I was recently lucky enough to attend CIMC 2016, a superfab digital marketing conference in beautiful Squamish, BC (about 45 minutes outside of Vancouver). I haven’t been to that many conferences in my time so far but I really wanted to attend this one because of the world-class speakers involved.
Surprisingly, a few of the talks that I didn’t think would be very relevant to me ended up being my favourite ones, and the ones that gave me some great new ideas to take back to work with me.
Good digital project management is about more than just getting things done, it’s also about keeping all your stakeholders engaged, on the same page, and generally motivated and happy. That means not just your external stakeholders (clients), but your internal ones as well: your internal project team.
I truly believe that keeping your internal project team happy and motivated is of the highest importance. Sure, you need to make your client happy too, but you will never be able to accomplish that without your internal peeps.
They are the ones who slave away, making your project a real, living, breathing THING out there in the world. They create LIFE. Then they have to watch their meticulously crafted project baby take its first steps and walk away, out of their lives forever and into the great unknown. It’s like March of the Penguins but with less (more?) crying.
Let’s take a brief pause and applaud the creative talent in our lives.
So yes, the old expression “Happiness starts from within” — I believe this applies to agencies as well. Without happy, productive, insightful and inspired creative people, no awesome client work is going to get done. Your project team is literally your lifeline.
Now this doesn’t mean fetch them coffee every five minutes or slowly fan them and feed them grapes while they toil away designing, writing or developing your latest web project. Although, personally, I do appreciate when this happens for me. (Hint to any colleagues reading this.)
It means keep them motivated. Keep them engaged. Then client happiness will take care of itself.
But how do you keep a diverse project team motivated and engaged?
We’ve all been there. It’s one of those jam-packed days, full of demanding requests, urgent tasks, ringing phones, beeping devices and just not enough snacks.
In other words, hell.
Luckily for you, I am an expert in concealing stress levels that border on breakdown territory (not exactly a plus?) and am here to guide you on how to deal with your imminent nervous breakdown when you just don’t have the time to indulge it.
Step 1: Remain Uncalm
Your first instinct when trying not to throw items around you in a fit of rage may be to tell yourself to stay calm. Don’t do this. In fact, do the opposite. Be uncalm. Be angry. Think about which items you would most enjoy hurling from your desk and most excitedly, at whom you would like to hurl them. Especially if they aren’t physically present at the moment.
I find this is the most enjoyable part of the exercise. Then later when you see that person, you can respond in a socially acceptable passive aggressive way instead.
Today’s post took me a hella long time to write! I hope you find it interesting and useful for your business and/or blog. At the end, there’s even a free worksheet for you to download to discover exactly what you want your brand voice to be, and how to make that happen!
I’m psyched about this piece because it took me a long time to put together. So any thoughts or feedback you have on this post and worksheet would be so useful! Hit me up via email, or on social to let me know what you think.
Anyway, onto the good stuff!
What is a Brand Voice?
Your brand voice, put simply, is the style in which you communicate with your customers, followers and target audiences.
It’s the tone you use, the language you use, and a large part of your overall brand recognition and how people remember you.
Why is Brand Voice Important?
Your brand voice sets the tone for all interactions with your customers, followers and target audiences.
It lets them know what kind of company/person you are and most importantly, it allows them to feel connected to you and recognize you in a sea of other brands out there.
It makes you unique and inspires loyalty and trust.
How Do I Get One of Dem There Brand Voices?
It’s really not hard at all. For some people, it just comes out naturally.
If you’re a blogger writing about your true passions, your brand voice is going to develop very naturally because that authenticity and passion is going to shine through no matter what.
If you are writing for another business, or are wanting to keep your business attracting a specific, or niche, clientele, then you may want to think more about your brand voice and how you’re coming across.
Regardless of who you are or what you’re writing for, the free worksheet I’ve prepared for you will walk you through finding your brand voice and putting that voice into action immediately. Check it!
The story of Nerdy Organized — how it came to be, what it means, and how it came to be the way I describe myself.
Grab some wine for this one! ????
Let’s begin at the worst place to start: the beginning. The term “nerdy organized” was a phrase I made up to describe myself in my epic failure of an interview for the agency I work at now. Well, I guess it wasn’t an epic failure because I did get the job (and am still there now), but it was one of the worst interview performances of my life. Anyway.
I was being grilled about my digital marketing chops and oh yes, I felt the heat from the flames of that grillage. It was pretty intense. I blurted out that I had attention to detail, knowledge of the industry and terms, blah blah blah, all that stupid crap everyone says about themselves. Then I said I was organized too. I was met with neutral expressions. “Like… really… nerdy organized,” I word barfed next. I meant that I was good at getting shit done. There was light laughter. I managed to breathe for a second.
The term kind of stuck, and I ended up changing my Twitter username to it as a joke. But here I am like two years later, still with it. I even named this weird blog thing after it (only because I have a dumb common name so the only name-based domain left would be MichelleMartin.isplutostillaplanet).
I accepted being “nerdy organized” as part of my identity, my ethos. I clung to this term and made it fit my personality to a T. To me, it means being thorough, industrious, knowledgeable, and above all… super fuckin’ nerdy.
I’m pretty sure that balancing workload is a problem all agencies have – either not enough work, or too much. It’s never just right, is it? Such is the nature of the business, and why it keeps my interest as a dynamic and ever-changing place to be. But sometimes, if you’re on the short end of that stick, it can feel a whole lot like burnout.
Deadlines, overbooking, sudden influx of everyone accepting your quotes… whatever the case may be, you’ve found yourself on Too Much Work island, surrounded by Holy Shit This Sucks sharks circling you. Not to fear. I have just the thing to get you through this tough spell.
It’s called…. WERK.
Just werk it.
Not twerk it. Well, you can… I guess.
Really, having too much business is probably the best problem you could have in your entire life, so just stop complaining and deal with it. Imagine how many companies and people would kill to be in your spot right now? Lots! People facing bankruptcy, companies in danger of having to do layoffs, and so on. And here you are, complaining that you are TOO successful, and TOO in demand, and just can’t seem to catch a break. I mean, really?! Suck it up and get it done. You should be thankful.
It does totally suck when you’re pulling lots of late nights to get stuff done, but in the grand scheme of things, you’re pretty frickin lucky.
I feel ranty this week. Maybe I’m just tired, or didn’t drink enough coffee, or am actually just a total cranky old bitch. But in any case, my ranty-ness is expanding into most aspects of my life. Today I’m ranting about something that happened about 6 months ago, which quite frankly I think we can all agree is clearly the sign of a totally normal, mentally stable individual.
Regardless, I still believe in my rant today, so here goes.
Months ago, I was at a Meetup event downtown. It was about content strategy, and it was a great event. The speaker was engaging and knowledgable and made a ton of excellent points I still remember to this day. The thing that annoyed me came after the actual event, when the talking to other humans part kicked in. For a cranky ass introvert like myself, talking to other humans can sometimes be a challenge.
Not because I don’t like people, but just because I often don’t know what to say. I hate small talk and fake interest in things. Let’s either talk about something mutually interesting or why bother, is how I view networking type events. But it’s also no fun to be sitting around by yourself in a room full of people, so, I make attempts at human connection.
Not every project is going to be stuffed full of rainbows and unicorns. Even with the best of intentions on both sides – agency and client – sometimes things just go awry. Usually it’s due to miscommunication, or not managing client expectations properly. You, the agency, think your scope of work is super clear, but a client sees a different thing, you don’t communicate about it, and you’re unaware their expectations are too high until it becomes an issue and they’re unhappy. Not a good situation.
It’s hard to predict these things a lot of the time. Communication is hard. Agencies think they’re being straightforward, because they say the same terms all the time, but clients may not be familiar with those terms, or with digital processes. They may be afraid to ask questions, or to look unknowledgeable. Of course there’s no shame in asking questions, but who really likes admitting they’re not totally on the ball with what’s going on? Nobody. So things don’t get talked about, time goes by, expectations on both sides slip and then you find yourself where you didn’t want to be: client hell.
I don’t mean this to sound rude, or to snub clients. I love clients! They’re literally the reason I get to do what I love all day, and not have to live in a cardboard box. They make everything possible. And at the end of the day, they pay the bills. I work for each of them, and I keep that in mind constantly. Clients are not the enemy, clients are part of your team. And you can’t blame your client for having the wrong expectations unless you work hard to set realistic ones.
The problem with mismanaged expectations is that they can strike at any time. Even if your project is 90% done and you’re in the home stretch and so far all along everything has been great. Don’t stop communicating, or you might find yourself in hot water.