Ballyhoo is a digital agency that helps organisations thrive online.
The team celebrated its 10-year anniversary at Birmingham’s Innovation Centre – one of Pure Offices’ latest serviced office acquisitions – this March.
We caught up with Managing Director Anthony Chaffey to learn more about Ballyhoo’s journey through the years, how it’s using new technologies like ChatGPT, and how the Innovation Centre has changed since Pure Offices took over in 2022.
Hi Anthony! What’s the story behind the name Ballyhoo?
A few years ago I helped produce an e-commerce platform, and we were looking for a name. The platform itself was simple but it made a big deal of search engine optimisation and made it really easy for users to promote their products.
The word Ballyhoo is about making a big fuss about something seemingly small, so we went for the name ‘Ballyhoo Commerce’.
When the two other founders decided to go different ways, I stayed and took the business in a more web-focused direction. I kept ‘Ballyhoo’: the word reflects our aim which is to make as much noise as possible about small businesses with modest product or service portfolios.
We cover everything from branding, website design and custom development, to social media, content strategy, search engine optimisation and paid advertising.
Which industries do you specialise in?
A variety. The principles we apply to projects work across all industries. We take our time to understand the individual business, its target audience and what it wants to achieve, and we don’t assume that any business is the same.
A few of the industries we work with were hit really hard during Covid lockdowns; some of our hospitality companies and retailers really struggled. We continued to grow through that period though because we had plenty of customers in industries that were thriving.
I’ve recently been providing consultancy for a business owner who sells fishing equipment. Their business boomed because it was the one of the only activities people could do outside on their own!
Because a lot of businesses could still operate if they were ‘online’, we thought that businesses that were yet to try online selling would do so during the pandemic. But many of them weren’t in a position to invest, or perhaps weren’t willing to take that gamble. It was the business owners who had already invested that we were able to help grow.
What are your thoughts on ChatGPT?
I come from a computer science background and built my own AI systems years ago. When I first read about ChatGPT I didn’t really believe the hype; knowing the limitations of AI, I just wasn’t convinced it was going to be as good as people said.
But we’ve been using it as much as possible over the last few weeks to see what it’s capable of. We’re finding it really useful for content generation: it’s verbose and the responses are really broad. We’ve also been testing it for development work.
You can ask ChatGPT questions and it will write chunks of code for you. Sometimes it can accurately write a bit of code in a matter of seconds; something that could take an individual hours to write. Other times you’ll ask something and it’ll provide an inaccurate answer.
You really need to know what you’re doing, and I don’t think developers are going to be out of a job overnight. I think it could really help with efficiency but you really do need to understand the technologies and ask the right questions in the first place.
Pure Offices acquired the Innovation Centre a year ago. How has the building changed since then?
Pure Offices has invested in the building. One of the really key things for us is that they’re very focused on green credentials and Net Zero, which is a big focus for us too (we’ve invested in various ecology projects ourselves, such as planting trees and removing carbon from the atmosphere).
Helping the environment is really important to us so it’s cool to be in a building that prioritises sustainability, especially when we personally don’t have control over things like where the electricity comes from. We’re excited to be getting solar panels too. They’ve also invested in improving the kitchens, meeting spaces and breakout spaces within the building.
What’s on the horizon for Ballyhoo?
We’re considering what we’re going to do in terms of office space. We’ve got several staff now who are working permanently from home; they transitioned well during Covid and have found that it works much better for them.
We may downsize and generally become a bit more flexible in terms of working space.
We’re excited to be incredibly busy at the moment with work booked up into June and July. We’ve got a full suite of products and can provide everything that our clients need. We’re also constantly evaluating and improving the quality of the products we produce.
And we’re investing quite a lot of time in new technologies like ChatGPT.
We’ve been doing a lot more in terms of our own marketing over the last 12 months too. We’ve always been so busy with our clients’ marketing that we’ve never really done it for ourselves until now. It’s paying dividends – we’re getting a lot more enquiries and are super busy, so keeping everything going, staying organised and working efficiently is the focus right now!
Pure Offices is a workplace for everyone. Whether you’re a startup business, global corporate, looking for a first home or a regional satellite office – our offices are flexible, affordable and designed with well-being in mind. For more information about any of our centres, get in touch with our friendly team, who will be happy to help.