Episode 259 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
March 25, 2020
The world has changed within days, and you may be concerned about your business and the future of our industry. In this episode, I share with you how we are best positioned to help build the new digital community of tomorrow.
I want to encourage you in this episode of where I see the web industry going over the next few weeks, months and years.
Whilst at home, there are a few activities you can engage with to prepare yourself:
WPandUp – https://wpandup.org/
Our Facebook group – https://agencytrailblazer.com/group
Digital Agency Blueprint – https://bit.ly/33LRk6W
Design Class – http://designclass.io/
WP Roadmaps – https://wproadmaps.com/
Skilshare – https://skl.sh/2Te5wR8
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This is your host Lee and today I want to share with you some encouragement about the future of web design. We are all aware that the world has significantly changed over the last few weeks and I mean literally within the space of a few weeks. We’ve gone from freedom of movement and assurance and certainty in our future to a world where we have to stay at home, where we have to have virtual meetings, virtual events where we can’t see family members, where our clients are struggling, where people having to cut back on costs, where people don’t know where their money is going to come from. It’s a very scary situation and yet there is so much hope and in this episode I want to share that hope with you, but first of all can I encourage you, if you are struggling with your mental health, with loneliness, with anything like that, will you please, please, please visit www.wpandup.org
Or the link is in the show notes and this is a charity that has been set up to support people in the WordPress space as well as the agency space with the mental health. It’s a place you can go for conversation and supports so please check that out www.wpandup.org. Also, please remember that we do have our Facebook group. If you want to meet new people, make new friends, then check out our Facebook group over on www.agencytransformation.com/group. We would love to meet you, have a conversation. We also do now a call every single Monday at 4:00 PM GMT. If you would like to join in on that call, then you can check a link out to register for that. It’s a zoom webinar, but you’ll be able to jump on camera if you wish and have a conversation as well. This is another platform that we want to put out there during this time as a method of supporting you, so please don’t go through these next few weeks and months alone.
Please tap into the communities and the professionals that are around you for help. Right. Let’s deep dive into some encouragement for you at this time and over the next few weeks, months and years, I really do believe that we are in one of the most important industries for the global community. The internet has become an absolute essential method for everybody to connect. Any business that was not on the internet now recognises the importance of an online presence. A great example of that would be The Bell Inn here in Finedon, so we live in Finedon just next to Wellingborough. So our hometown area, and we’ve got a pub here that is a thousand years old. Yes, you U.S. people, isn’t that amazing? We actually have a pub that is a thousand years old. I know you guys love this sort of stuff about the U.K. Now the guy who runs it is in his 80’s or 90’s. He’s going blind.
He’s such a lovely guy. He’s run it since 1969. I’ve been going to that pub for 20 years. He knows me by name. It’s just such a wonderful place. But it is so ridiculously old-fashioned and that is the charm of it. However, he and his late stages of life has recognised that he needs to get other people involved to bring his pub online so that his pub can be available to the community. So his cook has actually taken over the social media and this isn’t a guy who is brimming full of confidence at all. This is a guy who has to read things on video from a sheet of paper, but The Bell Inn have recognised that they have to show up online. They were early adopters of websites many years ago and then equally they’ve adopted Facebook. They have their Facebook presence and they are consistently putting messaging out there and our whole community in Finedon and are right behind them and resharing and commenting and supporting them.
So that’s an amazing example of a company that you would think doesn’t really need to be on the internet. And the people who are a part of that maybe don’t have the skills to go on the internet and do all of this sort of stuff. And yet they are doing it because they recognise this is super important. Now what they’ve had to do is they’ve been forced to close, but they have now decided that they will do a form of takeaway service/ a delivery service as long as they are continuously legally allowed to do so, which means they’re going to be able to actually get people drinks to their homes and fully cooked meals to their homes. Isn’t that wonderful? And they’ve published all of that on social media and people are getting behind them. So we as agency owners, we as social media advisors, consultants, we as designers are so well positioned and so well placed to be able to help all of these businesses that have been dragging their heels with regards to social media and with regards to the internet and we can help bring them into the essential Digital Renaissance that I absolutely believe will bloom over the next few weeks, months and years.
I’d like to think that I’ve invented that phrase, the Digital Renaissance. As you know, hey, you heard it here first. I’ve been saying it for a few days now, but I really believe it’s happening. I really believe that we are in the best industry to help people and whilst things are scary right now, do please cling on to that hope for the future, that there are going to be people that you can help as businesses start back up again, they will be taking stock and they will recognise that the internet is super important. Locally, I’ve had so many conversations with businesses that didn’t have any method to connect with the community online, be that through social media, be that through a website that didn’t have any form of online transactions. And yes, I’ve been able to offer them advice, but in a lot of situations it’s kind of been too late for them and they’ve just had to close down for now ready to ride this storm and then come back with a vengeance.
And I know that these are businesses that will want to get online in some way. So if this Corona virus comes back around again, because there are rumblings that this may go on and off for a year, which I sincerely hope not. But if so, people want to be prepared. People want to know that they can ride this storm and have that way of connecting digitally with communities. So I hope this encourages you. Take stock, maybe pause this podcast just for a moment and just meditate on this fact that the internet is the single most important way of communicating right now and has been elevated in everybody’s consciousness as a lifeline and an ongoing lifeline beyond these difficult times and you are in the industry that can help facilitate the most exciting upcoming Digital Renaissance that will come as businesses all around the world. Embrace the online community and get plugged in.
You can help facilitate that. So that doesn’t give you goosebumps. I’ve got him right now. I don’t know what will, but just soak on that. It’s hard right now. It absolutely is hard. So many people are being affected. We will be putting financial advice out ASAP as well to help you if you’re struggling and please email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to just jump on a call and talk about finances or anything else like that because there are things I can do to help you. There’s advice that I can give. Times are hard right now, but please ride this out as best as you possibly can with that hope and with that excitement for the positive future that will come. I really believe, you know, I’m a God botherer folks and I really believe that all things will work together for good. It’s something that I live my life through and for and from, and I do believe that so much good will come from all of this really terrible, bad and that good would be a better connected global community where people are nicer to each other, where people have better access to services, where people have better access to products, and we can democratise everything that’s going on and that we will no longer have to rely on the big massive companies.
But that will all somehow be better connected digitally and that local businesses can be elevated through technology. There is so much that can and so much excitement that we can look forward to even during the those dark times. So I believe all things do work together for good. I do believe that we are in the right industry and I encourage you to just cling on to those images. Cling on to hope. All right, you can tell my dad was a preacher, can’t you? Let’s get into some of the nitty gritty as well. So there’s a few things that I want to share and there’s a few practical tips I want to give you as well for you to focus on, especially for say the next two to three weeks. Because a lot of countries right now, including the UK here are in full lockdown. We’re not allowed out unless it’s absolutely necessary and essential.
And it does mean that we do have a little bit more time on our hands because we’re not out travelling. Certain meetings have been cancelled. Certain clients have cancelled or post projects. We do have some extra time. So there’s a few activities that I would encourage you to engage with, with the extra time. Before we go into all of that, can I just encourage you again and remind you, if you are struggling, if your mental health is being impacted. If you feel like you just want to curl up into a ball and stay in bed and watch Netflix or if you feel like you can’t get up and do any work or you feel like you’ve got no motivation, please visit www.wpandup.org or please connect with us in the Facebook community because you need to be able to talk to people.
Please do not suffer alone. We freaking love every single one of you and there is so much love in the community. Also check out some of the other communities as well , there’s the Admin Bar. There is the Content Snares, Agency Highway Group as well. There’s lots of groups on there that you can go and check out for support. I’ll put a link to our top 10 Facebook groups in the show notes as well for you to go ahead and check that out. I want to therefore first share with you three realisations I think the global community will come to. And then I want to share with you four actions that you can be taking over the next few weeks. So let’s look at the global community. And the first thing is, or the first realisation is we can do things digitally. If you think about all those meetings that we’ve had to physically go down to and we felt like we’ve wasted an entire day off travel, or if we think of the meetups that people have done feeling like they can’t network online, all has to be done physically.
And yet right now around the world, churches, networking groups and meetings are all happening online. The same with businesses recognising that they can sell their services digitally and then deliver those services online. For example, we have personal trainers, fitness coaches, etc, providing training online. So this is the big realisation that the world is making right now. We can do things digitally and there is so much that can be done digitally. We’re all in a position where we are forced to think outside of the box. So my prediction is there are many, many companies who will recognise that they need to be a part of this new digital shift and we as a web developers, as web designers, as agency owners, are perfectly positioned to help people on their digital journey. The next thing is that the internet is relevant to my business.
We’ve talked about using technology to have meetings and to deliver services, etc, but the internet itself, having a website, having a web presence, investing in SEO, being available online is absolutely essential to my business and it will no longer become an expense where we’ll just slap a quick website together to check a box. The internet will become a hugely relevant part of a most, if not all businesses as they now recognise they’ve been left behind and they need to join in with this massive digital shift and be available online, have their services on their websites, be available in the search results, be within social media platforms, engaging with that target audience so the internet is relevant to my flower service. The internet is relevant to my gym. The internet is relevant to my consultancy. The internet is relevant to my cafe. This is a conversation that’s already happening and it’s just going to get bigger and bigger. And then finally businesses are going to be asking, where can I get the relevant help?
We’ve just learned that we can do things digitally. We’ve recognised that the internet is so relevant to my business and when they’ve been through that journey, now they’re thinking, where do I get the help? How do I get my website updated? Where do I get a website from? How do I get into the search engines? How can I plan a social media strategy? How can I deliver my services through the internet? Help! Who can help me? So that’s three things. Businesses will realise that they can do an awful lot digitally. Second, they’re going to realise the internet is relevant. They need social media, they need SEO, they need consultancy, they need their website, etc. And then finally they can recognise they need help and they’re going to start looking for it. And that is where we as a community can help people. Like I said earlier, we have some time on our hands, so let’s use that time wisely over the next few weeks.
And there’s four things that I would recommend you spend some time doing. First of all, take a look at your customer avatars. In episode 200 we talk about how to transform your agency. And in last week’s episode as well, I talk about how to survive a recession. And one of the most important things is identity. Identity, first of all of yourself and what you do and what what your super powers are, but equally the identity of the people that you help. And that could be a specific industry. Could be specific people within an industry or it could be specific people types across multiple industries, whatever that looks like. You probably have an ideal client that you can give the most value to. So take a look at your avatars. If you’ve never created a customer avatar, then create a few customer avatars of the ideal client.
That’s the ideal client that you’re gonna enjoy working with as well as that client who will get the most value from the superpowers that you have. Be that design development, social media strategy, whatever that looks like. Who are those people that you can best serve and create those avatars. The second thing is who can you help right now? So I say do the avatars first because that’s going to remind you of the people that you can help right now and that could be existing clients or it could be people that you could reach out to and I would encourage you workout who you can help right now and then reach out to those people either via telephone or via a message. Just offering your help. You don’t necessarily need to be selling them any particular service, but you could be connecting with them, offering an ear that will listen as well as offering some advice on what they could do.
And these sorts of conversations can also lead into opportunities for you to do some business that will add some massive value. It’s not necessarily though you going out and making sales at this point. The point here is to have those conversations with your ideal client and understand what it is that they are struggling with. Give them some help, why you can and that’s going to feed. Then the next thing that you should look at doing, and that would be your content. What content can you be creating over the next few weeks and months that will be of immense value to your customer avatar as well as to your existing clients. And that could be simple information like how to run a conference call or how to work from home or laptop tech specs or whatever that might be. What content can you create that is going to help those people?
And then finally for yourself, this is an amazing opportunity to be helping yourself and setting aside some time if you can daily. We do this daily, we set aside time to upskill, learn something new. Right now I’m learning all about visual studio and how to create apps using C sharp. I’m the entity framework, which is flipping amazing and it’s so like out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done this before and it’s exciting and I mean joining it and I’m learning things that I can apply to the work that I do in my PHP world . And equally I’m also coming up with new ideas of how I could use visual studio in the entity framework, etc, to develop new tools and other exciting things. It’s giving me something to do, but it’s also increasing my skill set and it’s unlocking my creativity and my imagination because as I experience these new things. My mind and my world is expanded and as I look forward to the Digital Renaissance that I believe is coming. I’m even more excited because I feel like I’m going to be better prepared.
So if you can set some time aside to upskill, have a look at, say Skillshare. If you’re an alumni member of the Agency Trailblazer Premium Community, then remember in your email there is free access to that for life. You can go ahead and check that out and I’ll also link to a few courses that you may be interested in some free and some paid that you could take a look at in the show notes. So I hope this episode has left you hopeful and inspired. Remember we are leading with talk, talk to other people, plug into community. If you don’t do anything else as a result of this episode, at least plug into community, check all the links in the show notes. We then talked about the the shift that we believe is coming and it’s already happening and we know that businesses recognise that they can do things digitally.
They recognise that the internet now is relevant to their business and will be in the future and they are going to be looking for help if they’re not looking for help already. And then we shared with you those actions that you can take, review the avatars that you have. Who is your ideal customer. From that look at your customer base. Who can you help right now as well as people who aren’t customers of yours but you can still offer some help. From those conversations, you can then build up an idea of what content you should be creating that you can freely put out there to grow your brand and to help as many people as possible. And then finally we talked about upskilling and helping yourself by learning new things to broaden your horizons. Folks, I hope you are excited and energised by this episode.
Please come and talk to me in the Facebook group over on www.agencytrailblazer.com/group this episode as always is sponsored by the wonderful Cloudways. I came off a call with them this morning as we’re trying to unpack different ways that we could help the community as the Cloudways Mavericks as well as Cloudways. And Cloudways are going to be promoting an awful lot of great content from different providers that will help you. So please keep an eye out on their website. Please follow them over there on social media. That’s @Cloudways on Twitter and on Facebook. I will make sure I put some links in the show notes so that you can follow them. Also we will be doing some more calls with Cloudways. We have our monthly Mavericks call that you can join in and we will also be putting out some of the interviews in the near future.
So be sure to follow me and be sure to follow Cloudways for all of that. And finally, if you are looking for some cost effective cloud-based hosting, I would highly recommend Cloudways. Y’all know that I wear a Cloudways t-shirt for every day of the week cause I think they are freaking awesome and they are a company that really does care and they are a company that invest in us, Agency Trailblazer. And I’m forever grateful for all of the support that they give us. All right, folks, if we don’t see you in the Facebook communities, we will see you in next week’s episode. Please stay home. Please stay safe. Love you loads.