December marks an exciting milestone for KWSM – the agency’s 11th birthday!
To celebrate, I asked some of the agency’s leaders a few questions about their experiences at KWSM, and our goals for the years to come.
First, KWSM President & CEO Katie Wagner shares her thoughts about this anniversary and the road that got us here.
What inspired you to start KWSM 11 years ago?
“In 2010, I was a television anchor. As social media started to grow in popularity, we realized that fewer people were going home to watch the 5 o’clock news, as more people were getting headlines on Facebook and Twitter, and watching videos on YouTube. I knew that business owners would need to learn to use these digital tools to communicate with their customers, and I could use the skills I had as a journalist to help them tell their stories and engage their audiences. When KWSM started, I thought I would be a consultant, and never imagined I was building an agency!”
What has been the greatest challenge and how did KWSM persevere?
“Like many businesses, the greatest challenge for us as an agency was the pandemic. Even though digital is an industry that grew during the pandemic (as many traditional avenues of marketing and sales were shut down), the pure uncertainty of this time was challenging. Many of our clients were struggling, and that increased stress levels across the board.
We made the decision in March of 2020 that any client that needed to be released from their contract for financial reasons would be – and we lost 20 clients in those first few weeks. I was determined that KWSM would not lay off any team members, and we poured ourselves into serving the clients that needed our support during that time. But, not knowing what the future held made it challenging to market for clients that were needing to pivot their businesses. As the pandemic continued, more businesses turned to digital and the challenges shifted – through the later part of 2020 we were busier than ever trying to help all the companies that needed it, and I worried about overwhelm and burnout in our team.
At KWSM, our top priorities are always caring for our clients and our team, and keeping those two things in mind was the way we pushed through. As a leadership team, we made decisions every day about how to take care of the people around us. Relationships have always been important to us as an agency, and putting the needs of our clients and our team first gave us purpose and pathway through a difficult and scary time.
In our 11 year history, I am most proud that we came through the pandemic with the KWSM team intact, and with the knowledge that we worked as hard as we could to help our clients through this challenging time. We produced some very good work and made an impact on how our clients’ companies survived, as well as our own.”
What is your vision/goal for the agency in the next year?
“We are still growing as an agency, and adding new clients and new team members every month. The goal is never to be the biggest agency, but it is to help as many companies as possible, and to provide jobs and stability for KWSM team members and their families. We want to be a place where smart, driven people can work in a supportive, collaborative environment and make an impact in our world through the client businesses we help build. There is a ripple effect to helping our clients grow and that’s the most fulfilling part of our jobs. To that end, we’ll be opening our 5th KWSM office in 2022 – so stay tuned!”
Here’s what other KWSM leaders have to say about the agency.
How is KWSM different?
As Katie mentioned, we place the utmost priority on providing the highest quality of service for each client. This has been true since KWSM’s inception 11 years ago, and there are a few unique ways we do it.
“We built our agency on stability and consistency – most agencies bring on freelancers and contractors when they get a new client, then when that client leaves, they lay everyone off,” says Vice President of Finance & Operations Stephen Wagner. “While this can be a very profitable way to run an agency, it often leads to poor service for clients. From the beginning, we felt it was important to have full-time employees working on our clients’ accounts – people who were 100% dedicated to their success.”
Jeff Soto, Vice President of Strategy at KWSM, adds, “Before we get started on providing services, we begin by building a relationship with clients to understand their short-term and long-term goals, and then develop a thoughtful strategy. We do this without trying to force them into services or platforms that may not best fit their needs, which is different from many other agencies who recommend packaged services that aren’t tailored to each client’s needs.”
Where has KWSM seen the most growth over the years?
Digital marketing is a constantly changing landscape and keeping up with those changes is important for having success online.
“Back when the agency began, the only social media channels that existed were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (and no one was using them for business!),” Stephen explains. “We have been successful by adapting and adjusting along the way, looking for opportunities on new platforms, and knowing when to stop using outdated techniques that simply don’t work anymore. We are learning and growing every day, which allows us to provide the best service for our clients.”
What is one thing the team does exceptionally well?
The answer to this question can actually be found within the acronym of our agency’s name: Know Why Stories Matter (KWSM).
“We pride ourselves on uncovering each business’s unique sales proposition, and then weaving that differentiator into every piece of digital marketing collateral for our clients,” says Jeff. “While we incorporate tech into our marketing, it’s storytelling that really serves as the foundation of each strategy.”
How has KWSM contributed to your personal and professional growth?
Not only has our agency grown over the years – we have also had the pleasure of watching team members grow along the way!
Taylor Lizura, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist and Manager of Content, Advertising, & Training, had this to say about her development while working at KWSM:
“Working at KWSM has been instrumental for both my personal and professional growth. I have been afforded endless opportunities to grow my skills as a marketer. Through the KWSM mentorship program and weekly vision hours, I have obtained certifications for Facebook ads, Google ads, Google Analytics, and mastered many other tools and software applications. Because we work with clients across all industries, I have gained experience and learned more about more types of businesses than I ever thought I would have the opportunity to.”
What is your favorite thing about the team?
It’s no secret that the heartbeat of KWSM lies within our team dynamic.
“I am so proud of the culture we have cultivated at KWSM,” Taylor adds. “The support we receive from one another is unparalleled. It is an honor to work with such a capable team and know that there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand.”
To our clients, seasoned and new, thank you for partnering with us over these last 11 years. We consider it an honor and a privilege to serve you, and we are grateful for your support and trust in our team. We look forward to the next 11 years and beyond!
Are you interested in joining the KWSM team?
We want to work with people who are passionate. If you have the ability to get excited and roll up our sleeves to serve our clients, we might just be the work-family you’re looking for!
CLICK HERE to learn more.