Sep 13

Never a Bad Time For A Vacation

I went on a vacation for the first 3 weeks in August. Before going I was a little bit nervous. It really wasn’t the perfect time for the CEO of our business to take off, and to the wilds of Africa no less, where telecommunications infrastructure can be scratchy at best. We had a lot of critical matters that were coming to a head during these weeks, we really needed all hands on deck.

The trip was completely paid for though and there were no refunds. So with no small degree of trepidation, off I went. In retrospect, boy I was glad I did.

One thing about taking a break, it clears a lot of crap out of your mind. The fog starts to lift and perspective starts to come back. Another thing I find (although this is location dependent), is that a good holiday fills me with the spark of life. This has been really important to me with this trip. I think we all agree that business has been quite a grind over recent years, its certainly been exhausting for me. Coming back from this vacation I am full of energy and raring to go again. My mind full of ideas and things to do, the only nagging question is how I’ll find the time.

These two benefits, clearing the fog and re-finding the spark, made it clear to me that there is never a bad time to take a well deserved holiday. You just have to take them and leave all the other stuff behind.

I am a week back now. One thing I noticed about the two benefits of holidays above is when you get back, you need to make an effort to keep and even nurture the energy you bring back with you. It is just so easy when you sit back down at the tools, to fall back into the emotion and habits you put down before leaving for the break. It takes a conscious effort to remember the bubbling emotion you returned with and put that into daily routine. It makes life worth living though. So back to it for me!!

Aug 13

Keeping Content Marketing Going While You Are Away

Content management is becoming more and more crucial for marketing yourself online. Its an important way to get your key messages out to your target audience, you can’t do SEO anymore without quality and frequent new content and its the only way to present yourself as a leader in your industry.

With blog technology today, the only real challenge with good content management is time. Someone needs to do it. In the SME this someone will typically be the business owner, or BDM if the business is large enough to support this person. It just takes time away from running, or building the business. How do you manage this important part of your marketing?

The choice obviously is you either spend your valuable time or you spend  money and get a professional content management team (like the content team at Ocean Feather Digital) to manage it for you.

This post is meant for you if you’ve decided you are going to spend your time managing your own content. If you have, and you’ve been dedicated, you probably have spent 90 minutes a week preparing, producing and publishing your weekly article, then sharing it with your database and network.

What if you are due for a holiday now though, you have planned 4 weeks off and intend to take yourself well away from business. However you are getting a steady stream of web traffic and business from this traffic, directly from your content marketing work. So what do you do? You don’t want this to drop off and you don’t really trust anyone to do it for you. What is the answer?

Well, I am actually on holiday today, right now exactly the moment this post publishes. I am well away from home and work, enjoying a break while this post automatically publishes itself and syndicates through my social networks. You see most blogs these days have a scheduling function. This is the way you can continue your content production when on holiday. During the week before you go, prepare your articles and rather than publish them, you schedule them to publish at the same regular intervals you previously have been publishing. It will take a bit more time in that lead up week, the rewards are worth it though as you’ll be able to concentrate better on your vacation once you are away.

Now, back to that margarita!

Jun 13

Bad Coffee – Is It Forgivable?

For a long time, I worked in a corporate environment. This was well before the days that Google showed us all how an office should look and work. Those stale, uninspiring, suffocating cubicles! That is where I developed my addiction to coffee. I just needed to get out and reset the mind in an environment that didn’t murder the soul as effectively as the office cubicle.

From there I started a business and I primarily worked from home. My coffee addiction got stronger. Not so much due to the environment, I loved the home office where I worked. Rather, working from home can get over insular. I quickly realised how much I missed human contact. So my daily trip to the cafe became as much as my daily human contact as it was a caffeine shot.

Today I am as addicted to the brew as ever. I don’t even know why anymore, I just go to a cafe every day, sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Throughout these years the one thing that never changed was how the occasion of the bad coffee would spoil the time-out. Nor how often it occurred. It’s such a simple thing, such a treat when done correctly, and given how much they cost such a lucrative product for the establishments. I can’t understand why a coffee would ever be made badly.

For me it’s the experience. The problem with a bad coffee is that it becomes the focus of the time-out, so you miss having that mind reset. And let’s face it, we are paying on a daily basis for a luxury item, so it should be spot on. There are many cheaper options for bad coffee, like international roast for example. Cafe coffee is a luxury item, I should feel like I am drinking Lamborghini oil (hmmm, not sure that’s a great analogy)

So forgiveness then, should we forgive a cafe for a bad coffee? I know forgiveness is one of the keys to a long and happy life, but I am not sure about this one. Yes I think I’ll stick to my guns, not forgive, rather go to the cafe next door that serves a great coffee every time.

May 13

Pulling Back – Where Do You Find Inspiration

As the CEO of Ocean Feather, one of the things that I sometimes find challenging is giving myself space to find inspiration, to keep the passion high and the ideas flowing.

Life can get pretty busy can’t it? Lets face it, we spend at least a third of our lives at or travelling to and from work. Then there are demands on your time at home. Then there is the upkeep requirements at home. You may have a hobby, interest, sport – or a few of these – that pull you from one pillar to the next. Kids – well I have 3 now! It doesn’t leave much time to sit back and let the inspiration come does it?

Myself, I give myself little routines through the day, which give me little breaks. For example, coffee number 1, 2 and occasionally 3 give me a moment to take stock. My rules here though are that I have to get out of the building, have someone else make it for me and sit down and enjoy it.

Also – I have found a great hour each evening where I refuse to let myself get sucked in to the latest reality TV show. During this hour I may just sit, meditate, read a book on a topic of development of some kind (that is not related to the business) or do something creative. Writing on blogs like this one is another good option – particularly as I work through certain challenges. Writing helps me clarify, find inspiration and ideas.

I’d love to hear your ideas too. What do you do to give yourself enough space that your inherent creativity and inspiration keeps flowing, day in and day out. What do you do to pull back from the every day rush and grind, to give yourself enough room to be real and in touch?

May 13

The Importance Of Conversion

I enjoyed a night at the footy last night. AFL (Aussie Rules) is my code of choice, my team Carlton. We were playing Brisbane at the Gabba and had a scrappy, hard fought win. The score in the end was Carlton 13 goals 20 behinds, a total of 98 defeating the lions, 12 goals 13, 85. The game seemed for most part, dominated by Carlton. We had 33 scoring shots next to 25, about 30% more. Yet it never felt like we were getting away from Brissie, they’d put on a run and be right back in the game. In the end we won by 13 points, which is by about 15%. So we outscored Brisbane by 15% yet had double that in more chances to score. We should have dominated.

It all comes down to conversion.

Seeing our coach Mick Malthouse talk about the potential issues lack of conversion will cause in coming games against stronger opposition, it came to me how fitting this issue is as a reflection on website marketing, business and even life in general. We can do all the work in the world, get all the opportunities in the world, but if we can’t make that final goal conversion, does all the hard work count for anything?

I know some of you mystics out there will now say the destination is not the goal, rather the journey is. Would there be a journey though without an intended destination? Of course not, and if the destination is worth the journey, then it is important too – and so goal conversion becomes crucial.

Sales is an obvious example which confirms this point. If a sales person does not convert sales there is no point. The lead generation, appointments and pitches mean nothing unless there is a conversion which turns into value – the sale.

This is something many businesses never really think about when planning their websites. All the money you spend on design, content and development count for nothing, if you don’t also consider conversion. SEO in its own right does nothing either, it brings visitors to your website, but if the website does not convert, is SEO worth it? Unless you have a conversion optimisation program planned, I’d say probably not.

So this is the thing with digital marketing, you need to think about the whole end to end purpose of what you are doing at the start of your project and all the way through. And the end game considered at the start should answer the question “how is this website going to achieve these conversion goals?”.

The biggest challenge I see coming into new clients businesses is the lack of consistency in this area through their whole digital strategy. They had a website designed that way as it looked good. They did SEO because they had to beat their competitors. The are doing social media as everyone else is doing it. But the thing that lacks is the mortar that links all this initiatives together consistently. That mortar should be contribution to the conversion process. IE. We need to design the website this way, to make it easy for prospects to send us their quote requests. We need to do SEO focused on these keywords, as they are the keywords most used by people who are ready to buy our products today. We need to get our clients onto social media, as that is the first place where we advertise all our new products and upgrades.

If every step in the process supports conversion, achieving goals becomes so much easier. If achieving goals become easier, there is absolutely no reason why Carlton can’t be a serious contender for the flag this year.