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It’s January 2, 2018. What just happened?

Mike Krass • January 2, 2018 • 6 minutes to read

2017 was an unbelievable time to be a part of MKG.

In the past 365 days…

  • The team had two new babies and took a combined 180 days of maternity/paternity leave (hooray for baby Lexi and Magnolia June!)
  • Our longest standing team member was diagnosed with lymphoma and subsequently beat back the disease between January and July of 2017
  • We grew from 5 to 8 full time team members
  • (un)officially we opened a new location (New Orleans baby!)
  • Gross sales were the highest ever over a 12 month period. Sales increased by nearly 64% year-on-year
  • MKG Marketing was invited into Google’s Elevator Program, a program that invites 200 Agency Partners across North America who have exhibited high growth potential to take part in Google sponsored business coaching, peer-to-peer training to improve operational and financial efficiencies as well as gives participants early access to sweet, sweet new Google widgets
  • Shed the multitude of tools, platforms and systems and made deeper commitments with our technology partners such as NinjaCat for reporting/insights as well as BrightEdge and Conductor on the SEO platform front.
  • Pacific Northwest team ventured to New Orleans for a week of work in the Big Easy
  • Separated from a small handful of customers when it became clear that MKG was no longer a good fit for in terms of services or contract size

When I look at this list of events and accomplishments I can’t help but stepping back to say:

How in the heck did we survive 2017?

How (and why) We Survived 2017

My experience over the past twelve months tells me we survived (and thrived) in 2017 for a few reasons.

Our Values (especially People First)

With team members out for health or new parent reasons our values were put the test. Especially “people first”.

For those who were out, it was up to the rest of the collective team to pick up their responsibilities so that our clients wouldn’t even notice a difference in the quality of service we provide.

While the team was picking up additional responsibilities it was important for the team members who had taken time off (either in large chunks or sporadically here/there) to truly be “off”.

The expectation for folks on parental and health leave wasn’t that you’d have to check emails, pull down reports or respond to client requests -- the expectation was that you’d use that time to turn your work brain “off” as much as possible while you focused on other important parts of your life (getting well again, welcoming a new child into the world, etc).

I won’t lie and say it was easy: It wasn’t. But we didn’t hear any complaints from our clients (trust me - I asked quite a few of them how we were doing!) after we set the expectations of what we could accomplish with the resources we had to deploy on their behalf. It took a special kind of selflessness from the entire team to make this possible.

People, systems and process

We produced more work for customers than in any year prior while adding three new faces to the team. The difference in going from 5 team members to 8 was startling.

  • Reaching 8 team members exposed holes in system requirements and work processes
  • This also exposed some opportunities to get even better with our current written documentation and onboarding of new team members

What got us through this crazy year was a devotion to everything “process”. A few examples:

  • Write down all the steps you take to perform a recurring task
  • Upload pre-formatted documents (PPT, Word document, etc) into our Google Drive server to quickly plug-n-play information in a pre-formatted fashion
  • Sharing tasks with other team members and asking them to follow your pre-written steps for recurring tasks. Can they complete the assignment as described?

We’re back as a full team.

As of December 11, 2017 the entire gang is back together. Yahoo!

But what does “being back together” mean?

For our customers you will notice Adam (and our other team members) integrating seamlessly back into their core swim lanes. Instead of dividing up unassigned work evenly amongst the team to cover someone during an absence.

Tammy summarized this pretty eloquently:

Jessica and Spencer get to focus a bit more on individual tasks with Adam back.

Spencer revealed another silver lining benefit for our customers now that we’re all back together.

Additionally it means another person to bounce ideas off of and share giphys with in slack. (well...ok you the client won’t get to see the giphys but you’ll see the benefits of collaborating!)

Jessica mentioned the same collaborative advantage of having the entire team back.

I get my better PPC half back. Adam and I do a lot of chatting in the background about performance, ideas we have for clients, roadblocks, etc. It's nice to have that person back. We truly are a PPC team and help each other out a lot!

For the team we will be able to host our quarterly summit with all hands present so we can focus deeper on how we work, what we should do more/less of to help our clients be successful and align on our roles and responsibilities moving into the new year. One example that the team mentioned of how this affects our roles:

We’d love to get in the same groove with PPC that we are with SEO. All our SEO projects work so much smoother now that Christian and Tammy have clear swim lanes and they're much better equipped to be able to pitch in and help each other.

For Kerry and myself we plan to slowly adjust our roles at MKG Marketing to work on the business more than we have in years past. Take the example of a seamstress: to ensure the long-term stability of her alterations shop, eventually she’ll need to sew fewer stitches each day and spend that time hiring talented tailors and seamstresses to help with those jobs. She’ll need to think about a financial plan to save money for a rainy day (one is always around the corner). She’ll need to work on marketing her business to customers who are ready to use her services today, tomorrow or even next year. Kerry and I are hitting the point where our plan is to sew fewer stitches every day in 2018 (and beyond), instead focusing on compiling the right team and client portfolio to continue to build on the foundation we’ve seen grow in front of our eyes over the past 6 years.

What does 2018 look like?

Check back into the blog over the next 12 months to hear all the new and exciting things happening at MKG :)

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