• Q&A With Our Digital Marketing Strategist, Paige Perrault

    From teenage entrepreneur to corporate marketing, our Digital Marketing Strategist, Paige Perrault, has seen it all. We sat down with her to learn how businesses can break through in a competitive marketplace, and how destination marketing and hospitality companies should embrace data analysis to reach new travelers. 

    Okay, let’s start with the beginning. You have quite a bit of experience in marketing. What originally led you to pursue a career in marketing? 

    It goes back to being 14 or 15 years old. I always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I was always trying to find ways to make money and start different businesses. As I got older I realized how important it is to do things that would let people know who I am and what I was offering. I realized this was the key to success. 

    What was your first business?

    At 14, I did hair and makeup for prom and beauty pageants, which were big in Georgia where I grew up. 

    Wait! What??

    I know! People trusted me because my mom was a well-known photographer and hair & makeup artist, so they assumed I knew what I was doing. My mom trained me on everything, so I was like, I’m going to take this knowledge and now I’m going to charge people!

    That’s awesome. So, you started learning at a young age. When did you decide you wanted to pursue marketing?

    I was a psychology major and quickly realized I wasn’t going to be a psychologist. I have a personality that isn’t well-suited for doing the exact same thing every day. I figured there was another way to use psychology that could be applied to the business side of things. So, I decided I wanted to learn more about marketing, and it just evolved into this thing where it helped my business. 

    I kept my business running and started working with a marketing agency where I continued learning as I went forward. I learned how to run an agency, how to find clients and what kind of work needed to be done to help them. If I didn’t know something, I had to learn it, and I had to learn it fast!

    A lot of businesses go through that. They realize they need to do marketing, and they’re not quite sure how to do it. As they experience it for themselves, part of that learning becomes, “I need to get someone else to do this”. 

    Exactly. 

    So, give us a snapshot of how your career developed before you joined Divining Point. 

    I worked with a startup and helped build that company from the ground up. I got so much experience during that time and learned about each aspect of branding, marketing and business. 

    After that I moved to Atlanta, where my family is from, and decided to change it up. I went into corporate marketing. I was the Marketing Director for a hospitality company that had a portfolio of hotels and resorts, mainly Marriott and Choice hotels. I definitely learned a lot from that experience. Corporate accounts have very strict brand guidelines with very little flexibility. I had to make things happen without taking too many risks. 

    Okay. Tell us about your role as Digital Marketing Strategist at Divining Point. 

    I handle strategy, SEO, digital marketing, analytics, and all the data and research. I have to decide where we go with a client’s marketing strategy, what changes we need to make, and what we want to happen. So, it’s really just staring at a computer, which I really don’t mind. I enjoy it, because it keeps my mind active all day. 

    As someone who stares at research and data all day, what’s one mistake you see companies make with their marketing strategies? 

    There are a couple of things. 

    For one, marketing is always changing, and while you might know your business and your customers, you also have to consider that the way people consume media and make purchases is always changing. We deal with it every day… For example, a change with Google’s algorithm, well, that messes with everything! These kinds of changes require a change in strategy. So, I think the mistake companies make is not understanding the value of having someone leading marketing strategy who stays up to date on the trends and changes in marketing. 

    I also think businesses make the mistake of sticking to the same strategy that worked five years ago, even though they’re not really seeing results. They’re just not willing to step outside of their comfort zone. It’s tough to make decisions if you don’t fully understand the changes that are happening, the value of different types of marketing, and how this can affect your business. 

    Coming back to hospitality and destination marketing. Is there something these businesses should do to stay competitive in today’s economy? 

    When I was in corporate, the best tool I had was research. I trusted the statistics and data that I found. We had resorts that were in destination areas where they not only had to bring in business from travelers, but also locals. They had restaurants, attractions and wedding facilities that needed to survive the off season. There are so many revenue streams that can be created. If you know the different demographics and understand the data, you can capitalize on those opportunities. 

    If you are a tourist destination marketing organization, it’s not only just about making money for your group, but also all the local businesses and the entire economy in your area. If you do the research correctly, and if you have a marketing team that can execute your vision, there is unlimited potential. 

    That’s interesting. So, what you’re saying is destination marketing organizations should do more research and analysis into the opportunities out there and potentially find ways to bring more people to their destination. 

    And trust your marketing team! When they suggest, for example, that Facebook is a strong way to attract travelers over the age of 50, they’re telling the truth. That demographic spends much more time online now. They’re not really reading newspapers as much as they used to. The data shows this over and over. 

    It can be pretty frustrating for marketers when a business disputes the actual data. Some businesses are afraid. They’re putting money into something that they want to work, and they’re scared to make any changes. But we’re not in the business of developing a strategy so that you won’t get a return. 

    They’re trying to manage risk. They’re making an investment and putting so much on the line, particularly for any destination marketing organization. They’re not just making decisions that affect businesses, but also for the entire economy, right?

    That’s right. The research and the data should make those decisions easier. 

    That brings up something we’ve discussed internally how we’re marrying brains and beauty, letting data dictate marketing strategy and supporting that with great creative and visual storytelling. 

    Absolutely. I’ve noticed over the past few months several campaigns from different states and cities that have chosen to develop good content and smart advertising campaigns for their destination marketing. And for me, it really stood out, whereas others who were not doing that didn’t have the same effect. 

    There’s so much opportunity to reach new travelers and capture their attention to build up their desire to visit your place. You have to reach them on social media, especially Instagram, and in Search and Display. And you have to create beautiful content to let people know about all the things your place has to offer. 

    ***

    Want to put your destination on the map? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • How a Web Design Scam Tried to Ensnare Us

    A web design scam is making the rounds and landed in our inbox. Here is how we handled it, and what you should know to protect yourselves.

    An inquiry for a new project came through our website. It seemed harmless enough. It’s not unusual to get requests for our services, and we do our best to respond to them in a professional manner.

    Upon engaging the new lead, we were sent a scope that appeared to be from someone familiar with the web design process.

    The scammer said:

     l have a Auto painting company business and i need an information website to promote my business, so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.

     <website link>

    i need you to get me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site. Note:

    1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding blogs.
    2. I want only English language
    3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want you to purchase a domain name www.al-qayyumauto.biz Or www.al-qayyumautos.me
    4. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site

    I will be waiting for your email for the estimate”

     What followed was a list of features and directions to use X Theme.

    Sounds great, right? The bad grammar and urgency should have been our first sign of things to come, but who doesn’t want a motivated prospect?

    Red Flag #1

    At Divining Point we use a consultative process to establish a partnership with each client. We take our time to discuss the purpose of a website, the design requirements, and the user experience that will ultimately lead to conversions.

    We are also reluctant to quote exact pricing without ensuring we have a full understanding of a client’s needs. There’s no point in rushing the process if a project isn’t fully assessed.

    In order to gauge the level of seriousness with this prospect, we sent over a very rough ballpark with the following caveat:

    “We need to speak with you further to properly define the scope and learn more about your business. How did you hear about us?”

    The Scammer sent back:

    “Thank you for your email. I haven’t paid the project consultant that have the logos and content for the site so i would be Making the total payment of $XX,XXX and would deduct $X,XXX payment for my website design and the remaining you would help me send it to the project consultant that has the text content and the logo for my website so once he has the $X,XXX he would send the text content and logo needed for my website to you also the funds would be sent to him via Bank deposit into his account,and also a tip of $XXX for the stress.Thank you once again and God bless you!”

     A full upfront payment from which we’re going to cut 50% and pay a third party the other half, plus a tip? We knew something was fishy, but we had yet to discover this was a web design scam.

    Red Flag #2

    Our Founder, Coy West, sent back the following request:

    “Thanks again for sending in the website inquiry to us. Can you send me the
    following information?

    company name
    name
    phone number
    billing address
    business address”

    Almost immediately we received:

    “Thank you for your email .I will send you the details but I would like to know the credit card processor you are usingand your cell phone number.”

    Coy merely said that all invoices and payments are made using QuickBooks, which is pretty standard for many businesses. Our Founder’s cell phone number is already in his email signature.

    They responded:

    “Okay sound Good !

    Name .. David Vend 

    Business name .. Dvend auto 

    Address .. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Also the business address is the same thing with the billing address please get back to me before issuing the invoice!”

    They still didn’t send us a phone number.

    Red Flag #3

    As is standard, we researched online and didn’t find a “David Vend” in Columbus, Ohio. Additionally, no company registered as Dvend Auto turned up in online searches.

    We searched the physical address and learned it is listed to a wholesale auto sales company with multiple complaints from the Better Business Bureau. A deeper dive into the company showed that the business had changed names and ownership multiple times. To an unsuspecting small business, it would seem plausible the new website project was simply another rebranding effort.

    At this point, we decided to slow down the process way down. There was no need to rush.

    It Gets Weird

    The next day our Founder received a text at 2:09am on his cell phone.

    “Hello Coy this is david.Please confirm to me if you receive my text”

    Coy was preparing to travel out of town for a funeral. The next morning at 5:05am, he responded that he received the text message. The scammer immediately responded:

    “Great I would like to proceed by making the full payment can you make the invoice so I can pay it?”

    Coy informed him of his travel plans and said he’d get back to him later.

    “Okay I will be waiting for hear from you”

    At 4:32am the next morning, Coy received another text.

    “Good Morning ., I am still waiting for invoice so we can proceed”

    Does this guy ever sleep?

    How This Web Design Scam Works

    Scams come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone by now has received friendly emails from a Nigerian Prince claiming to send money directly to their bank account. Robocalls, phishing, and malware attacks are now a part of everyday life. But a web design scam was new to us.

    We searched for www.al-qayyumauto.biz and www.al-qayyumautos.me and discovered another fine gent who’d encountered the same hoax.

    Had we rushed to process the full upfront payment, we would have been party to credit card fraud, since the scammer most likely uses a stolen credit card. The “private project consultant”, to whom we would have sent 50% of the money (plus a tip!), is most likely the scammer himself.

    By preying on a small business, we speculate that the scammer(s) found a way to have someone else process a stolen credit card and then launder a portion of the money, which is sent directly to them.

    For any company eager to get paid, this web design scam presents a real threat to their business. You’d be on the hook for credit card fraud, money laundering, and all the money when the authorities come to investigate.

    The Weirdness Didn’t Stop

    Upon discovering the scam, Coy sent a text:

    “After a thorough review, we are unable to fulfill your design requests. Best of luck to you.”

    Two hours later:

    “why do you say that?You are the only one i want to handle my website,What is the problem”

    Twenty minutes later:

    “Hello Am waiting for you to reply me”

     Thirty minutes later:

    “i will be making upfront payment .I want you to handle my project please dont say No”

    Many more texts followed for another hour until they finally stopped.

    If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

    This web design scam is probably the first of many more to come. Businesses of all sizes get excited when a prospect appears out of nowhere ready to move forward. Whereas we might recommend keeping a new business deal moving forward, we also urge extreme caution when a prospect comes on too strong and doesn’t demonstrate any apparent due diligence.

    Even if it isn’t a scam, there are problems associated with failing to establish a clearly defined scope and good working relationship with the client. The stability of your company and the success of each project depends on moving at a measured pace that doesn’t introduce risk for you or your client.

    ***

    Need a team with a professional approach? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Q&A With Our Creative Director, Jon Taylor

    “My favorite part about being creative and assembling things in novel and respectful ways is seeing the client be blown away by our vision.” 

    These words were spoken by Jon Taylor, our Creative Director and all things visionary. See what else he had to say when we sat down with him and spoke on managing creative assets, working at Divining Point, and decompression!

    We know you cover a lot of ground at DP, but can you explain exactly what you do here?

    Being the Creative Director, I oversee all the creative initiatives. I make sure we have a creative vision at a higher level and work it out whether it’s a design brief, website, photoshoot, or even written text. I’m basically paid to be critical and point out flaws. If I say, “it’s good, I love it,” I feel I’ve failed at that task. There’s always room for improvement.

    What is your favorite thing about your job?

    I like being creative. My favorite part about being creative and assembling things in novel and respectful ways is seeing the client be blown away by our vision.

    What is your least favorite thing about your job?

    I know most would say having their ideas adulterated, but I’ve been doing it for so long that it doesn’t bother me. One part of the process that bothers me is if I fall in love with a vision and it’s changed to the point where the vision is gone. In these cases, I will come up with an entirely new vision, ultimately breaking up with the other one and no one likes a breakup.

    What was a recent obstacle you had to overcome? What were you thinking during this?

    Working on a website recently I had to realize that the solution for a client’s sales system that I came up with – which was beautiful – wasn’t attainable in their scope. I had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something new, but that was also unattainable. Ultimately, the solution from the technical side seemed to destroy the whole vision in my head, and that’s still an ongoing problem.

    If you could tell clients looking for creative work to be done, what advice would you give them?

    I would say don’t start with who YOU are but who your customers are. When you’re creating a business, it needs to be about who you are. But when you’re getting into the creatives and trying to push sales it needs to be focused on your customers and who they are because that’s who’s going to fall in love with your brand.

    What are your thoughts on the importance of collaborating and bridging the gap between other team members such as social media specialists and the marketing strategist?

    If I had my own way, everyone would be involved at one point or another. That doesn’t always work out because of heavy work loads at a smaller agency, but I really like when everyone gets involved because I thrive with criticism and different viewpoints. Everyone brings baggage to the table and unpacking all of that creates a better product.

    What advice would you give to someone just entering this role?

    Check your ego at the door. You are not a badass. Most entering a position like a Creative Director feel they have something to prove. In reality, when you let go of that and let yourself flow as part of a team and accept criticism with grace, then you will create really beautiful things.

    What recommendations would you give to clients to help streamline the process between their vision and your process?

    It’s a mutual trust. The moment you don’t feel your creative team trusts you, is the moment you need a new creative team. They need to trust you and likewise– the creatives need to trust the clients. That needs to be taken seriously and not dismissed because it goes against your ideas.

    What’s your favorite thing about working on the DP team?

    The levels of trust. I lean into things that aren’t traditional employee traits, like laziness. I think it’s an important part but has to be structured. This is the right culture for that. I also lean into criticism and alternate ways of thinking about things. That doesn’t always work in other agencies because other agencies are systematic, and it’s worked out really well for me here. 

    For example, in a branding meeting I’m not going to ask the same questions, even though it may seem systematic. My questions depend on the needs of the clients.

    What are your favorite ways to decompress outside of work?

    I like to travel… a lot. I’m really into extreme stuff. A lot of times I’ll shut everything out of my life and relax and that’s when I find I’m the most decompressed. 

    ***

    Need to a creative force to take your marketing to the next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Q&A With Jordania Nelson of Divining Point

    We sat down with Jordania Nelson, Divining Points’ Digital Marketing Specialist and master of all things related to PR, social media and content. She shared a few tips for business owners and let us know what she loves most about working in Austin.

    You’ve been in marketing for awhile now. Tell us what led you down this career path.

    Originally, I went to school to be a reporter and ultimately wanted to be a news anchor. I was working in the newsroom, and honestly I hated it. I was hired on as a reporter and was also on the assignment desk at the same time. I was getting a lot of press releases, so I had the chance to see both sides of it. I decided to focus on public relations and graduated with a Public Relations and Advertising degree.

    So this was a better fit for you?

    I feel like going into PR and digital marketing was a better direction for me, and they were very much the same in many ways.

    How has your experience prepared you for what you’re doing at Divining Point today?

    We manage public relations and write press releases for our clients, so having that background helped me with copywriting and content. Essentially, selling an idea.

    So you understand what is newsworthy, and from the perspective of a marketer you’re able to translate that into what you’re doing for clients today?

    Exactly.

    What do you see happening in digital marketing these days that excites you the most?

    The only constant in Marketing is change. Anticipating those changes at all times, diving into new trends in marketing, and researching new things every day. That’s exciting to me.

    Do you see anything happening that is important for business owners to know today?

    Organic is diminishing, and it’s mostly all paid reach today. When I first started marketing you could still get quite a bit of reach with organic. Now there’s so much clutter, it’s not as powerful as it used to be.

    How is that helpful for businesses in today’s market?

    I think it’s important for clients to know that social media is branding, and yes, you’re going to get organic traffic from it, but ultimately you need to pay to see real results. It’s just not the same these days without a budget behind it.

    What’s one of the biggest mistakes you see businesses making with regard to their marketing?

    Assuming that they’re going to get results right away. Sometimes businesses make the mistake of putting money in, not seeing immediate results, then cutting budget right away. It’s not a week’s process. It’s not even a month’s process. It takes six months to a year to see growth. My advice is to manage your expectations and be patient.

    Let’s pivot to over to something more personal… You’re a bit of a travel nut, and you’ve had the chance to roam around the US a bit. Having lived in other cities, what do you enjoy most about working in Austin?

    The first thing that comes to mind is the food! We have amazing food here, and if I could have my dream job it would be to write about food all day!

    Other than that, I think it’s the variety of people here in Austin. Whenever I go out the conversation usually starts with “Where are you from?”. If someone answers “Austin”, they’re a unicorn. I love the cultural mix here and learning about where everyone is from.

    What advice would you give to someone who wanted to move here and maybe start a career in marketing?

    Since it is such a large tech hub, I would say get as much experience as you can before coming here. It’s pretty competitive. Do your research and learn as much as possible. If employers see that you are up to date, that will go a long way to getting hired quickly.

    Okay, and for any business owner who might be reading this, what are a couple tips you would give them to step up their marketing?

    Definitely hire experts! Don’t think you can do it alone… and maybe you can, but you shouldn’t, because it’s so time consuming to do it right and stay focused on your business. That’s a really big one.

    ***

    Need to a marketing team so you can stay focused on what matters most? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Steps We’ve Taken To Survive 3 Years In Business

    Each April is a critical anniversary for Divining Point. This year we join the ranks of businesses who made it past the three-year mark. It’s a dubious distinction born from a grim reality. 30% of businesses fail in the first year.

    Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t much better for the second, third, or fifth years. In most cases, the demise of a company is directly related to management and leadership failures that lead to poor decisions. Funny thing is…

    We’re Actually 6 Years Old

    Divining Point started in 2013 as a consultancy. Like many startups, we had something we wanted to share with the world. After 3 years of hustling in this gig we call marketing, we formally launched as an LLC in April of 2016. For us, that’s the birth date of our agency, even if we act a little older.

    We reached the important one year mark in 2017 and shared a story about the lessons of being a nimble little shop. One year later, we felt pretty sure of ourselves and revealed a formula that seemed to work for us. A series of missteps in the summer of 2018 left us nursing our wounds and brushing dirt off our chins. Through it all, we can confidently say that staying true to our values is what keeps us in business today.

    There are lessons worth learning from anyone still in operation after three years. We certainly don’t corner the market on business wisdom. Our simple goal here is to continue the tradition of sharing what we do so that others may find success.

    Don’t Have All the Answers

    Our clients come to us because they need a solution to a problem. Since each case is unique, we come to the table as a partner in search of the answers. In that regard, there’s no merit in being a “know it all”. Biases, assumptions, and preconceptions are completely unproductive.

    At Divining Point – both internally and externally – we acknowledge we don’t have all the answers. If you’re looking for a marketing agency with “silver bullets”, we’re not your team. For starters, silver bullets don’t even work that well. Secondly, a silver bullet really only works for one problem (werewolves and monsters) and isn’t helpful for those of us in the real world.

    It may be frustrating to work with a person who happily says “I don’t know” or “maybe” when asked tough questions about pernicious marketing challenges. It’s even more disappointing to put your faith in a team who fails to deliver on the promises they made during the sales phase of an engagement.

    If you want to stay in business, our advice is don’t sell a bag of goods just to close a deal. There’s no quicker way to lose a precious client and earn a bad reputation. You can’t afford to do either. You’re better off taking a different approach.

    In our case, we’re convinced that the best way to deliver value is to employ the scientific method to marketing. In fact, our process is broadly summarized like this:

    • We ask questions.
    • We do research.
    • We develop a plan.
    • We test the plan.
    • We document performance.
    • We analyze the results.
    • We optimize.
    • Repeat.

    Along the way we discover all the answers. In most cases we let the data tell us what works and what should change. In some cases, we depend on research, intuition and experience to guide our decisions. It’s not as quick or easy as the claims made by people with a “proven process” and “guaranteed results”. However, in the end you can rest assured that we’ll find a solution that works reliably for you.

    Professionalism Is Not an Option

    Austin is known as a fairly casual city. “Keep Austin Weird” is not just a catchy slogan. It’s a mantra to do things on our own terms in the spirit of individualism. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find shorts and sandals sitting at the same conference table with suits and ties. That’s quite alright with us.

    Dress codes and corporate protocols are up to each business owner. What works for you could be a disaster in another industry. We recommend ignoring the universal standards of “professionalism” in all ways but one: your actions.

    Acting professionally is not an option. It’s a mandate.

    It’s become quite common for companies to take a lax attitude with the treatment of their clients. Some days it seems like the rules of decorum were scrapped in favor of “what’s natural”, “what feels good”, “what’s convenient” or “what’s in my best interest”.

    The result is a broken dynamic of relationships that were once built on respect, trust and integrity. We’ve seen this first-hand with vendors and customers who’ve been burned too many times in the past by marketing agencies that ignored and disrespected them at every turn.

    The rules of professionalism vary depending on the source. In some cases, there is an emphasis on professional attire. But as Austin illustrates, great business can occur regardless of the clothes. Professionalism is an intangible set of behaviors that looks something like this:

    • Treat your customers with respect, even when they behave poorly.
    • Follow through on your commitments.
    • Address people properly.
    • Practice quick, responsive communication.
    • Avoid drama.
    • Be competent.
    • Practice empathy.

    Even if you have a casual business model, a reputation for professionalism will always win you more fans and referrals. People want to be heard and supported. Acting like a professional will build faith in you and contribute to the long term success of your business.

    DO Take No for An Answer

    We take issue with the old saying “Don’t take no for an answer”. It’s an audacious way of making people yield to your will. This tired motivational phrase is especially common in sales, where inexperienced salespeople waste time and energy trying to force a “no” into a “yes”. Why even bother? There are hundreds of other customers who are ready, willing and able to move forward.

    Let’s analyze what happens when you indiscriminately overcome all objections.

    What if a person isn’t qualified or capable of doing what you want them to? You force them to act. They fail. They blame you. You’re left with the decision to continue supporting them or, even worse, walking away in shame.

    What if you’re actually making a bad recommendation? They put their faith in you, despite their better judgment. Your plan fails. You’ve lost the trust and respect of the other person, and you’ve most likely created some costly consequences for you and them.

    What if you’re forcing a deal with a difficult customer and they accept? Congratulations, you’ve got the sale. Guess what? You’re stuck with them now. You have no one to blame but yourself.

    What if your plan is good but an even better one exists? You’ve lost an opportunity to demonstrate competency and deliver outstanding value to the customer. Businesses with a reputation for mediocrity don’t last long.

    There are plenty of hypotheticals you can explore here, but ultimately you run the risk of jeopardizing your relationships, your business and your long-term success when you “don’t take no for an answer”.

    Here’s a better alternative: be objective, be humble, and be open to the possibility that you may be wrong. Don’t be a fool. Sometimes “no” is a good thing. It may not serve your immediate goals or stroke your ego, but your needs matter less when it comes to doing great work for a good client in a healthy business relationship.

    Beware of Fire Ants

    Every business has to decide who they want to serve. Our advice is to be cautious of the “low value / high needs” client that doesn’t appreciate your time, your quality, or your worth. We call them “Fire Ants”.

    For those of you outside of the South, fire ants (also known as the Red Imported Fire Ant) are an invasive species known for their aggression and destructiveness. They’re little. They’re unpleasant. They bite like hell. Sound familiar?

    Fire Ant clients typically have a large amount of needs with very little budget. They scrutinize every single expense in an attempt to get you to lower your price. Conversely, they expect you to give them a higher level of service that doesn’t correlate with your negotiated agreement.

    With Fire Ants, communication is poor, sometimes non-existent. Many of them micromanage your project or, even worse, are completely uninvolved until after you’ve performed your service – at which point they want changes. Every request is urgent. Every revision should be free. Every project turns into a spiraling cycle of scope creep that leaves you and your business in disarray.

    To be fair, these clients have genuine needs. They should work with a team that can fulfill them. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be you. The perceived opportunities associated with Fire Ants are not worth the cost and headaches they bring. The best way to avoid being bitten is to prevent them from getting close in the first place.

    Don’t take offense if you’re a Fire Ant. From what we can tell, most clients don’t recognize how destructive their behaviors can be. They just want the service or product “they thought” they were going to get. Therein lies the rub. Despite the best efforts of many businesses to clearly define the terms of engagement, Fire Ant clients have unrealistic expectations and an unwillingness to accept anything less than their demands. They don’t take no for an answer.

    Bigger Things To Come

    On this anniversary we’re blessed to work with terrific clients throughout the United States, including Alaska. Our footprint has expanded along with our team size and service offerings. We practice all of the learning lessons we espoused in our previous blogs, and it continues to serve us well. We’re optimistic that our best days are ahead of us.

    While we work with businesses of just about any size, we look for the characteristics we think will bring about success and a long-term partnership. Our clients appreciate the power of a good brand. They value quality service, and they conduct business in a way that inspires loyalty with their clients. Are you a business like that? Contact us today. We’re here to help.

  • The Artistic Puppy Joins Divining Point

    We are excited to announce that Jon Taylor, the “Artistic Puppy”, has joined Divining Point as Creative Director. Jon brings his creative eye and visual storytelling talents to our full service agency, thereby giving our clients more options for engaging design, photography and videography.

    Prior to joining Divining Point, Jon was the CEO of Artistic Puppy, a photography and marketing agency based in the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. For 11 years, Jon and his team provided world class creative and marketing strategy for businesses across multiple industries. His clients included companies in fashion, outdoor apparel, tourism, hospitality, oil and gas, and public sector agencies. Artistic Puppy has a reputation for great service and dramatic media, and we are thrilled to incorporate his high standards into our firm.

    Prior to running Artistic Puppy, Jon held positions as the Director of Marketing and Development for Alaska Christian College, the co-founder of the comedy series “The Doug and Jon Show”, and Director of Creative Development for RHM Inc. He earned his chops in various other creative roles that challenged him to capture stunning photography and video in harsh environments. Over time he broadened his skills to include graphic design, ad copy, and front-end web design.

    His philosophy for marketing fits firmly into Divining Point’s core values. The power of brand and a mandate for excellence are the foundations for a successful business that generates loyal clients. He approaches every creative project with the goal to evoke emotion in the heart of the observer. To Jon, it’s not enough to create a “good design”. He seeks to motivate people to respond with passion, which in turn produces results.

    Jon currently divides his time between Austin, TX and back home in Kenai, Alaska, which extends the reach of Divining Point’s services. When he’s not behind the camera or editing video, he can be found playing the drums, exploring new travel adventures, and cracking corny jokes.

    Need a full-service team to take your business to the next level? Contact us today. We’re here to help.

  • Divining Point Recognized as Industry Leader

    The marketing world is constantly changing with new innovations and companies on the move. At Diving Point, we act as a guide for your business to help pinpoint areas of your strategy that need improvement to quickly move your business to the top. We specialize in brand identity, digital marketing, content marketing, visual storytelling and social media. In essence, we are a full service team of problem solvers dedicated to your marketing and strategy.

    Clutch, a platform that publishes verified client reviews, spoke to our past clients to get feedback about our process and deliverables. Along with client interviews, Clutch Analysts conducted market research to see how we stack up against our competitors.  We are so excited to announce that we were featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in Austin on Clutch!

    Some of our favorite reviews from our Clutch profile are listed below:

    “They have decades of experience in marketing, so they were incredibly detailed, timely, and concise.”

    We were extremely impressed with the value we received and with the thorough and timely delivery of services. We are looking forward to working on bigger projects with them in 2019.”

    “The content strategy and supporting content development work they provided dramatically improved our market visibility and our bottom line”

    “Above all else, I appreciate their ability to listen. I’ve been around this business for 10 years and have worked with firms that don’t always pay attention to their client’s needs. Divining Point internalizes the challenges we communicate to provide creative solutions.”

    Digital Marketing is something that every company needs to embrace. Forbes published an article, which was titled Why Everyone Needs A Digital Marketing Strategythat drives the point home. Essentially, digital marketing gives you insights into your customers and your business which were completely unavailable with traditional marketing mediums.

    That’s not to suggest that traditional methods are outdated or unnecessary. However, digital marketing is now a necessary plank to build the foundation for your entire marketing strategy.

    We are happy that our Clutch reviews reflect the satisfaction of our clients. At Diving Point, we take immense pride in the personal service we provide for our clients, and we do our very best to give them the results they expect.

    Ready to take your business to next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Things I’ve Learned From Being In Business

    The Internet is full of articles from seemingly successful entrepreneurs dispensing valuable lessons from their first year in business. I recommend that you read them. Leaving the security of a job to start your own business requires confidence, determination, and all the free advice you can get. Hopefully what follows here are more useful kernels of wisdom to get you past the hard times as an entrepreneur.

    A little backstory is in order. Divining Point is not my first rodeo. My first business was an unfocused mess of a company that helped me pay my way through college, taught me invaluable life lessons, and pushed me into a career path that inevitably brought me here today. In that regard, the first business was a success. But truthfully it resulted in me having to get a job and reconsidering whether I had the mettle to be an independent business owner.

    Fast-forward to four years ago, Divining Point started off as a consultancy, like so many other companies do. I juggled roles. I took full time contracts and after hours freelance projects in order to keep pushing forward with the vision of doing my own thing. I delivered as much value as possible within each 24-hour day, and I did my best to do right by my clients. In April of 2016 I decided to refocus 100% of my efforts on the company and formally give it a name. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way that might be useful to you.

    Be Brave

    Nearly four years ago I left the stability of a good-paying job working with a team of professionals who challenged me, made me laugh, and treated me as an integral part of the organization. To complicate matters, just months before I left my job, I learned that my wife and I were expecting a child. Two weeks later my wife was laid off from a position as a chemical engineer that she’d held for 16 years. I had very little capital and almost no financial safety net. Most people in my shoes would have immediately postponed their plans. And yet, I still left.

    Having been in sales and marketing for over 20 years, I knew I could hustle. I also knew I could help clients get on track with their companies and provide them with valuable strategies for sales and marketing. All I needed to do was push forward and get over the fear of failure. Really, the worst thing that could happen would be having to get another job.

    Embrace the possibility of failure. Accept the risk of financial setbacks. Stay organized and don’t get distracted by the worries in your stomach. Running your own business is an exercise in taming your fear while continuing to work nonstop at peak performance. If you’re not brave and if you’re not focused you’ll get off course and your business will die.

    Redefine Yourself… Often

    If you’re like most people your business will change frequently over many years. The opportunities to service clients and deliver useful products will inevitably evolve. Your company will pivot. Your focus will shift. Technology will change. You will suddenly find yourself making money in ways that didn’t seem possible before. That’s a good thing. In fact, we believe transformation and growth are critical components of success.

    While this change is healthy, what is absolutely disastrous is the failure to redefine your company IN CONJUNCTION with the shifts in your operations. You may identify new opportunities and develop a plan to capitalize on new revenue, but your long-term success will be capped without a roadmap that guides your decision-making.

    To use a more personal analogy, the person you are today is uniquely different than who you were ten years ago. Your core values may be constant, but the way you manifest and embody those values isn’t. What you do, who you speak to, who you service, these are all fluid. As your company grows you should redefine your brand strategy, identity, messaging, and positioning… even your website. Do it often and stay ahead of the changes in the market.

    Be Passionate About Your Business

    Love what you do and whom you do it for. It seems simple enough, but it’s much harder in practice. New entrepreneurs do things they really don’t want to do in order to make money in the early stages of their company. These mistakes are easy to shrug off if you see them for what they are: short term sacrifices.

    The trap comes from repeating these “mistakes” over and over in the pursuit of consistent revenue. You take on too many projects that don’t fall in line with your core competencies. You work with difficult clients in segments outside of your area of expertise. You work long hours in pursuit of poorly fitted “money makers”, and before long the once bright vision of your company is now cloudy and grim. You may as well be working for someone else.

    Don’t take the bait. At some point you need to say No. Do it as a commitment to your company. Be crazy in love with your business in ways that prevent you from cheating on yourself. Find those things you enjoy doing the most that bring the greatest value to your ideal clients – and then stick with it. Be faithful to this vision.

    Don’t Pretend To Have All The Answers

    One of the best lessons I ever learned happened on accident. About 12 years ago I met with a GM of a local auto dealership, and he stumped me with a question I couldn’t answer. I froze for a moment and then gave him the truth: “I don’t know”.

    He nodded and said, “I respect a man who isn’t afraid to say he doesn’t have all the answers.”

    Truth of the matter is no one has all the answers. Having the humility to accept this fact can actually lead a person to greater success. In most cases it’s better to ask questions in pursuit of the truth[nbsp_tc]instead of coming to the table with a ton of preconceived ideas or solutions.

    To extend this even further, not having all the answers can lead to greater collaboration within your organization, better connections with your clients, and more meaningful discoveries. Surround yourself with smart employees, contractors, partners, and clients. Be the conduit that guides all of these energies towards great things instead of being a controller that eventually burns out and turns everyone off.

    Build Bridges

    A very wise friend by the name of Steve Reilly once told me, “Every new opportunity is a bridge to the next stage in your business. Early in your business the bridges will be small, but they’ll become bigger and bigger over time.”

    As I mentioned above, short-term sacrifices make sense early in your company’s genesis. They are bridges to take you to your next destination, but eventually you’ll need to build bigger bridges in order to go further and reach the places you want to take your company.  That means saying No to bad deals and saying Yes to deals that challenge you to stretch outside of your comfort zone – but still within the industries, services, and client types you’ve identified as ideal fits for your company.

    Building bridges also means partnering and networking with people and companies who share your ideals and visions for success. These personal bridges become channel partnerships, referral sources, and cool collaborations that bring about wonderful case studies. Be generous in sharing opportunities with these key allies… and pretty much with everyone you meet. Life rewards people who operate from a position of abundance.

    Building bridges includes managing client engagements with the intention of establishing long-term relationships instead of short transactions. No matter if you sell a commodity or a complex solution, the customer experience should always increase brand loyalty. The client’s needs should always be in mind as you conduct with your daily business.

    Don’t Delay

    If you think you have what it takes to start your own business, do it. Get out, get hustling, and start building those bridges that will take you to where you want to go. The upside is huge. You work for yourself. You work with great employees and contractors. You establish good relationships with clients, and you make money. The worst thing that can happen is you have to go get a job. As a person on his second go round as an entrepreneur I can tell you that’s a perfectly okay outcome, too.

     

    Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.

  • Divining Rods, Compasses, and Maps

    Marketing. Advertising. Sales. Skullduggery.

    To many people these terms are interchangeable. Little distinction is made between blatant manipulation and ethically guiding buyers to make informed decisions.

    Fairly or not, this is largely driven by the perception that many marketers, advertisers, and salespeople use unscrupulous tactics to fulfill their needs instead of the needs of the buyer. As a result, people recoil at the notion of being pressured to buy something they don’t want by someone they don’t know using techniques that make them feel mislead.

    This largely explains the evasive maneuvers buyers use to avoid being sold. Ad blockers are widely used to shut down online ads, and spam filters are a ubiquitous part of everyday email usage. Online shopping allows buyers to conveniently search for better prices and greater variety without ever having to speak to a salesperson.

    As online consumption has shifted to mobile, ad blockers have followed. Even as mobile carriers and marketers shift to adapt to these new filters, ad-averse innovators are quickly testing new technology to block as much sales messaging as possible.

    But Wait, There’s More

    The demographics are not very encouraging. Millennials and higher income populations are most likely to shop online.

    They’re also more likely to use ad blockers.

    Sadly, older generations and lower income segments are following in suit as the process has become more convenient. Across the board more people are shunning unsolicited advances and opting to use other methods to make informed buying decisions. People like to find their own way to the brands and services they want.

    The desire for discovery is universal for both buyers and businesses.

    Whereas buyers seek to make purchases without the marketing thrust of an untrusted company, companies seek to connect with buyers in meaningful ways that provide value and benefit to the customer. This explains the rise of content marketing, search, and data to drive decisions and increase online conversions. But despite what some professionals may say, there is no silver bullet.

    All Businesses Are Different.

    Vision, strategy, and reach are critical for companies seeking growth and transformation. They need a unique process that leads them to buyers and to achieve progress.

    At Divining Point, we guide our clients to greater realization of their goals by uncovering the fundamental aspects of their business, their unique values, and the important traits that define their buyers. Through analysis, exploration, and careful testing, we take the guesswork out of each business initiative.

    Whether we serve as your exclusive agency or we only provide a single service in conjunction with a larger team, our mission is to tear down the walls that separate you and your buyers and prevent your business from finding greater success.

     

    Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.