katie’s last day at schipul

[This post was written on December 16 and I never hit publish. I removed some of the mushy stuff. And as I have said many times “bad news fast” so let me say first that I regret the chaos of Katie’s last day. I’ll make it up to you Katie.]

Some people are just more difficult than others. And some people are REALLY more difficult than others.

Shut up. I’m not talking about myself.

I’m talking about Katie. Katie Laird. And I’m writing this on the last day she works for me. And that is sad for me as a person who will miss walking in to her office and rambling on about everything from Edward Bernays, to the latest Dan Keeney email that even we think is perhaps too full of candor, to our PR efforts to help April and the Silicon Valley office, or to discuss our latest ideas to save the cheerleader or at least save the world through Netsquared.

It is also a happy time for me because I love Katie in one of the 10,000 ways a person can love. And “love” isn’t a word I use without thought. Nope, this lady is unique. She is taking the next step in her mission and vision and I respect that. Even if I did manage to get us locked out on the 15th floor roof of our building on her last day because I wanted to say goodbye without 1000 interruptions that go with running a growing business.

Aaron hired Katie as a graphic artist ‘back in the day’. Kelly was our Communications Director at the time. Kelly was amazing of course, as she still is and I think she is even teaching the APR courses at PRSA Houston. When Kelly left, Katie proactively observed the (numerous) balls I was dropping and, well, I’m not even sure if she asked. She just did. She picked up the reins and was doing our PR in addition to her responsibilities as a designer. I’m not sure how it happened. That’s what happens with high performance individuals I have learned. Sometimes they run over you to achieve what is ultimately in your best interest as a leader and what is in the best interest of the company and the tribe. Katie did.

And Katie, or @happykatie as so many call her, did that. She just DID. I’m not even sure that I, as the CEO, had a vote in it. She is a force of nature.

Keep in mind this is a woman is a cupcake expert, a Nintendo gamer, a pilot (yes, like real airplanes), a Mom to an amazing little girl named Ella, a philanthropist who gives of her time and money to so many different causes. It’s kind of like shaking hands with a beautiful tornado. But not to worry, Katie is almost always in a great mood. (A desirable characteristic when it comes to tornados from Kansas.)

I have given so many talks over the last 6 years where not only the slide deck, but the research behind the slide deck, was done by Katie. She can meet with me for 10 minutes, ask a few questions, and two days later I have a presentation deck that makes me look like a hero presenting to a national section of PRSA in New York. She is that good. That and Katie herself is an accomplished and sought after public speaker in her own right. Check out Katie’s slideshare here. I have no doubt her public speaking requests will continue and surpass mine in the near future. She rocks as a speaker.

And OK, I admit it. It doesn’t hurt that Katie is the founder of Houston Dr. Sketchy’s. Always a great excuse to spend a Sunday afternoon at AvantGarden drinking wine and photographing models and friends. (Unless she revokes my “archivist” privileges, I know I’ll get to see her and Adam, and sometimes Ella, at least once a month.)

There is great joy in seeing people like Katie grow. Visiting her in the hospital when Ella was born. Jumping on an airplane to San Francisco for a one day trip with little notice to find out about this TechSoup Netsquared thing. Taking photos on the roof to show off the latest hand crafted scarf she made. Trying different advertising and acknowledging what fails, and trying again, and celebrating what succeeds knowing it is bringing in leads that become clients. To not get her a band aid, but instead say “wait, let me take a photo” when she skinned her knee riding a plasma car down the top of the parking garage. To enjoy those experiences with a co-worker you have to care. And I do. I care very much and to care it becomes personal. And Katie is leaving after over six years. And that brings a sense of loss.

Did I mention she planned and ran SchipulCon 2011 this year? Without Katie we would not have seen Dries and Matt on the stage together. It was a team effort, but she was the team leader for the whole event. (and a shout out to David and Al for the idea and the vid of course.)

And then Katie had me roasted. Very funny. Very Katie.

I know I am missing a ton of Katie’s accomplishments. And memories she created. She has been the driving force for the Schipul and Tendenci brands for years. So much so that she rejected a blog post I wanted to put on the Schipul blog because it wasn’t “on message.” (Her rejection notice/email said something about “snarky” but I’m not sure what her point was #heh). In fact I’m posting this on my personal blog and linking to it because I know Katie wouldn’t think this blog post was “on message with the brand” either. She is a true brand steward. She cares about her work.

I’m proud of Katie in that she is following her passion and going after what, after much introspection, she feels is the best next step for her.

As a CEO, you always feel a bit like a failure when you lose a top performer. It means that you didn’t grow the company fast enough to keep them challenged. Or you didn’t increase profits enough to increase their compensation commensurate with their new skills, abilities, knowledge and mostly the RESULTS they produce for the company. And the next person who tells me “don’t take it personal” gets bonked on the head by Ded Bob from the RenFest because it means they have never walked a mile in the shoes of a company founder. I’m not sure I would even want to be a person who didn’t feel the human loss as well as the professional loss when a high performer leaves the company.

Make no mistake, this is a loss for Schipul Technologies Inc. And a huge gain for my friend Jay Steinfeld, the CEO of Blinds.com where Katie is going. Jay, you don’t just owe me a beer. No sir. This calls for something more like a bottle of Opus One. But I can’t fault your choice of talent. You have excellent taste indeed.

Take care of Katie for me please. She rocks.

Dallas AMA Web Marketing PPT slides are Posted

Horsesirvingtexas The Web Marketing PPTs for Web Marketing Made Simple – Maximizing Your Online ROI are posted on our main site for download here:

  1. Download ‘Web Marketing 101’ AMA Presentation
  2. Download ‘Blogs, RSS and More’ AMA Presentation
  3. Download ‘Why You Care About Online Growth’ Handout

A lot of this content still comes from the original Web Marketing Fundamentals article and it still has legs.  The web marketing message still resonates and many sites still don’t focus on creating a strong compelling marketing headline!

Marketingbudgetpiechart_1 The Marketing Budget Survey results pie chart with data from 2004 is interesting. Used in one of the opening slides for the AMA presentation, the goal was to emphasize the importance of a balanced approach.  We are pretty good at online marketing, yet we still do internal and external PR and sponsor advertising radio shows at times.  Marketing balance is good.

Dallas AMA Presentation on Web Marketing and SEO

Dallas In Dallas TX for a presentation for the Dallas Chapter of the American Marketing Association.  As a member of the AMA it is always an honor to present to the AMA!

AMA Web Marketing Made Simple – Maximizing Your Online ROI
Ed Schipul, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company

Fri 10-Feb-06 7:30 AM to Fri 10-Feb-06 9:30 AM

On the flip side, the main AMA site has unfortunately implemented an interstitial (read cheesy landing page a.la.flash.intro type page) http://www.marketingpower.com/welcome-interstitial.php

Why would the AMA have a splash landing page on the primary URL?  This is proven to reduce the conversion rate.  The wonders never cease.  Hopefully they will get back to marketing fundamentals and measure the response rates.

Update: AMA Dallas has multiple sites – this is the "real" version: http://www.dfwmarketing.org/ which has real content!

New but related marketing topic.  Whenever I travel, which is more frequently than I would like, I try to catch up on business podcasts.  For Immediate Release (On Podcast #110!) is a required podcast for me as well as The Advertising Show (TAS is a client as well, but I listened first – great stuff!)

John Sturtevant defines us – and that clarity of speech is scary

Sturtevantbeclear_1We have a client who runs www.JohnSturtevant.com where you can learn to write with clarity and purpose (I haven’t completed the course yet so forgive the current author).  John Sturtevant emphasizes the importance of BEING CLEAR

He is truly a dynamic speaker and even lets you thrown things at him in class.  I thought we had a good relationship going.  And then this email starts circulating the office.  I think I feel the love, but I am not quite sure.  So to quote John:

—————————–

Schipulize

v: To make to strict specifications in order to produce desired results. Example: "My business was going nowhere, until I had my website Schipulized. Now I’m getting more new customers than ever!"

Schipulite

n: An enthusiastic and prosperous person whose life is characterized by profound happiness, exceptional creativity, reassuring common sense, and a deep measure of morality. Example: "Sure, I used to think I was successful and happy, but now that I’m a Schipulite, I’ve found a true meaning in life – plus I’m getting filthy rich!"

Schipulosophy

n: A thorough investigation of the nature, causes, and principles of web-based reality, knowledge, technology, and values based on logical reasoning combined with empirical methods and wry skepticism of all accepted assumptions or beliefs, tempered by a system of admirable values. Example: "Some people shun true Schipulosophy for more pedantic approaches to web marketing – the wretched fools. "

Schipulology

n: The science of web-based life and of entities relying on the web for their subsistence, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution. Includes Schipulotany and all its subdivisions. Example: "As soon as I heard the logic and rationale behind Schipulology, I threw all my Netelligent Design books in the Dumpster."

—————————–

Of course after reading this I must *immediately* point out that it was 8 years ago that I really couldn’t come up with a better name for the *company*  so that is the COMPANY name and what John is referring to above is the result of a COMPANY EFFORT.  It is most definitely NOT my individual efforts that produce results for our clients although I would like to think I am a positive force in that direction.

SturtevantbeclearunclearWhat John does, playfully, emphasize is that we take our ideas behind web marketing and search engine optimization seriously.  We actually do require employees to read the book Positioning for advancement and we train them on everything from collective action to marketing fundamentals.  So there is more to it than design or code or PPC campaigns.  We love this stuff.

Thanks for the kind words John.

Upcoming Public Speaking on Web Marketing

HoustontechnologycenterUpcoming public speaking stuff.  On January 13th I will be on a panel with home town favorite the Houston Technology Center (disclosure: HTC is a long time client of ours and uses Tendenci too!)

Capitalizing on Internet Marketing
Friday, January 13, 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. CST
http://www.houstontech.org/en/cev/?383

The panel and moderators are:

Moderator: Steve Latham, Founder and CEO, Spur Digital
Panelist: Ed Schipul, CEO, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company (me!)
Panelist: Tena Andrus, Managing Director, Idea Integration
Panelist: Kelsey Ruger, Director, Technology and Web Operations, WebXites and his blog

Panel Web Marketing Topics are:

  1. Strategy and a road map for implementing internet marketing
  2. Search engine marketing
  3. Email marketing
  4. Web Statistics and analytics

GROK Newsletter on Conversion Rates – PR without Conversion

GroknewsletterFuture Now out of NYC, who I know through Bryan Eisenberg who is our client with The Web Analytics Association, has a great newsletter on conversion rates.  You can sign up on their site at http://www.grokdotcom.com/ and the latest conversion rate newsletter was just released.

You may also want to check out the Eisenberg’s book A Call to Action which is also about web marketing conversion rates.

My main point is that driving traffice to your site through PPC or regular search engine marketing doesn’t add a ton of value if you don’t CONVERT that traffic.  While at a high level the web marketing fundamentals article definitely stands, at an incremental improvement level you can’t beat the detailed analysis of a conversion rate specialist (or become one!).

Web Marketing Fundamentals Increase Sales Lead Generation

Web sites respond differently from other advertising media for two primary reasons. The first is that web users are incredibly impatient. The second is that they are incredibly smart. The more we treat people on the web like they are impatient and smart, the higher the conversion rate from visitor to phone call or contact forms.

So how exactly does a web site treat visitors as impatient and smart? By giving them what they want, on their terms, immediately and with humility.

Some of the specific ways you can achieve marketing success on the web are by making sure the following web marketing elements are in place on your web site’s home page.

1) Use a strong marketing headline that is focused on the site visitor. Try using the word “You” or “Your” instead of “me” focused words. The headline should be the dominant element on your home page and should be larger than your logo, your company name or your tag line.

2) Make your service or product the “hero” of the home page. Use pictures and relevant text that features what you do for them. Link directly from those images on the home page to detailed pages with extensive information and more pictures.

3) Use a clear “call to action”. Tell the site visitor, on the home page, exactly what you want them to do. People will read your site content at length if it answers their questions, so be sure to ask for the business at the end of the page or article.

4) Be consistent with your branding. Use your logo and keep the colors consistent with your other marketing materials so your site visitor immediately knows exactly where they are.

5) Make it easy to contact you. Use a mini-contact form on your home page, possibly on every page, as well as a complete contact form.  It is OK to use a mailto link but it should be in addition to a contact form for higher response rates. Put your address and phone number in text format on every page if possible so people can copy-and-paste your information into their contact software.

6) Use appropriate color and imagery.  Every industry has a certain “look and feel”. Now is not the time to try to re-brand your industry.  Give your visitors what they expect exactly as they expect it.  Branding includes positioning and consistency, so this is your opportunity to be consistent and professional at the beginning of the sales process.

7) Search engine optimize your site no matter how well known your brand is.  With all of the viruses and tacky web sites on the net, your visitors will *not* guess your site name but will go through Google or Yahoo just to be safe.  If you are not listed then you are invisible.  Start by registering with www.dmoz.org and read up on search engines at www.searchenginewatch.com.

8) Use testimonials and brand logos from your business partners (as allowed) assuring your site visitors that you are a “real” company with an honest reputation.  Try not to let your success convince you that everyone knows you want their business.

9) Interact intelligently with your site visitor.  Every brand is different of course, but there is always a creative way to interact.  If you sell books, let them buy online.  If you are a consultant, offer calculators for metrics and case studies.  If you are a plastic surgeon, offer dynamic before-and-after photo galleries.  If you are targeting the younger generation, offer games that feature your brand.

10) Respect the privacy of your site visitors with a privacy policy.  Link to a written privacy policy at the bottom of every page, and be sure it is written in normal language instead of legalese.

Additional hints include putting your phone number at the bottom of every page, in the text, at the top and making sure it appears on your home page a minimum of four (4) times.  Anything less and impatient users will miss it, costing you a potential phone call.

Your site visitors really are just as impatient and smart as you are, and they want to be treated that way.  Executing the web marketing fundamentals in their entirety will greatly increase the conversion rate of visitor to contact.

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Host with Tendenci Membership Management Software to measure your conversion rates.

{Note: the original version of this article was written by me in 2001 and published in 2003 on schipul.com. It now lives on our new company’s site here.