On why I sometimes feel like a personal trainer…

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When clients hire Sircle Media it is very much like hiring a personal trainer.  At this point, (April 2017) they know they need smart social media management for their business, very much like a person knows they should make good diet choices and work out consistently.

When they begin with Sircle, things are awesome for the first couple of months. They are hopeful, attentive, responsive and full of energy.  It is really amazing and we immediately see an improvement in the quality of their content, the consistency of their engagement and if they truly listen, in the results (be it growth, reach, interaction, traffic etc.)!

There is a real parallel here to working out with a trainer. Right out of the gate you psychologically feel good, because you sense you are taking the right proactive action to improve how you look and feel.  You start to get consistent in your efforts, because that accountability partner makes you stick to a schedule and you see some early results. Those could be increased energy, stamina, dropping a couple of pounds OR just that false sense of immediate muscle mass increase that many feel, but isn’t truly there so early on.  Either way, things are good…

Then with both, you often hit a flat period. Results don’t pour in as fast and you start to question the value of the efforts.  With social media, this often leads to quick pivots that include cutting back on paid efforts, reducing or eliminating influencer outreach and/or missing scheduled meetings and punting social media while you focus on “more important initiatives” for the business. With training this can mean missing sessions, reducing efforts/reps/sets or even cheating with stress meals and focusing on other areas of your life, like work, family etc.  Truth is that in both cases, you need to figure out how to balance the social media/training with those other items if you really want to succeed.  It has to be in addition to, not in lieu of.

The main reason for churn at Sircle is when a client loses site of the marathon view and focuses solely on the sprint results. When numbers are flat, they often ignore any of their own contribution to that and will come at us aggressively looking for a silver bullet that will magically turn things around. We explain that they need to remain holistically committed to the cause and need to keep their head down and focused on the end goal. There is no ROI on any one tweet, but there is real fruit if you are patient and let the vines grow their grapes.

With training, it is very easy to blame them. You question why you aren’t seeing faster results, why things have plateaued and whether or not you should seek a new teacher. First off, the real long term results take awhile to see. Secondly, you might be sneaking doughnuts at night (which to me is the same as not spending Ad dollars on Facebook mind you) which will compromise results greatly.  Only the client/individual knows the real truth there.

When you leave a trainer, very much like when a brand leaves Sircle, there is typically a precipitous drop off across the board. Clients move on and we see their imagery, cadence and frequency take a big dip, as well as their engagement and growth efforts. It is so obvious, and just like with a trainer it reflects poorly on us, when they leave and “gain weight and get out of shape” so to speak. We literally have to either remove them from our website or tell new prospects the exact date we stopped working together, so they can see the difference between good (with us) and not so good (post us).

In the end of the day, your north star needs to be that you are fully aware that remaining committed to social media and personal training, is the right play long term. You wont survive professionally or personally if you dont figure out both. You need to then attack either with an unwavering commitment to it.  Most often, switching agency or trainer is not the right answer and working on listening more and developing that relationship more fully is.

I am actually amazed by how many of my former clients still come to me personally with questions, and still respect me and what we do so much, despite having moved on.  They usually know what they had and are fully aware about how things have turned since they left. My recommendation is to lean in, rather than leave with Sircle and the gym.  That is how we start to really see the results and reap the benefits together!

 

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On having confidence in the work you do…

13233-Marcus-Garvey-Quote-If-you-haven-t-confidence-in-self-you-are

That was my senior yearbook quote and was something that was instilled in me by my amazing parents. You don’t have to be the best at everything, but you have to have the confidence in yourself that you can do anything.  It is very important to believe that each and every day.

I have found that true self confidence is the real differentiator between winners and losers in the workplace.  Whether it be my employees, or our counterparts and client accounts, the ones who believe in what they do and back it up with hard work win.

When employees lack confidence it shows in their work.  Therefore, I try very hard to be a good leader and to create an environment where it is clear that they have the skills to succeed and need to lean forward in their efforts.  I tell them that if I critique them it is not because I don’t believe in their ability.  On the contrary, it is because I genuinely believe they can do it, but are practicing bad habits or not concentrating and/or believing in themselves and that is keeping them from succeeding.

When clients lack confidence it shows in their commitment to the work we do.  If something bounces sideways, the confident clients brush it aside and see it is part of the journey.  The clients (or employees at the clients) who lack confidence, will freak out and have doubt as soon as there is any adversity and/or if things take longer than expected. Therefore, I try to create an environment with them where they feel they can be open and honest and express their concerns, so I can then address head on and assuage them.  If they don’t and remain 50/50 in their commitment to the effort, then they greatly compromise their ability to succeed.

Social media is a long game, especially if you want to do it right. Confidence in the cause is mission critical to it’s success.  Lack of confidence puts them at a great disadvantage and limits their ability to think outside of the box and bank wins.  It comes down to this:

Social media is essentially the internet and social networks are a major part of the ecosystem. If you believe in your product or service and you believe that online is a place to communicate with potential customers, then you need to be confident in both and convey that effectively and consistently in all that you do. Never waiver and remain committed to winning the game.  If you do that, you have won even before you have started.

 

 

 

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On navigating highs and lows in business…

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When running your own business, you are constantly dealing with crap. Its just the bottom line, and not everyone is built for that.  I signed up for it and I choose to deal with it in a positive and productive way in the macro. That being said, the reality is that it can be very tough and tiring in the micro.

Being an Entrepreneur, especially at the helm of a service business is much more grind than glory.  You constantly have to navigate volatile and erratic market conditions, different (and often counter productive) client personalities and employee development and idiosyncrasies, while also maintaing an offensive mindset, despite being mired in defense on the daily. You must be razor sharp and always tweaking and improving, otherwise you can lose….quickly.

Just this past week our company signed on 2 new clients, both of whom came from referrals who are very pleased with our service. Good stuff, right?  In the same week however, we had to fire an irrational and unprofessional client (first ever, but probably not the last) AND we had one client notify us that they wouldn’t be renewing at the end of their contract, despite us executing on every original KPI, especially a 10 to 1 ROAS via paid social over the last 10 months. Completely illogical!

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We all face ups and downs each week and it is our ability to absorb, digest and adapt that makes all of the difference. You need to always remain on an even keel to win. Never let a good deed get you too high and more importantly, never let a misstep get you too low.  Maintain balance and take everything as a lesson and a chance to evolve on your journey.

Remember, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” 

-Charles R. Swindoll

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Sircle Squad: Marisa Folsom

We recently sat down with Marisa, a (2 semester) photography intern to learn a bit more about her. Here is what we learned:

Marisa

Full name/nickname? Marisa Folsom

Nicknames: I don’t have too many, but a couple are Mari and Misa, but Mari only really makes sense in Japanese.

Age? 21

University and Major? Fordham University, and I’m double majoring in Visual Arts (with a concentration in Photography) and New Media & Digital Design.

What made you choose Sircle Media? I didn’t really know what to expect when I was asked to come in, but my first day at Sircle Media was so hands-on and I had such a great time shooting with Jenna and Ticha that I immediately wanted to intern here.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here? I think I was most surprised by the amount of trust and confidence the team has in its interns. I’m used to internships that have interns do smaller tasks, but I was surprised to be assigned real work immediately and to see my photographs up on our clients’ social media platforms so soon after!

What is the best part of your internship? Working at Sircle Media has really been unlike any other one of my internships. I love how friendly and welcoming the environment is, and how confident in my abilities my supervisors are. It’s great to be able to do some real hands-on work while simultaneously having fun!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor? My supervisors Jenna and Ticha are awesome, and working with them has been equally as awesome. They’re both so welcoming and friendly, and I’ve felt part of the squad from day one, whether I’m shooting, editing, or in front of the camera. They give me great suggestions and directions for my photographs and edits, and I’ve learned a lot from them. Simultaneously seeing them do their work has been very informative, and gives me new ideas that I might not have come up with on my own.

Advice you would give to a future intern? Be confident in your own abilities! There’s a reason why you’re here and the rest of the team is confident in what you do, so show them what you’ve got.

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On what really matters most…

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I am turning 40 in about a month and it is such an interesting time of reflection for me.  It really does make you stop and think about where you are, where you came from and where you are headed.  Added bonus is I have been reading and consuming a lot of Tim Ferriss content lately (life hacking, introspection etc.) as well as implementing more meditation in my life. Mentally, I have more clarity than I have ever had, that is for sure.

What I have learned is that people and interpersonal human connections are what matter most. My wife and children, being the most important by far of course, but the quantity and quality of other relationships, are very important too. We lose site of that over the years and it is a big mistake. Life goes by pretty quickly and we need to really be more present and attentive – this coming from a ‘Social Media Expert’ mind you. In the end of the day, social media helps you connect with people at scale which is powerful and amazing, but we all need to take that to the next level and add depth to those relationships. Everyone wants to feel connected and it is the deeper more meaningful relationships that will mean the most in our lives. If I could go back in time I would:

Tell my 10 year old self to be less self centered and more aware of the opportunities around me. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I had access to so many nice things. Sleep away camp, trips to Aruba and Colorado, a home with a swimming pool on the bay and just 300 yards from the beach etc.  Things were good and I was very fortunate and I wish I was more appreciative of my parents and all that they did for me.

Tell my 20 year old self to try and develop more meaningful friendships. It is astounding to me how few people I am still really in touch with and care a great deal about from that time in my life. I went to The University of Michigan and I lived in NYC, so I had a ton of affiliations, but very few deep connections. A squandered opportunity in my opinion!

Tell my 30 year old self to not let some of those meaningful relationships leave my life. It is clear how valuable and rare they are and a shame to let them disappear. I started grinding in my work life very early on and I put my head down, and focused on financial success. As a result I made a lot of money, started an amazing family (both spectacular things of course) but I found myself in my 3rd decade to be short on powerful friendships, including important ones that had dissipated over the prior 5-10 years.

So now I tell my 40 year old self to be more conscious of the amazing people I come in contact with each and every day. I love my employees and their individual stories. I am fascinated and motivated by my clients and their drive and commitment to succeed. I am working to rekindle some of the really special relationships of my past and keenly aware of the early signs of some new ones who have recently come into my life. I am teaching my children to appreciate the many interesting connections they are making in a NYC private school environment, and I am personally trying to invest time in getting to know their friends too.  It is all so important.

We all live just one life and in our final days we will want to reflect on our lives and know that we had a real impact on others. That could mean helping those who are less fortunate, doing hard and honorable work for your clients and even just being a good friend who was there for others in good times and in bad ones too. I want to control that narrative and make sure I am on the right side of that conversation. I have some work to do…

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On the #SircleSquad

Sircle Squad Happy Holidays 2016

I love my team!

They are weird (in the best kind of way), fun, inquisitive, hard working and super amazing. Though I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, I am especially thankful today for the miracle of Sircle and for all that they give to my company each and every day.

When I hire, I always look for good people who seem to care and to have the “get it factor” when it comes to business and life in general. Ones who realize that hard work is not a bonus, but rather a foundation. Ones who understand that customer service is so important and that clients should always be treated fairly and honorably.  I believe if you put these type of people in a position to win, they will come out on top.

When you start a company from scratch and by yourself, you have many good and bad days along the way. During the darker moments, you might get discouraged and lose sight of why you started in the first place. It is my team (both at work and at home) that keeps me motivated to outwork and out hustle the competition, so I can provide for all of us. I like being in that position and I thrive when under that sort of pressure.

Winning comes down to working together as a team, with a common goal and vision for what you want to achieve. I set the stage, but these guys are the actors that make the story come to life. Together we make wonderful things happen.

If you have a team that motivates and supports you, let them know it.  They deserve the praise and the recognition more than you probably even recognize!

Merry Christmas.

 

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Sircle Squad: Kasey Bandilla

Another awesome intern just wrapped up her semester with us and we will miss her dearly. Before she left, we sat down to learn a bit more about her and her experience at Sircle Media. Enjoy.

King KaseyFull name/nickname ? 

Kasey Bandilla and Nickname(s): Some common ones are Kase, KC, and Kaseydilla (like quesadilla – it’s a combination of my first and last name).

Age? 

I’m 20

University and Major? 

Fordham University and Communications & Media Studies

                                                                                                  What made you choose Sircle Media?

I chose Sircle Media because I wanted a challenge. Prior to this internship, I had some social media experience under my belt, but I knew that I had so much more to learn. I also wanted to join the Sircle squad because of the intimate work environment. I find that smaller environments provide more hands-on work and an overall better experience to learn and grow. And that’s exactly what I found here.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here?

The amount of valuable hands-on experience. As an intern, I expected to get some grunt work, but as soon as I got here, I was immediately given projects and tasks that were directly helpful to the Social Media Managers. While some projects were daunting, the SMMs that I worked with were confident in my abilities and skills. Each day, I felt that I contributed meaningful content and was an actual member of the Sircle Media team, not just another intern.

What was the best part about your internship?

The environment. Everyone at Sircle is so easy to get along with. If I needed help or had questions, every single person offered assistance and didn’t hesitate to answer any questions that I had. I always looked forward to coming into the office because it’s such a comfortable and fun place to be. There’s definitely no shortage of laughs here.

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?

Adam is one of the most driven, diligent, and eloquent people that I have ever met. He is the most easy-going boss I’ve ever had but he makes sure that you are hustling and working just as hard as he is. Not to mention, he’s also a excellent whistler. My supervisor, Sara, has been an amazing mentor. She’s passionate, motivating, and super insightful. Throughout my time at Sircle, she made it a point to learn what I liked to do and ensured that I was given those tasks. She made my experience very enjoyable.

Advice you would give to a future intern?

For future interns, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It might be overstated, but it’s true. Adam and your supervisor are here to help you learn and get the most out of your internship here at Sircle. Also, be open to all tasks and projects. Working on a wide range projects, I was able to further develop skills I already had and gain new ones that I wouldn’t have attained otherwise. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your experience at Sircle. I definitely did!

 

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On being thankful…

be-thankful-inspiration-wallpaperOn this Monday of Thanksgiving week, I am feeling especially thankful for the things in my life.  Personally speaking, I am most thankful for my amazing wife and kids, for supporting me in my professional journey (which has many highs and lows mind you) and for my friends (and other acquaintances) for motivating, helping, advising and even just promoting me in their lives.  I have written about employing a gratitude attitude in this blog before and it is true now, more than ever!

Professionally speaking, I have an amazing and talented new hire starting today, two new (referred) clients kicking off this week and three calls for new business opportunities before turkey day. Cherry on top- I received a note from one of those new clients telling me that it was the gratitude blog post above, as well as the piece I wrote on “Core Values” that convinced them to sign with us VS. someone else.  While that is not the reason I write them, it is is a perfect example of how content marketing works.

You cant fake it, you need to feel it in your bones.  When you put out good energy, it typically comes back to you in various ways. It doesn’t always happen right away, but you should stay the course. Doing the right thing is always the right thing and if you are passionate, honorable and hard working then good things come.

I am thankful for all of those (family, clients, employees) who allow me to even be in the position to do what I do. Thank you! :)

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Referrals from all angles..

Sircle Referrals

I have written about how referrals make the world go round, on this blog before and once again I am reminded how true that is. Last week I received 6 referrals for business and they came from a variety of sources, all of which are appreciated more than the referrer knows.

Two came directly from happy clients, which are the most common types in my business. Those are obvious and awesome when they come to us and are a clear sign that we are doing great work for our clients day to day.

Great work and service, empowers WOM – Word of Mouth!

Two came from PR partners who had worked opposite us on brand relationships. Many of our clients have a PR Firm on hand and we are often forced into their sandbox and ordered to play nicely together. We used to get a lot of pushback from those partners as either A) they were trying to diversify and get into social media services and/or B) they just felt threatened by the new agency in the ecosystem. I have always said that we don’t offer PR and we believe that our efforts augment everything they do and vice versa. It is so nice to see that some of these firms have changed their posture, AND that they felt we offered great service and could pair very nicely with their offerings.

Teamwork does, make the dream work!

One came from the very type of relationship I referenced in my earlier blog post above. Someone I had mentored two years back, had landed at a new company and immediately told them they needed to hire us for their social media needs.

Long game, paying off!

The final and perhaps most gratifying one came from a former (and internal favorite) client, who left us abruptly earlier this year. They hired a new Director of Marketing who came in with their own ideas and agenda and ultimately pushed us out. This is hands down the number one reason for churn in our business and is so unfortunate, because if communication is excellent, it is usually unnecessary. Regardless, it was so great to receive this particular referral, as it was a statement that although we are no longer dating, they remain a fan and convinced that we add a ton of value. So much so that they recommended the client “hire us right away to learn and implement a real, make sense social strategy” and that client couldn’t wait to get started.

Client relationships don’t always end, just because they stop paying you!

I remain convinced that if you are passionate, provide great service, work hard and don’t lose your cool, that you can generate a referral funnel from all types of sources.  Everyone you come in contact with should be better off for having met you and you should leave an indelible mark on each of them. Do it, and they will remember you when the time is right and be your biggest advocates.

 

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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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