Developing an online presence has grown into a buzz topic of conversation. As we mentioned in our post on fads versus long-term trends, in the early days of consumer-internet adoption many people believed that little thing called the “World Wide Web” to be something of a craze that would teeter out eventually.
Not One Lily, a stellar creative agency out of California. Formed in 2000 by Angela Nielsen (who has an incredible story that stands on its own), the One Lily team spends a lot of time on web design but also focuses on building a consistent voice for businesses online as well as in print & marketing materials.
In their 13 years of operation they’ve built over 600 websites and currently have about 200 active clients. Most of their original clients are continually engaged and have gone through redesigns as UI/UX trends morphed over time. “Many of our clients have stayed with us even as their business and industry focuses have shifted,” Angela said, speaking to their ability to understand their clients’ end users.
A Serious Success Story
“In 2005, we had a client in the coaching industry approach us. It was going to be their 4th time around at a web redesign and they said that if they didn’t get it right this time they were out of business. No pressure there,” Angela joked.
“We got it right, though, and they’re now on their way to becoming a million dollar business. The biggest problem they’d faced before us was that the people they had do their design and some of their brand creation didn’t understand the coaching industry and thus the ‘product’ they were ultimately selling.”
Thus, her biggest piece of advice for companies trying to grow online: build your image based on what your client expects to see. “It’s a tough conversation to have to tell our clients that ‘it’s not about you.’ It’s an art of pulling them outside of themselves and developing design, copy, and marketing materials meeting the expectations of the prospect, not the whims of the business.”
On Social Media & Blogging Strategy:
It’s the new frontier in marketing and something many companies are timid if not downright scared of. One Lily is big fans of social media but believes it needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“We try to get our clients over the hump of being afraid of social media or blogging and thus ignoring it. Sticking your head in the sand is never a good strategy,” Angela said. “You can’t do it wrong but you also can’t do it all, meaning without a fully devoted department you can’t be on every platform (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) and do justice with each.”
Their process is to guide clients through what’s appropriate for them and their audience and then gauge what platforms they need to be on.
Their advice? Go watch for a bit & get ideas from the businesses that are doing it best. Don’t feel like you have to join the conversation immediately. The word Angela used, but wouldn’t credit to herself, was “edutainment” which I thought was appropriate. Blogging especially is about blending the personal voice with the education your business can provide based on its own expertise.
For some fantastic advice on social media & blogging from One Lily, I’d really recommend reading these posts:
On Online Scheduling:
One Lily started with a different online scheduling provider in 2006 because, “We were spending 2-3 hours per week trying to get things scheduled and by the time voicemails were returned we would miss opportunities to meet with clients or leads.”
The system they started on, however, was so complicated for the end users that they were getting calls in asking how to use it. “That negated the whole purpose,” she said.
In 2009, Angela set out on a hunt for a new system that would be easier for her clients to figure out. Knowing that change is difficult and she didn't want to have to undergo it more than once (and in turn train her clients on new appointment systems twice), she did a thorough test of 8-10 different scheduling systems. “I wanted to make sure this was something I could be with for a long time,” she said.
Because One Lily takes clients all over the globe, the scheduler had to support multiple time zones but could not be too complicated for the end user to figure out. “I wanted it to take clients 1-2 minutes and that’s it.”
That was one requirement. The other was customer service. With tech companies, especially the ones with high volume, good customer support can be hard to find. “TimeTap was the only service I tried that would respond to my requests, often in less than an hour!” Most of the services she tried took more than a day to get back to her which, in business critical situations, is hard to swallow.
“What I love most about TimeTap is Addy,” Angela said (Addy, for those of you who don’t know, is TimeTap's totally-fabulous founder). “Everything I’ve ever asked for has been built out and he always asks for my feedback on the new things he is developing. Many companies don’t take time for the end-users to make sure they have a positive experience.”
“You’ve got a lifelong customer in One Lily,” she said. “We refer our clients to you. I even had a competing company call me not too long ago because they know how much I referred you guys. They asked if I’d consider switching, and, put simply, I said ‘No.’”
Needless to say…
If you’re looking for a creative agency to help you grow online, look to One Lily. They’ve got rave reviews, numerous awards, and are, obviously, easy to schedule with.
One Lily has been a TimeTap customer since December 2009.