August 13, 2019
The Digital Champions Project
Last week, Victoria headed up to Sydney with clients (and friends) Jase & Greg from RBK Advisory for the Digital Champions Conference. A government initiative, The Small Business Digital Champions project is a collective of 100 businesses who have been assigned a Digital Transformation Leader from Deloitte (one Australia’s largest consultancy agencies) to help them grow through harnessing the power of digital in the most effective way possible. This could mean bringing your inventory system onto the cloud, or getting a fantastic social media strategy in place. Read on the see what she learnt...

So why was I there? RBK are a corporate partner of the project and Jason was chosen to be part of a panel discussion during Day 1, so I went up as part of their team – RBK’s digital presence was being celebrated and we’ve played a huge role in the success of it. Also… a visit to FB HQ was too good to miss. It turned out to be the best conference I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. There were so many people from all walks of life, connected by the one thing: being business owners. Engineers, hairdressers and chocolatiers from all over Australia. So. Fun.

Being in the digital industry meant that I was across nearly all of what was being taught during the conference but what I did gain was a fantastic insight into small business owners; the knowledge gaps that commonly exist, what really matters to them and the questions that kept coming up over the two days. Ironic, considering I am a small business owner, but as with anyone who’s an expert in a certain field, it’s easy to forget that what’s basic knowledge to you isn’t basic to other people. Here’s an overview of some of those questions, and some of my highlights from the two days.

First up, some stats from John O’Mahony at Deloitte.

  • Small business activity makes up 1/3 of our entire economy. Out of these businesses, those who are active in the digital sphere are 4 times more likely to be innovating and creating new services, and 8 times more likely to be growing in revenue.
  • The two significant growing trends in digital that he pointed out were the use of the cloud, and growth of social media use by business (woohoo!).
  • Business owners cite cost as the main barrier to embracing digital, but that cost has dropped dramatically and will continue to do so. Picking and choosing where to spend your money wisely is so important!
  • 51% of business owners don’t know what the benefit of being digital is (my mind is still blown). The biggest reason for this is believing that digital is not relevant to their industry. These businesses are less goal orientated, less likely to be growing in revenue and are making less money off their employees.

Questions that came out of this presentation…

How do you stay on top of social media trends?

It sounds obvious but our biggest tip (and one of the ways we do it) is to set time aside during the day to actually consume content. It’s an easy way to get inspiration, see what other people in your industry are doing and stay on top of any trends that are starting to come through. We have a Google Alert set up for anything to do with digital marketing so articles are sent straight to our inbox.

How do you track where customers have come from?

If you’ve got your Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics set up correctly, you can track a customers journey from when they first had contact with your brand, through to purchase. This is the most thorough tracking method but it’s also quite tricky. Have a look at the plethora of online resources and see if you can give it a crack but our recommendation would be to put some money towards having a professional set it up properly for you. Once it’s done, you’ll be good to go.

Another way we like to track is through UTMs which is a function of Google that allows you to create unique links to attach to certain pieces of content. For instance, you might give an influencer a UTM so that if you’re paying for them to post for you, you can see exactly how many click-throughs you’re getting from that post, and there’s no way the results can be butchered.

Next up we headed over to Facebook’s HQ (yay) for a panel discussion on plugging in your business for success which Jason featured in.    

This panel was all about how successful business owners have used the power of digital to build their growth and sustained thought leadership within their industries. A lot of it focussed on software and the cloud. A quick, unrelated digital marketing note: Jase helped us digitise even further with the intro of software such as Xero and Practice Ignition a couple of years ago. It opened my eyes to how significantly having these digital processes in place can help business so I’m all about this project. So valuable in so many ways!

I put my hand up during question time because whilst it’s fantastic to talk about all the ways digital marketing can help a business, a big barrier to doing this correctly is being able to identify great people, agencies or creatives to engage, to make it happen. Getting ripped off or receiving under-par work occurs all too often in our industry so I asked the panel to explain to the audience his tips for ensuring that you engage the right person.

Their advice mixed with ours:

  • It’s all about the relationship. If the person doesn’t have time for a face to face meeting and you don’t hit it off straight away, red flag.
  • Check their digital presence. Is their website and social presence not only up to scratch but ahead of the curve? If not, I’d be seriously thinking twice about entrusting them with your own digital presence.
  • Treat the on-boarding like a job interview. Can they tell you about the latest industry trends? Give you fantastic examples of previous work?
  • Look at current clients, read reviews and ideally, have a referral.

What do gemstones and sustaining a digital advantage have in common?

The last highlight I’ll mention was a presentation from Martin Read who is a partner at Deloitte. He opened with a story about gemstones which served as the perfect anecdote for what can happen if you don’t stay on top of trends and keep growing as the industry does.

In a nutshell… Martin was on holiday in Boston when he came across a jewellery shop. They were selling beautiful pieces for a fraction of the usual price. So, he asked how it was possible. The owner had purchased the rights to his own mine close by and would go in with his dynamite and blow up some raw gemstones (you can’t make this stuff up). He was then able to cut the gemstones, and his wife was a jeweller. Essentially, more than half of the usual middle men were cut from the process and it meant the price was kept down without the quality suffering.

So what did Martin do? He saw an opportunity and started researching. He purchased raw gemstones and then found someone else in Thailand to cut them for him, crossing his fingers he’d see them again. Sure enough, they arrived back in Australia and he put them up on eBay for sale. At this point, only one other person was doing this. Fast forwarded a few months and Martin was making $60,000 USD a MONTH selling these gems.

Eventually, the sales started petering off and people were bidding less. Why? Because Martin hadn’t kept on top of the digital trends. More people cottoned on – there were more sellers, websites popping up and just more competition. By the time he was onto it, it was too late.

What’s the lesson here? Don’t drop the ball just because you find yourself in an advantageous position right now. Be PROACTIVE! Staying on top of trends means you can act on them before others do. For instance… launch a podcast. Or start making longer videos. Resting on your laurels and getting lazy is the worst thing you can do for your business.

My last notes would be that Michelle Bridges exceeded my expectations by a mile. I was so impressed, she was such an engaging and funny speaker. Also, Facebook HQ was pretty much as cool as you’d imagine.