From Stubble to Stache: Managing Growing Pains at Thunder

By Monique Pouget

At this point in Movember, we hope we’ve made in painfully obvious that things are growing around here. Our mustaches are coming in nicely, we’re growing audiences with innovative social media expertise and our team is growing too.

But with great growth comes great responsibility…or something like that. You see, we know that growing is good, but growing the right way is imperative. Having the best structure in place to support this growth is fundamental to our success, so we’re making it a priority.

We know we’re not the only company facing these challenges, so we thought we’d share what we’re focusing on right now. And just because I love 80s television, I’ll be incorporating the lyrics to Disney’s Growing Pains along the way. You’re welcome!

Show Me that Smile Again

At Thunder, we like to have fun. In a recent survey, “fun” was one of the top 3 adjectives clients used to describe Thunder, so we’ve made it one of our values. Not only do we have fun in our office, but clients have learned to expect fun campaign strategies, and more importantly, fun results.

Having a positive attitude about our work, our clients and everyone in the office is something we strive to do on the daily, but when work gets busy, it’s easy to lose sight of this. We’ve had to take a step back and figure out how to make things fun again, whether that’s a bigger office space, more company perks, support for campaigns or making a conscious effort to have a positive attitude.
Image: Mark Hillary

Having fun at work is important to us, and as the company grows, we’re constantly reevaluating how to work “fun” into our culture here.

Don’t Waste Another Minute on Your Cryin’

In agency life, a lot depends on our client’s satisfaction. If they’re not satisfied with our work, we don’t deliver on our promise of exceptional results. Occasionally, a client challenge comes out of nowhere, but most of the time, we can be proactive about our client’s needs.

Every once in awhile, we get some less-than-100%-positive feedback from clients. Instead of dwelling on client feedback, we’ve made it our goal to be proactive. Being proactive with clients happens in a lot of ways. It means anticipating the clients’ needs before they ask for it. It means empowering a marketing coordinator to show results to the C-Level. It means making our clients’ lives easier.

When we’re training Thunder Cats on being proactive, we ask them to put themselves in our client’s shoes. Are we emailing what we’re going to do, or emailing what we’ve done and how we’re moving forward? Do we take their previous feedback and infuse it into new strategies, or wait for them to tell us what they need? Have we reached out for event photos to promote on social media, or are we expecting them to email when they think about it? You get the gist.

Being proactive is a big deal, and it separates the goatees from the beards here at Thunder.

The Luckiest Dreamers who Never Quit Dreamin’

A little over 5 years ago, Thunder as a company was born. We had workflows in place that worked for a small team, and all of our tool logins were in one unorganized Google Doc. We didn’t need complex systems, and if you had a question, you could ask one of the 5 people in the room for answers.

As we’ve grown over the years, we’ve learned this isn’t sustainable. While one person used to handle content for all clients, we now have so many moving parts that it’s just not possible for one person to be the gatekeeper of information. We’ve started setting up workflows, documenting everything and getting more structured with our processes. This isn’t an easy growing pain to overcome, and it’s going to be an ongoing initiative. However, we’re confident that having the right workflows in place will increase efficiencies and lead to higher campaign successes.

This is also starting to happen with our tools. You may remember that Shawn figured out how to automate our monthly KPI reports earlier this year, which has led to a huge boost in our productivity. We also initiated a “Productivity Evangelism” pledge in the spring, where we vowed to make Basecamp the central place for all client information. Additionally, we’re working with developers to create tools to support the proposal process, social media campaigns and client on-boarding.

Image: Katja

We’re dreaming of more efficiencies, and looking forward to taking on the next challenge.

We Can Take Anything that Comes Our Way

In addition to workflows for client campaigns, we’re also working on managing our project pipeline. Lately, our services have been in high demand! While we would never ask for the opposite, we’re learning how to schedule campaigns around our availability, and getting pickier about the brands and businesses we work with.

We also feel it’s important to empower anyone at Thunder to sell our services, so we’ve started bringing Thunder Cats of all specialties into the business development process. Instead of having a salesperson with little implementation experience selling our campaigns, we’ve empowered social media specialists, content managers, designers and technical SEOs to contribute to the sales funnel.

Image: Sheila Dee

While we don’t take just anything that comes our way, we certainly feel confident that we can take anything that comes our way.

Have you encountered any similar growing pains on your path to success? Would love to hear how you overcame these challenges in the comments!

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