"Why would I want to work with Deelightful Studios?"
"I looked at your website, but really, what makes you different?"
"My agency says they do social media but I'm not digging it. Looking to make a switch."
If any of these sound familiar read on...
99% of the time I am totally on board with Theodore Roosevelt's famous quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy." The 1% exception? When it comes to comparing agencies. Specifically, MY agency versus literally thousands of other businesses who offer marketing-esque services.
From ad agencies to creative shops, from PR firms to ad tech, to consultants and solo social media ninjas [ugh, yes that is a thing people call themselves], the world is saturated with marketers trying to market. To be honest, I roll my eyes when I hear the names of a lot of shops. There is SO MUCH BULL SHIT in this industry that it's hard not to. I have been working in the world of marketing for over a decade. It's both saddening and maddening that so much has changed and yet the conversation around how the agency model is broken is a squeaky wheel (example 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... I think you get the point).
Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't a post dedicated to talking shit about the career and field I genuinely, whole-heartedly love. In fact, I have the utmost respect for many agencies (and their kick-ass people!) and am fortunate enough to call a few of them my clients. But when you put yourself in that "client" seat, it becomes impossible not to at least mention the absolute absurdity and out-of-control circus it has become trying to find the right partner / agency / studio / person / <insert noun here> to work with.
Which is exactly why I LIKE comparing Deelightful Studios to the smorgasbord that is the agency world. As a business owner, it keeps me focused and motivated to be the best I can possibly be. But perhaps more importantly, stacking Deelightful Studios up against other players in the game reinforces why I set out on my own and created this little engine that could to begin with.
So, if you're a business owner, CMO, Marketing Manager or even an agency that is seeking a new social media partner, here is the not-so-secret sauce that makes Deelightful Studios, Deelightful Studios. Compare away my friends...
1. Deelightful Studios is not for everyone and that's OKAY. I made a conscious decision to be laser-focused and provide full-service capabilities in the social media space. That means everything Deelightful Studios does is tailored to the ever-changing world of social media marketing— from creating a meticulous strategy to responding to the annoying customers tweeting at you in the middle of the night to styled photography and A/B testing target audiences, right down to making a pretty report your 62-year old CFO who "just doesn't get Snapchat" can understand. Could I help with your packaging? Yup. Could I coordinate your next big tradeshow? Sure. But the difference between could and should is huge. Far too many agencies try to be all things to all people. And staffing an agency with enough human capital to deliver on a rolodex of services is more often than not a recipe for disaster. It creates top-heavy teams with too many thinkers and not enough do-ers. Too much overhead and process that costs time, money, and valuable resources brands just shouldn't have to spend. So if you are looking for a one-stop-marketing-shop we aren't it. On the flipside, if you "just" want someone to run social ads I won't do it unless I can also influence the creation of the ad content and your overall social strategy. Why? Because you can't drive a car without tires and a steering wheel. That said, I know a lot of peeps. And even though I don't provide a rolodex of all services, I do have an iPhone full of great people that can help in one way or another. In fact, one of those people is creating her own company to do this very thing- more on that soon.
2. Super-sized talent, not super-sized budgets. That doesn't mean working with Deelightful Studios will always be the cheapest option. If you're looking for a $399 a month social media special, sorry to disappoint but you'll need to look elsewhere. [Hey, I live Rochester, NY and would like to retire someday.] But seriously, how often do you see the VP of blah blah blah after the courting process is over and the contract has been signed? Or maybe you're flabbergasted by the fact your agency can't take a meeting without a room full of people. Working with Deelightful Studios means that you want to work with me and you will get just that. Simply put, I've flattened the complex layers and agency process down to a shockingly simple model. For all intents and purposes, Deelightful Studios is a one full-time woman show. So it must go without saying you'll have want to work with me (see #5). I believe too many bodies assigned to a single project (or a single Instagram post for that matter) is a big, fat waste of time and leads to a crappy ROI. The Art Director vs. Copywriter vs. Strategist vs. three Account People vs. PR Exec vs. the random person or exec with a catchy title (who really doesn't even work on day-to-day stuff) isn't a smart business model, particularly in the social media world. For one it leads to bloated budgets and too-long-timelines. You've got to move fast. A room full of people and their Google Calendar's is not going to be nimble enough. To truly deliver on all of social media's awesomeness, you have to be savvy enough to wear multiple hats, get your hands dirty and create, and effectively tie all the traditionally separate creative agency roles together with a pretty bow and the perfect hashtag (#girlboss #solopreneur #sleepwhenyouredead). It IS possible to be an awesome writer, take stellar photos, and optimize the shit out of a digital advertising budget. It IS possible to manage a network of influencers and glean insights out of an intense excel spreadsheet full of data. But "teamwork makes the dream work", "two heads are better than one", or "it takes a village". Agreeeeeed, but only if you have the right A-team and why it's CRITICAL to have regular open and honest dialogue. Even though most of the time it may just be "me" there is a "we" to Deelightful Studios. Behind the scenes, I do bring on part-timers that I know and trust based on workload. I also love having paid interns that want to get their feet wet and that I can hopefully one day hire (that's how I started out in this business). Don't mistake this flattened hierarchy for cockiness or ignorance. I've worked with a laundry list of brands across every major industry and have learned from some amazing people. The Jack of All Trades, Master of None dilemma is real. But remember, Deelightful Studios can't be all things to all people. So if there is ever a project we are working on together that requires outside bandwidth or expertise, I'll tell you. And in doing so, I will be transparent about it. I LOVE collaborating with and learning from others. I don't believe in "white-labeling". And I don't believe it's fair to my clients or to the marketing industry as a whole to mark-up another partner's rate card.
3. To make a difference, you have to think, act, and be different. If you've gotten this far, you know that I am not afraid to march to my own drum. Or drop a curse word (just keepin’ it real ya’ll). Not being afraid to be different is what has helped to make the difference in my own business and in my clients’ businesses. If I didn't recognize a HUGE gap in the marketplace and see there was an AWESOME opportunity to provide stellar social media services, I wouldn't have started Deelightful Studios. There is no such thing as one size fits all. This is most evident in the business of undergarments and marketing. I don't believe in creating standardized packages for my clients to pick and choose from. Or a made-up strategic process that sounds really good in theory but provides no realistic framework for actually getting work done. Of course, I have a rhyme and reason to my ways of working, wisdom through experience, and ever-evolving best practices. But because each client is different, the journey to success is too- be it increasing brand awareness, creating engagement, or driving sales. This isn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking. But it is different from the way “things have always been done”. It's a far cry from pricy mid to large agency retainers. Or the too-good-to-to-be-true budget packages and misguided tech-based solutions that litter the social media landscape. And this commitment to making a difference by being different is the key to making sure Deelightful Studios stays ahead of the curve in an environment that is constantly changing.
4. We’re in this together. I eat, (barely) sleep, and breathe this business. Apart from my darling gray cat Lloyd, I consider Deelightful Studios and each of my clients my babies. I treat each one with great care and do not take for granted the trust that is placed in me. To be an effective marketer, one must always see the big picture, regardless of their discipline. Social media is just one piece of the marketing puzzle. I could make the case that it’s one of the most important pieces. And just about every business NEEDS to have a social strategy. But as much as it’s important for me to understand Instagram’s latest update, it’s as important to understand the interworking’s of your brand. Your company. Your target audience. And all that goes with it. My job is to make it easier to do YOUR job. Whether that means you work in the marketing department of a CPG brand, are the CEO trying to take a company to the next level, or an agency trying to fully execute a big idea for the client you just re-branded. I make it my business to intimately know your business. It wouldn’t be possible to respond to a PR-disaster waiting to happen comment from Crazy Carol at 3am with finesse and present “Instagram 101” to your Board of Directors if I didn’t. Having once been on the client-side, I understand how frustrating it can be dealing with agencies. Once upon a time, I got my hands on the great CP+B employee handbook and it’s always stuck with me. Especially the theory of money relativity. I treat every budget and every dollar as if it were coming from my own personal bank account. And learning from the mistakes of startups, tech companies, and agencies of virtually every size, it’s why I’ve chosen to stay hyper-focused as a business and on my clients’ businesses. I can’t do my job without you. And I hope to set the bar high enough that you wouldn’t want to do yours without me. Call me crazy but hearing “you aren’t just a vendor, you are an extension of the team” from multiple clients makes the lack of sleep and my wicked case of tech neck totally worth it.
5. Work hard and be nice to people, always. When I started Deelightful Studios, I thought about all the times I’ve been most miserable, upset, or straight up angry with my job. And I thought about all the times I’ve laughed until I cried, screamed out of excitement, or felt truly satisfied and proud of my career. I add to these buckets routinely and the source of all these moments of emotion comes down to this simple motto: Work hard and be nice to people. It’s simple but a surprisingly difficult concept for far too many these days. I’ve worked alongside some of the biggest brands and biggest egos in the world. It’s given me thick skin. But also an appreciation for wanting to do great work for great people that have great companies. This is my dream job. I spend far too much time working to not truly enjoy who I am working with. I am lucky to be able to align my personal beliefs with my professional values. The benefit of owning my own business is I no longer have to “just deal” with a client because of financials or agency politics. Again, not groundbreaking but over the past three years it’s remarkable how this freedom has impacted me and how it continues to shape the course of my business. I actively choose who I want to work with, what clients I take on, and which I don’t. It’s hard not to have FOMO for every opportunity that comes my way. Most of the time I feel very guilty when I pass on something, especially for small business owners like myself. You may be thinking, “good for you, but what the heck does that mean for me?” It means I am hell-bent on staying fiercely passionate about the people and projects I work with. And that the decisions I make are for the RIGHT reasons. Saying “no” is a differentiator in the marketing world. I don’t take on clients that can just “pay the bills”. I don’t do things because I want to win a trophy [side note: I really hate the marketing industries self-boasting awards]. And I don’t ever settle for “good enough”. It’s not always glamorous and it certainly isn't all sunshine and rainbow emojis. But it’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s geeky and creative. And social media really can make a difference on so many levels. If you’re doing it right, social media is tedious, hard work. If it was easy and you could do it yourself, why the heck are you reading this whole thing? So ask yourself, why would you want to work with anyone who thinks otherwise?
P.S. I know that was a long read. But it's important to me and if you've come this far, I hope it's important to you, expecially if you're on the hunt for some help. If you need a refresher on the services Deelightful Studio provides, read up here. And if you're interested in chatting more, I'd totally love to listen.