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December 14, 2023


4 min read

2023 Lessons Learned From The Nest

Shannon Carlson
2023 Lessons Learned From The Nest

Reflection time is our favorite time! Hopefully, you are also looking back on the year and reflecting on things done well, and things that could be improved. This year has brought a whole host of new learnings for BlueByrd, as you can imagine for a business in year four. 

Our team has expanded, been moved around, pushed the limits, said “no” to the things that don’t make sense, and has had tremendous growth. We’re so proud of our team for embracing change and learning new skills to support our clients in the best way possible. 

Richard Byrd:

2023 was another learning year for me. I learned about topics varying from mountain climbing to generative AI. Here is a short list of what I learned learned:

  • 10x is easier than 2x
  • Climbing mountains is exhausting and rewarding (metaphorically  and literally)
  • Having the right team is key to business success
  • Patience pays off sometimes, but sometimes it doesn’t 
  • Generative AI is interesting,  but not a silver bullet
  • Disqualifying prospects is more valuable than qualifying them

Since this is a marketing blog, I’ll explain the last one in greater detail. I think most business development people and marketers are competitive by nature. That means they hate losing and love winning. Sometimes, that means trying to win customers who are a bad fit for their organizations. You are probably thinking, “Wait a second. The goal of BD and marketing is to close deals, not turn them away.” That’s  what I used to think, too, but I have noticed from my behavior as a BD person and from the behavior of many of our clients that they chase deals that aren’t profitable –  or that they stand a very low probability of closing. That leads to low margins, disgruntled employees, and customers who “don’t get it.”  It's better to refer prospects who aren’t a good fit for your business goals to people in your network who are a better fit. They’ll serve the customer better, and both parties will appreciate you for making the connection. 

The biggest learning is that you can’t do it alone. Thank you to all of our fantastic clients and the awesome BlueByrds who gave their all in 2023. 

Shannon Carlson:

I tried to keep it short, but there are so many lessons from this year! I’ll break them out between business and marketing.

From a business perspective, my main lessons learned revolve around aligning your management team and embracing organizational restructuring.

1. Alignment here means that everyone is equally dedicated to the business. We don't just accept goals; we question them rigorously, assessing their attainability and the right strategies to reach them. It's about avoiding assumptions and actively understanding how we, as a team, can achieve success. We embrace skepticism and encourage challenging each other, creating a dynamic atmosphere that contributes to our collective growth.

2. Don’t be afraid to restructure the organization to fit the growing needs of your business. For us, we re-evaluated the needs of our clients, identified any gaps, and then made a plan to close those gaps internally. This change brought the clarity our organization needed. And naturally, this provided significant improvement in role definition. Team members now have a clearer understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and how they contribute to our collective success.

From a marketing perspective - WHOA - so many new trends and strategies emerged this year. And the digital landscape continues to explode!

1. Don’t assume you know how your customer feels or why they buy. Our many voice of the customer projects provided insight and perspective that destroyed assumptions and opened many organizations' eyes.

2. Adopt AI before it replaces you. I went into the year somewhat worried about AI because I hadn’t educated myself on it fully. Once I took the time, listened to industry experts, and consulted with colleagues, I quickly jumped on the AI bandwagon (for things that made sense). We encourage using AI tools in our office and we train our clients how to use them as well. It enables easy brainstorming, idea generation, efficiency, and productivity. BUT it’s not the final solution or the final draft.

3. Sales teams are hungry for tools that are not only new but also easy to use. During several social selling workshops, I witnessed clients’ genuine excitement to learn and become more efficient in prospecting. The enthusiasm to embrace something new and get better at it is both exciting and refreshing. Being an adaptable salesperson who is willing to try new things will reap rewards every day. 

Ian DeRanieri:

The most important lessons from 2023 were that Cheez-its are superior to Goldfish, and canned cranberry sauce is superior to fresh.

But from a marketing perspective, the thing that stood out (and I may have said this before) is that regardless of whatever new tricks, techniques, or technology, the fundamentals are what win the battle. If you don’t have a strong value proposition, no amount of AI-enabled, non-fungible blockchains will convince your customers to buy—at least not for very long. 

Stick to the basics, get them right, and then use the fancy stuff to enhance your strategy. 

Stacey Hodge:

Throughout this year, a prominent theme in many of my discussions has been the common challenge of finding time to strategize, align, and plan before transitioning into actual execution.

In the hustle and bustle of the business landscape, it's easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of day-to-day tasks. However, the lesson echoed this year is clear: taking a step back to strategically outline marketing efforts to align with the larger business goals is not just a luxury but a necessity to attain those larger business goals effectively and efficiently.

The art of strategizing involves crafting a roadmap that guides every initiative with purpose and direction, and it takes time. Aligning efforts adds the secret sauce, ensuring that every element, from messaging to visuals, sings in harmony across internal and external channels. And let's not forget planning – the unsung hero that transforms aspirations into actionable steps. This year taught me that amidst the chaos, finding the time to strategize, align, and plan isn't a detour but a scenic route that leads straight to the heart of success.

Take the time. It's worth it. 

Courtney Martinez:

This year brought humble reminders and new lessons of the professional soft skills that distinguish people who are great at what they do from people who are great to work with all around. I learned that “mastered” skills like time management and communication need refining as clients, colleagues, and work environments shift or become more demanding. Much like money, I must tell my time where to go. If I don’t, I will lose it, and unlike money, my time cannot be earned back. As such, my “yes” and my “no” hold great weight. I re-learned how to communicate my capacity, speak up when the ship’s about to sink, and ask questions as they arise. More often than not, when I draw appropriate boundaries around my time and communicate when I’ve reached max capacity, I’m met with understanding and ready solutions for success.

Kelly Demel:

Aside from watching my kids turn out to be great people, learning is my absolute favorite thing in this lifetime.  Learning ways to be better, do better, and of course, win on trivia night.

I learned the phrase “highest and best use of my time” in 2024, and gained a level of freedom and productivity I’ve never had in my professional life. My natural inclination is to take on tasks myself because that way, they’ll be done – in my mind – quicker, better, and more efficiently. It’s always been easier to do it myself than explain it to someone and edit the work, and when I do it myself, I’m only waiting on…me.

But this approach robbed my team of some of the best contributions my strengths could bring to collective efforts, as I would sometimes be mired down in details or small assignments when my brain power would have been much more valuable spent on ideation, strategy, or diving into the evolving business problems of clients. Delegating the tasks that weren’t the highest and best use of my time allowed me to give the BlueByrd team and our clients the best of myself, and also provided opportunities for others to shine by really leaning into their strengths. Because you know what? These other folks on the BlueByrd team are pretty amazing, and it turns out they can do some of those tasks just as well as I can – or better. 

And at the risk of getting a certain song stuck in your head the rest of the day, all this means that I’ve become much better at letting things go, and learned that I make myself and my team better when I do.

Kasey Cooper:

This year has taught me that time management is more valuable than I ever realized. I’ve always tried to balance my week with the priorities happening first followed by action items that need to be done, but don’t have deadlines. However, this year has had so many curveballs that I now use that extra gained time, both in my personal and professional life, to get something else on the list done – no matter how little it might seem. Pivoting to this has helped me know that if life catches up, I’m not behind on my to do list.

My adjusted motto for ending this year and starting next year is the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” You never know what tomorrow will bring. so get that “to do” list done.

Beau Robinson:

This year, my work was driven by three distinct topics. And although they seem pretty straightforward and obvious, many organizations are missing out on the true value that they can provide. 

  • Automation: Everyone is moving a mile a minute with a million tasks to complete. No need to fear–automation is here! Taking those pesky repetitive and administrative tasks and automating them will allow your team to spend more time doing the work with the greatest impact on your bottom line: strategic thinking and meaningful execution. 
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment: Sales and marketing need to be working as one–not in separate silos. Whether you’re gearing up for an ABM campaign, trying to boost sales numbers, developing marketing content/sales collateral, or any other initiatives, sales and marketing need to be working together every step of the way to enhance the buyer experience, serve prospects valuable content when it matters, and shorten the overall sales cycle.
  • Talking to your Customers: It’s important that you dig deep to get your customers’ unfiltered insights on the entire buying journey. This kidney starts when they first learn about your brand to customer and continues well after purchase. Countless times this year, we’ve executed Voice of Customer research for our clients, and new information has been uncovered each and every time. Afterward, we are able to take the feedback and improve the buyer journey from a marketing, sales, and operational standpoint. All you have to do is know the right questions – and people –  to ask! 

Madelynn Vickers:

The ride through 2023 has been an absolute rollercoaster of learning, and let me tell you, there are some pretty cool opportunities I was faced with. 

This year, I plunged headfirst into the exciting world of RollWorks, an account-based marketing software. We didn't just scratch the surface; we went on a full-blown ABM adventure, tweaking our playbooks to perfection and aligning them with our goals. In Q3, I set my sights on conquering LinkedIn advertising and – spoiler alert – got certified! Unraveling the mysteries of strategy, setup, implementation, and optimization fueled the launch of three campaigns for our clients. In September, I jetted off to Boston for HubSpot’s INBOUND’23 conference! Amidst the conversations around new marketing trends, new tech, and sales strategies, I learned the importance of always staying hungry for knowledge, especially in marketing. The truth is, there’s always something new to learn if you choose to go after it. Cheers to 2023!

Cate Diezi:

Entering the workforce as a recent graduate in May, I absorbed lessons on time management, balancing a full plate, honing organizational skills, and diving into new experiences. Out of all these, one key lesson stands out to me: the value of our work culture. I'm fortunate to be part of an environment that encourages asking “dumb” questions and fosters a psychologically safe space. Sparked by Patrick Lencioni's book “Getting Naked,” I learned to embrace vulnerability—something I’ve never done before. Embracing vulnerability has taught me it’s okay to not have all the answers up front. This enabled me to foster trust and deeper connections, ultimately making the workplace and client interactions more humble and humanized.

I’m excited to see what 2024 has in store for BlueByrd!

Justin Demel:

The opportunity to join the team at BlueByrd has been an invaluable experience for me. After graduating from college,  I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do within the marketing field. BlueByrd has given me the chance to contribute to a variety of projects, and exposure to many different aspects of marketing.

I worked on things I had prior experience in such as social media, and learned about implementing new tools and strategies while tackling skills such as building website pages. I also learned a lot about myself and what it takes to be successful in the marketing industry. I’m grateful to all of the BlueByrds for imparting their wisdom upon me in the time that I’ve had here, and for helping me spread my wings when I leave the nest!

The Final Chirp

Thank you for joining us on the journey this year. We can’t do what we do without trusting clients, a talented team, and supportive partners. In 2023, we expanded into new markets, hired two amazing team members, and moved offices! It’s been a fun one and we can’t wait to see what 2024 holds. Watch out! We’re coming in hot! 🔥

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