Just over 2 years ago, I got a job with probably one of the best brands in the world. In fairness to the AA, they really are an amazing brand. Only a few months ago they were voted most trusted brand in the UK. As a company, they have delivered some of the most innovative solutions over the last 100 years including, a mobile mechanic service, hotel ratings and standards as well as Roadwatch & Routeplanner more recently. However, digital & mobile was something that wasn’t their strong point. The single biggest obstacle if you work for a perfect brand is that those who manage it and care for it, tend to be scared and suspicious of new things and rightly so! After all, they have a brand to protect. So when people like you and I step in to a 104-year-old business it tends to cause a stir. Why risk the brand when things seem to be working well.
The irony here is this, a company who has less complaints than they do have commendations (positive testimonials) are scared of engaging. A company who is on the radio from one end of the day to the other.
The company even had a policy which prevented us having a Facebook page because of the fear that people would complain. When, in fact, people were probably already complaining on Facebook, but we as a business weren’t picking up on any of that.
So it had its challenges and the biggest challenge for me was to change the mind-set. I wasn’t going in there to accept the current position which was a complete fear of digital. There was a fear of social. There was a fear of engagement. We had an imperfect understanding of where sales came from as a business. Genuinely, we had no idea where our online sales came from other than they came from the internet.
We had MI that was wrong, completely and utterly wrong. We thought, “Spend money on PPC, the tills ring.” The reality was that that’s not what happens. It’s a multitude of different things that make a sale happen and we were only focusing on optimising one of them. So looking at sales funnels, we were focusing on this little bit down at the bottom. We were the flat fish in the sea world, eating the left overs at the bottom of the ocean. But we had over-optimized the hell out of things and forgotten the bigger picture.
My objectives were clear. I needed to completely change that, to talk about social, to talk about engagement, to talk about utilizing our blog, to talk about forgetting about the front page of the website as a place for banner position arguments, and that’s what has made the last 2 years really interesting for me, the challenge of changing the perception of our digital world for a big business. Hey, if I could convince my mother to launch an online company (www.FlowersMadeEasy.ie), I could convince these guys to do the same
About 6 weeks in, in proper “100 day plan” style, having done all the reviews I could, we launched a thing called the Moneyball Report, which was an assessment of where we were digitally. We brought the entire executive down to Google HQ for a day, which was completely unheard of at that moment in time. We launched a Facebook page without telling them and showed them how great it was afterwards. So one lesson I learnt was to ask for forgiveness later on occasion, when you know it’s the right thing to do. Don’t worry, we had sign off, I wasn’t a complete idiot but they didn’t all know that. Getting sacked after 6 weeks wasn’t the look I was going for.
But since then, we’ve done lots of things differently. We brought the management of everything that we did in-house so we no longer had a PPC agency. We no longer had an SEO agency. We did it all in-house. Why? Because we wanted to educate the business as to what it was that PPC did and what the cause and effect of SEO was. The only way for us to do this was to bring it in house to ensure everyone who needed to know understood what these things meant.
We wanted to talk about click-through rates. We wanted to talk about what was involved in getting to position one, two, and three in SEO, and we are there now. We’re in the top three for every major term we want to be top 3 for. That was unheard of two years ago. We were page 2. That has come about by a willingness to embrace digital, a willingness to understand and learn about it and how we as a business can ensure we are doing everything we can to improve our presence and engagement online.
Fear of the unknown is what most people suffer from when they talk about fear. Fear of something they don’t know the outcome of. Fear of something they can’t see or fear of something they don’t understand. It’s really easy for us tech digital types to talk all the acronyms we want, but we need to start understanding that “Fear of Digital” is the reason for those who don’t get it and aren’t doing it.
Getting businesses online is no good without educating the owners as to what that means, what SEO means, what Social means. And not just a 1 hour class on how this stuff works, but what it means to them, what it means to their business. If they understood that or more importantly, when they do understand that level of detail about what this digital thing is all about, that’s when commerce and retail will get really interesting.
It hasn’t fully happened yet but it’s going to happen. The “Fear of Digital” will one day be a thing of the past. Banks, Insurance companies, retailers every high street business will no longer be scared. They will embrace it and those who do will succeed.
Big Ass Brands won’t be scared of digital once they understand it.