Eight years ago we started our agency in a spare bedroom in Springfield's Rountree neighborhood. Shortly after, we moved to our first of three offices downtown. In October, we'll move to our new home: this time in the Galloway Village district on the south side of town.
Our new office in Galloway Village meets the needs of our growing team and client roster. We have added several breakout rooms that cater to our increased collaboration within our team—and with our clients. We’ve added a second conference room to avoid the calendar cage fights for in-office client meeting slots. We’ve made design choices that increase privacy in our main working area so that headphones aren’t the only option for peace and quiet (but they'll still be very much an option). And we’ll have plenty of parking for our team members and visitors.
While the move will be a transition for staff and clients alike, the real story behind our motivations to head to the south side of town is hidden a little deeper in the bigger transition we've made as a company over the past few years. It’s that first transition that makes the second all the more fulfilling for our team and rewarding for our clients.
The change Mostly Serious has undergone —more of a reinvention, really—has consisted of three parts: finding our values and direction, expanding our services, and seeking intentional growth. Those are the things that have led us to this big move.
Grab some popcorn and I'll explain more.
Finding Our Values & Direction
Our goal since we started Mostly Serious has been to become the best digital agency in the Midwest. Best is a hard thing to define, which makes it a difficult target to keep in your sights.
We also started Mostly Serious with ambitions to grow with our clients. We wanted to earn long-term partners who invest in long-term results—together. As we delivered, success to us manifested in the form of our clients' growth that would give us more opportunities to invest in our collective futures.
In early 2016, we intentionally took an objective, highly critical look at our business and what we were doing to reach our goal. What we found made us reconsider our trajectory. We made great websites—but so did some other agencies. We worked with our clients for many years, but we weren’t always the partners paving a path forward we needed to be.
We were growing, but we didn’t truly know why.
Our way forward started with understanding what it meant to be the best. Our values—which were largely a collection of undocumented but passionate opinions from our team of intelligent, caring, driven individuals—weren’t as broadly understood or agreed upon as we thought.
So, we took time to define our values: Collaboration, integrity, community, devotion, accountability, and grit. Some were core to our beliefs and work, like community and integrity, while others were requirements for the future we wanted to build, like accountability and grit. These values—which I admit to originally viewing as silly words without real weight—have been instrumental in what we have accomplished since. So, I’ll say it, but just this once: Spencer was right.
We followed up our values by creating radical clarity in where we were going and what it would take to get there. We argued in strategic planning sessions. We established quarterly objectives and held each other accountable weekly. We dedicated ourselves to individual improvement through sometimes awkward, and always challenging development plans and one-on-one check-ins.
Then we stuck to our vision. Through painful lows and into exhilarating highs. We tweaked, stumbled, took some shots, gut checked, and then certified. If what we learned in five years was to build something that enhances your life, we learned in the following three just how hard but fulfilling that journey will be.
Expanding Our Services
Knowing who we were and where we were going was half the battle. Putting the pieces together was still tricky. We started 2017 by undergoing our first strategic planning session where we identified how we would move closer to our eventual goal. We knew that in order to be a full-service digital agency for our clients, we would need to expand our services in key areas.
We identified two areas we felt would provide a more complete package to our clients while highlighting skillsets already integrated into our team. Those areas were research and marketing. Within each, strategy would be a key component in helping our clients find the most value in our services—something we had already built into the website and app side of the business.
Research morphed into Groundwork, the first phase of 75% of our client relationships. In its current state, this phase provides a roadmap for our future work through a clear understanding of a given client’s audience, past performance, competitive landscape, and business objectives. We blend the data and insights found through our research with the project and marketing strategy we craft to establish a comprehensive plan that maximizes the return on each relationship.
Marketing continues to evolve within our company to meet the needs of our clients. What started largely as digital marketing campaigns have evolved into much more, including complete brand positioning and identity development for large organizations (we’re very excited to show off some of our most recent work in October). While we’ve been careful not to expand too rapidly—or, as importantly, know when to close the door on services outside of our specialties—this aspect of our business has clearly filled a need for our existing and new clients since 2017.
We've been able to expand to each of these services through the skillset of our team and our ability—as technology tends to require—to collectively learn and master new techniques and strategies. As we have expanded into these areas, we have identified how to get closer to our goal of being the best. Spencer Harris brought a doctorate in Communication Studies and experience in business consulting. Lucy Howell, Jessica Spencer, Jessica Gottstein (aka JT), and Chelsea Begley added extensive experience leading marketing efforts for global companies.
We're big on shutting doors around here, meaning that we like to find what we do best and avoid spending time and energy on the other stuff. Expanding into two entirely new areas in just two short years was a challenge (and we felt it), but we came out of the experience with a better company doing better work for our clients.
The last part—which we are certainly in the midst of—is measured, intentional growth. In 2018 our team has grown from seven to 11. At the same time, we've nearly doubled our client roster. While each position added has been necessary to fill the needs of our clients, we also understand the danger in growing too fast. Quality and culture are difficult for any company to maintain over time and adding hiring sprees into the mix often push each to its limits.
As we move to Galloway Village, we have chosen a location where we can continue to grow. That growth will be centered around two things: how we can best provide value to our clients and how quickly we can grow to provide value while protecting the quality of our work—and our culture.
Looking Back & Moving Forward
We’re beyond grateful for the trust our clients have given us in the early days and throughout our transitions and growth. We’re indebted to the downtown community and the many wonderful people who have provided fuel in the form of coffee, food, whiskey, beer, and friendly faces. And we are very excited to move to our new home where we start the next chapter with our clients and our community.
We hope to see many of you visit our office on November 8 from 4:00pm to 7:30pm. Stay tuned for more details.