This has been a banner year for Jen Smiga and Shannon Winning.
We have learned, lost, worked hard, pitched our hearts out and grown beyond what we could have imagined when we partnered up officially in January. Together we have won and lost clients, produced websites, garnered press and written something like 213 blogs, email newsletters and press releases. I thought when we added it all up we’d be tired, but truly seeing the ground we’ve covered this year only leaves us with one thought: Gratitude.
We’re thankful to God for our partnership and for you who read our updates every week (or at least receive them. No one reads everything of anybody’s. Just this week I ignored a presidential tweet and a reminder from my mom to get the kids’ Christmas lists together. No shame. That’s life.)
If you’re feeling grumpy today with the holiday rush, or want to get that Friyay feeling early, allow me to throw some good will at you before you get elbow deep in that turkey (or in Jen’s case, that Tofurkey).
Go with me as I explain, listicle style, why we as a team are so thankful this year.
1. We’re better together
For years Jen and I worked quietly alongside each other, her in PR and social media, and I in journalism and marketing, wondering how we could team up. It was a logical step, but like couples who file their taxes separately, it always seemed that we could make more money apart. Then one day (like a day that lasts three months) we said, “Heck with it. Let’s team up to pitch comprehensive all-out marketing services to national companies.” The move allowed us to scale up the business from a partnership to an agency model where we can take on big projects, while still giving love and care to our small business client crew. Win. Win.
2.We’ve got some fine people behind us
We welcomed back git-er-done Danielle from maternity leave last month in the nick of time as projects were coming in the door. In less than a day she was back to killin’ it on social media and Constant Contact. Stephanie came on this year to cover for Danielle, which was like starting your first day as a Toys R Us cashier on Black Friday. Stephanie did a little bit of everything from pitching and social to writing and presenting. If you came to one of our small business events with SCORE you know that she can rock a crisis communications plan. Our newest designer/developer Ali came out swinging for three new web projects over the last several months (including Marketing Rival’s site) and he KO’d that CSS, making beautiful websites with his “sure, no problem” attitude. Having him as my go-to HubSpot guy enabled me to do better, faster work with less headaches. Designer Maryann once again consistently turned out beautiful work with an intuitive knack for what the clients really want out of that graphic, even though they can’t articulate it. Developer Shane also turned out gorgeous, slick sites for us and jumped in at a moment’s notice, on more than one occasion, to make back end changes that we needed, “RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.” Jamie our Brand Specialist, or the image whisperer, made our images sparkle with life and developed a brand concept for an elusive product while moving and taking pictures of tiny animals. We are thankful for them ALL.
3. We’ve got clients who trust us
That was not always the case as we found our groove in who is the right client for us. The client relationship is like dating where you need to get to know one another over coffee a few times and make some assessments about how your goals line up. So do you want kids? Do you really want to grow this company through content marketing? (So obviously similar these questions are…). I’ve heard more “That’s a great idea” “I like it” and “I’ll let you run with this” in the last month than in the whole year. It’s glorious. And we are thankful for our clients who entrust us with their precious businesses.
4. We didn’t compromise
When you love PR and social media (as Jen does) and writing and marketing (as I do) you can get behind almost any product or business and do good work and have fun. But there are some projects that just aren’t YOU and this year we turned down two of them. Turning away money is not easy, let me tell you. But when taking it feels like a moral compromise, you’re better off leaving it on the table. I’m so grateful we gave each other the freedom to do that. (I know you’re curious. It was a furrier and an adult, ahem, “enhancement” product.)
5. We’re just getting started on the fun stuff
I’ve written about many different industries, restaurant, law, pharmaceuticals and I always find a way to get into the subject matter where the writing is fun. But sometimes it takes a little more “getting into” to get to the fun part. This year Jen and I moved into the design industry where we’re helping a Canadian stone company grow their online presence and market a new product. Architecture and design are two of our shared loves, which makes the work a pleasure. We also signed on to develop a lifestyle brand focused on telling stories of ordinary Americans pursuing life, liberty and happiness. For a Charles- Kuralt -Lisa-Ling wanna be like me, that is like candy. This is on top of Jen’s continued work in the pet industry, probably her chief love. We’re thankful to have these projects in our daily work, and promoting what we love is encouraging us to get more like-minded clients in our pipeline.
I know if I continued to write I could come up with five more things we’re thankful for, but this is a nice handful to give you a sense of what a great year it’s been and how excited we are for the future.
Full disclosure: I almost skipped this Thanksgiving greeting because I can’t stand canned holiday business messages. I wanted to write a blog for our business audience entitled, “Nobody Wants Your Holiday Message. They Want You To Help Them Solve Their Problems.” Though I stand by the sentiment, Jen talked me off that ledge, and I’m so glad she did. Because consciously detailing the things for which we’re thankful has doubled my gratitude and energized me for the work that still needs to be done. And there is a lot.
So from Jen and I, I wish you our clients, friends, partners and community members, a sincere Happy Thanksgiving. May you give yourself a few minutes to catalogue the five things you’re thankful for and double your gratitude too.