This summer, I celebrated my 7th "Speakiversary," our team's endearing term for work anniversaries.
According to Google, the traditional gifts for a 7th anniversary are copper and wool. If I were Oprah, I’d be announcing that you’re all going home with hoards of pennies and pet sheep. Unfortunately I couldn’t make that happen, so instead I’m sharing 7 of my top takeaways from my first 7 years at Speak Creative.
Serving as Speak's Client Success Manager has allowed me to partner with clients on all aspects of their digital presence. From the overarching strategy to the details "in the weeds" of projects and campaigns, I love seeing the pieces come together and create results. This list speaks not only to the marketing success and team growth I’ve experienced over the years, but also life lessons that are more widely applicable. I hope you'll find it valuable as you consider your team's strategies and maybe even take time to reflect on what you've learned in your own work experience.
1. Achieving ROI first requires making an "I".
I've seen it time and time again during my tenure. Clients have big visions and growth goals, but when it comes to developing a realistic marketing budget, they shy away from putting good in to get good out. ROI, or Return on Investment, is one of the terms we use often in marketing to measure the success of our strategies, but often, strategies become stifled early on out of a business owner or decision maker's fear of making that big investment.
One of the major lessons I've learned in my seven years is that in marketing and audience growth, being a little brave can pay off in a major way.
It's common knowledge that growth is directly impacted by the effort put forth. This is true whether it’s a financial investment or commitment of other resources, or simply a willingness to stick with a challenge and see it through. It's understandable that when organizations experience budget constriction, it can feel easier to cut marketing budget, or budget that plans for a future, rather than cutting budget that impacts the now. But, I've learned in a big way by working with clients and impacting organizations over the years that by cutting back on the investment you're making in the future, you're stifling your potential for growth.
TL;DR: Taking that leap of faith to invest in a big idea or prediction can feel risky, but taking no action is just as risky. The only way to grow is to move forward. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Kind of like every plant I’ve ever owned. RIP 🪴
2. It's all about the people.
The ones you work with. The ones you work for. The ones you work on behalf of. The ones who start as project contacts but grow into genuine friendships. The ones who you don’t always see eye to eye with, but who bring equal value to your team and outcomes. The ones who you don’t interact with often, but every time you do, you’re uplifted.
It's because of the people I work with that I've been able to happily stay at my job for 7 years. Both my team at Speak and the clients I get to serve make life great. So my reminder to you: When you take care of people first, other things begin to fall into place. Go where good people are, and don't shy away from developing deeper connections. Our culture of instant gratification and digital innovation have resulted in a higher volume of connections, but with decreased depth. Whether we see it or not, admit or not, we’re all people who want to feel valued and need meaningful connectivity.
If you're a client reading this and we haven't gotten a chance to connect, drop me a line any time. I'd love to connect with you and offer support wherever I can in your marketing efforts.
3. The cost of falling behind in your digital presence is exponential, not linear.
It’s no secret; we rely heavily on technology and digital platforms in our daily lives. From personal connections and entertainment, to professional networking and day-to-day operations, we can’t live without our devices and the endless content within them. As marketers, keeping up with it all can feel daunting, but is it even worth the effort?
Falling behind means more than missing out on a design trend or a few “likes” on social media. Audience growth and lead generation have exponential returns. The conversions you miss today diminish your potential growth down the road. In my time at Speak, I've learned just how powerful social media and digital platforms can be to generate greater awareness and brand loyalty and drive deeper connections. Don't sacrifice a top-notch online presence due to lack of time; it could cost you the opportunity to build lifelong connections with potential customers/clients. If you're looking for support and/or guidance, let's chat about how Speak can help.
4. Content generation always takes longer than you think.
Take this content for example...
Me: I’ll just jot down some quick notes and takeaways that our partners may find valuable
But seriously, it’s one of the hardest things for teams to produce or invest in. The published versions of content rarely convey the amount of work required to create it. The research, content strategy, multiple drafts, editing, team input, etc. add up to a lot of time for a single piece of content.
Content experts have it down to a science, though. They know what to look for, have learned how to channel their creativity for maximum efficiency, and have the writing process down to a science. That’s why, on average, blogs take only about 3-4 hours. That’s right, I said, “only.”
And the impact? Content is how to improve rankings on Google, be seen as an expert in your field, and engage the most qualified segments of your audience.
5. The best approach to budget planning is continual.
It's not uncommon for partners I work with to decide to put off the next round of website updates, audience growth initiatives, or redesign projects due to budget constraints. It's a valid position and understandable business decision. When that happens, rather than setting aside those goals completely, it's best to keep the conversation going and continue planning for the future. Some words of advice:
- Start planning and budgeting for the next fiscal years now. Too often I see people put a pin in planning for updates and not pick it up for an entire year. Then it’s the same conversation and outcome. Start gathering information and creating a game plan for the next year or two. It’s not as far off as it may feel, and your effort will be reflected in your growth.
- If you have only a small budget, don’t count yourself out altogether. Find out what you can do with it. Run a small PPC campaign, update key areas of your website, optimize your website tracking data, invest in consulting to empower your team further, etc. You may be surprised where a little budget can have a big impact.
- If your budget has a deadline to use, as most do, talk to our team about how to break up larger goals into smaller milestones that align with your budget schedule.
6. Values in action speak louder than words.
My favorite part of working for Speak is that the core values that were recited to me during my interview process are actually visible in our team culture and the work we do each day. I’ve been at organizations where there’s a discrepancy between the script on the wall and the dynamics between people. It’s miserable. But there’s amazing unity and satisfaction among a team whose leadership lives it out and holds the team accountable by keeping core values at the center of everything.
7. There is so much good in the world.
In recent years we’ve been flooded with local and international headlines of heartbreaking news. For marketers who spend a significant amount of time online, it can seem especially hard to escape it and get a much needed break. But the truth is, there’s also a lot of good happening in the world too. And a lot of it is thanks to the work of our partners.
Speak seeks to partner with organizations that “do good.” From small businesses that run on integrity and community support, to attractions with education, conservation and animal care initiatives, to nonprofits that care for vulnerable populations, and many more. It’s very rewarding to know that the work we do truly does matter. Our expertise and efforts directly support the daily operations and growth of many organizations that make the world a better place. The sites that we design and build help amplify good causes, support local businesses, and connect people to resources they need.
A shoutout to a few of my favorite partners who are doing amazing work in the world:
I'd love to hear your thoughts and talk more in depth about any content hear that piqued your interest or share advice on how Speak can help your organization stand out in your mission or competition.
If your organization could benefit from a reliable digital marketing partner, let's chat.