Closing 2020.

What a year, I mean really WHAT A YEAR. This year began with great intentions.
1. Kathryn and I planning to purchase a company which would have made us a major player within the Canadian landscape for marketing to women.
2. Rebranding Town as Borne.
3. Learning that the sale of said company would not be going through.
4. An ugly ending with the seller.
5. COVID hits
6. Stumbling through the next many months teaching the children, tending our business and a little bit left over for making sense of things.
7. Deciding to take clients freelance again vs as part of Borne.
8. Taking a role at 55Rush
9. Finding a groove again….
10. LOCKDOWN

I know I am not alone in this but DANG IT. I am tired. I am so tired of Zoom calls and social distancing. I am so tired of awkward social negotiations. I am tired of wondering what will be next.

No great lessons to share, just a momentary UGH.

Here is hoping that 2021 is a little bit more predictable.

by the hour? by the outcome?

I participated in a discussion this week on Linkedin about how “our” industry is flawed because of the hourly billing model.

If you have worked at any agency you will have been there. Completing timesheets, justifying billable vs. nonbillable hours, and trying to make it all fit within the budget for the project. As someone who has reviewed those sheets, I can say with complete certainty much of time tracking in an agency setting in nonsense. The exercise of going back through your calendar to try and puzzle what you worked on for the last two weeks is the norm.

On the flip the case for value-based pricing is solid. People shouldn’t be penalized for having built a practice that allows them to be faster and focused, yet we see this over and over again. We all believe this. Yet when you put a flat rate offer on the table there feels like a lack of transparency… We also see quotes at a lower hour count but with higher hourly price tag.

What if we valued thoughtful, focused, skilled work. Planned on delivering outcomes vs. the intervals of time it takes to get there.

I don’t know what that proposal looks like but I am pretty sure that is the wrap I want to read.

the no thank you.

Feedback is a gift. Repeat, feedback is a gift.

Two years ago I was invited to be a keynote speaker down in Florida in the dead of winter for a large franchise organization. My talk included a section on online reviews and customer feedback. In their case, online feedback had presented a myriad of challenges as irate customers and dissatisfied people are often the most vocal blasting the business for both imagined and fair grievances. This is especially true when it comes to the anonymity of the web.

This is also true when you get a pitch, apply for a job, sign up for an opportunity, send a letter…anything. When you don’t get a response, the feeling sucks. Made magnified by the amount of time and resources that you invest in working through whatever challenges or hurdles are put in place by the process.

Having worked on 100’s of influencer campaigns where there are sometimes limited spaces and applications far exceed the possible spots that “No thank you” email is such a gift. Year after year in feedback surveys from influencers at multiple different agencies we heard that the ghosting was one of the most frustrating parts of working in the biz.

As someone who has done my fair share of biz dev as well, the investment into the proposal, the phone calls, the questions. All the thinking and time just to hear crickets is very disheartening. Don’t get me wrong, I have certainly been guilty of this on the other side as well. I am no saint.

I recognize this and have been working to always remember what I told that audience…Feedback is a gift.

If your application doesn’t match – I will tell you no thank you and depending on our relationship I owe you additional details.

Client wanted influencers based on the east coast…
We felt that your relationship with x brand could be a conflict with something else they have coming out…
No thank you. This time we went another way.
I enjoyed the demo but I don’t think we have budget right now for this solution.

If I have a bad experience or even one that doesn’t align with my expectations I owe it to you to share that feedback. It doesn’t have to be harsh and it doesn’t have to be detailed. But geez, if we all were just a little braver we could really help each other out.

Close the loop. Circle back. Debrief. Postmortem.
Whatever jargon you need to hear to make it so.

When it is a no thanks. Pass that on.
Send the no thanks note.

toolbox of destiny

In my house we do this silly thing were everything gets a “of destiny” modifier. I’m not really sure when or why we began this practice but I tell you it never gets old when trolling my kids. The clicker of destiny, the towel of destiny, the backpack of destiny…you get it.

As a consultant and an educator one of the most common questions I get is about TOOLS.

What should I use? What do I need? Where do I start?
Here is a roundup of tried and true tools and a few that I am taking for a spin.

The TOOLBOX OF DESTINY! 

Hosting: Dreamhost (Tried and True)
I’ve been a Dreamhost customer for more than 13 years. They are cost-effective, user friendly, and the right amount of power for most cases. Easy one-click installs for WordPress and unlimited accounts for all those domains you collect. Packages as low as $3 USD a month is a price point that is easy to swallow.

Click here and you can get $50 off the shared hosting package – I get $50 too.

Forms: Wufoo (Tried and True) 
This is another one I have been using for a longtime. Easy to setup and easy for other less technically inclined people to use. Has a free option all the way to an enterprise style package. Lots of custom options including payment integrations and minimal branch logic. This is my go to for a basic signup for or small feedback survey. 

Forms: Typeform (New Fav) 
I wanted a bit more of a custom experience and like the way the pagination works on this tool. It is a bit more sophisticated than Wufoo so might be a steeper learning curve. It is much more lovely though to experience as an end user. Pricing is reasonable and there are a few cheap and cheerful packages to get you started. 

Research: Survey Gizmo (Tried and True)
Use this when forms just aren’t sophisticated enough and you need to collect and sort more information. Lots of integration options and easy to set up and correlate. Price point is great for a research tool and powerful enough for enterprise usage.

Social Quizzes: Qzzr (Tried and True)
Social quizzes as research are fun and good for community building. Those, “which Harry Potter character would you be?” or “what kind of dog mom are you?” are a great way to get into the minds of your consumer/potential consumer. Price point is a bit high for what it is but worth it as a different way to collect data (socially) about your target.

Email Marketing: Mailchimp (Tried and True)
I haven’t yet tested the expanded offering at Mailchimp but for email marketing, it can’t be beat. I love the template and custom options, just about everything you will need to get started. One note of warning, if you are using Shopify it doesn’t integrate well. Just about anything else, works great. Pricing is established per seat so that larger you are the more you pay. It is a great option for small to mid-sized businesses. As a large business, it may be time to graduate to a more expansive system.

Mandrill, which is the answer to transactional emails, can solve many larger marketing challenges. These two together make a great pair for most projects.

CMS Websites: WordPress (Tried and True)
This one is core infrastructure for me for many many years. I’ve tried other systems (Squarespace and Wix) but none compares to the beast that is WordPress. I mean WordPress.org NOT .com btw. Free to use and as mentioned about easy to install with Dreamhost. I highly recommend this solution as a scalable platform for growth.

Custom WordPress Themes: Themeforest (Tried and True)
Cost-effective and vast range options to customize your WordPress site without hiring a developer. These themes range in cost but with so many options you are guaranteed to discover a design you like. Protip – when selecting a theme make sure to look at the reviews and for the “power elite authors”.

This site is built using the Jupiter X theme, purchased from Themeforest.