Year in review: 2015
Jan 06, 2016 |
Generally, Lift Division blogs are focused on digital marketing advice in the hopes of helping other business owners learn a few things to grow their businesses. Today’s post is more personal. It’s about some Lift Division team highlights and personal favorite moments of 2015. So please be advised that today’s post is pretty self-focused.
Here are 10 of my favorite highlights of 2015 (in no particular order):
We brought Lift Division co-founder Jamie Stephens back onto the team in a full-time capacity. Although Jamie was an original co-founder in 2010, Lift Division’s focus continued to move toward search marketing (SEO & PPC) as opposed to web development. Being that Jamie’s primary area of expertise at the time was software development, he continued with Lift but on more of a limited basis and focused personally on large, web development projects. Having Jamie join us full-time in early 2015 as our Chief of Digital Strategy has helped me breathe easier. His leadership and decision making skills are incredible in addition to being one of the best digital strategists and web developers on the planet. This has been our best talent acquisition move in the history of Lift Division.
Our team launched 112 websites in 2015. Although Lift Division is primarily a digital marketing firm focused on lead generation, many of our clients need a better website before strapping on the marketing horsepower. To keep up with the demand we’ve continued to increase the size of our web design department and this year was our best year yet. A few of my favorites were Maull’s Barbecue Sauce, Dr. Craig Meyer, Brandywine Blueberry Farm and Trueson Exteriors.
We had our first profitable December in the history of the company. My wife always wondered why I was a little more grumpy in December than other months. It’s pretty simple—decision makers aren’t scheduling meetings in the last two weeks of December with anyone other than Santa Clause and they sure as heck aren’t spending a lot of money on marketing or websites. In a nice change from the norm, more and more business owners are realizing and taking advantage of the additional benefit of marketing spending as a year-end write-off.
We added a Web Designer and two Account Executives in 2015 that are simply awesome. I have tried to build our company with a careful focus on hiring great people. People that aren’t just talented or smart, but people you’d go have a beer with or trust to help you on something important. Jonathan, Kelsey and Paige have just made our Lift family even better. All three are dedicated, reliable and a complete joy to be around.
I spent some quality time in Silicon Valley. I have a good friend, Jeff Wasson, that had a successful exit for one of his companies and now lives in Palo Alto where he’s part of a venture capital firm, Boost VC. When I was there, I got lucky enough to get “the local tour” including seeing the home of Steve Jobs, checking out several Silicon Valley company headquarters (Google, Apple, etc..) and meeting some big-time VCs. Being that coffee is as much of a part of my life as water, I also often visited Coupa Café-- the coffee shop where more big deals have gone down than maybe anywhere else in the world. It was such a great experience.
We ordered outdoor signage. Lift Division was purposefully built without any advertising. We can’t advise others to move some of their marketing budget to inbound marketing without proving it ourselves, right? With my goal complete that we could build a million dollar company without any traditional, outbound advertising (signage, tv, radio, print) I decided to finally put a sign up on the downtown office building we love.
Clients who hired us for lead generation (SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, etc…) averaged a 252% annual return on investment. The main reason I love digital marketing so much is that it’s highly measurable. Knowing the value of a new client (or sale) and using key performance metrics we can extrapolate the return on a per channel basis. It’s satisfying to show a business owner or Chief Marketing Officer that they moved from 30th in a search engine result to 3rd. It’s even more satisfying to show a return on investment quickly into a campaign.
One of the properties we own, ServiceNoodle.com, hit 5,000,000 views. ServiceNoodle was my first start-up and without question, I made some mistakes (like scaling too damn fast and over-extending resources). While there were things I wish I could have changed, ServiceNoodle has been super helpful to many consumers needing local services. On ServiceNoodle, a user can request services from multiple companies at the same time. For business owners it’s a great way to advertise their services in a super affordable way. Five million views later we’re working on a website re-design for 2nd quarter 2016 but it is rewarding to see such high traffic numbers.
With few exceptions, in 2015 I was home by 6:15 every night to spend time with my wife and 3 young kids. I start each work day around 5am and I generally get a lot accomplished by the end of the day-- but it’s the last 3 hours of each day that are the most fulfilling. Walking in the door and hearing “daddy!” and getting bear hugs and kisses is the best part of my day. Being present, being involved and watching our kids grow up (now 5, 4, 2) is not just a highlight of 2015, it’s the highlight of my life.
This past year we were blessed with landing some large clients (that we love to work with). Large clients are always fun to land, but sometimes they’re not always great to work with to be completely honest. This year we had some fun ones, though. We brought on Schlafly, one of the first U.S. micro-breweries who continue to floor us with stories about their beer’s authenticity. Ending every meeting with a beer wasn’t too bad, either. We had the pleasure of landing the web re-design work for Emmaus Homes, a large non-profit which provides a variety of healthcare options to meet the needs of those with disabilities while living in their own home. We have only just begun the web re-design work on this one, but working on a project that does so much good for others is very rewarding to our team. And my personal favorite was being hired by Missouri Cancer Associates, the largest cancer care facility in mid-Missouri. I realize this client doesn’t seem as sexy as working with a brewery like Schlafly, but this one means a lot to me personally because cancer took my mom from me and my family way before her time. And Missouri Cancer helped her live much longer than anyone expected. I don’t even think the physicians we are working with know I’m the son of one of their former patients, but I’m sure many still remember her beautiful smile and contagiously fun personality. I’ve privately enjoyed connecting to the group who helped my mom and so many others.
There is no question we had our challenges in 2015, but the positives far outweigh the negatives and that’s all you can ask for as a business owner. As the owner of the company, it’s simply fulfilling to see your business slowly transform into a company over the years. It takes good hires and the desire of each person to grow in their respective position. I am blessed we have put such a great group of people together and can’t wait to help other businesses grow to 2016.