The numbers were not in our favor. In fact, nearly a third of small businesses fail within two years, and almost half cease to exist within their first five years of operation.1 So, as my Spoke teammates and I recently celebrated the 14th anniversary of the founding of our marketing firm, we enjoyed a couple of hours together at a local restaurant to acknowledge the years of accomplishments.
That’s not to imply that this has been a smooth and uneventful journey. At lunch, we traded stories about the obstacles we have faced, such as market downturns, a pandemic, and even difficult clients (this does not apply to any of our valued business partners reading this, of course.) But through it all we have consistently pulled together, working as a group to make success happen for our clients and for ourselves.
Over the years, some of the names on our business cards have changed, but remarkably many of us have been with the company for years. I believe one of the reasons we are still here is that we collectively never take things for granted. We understand that the best marketing companies don’t just build websites and campaigns; we build lasting and beneficial relationships with our clients and with each other.
Our core values serve as our North Star for everything we do.
Most companies have a defined and written vision for their business. We have that too, but we also developed a list of core values that help us to make sure everyone is on the same page and consistently stays the course. They include:
- Get Dirty
We are a small, tight-knit group, and no one is above diving in and rolling up their sleeves to get the job done. This is not just a noble idea; it’s a reality of being a small group. It’s also a benefit to our clients because they get to intricately know the people creating the work for them. There are no layers of bureaucracy here simply because we can not afford that approach, literally or figuratively. Nor would we want to. Take for instance a time recently when our chief creative officer visited a client space on a Sunday to measure the walls for a display. Or when a senior account executive drove through the night to personally deliver a printed project. It’s been said that you can’t eat a title and (although Operations Manager does sound delicious) we’ve found this to be true. Simply put, we like to stay hungry. And get dirty.
- Be Real
The Spoke team is honest with each other and with our clients. We’re not afraid to speak up when an idea is not quite there yet. Or when the big concept that everyone was excited about yesterday doesn’t seem to have legs when we try to extend it into a campaign. We’ve even turned away business (yes, it’s as painful as it sounds) when we have determined that we may not be the best fit for a prospective client’s needs. Don’t get us wrong. We’re not trying to sound “loftier than thou” here. But we’ve discovered that when people stop being polite (and we’re that way most of the time, too) and start getting real, real results happen. The type of results that help clients move the needle from prospect to purchase. And the kind of change in perception that helps to build stronger brands. And bigger brand followings.
- Challenge Everything
We’re the first to admit that we work in a weird industry. Part of our job, especially the creative part, can be highly subjective. That logo idea that our senior art director is in love with may not always stir the passions of our client’s chief marketing officer. On the flip side, we also work in a results-driven space. We take great pride in creating measurable results for our clients that can be tracked through metrics, more qualified leads, and ultimately greater revenue.But here’s the thing. Bringing the subjective and results-driven mindsets together means we look at everything we do from every possible angle. It’s been said that “good enough never is” and we wholeheartedly agree with this notion. While taking the easy and predictable path to get the work out the door may seem tempting, we’re always ready to challenge everything. And that helps our clients go from where they are to where they want to be.™
- Be Family
I read the other day that people spend about one-third of their life at work. When you consider they spend another third sleeping, you begin to realize that when you commit that much time to a job, you’d better find some level of enjoyment. That’s why we’ve always looked for people who fit in well with the core values you are reading about here. There are a lot of talented marketing people out there. We’ve always searched for ones we enjoy being around as well. When we follow this approach, a funny and remarkable thing happens. We attract really good clients and get to partner with some of the best talent in their respective industries. That’s why we consider ourselves really lucky. When it comes down to it, we’re here to do great things for our clients, and that’s a little easier and more fun when the people around you feel like, well, family (even if we’re all a little dysfunctional).
As we head into our 15th year, we are dedicated to continuing to serve our valued clients, never rest on our laurels, and keep having a lot of fun along the way. Want to join us on this journey? Reach out, and let’s talk.