Charlotte Fellows

The ultimate working-from-home survival guide

Outlast the outbreak from your home office

As the Covid-19 crisis continues to engulf the world, it will undoubtedly change the way we work. You and your team are probably working from home already. You may have been given a timeline of two weeks or you have simply been told to stay home for the foreseeable future. Whilst a few days at home is a welcome, relaxing break from stressful commuting and in-person meetings, staying productive can be challenging and long periods of isolation can be damaging to your mental health and overall team morale. To help you stay sharp, positive and productive, follow these top tips for outlasting the outbreak from your home office.

Ensure a productive workday

Get ready as if you’re about to catch the Tube

Shower, eat breakfast and yes, get dressed. Whilst working comfortably in your cosy pyjamas on the couch is the most attractive aspect of working from home, it won’t help you snap into work mode. In fact, you’re more likely to feel tired and groggy. Plus, you’ll want to feel confident calling in to meetings — you’ll probably be asked to join meetings with your camera on, as companies will want to ensure effective communication during this crisis.

Write a to-do list

Once you’re up and feeling refreshed, you’re ready to tackle your to-do list. 30% of remote workers said they feel more productive with a to-do list. Grab a notebook and jot down things to do — work-related and personal — to help you plan your day. But of course, there’s an app for that too, if you’re looking for a greener option to task management.

Try to categorise or sort by morning, afternoon and evening to help you stay productive. Trust us, there’s nothing better than ticking off your list at the end of a day – and what a great excuse for relaxing at the end of the day!

Start working at your normal working time.

If you’re normally in the office at 8.30am, turn your computer on at 8.30am.  Even if you don’t have morning meetings, keeping your normal routine will help you get motivated quickly. The last thing you want to do is start late and end up working late to make up for it. However, you may decide you need to shift your working hours, and that’s fine. This is your chance to set a working schedule that works for you — and your health.

Keep track of tasks and deadlines

Stay organised

Along with that to-do list, it’s important to keep a list of objectives and deadlines for the day or week. You’ll also want to keep a clean desk, desktop and filing system. The latter is especially critical if you’re working in Microsoft Teams or Monday.com in which documents easily get lost without a standardised filing system.

Be active in group chats

Whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Monday.com or Mural, be sure that you’re visibly ‘at work’. That might mean answering queries, posting a status update on what you’re working on, offering to take on a task, or participating in a public conversation.

Just remember that this doesn’t mean that you have to be furiously working and posting non-stop. You can take breaks. It’s perfectly fine to appear to be ‘away’ during the day. We’re striving to keep our normal working routine here, not turn you into a superhuman working-from-home machine!

Focus on your health

Schedule breaks

To build on that point, studies show that workers take fewer breaks when working from home. Perhaps it’s the fear of not being there to answer an email or IM. No one wants to look like they’re slacking. But you need to give your mind (and eyes!) a break from your computer screen every now and then, just as you do in the office. Set aside a few minutes a day to do yoga, make a cup of tea, read a book or go for a walk to clear your head.

But not all breaks are healthy. Mindless online shopping or Facebook browsing won’t help you focus later. See these tips on how to avoid taking unproductive breaks.

Don’t forget to eat

I know, sounds impossible right? But in reality, working from home can throw off your normal eating schedule. When you get so buried in a task at home, odds are there isn’t anyone there to invite you to lunch. Schedule an hour’s lunch break every day. Put it in your calendar if you need to, to remind you and your co-workers.

And during this crisis, it’s more important than ever to avoid junk food and binge-eating that can be detrimental to your health. Nutritionist Natalie Burrows offers top tips for eating well to support your immune system and prevent infection.

Get outside (if you’re not self-isolating!)

If you or someone you live with is showing symptoms of Covid-19, WHO recommends self-isolating in your home for at least 7 days to prevent the spread of infection.

If you’re healthy and not showing symptoms, you’re probably practicing social distancing — but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home.  As you won’t be walking to work or the Tube, your body will miss that little bit of exercise! Stretch your legs with a quick pop to the shop or a walk around the neighbourhood. To stay in peak health, be sure to get a bit of fresh air and vitamin D when you can.

Studies actually show that walking alone can boost your immune system dramatically. Men and women who walk at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who walked once a week or less.

End your day at your normal working time

Surprisingly, studies show that working from home often leads to longer working hours. But shutting off at your normal time is important for your health. Just because you don’t have to commute, doesn’t mean you need to continue working. If you normally end at 5.30pm, sign off and close your laptop. Being available 24/7 won’t help you stay productive or impress your manager – it will only make you more tired, grumpy and ineffective, or worse, susceptible to illness.

Tips for managers

Trust your employees to do the work

This extended period of working from home will test your team’s ability to stay self-motivated and meet deadlines – and your management skills. Whilst it will undoubtedly be tempting, this is not the time to start micromanaging. Your team will need some time to adjust to working from home – balancing a work schedule from home with daily family life isn’t easy!

Plus, studies show that you have nothing to worry about. Remote workers tend to work a full shift and take fewer breaks. They actually end up working 1.4 more days per month than office workers on average! They’re also less likely to get distracted, and most find it easier to complete creative tasks when at home.

Communicate clearly online

So, how do you stay involved and in control as a manager but avoid turning into a burdensome micromanager? State objectives, tasks and deadlines clearly in your task programme. Assign and tag your team members to each task and be sure to answer queries as quickly as possible.

But whilst written communication is important and efficient, this is the time to focus on encouraging face-to-face communication as much as possible. Set up daily Scrum stand-ups, especially if your team is used to working in an agile way, and be sure to use video. This will help you provide key context, answer queries and avoid miscommunication.  If video calls and stand-ups are new to your team, send across helpful guides to let them know what’s expected from their participation.

Use the right tools

We’ve mentioned a few communication tools and software that we use, but you really have your choice of software for your team’s needs. Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for chatting and collaborating, and Monday.com is handy for planning, tracking and assigning tasks. We’ve recently adopted the sticky-note app Mural for streamlining daily meetings and stand-ups. All are visually intuitive, simple and easy to use.

Boost team morale

Work hard, play hard — even at home! This extended period of time away from the office calls for a focus on keeping the team spirit alive and well. Plan virtual coffee breaks, lunches and games to bring the team together as often as possible (without overloading their calendar of course!). It’s important to open up time for chatting and banter, not just meetings. Here at Bright, we’ve set up Bright Olympics to play a few short games and chat over coffee to stay in touch.

We’re all in this together

The Covid-19 crisis is affecting us all. Businesses are now under tremendous pressure to keep things running smoothly but setting up remote working and ensuring productivity is a challenge for both management and the team. By following these tips, we hope you’ll be able to find and provide some much-needed security for your company in the year ahead. If you need help adopting new ways of working to support your newly remote team, schedule a virtual coffee break with the Bright team today or get started with an Agile Hub.

With extreme disruption across global markets from Brexit, Black Monday and the Covid-19 crisis, marketers who find new ways of working with agility and pace are more likely to thrive and survive during such uncertainty. Watch our webinar, a knowledge-sharing event about agile marketing transformation:  Explore the future of B2B marketing trends: agile marketing survey findings and QA.

For more tips on outlasting the outbreak, check out our latest post on Transforming events at pace.

Charlotte FellowsThe ultimate working-from-home survival guide
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What is Agile Marketing?

It’s not just a buzzword – defining what agile marketing is, what it means for B2B and why it works.

This is the era of Agile. The ascendancy of experimentation and strategic thinking. The reign of data-driven insights. No matter your industry, everyone seems to be ‘going Agile’. Truth is, following the tech and internet revolution and the rise of Silicon Valley, every industry has had to shift to a more tech and data-driven mindset. And marketers are no different, what with our constant need to be customer centric at the forefront of market change.

But what does it actually mean to be agile in the B2B marketing industry? How do you apply an agile approach to your marketing? Most importantly, why would you leave your proven, traditional marketing techniques behind for new ways of working?

Breaking it down

To put it simply, agile marketing is exactly what it sounds like – the application of agile methodology across your marketing. However, that doesn’t give us enough to apply it effectively. In fact, you need to consider your organisational goals and how to drive the change in behaviour that’s needed for embedding a new way of working with your people, process and technology. Agile has a lot of its own lingo, so let’s take a deeper look at the key terms you’ve probably come across, and how they all work together to form an agile marketing approach.

The Basics

Agile Methodology

In 2001, visionary software developers wrote the Agile Manifesto, highlighting the vital importance of discovery and experimentation in software development. To help others build better, more customer-centric products, they detailed the need for “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.”

Agile ways of working

Adopting an agile mindset demands redefining your marketing operational model. Where traditional marketing is restrictive, agile emphasises the freedom to be daring in your concept creation and tactics. Rather than spending months planning a solid campaign strategy, an agile marketing team takes a minimum viable approach to take an idea to market as fast as possible in order to test it with the target audience. This of course requires greater collaboration and more effective communication across teams. Don’t worry though, the hard work pays off in the end – with a noticeable boost in efficiency and productivity.

Data vs. insights

We could write an entire book on the importance of being data driven. In short, there’s a clear difference between simply gathering data about your target audience and using that data to your advantage. The most important aspect of an agile marketing approach is to turn your data into actionable insights – really dig deep into who your audience is and what solution they need, to help you build marketing strategies that make an impact.

 Sprints

Having adopted agile ways of working, your marketing team will start running campaigns in short bursts – usually within two or three-week intervals called ‘Sprints’. In Sprint 0, you’ll set up data tools to continually gather insights, and create content needed for the campaign. In Sprint 1, you’ll send it all out and test it with a specific section of your audience – say, your followers on LinkedIn. Then, in Sprint 2, you’ll take what you learnt in Sprint 1, iterate, and test again. And so on and so forth.

The Process

Test

So, how do you test, learn and iterate the agile way? By taking your concept to market as fast as possible, you’ll gain valuable time for measuring its effectiveness with your target audience. Did anyone click on your ad? How many responded to your emails? Did you receive any negative feedback about your content or design?

Retrospective

At the end of each sprint, you’ll take a hard look at those actionable insights. Taking note of what worked best with your audience and what failed to impress will help you gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs and what you need to do to reach them in the next Sprint.

Iterate

If you’ve learnt that your concept is working – great! Keep going and expand it to a wider audience. If it isn’t, change it up with a new image, subject line, USP, etc. In this iteration phase, you’ll make all improvements needed to get the results you want in the next Sprint.

This is an infinite cycle of continual testing, learning and improving that you can use throughout your campaigns and projects.

The Benefits

Agility

It’s clear that an agile marketing team is more efficient, effective and empowered. With an agile mindset, your marketing team will work more collaboratively to produce and experiment with new ideas that are more daring and innovative. What’s more, they’ll gain the skills to spring into action when needed, ready to adapt their campaigns and strategies accordingly.

 Keeping Pace

Injecting agility into your marketing, is the key to keeping pace – or keeping up- with constant change in the market and the ever-changing demands of your customers. Without a doubt, this is one of the best benefits to adopting an agile marketing approach – the ability to accurately identify and take advantage of opportunities in the market for business growth and brand development.

Fit for purpose

With an agile marketing approach, you’ll see better results and improved performance. What’s more, it’ll become fit for purpose – perfectly aligned with your business goals.

The Future is Agile

There you have it, a clear breakdown of what it means for B2B marketing to be agile. As our world continues to become more digital and tech-focused, the agile approach will continue to evolve with the market, steadily gaining momentum in its influence.  Adopting agile marketing and data-driven ways of working will become essential to success in B2B marketing.

Want to learn more? Check back next week for detailed look on Getting Started with Agile Marketing!

 

 

Charlotte FellowsWhat is Agile Marketing?
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My favo(u)rite game: Localising content for British and American audiences

In 1773, the Americans dumped 342 chests of British tea into the Boston Bay. In 1775, they thought they had seen the last of us when they sent our Red Coats home.  Yet, in 2019, they’re still speaking the Queen’s tongue…or are they?  While we may seem to speak the same language, the truth is that there are many surprising differences between British and American English and they are a powerful force in affecting meaning.

But you’re not a linguist – you’re a marketing specialist, a content wiz or perhaps social media influencer. So why should you care about the differences in British and American English? To put it simply: Content may be king, but Localisation is queen, and she rules with an iron fist. All marketers must learn to localise their content for British and American audiences.

This means that you need to adapt your messaging to the language requirements and cultural preferences of your intended audience. In truth, it’s the key to generating leads in cold marketing and a simple way to make an impact in a new market. Decide against localising, and you risk damaging your global brand. The last thing you ever want to do is break the connection between your audience and your marketing message.

For example, try telling an American that you’d be happy to discuss your offer in a fortnight’s time once they’re back from holiday, or that they can avoid the queue by filling in the timetable attached – pip them to the post, mate! Not that you would ever write either of those sentences, but you get my point – use the wrong dialect in your messaging and you’ll only succeed in confusing your audience.

To help you drive better marketing results, we’ve gathered the following comprehensive list of the differences between British and American English. Consider it your go-to-guide for localising your content with ease.

Looking to further improve your marketing results and performance? Check out how we achieve results at pace through agile marketing.

Charlotte FellowsMy favo(u)rite game: Localising content for British and American audiences
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8 Tips for creating (lots of) great content

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We’ve all been there, you hit the publish button in the morning and then spend the rest of the day waiting for likes, shares, leads and further accolades to come rolling in….and nothing.

Content is the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign or program and it’s the fundamental way to educate your audience on your product or service.

However, creating noteworthy, memorable content can be daunting, even for the most experienced pro. 94% of B2B marketers say they use content in their marketing, do you know how many believe it’s effective? 42%…

Thankfully, we’ve got 8 easy tips anybody can use to create great, engaging and exciting content.

An editorial position will help to shape your name, tone of voice, visual identity and choice of content.

Over time, your audience will come to recognise your editorial position, and come to anticipate content with a certain approach or attitude, making it easier to trial new forms of content.  As competitors in your industry start to create quality content, it becomes harder to stand-out and stay present in your audiences’ head for a period of time. So it’s important that your editorial positioning is driven by the distinctive quality of your brand and a category or a specific genre.

When it comes to any form of content or copywriting, defining a tone of voice should be the first step in the process. But where do you start? First, it’s important to understand the difference between your channel tone and your overall voice. Still with me? Think of the example of singing – you only have one singing voice, but you can sing in a variety of different tones to deliver a different sound. Content creation is no different to this, your copy tone helps you define how you want your voice to be heard on each individual channel or platform.

While your content should have a cohesive and targeted message, it should also be adapted to its medium. Twitter is character-limited, for example, so the message you provide must be shorter and more concise. However, it can still carry the same type of message and information as your content used elsewhere. Keep your message consistent, and adapt as needed.

The successful implementation of any content strategy, or individual written piece, depends upon a crucial (and often overlooked) group of people – your content team. In the past, this team would either consist of a single person, or rigidly consist of account managers and creative copywriters. However, in order to create strategic and valuable content, you need a strategic and valuable team.

There are as many ways to structure a content team as there are teams themselves, so you need to build one that suits your business needs, whether that be a one-man show or a team of 20. But before you start hiring your ideal combination of strategists, writers, editors and coordinators, you first need to consider the possibilities you already have within your company, what they can share and how to engage them as part of your team.

Possibly the most adept framework for how you should think about your approach to content is the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model, developed and championed by author and PR industry leader Gini Dietrich.

The method serves as a means of segmenting all the marketing channels at your disposal into discrete groups, looking if there are opportunities to integrate additional channels or sources into new or existing programs, highlighting any opportunities to re-purpose content you may already have. By re-purposing content, or freshening it up, you give yourself the opportunity to expand something that may have been a single idea, into a several new pieces, each tailored to a different audience.

There’s also no reason, if it’s of a high quality, that you shouldn’t take inspiration from your competitors and their content. It’s often hard to consistently come up with appealing articles or topics, and you can often find yourself repeating pieces – but not re-purposing them. Of course, it’s unwise to simply visit your competitor’s blog and start copying their strategy from the ground up. Instead, use their content strategy merely as inspiration or direction for your own. Find a way to put new twists on topics they’ve already covered, and think about what topics they haven’t covered.

Creating a publishing content can be time consuming and stressful work, so you need to be able to keep organised and be on top of every step in the process. The simplest way of doing this – create a content diary or plan. When you have a visible schedule you can commit to, the content process becomes a lot less daunting.

Creating a plan, calendar or diary allows you to keep track of everything you’re doing, and makes all the necessary information easily available to stakeholders.

It’s easy to get lost in detail when you’re in the heads-down process of content creation, so having a larger visioning session to create the calendar plus taking regular peeks at the calendar once it’s made can help bring your work into context.  And by planning your content in advance, you can prep and organise around any key dates that could influence your content. An effective diary or plan will also help with keeping your audience engaged by preventing your content from stagnating, or getting overly repetitive and random.

There’s no better way to drive sales leads and expand your brand visibility than by producing thoughtful original content. Yet as more and more companies start to hop on the content marketing bandwagon, it’s getting harder than ever to ensure that your brand stands out.

Producing reactive marketing content is a great way to ensure that your company’s thought leadership is generating interest. The idea itself is relatively simple: by capitalising on a newsworthy event, your content instantly becomes more clickable. There are a few drawbacks to an over-reliance on reactive marketing content – namely, the relevance of your posts inevitably withering with time – but, if used correctly, reactive content can achieve staggering results for your brand, chiefly in the following areas:

  • It helps your brand stay relevant
  • It helps you connect with customers
  • It extends the longevity of your other content

Is your content often delivered late?  Do you have trouble getting it signed-off? If so, then it sounds like you could benefit from defining a content workflow; a set of tasks that determine how content is requested, sourced, reviewed, approved and delivered. Trying to get by without such a process will lead to you running the risk of projects getting stuck and people being unsure or unaware of their responsibilities and the amount of time that it may take to complete a task.

A defined content workflow tells people in all roles where the content is in the process when their turn comes, and it clarifies what they must do to deliver what’s needed when it’s needed. The workflow will also help the project manager recognise bottlenecks so that he or she can take measures to keep content moving toward production and ensure that sign-off matches required deadlines.

If you don’t know your audience and what they want, then no form of marketing (content included) is going to work for you. Take the time to listen to your audience (perhaps building personas) and what they’re telling you based on how they interact/ engage with your content. This kind of information is a goldmine, and who wouldn’t want to dig into a goldmine when they find one.

This kind of analysis is key to any content strategy, it allows you to discover gaps, identify new opportunities, adapt to the needs and desires of your market and discover if your content is truly addressing those needs.

Even if you follow all these tips, it’s still crucial to remember that content marketing isn’t a short-term investment. One you get it right, it will really pay-off, you just need to be willing to put the time and effort into it.

If you’d like any more advice about creating content, the type that will build revenue and drive relationships, then simply contact a member of the Bright team and we can get started an approach that works for you and your audience.

Charlotte Fellows8 Tips for creating (lots of) great content
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The power of content

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Interruptions are infuriating. There are only so many times that you can demand your audience’s attention and persuade someone to buy a product, consider a service, read more, click here…or whatever your call to action may be.

Since you only get a few chances (if that!) to connect, producing relevant content that brings value to its readers is key to engaging with them.

Positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry is essential for establishing trust, proving authority, building awareness, and, ultimately, on market share.

But how do you go about creating killer content that will set you apart from the rest?

Be a giver

“The paradox is the more info you give away; the more people will buy what you have to give.”

Brian Clark hit’s the nail on the head. Your reader must feel like he or she has something to gain – or else they’ll quickly disengage.

Show them your unique perspective. Teach them something they didn’t know. Give advice that they can act on.

Business leaders want to learn before they invest, so set out to inform your audience – not to pitch to it. This not only shows that you know your stuff, but establishes an association between you and added value.

Be readable

This is obviously essential – but often overlooked. Your content has to be effortlessly digested, if is to pack a punch.

Be clear. Be concise. Be compelling. Make sure it is easy to absorb:

• Utilise bullet points (see what I did there?)
• Use images to break up the text
• Bold key words so that they stand out
• Look at the typography and font size
• Consider column width
• Think about colour
• How are the lines spaced?
• Where will your ‘call to action’ go?

It is important that your content is, not only readable, but also usable. Make it interactive by including links – both to other areas of your own site and to relevant third party content if this applies.

Incidentally, there is more on how to write better copy.

Sharing is caring

So, you’ve written something tremendous? In today’s world (where cat videos go viral in minutes) you need to ensure that your content is shareable.

Integrate social sharing tools to make it is easy for your reader to spread the word – your word.

All you need is a button, for example, that allows your reader to tweet your content with one click of the mouse. There are a ton of tools out there to help you to encourage others to promote your work. Help them to help you.

Think SEO

Not only do you want to enable someone to share your stuff – you also want others to be able to stumble upon it.

To boost your search engine ranking, and help readers find your content online, you will need to assign it at least one strong key word. You will then need to optimise your content, and its metadata, for your chosen terms.

This might involve doing some initial key word research (again, there are several tools to help you with this) but it will pay dividends in the end.

Read more on the do’s and don’ts of SEO.

Build a strategy

Yes, you can write something that will rock your reader’s world, but it’s what you do with your content that really counts:

• How is it distributed? Through which channels, on what devices, and in what form?
• To whom is it delivered?
• Where is it hosted?
• How regularly is it updated?
• Is it consistent?
• Is it relevant?
• Is it current – and how do you plan to keep pace with hot topics?
• What is the overall objective?
• Who is going to follow up – and how?

How you promote your content is truly essential – or your words may fall on deaf ears. If it’s searchable, shareable, and you’re shouting about it, you have a powerful weapon at your disposal.

At Bright Innovation we believe that if you get your content marketing right, it will speak for itself, and help you to build the relationships that will ultimately drive revenue.

If you’d like to talk about the kind of approach that might work for you, contact a member of the Bright team!

Charlotte FellowsThe power of content
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How to write better copy

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When it comes to writing copy, you need to get it right. Whether you’re writing a press release, sales pitch, blog post or an e-mail campaign, your copy needs to engage. This is your chance to have your message heard – and you only get one shot. Lose your audience’s interest and your message will fall on deaf ears.

With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to write better copy.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is critical to how you communicate with them. The purpose of copy (generally) is to influence someone’s course of action. In order to do this you need to know who that person is and how that person thinks.

Research your audience. Find out what those in the industry value and what challenges they face:

  • What do they like? Dislike?
  • What else do they read?
  • What language do they use?
  • In what tone are they used to being addressed? Is it authoritative? Conversational? Humorous?

Establish an appropriate identity before you attempt to engage your reader – or else they’ll disengage with you.

Composition and content

Be clear on the story that you are trying to tell and what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want your audience to purchase something? Join something? Go somewhere? Read more? Your call to action should be very specific and impossible to miss.

Use the fewest words possible to get your message across.

  • Think: simple and elegant – and boil everything down to its basic element.
  • Be descriptive but avoid adjectives.
  • Use active verbs – buy, join, visit, read – and where possible back up your persuasive language up with fact.
  • If you’re giving a technical description bullet points work well to directly relay information.
  • Vary your sentence lengths. Shorter sentences have higher impact. But too many short sentences can be exhausting. Lots of long sentences will get boring – so strike the balance right.
  • Read your copy out loud to get a sense of how it sounds.

Proof read – and then proof read again

Make sure your copy is completely clean.

  • Take out repetitive words or sentences.
  • Check spelling and grammar twice.
  • Even better, have a colleague check your work.
  • If that’s not possible, read your copy backwards (your brain will think that you are reading something new).

Remember, your copy reflects you – and you want to put your best foot forward. If you present well, readers will assume that you do your work well too.

Charlotte FellowsHow to write better copy
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