9 years ago, Jeff Coon took the leap and started Stream Creative along with two former UW Oshkosh graphic design classmates, Steve James and Brian Brinkman. I had the privilege of interviewing Jeff for Episode #23 of Inbound Agency Journey and learned about a handful of the lessons he and his partners have learned through over the course of their journey to HubSpot Platinum Partner status, including:
- What it takes to put on a successful marketing event like Experience Inbound.
- How consistent client interviews improve content quality and relationships.
- Why effectively documenting processes is critical for agency scalability.
- What a “family-first” culture means to the Stream Creative team.
Putting on an In-Person Marketing Event
Jeff and his team at Stream Creative partnered up with Greg Linnemanstons and his crew over at Weidert Group to put on Experience Inbound, a 2-day live marketing event in Wisconsin. The event has brought in speakers like Brian Halligan, Elise Ramsay, Mark Roberge, Chad Pollitt, and Caitlin Moyer.
In 2014, the event was held in Milwaukee and focused on bringing together the local community. This year, the first day of the event was at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and the second day was hosted at Lambeau Field, two hours north up I-43 in Green Bay.
One strategic takeaway was Jeff and his team’s approach of recruiting speakers with strong local presences and followings. Especially for a relatively new event, bringing in speakers who can help fill seats is a big factor for attendance success.
Jeff also pointed out the big advantage of partnering up with a strong strategic partner like Weidert Group. This has potential to be a great win-win-win situation, benefiting the partnering organizations and the attendees.
Producing Timely Content Based on Client Interviewers
Stream Creative conducts consistent client interviews as part of their ongoing partnership packages. Jeff discussed their process for tapping into the knowledge base of the client contacts who frequently interact with end customers.
These client interviews directly impact the content creation strategies and provide accountability to constantly be fulfilling the basic principle of content marketing that Marcus Sheridan constantly preaches — the “they ask, you answer” approach.
Jeff and his team have a good number of client blog posts and content offers in the hopper and planned out ahead of time, but the constant client interviews also allow them to mix in quick hits with answers to the latest common questions as they come up.
Why and How to Document Inbound Agency Processes
Documenting processes (read: properly documenting great processes in a way that will be followed) is a critical step in preparing your agency to scale. Without documentation, you’ll wind up with inconsistent deliverables, major hurdles to on-boarding new team members, and lots of internal inefficiencies.
Jeff shared how Stream Creative is continuing to work on improving their processes and documentation. It’s hard to track the ROI from the hard work involved in building systems, but the long-term payoffs do show up in profitability as well as in quality of life for agency owners and team members.
Jeff’s Marketing Agency Toolbox
As a HubSpot Partner Agency, many of the tools that Jeff uses at Stream Creative are predictable — HubSpot, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, Email, Basecamp (for project management), Yammer (for internal team collaboration – an alternative to Slack or HipChat, but more of an internal social network), and Evernote (for note taking and personal organization).
Cooler than the apps though, Jeff uses a treadmill desk! His morning routine often involves getting up early, grabbing a cup of coffee, and getting some work done while walking at his treadmill desk. I use a standing desk currently, but hearing about more folks using treadmill desks has got me thinking about switching to something like this bad boy. Let me know if you’ve got a similar set up or any recommendations!
The Stream Creative Culture
The importance of intentionally building a strong team culture has been a recurring theme throughout Inbound Agency Journey. Jeff’s comments on culture brought me back to Patrick Biddiscombe’s interview and his work on building New Breed’s culture code.
Since the beginning of Stream Creative way back in 2006, Jeff, Steve, and Brian have agreed on the importance of a “family-first” culture. They’ve built a culture where family responsibilities take priority over the 9-to-5. Excellent work needs to be accomplished, but team members have autonomy and the flexibility around their work environment.
Do you have questions for Jeff?
Leave a comment below, connect on Twitter (@MilwaukeeDesign), or reach Jeff via email: Jeff[@]StreamCreative.com.