Category Archives: Alter Endeavors

So, You’ve Been Burned By Your Digital Marketing Agency…

burned by your digital marketing agency

A number of our clients come to us with burn scars—battle wounds from working with a digital marketing agency who either could not or would not live up to what they promised to deliver.  Sometimes an agency is overwhelmed, does not understand the client’s brand, needs, or the agency is simply dishonest. Regardless, at the end of the day, your brand may be suffering from serious burn scars.

Having a negative experience with a digital marketing agency can carry some advantages. Ultimately, the experience makes you wiser and more knowledgeable about what to do and what to avoid when you start shopping around for a new agency.  That being said, how can you make sure you are signing a contract with an ethical and competent agency; one that will deliver a product built on best practices while understanding your brand and helping it grow the right way? The answer? You need to do some homework before signing on the dotted line. Dig deeper to discern the true nature of an agency before contracting with them.  Here are a few things to consider before choosing a digital marketing agency.

Ask Others

Asking others about reputable agencies can go both waysask for recommendations and references. Query colleagues, business partners or other brand owners in your industry about which web agencies they used.  You will probably get recommendations for companies you should contact and some companies you shouldn’t. Once you contact a digital marketing agency, don’t be afraid to ask for references of recognizable (i.e. easy to find online and well-established) brands they represent. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without doing some background work, why would you trust your website or online presence to just anyone?

Is The Price Too Good To Be True?

If you have a few proposals from different agencies in front of you (which you should), and pricing between them is radically different, you need to seriously be asking WHY. 

Typically, pricing variations within a digital marketing agency are based on four things: team, technology, process and expertise. Someone that comes in really cheap may be relying on some kind of automation service and/or outsourced contractors to produce and disseminate content and/or build platforms. This may be totally fine in certain cases with certain companies, but diligently assess the quality and customization of their work for other clients.

Outsourcing, if very well managed, can be totally great; however, experience has taught us over here at Alter Endeavors to keep all of our services US-based simply due to communication and timelines. It makes us a little more expensive, but we are also able to control the outcome of services rendered much more closely, quickly and efficiently. This may change for Alter Endeavors if we ever come across an outsourcing resource that we feel meets our needs.

Technology can also mean automation. Some automation, especially when it comes to analytics and goal tracking is great. For example, we created Catch Engine to help automate some aspects of lead generation or review acquisitions, but not everything. If any agency says they can have you simply fill out a survey and then put you into their system for insta-automated-magic success, run away as fast as you can. Things need to adapt and change constantly, and artificial intelligence isn’t far enough along (yet) to replace the human element in this process.

Speaking of process, ask about it. Cheap pricing can possibly mean an agency is new or inexperienced or dishonest enough to simply ignore the need for a process to discover and help achieve brand goals online and off within a promised time frame.

Lack of experience or expertise may also be a reason for cheap pricing. The agency may be hungry and is willing to work for peanuts in order to build experience and their portfolio. It may be that an agency, although inexperienced, could be able to quickly adapt and grow into an effective marketing machine for your brand, just be careful that their inexperience does not cost you time, money or reputation.

On the flip side, seriously question higher-priced agencies. Just because they are the most expensive does not mean they are the best either. Ask the same questions above and vet them further with the following techniques as well.

Have More Than One Conversation

Just like if you were buying a car or a house, don’t be pressured into doing something you are not ready to commit to.  For many small to medium-sized businesses, the budget required to create a website or maintain a social presence is not insignificant.  Before entrusting any agency with your funds, interview them more than once.  You want to make sure that the digital agency is a good fit for your brand.  Be honest with the agency about your needs and timeline and a reasonable agency will do their best to give you a good idea of what they can accomplish and how they can meet your needs. Good agencies will tell you upfront when they are not a good fit for your brand, but will then suggest someone they think might be—something we do over here at Alter Endeavors more often than folks expect. 

Ask About the Team

If you have met with a representative of a digital marketing agency in person, more than likely, your first point of contact will be someone working in sales.  As the conversation progresses further, don’t be afraid to ask to speak directly with someone you will be working with.  The process of building a website is very intimate—you will be entrusting this agency with passwords, your email and more.  Ask to be put in touch with your potential point of contact.  A good relationship with your point of contact is necessary, especially if you might be signing up for an ongoing social engagement. You will be corresponding with your account manager on a monthly basis or more.

Know Your Goals

Sometimes a less than satisfactory website or failed social campaign isn’t the result of an incompetent agency, but a premature or undeveloped business idea.  In order for an agency to execute a solid product, you need to enter knowing your goals and your business. A deadline, eager business owner or half-baked plan can lead to a hastily put together website or social media presence that doesn’t truly represent the brand or achieve the desired goals. Put the time and thought into developing your business, sales funnel and calls to action first.  If you don’t have all the details ironed out, it’s not a deal breaker.  You may need to build extra time into your website building or social media planning process so that your agency can assist with your overall branding strategy.

No agency is perfect, including Alter Endeavors, but great agencies know this. Great agencies have systems in place to deal with infrequent mess-ups and failures. They are also constantly proving that their successes far outweigh the occasional, inconsequential blunder. There is definitely a difference between an agency who can help your brand thrive online and an agency who cannot —maybe even hurt it. Want to start a conversation with Alter Endeavors about your online presence?  You can ask us ALL the questions (we don’t mind).  Our goal is to build a powerful and sustainable online presence that will help you grow your brand!

A Visit from St. Nick (Alter)

a-visit-from-st-nick-alter

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
Not a person was stirring, not even Papa’s mouse.

Instead he surfed the web on his phone with care,
After finding the wish lists- based on Facebook shares.

The children were snuggled all in their beds,
While visions of checkout carts danced in their heads.

Thank goodness for E-commerce, Mama exclaimed.
We can buy our favorite goods, in Austin, from Maine.

The website was clean, and the design so slick,
Papa knew in a moment, it was built by St. Nick (Alter).

St. Nick even did maintenance so the site wouldn’t crash,
the week before Christmas to make businesses cash.

Social media, blogging and SEO,
His team of experts knew the way to go.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Teylor, now Rachel, now Amber, now Aubrey.
On Topher, on Christie, on David, on Jamie.”

How did Papa find this site you might ask?
Page 1 on Google, and targeted ads.

He had only just clicked, but he knew what to do.
There were CTAs a plenty to guide him through.

And then in a twinkling, Papa loaded the next page
when suddenly his phone died, his head filled with rage.

So he grabbed his iPad to pull up the site.
It was CSS responsive, so design fit just right.

When Papa was done he checked out and paid,
After reading their blog and “liking” their page.

And finally he thought, after closing the site:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night”

4 Reasons to Invest in a New Website Before January 1st

Invest in a new website

Ready for a new website right away? Let’s go! 

Whether you ramp up or ramp down your business during the holiday season, it still means the end of the year for any business. With only weeks left in the year, every entrepreneur is looking at how they can prep for next year while trying to see what they can write-off before the end of this one. So do yourself a favor and plant at least one seed at the end of this year that could help grow your business by leaps and bounds before or by this time next year. Invest in a new website before January 1st!

Reserve a Spot For a New Website

If a new website is on the horizon for your company in 2017, signing a contract before the end of the year has the additional benefit of also being a tax write-off!  Even if you don’t intend to begin the process of creating a new website on January 1st, we are providing the option to reserve a spot for your brand’s website in 2017. 

No Rushing

As is often the case with most things, people tend to put off important tasks that need to be completed by a specific deadline. We don’t recommend rushing the process of creating, designing and developing a website. By planning ahead, you will save yourself the additional cost of having to pay for the project to be expedited.

Take Action While Competitors Don’t

Gear your brand up for a successful 2017 by getting ahead of competitors who are shutting down while you are moving forward.  You don’t need to have all the details figured out, but you will rest easy knowing that you have a solid website design and development plan in place.

Your Website is Tax Deductible

Yes, you heard that right.  Your website is considered a business expense for your taxes.  While the IRS has not outlined specific website deductions, a website is treated like software when it comes to taxes.  When you purchase a website from a third party (like Alter Endeavors), we assume responsibility for the website’s functionality and the costs are treated like software costs and amortized (spread out) over 3 years.  If the total cost of the website is less than $25,000, you can expense 100% of the cost in the year it was paid.  Even if you decide to amortize, you will still see a tax benefit in 2016!  These guys do a job of explaining if you want more info.

Still Not Convinced?

If you have more questions about why you might need a new website or why you should work with Alter Endeavors. We can help make quick work of your research. If you’re in need of more information about the benefits of having an interactive and responsive website or why Alter Endeavors is the right team for the job, here are other convincing points. 

Why do I need a website? 

How much does a website cost?  And other questions answered.

Why should I work with Alter Endeavors? 

Plunge into 2017 with a powerful new website by signing a contract with Alter Endeavors before January 1st!  Begin your transformative digital journey here.

Viral Marketing – Is It a Myth?

viral marketing

Is viral marketing a myth? One of my favorite requests from potential clients is, “I want to go viral.” or “I want my brand/company to go viral.” When a prospect demands virality (not to be confused with virility), it opens an opportunity for Alter Endeavors to educate and guide a client towards real digital marketing success, defined by target audiences, conversion goals, and user flow. Viral content has very little control over how it spreads and who it spreads to, thus the name. Going viral can be great, don’t get me wrong, but popularity for popularity’s sake does not offer guaranteed exposure to ideal clients…nor does it necessarily help a brand achieve their financial or networking goals. Instead, what about a rock solid marketing framework with creative, engaging content, reached goals, social engagements and conversion numbers?

First, let’s define what “viral” means. When a YouTube video goes viral, for example, it is being shared organically and indiscriminately and freely, like an infection (hence the name…) Content, whether a gif or video or image or story, goes viral because it fulfills some kind of entertainment value. So, when you bring your brand to Alter Endeavors and say, “I want to go viral,” are you really trying to tell us that you want to lose control of your marketing and branding to the masses for 5 seconds of entertainment? Probably not. I think what you mean to say is, “I want to maximize my brand’s exposure to my intended audiences, driving as many people to my defined calls to action as possible and reaching my marketing and sales goal with the budget I have laid out for these efforts.” If this is what you meant to say, then Alter Endeavors is a great fit for you and your digital marketing efforts. Look at companies like Dollar Shave Club and Squatty Potty. Their unprecedented successes were textbook situations of preparation meeting opportunity, which some folks may interpret as “lucky” and others misinterpret as “viral”. Now, the questions is, how do we help?

You are the expert of your business. We provide a digital marketing framework with a a creative edge that will give your message legs online in the most successful way possible. We thrive at helping businesses manage their online presence long-term through continuing our internal education and adapting to change across all relevant digital platforms. By tuning into webinars, reading industry articles, researching new ways to run Facebook ads or participating in other professional development activities like attending Social Media Success Summit (which I am currently attending), our digital marketing efforts on behalf our clients find the greatest success possible with the intended audience. Simultaneously, we think of new and creative ways to help brands engage with a greater scope of their target audiences by engaging with them through new, creative content.

That being said, don’t go floating off into the stratosphere thinking Alter Endeavors is going to make your business an overnight success. Rarely does a company, especially one struggling to stay afloat, experience instant gratification from our digital marketing efforts. Our primary goal is longevity for your brand, helping to establish your business as a trusted and vested member of your community. Whether your community is the physical area surrounding your business, a defined digital audience, or both, the best way to grow a business is through word-of-mouth. Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report finds that 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. A flashy video or the best ad copy isn’t going to help you grow sustainably, building a relationship with customers and having those customers share their experiences with others over and over again will. So, how can you build credibility online?

Through maintaining a consistent social presence, you can remain top-of-mind with current and potential clients, build relationships, solicit reviews, address customers who had a less than stellar experience, feature fan-generated content, thank fans for engaging with your brand, send Catch Engine surveys to drive positive online reviews (and manage bad customer experiences), gather data and intelligence on your topic area, and more.  The strategy we recommend for your business will be tailored to your industry, community and needs.

Our ideal client, those we have the most success with, are other salt of the Earth folks who pursue their brand with passion and integrity.  Join us in growing your brand in a sustainable and ethical way.  Want to get started, contact us!

Why You Should Be a Hold’Em for Heroes Sponsor!

Heroes for Children

How do you feel about kids with cancer?

Our answer: Love the kids, hate the cancer. 

Howdy, howdy! We are actively looking for sponsors to join us in supporting the Austin Hold’Em for Heroes 2016 poker tournament! If not you personally, rope in your company or a friend. We are looking to have at least 250 folks participate in the event this year.

Alter Endeavors supports this event and this organization because of the DIRECT impact they have on families fighting for their children’s lives. For the past 3 years Alter Endeavors has been involved, this poker tournament has succeeded in directly helping dozens, if not hundreds, of families in huge ways by simply helping them cover things like mortgage payments, plane tickets to cancer treatments, paying bills, etc.  Heroes for Children is a unique organization because there is no other organization that provides such versatility in restoring normalcy and brining comfort through each family’s journey.  Other charities that provide assistance whether financial or otherwise come with more stipulations in how funds are allocated. Heroes for Children provides funds that families can use to take care of their greatest needs.  

What’s more? The people we are helping could easily be any of us. Cancer has a crippling effect on families in so many ways—emotionally, physically and financially. We believe in this program so strongly because nearly every penny donated goes to help those in need, and we have met folks who have directly benefitted from this organization. Not only do we donate every year, we now serve on the committee for this event because we believe so strongly in this cause. 

The 6th Annual Hold’Em for Heroes poker tournament will take place on Wednesday, November 2nd at 6:30pm at the Austin Club.  The event is run by professional dealers.  Re-donations (buy-ins) are available.  The ten winners have the opportunity to choose between a variety of awesome prizes.  Read more about the different sponsorship levels here.

Becoming a sponsor will enable you to benefit an extremely worthy cause while also giving your business great publicity.  Through becoming a sponsor you will also have the opportunity to network with other philanthropic-minded business owners and sponsors.  You will be able to invite employees or clients to enjoy an evening of poker, fun, giving back and the chance to win prizes sponsored by brands like Kendra Scott and Yeti.

Even if you don’t like poker, consider donating, get your company involved or share with someone who might be interested. We are in serious need of a couple more of the larger sponsors. The sooner we can get commitment from sponsors the better off we will be, so please don’t delay your decision. It’s an incredible night, and it has a huge, direct impact on our local community.  

Where Are We Going?—Mobile Friendly Websites

mobile friendly websites

In January, Apple’s iPhone will celebrate its 10th birthday. At the time, the idea that one could surf the web and be on the cell phone at the same time was not only revolutionary, but seen as unnecessary. Previous “mobile web” experiences were incomplete, information based, and lacked the design and branding elements now crucial to a mobile website. The idea that mobile friendly websites would now just be a series of listed out links seems prehistoric—yet this was the reality less than 15 years ago.

Back to the present, as consumers, we use the internet daily. The average adult spends over 20 hours a week on the internet. With the prevalence of smart phones, this number will only grow. According to a Morgan Stanley study, the number of global users who accessed the internet via a mobile device was larger than the number of desktop users. Where does this tie back in to business applicable? 65% of new visitors to your website this month will be accessing your site through a mobile device, including tablets. The mobile revolution has begun online. Is your business ready for those potential customers? If you were to access your website through your phone as a customer, would you feel comfortable spending money with your company?

Oh yes, and there is also a major SEO component to being mobile responsive. Mobile responsive encompasses a webpage being CSS responsive, having quick load times and low data overhead. These are all major factors in Google’s search algorithm. As of April 2015, Google prioritized mobile friendly sites in their rankings and boosted those sites in their rankings. Also known as “Mobilegeddon”, the most drastic difference in the algorithm was felt in mobile search. If your website is not mobile friendly, it is very likely you don’t rank in mobile search at all.

What does CSS responsive mean? Based upon the browser window size, the structure of a webpage changes. In practice, the structure will change for iPhones, Tablets and Desktop. A site can be CSS responsive but not mobile friendly at all. However, a mobile friendly site must be CSS responsive. How is this possible? Again, mobile friendly includes CSS responsiveness, quick load times and low data overhead. If a site is CSS but takes forever to load, the site is not mobile friendly at all. Quicker load times are essential because on average you have 3 seconds before a mobile user will leave your site. If a site takes a minute to load, you obviously just lost 33% of the time a customer will spend on your site (ultimately meaning less conversions). Low data overhead simply means that a user will not use a significant amount of data to load the page.

If you’re not sure if your site is mobile friendly, click here.

At Alter Endeavors, we build well branded and mobile friendly websites. Our team of designers and developers have mobile specific experience that can help your business be ready for the future of the internet—which is in the palm of our hands.

Best Social Media Management: Person > Automation

best social media management

Alter Endeavors offers customized social media management, so we make it our business to know everything there is to know about the ever-changing industry to provide the best social media management. We often push what our social media team can do for a brand versus another company handling it, but that’s not our only competition. Brands that don’t have the time or resources to produce consistent content, but are nervous to hand their accounts over to a social media manager, may choose to use a service that automates their posts. Essentially this means that there isn’t a designated person deciding what and when to post. You decide what topics are relevant to your brand and the service chooses and schedules content accordingly.

While we do rely on statistics and performance data to devise our social media strategy, we only take this method so far. At Alter Endeavors, we boast that social media isn’t just about SEO! If you approach social media as simply a numbers game, you lose something incredibly valuable: the brand’s unique voice. Our strategy isn’t merely to get information out to the public, it is to create meaningful dialogues with your customers and community.

We have a habit of falling in love with the brands we work with. We don’t mean this in the inappropriate sense, but that we become attached to the people we work with and genuinely want to see them succeed in all aspects of life. We are a brand’s biggest cheerleader. We stress and celebrate with you. We are agile in our ability to change directions when necessary and we research your community as if we are a part of it. Think of the brands that you love and continue to be loyal to. There is a chance you are solely a fan because they offer a genuinely good product or service, but when a brand is active in area non-profits or uses local resources… it has the potential to deeply impact consumer decision making.

Alter Endeavors identifies what is unique about a brand and trust us, there is always something, and builds a brand identity that the community is proud to partner with. What we offer, that an automated service cannot, are messages with a personal touch that speak to who you are and what your company mission is. While posting consistent content is important, engagement with your audience is more so. It’s easy to send messages into the void. The key for best social media management is to send messages that are catered to your customer to such a degree that they must respond, or at least react with a quick like.

The Alter Endeavors social media team is proven to be quite good listeners. If you communicate to us that you would like to work some humor into your messaging, we’ll work it in. Who knows, maybe a Twitter account with 149k followers will take notice and reach out!

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Our job is to get your brand noticed by the right people for the right reasons. We achieve this by contributing curated content to the conversation, plus the occasional alliteration. We’re not the only brand with personality and we want the community you work in to get to know yours!

Team Members with Outside Passions

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When hiring new employees, what do you look for? Over here at Alter Endeavors, it’s no secret that we seek out future team members with hobbies or side jobs they pursue about as diligently as they do their work with us. Common sense might dictate that an employee with diverted attention and a split focus would not be fully dedicated to Alter Endeavors.  However, our experience with employees pursuing outside passions shows, for us, a greater company culture, a stronger work ethic and higher-quality results. The question is, why?

The Pareto principle also known as the 80-20 rule dictates that 80% of the output from a given situation or system is determined by 20% of the input.  The principle was named for the Italian Vilfredo Pareto, who in 1906 observed that 20% of the population owned 80% of the land in Italy. This pattern of distribution can be applied to other disciplines like business, science or economics, to identify the valuable few (the 20%) and the inconsequential or less effective 80%. For example, from a business or managerial point of view, one could say 80% of a company’s sales are made by 20% of its sales staff or 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customer.  Isolating or focusing on the 20% that matters most can result in increased productivity and better outcomes.

We believe that the people who are often the busiest, doing the most, are among that valuable 20% who are producing 80% of the work.  Hiring an employee with an outside passion aligns with our company values because we want to work with motivated individuals.  

aubrey_coaching

There are many different types of motivation: in an academic setting, a person may strive for an ‘A’, the highest grade, in an entrepreneurial setting, an individual may have the goal of making the most money, in a social setting someone may seek the approval of others or want to be seen as a “good person”.  When looking to add someone to our team at Alter Endeavors, we want to distinguish what makes him tick, what is her motivation?  We relate to and identify best with people who hold the same motivations as ourselves.  We want to learn because we are curious. We want to know how to do something so we can repeat those actions later on our own and experience our own personal success. We are ambitious because we want a challenge and to enjoy the fruits of our hard work, because it is our own.

A person with an outside passion or side project most likely has individual goals they want to meet and isn’t shying away from the challenge of working for a company like Alter Endeavors while also pursuing their own path.  Alter Endeavors is not a place where we want you to drink the company kool-aid and be solely dedicated to our projects and clients.  We feel that team members with outside passions enrich our company and provide more value to our clients by bringing more perspectives, and diverse skill sets and experiences to the table.  It’s important to us that we also enable our team members to be able to pursue these passions. We could hire only marketing majors, but the ability to find commonalities between disparate disciplines allows us to expand our perspectives and add more tools to our problem-solving capabilities.

Christopher Jennings, our Director of Operations, is also known as C.S. Jennings in the publishing and illustration worlds. Besides keeping Alter Endeavors running smoothly and efficiently, Christopher works as a prolific artist – having illustrated over a dozen published children’s books and even written a couple.  

Aubrey Berkowtiz, the VP of Business Development at Alter Endeavors, operates as the Head Coach for the University of Texas Longhorns Hockey Team.  During hockey season he gets up the crack of dawn to coach before heading to work at AE. 

One of our newest hires, Teylor Schiefelbein, a Content Strategist for Alter Endeavors, has her own travel and fitness blog.  

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The experiences our employees bring with them from their outside passions to work and their motivation to apply newly learned skills or success at work to their own projects helps make Alter Endeavors an effective company while helping team members foster their own individual paths.  Clients greatly benefit from a team that consists of individuals with outside passions because they are motivated for all the right reasons and bring so much value to every project because they are self-disciplined, trained to look at a problem from various viewpoints and don’t have time to waste.  We are extremely grateful to work with such a talented team!

– Nick & Jamie Alter

With Our Powers Combined: The Benefits of a Joint Venture

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In a city (Austin) regarded as boom town and incubator for technology, industry and business, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the competition.  We prefer a different approach, a collaborative approach.  Nick Alter, the Principal of Alter Endeavors, explains.

What is a Joint Venture?

NA: Joint Ventureship happens when two or more companies realize that they run along congruent lines, but do different things, things that their clients regularly ask them to do. But, they don’t do that thing, and they would rather know and trust the company that does do that thing. So, a referral relationship is born. For example, Alter Endeavors does not provide PR services. Most likely, we will never provide PR services, but a ton of our clients ask us about this service. Instead, we pass all PR referrals over to our friends at Shelton Interactive. Inversely, Shelton Interactive only handles a certain kind of website project at a certain price point in house. If a website job falls out of scope for Shelton Interactive, then they pass it over to us to see what we can do. 

Who does Alter Endeavors have a Joint Venture with?

NA: Right now I can talk about The Think Engine, Ampersand Agency, Square Bear Studios, Field Trip Creative, Overflow Communications, Shelton Interactive and Searchography. We have a few other PR firms, printing companies, SaaS providers, marketing consultants and SEO consultants that white label Alter Endeavors for their needs. Each Joint Venture partner has to meet our standards for quality of service before we allow them to white label us.

Why would someone, an entity, another company, etc. want to enter into a Joint Venture?

NA: The short answer is control. A slightly longer answer is control and opportunity. For example, look at one of our PR partners. Many PR agencies do not have an in-house team who can build websites at the level we do, as quickly as we do. Also, websites do require a certain modicum of ongoing support to keep everything running smoothly, and our in-house team does a stellar job of just that. Rather than changing their entire business model and building out an entire staff to try and compete with us, our agency partners choose to work alongside us instead. By doing this, our JV partners get to maintain control in the relationship. Sure, Alter Endeavors performs a vital role in these situations, but our mission is to make our JV partners look incredible. This also opens up new avenues of business our JV partners can pursue with their clients. By enabling our JV partners and plugging in where they need us the most, they can focus on making everyone involved more money and not worrying about losing their client to an agency who would rather be a competitor than a collaborator. 

Why should businesses / companies consider a Joint Venture?

NA: Besides what I said earlier about not being built to handle certain things in-house and needing trusted agency partners answers this question, there is also the matter of accountability. We do not do video or animation work in-house at Alter Endeavors. If someone comes to us to do animation work then we are going to pass that to our JV partner and friend Erik Niells rather than trying to farm this work to an animation group in the Philippines. If someone needs a political speech writer, then we are going to pass that along to Overflow Communications and Andrew Barlow. We find solutions for these types of services because our clients need them, ask for them and we want to have resources on-hand that we can trust to do an incredible job in a timely and cost-appropriate manner. It’s all about accountability. 

What type of company would make a great Joint Venture partner?

NA: For Alter Endeavors, we are looking for companies that offer print services, PR services, video services, photography services, application development services, animation services, unique web services that cater to niche needs, and so on. Good Joint Venture partners to us are organizations that look to serve specific needs with specific skill sets and they are really good at it. For us, the approach is collaborative, but also respectful. Just like we try to be flexible for our Joint Venture Partners, we ask the same in return. We will never micromanage our JV partners, and expect no less in return, but we will take guidance, advice and suggestions, always. Pricing should be competitive, but fair to everyone involved. We have no problem providing our JV partners a reduced rate for our services so they can build in a margin for their time and expertise as well. 

Why is AE a good Joint Venture partner?

NA: Because we want to be. We want to collaborate. We want to be involved. For us, it’s not about crushing the competition unless the competition is only out to crush us. 

How do you keep everything straight? Whose client is whose? Who takes the lead on a project, etc.?

NA: When one of our partners brings us one of their clients in need of a website, that client still ultimately belongs to our JV partner and we go out of our way to respect and honor that relationship. Although we always expect to be in charge during a web design/development engagement, we make it very clear to the client that we are involved purely in an auxiliary capacity. In this respect, if a client asks us for another service, we first pass that request to our JV partner to respond however they deem necessary. That being said, we never make it confusing for the client. If they ask us a question that would be better answered by our JV partner, their primary vendor, then we tell them “We don’t have an answer right this second, but let us get back to you about it today.” In this case, we pass the question over to our JV partner, and they then respond to the client in a timely and appropriate manner.

What advice would you give to two companies considering a Joint Venture?

NA: Try starting with smaller level engagements first in order to work out kinks in your combined process. Be sure to work out communication between your two firms. Who is whose primary point of contact in each possible engagement scenario? Also, have a system in place so that shows both sides what engagements are currently being worked on, how much each side gets from these engagements, what the deadlines are and who is responsible for delivering what when. There is more to it than this, but this is a really good place to start. Also, don’t get offended if a JV partner doesn’t bring you in on every project, just ask why and be respectful. 

What Our Moms Think Our Jobs Are

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Mother’s Day was last week, but after reading this blog by Food52, we were inspired to ask our own moms about their perceptions of our jobs. First of all, our jobs are somewhat nebulous and hard to define as we are a small agency where everyone wears many hats.  Unsure of what exactly to expect, we found their answers sweet, insightful and considerably accurate. Perhaps we should start putting these descriptions under our job titles…

Nick Alter, Principal of Alter Endeavors: When asked to describe Nick’s job in a few sentences, his mom replied:

“He is today’s version of what we used to call public relations. He’s got the hi-tech knowledge and savvy of what it takes to create, develop and promote a client’s brand along with the traditional and down right old-fashioned values of ‘doing business’. He markets with the utmost integrity. He cares. He is in his client’s corner.”

Aww, a really sweet description that encompasses Nick’s values as well as duties.

Christopher Jennings, Director of Web Operations: Christopher’s mom is currently visiting so she has had a front row experience observing his job over the past few days.  Her description:

“Which part of your job? Geeze. I would call you the … I see you as the all around, every side gate keeper. You are the communication hub between all the parties who build the sites. You are the initial contact building that relationship, the voice and hub of the company.”

This might be an even better description than “Director of Web Operations”.

Jamie Alter, Digital Marketing Director: When Jamie asked her mom over text how she would describe her job, this was her mom’s response:

“Hi honey at lunch with the girls but …. what if you build your description off designer social media coordinator. Does that make sense?”

Even though her mom was out to lunch, “literally”, her description sort of encompasses several aspects of Jamie’s position.  Good job Mom.

Aubrey Berkowitz, VP of Business Development: Aubrey’s mom took the time to write this about her son’s job:

“As a whole? I would say that at Alter Endeavors, your job is to take transitional marketing and business practices and reapply them in innovative ways online to help clients’ businesses grow. Your job? To identify new clients as well as support existing clients in business development strategies.”

Fancy! Definitely taking notes from this one.

Thanks to our moms for sharing their unique perspectives with us!