt as you embarked on your journey’s you probably stumbled on the latest offering from the Netflix classic Black Mirror, Bandersnatch.

Now, if you’ve seen Black Mirror, you’ll know it’s famous for being out there, pushing the boundaries and challenging the viewer to think outside the box on a number of deep and socially relevant topics. Bandersnatch is no different.

While on the surfaces, the movie looks like any other, as it follows the journey of a young video game creator, Stefan, trying to find his way in the Atari dominated 80’s video game world. But just as you are getting comfortable you are given a choice: what cereal will he have for breakfast? Yep, you get to choose. And similar to when Neo had to pick between the blue and the red pill, what you pick will shape the rest of your journey.

Interactive entertainment formats aren’t a new concept, with countless books and video games basing their storylines around the user directing their own journey. However, this is the first use of technology in a mainstream feature-length film. But beyond providing over five hours of entertainment, Bandersnatch could open up a brand new avenue for data-driven marketing activities.

 

Let’s start at square one, it’s time to reshape how we look at Netflix. To the untrained eye, Netflix is a streaming service that is committed to providing us with endless entertainment for pennies on the dollar. To be real, Netflix is in the data business first and the content business second. Netflix has amazing algorithms collecting data on you from the minute you sign up for a free trial. How else do you think they formulate they’re ‘recommended for you’ lists or star ratings? It’s because they are constantly tracking what you are watching, what thumbnails appeal to you and even what devices you watch on.

At this stage, this data is solely Netflix’s property and is, in most part, used to improve the user experience and for their own marketing purposes. However, this new interactive format has the potential to provide insights into how people view real-world situations. And for marketers, the potential of this data is priceless and something to fight for.

If you’ve seen the movie (if not, finish reading and then park up on the couch), you’ll remember early in the movie you are asked to pick which cereal Stefan has for breakfast, Frosted Flakes or Suger Puffs. Then a few minutes later, you’re faced with another choice, what cassette tape does Stefan listen to on the bus? What direction did you go? While, this may seem like a harmless choice, with no real consequences on the overall movie. For businesses, the data generated from these decisions could literally shape their future strategic direction.

 

The interactive nature of these films grants Netflix a direct feed into the hearts and minds of the audience and how they react to different stimulus. This opens up the door for Netflix to tap into one of the oldest marketing tools in the book: product placement.

From our perspective, this is shaping up to be a win-win situation for both Netflix and brands. For brands, they’ll receive invaluable data on how the public reacts to their offering. For example, a company could throw out two different product designs or messaging types and base which one they ultimately go with on the data they receive. In a way, these interactive films could become the new focus group or control trial.

While Netflix will simply be able to continue harvesting and analysing the behaviours of their audience to ever so finely fine-tune their platform; while benefiting from another stream of revenue – of course.

 

To the naked eye, Bandersnatch is simply a new piece of entertainment and a look into the exciting new platforms that are down the road. To us, this is the first real, tangible example of where the relationship between entertainment and marketing is headed, with data being the driving force.

At this stage, with the technology in its early stages and the novelty of choosing your own story still real, we do need to ask if we continue going down this road, how are brands going to harness this new medium and whether consuming acknowledging this new form of advertising will produce reliable results.

From our perspective, in our world high-quality data is power and with that power a world of endless options. It still may take a few years before we see these interactive films start to take off but after the success of Bandersnatch don’t be surprised if Netflix and other streaming services start ramping up their production of these films. The next step after this will be big brands and agencies knocking on their door asking to sign exclusive deals to get their products or clients in these films. As a result, don’t be surprised if you are watching a movie down the line and you select a certain cereal box or logo and shortly after your choice is rolled out across the globe.

So remember, what may seem like a rudimental choice between what shoes a character wears, could actually shape our future. Just image if House of Cards was an interactive series and we got the choice between choice Frank Underwood or Will Conway for president. Imagine if this data was then used to shape how political parties run their campaigns and ultimately which party come into power – it’s a pretty scary thought.

 

These interactive entertainment platforms provide the type of real-world insights that businesses dream of and fight for. This new frontier in entertainment is shaping up to have a much greater impact than simply keeping us glued to the TV trying to experience all possible endings. It has the potential to impact every aspect of our society.

So, kind this in mind, and remember chose wisely!

Stop Wearing Busy as a Badge of Honour!

As another year kicks off, it’s that time of year when the majority of your planning is well and truly done. And, now people are reflecting on what was achieved last year and what this year has in store. This often shows that we’ve left a few things on the table. Maybe you didn’t quite get your new website finished, maybe you missed out on that one big client or that marketing campaign didn’t get started.

What I have found, both internally and with clients, is there is one common excuse that always crops up when we ask what the barriers to achieving goals were… “we’ve just been too busy, it’s been a huge year”. It almost comes across as if some people are not just using ‘busy’ as an excuse, instead, they are proud to say, ‘we’ve been too busy’.

 

I talk to a lot of people, clients, staff, contacts and it’s like being busy is something to be proud of, “I haven’t taken a holiday in 2 years there is just so much happening” is another favourite of mine. In all honesty, I strongly believe that being ‘too busy’ isn’t something we should be proud of. In fact, more often than not, I think it is a shameful excuse and a cop-out.

As business owners or people in senior positions, we are constantly being pulled in several different directions. Everything seems to be mission-critical and our to-do lists are more an ongoing commentary full of what other people need.

I’m not immune to this way of thinking, in the past I’ve definitely worn the ‘busy’ badge with honour. I foolishly thought it was something to go home at the end of each week and be proud of. However, over the past few years, as BBT has grown and as our team has evolved, we have realised that the notion of being too busy is often a sign that internal improvements need to be made.

Now, I’m not saying we should all aim to take several long vacations and take our foot off the gas. What I am saying, is that there is a difference between running around like your hair is on fire (trust me, I have none) and taking a step back to reevaluate your position, priorities what is important and then design and implement the appropriate steps.

 

We currently live in the best age for entrepreneurs, we are more connected than ever, information and idea sharing is at an all-time high and the technology available to us has never been more advanced. However, what this has given way to is the 24-hour hustle mentality, which is fueled by social media entrepreneurs who preach that hustling and grinding 24/7 is the only way to achieve success. While a handful will be successful, many that share this mentality won’t. Many in fact, will burn out, start to resent their business and eventually they will be the reason for its failure.

This reminds me of the classic lumberjack story. Long story short, there was once two lumberjacks, one of them challenged the other to a battle to see who could chop down more trees in a day. Challenge accepted!

Competition day rolls around. One of the lumberjacks comes out with a hiss and a roar, vigorously chopping down trees. The other took a methodical approach, going to work for 45-minutes and resting for 15-minutes. At the end of the day, tallies were counted and the lumberjack who rested for 15-minutes every hour won by a decent amount. Moral of the story, work smarter, not harder. Take a short break to reboot, reevaluate and sharpen your blade, then get back to work.

 

As I said, I am guilty of having this mentality, especially when BBT was young. I was the person who was working 20 plus hour days, always online and thought sleep was wasting time. Idiotic really, no one starts a business to be chained to a desk, that is no way to live.

What I have seen and learnt, as the business grows, is it needs to work very hard not to become stale and stuck, reaching a ceiling as to what we are capable of, because “we are all just so busy”. Instead, we should constantly be on the lookout for ways we can evolve and improve. By implementing tools and processes to manage the day-to-day operations of your business, you’ll be in a position to focus on growing the business.

So as we start another year spinning around the sun, take a look at the business and look at how you can start working smarter. Consider the following.

 

Stop being a control freak and learn to trust people. One of my biggest struggles in building BBT was letting go. But chances are, you’re not the best at what your business does. You know the companies vision, its mission and where it is heading, but you’re probably not an expert in marketing, accounting or design. Find people that are experts in these fields, inspire them and empower them to do what they do best.

Owners have a lot going on and while we may think we can do everything, we can’t. There are very few tasks that can’t be managed and improved by a sound handover and a bit of trust. By allowing people to learn the ropes and manage business operations, you’ll have more time to focus on what you do best – driving the business forward.

As you grow, constantly look for ways to improve your processes. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking because one process has got you this far, it will help you take the next step. Implement processes that will provide your entire team complete visibility. This will ensure your business as the vehicle it needs to move forward.

 

Ultimately, you’re losing key opportunities by being ‘too busy’. Every minute you are concentrating on the rudimental tasks, which someone else could do, is a lead lost, which is another meeting not had, which is another client that is not paying you. You add that up over time, there might not be much time left.

As Thomas Edison once said “Seeming to do, is not doing”. Stop wearing busy as a badge of honour like it’s something to be proud of. Instead, trim the fat and focus on what is important.

Sharing is Caring

Let’s take a second to think about how much we lean on apps like Airbnb, Uber and Uber Eats. It is truly amazing to think, how big these brands are and how much we rely on them when in reality five or six years ago, they were just an idea or in the beta test stage.

When Uber launched in New Zealand in 2014, it was a novelty. Only those who had used it overseas understood the luxury of Uber. Now Uber is probably the most important app on your phone, next to Facebook. And don’t get me started on Uber Eats, which has completely changed how restaurants deliver food and our perception of ‘take away food’.

The reason, I say this is due to the launch of Lime Scooters here in New Zealand. We literally can’t walk 500m without having someone wiz by or filing an ACC claim. At the heart of the Lime Scooter revolution is the same idea behind Uber and Airbnb. It’s called the Shared Economy.

In all honesty, the Shared Economy is not really a new idea. In fact, it is more of an umbrella term that is used to explain the marketplace in which an online transaction occurs between two parties.

For example, I use the Uber Eats app, which is the marketplace, to buy a large hunger buster combo from McDonald’s, which is the transaction. The end result, I’m full, Macca’s gets paid and Uber receive a decent cut of the completed transaction. Everyone’s happy.

But, let’s ask ourselves, why these platforms have emerged and taken over our lives. The simple answer is we are lazy and these platforms allow us to continue being lazy.

A tad harsh?

Not really, when you remember that almost every technological advancement or revolution has begun because of our desire to make life easier. And the sharing economy is another spin on that.

The reason why Uber Eats is now valued at over $20 billion USD or why Lime has taken over Auckland’s streets, is because they speak to our lazy nature. Both of them are convenient and are available with a few taps on your screen. Whether it’s the ability to order a three-course meal without having to put clothes on or resting your legs as you scoot to your next meeting, these apps are all about convenience. We are able to access what we need now, use it for as long as we need without being tied to a contract or obligation to purchase. For most of us, it is a win-win.

However, the interesting thing is, this is potentially only the tip of the iceberg. As technology advances and as more people get access to these platforms, the sky is the limit.

It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that every single industry will be affected by the shared economy in the near future. So in that respect, it’s less a question of ‘if’ and more a question of ‘when’.

As every part of our lives are becoming increasingly impacted by technology, is this the next logical step?

I mean, will there be an Airbnb like app for teachers? Or, for businesses to rent office space? Or will SpaceX design an Uber-like-app for us to rent rockets in five-years? Well, that last one may be a stretch but imagine…

But, take the teaching industry as an example, particularly substitute teachers. Schools still operate off a smallish list of ‘subs’ which they call on when one of the regular teachers is unable to come in. However, the issue with this, these lists are fairly small and what if (for some reason) no one is available?

What do you do with the normal teacher’s classes for the day? You either spilt the class up and put them in other classes, disrupting the normal flow. Or, you get a teacher who is free in that period to take the class, taking away their prep time for their own classes. Chaos essentially.

Now, solve this with an app that allows you to put the call out to qualified and registered substitutes teachers in the immediate area, problem solved. We already see this within the trade industry, with apps such as TRADEE. And at the heart of it, substitute teachers and tradies kind of operate on a similar model, so why wouldn’t it work?

At present, most of the sharing economy is based around a B2C model. However, it will be interesting to see how it can be leveraged from a B2B perspective. With the majority of businesses operating on contractual obligations and KPI’s, the shared economy hasn’t really made an impact.

However, like in our every day lives, in business everything is about getting shit done in the most cost-effective and convenient way possible. So, don’t be surprised if apps or platforms that cater to B2B functions.

There are a number of examples of where these sharing platforms can impact and completely change any industry. And, honestly, there is probably some brainiac already working on an app or system that in a few years time could fundamentally change your industry.

As our day-to-day lives continue to become more dependant on this platforms, it will be interesting to see how far it goes. People are getting lazier and lazier and as the kids of today grow up with Uber Eats and Lime a normal part of their life, it isn’t crazy to think that there will eventually be a sharing app for everything.

Getting Comfortable Being Told ‘No’ in Business

Being told ‘no’ is a natural part of running a business. In all honesty, as you start to grow your business there will be a lot more no’s than yeses. While this can be disheartening at first, I’ve learnt that being told no, isn’t the end of the world, but it is something that will continue to occur.  

No’s will come in all different shapes and sizes and from all different angles. You’ll hear it from partners, suppliers, clients, and most definitely your team. But, remember, a ‘no’ is often the little spark you need to really get things moving.

Fuel the fire

Coming from a sports background you get used to the arm-chair coaches yelling out negative things or trying to knock you off your game. Running a business is very similar to sports, people are constantly telling you no or asking you to tweak something.

The key to performing at a high-level is turning these negatives and no’s into motivation and fuel to feed your fire. Anytime we get knocked back or someone tells me no, we take that feedback and look at our processes, look at what is and isn’t working, with the purpose of growing and improving. So, the next time we are in a similar situation, people have nothing else to say, except for yes!

Don’t be stubborn

As the old saying goes, sometimes you need to hear no 7 times before you hear a yes. Now I’m not saying this is law but it is realistic.

While being told ‘no’ is never a great feeling at the time, there are two ways you can look at a no or a piece of negative feedback. Firstly, you can act stubborn and act like your feelings are hurt. Although, this isn’t going to get you anywhere. If I sat down every time I ran into a hurdle or didn’t like what I heard, who knows where I’d be.

The alternative is to, hear it, acknowledge it and then learn from it. As business leaders, some of our biggest lessons and ideas come when we get knocked back. Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed”.

If we aren’t willing to get knocked down and learn from our negative experiences, we won’t get anywhere. Some of BBT’s most brilliant and game-changing ideas have come as a result of our team saying no to a client and then spending all night spitballing ideas until we’ve got exactly what the client needs. The outcome, unreal results, a happy client and a culture that doesn’t let ‘no’ or failure stand in their way.

They don’t stop

It is one of the first words we learn and it is one of the last we’ll hear. What does this mean? No matter where we are on our business journey there will always be the naysayers, the doubters and challenges to overcome.

I think one of the most important things we need to remember about no’s, is they will never stop coming your way. Thus, it is important we are comfortable hearing this simple two-letter word and to remember that being told no is generally never personal.

It doesn’t have to be straight away but make sure you seek feedback about why someone went in another direction. I have often found the initial ‘no’ is generally because something has been missed in the brief. No’s can stem from anything, maybe the ROI wasn’t explained fully, customer needs weren’t fully met or potentially it simply wasn’t the right time. The best thing to do is to try and understand why they said ‘no’.

Don’t be afraid to say no yourself

Being knocked back has this amazing power of enabling us to sharpen our focus. It is a great time to take in the feedback, reevaluate your position and understand where you need to improve, so next time there is no way anyone can say no.

Conversely, what I have learnt over the past few years, is the ability to say no, is just as powerful a tool for helping you realign your focus. I understand it can be hard for startups to say no to prospective clients or tell an existing client something can’t happen, but doing this can put you in a much better position in the long run.

For example, the ability to say no to a client who has unrealistic expectations or is dragging the chain may hurt your bottom line in the short term. But, it’s a lot better than failing to meet those expectations and losing that client because you failed to live up to their expectations.

No matter what industry you are in or what path you are on, being knocked back and told no is tough. As a business owner, it has been one of the hard I’ve lessons learnt over the last few years. But, it is a vital one that anyone who aspires to be in a leadership position must learn.

Why Do You Think Bigger is Always Better?

It’s no secret that mans best friend is no longer your trusty and loyal four-legged sidekick called Sprite. That role has been taken over by those beautiful, ever-evolving and expensive mobile device that we simply can’t live without.

There is no denying that Kiwi’s can’t live without their smartphone or tablet, with some studies showing that we are spending roughly 3 hours per day on our smartphones. They allow us to stay connected 24/7, stay up to date with the latest news, watch our favourite shows on the go and laugh at memes while on the go.

But, on a more serious note, our growing dependency on mobile devices, is altering the way consumers interact with our businesses. In 2017, over 52% of all global internet traffic was generated by mobile devices. As many of us struggle to find time to sit down in the midst of our fast-paced and chaotic lives, this trend is only going to continue.

As business owners, we need to understand that this is a cultural shift in how consumers are engaging with businesses. The overwhelming evidence since 2016, which was the mobile and desktop browsing overlapped, shows your audience is now looking at you on their brand new iPhone X or Samsung Note.

While desktops won’t become extinct anytime soon, people generally don’t have the time to jump on a desktop and surf the net. They are doing it on the fly, as they wait for their next meeting or sitting on public transport.

Since they overtook desktop in 2016, the mobile device movement has continued to pick up steam. With the growing reliance on mobile’s, Kiwi businesses need to have a strategy in place to capitalise on the market shift. But, where do you start? The answer is simple, your digital shopfront.

Your website is now your shopfront. This is generally, the first touchpoint a customer will have with your business. As a result, you need to create an attractive and functional environment that will hold their attention and entice them to get in touch. But, if are you going to turn these causal window shoppers into customers, your site must be optimised for the devices they are looking at you on.  

With that in mind, the next question that needs answering is, how do you design your website? Do you create it with a mobile-first approach or aim to optimise it for desktops and try to scale it down appropriately?

When attempting to answer this question, the user experience needs to be a major priority. So before you make any major design decisions, we first need to understand how your audience is looking at you. In our experience, all indicators are pointing towards our mobile devices.

With this shift in consumer interaction, businesses need to move away from the traditional methods of designing a website for large screens and crossing their fingers it looks and feels good on a mobile. Instead, mobile should be the first place your mind goes to if someone suggests redesigning or building your website.

Simply put, by designing your website with a mobile-first approach, you are ensuring the interface and features are optimised for use on mobile devices. This means optimising all copy, navigations, menus, images and call-to-actions throughout the site are designed for that 4-inch screen in your hand.

The toss up between designing a website that is optimised for mobile or desktop is no longer a tough question. With every tap on a link, every scroll and every right swipe, your customers are showing you the way you need to be thinking. As a result, the search engine powerhouses are noticing.

Google has recently announced, that a websites mobile-friendliness is now a major factor in determining their SEO rankings. Essentially, promoting those that are built mobile-first and punishing those that are not optimised for those smaller devices. This means websites that are fully optimised for mobile devices, by providing a quality user-experience, fast loading speeds and light structures will fair better than those that don’t.

With screen real estate on mobile devices being limited and thus valuable, from a design and content perspective, a mobile-first approach forces you to prioritise what is essential. This will ultimately help to keep your new website clean, simple and easy to navigate. Which is the ultimate goal for every website.

The dominance of the mobile devices is not going to end anytime soon. I mean, we all live on our phones. As a result, businesses need to adapt and create an environment that facilitates a fluid and friendly online experience for your visitors. So, keep this in mind and if you are noticing a high bounce rate from mobile devices and declining traffic, it may be time for a redesign.

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