On the Revival of Our Blog: Why We Gave Up on Thought Leadership

2 years ago we had a great content engine running. Publishing regularly on our site—our content generated consistent leads… however the leads were low quality, and not the right fit for us as a small consultancy.

Quite a few of our blog articles were “me too” articles centered around marketing. They were listicles, idea pieces—all meant to be approachable and easy to understand for business owners. 

But we went wrong somewhere.

Where We Went Wrong

We’re not a marketing shop. We don’t have the team to operate on the narrow margins that many companies need in order to be profitable. 

We’re specialists—experts in web application development, digital strategy, and leveraging technology to build growth frameworks.

When we tried to reduce that complexity to approachable sets of services, that expertise was lost in the mix. 

Now, after some time reconnecting with the hard skills side of our work—we’ve found a better medium to share our talent.

You’ll find most of the recent pieces are technical—and for good reason. Those technical resources help people, whether they want to work with us or not. 

These days we’re focusing on leveraging our expertise in multifaceted ;) ways, and building systems that help us share that expertise more easily.

Capitalizing on our Process-Driven Philosophy

Since dropping our blog 2 years ago, we consolidated our internal standard operating procedures to Notion: a markdown-friendly, collaborative wiki for all of our clients and internal staff. With Notion, we can easily export and convert our best practices to HTML, and publish them to our blog. All of the iterative process improvements that get compounded across each of our clients can now easily be shared, and the extensiveness of conditional knowledge (what to do if this or that) can be passed forward to you. 

With our knowledge engine re-tooled, we can now transfer our process-driven improvements into a growth engine. 

Business growth, as we’ve discussed in our digital foundations philosophy, is driven by 5 pillars:

  1. Analytics. Integrated data analytics geared for learning.

  2. Tooling. Tooling that works for you, not against you.

  3. Process. Processes engineered for growth.

  4. Automation. Without automation, growth costs blood, sweat, and tears.

  5. Organization Engineering. Organizations drive their own evolution.

With our digital foundations serving as a business strategy framework, we can more easily drive the conversation towards business growth and the systems required in order to grow. 

Now our conversations can be centered around the desired impact a business wants to achieve—and all of the necessary components to drive it. 

To that end, blog pieces going forward will serve as actionable resources rather than marketing pieces. 

We don’t demonstrate services—but instead creativity, technical innovation, and the process simplification required by businesses to consistently marry technology and human-driven innovation. 

Over the past 2 years, we’ve continuously identified bottlenecks and iteratively overhauled our processes. Now, I’m proud to say the following areas are 80% automated, allowing Facet to work with less management overhead and pack a big punch. 

Processes like:

Automating Administrative & Business Operations

  • Monthly Billing

  • Monthly Burn Reports

  • Monthly Expense Monitoring

  • Monthly Vendor/Contractor Bill Creation/Documentation

Automating Client Administration

  • Client Onboarding

  • Monthly Client Account Management

Automating Project Management

JIRA is at the heart and soul of our project management, and any deliverable required (internal or external) gets logged there. But the time it takes to log such details is excessive, and so we put a lot of work into templating and automating ticket management.

We’ve automated our JIRA tickets and recurring project management tasks for key service areas with recurring processes, such as: 

  • Community Management

  • Data Discovery Workshops

  • Data Warehousing Setup

  • Digital Strategy Workshops

  • Drupal Security Updates

  • Drupal Audits

  • Drupal Best Practices Patching

  • IT Managed Services

  • Marketing Automation Configuration

  • Mautic Setup

  • Paid Social Advertising

  • Social Media Management

Our process management framework also gives us the ability to create bespoke, custom-tailored processes for individual clients. This saves us countless hours setting up and tracking process changes for repetitive client projects for which there is a consistent template. 

Automating Sales and Relationship Management

As Facet’s CRM is HubSpot, most of our best practices have been automated around HubSpot capabilities. Besides using HubSpot for tracking our deal flow, we also have added pipelines for hiring talent (staff and freelancer), and have extensively leveraged the chatbots in order to streamline pre-interviews and reference checks. 

Among our various automated sales processes we have standardized:

  • Sales and Deal Pipeline workflows in HubSpot CRM.

  • Hiring / HR workflows and new Talent Acquisition.

  • Hiring Chatbots for collecting pre-interview information.

  • Reference Check Chatbots for collecting post-interview references from third-parties for potential hires.

Besides our updated configurations with HubSpot, we’ve reintroduced Mautic to the core of our business due to the value of a centralized lead database. We manage our relationships that have not yet matured into the deal management phase, and ensure tracking and personalization of our contacts and relationship engine. 

  • Email Marketing personalization and contact relationship management

  • Interests personalization insights.

  • Automated contact information enrichment through third parties such as FullContact and Clearbit. 

& hopefully very soon we’ll introduce one new automation to our email newsletter:

  • Personalized news updates and recommended articles surfaced from our internal #good-reads Slack channel—complete with commentary from Facet staff.

Automating IT Management 

For many years Facet has operated a small set of IT break-fix clientele. We’ve recently driven forward our best practices into full managed services, and migrated our clients towards engagements where we could proactively mitigate risk and govern mandatory best practices. We’ve since rolled out:

  • IT Managed Services tooling and monitoring

Progressive Automation

For all of our service areas and internal operations we have invested heavily in progressively automating with Integromat. The ease of access, editing, and continuous updates leveraging new APIs allows us to grow quickly and evolve our processes as soon as new needs are identified. 

In fact, many times we simply build middleware for our processes with Google Sheets + Integromat to simplify things. The flexibility and extensibility of Integromat offers us an on-ramp towards a custom tailored business process without significant development investment. With Integromat we’ve made GSheet great middlewares with almost every technology in our business stack. We can push and pull from many sources like JIRA, HubSpot CRM, Mautic, MySQL, and more. 

Thoughts on Automating in the Future

We’ve now almost fully integrated our company operations with robotic process automation. Some areas we’re still investing in are Data Analytics and Data Managed Services—but those process efficiencies will come with more engagements.

All that is left, is to complete the feedback loop with you. We’re publishing things left and right in order to share our expertise, but perhaps if something from this article piqued your curiosity you can leave a comment below?

And remember, thought leadership is just the byproduct of solving unique problems—all that is needed to convert your hard-earned lessons to thought leadership is simply the platform to share them with others.