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Newsletter productivity remote working writing

✍️How to create a writing culture

How does remote work change the way companies get things done?

David Perell (Write of Passage) said, “Remote work leads to writing-centric companies instead of speaking-centric ones.” Amazon and Stripe have a heavy writing culture. Amazon is famous for its six-page narratives, and Jeff Bezos is a brilliant writer. 

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences and complete paragraphs, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking.

Here’s how to write like an Amazonian 🚀

The GitLab team handbook is their central repository for how they run the company. Over 2000 pages of text, and as part of their value of being transparent, it’s open-source. Darren Murph, GitLab’s Head of Remote, has talked about the importance of having a Chief Documentarian and writing everything down with remote teams. 

Bill Gates was on it in ‘99. New Rules: collaborative culture & digital information flow.

I read all the e-mail that employees send me, and I pass items on to people for action. I find unsolicited mail an incredibly good way to stay aware of the attitudes and issues affecting the many people who work at Microsoft. 

Better writing  Better thinking  Better communication  Clear leadership  Boosts productivity

Writing democratises ideas and lets teams have their say. It breaks down workplace politics—you’re not relying on verbal accounts, 1:1s or presenteeism to get stuff done. Transparency and good documentation build trust. Josh Bernoff“Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity.” 

How Stripe built a writing culture ✍️

David Perell asked Brie Wolfson, who worked at Stripe for five years and set up Stripe Press to talk to his students about how companies can create a writing culture. 

Out of their conversations, she made this stellar guide 🚀

I’ve come to believe that Stripe’s culture of writing is one of the organization’s greatest superpowers. As startup whisperer patio11 puts it, Stripe is a celebration of the written word which happens to be incorporated in the state of Delaware.

Stripe has always treated documentation as a first-class product. People from every corner of the company author blog posts. The company publishes a magazine about building and operating software (Increment) and books about technological and economic progress (Stripe Press). 

But what we don’t see is the massive library of content produced in-house for employees. She says that’s where the real magic happens…

This interview digs into the company culture. Go deep and move fast.

One thing that distinguishes Stripe is that it’s an incredibly deep-thinking culture. It’s a written culture really focused on getting to the right answer. 

Another thing is a sense of urgency. The company is especially dedicated to moving very, very fast.  

Bring the Donuts

Ann Handley is also brilliant on this stuff. How to champion a content-oriented culture—the key to a customer-centric, intuitive, empathic point of view.

We don’t appreciate the work that goes into minute-taking—it’s bloody hard work!


🛠🖐5 Things 

★ Stop Asking QuestionsHow to lead high impact interviews and learn anything from anyone (Holloway). Lessons from a veteran podcast host with 2000+ episodes on the secrets of deeper conversation. It teaches you how to interview and how to learn. Excerpt here. I can’t get enough of Holloway’s brilliant books!

⟶ Stop Asking Questions

★ How to take smart notes (Forte Labs). Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the secret of her career success is down to diligent and reliable notetaking. A simple technique to boost your writing, learning and thinking. Have a listen to Tiago’s interview and Q&A with the author, Sönke Ahren here.

⟶ How to take smart notes.

★ Field Notes: Miami (Devon Zuegel). What’s it like to live in Miami, the new tech hub? Writer and Product Director Devon Zuegel on what makes Miami special. The colours! The flowers! Immigrant spirit. These field notes are a bit different from previous cities she’s explored because Miami is her home. I’m listening to Order Without Design, her new podcast about cities.

⟶ Field Notes: Miami

★ Exotic and sustainable, night trains are coming back to Europe. The ‘Euro Night Sprinter’ map is utopian, but Europe’s rail future could look a lot like it. It’s a proposal by the German Greens, who want a Europe-wide network of sleeper trains. By 2030, it would connect more than 200 cities and places across Europe. Slow, comfortable travel. All aboard! 🙏

⟶ Euro Night Sprinter Network

★ A Twitter thread from Dickie Bush with advanced tips for every internet tool. Starting with Twitter – 10 advanced features, how to master Google search, Google docs, YouTube rabbit holes, Mac tips and more. One to bookmark and return to when well-caffeinated – there’s a lot to digest here.

⟶ Advanced tips for every internet tool.

🤔 Major Lifehack: A New Study Has Found That A Key To Getting Stuff Done Is Not Just Sort Of Wasting The Hours Between 3 And 7 PM Every Day.

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Advice. Opinions. Conversation.

How digital marketing has changed during lockdown – some stats for your strategy

Covid-19 has radically changed how we work, shop and live our lives – speeding up digital transformation already happening. And as consumer behaviour changes, businesses have had to adapt quickly.

We’ve had a look at some of the big data coming out of lockdown to help you plan your digital marketing strategy for 2021. Eight months on, some clues are coming out as to what trends will be long term.

What’s clear is digital is leading the way and helping companies to respond to the loss in revenue with the pandemic, which means reorienting business models to be digital-first is vital to keep pace with long-term changes in consumer behaviour.

Advertising spending pre and post-Covid

Data from the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) shows brands are slashing advertising spend for 2020 to the tune of 50 million globally. Their latest Global Ad Trends report shows almost all product categories will see a decline in ad investment this year. However, best practice shows brands should continue to spend through difficult times to position themselves for recovery.

Consumer trends during lockdown

Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends survey explores the rise in online shopping, banking, video streaming and healthcare in response to the lockdown.

  • About 40% of respondents did more online shopping during lockdown
  • 14% had more remote (phone or video) appointments with health practitioners
  • 1/3 streamed more films and TV series on vod platforms

Here’s Google’s new data on six lockdown consumer trends here for the long-term.

Localism is accelerating

In the UK 43% of consumers believe local businesses are good for the economy and 57% said after lockdown they’re more likely to spend money at a business that offers locally produced products or services. Google searches for things ‘near me’ have rocketed. Highlight the local aspects of your product or service. Make sure your website is optimised for local search and update your Google My Business listing.

Be seen and heard in the community – there’s a focus on ethical and sustainable brands doing good and being helpful. 65% of people say a brand’s response to the pandemic will hugely impact their likelihood to buy its products, and that businesses have a big part to play in helping society recover. Strong brand values are important. Communicate what you’re doing locally to help during the crisis.

Social media communities

Ofcom’s latest report Online Nation shows a 61% growth in social media engagement during lockdown. We’re looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during the pandemic.

TikTok reached 12.9m UK adults in April, up from 5.4m in January. Twitch, the popular live streaming platform for gamers, saw visitors increase from 2.3m to 4.2m. Video calls have doubled during lockdown, with more than 7 in 10 doing so at least weekly. Houseparty grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4m in April. Zoom had the biggest growth, from 659,000 adults to reach 13m adults over the same period.

People are moving away from conventional forms of communication – landline and SMS to messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Is your business there?

Video is essential

Video is now an essential, not nice to have. Ofcom’s report shows 9 in 10 adults, and almost all older children aged 8-15 are using sites like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok to create and share videos online. 1/3 of adults now spend more time viewing video-sharing services than broadcast TV. There’s been an explosion in user-generated content, and creators are making money from it.

It’s easier to watch videos when we’re working at home, and we have more time. Could you bring in more ‘how to’ tutorials next year? It need not be expensive and high production – a handheld iPhone clip is authentic and can be just as effective. Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel, Dad, how do I? has two million followers and has been described as wholesome and the purest thing. His content went viral and he’s now teamed up with retailers.

Community groups were the most popular thing on Facebook last year catering to our hobbies, interests and a desire to help out locally. You may not have the resources to run social media ad campaigns, but it’s free to set up a Facebook group – and more companies are hiring community managers to help them grow their business.

Social shopping posts

People are buying products in social media posts on Pinterest and Instagram – and also on LinkedIn via lead generation. We’ve been able to do this for a while, but the process is being refined to remove the friction in the user journey. Take advantage of this but always aim to drive people back to your website.

The rebirth of influencer marketing

Marketing with influencers has been around for a while – we’ve gone from brands working with big followings to micro-influencers with a more authentic, dedicated audience, who are seen as trusted specialists in their niche. YouTube is now giving influencers tools to help them measure their content and make money in new ways, and other platforms will do the same to support creators. It’s worth thinking about working with influencers on campaigns if this suits your business model.

Interactive content is becoming mainstream  

Tech-savvy consumers want to connect with brands in new and fun ways. The increase in online shopping searches for ‘live chat’, ‘virtual try on’, ‘next day delivery’ and ‘apps’ show we are looking for ways to enhance online shopping. Chatbots are one of the fastest-growing digital marketing trends in 2020 – the future of customer service. Interactive content is becoming mainstream – think about quizzes, polls, AI ads, podcasts, 360-degree videos, and voice search.

Responsive content marketing and education

We want simple, subtle and responsive content that improves our quality of life. It’s less about celebrity and selling – more focus on empathy and thought leadership. Provide thoughtful and useful content that improves your customers’ lives – tell them how you’re responding to the pandemic now. Be expressive and empathetic as far as it fits with your brand tone of voice – consistency is key. Think about cause-based communications – how you can help rather than what you can sell…

How can you help people to enjoy their time at home? Could you help them to work better and create new habits? Campaigns aimed at personal growth; mental health & wellbeing will do well. People are trying to become better versions of themselves, whether it’s learning a new skill, exercising more or meditating.

Revisit your website and social activity and think about where you can add value. Be positive, aspirational and supportive. Adapt your imagery to focus on social distancing and safety – your digital resources need to reflect reality. It’s vital to build trust at this time, and the best marketing campaigns engage with humans more helpfully.

People need seasonal content, things to look forward to, and reassurance. Be active on your social channels and adapt your messaging to suit the platform – if you’re B2B, focus on LinkedIn. For B2C – Facebook, Google Ads, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube. Facebook appeals to over 65s, while Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok attract younger audiences.

Investing in your customer’s online journey

WARC’s data shows the brands that have spent the last two years investing in their online customer journeys – be it via their website, app, or new technologies such as live streaming are now seeing the payoff. We’ll see a boom in click and collect at stores, pre-booking shopping slots online, and easy delivery. Sainsbury’s have done this well – investing in mobile app and e-commerce whereas Primark has no online presence and saw its sales drop from £650 million a month to zero after lockdown when stores had to close.

Your website is your window to the world – your shop front – so it needs to be up to date, fast and responsive to enquiries. If you’re a service-based business, can you add a tool that enables people to reschedule appointments? We’ve got used to the speed, ease and convenience of online shopping and contactless payments – why would we go back to supermarket queues and traffic jams?

Be agile, creative and experimental

Now is the time to be agile, creative, and innovative with your digital marketing. Don’t get bogged down in the process – act now as every day brings a new challenge. Find new ways to work and make quick decisions to speed up the creative process – automated digital tools can help you to meet this demand.

Digital is a shining light to help you through the next few months. Get your digital elves ready! Carry through the lessons you’ve learned in new ways of working.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy get in touch – we’d love to chat! hello@perspectivemarketinganddesign.co.uk.

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Advice. Opinions. Conversation.

The Shift: Issue #27

Black Friday deals; How to reduce your digital footprint; Not more content, smarter content to grow your business.

This year’s Black Friday is expected to be the busiest on record because of Covid-19 and early discounts. 2020 has seen a 74% surge in online shopping as a result of global lockdowns. 45% of adults received more parcels during lockdown than ever before. Some sectors are booming – electronics, health & fitness, while others are struggling – fast-fashion retailers – Boohoo is offering up to 90% discounts. Work clothes have gone out of the window – I’ve been living in my gym gear since March.  

So far, I’ve bought two online courses from Udemy for £9.99 each and spent a gift card I’ve been saving since the summer. I have a fake Xmas tree this year for the first time – my ‘realistic’ Narnia tree that should last 10-15 years.  

I had a chat with our postie who said he can’t believe the amount of landfill.

Stuff is just piling up, it’s shocking. I can’t talk, I keep buying things on Amazon. But there’s just too much packaging on stuff. We need to make sure it’s biodegradable.

Reducing your digital footprint

Reducing physical crap is one thing, but what about our digital clutter? There’s a secret cause of global warming that we don’t talk about or think about much. It’s more insidious as it’s invisible. I’m lucky enough to work from home on a laptop but reading Gerry’s McGovern’s new book, World Wide Waste, has been a real eye-opener and made me think more about how I work and my digital footprint. Read more.