Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
The videos and collateral they’ve worked on definitely accomplish our goals. When customers download them, they come to us and talk in the language that we want them talking in. They read the material and discover that we understand what they’re feeling and thinking. They repeat that back to us and we know we’re communicating successfully. We haven’t spent a lot of money in getting the word out. We’ll do that in the next 6-8 weeks. We are a startup and need to wait for the funds before we begin marketing.
They understand the big picture and know where they fit and what their strengths are. They’re able to find people to fill other holes for us. As a startup, there isn’t a huge marketing department to do all of those things.
How did Speak! perform from a project management standpoint?
We were in contact once a week for a project meeting. They published schedules and identified budgets. We met in person sometimes, but most times we met remotely. Our team is spread out all over the world, so we used Join.me and GoToMeeting. We record all the meetings so that if someone can’t be there, they can watch it later.
What did you find most impressive about Speak!?
You have to have a team that can do the work. There are a lot of teams that can do the work but then you need them to actually do the work. Speak!’s execution is really good. They’re fast and we’re usually surprised with what they come back with. We’re usually happy with the results.
What happens when dealing with companies like Speak! and PR agencies, is you usually don’t know what you want, but you know what you don’t want when you see it. They will come back with things we didn’t think of, but it was exactly right for us. In the end, it comes down to execution, and what makes execution easier is flexibility.
There’s not much we have to tell them. They’ve worked with software companies and come from software companies. Most of them were at a software company called Sage before they started Speak!, so they have inside experience as well. They’re able to translate what we want into a very crisp strategy. We didn’t have to manage them. We just need to tell them what our budget is and who our market is and they’re able to tell us what we should do next, given our budget. They prioritize for us what we should do in the future as our budget grows. They will tell us for the first 3 months, we’ll do an e-book and an AdWords campaign, then spend X dollars on PR and social to supplement it.
Are there any areas Speak! could improve?
I can’t think of anything.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Speak!?
You have to spend time to lay out your vision. They’ll do independent research to figure it out too. The other thing is you have to outline your limitations. For two years, we didn’t have a very large budget. We tell them our budget and ask what they can do with that, and they came back with certain things. The biggest issue with other companies is they come in and say you’ve got to spend $20,000 every month and there’s a minimum retainer. We haven’t had that problem with Speak! They start with your budget and tell you what they can do for that. That’s how we deal with our customers, so it was a good fit. This is important for smaller startups where you have to keep on adjusting and it’s a bumpy ride. If you have a partner, they’re subject to that ride. They feel the bumps too. Not many agencies are geared to deal with that because they have fixed costs that they have to address. You need a different kind of company to deal with a startup, because we’re not very reliable or predictable. I suppose they went through an evaluation of our company and saw that we would do well and wanted to work with us. They were very flexible. I doubt they made any money on us initially. Hopefully they will in the future.