We frequently ask our clients to fill out a questionnaire so we can include them as a success story in our monthly newsletter.
This month, for our 20th Anniversary in business, it felt appropriate to have me answer the questions and to share about our own success.
Please feel free to contact us via a ticket (or all the other ways) if you would like to be one of our future success stories!
What is it about what you do that is unique? Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My mind has a good balance between logical and creative thinking. Some would call it a good “left-brain, right-brain” balance. I can design and imagine and create, but I can also understand programming logic, diagrams, and flow charts. I can also communicate on both sides of that spectrum, acting as a translator between technical people and creative people—or, say, between programmers and business people.
It is pretty obvious how this can be useful working on websites, but it is also something that comes naturally as part of my composing. Creating music is both creative and technical, imaginative and mathematical. To compose, one needs to be able to both feel and express feeling, but then there is the process of putting the music down “on paper”. The composer has to know how different instruments sound and the expressiveness of them, but also the technical limitations and challenges of the instruments themselves.
Also, I genuinely care about the people we help. I’m excited to know about our clients’ successes—in and out of their businesses—and I enjoy the personal connection we are able to have above the services that FireSpike provides.
What excites and motivates you about your business?
The opportunity to help others with something that scares or distresses them. Nothing drives me like fixing a problem that is causing someone distress, and online technologies can be very frustrating for people who are not familiar with them.
What do you do daily to grow your business?
We communicate with our customers every day.
We have a system called “Touchpoints” which reminds us to reach out to a client if communication has lagged, and also tracks everybody’s communication with our clients. If one of us takes a phone call, we document it so the next person who talks to that client knows what was said. Every day we make sure that we have not let communication slip with any of our clients so that we have up-to-date knowledge of where they are and what they are experiencing.
We also have daily marketing meetings (one of my favorite times of the day), going over our social media, our newsletter content, and other outreach. Since our social media includes a diverse set of “day-to-day” topics—food, pets, hobbies, DIY, and so forth—the daily marketing meetings are usually graced with smiles and laughter, even as we discuss elements of our business.
How do you define success for yourself and your business?
Happy, non-stressed-out customers. Success, for me, is someone wholeheartedly saying “Thank You” for us helping them achieve something (or fix something!) that they couldn’t on their own.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your business since you started it?
The ability for anyone to build a website with no technical or marketing knowledge or skill has probably been the biggest change in the website side of business, over the past 20 years. Online services like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify, not to mention WordPress itself, have allowed people to make very accomplished websites with little to no experience in the process. While this is great and provides a lot of opportunity for people to “go it alone”, there are still, inevitably, those technical or communication challenges that need skill and experience to solve.
Tell us about one or two big successes you’ve had over the last year.
Helping the Oregon Energy Fund and JFCS Portland to do online intake for those in need, those two projects were very rewarding. Also, just helping a local restaurant, like the amazing Hapa Ramen, to stay open and keep people working during the pandemic, that has been a very personal success. We’ve also completely rebuilt the online store for a local food company, and that after providing them a large amount of support improving their online operations during the pandemic.
Personally, I composed a piano solo that is in the style of a pop song—something like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, or Pink might do—and it truly delights me. It’s fun to play, and it is truly uplifting to listen to.
Do you have something new or exciting happening with your business that you haven’t had the chance to tell us?
FireSpike is re-committing to the customer-centric model, focusing on knowing and working with our clients directly. We want to be real partners with our clients, knowing their needs well, and keeping on top of the changes to their businesses. The best term I can think of to describe our focus is “boutique agency”, so that’s how I’m describing it currently.
What is the best way for people to engage with your company?
For our clients, the best way to contact us for work that they need is by submitting a ticket. We are available by phone or text for emergencies, and we all have email, but the ticket system puts the request directly into “GunnyTracker” which is our daily task management system.
We have daily social media posts that are about both the business and the FireSpike team, personally. We send out monthly newsletters, and following those keeps our customers up to date with our services and with what’s interesting and exciting in our lives.
What are some standout experiences from the past 20 years?
My own favorite experiences over the past 20 years have been creative times and helpful times.
The creative times have been when we’ve helped customers with branding, marketing messages, website creation, and such. Particular standouts on the creative front have been creating multimedia presentations and videos for trade shows and recruitment (jackpot blaster, University of Arizona, Safari Ventures), creating custom games (such as the holiday “catch the snowflake on your tongue” game), and helping customers to create the perfect brand (CallWerks/CardWerks, iWantBreakfast.com, EAInteriors.com and others).
I sincerely feel rewarded by the “helpful” times, when we’ve really been able to significantly reduce the stress and fear that someone was feeling about a project, website, or some aspect of their online presence. After all, that is why FireSpike’s tagline is “Taking the ‘@#!’ out of the WWW!”
We have the honor of still working with numerous clients who first hired us 15, 18, yes, even the full 20 years ago, and I want FireSpike to continue helping customers far into the future.
What have I professionally learned in 20 years?
Every time I think we are at the top of the game in a given technology, the technology changes. Also, I’ve learned that it’s impossible in this industry to have knowledge that is both wide AND deep. One can have shallow understanding of everything, or deep knowledge of some specific elements, but there’s just too much to know to even try to be an expert across all of the areas that we operate. Of course, when we do NOT know something, having the skill to quickly research and learn is invaluable, and we all are very good at growing ourselves that way.
Fortunately I’ve always enjoyed learning and growing my skillset, and I’m very much motivated when learning about the very “cool” things that new web technology can do.
What have I personally learned in 20 years?
There are people you work with just to get the job done, and there are people you work with because you genuinely enjoy the experience of interacting with them. Of course, with that in mind, it is my goal with FireSpike first to find clients who we truly enjoy working with, and second, to be, ourselves, people that our clients truly enjoy working with as well.