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Category Archives for "Accountability"

Jun 05

What Keeps You Creative?

By Traci Hudson | Accountability , Brand Strategy , Core Values , Creative , Data Strategy , Family , Hustle , Programmatic , Programmatic 101 , Programmatic Managed , Search , Social Media , Starfish Core Value , Starfish Family

creative, graphic design, designer, artist, creativity

In a word? Coffee. But on a serious note, it is a challenge to be creative 24/7. However, it is one of the daily requirements, being a graphic designer. It is important to keep things fun while staying true to the requirements set forth by the client.

Personally, I take a lot of photos while I am off of work. I also travel quite a bit, so I like to use my personal photos in the ads that I create. I go walking on my lunch break and look for cool images that could be used for backgrounds. Sometimes a picture of something seemingly boring like a gravel path can be interesting when added to an ad.

Starfish is a digital agency, so I also use the social media platforms that we design ads for in my personal life. I like to be able to keep it fresh in my mind how the images will look on phones or tablets. Each platform has its pros and cons, and it is important to be aware of both.

Plus our work environment makes easier to come up with ideas. We have a fun group and joke around when brainstorming.  Our more “out there” ideas get written on our chalkboard walls. One step into our office and you would have a chuckle at our antics.

I also like to look over ads that others have created so I can get ideas, but also avoid accidentally copying artwork others have done in the past. I look at ads that I have created before but try to make them look refreshed, and new and exciting.

Those are just some ways that I can keep myself in a creative state of mind. It is very important in this industry, and each person is different, which is what makes our company so great. We all have different perspectives and techniques that come together to create amazing content for our clients.

Jun 05

What to Expect Partnering With Us

By Caroline Herman | Accountability , Brand Strategy , Core Values , Creative , Data Strategy , Family , Hustle , Programmatic , Programmatic 101 , Programmatic Managed , Search , Social Media , Starfish Core Value , Starfish Family

When trusting an agency to build up your brand and grow your business, you want to know what you are getting yourself into and who you are trusting your company with. There are a few things that you will get out of a partnership with Starfish…

A Full Digital Audit

Auditing your digital presence will allow us to identify areas of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Digital audits align with one of our core values (hustle) because we work hard to continually improve. We perform an initial audit as well as additional audits periodically throughout our partnership.

 

A Customized Strategic Digital Plan

Many ad agencies offer predetermined packages that cannot be customized to fit your specific needs. One of the reasons we perform a full digital audit prior to beginning our partnership is because it allows us to identify areas that best meet your needs. We also continue to perform audits so that we can revise the strategic plan as necessary. In other words, as your companies digital needs change, we can customize the strategic plan to meet your needs instead of continuing to offer the “same old, same old.”

 

Personalized Advertisement

This specific area sets us apart from other advertising agencies. Many programmatic advertisers and Social Media marketers offer packages that only include generic advertisements they can use with any company. Our creative team produces personalized advertisements in which the images and content are tailored to appeal to your specific audience. Personalized ads are important for increasing brand identity in your market which aligns with one of our core values: family. We strive to produce content which will invite people into your brand’s family.

 

A Partner Invested in Your Success

We are more than an ad agency. We form partnerships because we understand that building a digital presence requires open communication and consistent effort from both partners. It also aligns with one of our core values: accountability. Partners hold each other accountable for their contributions to the partnership because those contributions make an impact on results.

 

We are invested in your success. Every ad, every post, every strategy, etc. is formulated from analyzing the data from your individual accounts. We are investing time and expertise in improving those results. It’s important to fully understand that we are making a long-term investment into your success. Just as social changes do not happen overnight, neither does a digital performance. 

Apr 03

Social Transparency

By Caroline Herman | Accountability , Brand Strategy , Creative , Data Strategy , Hustle , Programmatic

Starfish Ad Agency Programmatic ads Longview Tyler Dallas Shreveport Digital Unplugged Marketing

I’d like to discuss “Social Transparency” and why it is important to utilize that transparency. As a whole, we all have been lied to and faked out by industry leaders all competing for our attention via social media platforms, causing us to doubt much of what we see or hear.

 

So why is this practice of “Social Transparency” important for your business? The answer is powerfully simple; Transparency builds trust.  Transparency provides powerful insight into customer satisfaction and engagement. At Starfish, we hold ourselves accountable and practice “Social Transparency” as we launch and execute campaigns on behalf of clients and of course ourselves. This is how we do just that:

—>Utilize Technology

Use diverse channels – Make it easy for your audience to access the story and information that they will need to make an informed decision to trust your content and overall, trust your brand.

 

—>Communication

Truth: Practice honest marketing and communication, and always own up to your mistakes. Don’t try to cover up a mistake. Acknowledge it and move forward, as that helps to build trust with your audience as well.

Embrace open communication: Cultivate opinions and community dialogue to gain differing points of view that can help to diversify your content.  

Information Hub: Give the audience the information they need to help their decision to interact with you or buy your product and/or service.

 

—>Define your identity

Who are you: Share practice areas, product niches or specialties. Why should they choose you over your competitor?

Know your place: Don’t try to be all things to all people. Avoid creating a gap in perception where visitors or customers think you are something you are not.

Be real: Share your story, explain your values.. what do you stand for?

Share your platform: Explain how you operate by publishing your business model, process or structure.

Social proof: Publish reviews and/or testimonials.

 

Did you catch our Director of Sales, Mindy Lewellen’s, Facebook “live” presentation? Mindy utilized the principles of “Social Transparency.” Abel Sanchez’s provides great insight and candidly shares the opportunities to advise peers and business we are afforded Starfish Ad Age.

 

Mar 22

How Are We Different?

By Abel Sanchez | Accountability , Family , Hustle , Programmatic , Social Media , Starfish Core Value

Starfish Ad Agency Programmatic ads Longview Tyler Dallas Shreveport Digital Unplugged Marketing

I was asked the other day why I opened up an ad agency and quite honestly my answer is that I just got tired of working for media companies. They measure their success based on their own metrics rather than on results, and customers don’t know who or what to believe anymore. A lot of customers have misconceptions about how digital works because they have this rep that they trusted and that rep was told how to pitch a product based on some metric that was given to them by their “corporate VP of digital sales” or whatever. Those are incorrect metrics.

I came from a pretty big organization, and I had a lot of the VPs and people that were supposed to be more educated on digital come to me and ask me questions once they found out that I was IAB certified. Once I became certified I got a lot of pushback because those people felt threatened by me. They thought I was going to come in and take their jobs but honestly, I didn’t want their jobs even though I knew more than they did. Was I looking for a “seat at the table” so to speak? Yes absolutely. That’s why people go to college and get an education so that they can be compensated in some way, shape, or form to move up the corporate ladder.

And the reality is that working for a media company fucking sucks. Unless you are at the top it really does just suck. Being an account executive or a sales manager means that you don’t have any pull or say so in what you are trying to accomplish for a client. You are pretty much just pushed to the side and told “shut up” and “do what you’re told” and “go to your corner”. One of the most fundamental differences in what I want to instill in my ad agency is that I want to train and empower people. I want to surround myself with people way smarter than I am and who know way more about a specific platform than I do.

Half of the business that we have generated has come strictly from referrals. It’s been amazing because of the talent that we have as an agency. My team is extremely talented and I want them to understand that I want to empower them every day. I always tell them “I’m not saying no. I want you to convince me as to why this is going to work” and it doesn’t take much to convince me honestly. It really comes down to the fact that I opened an ad agency because I got so fucking tired of ad agencies lying to their client about this proprietary bullshit. Everyone is buying from the same exchanges and the same platforms, unless they are an ad tech company. They have invested a ton of capital onto an actual technology that they own. That is the only thing that would really set you apart as “proprietary”.

Now when it comes to the fact that I feel that I am one of the most intelligent individuals when it comes to programmatic in East Texas… I will own that every. single. day. As a matter of fact, there are two events, one next week in New York and another in San Francisco, the “Who’s-Who” in programmatic will be there. Those are the two places that I need to be if I want to stay on top of this game. This industry moves at such a rapid pace and it’s constantly evolving.

There is so much technology behind programmatic that it’s impossible for you to stay in one platform. That’s why a lot of people don’t like programmatic because they feel like they need to have an understanding of how it works. You can learn it, don’t get me wrong, but it will take you a lot of time to teach yourself. I am not going to take the time to educate a client on how each and every little step to programmatic works because that would take months. That’s why a lot of people fall back on things like Facebook and Google. Those platforms set up free training that is very easy to complete, but programmatic is a little more difficult. It involves the entire ecosystem.

You have to ask yourself how you are going to use programmatic in a way that is going to be not just the vehicle but the engine that will get you to your desired destination. Also, understand that search and social are the driver and the passenger inside of that vehicle. You still have to have someone to direct you to that place. That’s what I was just talking about yesterday.

Media companies and most agencies haven’t figured that out. And they’re not going to because they are stuck in that rut of social or search, or they’re afraid of trying to deliver real results because it will cut into their bottom line profit. I am not worried about that. I am going to make sure that I can generate real results. That’s why I am in business. The only way that I will succeed is if my clients succeed.

Feb 14

Understanding Digital

By Abel Sanchez | Accountability , Core Values , Creative , Family , Hustle , Programmatic , Search , Social Media

Starfish Ad Agency Programmatic ads Longview Tyler Dallas Shreveport Digital Unplugged Marketing

Understanding Digital vs Just Pitching the Product

A lot of agencies and media companies typically teach their sales people how to simply pitch the product instead of actually teaching them to understand the fundamentals of the product. Their mentality is just “give me the bullet points and I’ll make the sale”. But the thing about digital is that it’s a living, breathing organism. There are a lot of moving parts. It moves, it feels, it touches, and you can do so much with digital and to use it to its fullest potential, you have to understand human nature. That is who you’re really trying to capture. It’s about understanding how all of the different platforms connect, and how they’re able to deliver a relevant ad to the right consumer at the right time, and more importantly on a mobile platform.

People use their mobile devices more than anything else. If you have an iPhone, newer iOS tells you all about your screen time. Think about other people. When you go to a restaurant, when you’re at a red light, when you’re at the store, think about what the people around you are doing. They’re almost all on their phones consuming media.
So understanding the difference between pitching digital and actually understanding how digital connects us all is what separates us from the masses. I don’t want any of my staff to only know how to pitch a product; they need to understand how it all functions. 3 main things I need them to know about digital platforms is that regardless of what we don’t like or agree with, we cannot run our digital campaigns based on our interests. We have to let the market and audience decide. I also always tell them to never stop learning. Always push yourself to learn more and new things every single day. And lastly, digital audiences are not numbers. We may look at them as such, but they are real humans too, and that is important to remember so that we can be mindful about the creative we push out.

Our core values are family, accountability, and hustle. Those tie into understanding digital because in order for us to be fully aware of the best possible ways to utilize this technology, we first have to be accountable for ourselves, and we have to understand the value in family so that we can make relevant creative content. We want to surround ourselves with the right minded people so that we can hustle harder and produce the right results every time.

What are the 3 main things you want your staff to know about digital so they can better understand how to use it?
Regardless of what we don’t use or like we cannot run digital campaigns based on our interest, let the market/audience decide.
Never Stop Learning
Digital audiences or data are not numbers, they are people

How do your core values tie into understanding digital?

How do you ensure your staff is up to date on the latest in digital?
Training

Feb 07

The Journey to Starfish

By Abel Sanchez | Accountability , Core Values , Family , Hustle , Programmatic , Starfish Core Value , Starfish Family

Starfish Ad Agency Programmatic ads Longview Tyler Dallas Shreveport Digital Unplugged Marketing

When I first started in the marketing industry, I took a job as a media sales rep, selling cable TV. I fell into it by accident. I was looking for a job and I saw an ad that said “Make $1800 a month in 6 months guaranteed in sales”. I ended up liking it and making some pretty good money. The boss that I had was a really nice lady, but the problem was that she wouldn’t allow me to grow the business. She wanted me to do things her way. But her way was “old” and cheap. After 8 months, I started losing accounts because of her methods. I gave her an ultimatum because for 3 months back to back I made less than $100 a month and I had a family. So I told her I need to be able to grow this business the way I want to and without her interference, or I walk away. I had already gotten some recognition for the company so my leaving would have been a red flag towards the company. So she left me alone, and after 4 more months I gained that business back. Ever since then I enjoyed what I was doing. I was able to turn that market into one of the most profitable markets in the company that I was working for. I was the #1 account executive in the company. I had gotten recognition 6 years in a row, as part of the President’s club, which was reserved only for top reps in the company.
Growing up, I was fucking poor. I grew up with my grandparents. They were migrants. They would travel to Wyoming to work in the sugar fields. The fields were about 2 miles long. That work is how I would get my school clothes and when I was 13 I said “fuck this shit, this is not for me” and that is one reason why I have the work ethic and discipline that I have. This shit is not hard labor. It is time consuming, and it takes away time from my family, but I love it and I wouldn’t ever do anything else. I think that is one of the reasons why I have never complained about the work that I have to put into this. I would always tell other AE’s when they would ask how I do it “I don’t fucking complain, I just get the work done”.
About 8 years ago, I decided to dive deeper into digital. I knew where the industry was headed, and I knew the company I was working for and how they were teaching us to pitch digital, but not giving us the fundamentals to understand it. There was no training other than teaching us the right answers to clients’ questions. I didn’t want to know a sales pitch; I wanted to be able to truly explain the process. I got a lot of resistance for my IAB training from the executives who were in charge of the digital products we sold because even they didn’t understand it and they felt threatened. I wasn’t trying to make anyone uncomfortable. I was really just trying to be a better salesperson. After a while I realized I knew more about it than they did. Here’s the crazy thing about digital; it changes so rapidly that if you don’t constantly educate yourself, you’ll get left behind. I was the only account executive in the company I was working for that was certified. I even hosted my own training, on my own time, to train other employees for free. Some of them were scared of it because they couldn’t comprehend it. It was difficult for them to understand it because in a way they had, in a matter of days, untaught themselves what they had been taught for so many years about digital. What I didn’t realize was that in doing that training I was setting myself up to move to a different stage in the company. But unfortunately, people don’t leave companies. They leave bad bosses. And that led me to look for a company that would embrace my knowledge. Which led me to East Texas.
Moving here was actually one of the best decisions I’ve made. While I have been here, one of the things I picked up very quickly was that, like back home, they didn’t understand digital. They didn’t understand the information they were selling. They just wanted to make a quick sale. But I soon realized, that with the knowledge and experience I had, I could build a company on my own.
I started this company with my partner in February of 2017. We both left six-figure jobs. Has it been difficult? Fuck yeah it’s been difficult. One of the craziest parts of owning an agency is that it’s lonely as fuck. But it’s one of the reasons why all of my experience in the past 18 years in media and marketing, the ups, the downs, have given me the clarity to create the core values I want to instill in my company: family, accountability, and hustle. One of the most important parts about Starfish is that I’m not here to sell this company. I am here to build a legacy. I want to be the number 1 programmatic ad agency. And knowing that the future of programmatic is shifting, and traditional dollars are moving towards digital, being able to harness a programmatic platform and utilize our capabilities to access and use private marketplaces is extremely powerful, not just for our business but for our clients’ business. “Believe in your fucking self” is on a sign hanging above my desk. I look at it every day and remember the journey that I have been on to get to where I am at today. And it also reminds me that the journey isn’t over.
Starfish is growing. Just like any company, we have our ups and downs, and anything that goes wrong is clearly my fault and when we have wins, its everybody’s win. Because without my staff I would not be where I am at. Most people don’t trust other people when they hire them especially in a small business because they feel that they will learn the secrets and go off and start a business on their own. Personally, more power to them. I’m not afraid of it. There’s a clean difference between someone having an idea and someone having the balls to execute it. Everyone has ideas but you have to put in the fucking work to make it happen.

Sincerely,
-Abel motherfuckin’ Sanchez.