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97th Floor’s Secret Sauce? Our Unique Team Structure.

tl;dr

• There is a lot about 97th Floor that makes us different. Maybe our biggest differentiator is how we structure our teams.

• Most agencies have clients interacting with a person that doesn't necessarily work on the account. In this scenario, the work is spread out across different siloed departments, creating communication issues.

• 97th Floor takes a unique approach where everyone who works on an account is on the same team, and the client interacts directly with that team regularly.

• Teams are comprised of experts across many different disciplines and are supported by dedicated leaders.

 


 

What makes 97th Floor different?

 

This is a common question and one we love to answer! My only question is, “How much time do you have?” I ask because there’s a lot to cover.

I could talk about our intentional dedication to be at the intersection of creative and analytical work.

Or maybe it’s our unique position on data.

Being a ROWE organization is unique and certainly has its perks for employees and clients too.

Being a Pledge 1% company gives us feelings of pride and purpose.

Our COO might tell you why we don’t (and never will) have a ping pong table.

All of these are true, but the real answer that I believe gets to the heart of who we are and why we’re different is our unique team structure.

Our teams are just that, teams—not siloed departments.

Do you have 32 seconds? Of course you do. Let me illustrate this point with a quick history lesson.

 

You know what a phalanx is right?

If you have an elementary knowledge of ancient Greece, you’ll remember the heroism and efficiency of the warrior city-state Sparta.

One reason the Sparatans were so effective in battle was their mastery in moving as a single unit called a phalanx. A phalanx is formed when a unit of hoplites (ancient Greek infantry) join tightly together with their left arm holding their shields firm covering themselves and hoplite to their left. And with their right arm, they stretch out their spears so it’s protruding out from the gaps in the shields.

The famed phalanx has earned its place in your history book because of its contemporary effectiveness and it being used as a foundation for military units for more than one thousand years later.

The tried and true effectiveness of a phalanx stems from soldiers functioning as a complete unit.

 

The 97th Floor difference

In most agencies you’ll almost exclusively interface with an account manager who directs the work.

We found that this approach leaves too much room for miscommunication and errors.

Team-Structure-5

97th Floor’s approach is radically different, yet radically simple: The people that are working on an account are all on the same team. Just as a phalanx moves as a single unit, so does a team at 97th Floor.

There’s no unnecessary back and forth between an account manager and the contributors, because they are all on the same team, and share virtually the same calendar. This means matters are never repeated in a game of telephone throughout the agency, because the work is discussed together as a team on the phone with our clients.

This leads to 100% transparency in the work.

Having the team on our client phone calls, and collaborating together daily ensures that internal miscommunications are few and far between.

 

Our team structure

So what do these teams actually look like?

Let me introduce you to the savvy experts that our clients interact with on each team.

 

Account Director

An account director has chiefly three roles:

  • Client strategy
  • Communication
  • Team management

Because an account directors have oversight over all of our disciplines, they manage the strategy and work with the team members to ensure the execution is meeting the needs of the strategy.

In most agencies a client is directing the strategy, while the account manager does the project management. A key difference at 97th Floor is that the account director forms the strategy and connects that vision with the client and the team to ensure communication and execution of the strategy is clear.

 

Content Marketer

You’ve heard the phrase, “content is king,” before, right?

While certainly true, this phrase has been the genesis of thousands of organizations producing drivel for over a decade (and continuing to do so) all to the demise of good user experience online.

Short-term thinking has ruined content marketing.

The role of a content marketer at 97th Floor to help our clients rise above this status quo, and give their customer a beautiful customer journey. Content marketers bring value to our clients in the following ways:

  • Content strategy
  • User-driven content development
  • User experience


SEO Specialist

 

An SEO specialist is responsible for the client’s organic growth, in some way or another every initiative an SEO specialist takes on will fall under one of these three categories.

  • On-page optimization
  • Off-page (backlinks)
  • Technical SEO

Each of these has its own importance, it’s worth noting that every audit, backlink, optimization, or any thing else an SEO specialist is doing is tied bottom line results. The end result of success for an SEO specialist isn’t keyword rankings, or even traffic. True success for an SEO specialist at 97th Floor is conversions and revenue for their client.

 

Paid Media Specialist

 

There’s more than one way to spend a buck in digital advertising, and our paid media specialists are tasked with knowing where and how to spend it. Our paid media specialists have particular aptitude in Google Ads, Facebook/Instagram Business Manager, and LinkedIn, and run tests in a variety of other platforms.

Our paid media specialists spend their time in the following areas:

  • Audience development
  • Platform management
  • Creative ad strategy

As with all areas, we are a results driven agency. And perhaps no discipline is more focused on driving results than the paid media specialists. Analytics, tracking, and optimizing runs deep in our blood, and the clarity of data coupled with the ability to edit campaigns on the fly makes our paid media specialists ROI machines.

 

Marketing Automation Specialist

Automation is the process where we take cold lead data, and give it a heartbeat.

Ultimately it’s marketing automation that holds a prospect’s hand through the entire buyer’s journey, through the handoff to sales, and even after they’ve become a customer. Automation has an incredibly wide and influential scope, and our specialists tackle this challenge in three ways:

  • Automation strategy
  • Campaign architecture
  • HubSpot execution

Our core competency is in HubSpot execution, however we can operate in all of the major platforms. We haven’t run into a situation yet where the marketing automation strategy hasn’t been made more efficient for our clients and their prospects and customers.

 

Off-team support

Of course there’s internal support for each team to ensure every member of the team is given off-team support and training, all to our client’s benefit.

EVP of Operations - Paxton Gray, our EVP of operations, oversees all the client services and processes at 97th Floor. His main job is to ensure we attract the right people and have those people in the right seats doing the right things to produce amazing work for our clients. The EVP of operations also directly oversees the Account Directors and department VPs.

VP of Content Marketing - The number one priority of VP of Content Marketing, Jeffrey Windsor, is delighting our clients’ customers. He is constantly refining and creating new tools to help our content marketers understand the customer experience and diagnose solutions to communication problems. From buyer personas, to the new CXR (Customer Experience Review), to semantic research, to content production, to strategy development, Jeff ensures that each of the content marketers have the know-how and the tools to create excellent content for customers.

VP of SEO - The VP of SEO, Joe Robledo, ensures our SEO specialist’s skills are up to date with the most recent and proven SEO methods, strategies, and techniques. From site audits, to link-building, to on-page optimizations, Joe is working with our SEO specialists to get our client’s organic growth. Joe also assists in the management and training of the link-building department ensuring that all links are effective and safe for our clients.

VP of Paid Media - Wes Funk, the VP of Paid Media, helps our paid media specialists drive client results with awareness continuums, B2B buyer journeys, and customer funnels to create cutting-edge marketing campaigns. The VP of Paid Media ensures the paid media specialists are excelling in Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager, and LinkedIn, while always testing other platforms. Wes and his department excel with clients who champion multi-channel campaigns.

VP of Marketing Automation - Our VP of Marketing Automation, Darin “Doc” Berntson, works with our internal teams and their clients to build strategies and processes that will nurture the leads our organic and paid efforts generate. Doc also makes sure our marketing automation work aligns with our client’s sales and marketing departments to create seamless of marketing automation and CRM deployments.

Graphic Design Team - Design preferences and needs vary by clients. To ensure each team can deliver beautiful and functional design on time and in a variety of styles, our design team has multiple designers that come from a variety of backgrounds and styles. The diversity in our design team ensures that each execution team can provide a wide array of design formats and styles.

The system isn’t complicated, it’s intuitive (at least it is for us). This system continues to mature and evolve. But at its core we believe that when our clients interface directly with a team of marketers that work together daily, both 97th Floor and our clients are better off.

PJ Howland

PJ is the VP of Industry Insights at 97th Floor. He coordinates insights with others at 97th Floor to ensure we're all elevating each other through good content.

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