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Josh Webber

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3 Management Lessons Learned in 2020 the Hard Way

By Leadership, People No Comments

Today I’ll be covering three lessons that stood out to me in 2020 as an agency and small business owner. These are valuable to any business owner and especially to small business owners and those who work in agencies or in the B2B space.

1. Being Busy Does Not Always Mean Being Productive

The first important lesson that I learned in 2020 here at Big Red Jelly, is that being busy does not always mean being productive.  Russell Roth, the president of Kotter Consulting to Forbes, has said “When we see people doing what they did last week or last month, just because they did it last month and not changing it because they want to get somewhere different, that’s busy. People think that it’s urgent, but that’s not urgent. That’s not focused. That’s just perpetuating what’s always been done.” I found myself doing a lot of that in 2020. I have a bad habit of creating a to-do list the day before and the length of my to-do list that I was able to get done the next day. In a way, I saw that as an accomplishment, which it is to a certain extent. However, over time I really started to learn that being busy does not mean you are being productive and it certainly doesn’t mean you are being smart or efficient with your work. Starting in 2021 it’s a big goal of mine to be a lot more efficient in what we’re doing.

I recently heard of a practice experiment to help improve efficiency. First, you write down the things you have to do the next day. Most of us wouldn’t have a hard time doing that. In fact, you’ve probably been down that road before. However, the next step is that you circle the top three things you need to get done. The point here is that the rest you don’t need to do and you shouldn’t do. Those are things that should be delegated. Those are things that you added because you felt like you have to. According to the quote from Russell Roth, you are just doing it because, well, that’s what you did last week or that’s what you did last month. Not only would you find that you’re doing this, but maybe people on your team are doing this at the company you work with. It’s a habit we need to get out of. We often see this especially in the entrepreneurial or the startup space. It’s cool to be on the grind, to always be so busy that you’re at the office at 10 p.m.

For a while, I fell into that trap. Here’s what I’ll tell you: it’s not cool. What is cool is to be efficient and productive. It’s a double whammy. What I finally learned in 2020 was that if you actually focus on those top three tasks and you delegate the rest, not only are you more efficient but in a bizarre way that I cannot explain, most of the time you end up getting more done by doing less right. You might have a three day weekend ahead of you or a full day off. And you say, oh, man, I have so much time ahead of me, I can’t even begin to imagine the number of things I’m going to get done and what inevitably ends up happening in those days where we have the most amount of time, we get the least amount done. However, when we have a busy day ahead of us and we’re strategic with it in a bizarre way, we get even more done in our personal lives and lives at home on those busy workdays. Maybe that’s just me, but I think that does apply to other people. Time management and prioritization make a big difference. So again, lesson number one of 2020 that I learned is that being busy does not mean being productive. 

 

2. Always Reserve Time for Long-Term Planning and Strategy

The second lesson I learned in 2020 is one that I am still learning: I need to always reserve time for long-term planning and strategy. I don’t know when this lesson really hit me, but there’s been this common thread that was going through my mind, through Q3 and Q4 of 2020.

 As I mentioned, I have a bad habit of doing a large amount of client work. I continuously have my hands-on projects to move things forward, I’ll do sales and digital marketing myself, I’ll be involved in design, etc. Often, I feel like I am giving to the team in that respect when the reality is that if you’re in a leadership role, whatever that might be, if you’re spending even a portion of your time doing that you’re doing a disservice to your team. This was an epiphany for me. Your employees are not capable of doing some of the things that you can as a leader because they don’t have the responsibility, access, or the credibility to make certain decisions. For example, they’re not going to go and hire new people. They’re not going to make adjustments to your services, your pricing, what services you offer, and how you offer them. They’re not going to make major changes to your processes, branding, marketing, positioning, who you have on the team, or your training. They are going to work on the client work which is what they’re best at.

That really hit me. Every hour that I was spending on client work was one less hour that I was spending on the business. And in that respect, I’m doing a disservice. I almost could visualize my employee’s voices or their thoughts, even though they probably weren’t thinking this all the time. But, you know, hey, Josh, we’ve got this. We need you to focus on what’s going to take us to the next level. We need you to hire that next team member. We need you to train the team better. We need you to prepare better processes. That’s what the team needed me to do. I started blocking off some time on a weekly basis where there’s nothing else that intrudes on that time. It’s just for me to sit down and go over some of the big questions. What services are we offering? How are we offering them? What does our team look like? What’s our culture look like? These are big things that only I have control over.

3. Understanding Managerial Output Will Help you Focus on High Leverage Activities

One of the books that I finished in 2020 that I would recommend is High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove, the former chairman and CEO of Intel. What I liked most about this book is that it gives real practical things you can do today and tomorrow. It gives practical techniques on how to be a better manager at the end of the day. This quote sums up what high output management is all about: 

What is a manager’s output? I asked a group of middle managers just that question. I got these responses: judgments and opinions, direction, allocation of resources, mistakes detected, personnel trained and subordinates developed, courses taught, products, plans, and commitments negotiated. Do these things really constitute the output of a manager? I don’t think so. They are instead activities or descriptions of what managers do as they try to create a final result or output. What then is a manager’s output at Intel? If she is in charge of a wafer fabrication plant, her output consists of completed high-quality, full-process silicone wafers. If he supervises the design group, his output consists of completed designs that work correctly and are ready to go into manufacturing. If a manager is the principal of a high school, her output will be trained and educated students who have either completed their schooling or are ready to move on to the next year of their studies. If the manager is a surgeon, his output is a fully recovered, healed patient. We can sum matters up, matters up with the proposition that and here’s the key. A manager’s output equals the output of his organization, plus the output of the neighboring organizations under his influence. 

This is an interesting way to think about it. Grove goes into the bread and butter of any business. A successful business is built on good management no matter what your size is. If you can be a good manager and those immediately beneath you can be good managers, you’re off to a great start. Part of being a good manager includes things like meetings, the medium of managerial work decisions, planning today’s actions for tomorrow, hybrid or dual reporting modes of control, task, growth, and maturity. These are real, practical solutions. When I actually finished reading the book, I applied some of these things the very next day.

When we understand managerial output then we better understand what constitutes high leverage activities. High leverage activities are the things we do that have a big effect on our businesses. At the end of his book, Grove has an exercise with various quick things you can do right now. Each one is allocated points and the goal is to get 100 points by the end of the week or the month. Now, when I try to allocate my time and plan out my day, I ask myself, is this a high leverage activity? 

There are several examples of high leverage activities that I do increasingly. Recording training or academy videos can be a high leverage activity. I record a video one time and it’s used an infinite amount of times for future team members implementing a process that’s going to touch probably hundreds, if not thousands of clients going forward. People like to frown on meetings a lot, but we have to remember that if done correctly they can be a high leverage opportunity because it’s communication from one to many instead of from one to one. Another high leverage activity is effectively training a manager or someone whos going to train other team members. If you can effectively train someone one on one then they will affect who knows how many in their team and throughout the organization.

In 2020, I learned that focusing on high leverage activities leads to strong outcomes. I really try hard when I find myself going down that tunnel vision road where I’m stuck on the client work or the technical work to remember that I need to take a step back and say my team needs me to focus on some of these other areas. When I focus on my output as a manager, then I understand what high leverage activities are.

The past year has been a year of learning. To review the three biggest management lessons I learned in 2020 were: 

  1. Being busy does not always mean being productive
  2. Always reserve time for long-term planning and strategy
  3. Understanding managerial output will help you focus on high leverage activities

Implementing these lessons at Big Red Jelly is helping us grow and become more efficient so we can continue to help our clients succeed. 

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!

 

3 Practical and Easy Tactics to Increase Sales

By Marketing, Sales No Comments

As an entrepreneur and small business owner, if you were to ask me what the number one question is that keeps me awake at night I would say, “How do I get more business?”. This question resonates with most business owners of all sizes, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or an entrepreneur working out of your parent’s pool house. How do I get more sales? More revenue? I want more clients. I want more money coming in through the door. These are healthy questions to always be asking. 

I’ve always raised an eyebrow at people I’ve met where this is not a top question or priority. I’m always going out making sure I’m constantly aggressive and attacking to grow my team. Sales should be at the forefront. This week’s topic for business success is three practical and quick action items that you can employ this week that will increase your sales. All business owners will benefit from these three things, but especially B2B. B2C business owners may need to get a little more creative in applying these three tips. You can complete these processes or tasks this week and start seeing results right away. Let’s dive into the three things you can do to increase your sales!

#1 – Onboarding and off boarding scripts that include upgrades or upsells

Creating onboarding or off boarding scripts that include an optional upgrade or upsell will instantly increase your sales. I am always amazed as we get to learn about other businesses through branding projects, digital build projects, and client strategy sessions how they do not have a solidified script or automations put in place to introduce current clients to additional services the business offers. Maybe script isn’t the right word, but businesses need an outline of the very first call that you have with a new client and the very last call after finishing your project. If they do have a script or set steps in place, how many businesses do not include an optional upgrade or upsell opportunity? 

We witnessed this every day. If you’ve ever been through a McDonald’s drive through, what do they always ask you? Do you want to make that a meal? That light bulb should be going off in your head, automatically, when you finish a project with a client. When asked that, clients will typically say, “Huh… Yeah, let’s go for it. Yeah, let’s do it. I didn’t think about that”. You will be amazed how many clients agree to an upgrade or upsell if you simply ask them. Oftentimes, a client is unaware that you provide Service X, Y, or Z. As soon as they become aware of said service, they are excited to upgrade their current project, plan, scope of work, etc. Through the process of your current project, you have likely created a solid relationship with your client, eliminating the awkward sales pitch barrier. 

We’ve implemented this at Big Red Jelly. We have several phases that clients go through. It’s never a pushy sell. The upgrades and upsells usually don’t come directly from our sales team. Rather, they come from team members who have worked with a client personally on a project. Our team is trained to ask, “Hey, now that we’ve completed this phase, are you interested in taking it to the next level?” For example, if we complete a branding project for a client where we rebrand or reposition their company, by the end of that project, it’s become more apparent to the client and our team member that the client’s digital platforms are archaic. With the new brand, their website looks outdated. At this point, it’s a very smooth upsell to build a new, modern website. You’ll be amazed at how many upgraded or unsold clients you receive even after a couple of conversations where you simply ask. 

#2 – Make your clients the center of attention

Give your current clients the opportunity to be the center of attention or the cool kid on the block. At Big Red Jelly, it’s important to us that we regularly spotlight our clients. Once you complete a project, there should be a process in place where you take time within the month to spotlight that client or project on your social media. Increase your client’s visibility by highlighting them in a case study, a blog, and your monthly email newsletter. They will love it! While you are showing off your great work, it shows that you care. It gets the word of mouth going, and it’s easy for them to refer you to their friends, colleagues and network.

It’s shocking how many businesses do amazing work, and then they don’t spotlight their clients. I see a lot of creative teams out there and very visual businesses that aren’t spotlighting their clients and making them the center of attention. Again, it makes you look like the good guy. It makes it look like you love your clients. It gives them the opportunity to say, “Oh, yeah, wow, let me share this”. You’re creating an organic word of mouth reach on social media, email, and other digital platforms. 

Making a client feel like the cool kid on the block or the cool networker that everyone wants to network with. When you finish work for a client, give them the opportunity to refer your business to anyone in their network for a discount. Let your client know how much you loved working with them and how great it would be to work with people in their industry, their network, their colleagues or cohorts. Let them know that if they refer you to their network, they’ll get a 10%, 15%, 20% discount. It makes them look cool. They look great. They really appreciate it. You’re looking after them. And of course, future business, future clients are going to like it as well. 

#3 – Automate your split-second automated reply

Consider automating your split second automated reply. Think to yourself: in your sales process or your marketing process, at what point is a new contact officially added to your CRM? At what point do they jump into your inbox? At what point do they first contact you through a contact form on your website or chat with you through a chat bot? All of these platforms have one thing in common, and it is that you can set up an automated split second reply. Now, some people might debate me on this, but I think there’s debate if you’re not very creative with your automated replies. Here are some statistics: According to scale.com, only 11% of organizations follow up on marketing qualified leads within five minutes. The most popular response time was within 24-hours at 37%. Now you might say, “Wow, 24-hours. That’s pretty good. I’d be happy if I could do that”. Twenty-four hours is not good enough! You are losing qualified leads every minute you do not follow-up. Your competition will take the potential client off your hands, trust me! 

Automate all of your platforms: email, web site, message platforms, chat bots, lead forms, contact forms, all of them! All of them can have a split second reply. In my opinion, these automations should be transparent that it is an automation. It can be something like this: “We got your message. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for a personal response for our team, here’s a link to our portfolio. Check out our latest work related to branding, seeing as that’s what you were interested in. Also, if you want 10 percent off now, click this link and schedule an onboarding video call right away. Let’s skip that whole step. We’ll get back to you within 12 hours, 24 hours.” 

The project is fresh on their mind. They may decide then and there, after receiving your automated message to close the sale with you and to stop shopping around. It lets them know that you’re on top of it, but you will also provide human contact within 24 hours. I hate when I complete all the information and the response says “Thanks, we’ll get back to you”. I get so frustrated. What does that even mean? But if it says “Thanks, a team member will reach out to you in 24-hours. In the meantime, check out our awesome work, see what our clients are saying. Look at this latest project we just finished up” you have further engaged a potential client and they have a positive association with your company before talking to anyone.  Don’t be the barrier that loses leads. If possible and applicable, give them a link to sign up, get started, schedule a call, etc. Automating next steps will save you time and money, while increasing the bottom line. 

 

Those are the three things you can do this week to increase your sales! Have clear onboarding and offboarding scripts or processes that include upgrades and upsell opportunities, make your current clients the center of attention, and automate immediate replies to any lead gathering technique you have on your digital platforms! These three things have dramatically increased our sales in the last year, and I’m confident you will see similar results! 


Let’s continue this conversation on our social media channels! Check out our weekly industry videos on our Facebook at 1:30PM (MST) every Thursday.

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!

Attention: Agencies and Businesses Looking to Hire Agencies

By Leadership, Small Business

Agencies are the backbone of the digital marketing world. Everyone knows that outsourcing your digital marketing to an agency saves businesses time, money, and frustration. How will agencies continue to adapt in an increasingly digital world? Here are my predictions for 2021 and beyond. I will dive specifically into what this upcoming year will look like for agencies and the digital space, as well as the continued relationship between agencies and businesses. 

If you’re a business owner who works with agencies, these are things to look for in an agency or things to follow up or address with your current agencies. If you’re an agency owner, maybe these are things you’ve thought about when it comes to the future of digital, when it comes to the future of marketing, advertising, branding, etc. These are my predictions for 2021 and beyond. This is what we’re going to see more of and the changes we’re going to see going forward. 

Changes in the agency realm

What changes can we expect to see in the agency realm? Data will be the biggest change in the agency realm. This is no longer a debatable topic. Data is the new valuable commodity, maybe the most valuable commodity. Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research, who once said, “Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” I think that data and information, going forward, if not already, will become the most valuable commodity. What does that ultimately mean for agencies and businesses working with agencies going forward? Data and analytics will take center stage when it comes to strategy and implementing marketing campaigns and advertising campaigns. Agencies must prove that they are experienced and comfortable around data analytics information. But more importantly, what the data and information mean for a client. I want to dive into a short little snippet here by Information Week. This is data shared by Gartner Research, and these are some of their predictions we’re trying to any one as it relates to data and information. 

Decline of the Dashboard

Gartner Research emphasized, what they titled, the “Decline of the Dashboard”. And this really caught my attention because a lot of agencies do this, right? They’ll say, “Well, we have a dashboard. Look at all these cool KPIs we share. You will get it once a week, once a month, every other quarter. We can edit it according to what you look for.” That’s not going to be good enough, I think, going forward. Let me read this paragraph again. 

From Information Week, “Data stories, not dashboards, will become the most widespread way of consuming analytics by 2025 and 75% of these stories will be automatically generated using augmented analytic techniques, AI, and machine learning. AIs and machine learning techniques are making their way into business intelligence platforms and dashboards. Users currently have to do a lot of manual work to dive into further insights, but these data stories provide the insights without requiring the user to perform their own analysis.” (Watch my previous video or read last week’s article which dove into AIs and machine learning specifically!) 

That’s huge. Leveraging the power of AI as it becomes exponentially better will be important for agencies and businesses to capitalize on. We have seen major growth and progress in the AI/machine learning sector because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 you’re going to see softwares and tools leveraging A.I. and machine learning in these dashboards, data, and analytics to create data stories. 

Data is Valuable + Must be Protected

So, OK, we’ve got this data. We’ve got these analytics. We’ve got a data story. So what are we going to do about it? What does it mean? The first step is recognition of how valuable this data and information is. It’s going to become increasingly more important for these agencies to treat it with respect and know how to use it. Businesses are going to become more cognizant of how the end user views their data. You’re seeing a lot of these movements toward data and user privacy. For example, all the new browsers that are coming out that protect people’s data. Apple leverages user data privacy as one of their big marketing approaches. This will pay off big as people become more aware of their personal information data and how valuable it is. Agencies understanding that data is a valuable commodity, knowing how to use it, being comfortable around it, and then knowing how to treat it with respect and be transparent and not abuse this knowledge. This is a power that businesses are going to appreciate, because at the end of the day, the end user is going to appreciate it. 

Online Advertising Will Be More Commoditized

Online marketing and advertising platforms, channels, and tools are going to become more and more commoditized. Look at Facebook ads, for example, when those first came out in the late 2000s. Look at Google, PPC. For those who were in those platforms in the early days, you will be the first to acknowledge how much those have changed between then and now. SEO, for example, building a website. These tools were almost impossible for anyone without very specialized background and expertise in those areas. Now, and you can feel free to debate me on this topic, they’re becoming so much easier to manage, optimize, and improve.

I bump into a lot of small business owners, mom and pop shops, who are, in my opinion, running pretty phenomenal online ad campaigns. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty amazing things that small business owners are able to create on PPC – Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram ads, you name it. This is a result of these platforms becoming more user friendly on the back end. The platforms themselves have made it easier, therefore opening up their reach.

As younger audiences are moving into leadership roles and opening their own businesses, of course, they’re familiar with these platforms and tools. They grew up on social media and digital marketing. Naturally there is a little bit of a learning curve, but these tools will become more commoditized as a result. 

Agencies Need to Emphasize and Hire for Creativity and Strategy

What does this mean for agencies and companies working with agencies? There’s going to be added emphasis in value on two things. Number one, creativity. Number two, strategy. I think those are the two elements that will probably be the last, if ever, to be commoditized. That’s the human element. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s what I cannot duplicate. It’s hard to create a SaaS product that replicates human creativity and strategy. We have the tools to automatically harvest data and create stories or dashboards displaying the data, but what do we do with this dashboard? What is the strategy behind the numbers? We know how to create and run online ads, but  how do we decide which ad to run? And when? How do we position ourselves on those ads? What colors and designs attract certain demographics? What phrases are specific to buyers in this geographic region?

If you’re working with an agency or you are an agency, there should be extra emphasis on creativity and strategy. Even if you’re an agency who works specifically in Asia or Facebook Ads, and that’s all you do, think about highlighting the benefit of your creative spin on those Facebook ads or the nicheness of your Asian market. Creativity is hard to teach, and it’s hard to duplicate. 

Online and Offline Data

Agencies would be wise to start to position themselves around connecting online and offline data. Digital marketers and digital agencies have long boasted about the ability to track a lot of what they do because it’s digital. Connecting  online and offline data is going to be huge. This is a great quote from Tech Native IO, “When you take a closer look at the gap, it leaves in a digital marketing operation, it’s pretty huge. After all, most customer activity still happens offline. In fact, 90% of retail sales take place offline. So if they haven’t connected the data living in their CRM email and point of sale systems to online, then marketers are making important decisions with incomplete, imperfect data and they’re missing out on a huge chunk of the action.”

Marketers are getting really good at connecting some of these points, and that’s another article we can dive into, but I think agencies that are comfortable with the connection or making predictions between online and offline data are very powerful and well-positioned going forward. As our lives become more integrated with the Internet, or just digital, the data that used to be considered offline will become more measurable. One of the things that I think is going to bridge that gap is what’s called the “Internet of Things”. What is the “Internet of Things”? Let me give you a few examples: 

  • Connected appliances, think Smart Fridges
  • Smart home security systems 
  • Wearable health monitors 
  • Wireless inventory trackers 
  • Ultra high speed wireless Internet 
  • Cyber security scanners
  • Logistics and shipping container tracking

These are digital tools, online Internet connected tools, that are integrated and embedded with real world things that we use each and every day.

If you are an agency or a business working with an agency going into 2021, these are things both groups should start to explore and become more comfortable with because they’re going to become very important in 2021 and beyond. 

Let’s continue this conversation on our social media channels! Check out our weekly industry videos on our Facebook or Instagram accounts at 1:30PM (MST) every Thursday.

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!

3 Digital Trends to Watch for in 2021: Why Businesses Need Robots to Survive

By Technology

Today we are taking a deep dive on the big trends the business world will face in 2021. 

This topic has been addressed thousands, if not millions of times by now. It’s related to COVID-19 and how, in my opinion, it’s going to affect the business digital landscape in 2021. We will dive deep into the three obvious, or not so obvious, trends that businesses will see more of in 2021 because of COVID-19. How has COVID-10 shaken up the business world and changed it for the foreseeable future, on a local and global level?

What three obvious (or not so obvious) trends are we going to see in the digital business world in 2021?

NUMBER ONE: The Necessity of Analytics + an Online Presence

Companies who weren’t heavily invested in analytics in 2020 probably won’t be in business in 2021. Now, when I say analytics, a lot of people are going to say, well duh, of course analytics are important for any business. We are seeing the importance especially for small businesses. Large enterprises, large brands, and corporations are accustomed to analytics, data, business intelligence, and using data and statistics to back their strategic decisions and make calls related to their business. Small businesses, even mid-sized businesses, are not. 

The pandemic thrust analytics, or the importance of them, onto small business owners already full plates. The reason being that margins have been smaller now than ever before because of COVID-19. Every decision that a small business owner makes during this pandemic is that much more crucial to the survival of their business. It could be the life or death of your business. What was once a menial decision could now end your business today or tomorrow, or those decisions may keep your business alive. Having analytics, data and hard numbers behind decisions for small business owners adds value and confidence in what they’re doing.

Analytics pairs perfectly with the most obvious change due to the pandemic for small to mid-sized businesses: diving into the deep end in the digital world. An example of this is mom and pop shops that were not involved previously using digital have been forced to use PPC for the first time. They are looking into SEO and investing in a website. They’re trying to sell their products online, replacing in-person sales. These digital platforms are ways of advertising and marketing. 

The shift to digital is a silver lining for small and midsize business owners because it allows them to see insights, statistics, and analytics that they otherwise were not seeing before. Having always relied on traditional marketing and advertising pre-COVID-19, a shift toward all digital is not easy. But moving online opens up the possibility of tracking and measuring everything that happens in real time, if done intelligently. 

Being able to track, measure, and record results from the digital world is a silver lining for all businesses. This is something that small and mid-sized businesses are going to carry well into 2021. And hey, we can and should use analytics, data, and statistics the way the big businesses do. This trend will allow small and mid-sized businesses to be more strategic, confident, and ESPECIALLY efficient going forward. Expect to see small and midsize businesses using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Instagram analytics, and other basic analytics and statistics to back their decisions going forward. They will be more efficient because of it. I guarantee that in 2021. 

NUMBER TWO: AI + Machine Learning

In 2021 we will continue to see AI and machine learning come into play, quicker. It will be faster in 2021 and adopted more in 2021. In speaking with some colleagues, it feels like the year 2030 has been thrown at us, but a decade sooner than anticipated. Because of COVID-19, we have seen aspects of the digital world and technology we would not have seen until 2030. We’re going to see these advances early into 2021. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are hot words and topics right now. AI and machine learning will be critical for the success of businesses with the influx of data and analytics as a result of the pandemic. The drastic increase of data will overwhelm the human capabilities, our human systems, and our understanding. To cope, we’re going to need systems and processes like artificial intelligence and machine learning to sift through, share, and make sense of this data to make strategic decisions at higher levels. There’s too much data for any one human or even a team of humans, an army of humans, to make all of the decisions. We’re going to see A.I. and machine learning become a part of every business. 

We will see new platforms, tools, and agencies that are going to employ these strategies enabling businesses and business owners to use data and analytics to help their companies grow and succeed. Small businesses will see the use of artificial intelligence in SAS tools or platforms in 2021. I’ve seen the power in digital marketing tools available for small agencies to leverage artificial intelligence. Although these tools and processes are new and unfamiliar, there’s plenty of things to work through and work out. It’s exciting to see how this area of technology, and how fast it has grown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NUMBER THREE: Robotic Process Automation

The new year will usher in an increase in RPA. RPA stands for robotic process automation. RPA provides organizations the ability to reduce staffing costs and human error. David Chatzky, a managing director at Deloitte L.P., points to a bank’s experience with implementing RPA. The bank redesigned its claims process by deploying 85 bots to run 13 processes, handling one point five million requests per year. The bank’s RPA added capacity equivalent to more than 200 full-time employees at approximately 30% of the cost of recruiting more staff. This is something we’ve already heard, and we kind of roll our eyes and say, “Robots? Really?” Or we say, “Oh my gosh, we’re putting computers in the fast food lines where they’re taking our order instead of humans.” But it’s all a bit more nuanced than that.

You’re going to see businesses of all sizes looking to use RPA on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. They’re going to look for ways to use robotic process optimization because it makes their businesses more efficient. It’s a fancy term, but at the end of the day, it’s trying to find ways of using digital or automations to make your business more efficient. Finding lower quality tasks, ones that do not require high levels of creativity or strategy, the irreplaceable human element, to complete. Let’s be honest, when you think about it that way, those things should be automated.

I know that the immediate response is, “Robots are taking our jobs!”. My take is that RPAs free up the human species to focus on what we do best. Humans are best at creating and being creative. We excel at strategic thinking and implementation. We work well with other humans. We are entrepreneurs. We are pioneers. Automating lower tasks frees up time for innovation. When you kind of look at someone’s task sheet, you might say, “Wow, you know, I feel like 70% of these tasks could be automated.” Automated tasks can include email responses or chatbots on a website. We can automate welcome emails, newsletters, or drip campaigns through a website. We already automate online ads and bidding strategies. Most digital tools have the capacity to automate these processes. As previously mentioned, the biggest benefit is more time to focus on what you do best: creativity, strategy, and human interaction. 

You will see all business types and sizes continue to leverage RPA, robotic process automation, going forward. My challenge to you is to write out some of your daily or weekly tasks. Write them all down on a list and circle the ones that you feel like could be automated. You will be shocked at the amount that can and should be automated. Make it a 2021 resolution to look into automation processes. Many businesses have been forced to do this. Automation is another silver lining from this coronavirus pandemic. Businesses will come out the other side more efficient and with the ability to see the power of digital, allowing for more creativity. 

Those are the three obvious (and not so obvious) trends and changes we will see more of in 2021. To review really quick: 

  1. Use of analytics, especially for small businesses and decision makers 
  2. Increased artificial intelligence and machine learning to interpret, understand, and digest analytics and data 
  3. RPA, or robotic process automation to free up time on menial tasks and dive into innovation, creativity, human interaction, and strategic thinking and implementation  

These are the three things that Big Red Jelly will continue to implement for our business and our clients. What do you think? What are some digital trends that you think are going to make waves in 2021 because of this COVID-19 pandemic? 

Let’s continue this conversation on our social media channels! Check out our weekly industry videos on our Facebook or Instagram accounts at 3PM (MST) every Thursday.

Today’s article comes from a previously recorded video. Check out the video here!