On taking the leap with paid social…

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I am constantly baffled by clients who are spending money on traditional mediums like TV, outdoor and print, but are still so hesitant to jump into the paid social game. I think it is more of a “creature of comfort” move than anything else and this really is something that needs to change.  Most just prefer what they know (even if it stinks) over what they don’t know (or worse, just don’t understand) when it comes to marketing.

Paid social media provides highly targeted audiences to brands looking to sell products and in a medium where they are paying close attention. This is not serving banner ads on publisher sites, nor is it competing in the Google landscape, where smaller brands with minimal budgets can get eaten alive. This is about value for your dollar and knowing where consumers are paying attention and this is where we are ALL IN, ALL DAY LONG!

Above is a screenshot from a client’s Google Analytics after our first week with them. We convinced them to assign a nominal budget ($200) to test paid social out, and it produced early and promising results.  They generated $852 on $200 spent (4X1 return) and generated 807 unique visitors and 9000+ impressions for their branded content.  I would argue this might be the best $200 they spent on their business to date, and it should certainly pave the way for a bigger commitment to the platform(s).

With traditional efforts, even if they worked, you wouldn’t have this type of actionable data to prove it. I still have conversations with my brand partner counterparts where they tell me that paid social doesn’t produce an ROI. Some stay away as a result, while others do it begrudgingly and more so as a necessary evil than a real revenue producing tactic.

It is so important that we change that mindset and that brands take that leap of faith with paid social.  The efforts pay off and without a commitment to the cause, you are leaving money on the table and allowing your competitors to take those dollars. That just cant happen, right?

 

 

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On core values…

Sircle-Core Values

I am a big believer in being very clear and transparent with your core values.  Both personally and professionally, people should know what they can expect when dealing with you. It is best shown through your actions, but it is a great idea to document them and then use them as a guide to help point your compass in the right direction.  At Sircle Media we do that and we use these as our governing principles on the daily.

Who We Are:

Sircle Media is a serviced based business that helps brands navigate the social and digital media landscape. We provide outsourced solutions that help clients win online, while not being dragged or slowed down by bloated payroll. As a result they can invest more time + funds into actually advancing their business.

While we happen to work in social and digital media, our actual business is service.  In order to give great service you need to have the right foundation and approach in place.

10 Core Values:

1. We provide Four Season’s level service at all touch points.

2. When we say something will get done, we make sure it does.

3. We believe in transparent, open and honest communication.

4. We employ a “can do” attitude and go above + beyond for clients.

5. We believe in constant growth and learning.

6. We are honest and forthcoming with our clients + coworkers.

7. We promote a positive team and family spirit.

8. We believe in being scrappy and doing more with less.

9. We are passionate and determined to be great at what we do.

10. We deploy a gratitude attitude and we genuinely appreciate the opportunities we are given.

I would hope that clients, employees and/or vendors who read this would agree that these are a big part of who we are.  If they do, then we are doing it right.

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Pass The 40…

sircle-leadership

With my 40th birthday (4 months from today) looming, I have been thinking a lot about legacy lately. Of course, the soundtrack to Hamilton on constant repeat in my home these days, as well as the PBS special about the making of Hamilton still fresh in my mind might have something to do with it. Nonetheless, it is a real milestone birthday both personally and professionally and it has me thinking.

Will my clients say I worked hard and was always honorable and fair in my interactions? Will my employees say that I motivated them and offered them a path for growth, both personally and professionally?  Will my children be proud of my contributions at work, in the community and in their lives? Will my wife, family and friends continue to always support me along the way? All of these things are swirling around in my brain.

I read once (not sure where) that “leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” I hope that the narrative with me is that I always led by example both in the work place and at home and that those who worked for, lived with or chose to be a friend or collaborator with me, all felt that they benefited from my leadership.

I think that I have always been comfortable being a leader. In high school I wasn’t the best player on my varsity soccer or lacrosse teams (both of which went to the county finals my senior year mind you) but I was named a captain on both. In college, I chose my own path, my own major and ultimately made my own decision post college, to bet on myself and my own sales ability and not go down the conventional graduate school (well I did go to Law School for 29 days, but lets disregard that) path.  For the past 17 years I have consistently gravitated towards leader and “alpha male” roles, as that is just where I always felt the most comfortable and could provide the most upside and value.

I try to mentor others so I can teach them what I have learned (both good and bad) along the way and I also seek out mentors who can hopefully do the same for me. It is so important to take and implement what I have absorbed from those who have gone before me and I’d like to think that others get the same value from me. I am constantly trying to positively impact the lives of those around me and I hope that it super clear in my daily actions. While I know that doing the right thing is always my north star, I realize my intent might not always come through in my content. I am committed to doing a better job there.

I am so hungry for success and always shooting for the stars, but I try to put equal weight into remaining grounded, grateful and humble. I never forget where I came from, nor do I ever take for granted the many advantages I have had along the way. I try to remain hungry both in my pursuit of financial and professional success, as well as ways I can be a better person and give back to others. It is a constant balancing act and while I am not always perfectly level, I am keenly aware of when I need to tip the scales back to try and get there.

So I write this post to help point my compass in the right direction and so that I can hit my 40th birthday in stride. I don’t want to make new (birth) year’s resolutions to get better on that date, I want to be well on my way when I get there. I hope that I can motivate others in my 1977 class (or anyone else for that matter) to do the same.  If I can entice anyone who took the time to read through this to up their game and improve their own legacy, then I have already succeeded in that regard.

 

 

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On Entrepreneurship and Baseball

Sircle- Babe Ruth

Entrepreneurship is like playing professional baseball.  So many people want to do it, because on the surface it looks like all fun and glory.  The reality is that it is a long and bumpy road and it is mostly just hard and tedious work.  Sure there are some awesome moments (like great home games and walk off home runs) but those are far outnumbered by darker moments (long road trips, batting slumps, injuries and losses) along the way.  Most people try for years and fail and only the best of the best really “make it.”

When you are building a company, most of the time you are losing.  You lose business, you lose employees and you even come close to losing your mind.  Just like with baseball, if you succeed 30% of the time you are an all star. Dealing with the other 70% is psychological warfare that is not for the faint of heart. Only the truly strong survive.

When you see someone killing it and winning, it is amazing to witness.  They deserve the congrats and accolades, because it was probably a very long road leading up to that moment. What you don’t see are all of the failures and frustrations along the way. While they probably weren’t taking bus trips in the minor leagues to places like Des Moines and Topeka, they probably were pounding the pavement trying to drum up sales in their own markets.  Trust me there were many no’s, many missed opportunities and confidence testing roadblocks before they got there.

To succeed in both you have to know how to read all the signs.  You need to know when to bunt (make short term moves for long term success), when to swing for the fences (capitalize on opportunities to score big) and when to be either patient or aggressive. Learning these strategic moves takes mental training and most likely a lot of mistakes as lessons along the way.

Often times things are hummin because the whole team is intact and moving to the beat of the same drum. Then out of nowhere you lose a player (injury, moving on to a new opportunity) and you have to course correct and adjust immediately.  In that moment it can seem like a “season killer” but oftentimes, other players step up as a result and you also can recruit great new players. Making those transitions quickly and smoothly can be the difference between a downward spiral and a championship.

Despite the gloomy picture painted above, teams/entreprenuers who really want it and have that true passion continue to embark on those 162+ game seasons with a focus and vigor that is only for a specific type of person. You really cannot let the fear of striking out or losing ever get in your way.  Not everyone wins, but those who don’t play the game never will.  #PlayBall

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Interview with Cereal Entrepreneur

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I was recently approached by Cereal Entrepreneur to do a profile on me and they just posted it on their account today.  I am thrilled they wanted to chat and I hope my words are seen as useful and productive to those who read it.

Here is an excerpt from the full interview:

“I have been in digital marketing, e-commerce and branding since 1999. I spent a decade on the client side and felt very strongly that agencies were just missing the mark when it came to service and truly understanding what brands and SMB’s really need. I set out to create an anti-agency model that put service first, after which @sirclemedia was born.

I like working with businesses and learning their stories. I like helping owners and marketers craft their message and then present their unique selling propositions and reasons for being. Sales comes easy to me, because the passion and understanding are there and that creates a very solid foundation for working with clients.

I work both in service and in marketing because it allows me to help businesses sell their products and offerings to others. This is the path I chose, because it allows me to play to my strengths and provide an element that most brands are missing. It is one thing to believe you are great, but it is harder to get others to agree.

I’m convinced that if truth, honesty, hard work AND excellent customer service are your north star(s) then you will win in the end. The commitment to remarkable service cant just be on the surface, it needs to run deep. Ultimately, business decision makers want to trust a partner, who will have their best interest at heart and will work hard to advance the client’s needs before their own. That is where we focus.”
Q: How’s Sircle Media different?

A: Most social media agencies are looking to offer project work OR retainers that are itemized solutions and not solving the real problem. Businesses really need an employee mindset when running point on social media and we really work to fill that role in a unique way. I always say we are more of a staffing agency that an traditional marketing firm and we are filling a mission critical role, just in an outsourced capacity.

Q: What’s your advice to others entrepreneurs?

A: Focus on the important stuff and work hard, smart and fast. Don’t get too high or too low and just remain committed to and focused on moving the company forward and leaning in on the pros and on reducing the cons along the way.

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Be content, with content marketing funnels.

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If you aren’t all in on leveraging Facebook’s Advertising platform, you are missing out.  Paid Facebook efforts are the most powerful tool in your arsenal these days and you need to be leveraging them on the daily. We have pointed that out here on this blog many times before, and we continue to deploy for our clients on a consistent basis.

The royal flush is to have a content plan, that you then put money behind to help convert users down a marketing funnel. In the picture above you can see that strategy in full effect. Our awesome client Lurong Living, has been a believer in the power of social media for many years now and has been with Sircle for 3+.

They are looking to sell products and subscriptions online, and they want to target a very specific audience and even subsets of audiences with their messages. Facebook has proven to be the real winner (not surprisingly) to do so, and we are constantly driving results through our efforts.

With this one post, we created a very simple recipe (piece of content) that lives on their domain. We then targeted a specific audience with $10 via a boosted post and optimized it for engagement. Typically that would translate to very little reach, as Facebook is objective based and is promoting this to users based on their likelihood to interact with it. The 10,000+ people who saw this piece of content were therefore an ancillary benefit of this initiative. Of greater importance (at least in this instance) were the 685 clicks and 558 link clicks bringing traffic back to the website.

This not only led to direct sales opportunities, but it was a very easy way to build up an audience for our retargeting campaign. Now we know what type of content they consumed and can target them with a very specific Ad that we know they are likely to be interested in.

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This is just a small snapshot of the results of leveraging that funnel mentality. Those conversions produced 4X the spend up front and since the product purchased was a monthly subscription, the lifetime value goes way beyond that.

Yup- It pays to play!

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On managing to stay the course.

Sircle- Management Strategy

Over the years I have managed and employed many people. Some were great and others not so much. Regardless, I have always tried to invest equally in helping them each be better than the person they were when we first met. It is not always easy and it is certainly not always met with the same type of investment or vigor from the one receiving the guidance. Regardless, I stay the course.

I work hard to try to motivate my team and be a great leader every day. I don’t always make the perfect choices or tactical moves, but the underlying north star is always to lead by example and give my team a clear path to personal and professional success. It is so important to me that that is the narrative of our relationship.

When employees choose to move on from my company (or team in the past) I always take it very personally.  Like somehow their reason for leaving was my fault and I think hard about what I could have done differently.  It can be very defeating to invest the time and energy and then have things end abruptly. Sometimes even the leader, needs a pick me up to get their head back on straight and regain focus. Yesterday, I received a note from someone who worked for me for less than a year and way back in 2007. I haven’t heard from him since he left my company and then suddenly, out of nowhere, I received the below message on Facebook:

“How are you Adam, it has been years my man. I sincerely hope you’ve only encountered positivity in your life and have been thriving as you rightfully deserve to. You are without a doubt one of the most epic and motivating bosses I’ve had in my life. On top of that you are also one of the most genuine people I’ve had the privilege to call a friend. Keep doing your thing and I have no doubt you will reach the pinnacle of greatness.

I hope your family – wife, kids, brother, and father are all doing amazingly well, as it has been a blessing crossing all of their paths in my lifetime. You may not know this, but for the short duration I was under your management, I learned and absorbed more from your words and wisdom than from anyone else. I can honestly say that people like you are game changers. In our lives you either have your head above water or you drown and in your case you’re cruising on a yacht passing those who will never be able to keep up with your innate skills, knowledge, experience and abilities. You’re truly fortunate, you work hard and you’ve got every angle handled. I appreciate all that you have done for me.”

This made my day/week/month/life and has motivated me to trust my gut and to continue to invest heavily in motivating, guiding and developing my team. If I can manage to change others lives like I did his, then that really is something special.

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