2016 has been a good year for Lean Labs.
We are one of the smaller agencies to become Platinum partners with HubSpot, and we have our sights set on Diamond this next year. We have a growing stable of clients, and are working on some case studies to share our success stories.
In short, we've had a lot of reasons to celebrate this year. But, we're not done!
While we are working hard for our clients' success, we understand that we can't ignore our own brand. In times past, our own brand has been sacrificed on the altar of our clients' initiatives. Kind of like the carpenter who's own house needs some work, but he's too busy to do it.
Recently, our leadership team met up at the Inbound Conference in Boston, where we each discussed the areas that need improvement, and share our vision of what we would like to see happen with Lean Labs. We came away from those meetings energized and clearly focused on what we want to accomplish in 2017.
We're looking to grow a remarkable brand, and that starts with us.
How We're Building a Better Brand in 2017
We grew really fast in 2016. We grew fast enough that our own marketing took a back seat, but the story is more than that. It exposed the areas that we needed to shore up if we were really going to reach our primary goal.
That goal? To help ten brands 10X their business in 5 years.
In a cozy corner of a hotel in Boston, the vision of 2017 began to take shape. We're building something amazing, and it starts with an honest assessment of where we are, and where we want to be.
We realized we were working really hard on being effective, but not efficient. It doesn't sound like a big problem, but it really is. Being effective is great, but it can only take you so far before it reaches its ceiling. Once you reach that ceiling, you have to hire more people or find freelance help - which kills your profit margins and lowers the quality of your work.
At least, that's what a lot of agencies do.
Some like doing it that way, as it seems like you're growing your brand. But, there's a better way.
Instead of just throwing more manpower at an efficiency problem, we're going to fix the efficiency problem. In doing so, we're going to focus on three areas of improvement...
Step 1: Leveling Up Our Team
That doesn't mean our people are all entry-level - much the opposite. But even the most effective worker has the ability to improve. We believe making ourselves the best we can be will ultimately allow us to be the best agency for our clients.
Professional development is already becoming woven into the fabric of the Lean Labs' culture. And we're going to turn the heat up in 2017.
You'll notice through our content this year, a big focus on what we're doing to grow ourselves. We'll be talking about the books and the blogs we're reading. We'll be offering commentary on the training and inspirational videos we watch. And most importantly, our leadership teams are going to be attending the best conferences available, starting with the Traffic and Conversion Summit 2017.
One of the reasons we're offering the discount is to give our clients incentive to go to the conference as well. We're going to be writing more about this in the next few days, but why do we want our clients to get certified with Digital Marketer, or go to a marketing conference? After all, isn't marketing our job?
Yes, it is. But buy-in from the client is important to long-term success. Getting our clients to catch the vision, understand the tactics, and become experts themselves brings a lot of benefits for everyone involved. I'll mention this again in a minute because it's important to our steps to becoming a better brand.
We're also partners with DigitalMarketer.com, giving us (and our clients) access to their premier marketing training on all subjects of effective marketing. All our team members are certified, and some of our clients will be certified as well, and for a good reason.
Step 2: Putting the Right People in the Right Seats
While we're all leveling up, and working to improve our strengths and shore up our weaknesses, we have to make sure the right people are working on the right thing. At a small agency, it's often 'all hands on deck.' And at Lean Labs, we're always going to have a bit of that.
We don't do silos.
But we realize that having the right talent in the right place is critical.
Michael Jordan was okay at baseball, but his impact wasn't near what it was on the hardwood. Right?
We've been making some internal changes, rearranging teams, and redefining roles to make us all more effective. And, we're adding an element of gamification and competition to our company culture. We'll talk more about this in the future, but our clients will be the real winners.
We're also helping some of our clients put the right people in place as well. Unlike a lot of agencies, we don't mind equipping and training our clients to be successful without us. Clients can outgrow Lean Labs by developing the right talent internally. Rather than fight that, we're helping those clients with their employee development through training, consulting, and access to Digital Marketer HQ.
Step 3: Nailing the Process
One thing I like about watching episodes of The Profit is Marcus Lemonis' 100% dedication to his 3 P's, People, Process, Profit. And it always goes in that order.
You have to get the right people and equip them to do good work. That's what we are working on in step 2.
Then, If you get the process right and your whole company will profit.
We're disrupting everything we do internally, turning over every stone to see where there are inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.
We're working to implement a new system of communication across all our clients. This will not only increase client buy-in to the strategies we're working on, but it also keeps everyone on the same page. Communication has been something we've stressed in times past, but as we've grown it's quite honestly not always a strong point.
We're changing that!
Clients are busy, and so are we. When we don't have an efficient, effective workflow - it takes clients too much time, and our deadlines suffer. Our clients get weary of the work as well.
Therefore, we're disrupting our workflows as well. We're exploring ways to really nail down the process of content creation and design, from implementation to launch to promotion.
We'll be talking a lot about this moving forward.
Of course, everything you do kind of depends on other things you do. But, once you have client buy-in on the strategies that work, and you clearly define what it takes to 10X a business, you can then articulate the things that must be built, and the order in which they must be built.
We call this the pipeline. And, honestly, it's not always defined for all our clients.
Everyone gets frustrated when plans change, scope gets out of hand, and the goal post is always being moved. When this starts happening, no progress is made, really money is spent, and a lot of work is done - but the results are never good. Clients see wasted money, and we see wasted effort.
We accept the responsibility for that - and it's going to change. We're working on overhauling the structure of our project pipeline, making sure we're always working on the right thing, in the right order, and hitting home runs before we start swinging at the next pitch.
Step 4: Defining The Vision
Ten brands, 10X... sounds simple. But if we're going to hit that goal, we have to know where we are and where we're going. To build a remarkable brand story, we have to know where we're going.
We're working diligently to clearly define our 10-year vision. And using that to more clearly define the 5-year vision, and come up with a laser-focused 2-year plan - and a 1-year plan to run with.
You're going to hear a lot more about 10X-ing Ten Brands. That's going to be our drive until we hit the goal. We're going to eat, sleep, and breath it. So, naturally, it'll show up in our content a lot.
Step 5: Sharing Our Story
Why? Because our prospects and customers need to see it!
Looking Forward to 2017
It's going to be a fun year in 2017! I'm pumped, and our clients are getting excited about our renewed vision. If you're not subscribed, do it now and live the excitement as we go Diamond, share our clients' growth stories, and have a blast this year being as efficient and effective as we can be!