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Design, Management, Collaboration, and Clients

Listen in as we talk with Keap Creative Manager, Stephanie Haworth. In addition to being the guiding hand behind Keap’s copywriting, design, and UX; Stephanie has agency design chops and was willing to share the inside insights she’s gleaned from years in the industry.

“It's very important not to be insular as an agency owner and not see everyone as your competition. “

Learn how every agency is differentiated by their teams and what it says about how well they suit different clients. We’ll discuss what it means when an agency is hesitant to workshop over the phone and how important it is to set expectations early.


Speaker 1 (00:05):

What is Big Grit? Starting October 19th, Keap will begin a new documentary series devoted to the struggles, adaptation, and triumph of business owners like you and how they've been able to thrive amid absolute chaos. Join us for a raw and unflinching look at what Big Grit means, if you have it, and how to find it when you need it most. Visit That's Subscribe to get updates on new episodes as they release. As a business owner, you know it takes something extra to succeed. See the stories of entrepreneurs that exemplified Big Grit. Visit See how people like you have found growth by filtering out the chaos. Once again, that's See for yourself how gritty entrepreneurs always make a way.

Dusey (01:22):

Hello everybody. This is Dusey Van Dusen. Welcome to Small Biz Buzz. And of course, our host, Crystal. Hello, Crystal. How's it going?

Crystal (01:31):

Hi. Good. How are you?

Dusey (01:32):

I'm doing well. Crystal's with us as always. And we are bringing on today, Stephanie Hayworth. Stephanie, how's it going?

Stephanie (01:40):

Awesome. Excited to be here.

Dusey (01:41):

Stephanie is a Keaper. We get to work with her all the time. And your title is a brand manager. What's your title now?

Stephanie (01:51):

It is creative manager.

Dusey (01:53):

Creative manager, okay. Because I know you've done some stuff with brand as well. So awesome.

Stephanie (01:59):

Yes sir.

Crystal (02:00):

Actually, you're bringing it to a good question. Stephanie, tell us what you've done. I'm dying to know, what have you done in your career? What is some of your background experience on top of what we already know. Share with the audience your expertise.

Stephanie (02:13):

So starting out first with the title, I currently have creative manager. There are many, many titles within the brand and creative world. So creative managers are similar and akin to art directors or creative directors, but they have different focus when it comes to day-to-day work. So right now, my job at Keap is to manage all of the creatives within marketing. So on a day-to-day basis, I run copywriting, design, UX research, anything related to UX, our website, the user flows, the journeys that our customers and prospects go through on our website, but then also the broader ecosystem of our brand.

Stephanie (02:57):

So my work spans a lot of the experience that our prospects and their customers have when they are first, just getting to know us as a company and getting to know our product, but then also as they get to know us and grow in trust and interest into becoming a customer, and then as they grow in their education of how we can really help them grow their businesses with our product. Now, my background is quite varied. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in design, which was a part of a school of design that normally people get a bachelor of art, but mine was very unique in that it was Bachelor of Science.

Dusey (03:40):

Yeah. That's cool.

Stephanie (03:40):

Our courses were in the same building with architects and urban planning, industrial designers. So my background is actually a very Swiss modernist style of design. So people who are history and art buffs out there, they may be interested in things like the Bauhaus or modernist design, Dadaism, things like that really informs Swiss modernist design history and theory. So I went through very, very strict design program where for the first two years you didn't even touch a computer. The first two years was all hand drawing typography, building typography-

Dusey (04:27):

Wow, that's cool.

Stephanie (04:28):

... from scratch, where you're putting it up on the wall and pinning it. And you're critiquing, and looking at the kerning, which is the space between letters. And you'll really understand-

Dusey (04:38):

I'm going to guess you've seen the documentary, Helvetica?

Stephanie (04:41):

Yeah. All those. Yeah, all those. So, those first two years where you're not touching the computer is really so important because you're understanding the basics of composition, form, balance, color. It's a theory around not just jumping into slapping on Photoshop filters or getting into like, "Well, let's just make a poster right away." And there are many programs in the United States that use that type of methodology, but it is a little bit more unique and I'm not knocking college community programs that are much more production focused because many of them are excellent. And I'm also not knocking not going into a program. It's totally fine to learn how to design if that's your style by not going through a program, but just following it as your passion and doing a lot of research on your own and working on it with a regimen.

Crystal (05:57):

I think I would have probably failed out in the first two years because I literally can't even doodle. I as a kid used to get so jealous of my sister, she could doodle and it looked cool. I tried and I was like, "This looks so stupid." I literally can't doodle. That would be a nightmare for me for first two years. I think that puts a lot of care into what you're learning. And I think there's something missing about the hands on approach these days. I mean, it's not quite the same as writing a letter or writing a paper or a mind paper.

Stephanie (06:31):

Yeah. And working in a digital revolution like we are right now, there is a lot that gets lost when you aren't understanding how things work together in a physical space. So that was my training background. It was very regimented, very Swiss, and it was awesome. I loved it. The second two years you get into application and start doing internships. And eventually, I started working for... my first serious job was actually as a junior designer or the city of Scottsdale, Arizona in their tourism department.

Crystal (07:12):

That's cool. They have some beautiful designs. I used to work in tourism too at a company that had a huge tourism program, and I used to always go to their tourist... What was it? City of Scottsdale Tourism Department and see all their new ads and everything, and they always had these Wild Wild West themes with these luxurious Scottsdale looking women. It was always so beautiful.

Stephanie (07:38):

Yeah, it was really great. It was a great experience as a young designer, especially because my direct leader was a woman art director, and that was hugely inspirational to me because it generally can be a male dominated field.

Crystal (07:58):

Aren't they all?

Stephanie (07:59):

Yeah. Although currently in the marketing world, it is more female dominated where I was in branding. Especially coming out of the program, every other place that I had applied to had male art directors or creative directors. So it was really excellent to immediately come out of school or be in my senior year and working under a female art director who was excellent. I still keep in touch with her. So that was really great. I'll move forward into the rest of my career. So my background then, I bounced around between a few different agencies, but it was not really bouncing around, I spent a good chunk of time with them.

Stephanie (08:45):

The first one was a small local agency that when I started, it was about 30 people. And three years later when I left, it was about 65 people. So I've seen the growing pains of agencies, I've seen the feast or famine when it comes to getting work in the door and how agencies have to hustle to get the work in and the work that they want to reduce the amount of low-return work that maybe it's the backbone of some of their revenue coming in, but it's not the work that they really want to be doing or the work that going to get them the clientele that they want. So I was there for three years.

Dusey (09:32):

Isn't that always the case? Man, making that transition from the work that's making you money to the work that you want to be doing and also want to be making you money, I feel like that's a desire that a lot of people and small businesses and agencies and stuff are having.

Crystal (09:51):

Definitely, small businesses, when you think of how many years they work just to get to having their own business as a full-time gig, I can only imagine.

Stephanie (10:00):

Yeah. The sales cycle at agencies is pretty intense. So when I was there, I started out as a lowly intern, but I quickly leveled up into being a UX designer, and that was where I started working on product design. So I was working on designing websites, but then also product dashboards and things like that. And then I became senior UX/UI designer at this agency leading a small team of other designers. And part of my role was to sit in on the resourcing for all of the design and development teams and product managers, project managers.

Stephanie (10:45):

And basically, we would have to forecast out three months ahead. So we would look at the work coming in, the work that we currently had, and we would forecast out our teams and build our sprints so that we weren't overloading everybody. But honestly, there were a lot of times that I would see some teams had... Well, they only got 20 hours of work, and then other teams, because of the weird fulfillment cycles of agency life are like, "Well, they have 80 hours this week, and I don't think we can make them do that. So what are we going to do? Let's shift things around." And that was very common occurrence.

Stephanie (11:21):

So I understand that feast or famine cycle of agencies, and it can be it can be tough. And then yes, the desire to get the type of work that you want to come in, not only for making the money you want to make, but also to propel you into the growth of your business, into new areas. That's always very difficult. Another agency, I'll talk more about other agencies I worked at.

Dusey (11:50):

Yeah. Let me ask you a question about that, because you're talking about that feast or famine. Is there anything that comes to mind immediately that you saw that helps mitigate that? What advice would you give to somebody who's creating an agency to try to keep those ups and downs a little more smoothed out? Or is that just part of the business with agency and there's not much to do about it?

Stephanie (12:15):

Can I say yes to both?

Dusey (12:16):

Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie (12:22):

People who run agencies, they're just very adventurous people. And I think that honestly, they really thrive on some of the adrenaline hits when it comes to work coming in and the hustle to get that work in the door. But we all want that to be a lot easier. So what I would recommend is, it's very important, of course, to follow up and have a consistent communication out to your current and past clients around what you have been completing recently and what new offerings you have that can potentially fill in gaps in their business, especially things that they may not even be thinking of. So if you have a team revolved around organic traffic and they can really help with making your brand more accessible and memorable online in those specific ways, but you were only engaged with the client for brand related reasons, it's really important to follow up and say, "Hey, we have this other team available to support you."

Stephanie (13:34):

And follow up with case studies, make sure that you have very good case studies. I think that this is where a lot of agencies can really fall off track, because agencies are so client focused, which they have to be. So client focused that they don't spend the time to build really in-depth, compelling case studies that show, "Here's what we did. Here's the problem that we identified. Here's how we identified that problem alongside our client. And here's the process that we went through," and really sell what you did to get to the solution. A lot of agencies focus on the output, but you really need to focus on the process because that process is what's going to differentiate you as a brand. Yeah.

Crystal (14:26):

Sorry. I was just going to jump in and say, we have probably some small business owners that are agencies listening. We probably have some small business owners that either need to work with an agency in the future or in the past have. What are some things that you would recommend to ensure that the process gets them to the output that they want? Because that's something that I think that's so critical and it's something I know you work hard with at Keap. So how can business owners that are either agencies or working with agencies ensure that that process is going to get them the output that they do want?

Stephanie (15:03):

With the brand work or websites and that kind of thing, or do you mean process like sales processes?

Crystal (15:11):

I would say more of the processes in terms of the work for whether it's a website, brand, content-

Stephanie (15:17):

Yeah, absolutely.

Crystal (15:18):

... whatever they're working with an agency on, how do they ensure that process is going to get them the outcome they're looking for?

Stephanie (15:24):

I think what's incredibly important for agencies is to really get clear on the problem that you're solving from the outset. So when agencies are meeting with clients and they're pitching work, they need to get extremely clear on what that problem is. Clients can tell right away if you're giving them something that is essentially like a blanket deck that you have shared with a bunch of people and you haven't really looked into what their specific problem is. They can tell right away that it's inauthentic and that it's not actually getting to the heart of what their problem is. That's a rookie mistake. So really getting clear on the problem for a very experienced agencies, they have that down part.

Stephanie (16:13):

What they're doing is industry landscape research, they're doing competitive research, they're doing all of this before they get into their pitch meetings with their clients. And they're validating it, they're not just saying, "Well, this is what we saw and we think it's right," they're validating it with similar clients in similar industries. They're looking at research studies and probably also talking to other agency owners. So it's very important not to be insular as an agency owner and not see everyone as your competition, because that's just simply not true. Every agency is differentiated by their teams, their methodology and what they offer. So you have to be okay and excited to me with other agencies that are in your area and use those relationships to your advantage, have them vet what you're doing and learn from each other.

Stephanie (17:14):

It's very typical in the agency world for people who are leading out of fear, who are trying to grow their business or grow their brand out of fear, to be concerned about sharing their trade secrets with other agency owners. But really. When you are generous with your brand, with your methodologies, with how you build your teams, you're going to learn a lot more from other agencies who are similar in their mindset to you, and they aren't necessarily even your direct competitors because of how you have your team structured or because of the type of work that you're doing, or the industries that you're focused on. You can really just have symbiotic relationships.

Stephanie (17:55):

So watch you use your network to vet what you're doing and learn new ways of doing things. I worked at a few different agencies and I've been able to see the agencies who use their networks to learn about new technology, new trends, new ways of constructing their teams. They're the ones who are able to get really awesome clients in the door, those compelling projects, and they are able to really impress their clients because of what they're able to do and what they've learned, whereas agencies that are stuck in old methodologies or using old technology, it's typically because they're not asking others about it. They're not learning about what's available to them and thinking, "Well, maybe there's a better way to do this, to serve my clients better."

Stephanie (18:45):

And it's not out of bad intentions, it's out of sometimes fear, stress, because they just don't have time as an agency owner, you have your system set up the way you have them, and you just don't want to change it. A really big shift in the design world or that is a perfect example of this is design programs. Back in the day, everyone was designing websites in Photoshop. And when Sketch came around and people started to switch to that program, I was at an agency that was absolutely opposed to switching to Sketch because they were afraid of how much time it was going to take for us to learn a new program when actually, Sketch, it's so intuitive, it would have saved us so many hours.

Dusey (19:30):

Oh yeah. That attitude of, "We don't want to learn something new," can just kill you.

Crystal (19:36):

It can.

Dusey (19:39):

It's very easy to fall into, and I just feel like that can be so dangerous. I had an experience of trying to move people over to a new version of Final Cut. And when Final Cut 10 first came out, there was a lot of negative press around it because it was so different from the previous version, but there were some folks that were sitting on that previous version for so long that the cameras that they're using aren't compatible with it, so they're having to do conversions. It just goes on and on and on, all this extra time. And when we were finally able to switch over to something modern, yeah, there's that investment, but man, did it save us time in that long run?

Dusey (20:19):

Yes, there's the time saved, but you can get left behind in terms of your capabilities, because if you're not with the thing that's also evolving, suddenly... It doesn't seem like a big deal, "Well, who cares if we use Photoshop or Sketch right now? We know Photoshop, so it's no big deal, we can just keep using it." Well, as soon as Sketch releases some new feature that Photoshop doesn't do and everybody in the world is doing it and now you can't, you are now behind and you're going to have to scramble to catch up or you're going to be put out of business.

Crystal (20:47):

Man, I have such a good example of that. I worked at a company, Dusey, you'll love this story. I worked at a company that was a photography studio, much like we probably all grew up on in the malls and all over. They weren't nationwide, I think we had like 375 photography studios. They decided they were going to be purists and cling to the fact that film was so much more... it was higher quality, it was more vibrant, it was all these things, which I don't deny, but the cost of developing... And they also wanted to get photos to people in an hour. So we would have to print every shot, a whole package of it before they come back in an hour to view. The cost of that and the labor associated with that was so astronomical while all the other competitors went digital.

Crystal (21:39):

And I'm telling you, that cost them a huge chunk of their business. Then 2008 hit, all of a sudden, all these studios closed. It was crazy.

Dusey (21:47):

There is a place for boutique for sure, but you have to know your target audience and know if people are coming in into the studio in the mall or whatever for your photos, that they might not even be appreciating that difference. And then there's the fact that now that quality difference is very questionable now. There's still some people that-

Crystal (22:12):

This was years ago though.

Dusey (22:14):

Right. There's still some people that do it now, but it was interesting seeing some people really cling on to that. And then when the digital switch really started to get as good as... And depending on what you're trying to go for, there's certain aesthetic that film can give you, but as good as, or in some cases better than film, then they had a lot of catching up to do if they were able to.

Stephanie (22:37):

I have a couple more things I'd love to say about agency tech really into this.

Dusey (22:41):

Yeah. Absolutely.

Stephanie (22:42):

Yeah. Another example of this, even I talked about switching from Photoshop to Sketch, well, now we're in this new place where Sketch has this competitor called Figma that we currently use on our team. And we went through that switch and it's just a testament to technology will always be changing in a way that makes it so much easier to work with your clients. So it's very, very important to be open, to talking with other agency owners and learning about what's out there, and not being afraid to make the switch in order to be more efficient with yourselves, with your time, your team's time, but also with your clients.

Stephanie (23:21):

So part of the reason that we made a switch from Sketch to Figma, wasn't just what we like the way this software works compared to Sketch, a lot of it was actually the collaboration with our internal clients, with our stakeholders. When we pitted Sketch and Figma up against each other, we could see that the technology in Figma was enabling us to share a URL, to look at our design file in live-edit mode. So the stakeholders can see it, they can comment directly in our design files and we don't have to go searching around multiple tools and programs to find that little comment about this one section of the website or the webpage that we needed to update.

Stephanie (24:09):

And we could loop it together as prototyping. There was so much that we were able to do to specifically get buy-in from our internal clients with this program. So, a lot of software now in the agency world is moving toward this tenant of collaboration and working alongside your client. Another great example is a program that we use on our team here at Keap called Miro. Miro is an excellent program that essentially, it's real-time collaboration kind of like a whiteboard. You can do so much more in it compared to other style programs like that.

Stephanie (24:50):

There's Freehand by Invision, which is free, and there are other ones out there. I personally love Miro. You can even sign up for it, I think they have a free version. Figma also has a free version. So there's nothing stopping all the listeners from signing up for free. And what's great about this is that there are so many ways that you can collaborate in Miro to help people who don't call themselves creatives, which a lot of your clients are going to say, "Well, I'm not creative." And I think that's baloney. I think everyone is creative in their own way, and it's really important for agency owners to bring your clients in as collaborators and say, "You are creative.

Stephanie (25:35):

You know your people, you know your audience, and you're going to think in ways that is very different from the way an agency owner or a designer or a copywriter thinks. So when you bring this-

Dusey (25:48):

You created a business if nothing else, right?

Stephanie (25:50):

Yeah, absolutely.

Dusey (25:52):

Yeah. That's for sure.

Stephanie (25:53):

When you bring them into this collaborative workspace like Miro or Freehand or other things like that, you are essentially working on a project together, and it creates a sense of buying into what you're creating. So as you go along your creative process, you can be consistently getting buy-in with your clients and making sure that they're with you from one week to the next, from one sprint to the next. And that way, you're not having that moment of the reveal. The reveal, and I'm doing air quotes, "The reveal" is a really kind of passé thing in agency world.

Stephanie (26:33):

And this is another thing that if you're not talking to other agencies or doing research and figuring out ways to get to modernize and to innovate your agency, you're going to fall behind. And the reveal was a thing in agency life where you pitch the idea, you get them to sign the papers, you say, "Okay, now we're going to pitch it back to our creatives." And you're going to see what comes out and we'll give you three options-

Dusey (27:03):

Out of this black box.

Stephanie (27:04):

Out of this black box. It's magic. And you get three options and you get to pick one, or you get to tell them to try to put all three of them together into some camel.

Dusey (27:15):

Yeah. This went well.

Stephanie (27:18):

Yeah, it's very passé. It's very passé. It's not how a modern agency should approach their work if they want to see consistent, repeatable business with their clients, you need to build a relationship. And that relationship is built by working on a project together.

Dusey (27:37):

In the video world, I'm such a fan of... I like to share early edits and I know people don't, they want to have the reveal and to see it, but it's like, I want to have buy-in, I want to get feedback, I want to make sure I'm going in the right direction that we're going down this road, hand-in-hand. I absolutely agree.

Stephanie (27:53):

And I think though-

Dusey (27:55):

Go ahead.

Crystal (27:55):

I think at the end of the day, few people are so trained now, they take a picture, they see it immediately on their phone. They see a video on Instagram and in less than a second, it's loading and playing. So I think to your point, I think the reveal is slowly dissipating and I think people are expecting, client demands are expecting to see something a little bit sooner now, waiting has become harder. If a page doesn't load in a second, I'm already thinking, I'm in AOL days. Like, "What's happening?"

Stephanie (28:23):

Yeah. Well, and there are ways that there's other technology out there that aren't designed programs that can help support this type of relationship building and buy-in that actually will save small business owners time and we'll save agency owners time, which time is money, we all know it's very important. One of those things is using a video program to actually present the work that you want to be sharing to clients. You could actually do that with a video program, like you could do a screen recording on QuickTime. You can use Loom and do a really cool video.

Stephanie (28:53):

There's a new app out there, it's the hotness right now, it's called mmhmm, M-M-H-M-M, mmhmm.

Crystal (28:59):

Unlike my text history.

Stephanie (29:03):

Yeah, exactly, mmhmm, scroll. But there are all these programs out there where you can present your work in a digital way, you can have your face on the screen, do a face cam and have your work on the screen and you can present it, send it out in an email to your clients. You can automate that and they can look at it on their own time and provide asynchronous feedback so that you can block all of your presentation time into a Monday morning and then get on with the rest of your day and the rest of your week to do things that you need to do.

Stephanie (29:40):

So, use technology to be as efficient as possible by changing up your processes. So you don't have to do, "Let's do a Zoom call and I'll walk you through this slide deck." And we're going to run over time by half hour, and I'm late to my next call. You can actually serve your clients better by providing them a flexible way to review that website, that logo, by creating a video of it and presenting it. Everyone hears the same thing, but at times that works for them. It's a great way to save yourself time and make your clients really happy.

Dusey (30:20):

That's so awesome.

Crystal (30:21):

What I've heard you saying is a lot of collaboration and really some great tech that any agencies out there could be using, did you have something before I totally flip this on Stephanie again?

Dusey (30:37):

Just a quick off shoot that we don't need to go down really far, and I think this could be a whole episode in itself is, I just want to point out that getting your teams up on this technology stuff, I think it's really super rewarding not just to the business, but for them as well. Like if a client comes in and they've been using, someone who's been using Figma and they come to you and you're using Photoshop in this example, first of all, there's that side of it where they're like, "Oh really? You guys aren't up-to-date with this stuff? Okay."

Dusey (31:07):

But there's also, your employees, spending that time to make sure that they are building their skills, they're going to be happier and you're giving them skills that they're going to be much better employees for you. And even if they move on, I feel like it's doing the right thing of keeping your team up-to-date and marketable because if they're not marketable... If you're worried about making them marketable outside of your business, well, if they're not marketable in your business, that's not going to matter, it's not going to be helpful to you. So I just think that's a great way to keep your teams up-to-date and for them to feel much more fulfilled than they're progressing in their own career.

Stephanie (31:52):

Yeah. Retention is incredibly important for agencies, especially because agencies have historically high turnover. One of the agencies that I worked at, I've worked at a few agencies, one of them, when I left to come to Keap, and I was there for only four months, and that is not my style. I'm the type of person that I commit. I was at another agency for three years and that was a tough, tough place to be, but I worked my butt off for them. But this agency that I was at before I came to Keap, they had 25% turnover, which is huge.

Stephanie (32:32):

So there'd be people coming in the door getting incredibly frustrated or burnt out because they were not invested in as the creative person, as a creative team, or they were not getting the resources that they needed in order to really excel and do the best job that they possibly could. So it's very important to pay attention to what's going on in your processes as an agency and figure out what needs to be fine-tuned to make collaboration better, communication better and the output better.

Dusey (33:10):

Yeah. That's awesome. I think that could be a whole show just on managing creative teams and stuff. For sure. I love it.

Crystal (33:16):

That's for sure.

Stephanie (33:16):

That's my life.

Crystal (33:19):

That being said, I'm going to flip this completely again. Stephanie, now put yourself in the shoes of someone, which I know you've done, working with agencies because you've done that for us at Keap, managing those relationships from the client's standpoint. And there's small business owners out there that might have to hire a videographer or a designer, or have to hire someone. So what are some tips you can give them for how to make sure they first find the right one and then how to make sure that collaboration is moving the way that they need to from the client's perspective?

Stephanie (33:56):

Absolutely. Think about your needs as a person, think about your needs as a business owner. Do you feel like you need to have consistent communication with someone and they need to be fully accessible to you within a 40-hour work week? If so, you're going to want to make sure to work with someone who is a full-time freelancer, you don't want to hire someone who is moonlighting or working on weekends. And this is a temptation for a lot of small businesses because typically, their rates are lower.

Crystal (34:32):

Such good advice.

Dusey (34:33):

Yeah, I do some moonlighting on the video side of things, and I do try to be clear when someone brings on... It's hard for me to give you like a super hard done by date. So really I'm only available for things that you're okay if it's a little fuzzy.

Stephanie (34:49):

Exactly. And my husband, he worked at a small business for 11 years. He ended up his career there as the brand director, and he was having to work with a lot of vendors. Their business went through a massive rebrand, but at the beginning of that, they had to decide between at the end, these two designers who are going to work on the brand redesign, both excellent, excellent designers, fantastic style, great people, all around. One was running his own collective, which is a new way for freelancers essentially to, some agencies out there, not agencies, they're actually collectives, where it's run by a business owner and they have several freelancers who are committed to the work that group creates, but they're not fully employees.

Stephanie (35:39):

So this contract situation is very, very common these days. But he did this full time, he had these people on lock, and he had people he could actually call in again, based on his networking, he had people he would call in to do research that was needed on their target audience. He had the ability to bring people in who could work a regular 40-hour week. Then this other designer who was on deck potentially do the project, had a full-time job, worked at an enterprise level company with a full-time job. But similarly, excellent designer, really fantastic person, and could definitely do the job, but just wasn't simply available.

Stephanie (36:22):

So when my husband was coming to me with this question, "I'm not sure which person to hire, because they're both really excellent. And we're going to save a little bit of money going with this person who works a full-time job. What do you think we should do?" I said, "Imagine that your meetings to review the logos are at 6:00 PM every week. Are you going to like that?" And he's like, "No." But also thinking about what that means that during the day, you're not going to be able to have this person at your disposal. And that again, maybe that's kind of a niche problem for some people who are looking to partner with creatives, but you'll find a lot of people out there moonlighting rather than working full time. Another thing too-

Dusey (37:17):

I was just going to say, I think it's about going in with your eyes open as to what it is, knowing if they are or not, if you need something cheap done, and you're okay with it, maybe not being on as much of a timeline or then being a little bit less available, then yeah, that's a great option. But it's understanding that if someone's moonlighting, it can be a little bit dicey if you need a tight turnaround, if it's going to be a regular long-term thing, absolutely, yeah.

Stephanie (37:42):

Yeah. Other ways to identify who you should be working with and how to find these people, again, use your network, find out from people who they've been happy working with. We all know small business owners word of mouth marketing and word of mouth referrals is incredibly important. So use the people you know to find excellent people who have been responsible and able to turn around excellent work. When you're looking at portfolios, again, understand the methodology that they go through. And this is something that you can find out from just simply talking to them, get them on the phone.

Stephanie (38:17):

If they're hesitant to get on the phone, that's a bad sign. Someone who is working in the creative field needs to be able to hop on a phone call and talk through their process in an open, transparent way, rather than saying, "Well, let me send you an email about it and we'll talk later." You need to have someone who's willing to communicate in the way that you want to communicate. If you don't like talking on the phone, then that doesn't really matter. You don't need to find someone who wants to talk on the phone, a lot of us are phone diversity these days.

Crystal (38:56):

I definitely am a-

Stephanie (38:59):

Yeah. Some small business owners will prefer to talk with someone just over email and have it be asynchronous rather than having to talk on the phone. So find someone who has a communication and working style that compliments your own so that it's not going to be a daily battle when it comes to communicating with them. Also, set your expectations upfront about what your communication style is and what you're wanting to achieve on a week-by-week basis. You want to find agency or a creative individual who has a plan and a method around how they get to their output.

Stephanie (39:40):

You don't want to work with someone who's always constantly shooting from the hip, you need someone who has a proven method for how they do what they do, whether it's a creative who does brand design and marketing, whether it's someone in videography or if it's someone who's creating journey mapping, or doing workshops to come up with your service blueprints for how your business works, you need to work with someone who has a proven method. So when you're looking at portfolios, make sure that method is there and if it's not, but you're very intrigued to work with someone, ask them for it, make sure you get it.

Stephanie (40:19):

And then you understand, have them hop on a phone call and explain their method to you, and then provide you with case studies of people who they have taken through that method to success, and make sure that it's the type of approach that you want to take and that you think will make your team feel really bought into the process. Again, buy-in happens on all sides.

Dusey (40:41):

Yeah, absolutely.

Crystal (40:41):

For sure. That was such great advice. I feel like that will help a lot of people.

Stephanie (40:45):


Dusey (40:48):

Yeah. I love that because when I'm creating something, there's a process that I go through and if nothing else, it's a good reminder to me of making sure that the people that I work with know what that process is and that they're super clear on it. I can go from both sides, but asking, yeah... It's funny, I'm now asking myself, "Oh yeah, have I been really clear with this?"

Crystal (41:12):

Dusey, I feel like anytime we work with you, I know what your process is, I try to make sure I abide by that. So at any time something goes left, then you know it's not normal. Usually are easy to work with because you're like, "Well, she typically follows my process."

Dusey (41:29):

Oh, well, thanks. I wasn't fishing, but I appreciate it.

Crystal (41:35):

I just like to give compliments where they're due. Your process is very clear and you have the documents to back it up.

Dusey (41:41):

Well, thank you.

Crystal (41:42):

And the output. Anyways, I think that was such good information. I feel like we could talk to you for about any of these other things. I'd love at some point to have you back on to talk about experience because I remember this one thing you put in our marketing Slack channel, where we were supposed to ask, I think we were supposed to all put in something we wanted for our marketing team. And I don't remember the exact question, so don't quote me.

Crystal (42:07):

But your response was something like, "I want us to have magical moment." And I know you're a Disney freak, you're probably more Disney freak than I am, but I'm still a Disney nerd. And I would say the fact that you were talking about magical moments, I think that could be a whole show on itself. Hopefully, we'll have you back on to talk about other things like that because I think you're-

Stephanie (42:30):

I would love to spend an hour talking about customer and prospect experience, and magical moments because that is my dream for this company. And it's my dream for every business owner to understand what makes their customers really excited and happy and feel honestly like they made the best decision in the world to work with them is when they feel that magic that this person gets me, they understand what I want, what I need. And when they feel really cared for, that's something that comes through in magical moments.

Stephanie (43:10):

And I would love to talk about that forever.

Speaker 1 (43:13):

That's awesome.

Crystal (43:13):

And I feel like it's something that resonated with me to this day because that's what we try to do every single post on social. It's like we're trying to connect the audience to who we are as a company and the product we're using to serve the community we care about. So I totally identify with that, and I was like, "Man, she is really passionate and focused on her goals." So thank you for being on today, and I think you gave so many great tips, so many great tech tools to check out. I think it's a wealth of knowledge.

Stephanie (43:45):

You're welcome.

Dusey (43:47):

I think we should also have you back on to talk... Stephanie knows how to turn a lame brainstorm into an actual useful process. And I think that that's something that I would love to dive into too. So we'll have to have you back for sure.

Stephanie (44:00):

I would love to talk about all those things and more. It's so fun. You guys are the best and it's just so fun to talk about all this stuff and spend an hour just spinning yarns on creativity. And this is great. So I love it. Happy to come back whenever.

Dusey (44:18):

Well, I guess, that's a wrap for Small Biz Buzz.

Speaker 1 (44:30):

Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five star rating. It helps keep the show going. And if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to, that's and get started. More business, less work, that's Keap.

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