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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success


Sep 23, 2014

Welcome to the SuccessLab Podcast episode #19. In this episode, I’m in The Lab with Jenny Poon! She is the founder of eeko studio and Co+Hoots, a co-working space in downtown Phoenix, and co-founder of Co+Hoots Foundation. In this episode we discuss how Jenny hatched and grew two businesses by tapping the power of community, prioritizing and hiring the right people.

  1. Can you tell us a little about your journey? How did eeko studio and Co+Hoots come to be?
  • Eeko studio is a graphic design studio. I started that in 2009. It hatched from bad experiences working for different organizations. I worked for a range of different companies and some of them had really bad leadership, and some of them developed some bad culture and company morale.
  1. How have you built up the Co+Hoots community over the years? Did you have a definitive plan or have things developed as you've gone along?
  • I go into all these business meetings, and these pitch sessions with these people who have been around in business for a long time. They talk about business plans and goal setting, and I feel a little embarrassed because we didn’t plan that well with this. So there’s definitely been a lot of things that I’ve learned over the years. I did not have a plan to begin with. I hatched this little idea and launched it in a month. I had very reasonable goals and I’m pretty conservative with my goals to make sure that I’m still motivated to move forward.
  1. At what point did you decide to bring on help?
  • I thought that this could grow without any kind of staffing so I didn’t plan to hire staff and I was just aiming for sustainable plus extra so it could have a little nest egg fund. Co+Hoots is a side project of mine so it wasn’t anything that I had planned to make money off of, so I didn’t build that into it. Then I realized that "Ok, now we’re at 30 people, we should probably have someone here making sure the lights continue to stay on and that people are locking the doors."
  1. In terms of building the community around it, everything from having the owl mascot to different events like Food Truck Wednesdays and the Mid-Week Mind Tweak, how have those things come about? Have you planned how to build the community in that regard?
  • No, this community is truly built by our community. The only thing I really did was force some interactions, force some questions - some leading questions. I often sit down with our members and have those conversations of “What do you think we should be doing?" "Do you have any good ideas?"
  1. Was there ever a point, maybe early on, when you tried to do everything yourself?
  • I still get there. Early on, definitely. I think that when you are starting a business, you just have to know that you are going to be doing everything yourself in the beginning until you can ramp up in terms of salary and in terms of revenue to be able to support another staff member.
  1. Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?
  • I wish I knew how important it was to hire the right person and I still have to remind myself about that every day. There is a level of training that goes with every role, but the most important thing that I’ve learned is making sure that you hire the right person.
  1. Do you have any efficiency tips or tools you can share? 
  • Yes! (Here comes my royalty check!) I use Asana a lot. I’m really into these small start-ups that have great technology because they are constantly focused on customer service and improving their business and they’re really listening to customers. So I really like Asana, they obviously have a bigger team but they are constantly improving their App. I love Freshbooks, which is my billing system. I also set up routines. Every night before I go to bed I look at my calendar so I can mentally prepare myself, and check my email and make sure anything that needed to be responded to did get a response. Other apps I love:

This weeks Biz Hack: Generally, if you’ve considered trying to get media coverage, you already have a wish list of publications, websites, or TV or radio shows you would like to go after. For a while, when Oprah was still on regular television, if I had a dollar for every time a client said they wanted to be on the show, I’d have tens of dollars. I’m joking, but this was a very real goal for many clients. And while I’m a big proponent of aiming high, you also have to have a more realistic and strategic game plan just in case Oprah or Mashable doesn’t come calling. So how do you build a media list to target?

  1. Start with your end goal in mind - what your goals? Is it to position yourself as a though leader or industry expert? Gain visibility for a specific product? Build brand awareness among a specific demographic?
  2. Zero in on your target audience - while media exposure in large media outlets with massive audiences is great, sometimes it’s the niche media outlets that deliver the biggest return. When you target niche media outlets you are tapping into an audience that is often more attune to what you may have to say or offer. For instance, I work with a company that makes rugged mobile tablets, and our primary focus is industry publications in specific verticals like trucking and transportation, warehousing, machinery, and oil and gas. Not very sexy, but the people who read these publications are most likely looking for technology like this.
  3. Discover what your audience reads - there are several ways to go about this. Some ideas include:
  • Poll your audience - If you already have audience (perhaps on your Facebook page, an email database, or blog following), simply ask them what media they most consume. You can either leave it an open ended questions, but you may get responses all over the place, or if you have a general idea, you could ask them to rank a list of specific media outlets.
  • Review media kits - most media outlets will have a media kit, usually in their advertising section that will outline their reader demographics. Some go really in depth with the demographic information (this information is also great for creating your buyer personas) so you can see if it’s targeting the right audience for you.
  • Research social networks - this one can be a bit time intensive, but you could also search on Facebook for people interested in a specific topic or your industry. You can add other filters like location, gender, age, etc. and see, based on their likes, what media they may be engaging with.
  1. Look at your competition - Take a look at who is covering your competition. These media outlets will obviously be interested in your industry or topic and perhaps you can offer them a fresh perspective.
  2. Google keywords - Search keywords relevant to your industry or topic and see who is currently covering it. This might help you discover new media outlets you can target. It might also give you some ideas on what and how to pitch them.
  3. Timeliness - the other thing to take into account is the timeliness of the news you are trying to get coverage for. If you have a product that is launching soon or an upcoming event that’s only a couple weeks out, targeting print magazines that have 4-9-month lead times (some even more), wouldn’t be the best strategy. You’ll want to go after more immediate outlets like daily print, online or TV media.

Hopefully this helps get you started on planning your media outreach campaign!

Action Items: This week’s action item doesn’t have anything to do with the Biz Hack for a change. Your action time is to systematize and document one process you routinely do in your business. We all have them, so just pick one. Creating a system for that process then documenting will allow you to easily delegate this task, should you decide to offload some of your work down the road. For those of us who have trouble delegating because you think no other human being can possibly do this task as good as you, creating a system and documenting it will help you see that it just might be possible. If they follow your amazingly awesome process of course.

Quote of the week: Another Seth Godin great! “Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”~Seth Godin Next week we're in the lab with Tim Paige, the conversion educator at LeadPages. It's an awesome interview...he provides great marketing tips! Be sure to tune in. Until next time, have prosperous week!