INBOX INSIGHTS, March 15, 2023: Happy Fifth Birthday, Trust Insights

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Five years of Trust Insights – Lessons Learned

(Almost) On this day, five years ago, I sat in my quiet house, stared at my laptop and then…nothing. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t have a routine. (I felt like) I had no idea how to run a business. I mostly just panicked.

After about an hour of that, and second guessing my decision to leave a steady paycheck, I started to make a list. A few lists, actually. A list of things I didn’t know but should, a list of things I knew but wanted to double check, and a list of things that I had zero clue about. You can probably guess which one was the longest.

Fast forward five years, and as I sit here, listening to the storm outside pelt against my windows at 6 am, I realize how far we’ve come. How far I’ve come. Let’s get into it, shall we? Here are some of my lessons learned from the past five years.

Some things don’t matter as much

When we launched the business, I recall that we agonized over the name, the logo, the website, and the first post. We spent a lot of time trying to get it just right. Looking back, we focused on the wrong things. Yes, the name of your company and your outward appearance are important. In our case, they weren’t as important as clearly defining our services and processes. We did these things in reverse order and if I had it to do again I’d re-prioritize.

Some things matter in a big way

When you’re starting a company, there are a lot of details to take care of. As a brand new company owner, I didn’t think twice about using a personal address or cell number to set things up. If I knew then what I know now, I would have used a PO Box and a Google number that forwarded to an inbox. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and stress of setting things up, and these details can have a big impact in the long run. What if I move? What if I change my number? I’ll have to go back through all our paperwork and make sure everything gets updated. That’s going to be a huge pain that I’m not looking forward to.

Change happens when you’re not looking

Over the course of these past five years, we’ve all settled into our own daily routines. We have our virtual morning standup, we have our lists, we have our calls. There are tasks that happen on certain days, each week and each month. I couldn’t tell you when that started to happen, it was gradual. However, I can, with certainty, now tell you by team member what each day of the week will probably look like for them. When I think about how much has changed, I think about our collective level of comfort and confidence in the success of the business. I think about the predictability and how well poised we are to adapt to new things. When you stop and look around, you’ll see that where you started is far from when you ended up.

However, some things don’t change

Speaking of confidence, it’s normal to feel like you’re constantly flailing, even when you’re not. Some days, for at least part of the day, I feel like a fraud. No matter how long I’ve been doing something, I still have doubts that I can do it. And then I do it anyway because I actually can, and will. When faced with a new challenge, like starting a business or taking the stage to speak, it’s normal to feel like you are in over your head. Part of me doesn’t want that feeling to go away. Why? Because if the challenge goes away, if it all becomes too easy, then I’m no longer growing and learning.

Growth isn’t linear

Something that I’ve learned about growth is that it doesn’t always go up and to the right. Actually, real sustainable growth rarely does. Growth isn’t, and should, only be about your success. Growth needs to also be about a failed launch, an unsuccessful client relationship, or an outright rejection. I’ve learned to embrace the losses as much as the wins. There is a lot to learn when something doesn’t go as planned. That’s where the real growth happens.

Intelligence is subjective

One of the biggest lessons I continue to learn is that intelligence looks different in every context. Intelligence is another way of saying experience. The phrase “smartest person in the room” often equates to “the person who has been doing it the longest and continues to hone their skills”. When I look around at our community, our network, and our clients, I’m proud of the diverse backgrounds, journeys, and stories. No one person is more intelligent than the next. That feeling of “I’m not smart of enough to be here” has evolved into, “What can I learn from this person”.

So what’s next?

As much as I’m a planner, I’m not. I know I want us to produce more courses, and what those courses will be. I know what the next evolution of our website and services will be as well. I have an idea of what success looks like for Trust Insights in another five years. What I don’t know (yet) is how the ever changing technology landscape will shape the value that we bring to our clients. I don’t know (yet) how my career will change and what opportunities I’ll have. I can try to manifest what I want to see happen by outlining it, but that’s not how I roll. I’ll mull over a few different ideas, conduct my research, and eventually something will click. Otherwise, what’s next is that I keep my eyes and ears open. I don’t shy away from non-traditional things. I don’t create plans so structured that they are unchangeable.

If you were hoping that I’d be giving a rundown of what services we started with and what we’ll be offering over the next few years, I’m sorry to disappoint you. We will be covering that on our Livestream this week. You can catch that on our YouTube channel, this Thursday at 1pm EST.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you and what lessons you’ve learned over the years.

Reply to this email or tell me in our free Slack Community, Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Binge Watch and Listen

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle an audience question: “Any general advice to simplify data explanations for decision makers who can’t follow a complex explanation (which always sounds like you are trying to cover for something)?” We look at what makes an explanation difficult or complex, and how to emotionally involve stakeholders with data storytelling to ask better questions and be willing to explore the answers more thoroughly.

Watch/listen to this episode of In-Ear Insights here »

Last week on So What? The Marketing Analytics and Insights Livestream, we talked through the PESO model with PESO founder Gini Dietrich. Catch the episode replay here!

This Thursday at 1 PM Eastern on our weekly livestream, So What?, we’ll be celebrating our fifth birthday live on the air! Are you following our YouTube channel? If not, click/tap here to follow us!

In Case You Missed It

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Data Diaries: Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s take a walk down memory lane as part of our five year celebration and look at the total number of inbound links to the Trust Insights website over the years.

Inbound links over 5 years

In this seemingly simple chart, there are a couple of critical lessons. First, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture from time to time. When we are focused on the execution of our marketing, we tend to get stuck in the weeds. We look at changes week over week or month over month, and we miss the big picture. In this case, 2022 really was our year in terms of inbound links; we earned more links in 2022 than we did in the first four years of the company’s business.

Here’s the gotcha: we didn’t necessarily notice that during the year, during the work each month. But when we stop and step back, it’s… a big difference. A really big difference!

A key takeaway for us is perhaps we need to start looking at the big picture more than once every five years or so. In seriousness, though, this sort of macro look at your data is what belongs in annual reviews of how marketing is going. Looking at this chart on a weekly or monthly basis doesn’t make a lot of sense, but looking at it as part of your annual marketing review makes a great deal of sense.

When we look at the big picture, we see a lot of inbound links early on, from the announcement about the launch of the company. Then over the years, we see a steady drumbeat of links from our content marketing, despite the many challenges we all faced during those years. After all, for three of the five years we’ve been in business, we’ve been in a global pandemic and several regional conflicts.

What changed in 2022 is the question almost anyone with even basic analytics skills would ask, looking at our inbound links. First, we debuted our academy and we spent a lot of time marketing it. Second, during 2022, we made growing our Analytics for Marketers community an absolute pillar, a centerpiece of our marketing strategy. In fact, our community is the second most-linked page on our site besides the homepage.

This speaks to the overall strategy we’ve been pursuing for some time now – market a few things really well. We can’t and shouldn’t be everything to everyone, or ask people to pay attention and act on dozens of different initiatives. Instead, we focus on just a couple of things but put our effort and energy into those things specifically – and we see the results of those efforts.

As we celebrate this week, we’ll take these lessons and operationalize them – to check in on major metrics at a macro scale at least once a year, and to stay the course on marketing a few things really well, rather than try to be everything to everyone.

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Upcoming Events

Where can you find Trust Insights face-to-face?

  • Martechopia, London, March 2023. Use MARSPEAKER20 for 20% off the ticket price.
  • B2B Ignite, Chicago, May 2023
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston, October 2023

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