It’s January 19th. Crack open the champagne, because it’s time to celebrate!
What’s so special about today? Today is Outspoken Media’s birthday. A birthday that comes a couple weeks after the New Year, which means Lisa and I have been in a period of intense introspection (or holiday food comas, who knows). But isn’t that what we do on birthdays and at New Years? We think about the past and how we got here and we think about where we’re going.
When you own a business, those are the most important questions to ask yourself:
How did we get here?
Where are we going?
So, stop and think about those questions for a minute. Whether you own a business or not. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Where do you want to be?
Your vision might be crystal clear, completely clouded-over or shifted a few degrees. Regardless of the answer, you probably have a vision, which is what drives you to do what you do everyday.
Defining the vision of a company can often feel incredibly complicated. You have to have a shared vision with your partners and shareholders and getting everyone on the same page can be difficult. You also have to develop a system of accountability for every stakeholder to ensure that you’re working towards that vision. And, you have to communicate that vision tirelessly to your team, customers and community because they will help keep you accountable to it.
When we started this agency we didn’t have a clear vision of what the business would look like in three years. What we did know without question was that we wanted to work with people we respect and we wanted to be proud of the work we produced. Those may seem like incredibly simple ideals, but for many businesses and employees, it’s difficult to achieve one or both.
With Outspoken Media, there is so much strength in this business, because of the team and community behind it. Our team believes in being fulfilled professionally and personally. And we don’t support them because we have to, but because we want to. In return their support, curiosity, drive, voice and quirkiness make this office the fun, fulfilling environment that it is. Then we turn to you, our community, and we see just as much insight, excitement and candidness. Sometimes it’s downright overwhelming to see what’s been built here.
So, I want to take just a couple more minutes of your time to talk about the future. What can you expect from Outspoken Media in 2012?
An outspoken team
Lisa has been the resident blogger for Outspoken Media since day one and we’ll never pretend to have an ounce the skill she possesses in just one pinky finger. But, you’ve heard a lot from Lisa and it’s time to hear more from the rest of the team as well, because they have unique insight into the daily challenges of SEO, reputation management, link building, client management, business operations and project management. Besides their experience, they have individual voices and interests that go beyond our company services and we want you to benefit from those voices as much as we do. Our vision changes with them, because the company is nothing without the team behind it and sometimes, someone will bring a skill set that can shake everything up.
So, you’ll be hearing more from our seasoned vets, Michelle Lowery and Danika Atkins, as well as, our newest members, Joseph Schaefer and Emily Cote.
We haven’t publicly talked about Emily outside of hints in the 12 Days of SEO when “Elf Emily” gave us her Twitter confession and shared tips for conversion rate optimization. We had to see if she’d complete us and not only does she fit in, she keeps us on our toes. Literally. She’s got us doing daily exercises when we hit that awful post-lunch energy plateau.
Take a minute to welcome Emily and get ready, because you’ll be seeing more of her, as well as, the rest of the entire team in 2012.
An outspoken brand
As a company, we’re pretty passive. What I mean by that is we’re fortunate to have a strong branding officer who keeps us in your feeds and conversations. And, through our conference coverage and speaking schedule, we make some phenomenal connections. Those two channels alone mean we get a lot of leads. That makes it easy to put the brand on auto-pilot, because we’re so busy with client work. Unfortunately, there’s nothing worse than not pushing ourselves to evolve, especially to evolve to the level that we advise our own clients! At its core, a brand is nothing without relationships. Relationships with our amazing readers (THANK YOU!), our clients, our team and even our local community.
We get that and it’s time to do more with those relationships. We’re tired of dating casually, lets take this to the next level. We want to go steady with you. I know, actions speak louder than words, so stay tuned as we dive into the wonderful world of email marketing and other methods of connecting with and rewarding you, our loyal community members.
We want to give you more of us and our individual personalities. And, if you’re ever in the neighborhood of Troy NY, stop by the new office and co-work for the day or just say hi, the door is open.
We get asked often why we chose to stay in Troy to build Outspoken Media. After three years, I can say that there is no better fit for our bold, boutique business. We’ve gotten to know the talented professionals and startups that keep Troy’s numerous cafes and sandwich shops open and they keep us energized. You can’t spot these businesses so easily from the road, but they’re there, just like us. Troy’s tech community is booming from Ruby on Rails developers, app developers and gaming communities to data center management and web designers who also keep our walls stocked with whimsical and inspiring prints. As much as you give to us online, they give to us offline and in 2012 we will be just as outspoken with this local community.
An outspoken strategy
I read an article recently that discussed research on what CEOs actually do and it was really interesting to see the level of productivity increase when CEOs took the time to be *IN* their business rather than out of it schmoozing over expensive lunches. In 2012 I want to continue to work closely with this team, because while we want to be more of an outspoken team and brand, there is nothing more vital to the future of this business than the services we provide. We are finding ways to bring more value to our clients and our methods. In 2012 this will take the shape of structural changes, education, development and much more.
Lisa already told us which Internet marketing trends to watch in 2012 and we’re seeing the same.
Local. Mobile. Social. Cloud. Apps. Security.
There’s so much going on in 2012 and it’s only the 19th of January! The role of the SEO has grown and though we define ourselves by that term, we are truly becoming digital strategists. We have to to fit the needs of our clients and the demands placed on them by new technology and every-changing search features (and sometimes shrinking) and new social networks like Pinterest or Google+. We’ll be working to find the most effective ways to leverage these changes and offer value to our clients through them.
Beyond the educational arm of Outspoken Media, we’re improving our internal processes to make training rock. And, we’re BUILDING TOOLS! I’ve mentioned this before and it’s still probably my favorite part, because it’s giving the team ways to maximize their time and stop feeling bored by the mundane tasks. It frees up our brains to focus on the most important part — analysis and strategy. For our group of nerds, that’s like Christmas morning and we’re proud of that.
There’s a lot more going on under the hood of course outside of the team, the brand and the strategy. We have big plans internally for continued education, process development, new services, project management, business development, client management, tool development, employee benefits, organizational development and business operations. However, unless you’re a freak like myself, you probably don’t want to talk business theory and management for another hour. If you do, feel free to contact me directly of course (firstname.lastname@example.org), I love this stuff! :)
And, circling back to that one precious word (vision), I hope what we’re trying to do here with Outspoken Media is a little clearer, because we’ve been having so much fun behind closed doors, it’s time we let you in on more of us and hopefully you’ll do the same. Thank you for your continued support and readership.
Photo credit: Aih.