Happy Two Year Workiversary, Jeff!
Two years ago today, Jeff Seevers joined the North Star Marketing team as a part of our growing roster of marketing managers. Since then, he has blown us away with his commitment to client relationships, irrepressible creative thinking about every project he touches, and his vision for our work and how we live out our mission. Jeff has been quietly working behind the scenes on high-impact initiatives for North Star this year, and we recently sat down to get the scoop on what he’s been up to, and what’s ahead.
So, Jeff, I know you’ve been a part of some exciting internal development and strategy this year — what kinds of things have you been working on?
Wow — a lot, really. In the last year, I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy looking at how we provide marketing leadership to all of our clients through each of our major service areas. That includes marketing strategy, branding, campaign creative, multimedia, online marketing, traditional advertising, messaging and discovery — those are the big ones, anyway. I’m looking at our entire process, all the way from the beginning when we’re understanding the challenges with a client, to addressing infrastructure issues, to taking to ground all the elements that are vital to bringing an organization’s value propositions to light.
If you look at our principles of prioritization, the grounding of all our work is built on our client organizations’ mission, vision, and values. Since our work is tethered to the meaningful heart of our client partners, it makes our work so much more compelling, worthwhile, and relevant — it’s really fulfilling.
In the end, it’s not just about your brand, messaging, website, etc. Those are just tools that connect and convey real value to real people. And that’s what makes marketing fun. That’s why I enjoy doing it. There are all kinds of details, processes, and structure that are important and worthwhile to understand, but to connect people to value? That’s where the magic happens. That’s the cool part.
Man, I love how fired up about this stuff you are — it reminds me of how you’ve brought a lot of fresh energy to our team this year. When you think about important lessons learned in 2019, what comes to mind?
So, organizational strategy is a big part of my background — how all the various parts of a business are organized to help a company achieve its goals and realize its vision. It’s intricate, complex, and endlessly fascinating. But in the last year, I’ve learned and seen how it can be challenging at times to remember the simplicity of what a company truly brings to the table for its customers. A lot of my recent work has been in the service of connecting what North Star does for our clients in a new way: we offer marketing leadership. That’s who we are when you add it all up, and in one form or another, that’s what each of our clients is looking for when they come to us. Seeing that clearly and beginning to align all our messaging and communications with that core value has been huge.
Jeff, one of the things I love about working with you is that you can do such great work at the big-picture level, but you’re also down to get in dirt and wrestle with the details of a project. Let’s talk about Via [North Star’s proprietary project management software] because I know you’ve been a big part of that work this year, and it’s got a million little moving pieces.
The role that I’ve been playing in that capacity is facilitating the development and design teams and organizing efforts toward understanding what needs businesses have when it comes to planning, managing, and executing their marketing efforts. When you build a tool from the inside out the way we have with Via, you learn an immense amount as you go. You challenge assumptions about how you work or what you know. We’re marketers. We’ve built and used Via day in and day out for years, so every refinement means it’s more and more aligned and relevant to the specific needs of marketing firms or the marketing needs of businesses in any industry.
How would you say Via is fundamentally different from other project management options in the market?
There are several things I think of, but let me just talk about one of the biggest differentiators.
Typical project management focuses on how to execute a single project and organize teams and people around that thing. One of the ways North Star provides marketing leadership is in how we help our clients organize multiple marketing projects in a meaningful, strategic way around campaigns. Those campaigns are directionally focused on achieving organizational goals.
When we made Via, we built it to be a tool that would reflect and facilitate project management in keeping with that mindset. There’s no other project management solution that makes meaning out of disparate marketing projects the way ours does. Our team, using Via as a backbone software solution, brings unity and clarity around why projects are organized and accomplished, and to what end. We’ve started calling this campaign thinking.
We have gotten some incredibly strong, positive feedback about Via, and we’re well into some significant improvements that will add another powerful dimension of differentiation to our offering. Obviously, I can’t talk about that (yet!), but when I look ahead to 2020 and beyond, I’m very excited to see what a difference Via will make for our clients.
Speaking of 2020 … When you look ahead, what’s on the horizon?
This year, our team has done a mountain of work to invest in the value of what we bring to each of our major market segments. With the private school market for example, we’ve developed some content recently that just clearly reflects the depth and breadth of our experience with schools. Same thing for health care, higher education, municipalities, and B2B organizations. We’re going to keep bringing significant value across the board in 2020.
Alongside that work, we’ve also started work on the next iteration of our website. It’s going to do a more effective job of connecting and sharing our value to those markets. We’re rolling that out with an adapted growth-driven design model for website improvements, so it’s just another area where we’re living out what we preach to our clients. We’ve gotten better in the last year at serving up relevant content through our site, too, and that expands the impact of our work to be true industry leaders — we provide marketing leadership, and not just to our select clients.
Thanks for breaking down some of the highlights of your work this year, Jeff. So much good stuff happening there. Whenever we catch up about home life and family, it seems like there’s a lot happening on that front, too. What do you want to share about life outside the office?
So, one of the best things in the last year for us has been that [my wife] Katie has launched a fledging home bakery. It has been so cool to see her in her element and doing this thing she’s passionate about and to get to be supportive of her goals and aspirations.
Okay —what’s the best thing she makes?
Dude. The oatmeal cream pie. The little snack cakes we all had growing up? What she’s making is in a completely different category.
So she’s off and running with that, and in a similar way, I just see all my kids continuing to thrive in their areas of interest and expertise. It’s so neat to see. We have a couple away at college and others that are on their way … when I step back and survey my life at home, I just marvel at all the amazing things that are happening.
Jeff, you’re a powerhouse in our team and just a joy to have around. It’s always a pleasure to collaborate with you, and I know the whole team is proud to work alongside you. Thanks for all you are and everything you bring to the office. Happy workiversary!