Whether or not your business is based on creating beautiful things like websites and mobile apps, an important function for any business is sales. Our business development team has many talented members, two of which are celebrating major Speakiversaries this week!
Matt Roberts joined the team 10 years ago this week, coming from Mississippi to Memphis. Throughout his tenure, Matt has filled a couple roles within Speak including Account Manager and Sales. In his current role as Director of Business Development, Matt oversees the entire sales process as well as the customer relationships that are developed through the account managers.
CJ Jordan is also celebrating his Speakiversary this week, counting 4 years with the Speak team. As a Business Development Manager, CJ works with clients in several of our vertical markets, such as zoos and aquariums, museums and more.
To turn the tables a bit, we asked CJ and Matt a series of questions about their time at Speak and how the times have changed since they started with our digital agency.
What's been your favorite about your tenure at Speak so far?
CJ: The projects I’ve been a part of and the people I’ve been able to meet along the way. I’m really lucky in that I get to travel to some fun places and meet some really awesome people across a wide-range of industries. I’ve been lucky enough to feed giraffes, pet a sea lion, and travel to places I’ve never been before. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be doing something that I love.
Matt: Far and away, the people that I get to work with every day. I count the folks that I work with as friends, and it’s amazing to see how talented each and every one of them is. To be able to walk in the office in the morning and poke my head in someone’s door to ask what they are working on, the answer is always different, and it’s always exciting. Everyone here cares deeply about creating meaningful solutions for our clients, and we have a great time doing it.
What has been the biggest shift in the industry you've noticed since you began?
CJ: I would have to say a bigger shift towards video and imagery. More businesses and organizations are allowing their imagery/video to do most of the talking for them, with text to support. For most of us, our attention span is ok at best. That’s why 140 characters for Twitter is awesome. We’re not interested in reading 5 paragraphs about stuff...we want to look at pretty things.
Matt: Oh man. 10 years ago, Flash was still a thing! The easiest answer, of course, is the explosion of mobile devices and how that impacts overall behavior on the web.
What's been the biggest shift internally you've noticed?
CJ: Does a shift from living in Memphis to Birmingham count? No? Ok. I think the biggest shift would be around how well all the teams work together on a project. Our teams really seem to work together well to make sure the project goes well and the client receives the end result they want. Whether it’s our digital marketing team coming alongside designers to help with page load times, or developers helping our account managers break down a complex development project, our internal communication has been awesome and I think it’s resulted in a better overall experience for everyone.
Matt: The shift that we’ve made over the past year or two to focusing on user-behavior. We’ve got this amazing toolset that allows our team to gather data on user-behavior, and seeing them aggregate that data and turn it into recommendations and solutions that create meaningful, measurable results for our clients is pretty incredible.
Name a couple of your favorite projects you've been a part of? Why?
CJ: Memphis Zoo - It’s been so much fun working with the Memphis Zoo team throughout my 4 years with Speak. The most recent redesign we completed for them really seemed to take the industry by storm. The HTML5 video background was the first one our team had completed for a client and everyone loved it. In fact, I still regularly have people tell me how much they love the site and all it does. Our team really knocked that project out of the park and it’s fun to hear compliments about your work. Also, Memphis Zoo always seems to want to know “what’s next.” They want to stay on the cutting edge of visitor engagement and we are partnering with them to implement beacons to assist them on this front.
Georgia Aquarium - This has been such a fun project to work on because of all the features and pieces we are putting into this project. We are able to provide a better experience for visitors when they’re on-site and hopefully relieve some of their headaches. The scope of the project has really stretched us as a company and exposed us to new technology and offerings. I firmly believe beacon technology is going to have a significant impact within the attraction space and Georgia Aquarium was the first one to buy into the beacon technology concept and bring it in as part of their marketing and digital communication with their members and visitors. It also helps that every time I go visit them they show me different parts of the aquarium I hadn’t seen before and get up close with the animals. Still hoping to go swimming with the whale sharks though…
Matt: Mo’s Bows - I’m sorry, but how can you not be excited about a kid who loves making bow ties? Getting to a be a part of helping such a cool business take its website from something that was pretty sub-par to the exceptional web presence it is now was extremely satisfying. My favorite part of the website, though, is how much of Mo comes through. A website visitor can quickly and easily buy his products, of course, but I love that someone can really dig in and get to know Mo and his passions.
What are you most excited about moving forward with Speak?
CJ: I’m most excited to see the new products we create. Our team is so talented across a variety of services and it’s awesome to see the work that gets produced. We’re working with one group to bring some 3D animations into an app, and I think that’s going to be a really, really cool project. Stay tuned for more information about that.
Matt: In my world, we’ve got some strategic partnerships that have just begun to come online that should enable our team to service some very cool markets and develop new relationships with a broad audience. I love playing a part in the overall growth of our company and seeing where our strengths as a company align with the needs and opportunities of a client or vertical market.
What about in the industry?
CJ: I would have to say, I’m most interested to see what happens with things like 3D animations, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc. These things seem to take the experience and visuals one step further. Whether this is through the phone or on-site, I think there will be a significant spike in organizations leveraging this type of technology for their visitors.
Matt: On the technology side, I’m pretty enamored with virtual reality and augmented reality and how those technologies might revolutionize the way people interact and connect. Imagine being able to deliver interactive, educational content through a VR or AR display. We’re already doing some of that in the AR space, and that’s pretty fascinating, but I think we’re really just scraping the surface of what’s possible.
What's the most valuable service a client shouldn't be doing without?
CJ: Granted, this may not be for everyone, but since I spend most of my time working with groups where there are tons of people, I think incorporating social aggregation into a website is a simple, but effective way to raise engagement levels. In short, these tools allow you to bring in your social feeds, as well as specific hashtags or tagged locations, into a single wall or slider. Let’s face it, we’re all kind of vain, so who wouldn’t be excited to see a picture they posted on Instagram at their local zoo or shopping center show up on the brand's website. In turn, it's likely they'll post again and again for that chance to be broadcast to a bigger audience.
Basically, you’re allowing people who love your brand to do some marketing and promotion for you. Our team can provide consultation on how to do things like this, and yes, before you ask, we can monitor the feed for those knuckleheads who are desperate for attention.
Matt: Well, first, let’s just take for granted that everyone knows that they should have a website. If you are running a business or organization without a website, start there for sure.
Beyond that, though, almost every business or organization can benefit from a strategic digital marketing campaign. It’s the equivalent of asking someone if they want more customers. I’ve not ever met anyone who said they didn’t want more customers. The specific campaign and its goals will be different for each client, but you really should give it a shot. Our clients see huge returns on their investments in the digital marketing world.
What would you say to a client on the fence about working with Speak?
CJ: Our goal isn’t to be a vendor. Anyone can be a vendor and provide a service. We really want to be a partner. Yes, we want to deliver a great end product, but we also want to provide a great experience throughout the project and help your business achieve the goals you set up in the beginning. We want to share about new things we are learning and how they can benefit your brand.
Matt: Take your time. I believe strongly in our approach and the results that we create for our clients, so I’m more than happy to share information that can show you that we’re an awesome partner. Take your time. You are making a decision about who to select as a long-term vendor for your business, and if you are unsure about anything at all, don’t make a decision until you’ve had your uncertainties addressed.
I’d probably get fired in most sales or business development environments because usually there’s a mantra that you’ve got to close the deal and move on. Frankly, I think that’s moronic and harmful. We work in a highly technical, complicated business, so if you need a few more phone calls to talk through questions or need to catch up over coffee to ensure you feel comfortable with us as a partner, no sweat. We want our clients to feel confident in choosing us as a long-term partner.
what's your favorite perk of working at Speak?
CJ: Half-day Fridays. Without a doubt. You mean I can be done working at 11am and be at the golf course by 12? Yes. That sounds good. I’ll do that.
Matt: Yeah, I’m not limiting myself to just one. I’ll give you three.
- Half-day Fridays: We’ve been doing them so long that it’s hard for me to remember what it was like to work on a Friday afternoon. Friday afternoons are some of my favorite times with my family, so this one is always top of the list.
- Coffee subscription: A monthly delivery of fresh-roasted J. Brooks Coffee? Yes.
- Espresso machine: Double shot of espresso dumped into a cup of fresh-brewed coffee is pretty much the only way to start my day.
We're so thankful for the service and grace that these two have brought to the team, and are looking forward to many more years with them in the future. Thanks Matt and CJ!
Want to say hello or leave some encouragment for our two business development aficionados? Drop us a line.