As 2019 comes to an end, I wanted to send a personal message about one of the most eventful years I’ve ever experienced. That’s no small task, so stay with me.
This year was so rich and memorable on so many fronts, but the #1 thing I’m taking away from it is this:
I’ve learned that there’s one marketing strategy that trumps everything else.
Seriously! After decades in marketing and media, working with dozens of clients on thousands of projects, I’ve come to realize that all great marketing stems from one key strategy. Want to know what it is? Keep reading. It’s all going to make sense by the time you get to the end. No scrolling!
First, I want to share three big “learning” highlights from the year.
1. I learned just how powerful my team really is.
Media Bridge got the chance to really show our stuff as the Agency of Record for the NCAA Final Four this year, and the results really blew my mind. Not because we were the first agency to work with both the Local Organizing Committee and the NCAA. Not because we played a huge role in breaking attendance records and blowing through KPIs and campaign goals. Not because of the bragging rights that come with being part of such a historic local event.
The experience blew my mind because every single person at the agency touched the campaign. The project required the absolute maximum of everybody’s time, attention and talent. Each department worked together towards the same goal. It was a total team effort. And it was beautiful to watch. It was also one of the first times I’ve really let go of the vine and let the team lead.
This campaign and partnership really brought home the fact that my team is more than capable of taking on huge opportunities without me directing. It also showed me that allowing others to lead can bring about amazing new ideas, approaches, media mixes and results. I’m proud of the agency accolades we earned this year, but honestly, nothing tops the camaraderie of bringing home a huge win to the Local Organizing Committee and NCAA, who also gave their blood, sweat and tears to this effort.
2. I learned that you never know what kind of change 10 years can bring.
I started Media Bridge in 2010. Back then, I was working from my spare bedroom. I had six clients, and I covered five markets. I had one part-time finance contractor. I did all the media buying, traffic and posting myself, by hand. I even did all the copywriting and some of the graphic design!
I had no idea what the future would hold. If I’m being really honest about it, I wasn’t even sure I was cut out to be a business owner. When people would ask me what my goals were, or if I wanted to build a big agency, I didn’t have an answer because I was so deep in the weeds that I couldn’t see over them.
Flash forward to today, and I have to pinch myself. We now have over 100 clients and operate in over 200 markets. We have 26 people making up our Finance, Marketing, Media, Social Media, Creative Services and Production teams. Back in 2010, I couldn’t have imagined this life: a team of total rockstars and loyal clients who all fit our core values.
And speaking of core values …
3. I learned the importance of not only naming your core values, but living them.
Core values are something we take seriously at Media Bridge, and we don’t see them as a “set it and forget it” wallscape that no one looks at again. As your company grows, your core values evolve as well. We recently tweaked ours, and I wanted to share them, along with examples of how our teams are living them.
“Do The Right Thing”: Our Marketing Team has been especially dedicated to doing the right thing for our clients, and because of that effort, we’re seeing growth across all points of our business and partnerships.
“Lead with Heart”: Our New Media Team created new core processes and services that will significantly help our current and future social media needs with a teach, test, tweak approach. These tools are so good, we’re even using them on ourselves.
“Raise The Bar”: Our Creative Team is on fire. They continue to raise the bar with their commitment to excellence and their drive to deliver incredible work with all the talent and half the ego!
“No Excuses. Just Results”: Our Finance Team is a MACHINE. Seriously, if you Google “efficiency and innovation in finance,” you’ll see their photo. They never look back or point fingers; they just get things done. And the results speak for themselves.
And last but not least, our fierce Media Team continues to demonstrate all of these values, every minute of every day. They’ve been absolute warriors this year, building thousands of custom marketing plans and negotiating the very best strategies for our clients across multiple channels. They were also able to get the majority of our clients’ annual media buys in early this year, ahead of the political wave that’s about to swallow up media inventories.
Which brings me to the #1 marketing strategy that everything else flows from.
This year, I learned that the only strategy that matters—
the only thing that matters in life, period—
Everything I’ve talked about to this point could only have happened because we genuinely care about each other and our clients. For us, caring goes beyond the strategy and planning part of what we do. Our leadership team cares about creating a positive work environment. Everybody in our organization cares about doing the right thing, always getting better and delivering results.
Our mission as a company is to inspire growth, but we only grow when our clients grow. And what’s the soil, water and sunlight that fuels that growth? Caring.
* * *
I’ll leave you with a recent story that really brought this home for me. Every holiday season, our clients send us lots of goodies that fill up our kitchen. It’s very generous, and we always enjoy it. But this year, we asked people to help us in a different way: We asked them to give to others, including a local family we decided to support through Best Christmas Ever. This family recently welcomed a baby girl who was born prematurely and faced a litany of serious (and expensive) medical issues.
The long and short of it is this: We stepped up. Our partners stepped up. And right before Christmas, I arrived with a group of MB team members to surprise the family with tons of gifts and a check for over $20,000—a record for the Best Christmas Ever organization.
As tears flowed down all of our faces, I thought, “This is what it’s really about. This is what caring looks like and feels like. The world needs more of THIS.”
I’ve never bought into the idea that we need to put up walls, as leaders or as people. Yes, the P&L is important, but not as important as the TLC (hey, those also happen to be my initials!). So I just want to close by saying thank YOU for caring about Media Bridge and helping us grow into the people and family we are today.
Let’s keep the momentum going, and let’s make 2020 The Year of Caring.
—Tracy L. Call (a.k.a. “TLC”)