Writing this letter each year is both exciting and challenging. It’s not easy to capture 365 days’ worth of learnings and reflections in a single letter! But I always find it valuable and encouraging to look back at where we’ve been.
In last year’s letter, I talked a lot about comfort zones and intentionally stepping outside of them in the name of growth. Surprise, surprise, we’re still stepping out of those zones. As the saying goes, “change is the only constant in life.”
Tiller changed a lot in 2022, and we’re already prepping for another big year of change ahead.
In the midst of it all, I’ve found myself thinking: What inspires change? What drives change? What enables us to break through barriers and grow? Obviously, there are many factors, but I’d like to share two that really hit home for me.
A clear and compelling vision
Vision is what draws us forward. As a leader, vision is the instrument you use to unite, align, and move a diverse group of people toward a common goal. When vision is lacking, you wander aimlessly, waste time and effort, and struggle to gain traction or momentum.
I often feel like I can see our company vision clearly in my own head, but getting it out on paper and inviting others into it is tricky (I suspect other entrepreneurs and leaders can relate). It’s challenging because everybody relates to purpose, mission, and vision statements differently. Some can easily connect to the big-picture statements, while others want it to be more tangible and practical.
Our leadership team has been working hard to refine our vision. We’re asking questions like:
- What impact are we seeking to make for our clients?
- How can we help our team connect with our vision?
- Is our vision ambitious enough?
While a single vision statement has its limits, getting and staying aligned is key to our growth. And we’re oh so close to getting the wording just right.
A deep understanding of our clients
We exist to create value for our clients, so if we lose touch with what they actually need from us, we’re wasting everyone’s time. Our business, by nature, demands that we keep a pulse on the pressures and challenges our clients (many of you!) face.
This type of close connection between a business and its customers is called customer intimacy. Harvard Business Review describes it like this: “Customer intimacy is segmenting and targeting markets precisely and then tailoring offerings to match exactly the demands of those niches. Companies that excel in customer intimacy combine detailed customer knowledge with operational flexibility so they can respond quickly to almost any need.”
To make this a reality, we are actively listening, observing, and engaging with our clients to understand how we can create more value. As I’ve talked with clients, prospects, and the tech community at large throughout 2022, I’ve noticed some common themes. Here are just a few:
- The recession is weighing on everyone, especially marketers. They’re trying to decide what strategy will serve their brand best and how to walk the line between risk and reward.
- Layoffs are leaving tech companies unsure of how they’ll meet objectives in the new year. Burnout is a real threat.
- The talent gap created by retiring Baby Boomers, combined with the rapid change in technology, is resulting in a shortage of tech talent and an urgent need for education and upskilling.
- Global cybersecurity events have bumped web and data security to a top priority.
- Accessibility standards are changing fast, especially in the U.S. Many businesses have been caught flatfooted and are now scrambling to stay current.
We’ve got the vision, we’ve heard our clients … now what?
Well, we’re going to change and reinvent ourselves again in 2023. We’re making intentional decisions to level up our offering to help our clients persevere through the recession and come out stronger on the other side.
- We’re putting more focus on data and analytics to equip marketers to make data-driven decisions and prove impact.
- We’re building strategic partnerships to give our clients a “Super Agency” team, where each agency stays in its strengths and collaborates closely for greater impact.
- We’re advancing our component-based development offering to improve website management, speed, and scalability.
- We’re creating repeatable training programs to help our team upskill and stay on the leading edge of web and marketing best practices in tech.
- We’re doing a deep dive into accessibility and security standards so we can help each of our clients meet them.
And finally, some Tiller Shoutouts
As you probably already know (I think I talk about this a lot), we do Tiller Shoutouts every Friday morning. We’ve been doing it for four years now, and it continues to be my favorite 20 minutes of every week. So I thought it would be fitting to end with some virtual shoutouts. It’s not lost on me that Tiller wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the people and companies who continue to support us and cheer us on:
- Shoutout to all of our clients for hitting so many milestones this year! We’re honoured to partner with you in the pursuit of your goals.
- Shoutout to 321 Growth Academy for helping our Account Management and Copywriting teams level up their marketing knowledge.
- Shoutout to OnRamp, Chic Geek, Chantel Elliott, Kylie Woods, and James Jensen for helping us find incredible talent and grow our team.
- Shoutout to Goodlawyer and Grant Lahring for allowing us to be part of your pilot program and helping us bring on a fractional General Counsel. This has been such a win for us, and we will continue to sing Goodlawyer’s praises to anyone who will listen.
- Shoutout to all who supported the launch of The Pixel Project including SAIT, AUArts, MRU, Helcim, and our entire Tiller team. There is so much more exciting work to come!
- Shoutout to my business partner Brandon Nickerson for riding this rollercoaster with me and for making enormous strides in Tiller’s operational efficiency.
- Shoutout to our growing leadership team for sharing your experience and for not calling me crazy (at least not to my face!).
- Shoutout to our team at Tiller for believing that we can always be better, and for your grit and determination to make it happen. We’re doing it. We’re really doing it.
Big dreams. We have big dreams for how we will change, grow, and better serve the tech community. I just hope I can sleep over Christmas because I’m SO excited about what’s ahead in 2023.
Merry Christmas (and No Ceilings!)