Digital Swan Blog

Lessons Learned During 2020 as a New Digital Marketing Agency

Jamie here! Feeling a little wordy today, so why not utilize that and make some content for Digital Swan?

It's a few days until Christmas, and then we'll be careening into the new year. I'll spare you the what-a-crazy-year mumbo jumbo that everyone talks about, because... duh. But this time of year, like I'm sure it does for everyone, just has you reflecting on the past 12 months and thinking about the future.

Digital Swan started out at the beginning of 2020 as a blog type of thing I thought I'd start, posting about my experience in digital marketing. It fell off pretty quickly, though, but came back in a new form in June of this year as a full-service digital marketing agency co-founded with my business partner Jeremy. It happened crazy fast - we were talking and next thing you know, Digital Swan was off the ground running!

We have learned SO. MANY. THINGS. this year. Me as a new business owner, and even Jeremy-- who is a seasoned entrepreneur-- will tell you he has learned a few lessons. Below I'm laying out just some of those things that 2020 taught me as a marketer and a business owner.

Set expectations - with everyone

This doesn't just refer to clients, although that is a very important part of managing your customers. As a business partner I've learned it is very important to have an open line of communication, set clear expectations, and always be up front and honest about what's going on! It may seem like a no brainer, but I was surprised at just how many bumps in the road that came up would have been easily solved or prevented altogether just by communicating. Communicating with clients, with coworkers, with contractors.

Not just communication though. I've realized that communication has to be proactive, set BEFORE any work begins. When you set expectations, you create accountability for everyone. When something goes wrong, there's no fumbling around trying to find out who caused what problem. It's easy to find the breakdown in your process and fix it going forward when you set expectations and have open communication with everyone involved.

Document everything

Documentation and process building. It's what makes an agency run! Seriously - that's one of the most important things to have as a business owner, but before Digital Swan, I honestly didn't realize *just* how integral to success it really is.

This is where "standard operating procedures" come into play. What is a standard operating procedure, or SOP? It's really just a written document or checklist that details how to complete a task. Sounds simple, right? Well, these things can be tough to create (at least, to create a usable one), but once they're done, it's mostly smooth sailing after that. SOPs are key to consistent deliverability and scaling as a business. It's one of my goals in 2021 to go SOP-crazy and have a documented process foundation for everything that can be built upon as we change and grow as a company.

Automate all the things

Automation is kind of my thing. I love it. Like SOPs, setting up an automation can be time consuming and requires a lot of attention to detail and problem solving, but once it's done you will save so much time (and sanity). Daily, weekly and monthly tasks that once required hours of your time now take no time at all to be completed. My favorite automation software is, of course, Zapier. Here at Digital Swan we use Zapier along with Airtable and our project management software (more on that later) to streamline a LOT of tasks - and we're just getting started. I learn something new every day when it comes to marketing and process automation, and I can't wait to learn even more in the coming year to save us so much time.

This has been - please excuse the cliche - a crazy year. But for me personally, there has been a lot of good along with the bad. It was definitely a time of growth, reflection and most important: learning. And I seriously can't wait to keep that going and see what Digital Swan can grow into.

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