An athlete’s lessons on digital business
Rebecca Caroe draws on the two passions in her life – rowing and marketing – to deliver advice on digital strategies for businesses. When two passions combine, it’s a place of fun, excitement and opportunity. I work hard to create a broad overlap between the attributes valued by performance sport and those valued by business. […]
Rebecca Caroe draws on the two passions in her life – rowing and marketing – to deliver advice on digital strategies for businesses.
When two passions combine, it’s a place of fun, excitement and opportunity. I work hard to create a broad overlap between the attributes valued by performance sport and those valued by business.
My business staff and clients are like a good sports team – we try to work as a strong unit pushing forward to a common goal. That’s the framework within which our work ethic and daily tasks combine.
This method has been adapted since I first opened Creative Agency Secrets in 2011. I recruited athletes onto the team because they are competitive and find it easy to learn new skills.
Now we are less athlete-focused. Our work is balanced between business goals broken down into individual mini-goals. These are process-led because if we enjoy the process of becoming skilled then delivering skills at a high standard is a side benefit.
Climbing the mountain must be as much fun as the five minutes you stand on the summit.
Without the process enjoyment, there’s no reason for people to stay on our team for the long term.
Our process goals include daily task delivery and personal learning objectives. We set these fortnightly so that we are able to learn a new topic frequently in bite-sized chunks.
This helps us to put new skills into practice rapidly. As an example, we’re studying ways to reduce the bounce rate on client websites (the number of visitors who only visit one page before leaving).
We are doing the book-learning, applying it to our own website, then to client websites, and next month it’ll be a public educational event invite for people who want to learn the same skills. This rapid learn-iterate-improve cycle underpins our longer term goals.
Setting a digital strategy for your business
Prioritising and setting a digital strategy for your business is like setting a goal for your sports team. The exact same process forms the framework.
I have a personal mission to improve “digital literacy” in New Zealand’s business owners.
There are firms who are comfortable working online and many who are not. However, most businesses will benefit from having a presence on the Internet.
The challenge facing business owners is two-fold:
1. How do I learn about digital?
2. How do I find a trustworthy partner to teach me?
Like a sports team that wants to compete in a new league, the first step is to do your research. Find out about digital strategy and marketing in a way that suits you. Research online, go to the library, approach Te Wananga o Aotearoa, the Polytech or your local Chamber of Commerce.
Now a warning, the digital marketing world can be a bit like the Wild West – the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’. There are low barriers-to-entry for new firms. I hear stories regularly about business owners getting burned, ripped off or disappointed by web and digital marketing agencies.
How to hire digital help
Learning how to hire help with digital strategy is just like hiring a sports coach or personal trainer. Start with these five steps:
1. What is the outcome you want?
2. Ask good questions of each agency you consider.
3. Know the specialist language they use and understand it.
4. Test them when you are face-to-face (or on a conference call).
5. Think hard before hiring a friend or your 15 year old child!
And remember, if you can’t understand what they are saying, and they cannot explain what they are doing in language you understand, you’re better off not working with them.
Communication is very important in sport, and business, and guessing gives poor outcomes.
How does data impact your business?
Once you’ve got started with your digital strategy you must learn how data impacts your business.
There are lots of data points which are a ‘normal’ part of business, such as the number and value of sales per month, your costs of buying in raw materials, paying staff and leasing premises. These are well-known.
Now you need to know the main data points affecting the digital part of your business. Typically online data should support information you are already collecting in your monthly KPIs.
Mine include Sales enquiries, Website visitor numbers, Wages as a percentage of Sales, Hourly rate per staff member and Average client sale $.
With online data much of its collection and use can be automated, so you do not add to your workload when you choose to add digital processes to your business.
Understanding the workflow process which you currently use and finding out how this can be automated is a joy. I have a client who runs a cleaning business. After each job his office administrator used to send out an email asking the customer to rate the quality of work. Using an online booking system, we can automate both sending the mail and collecting the information (and publishing it to the website). I call this “set-and-forget” because once it’s set up you only need to manually deal with reviews which are sub-standard. Think how much time that saves!
Acquiring digital literacy is a necessary part of good business practice. Remember, SME business owners like us are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy. We account for 97 percent of all enterprises, employ 30.2 percent of all employees (582,000 people) and generate around 28.6 percent of GDP.
Now it’s over to you.
Digital literacy is a skill to be learned and I hope this article has given you confidence to get started on the journey.
Rebecca Caroe is founder and CEO of Creative Agency Secrets (http://creativeagencysecrets.com). With a global audience of about 250,000 deeply passionate people Rebecca splits her blog in two, with her business blog http://creativeagencysecrets.com/blog/ and rowing blog https://www.rowperfect.co.uk/news/ on separate websites.