A lot of what keeps organizations from achieving success is simply believing myths, so we're going to debunk a few common ones we come across often. Joining us is Speak's Customer Success Manager, Megan Jones. Listen to Megan and Speak's VPs discuss how we're helping partners achieve success and overcome obstacles that are keeping them from that success.
Kindra: Well, another podcast, another Matt missing. Am I right? Welcome back to A Little Off Topic. I am Kindra Svendsen and I am joined by Matt Ervin today. Hi Matt.
Ervin: Hi, Kindra.
Kindra: How are you doing?
Ervin: I'm doing pretty good. Pretty good.
Kindra: We are missing our third counterpart. Last time, you were gone on vacation and now our other Matt is out on vacation.
Ervin: So I know the last time we went on vacation, he was going to go dress up Harry Potter and do something with a wand. This is different, right?
Kindra: He's actually at the beach, where you were okay.
Ervin: Lower Alabama?
Kindra: I think he is on the Florida side, but he did mention trying to high-five you on the interstate as you guys passed by each other last podcast. So, yeah.
Ervin: Yeah, that didn't happen if anyone's keeping up.
Kindra: Eh that's okay and in his absence, we of course have another one of our awesome teammates here. Megan Jones. Welcome.
Megan: Hi, thanks for having me.
Kindra: Thanks for being here. So Megan is Speak's Customer Success Manager. Megan, over the years, you've worn many hats but always in some role creating success for our partners. So account manager, brand strategist, now client success manager. In your current role, you are helping our partners find success and overcome obstacles and we are really appreciative of what you're doing.
Megan: Thanks. It's been a fun ride and it's fun to work with clients through all those roles and see them evolve and look at what comes next.
Ervin: Jones, how long have you been with Speak?
Kindra: As of this month, six years.
Kindra: Well, a lot of what keeps the organizations running is Megan busting down the myths that some people believe. So Megan, we're going to play MythBusters today and rapid fire throw some myths at you and get your take on frequently asked questions that clients give us and maybe issues that you run into. So excited for that.
Megan: Me too. I'm excited to hear what you got and some of the common questions that come my way that I get to help work through with our clients.
Kindra: Sure. So before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about your role and what you do day-to-day?
Megan: Absolutely. So as you mentioned, I've come from a few different roles. I had been heavily involved in the project side of things and those with retainers that had active work going on. Now I've transitioned into a role where if you're not in an active project, maybe your website has launched recently and you're in that in-between phase, I come alongside you and help with that day-to-day "what should you be doing between the redesigns?" Everything from marketing strategy to looking ahead at when you should consider a new redesign if problems come up or there's new trends that you're interested in exploring. All kinds of stuff.
Ervin: Here's your first myth to debunk. My brand doesn't have a story to tell.
Megan: Oh this is a good one. Yeah. Thinking about how people present themselves online, both in the services that they offer and how they tell their story, this comes to play a lot in video. Many years ago, the video was first taking off with background video in your hero image, often on your homepage, and that is still a strong and effective strategy that we use. But over time, we've seen that evolve into more videos being embedded on your site, talking about your services, your company, those kinds of things in an interview style and then most recently that's evolved into storytelling and narratives that really go beyond just that surface layer of mission and vision. But, really what makes organizations stand out. So typically it's the nonprofits that have those stories that pull at your heartstrings and get people really engaged. But I love working with clients regardless of their industry, small business, medical, of course, the nonprofits, churches, ministries, all those because every brand has something unique about them. If I just ask the question "okay, what makes you stand out from your competition or what makes you different than other people?" You're going to have an answer to that and that's where it starts.
Kindra: That's a great answer. I know that we talked with our video team about brands that aren't really sexy to begin with and how we can find that storyline and it really comes down to where the passion is for whoever has the business. There's something that has led them there and that's, I think, a great jumping off point to tell any story. So, okay. Let's jump into the next myth: it's not worth investing in content generation for my website.
Megan: This is another good one, very common. Maybe sometimes stated a little bit differently with just hesitation or uncertainty. The truth is that content generation for a website is time consuming. It does take up resources, both capacity on your team or time, if you're sourcing that out. But I would argue all day every day that it is worth it. When we're talking about how competitive your digital landscape is and trying to get that top ranking on Google, or just trying to stand out and be noticed online. The phrase has been repeated often: content is king. The more you put online that Google can see and be aware of who you are and what you do, the more they have to recognize you as an authoritative resource and an expert in your field. If you don't put that content online, then they don't have that content to crawl.
Kindra: Girl after my own heart. Perfect answer Megan.
Ervin: Well, and I don't know, the little bit that I understand about such things. It seems that if your website is designed to tell your story, that the better you craft your story, the better job you do telling it, the more effective your site's going to be. So it's worth some investment. It's also your face and your front door for absolutely everybody.
Megan: I'd add that it's a long-term game. So when you're talking about content generation and looking for results and what it's going to bring, it's not an overnight change or benefit. But it's very indicative. The time you put in is an indication of the results you get. So a quick example would be a small business that we've been working with for years and they have just done small bits of investment in content every month for many years and you can just see their trending line moving upward of slow and steady growth and that can have in different contexts, a lot of value, sometimes even more than those quicker peaks and valleys that you could create with other methods.
Kindra: It really expands the lifetime of your website if you're infusing new content, new excitable things in your website. You're not going to have to knock it down and rebuild every few years because it's living and breathing and that's what we go for.
Ervin: And Google wants to return results to its users that are fresh and current and not stale and so they pay attention to how often you had stuff.
Kindra: Alright, Megan, next myth, if we can. So: I am new in my role and my website is terrible. I need to find a new agency to overhaul everything. How do you handle that question when it comes your way?
Megan: Wow. There's a lot packed into that one. I feel I could separate this into three completely different answers which I may do. I've seen this a lot, especially just in the past year. A lot of transition has happened and that includes the roles of who we are interacting with in the seat of their marketing and communications positions consolidations, expansions, just different changes. I've seen a pattern in when people come in and they're in that new role, reasonably so, that they are there and they need to prove not just their worth, but they're capable of making those decisions and being a hero if it's been identified that the website isn't up to par.
Megan: And so it's an easy, I guess, finger to point at, "oh, well this is our current provider. The website's not where we want it. You know, that must be their fault. We're moving on." There are so many factors that go into the status of a website and where it is how, it's performing and so my advice and how, what, how bust this myth is that there are many reasons a website would fall short, to include things maybe it was redesigned several years ago and the redesign to do a redo design or make other updates been feasible up to that point. It's not because an agency isn't offering that help or making recommendations, sharing proposals, doing that, but it may not be feasible. It could be a change in taste or preference. Company goals change, which drive the story and direction for the website. So if you're coming into a new role, I would challenge you to really get to know your current agency and just get a status. Almost a state of the union of just hearing reports on how we got here. Just to understand it, before you start shuffling things around, because a lot of times what people find out is when they start making big changes real fast, they realize, "oh, maybe we moved too quickly" and they get in a bind.
Ervin: Yeah, that makes sense. I think one other thing I'd probably throw in there is if you have an agency that knows you and they're a competent agency and have good folks working for them, if you just punt that relationship, you're starting from square one, you have no history coming into this, so it's going to start fresh. If you're a rookie at the organization, that's a good way to step into some things that you didn't know existed. If you're working with an agency that has worked with you for a while, then they can help guide you around some of those potholes.
Megan: Yeah, that's true and there's a lot of value, I'm so glad you brought that up, into working on someone that knows your organization, your history, as well as the market you're in. You have to look beyond the walls of your business, your organization. But for example, we work with a lot of attractions and beyond the habitats of the animals and where they're located, we're looking at, "okay, what other types of attractions are you competing with in your regional area?" The fact that we have that knowledge and just naturally bring that into our recommendations is a huge value. Whereas if you go somewhere new, you're going to be starting from scratch, just like you said.
Ervin: Yep. Alright. Ready for the next one?
Megan: Let's do it.
Ervin: The next myth is I don't need to redesign my website. It's only five years old.
Kindra: Hmm. Let's hear it Megan.
Ervin: Did you like the way that I did that? I felt like an actor.
Kindra: It sounds like you've heard exactly that, Matt.
Ervin: Maybe I have.
Megan: I fully support bringing in voice acting to this, by the way. This is great. Yes. working with clients who have been Speak clients for as little as a few months up to 10 years and more, I see all versions of this. Sometimes that number is a lot higher than five. When they're questioning if they need to redesign. A little history on the trend of redesign, there had been a standard best practice of redesigning every three to five years for a while and where that came from was based on the technology and trends and practices that go into those website builds. Then what happens so quickly after you do a build, so at the pace that things are changing after three or five years, things are already way ahead of where they were when you launched your site. Responsive website technology was a big factor in that. If you're not familiar with it, a quick history is that you used to have to have two versions of your website, the mobile version and the desktop website, so that a user could pull it up on either. But responsive websites mean you can have one website and it scales to the device that your user is on.
Kindra: I'd like to interject here and say if you weren't familiar with responsive websites, it's time for a redesign.
Ervin: Yeah. That's not even a buzzword anymore.
Megan: That's so true. So after that happened, that's where we got in that cadence of three to five years, depending on the goals and nature of your design and lots of different factors there. But since then, there hasn't been another change that's of that magnitude that really just completely changes the approach to design. We're in a place now where we're able to take a really solid design that has strategy built into it and a game plan, not just what do we want today, but where are we going and what strategy can we build into this site so that it grows with us? So if it's been three years or more since you've had a redesign, now would be a good time to get you up to speed with where things are. The good news is that there are ways to then extend the shelf life of your investment.
Kindra: I think that that is great news for so many businesses, because it is this big budget item. Every three to five years, you can expect to spend a large sum of money, but the truth is websites are breathing, are living and should be updated. By updating them, we can really go past that five years now where that just wasn't possible before.
Megan: Definitely with investments along the way, you definitely don't want to leave a website sitting untouched for five years, but you're absolutely right. If you have a solid start and then just regularly invest in it.
Ervin: Yeah. It's kind of like your house. If you just let stuff sit around, the paint starts falling off and everything else, and then you wait five years to do anything about it, you're going to have a whole lot to fix at one time. You're going to hate your house for four of those years. It's going to be bad. So the other piece of this though is on the technological side because the things that we can do today, we couldn't do six months ago or things that we could do six months ago that would have been difficult for you to manage or difficult for non-coder people to deal with, we can make very easily now. So that trend is only going to continue, where we are developing newer technologies, newer practices, newer tools that make us able to deliver a much more easy to use website. The old CMS issue of, "well, I can't get access to that" is rapidly going away. There's very little that we can't easily give you access to in managing your website now. So keeping up with the underlying technology and making sure that if there's something that's frustrating, let's figure out how to deal with it because it's probably not gonna be hard to deal with.
Kindra: I'm just sitting here thinking about 2026 and what websites are going to look like in five years and that is a little scary to think about. Surely the website will have a scratch and sniff feature or something by then, right? How advanced are we going to be?
Megan: Your team is working on that, right?
Ervin: No, we're collecting concentrated smells that they're going to have to install. Yeah. It's like a printer, but it's smeller.
Kindra: But it is weird to think about where we'll be. It's hard to imagine being more advanced than we are.
Ervin: You want me to make a prediction?
Kindra: Let's hear it. Put it in the time capsule.
Ervin: Do it. You'll see more things move towards heads up display type of stuff. So glasses being used more frequently. Ways for you to interact with stuff online without it having to take all of your attention. Such as when you're staring at a screen, like your phone in your car. I think you'll see more wearables, but I think it's going to revolve a lot around how you can intake information and communicate without having to focus as much of your attention as much of your direct attention on it. That's where it's going.
Kindra: Are you saying we're going to get what you see in the Marvel movies, how the screen just pops up in mid-air and we can play with the internet without a device?
Ervin: I don't think it'll be holographic, if that's what that is. I don't think it's going to be quite that, but I think it will be more transparent screens, that kind of stuff, where you can see through it. It’s how a heads up display works in a car, it's projecting it on the windshield. I think there'll be stuff that and just voice interaction is going to get much, much better.
Megan: Really looking forward to that.
Kindra: Yeah. Interesting.
Megan: I have actually a couple other thoughts on this question. It's just such a deep one. When a client comes to me and is talking about their redesign, it's really important for me to understand why they are wanting to put it off? Is it a need, are you truly happy with what you have or are you trying to stretch your budget, which is totally understandable and a lot of times we learn that it's resources that are holding them back or not understanding what you're missing out, which includes business leads, new visitors, all that stuff. There may be a misunderstanding in what else you could be getting in leveraging. Truly, your website should be working for you. It doesn't just sit there as a static brochure and so I love educating people around that and helping them understand that.
Kindra: So that was a great segue because our next myth really revolves around that. Here it is. "I don't need an app. The info's already on our website." Can you talk a little bit about apps and their purpose?
Megan: You just quoted seven people that I can think of. So again, I think back to the evolution of this concept, and at one point there was this app trend where if "I don't have an app, I need an app" was the mindset, which is also a myth. That's not what you asked, but I'm gonna go ahead and bust that. Not having an app is not a reason to necessarily get one. But on the same token, there are so many excellent industries and types of organizations that benefit really well from a strong app. So attractions, entertainment, churches and ministries, you see it with, of course restaurants. Any type of organization that has an experiential aspect to what they do, an app is worth considering. So when we talk about that balance or even that almost tension between content on your website versus your app, the way I break it down is that your app is really designed for the people that are on site. Technically they could be offsite, but basically onsite interacting with your content and engaging with an experience. So I'll just use a zoo for an example, it's an easy one. You've got people who are going to be walking your grounds, exploring, looking for things. You've got a very large campus there that they're exploring and so having an app, which is a companion to their visit, there's a lot of ways to enhance their visit and make it more valuable. So with that same example, you can imagine you're going to have your map on the website and the app. That makes sense, things like your hours. But where your homepage on your website used to be taken over by that information, your hours, your days of operation, your map, where do I park, all those details? You know, you can free up that space on your website and use that for your revenue generating items. So if you direct people towards your app for the experiential pieces, definitely still keep the high level data on your site. People will search for it. There's a way to set that up well, but then go ahead and use that space. You've got a lot of space where people are exploring. If they're coming to your site for the first time, see what events are available and generate some revenue for your organization.
Ervin: It sounds really simple when you say it that way, but I don't know that that's the first way people are thinking about it.
Kindra: That's why we need Megan just on all the client conversations.
Megan: I would say, if you think "I'm not an attraction that doesn't apply to me." Okay, well maybe visiting the zebras doesn't apply to you. But let's use a church example. You've got people who regularly attend your services, your events, who are very engaged with you, who are familiar with who you are. Having an app to experience that, everything from events and seeing what's coming up, getting plugged into small groups, sermon notes, it's part of just their daily use and engagement or weekly, depending on that cadence. Then your website can be geared towards standing out and attracting new people who may get bogged down by all those other details. If I'm brand new, that's great to see all these events, but if I have to scroll past seven events this week, I don't feel engaged yet and that may not feel relevant to me yet and so put more content up there that's going to pull me in and compel me to get engaged.
Ervin: Alright, Megan, last myth. This is the grand finale. "Launching my website is the finish line."
Megan: Okay. Yep. I can definitely relate to that perspective. I guess I come from project work where I worked with clients. It's an intense project and process to work through that. It's constant engagement and feedback and we share something, they share something, we process it and that back and forth that cadence. Then it does feel like you launched that site and you can finally breathe and exhale. That is understandable and is good for a time, but one of the reasons that your website redesign feels that and is a daunting process or maybe not daunting, but just a high capacity process is, if you're not touching it for five years, you've got a lot of ground to make up and a really fast paced that you're working to make up that ground. So I would say that if you are about to launch your website, it's really important and this is part of my role, so I'll be doing this with you, to understand what should I be doing six months out, a year out? In those in-between months, how should we be maintaining our site, both from technical performance aspects to growth and achieving goals. What are your goals? Once you launch a website, you've achieved the goal of refreshing your brand presence, the look, the feel, the function, how your users can interact with your content and through your website, but then are you using it for lead generation? Are you making the online processes or maybe processes that haven't been online as easy as possible for your users? And that never stops because people don't stop and the technology doesn't stop. So when you've started a project, a few months, several months, depending on the size of the project, sometimes a year goes by. Those technology advances and changes keep going and so there are always new things to consider. Always new strategies to implement and so once you know, hit that milestone. Once you cross that milestone of launching your website, then you really should change your mindset just instead of pushing something new to, "okay, how do we continue growing and get the most out of this massive investment that we've made?"
Kindra: I think instead of a finish line, it's more a relay. Once the website launches, you pass the baton off and now strategic marketing needs to take place. The updates need to take place. There's so much that you can do because you've got this new tool. So it's definitely not the finish line, but it really should power you forward in a big way.
Ervin: Yeah, I think we would be crazy not to do a quick plug here for the new way that we're suggesting our clients do websites. We call it momentum. The whole idea is that instead of you running a sprint type race every five years, let's get into a cadence of running a marathon. We're going to go for a longer time. But not at the same pace, so that when you do launch your site, it doesn't necessarily feel you're exhausted and you need to sit down. It's more of we're going to continually make small improvement after small improvement. Like Kindra said, a relay from one jump to the next.
Megan: Yeah and one of the perks from that too, is then you are reaping the benefits and the growth from those investments sooner. When you do a redesign, you have a whole list of goals, your wishlist, things you want to achieve and none of that really comes to fruition until you launch it all together. There's a purpose in that and that's important. But then after that, the chances are that you're going to have some growth goals before five years pass and you don't need to wait to go after that and start working towards them. I think in my history, I have literally had one person that came in and when I was first introduced to them and getting started, they told me "I don't want to grow." So I thought, oh, okay. I was taking a little back. I wasn't exactly sure what my job was then, but they had signed on for some minimal services. But that's just one person and I thought, okay, we'll work through that. But typically everyone wants to grow and there's a cliche out there "if you're not growing, you're dying" and there's some truth to that. If you're staying static and not moving forward, your site is aging, your content is aging, your strategies are aging. So cross that milestone. Catch your breath. Take the time to reward your team for a job well done and then just start dreaming and looking ahead to what you can achieve with your brand new deliverable.
Kindra: That's awesome. Well, Megan, thanks for being on the podcast today. Our last question, the way we send off our guests is to get a little off topic if you will, and ask about something completely not related to Speak. So those of us here on the show, we know you're big into all sorts of things. Whether it's all things Oklahoma or Texas, maybe charity work and nonprofits that you're passionate about. But today I'd like to ask you about musical theater. You are a big fan of the theater. So I'd like to know maybe what's your favorite musical that you've ever seen? Maybe your favorite of all time, whether you've seen it in person.
Ervin: I have a guess. I'm going to write down my guess. Go ahead and answer.
Kindra: I think I know the answer, so I won't.
Megan: This is a good one and yes, I have missed attending live shows for sure. But my number one favorite, you have your answer written Matt?. My number one is Les Mis.
Ervin: Oh man. I picked King Kong.
Megan: That would definitely come in second for sure.
Ervin: The 2018 classic.
Megan: Yeah. Let me know if that comes to the Orpheum. I'll see what I can do. But no, Les Mis, if you don't know that story, go check it out. It's a great one and if you have any Broadway hookups, my contact information is on the website. That is one of my goals is to see it on Broadway. I've seen it live in other places though.
Ervin: Well, I think that about wraps us up. The mention of king Kong is a good way to end just about anything. So thanks a lot, Jones, for joining us. Loved having you on the podcast and getting to talk with you.
Jones: Awesome. Thank you guys so much.
Roberts: From myself, our panel today and all of us at Speak, thanks for getting a little off topic with us. If you liked today's episode, you'd love the content our team is cranking out on our blog, head over to madebyspeak.com to check out the latest and greatest. If you enjoyed the show, subscribe and leave a review on your podcast platform of choice and see you next time.
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