Stay in front of the network that you’ve spent so much time building. Figure out where they spend their time, and be visible there.
Monika Jansen is Head Kick-Ass Copywriter and Strategist at Jansen Communications, a boutique marketing agency that provides copywriting and social media marketing services to companies that want to not just grow, but hit their business goals too. Most clients are small to mid-size companies you’ve never heard of, but past clients have included Groupon and Web.com. Their most sought-after service is blogging, followed by website content, email marketing, social media marketing and marketing copy for various types of collateral.
Before founding Jansen Communications in 2009, Monika worked in marketing at a pre-dot com technology startup, a job placement company in the hospitality industry and an international arts nonprofit. When she needed a break from marketing, she worked as a personal chef in the Boston area for a year.
Monika was recently named a marketing influencer on Twitter by Libris. She became an Amazon bestselling author in July 2018 when a book about options trading she co-authored with a client zoomed to 8 bestsellers lists within 48 hours. She is also Chair-Elect of the Women in Business Initiative Advisory Board at George Mason University’s School of Business. When she is not working, she hangs out with her husband and kids, travels, snowboards and laughs as much as possible.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I wish I had a fancy, inspiring story to share, but honestly, I was simply fed up with working for other people. My kids were little at the time, so I wanted a job that provided maximum freedom, creativity and flexibility. Because I loved copywriting so much, I thought, “Well, I’ll just hang out my shingle and see what happens!”
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days aren’t super typical – I think that’s true for most creative agencies out there – but one thing that’s a constant is how much time I spend on email. Now that I have a team to handle client deliverables, I don’t write much anymore. Most of my day is spent managing my team, clients and projects, and of course doing business development.
My days remain productive by using Asana, the task-management tool, as if my life depended on it (because it does!). If it’s important to write something down, it goes into Asana. All client details, project overviews, tasks, processes and status updates are in Asana. This keeps me organized and on top of projects, and most importantly, it frees up a ton of a headspace.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love nothing more than brainstorming out loud, whether it’s with a client, my team, or a combination of the two. The more ideas that get thrown out there, the more creative my brain gets and the better the outcome.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Voice search. It’s literally changing the way we look for and find information. For a copywriter who has always embraced the “write like you talk” philosophy, it’s an exciting opportunity to make the content that’s “out there” into content that’s findable and useful.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Ignoring email for vast stretches at a time. If someone really needs me right-this-second, they’ll call or text me – or get in touch with my assistant. Guess what? That’s happened, like, twice.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get serious about accounting and finances now, not later. Track your cash flow, become best friends with your P&L, outsource all accounting-related tasks since you hate doing all of them and pony up for QuickBooks Online. It’s worth it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In the marketing world, there’s a lot of debate about how long Twitter will survive. I don’t think it’s going anywhere – it has too many loyal users and there is no alternative to the platform (aka, it’s not MySpace staring down an ascendant Facebook).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Other than embrace and totally love on Asana, I’d say use Slack to communicate non-vital information to your team (and vice versa). Questions like, “Hey, are we still on for 11am?” don’t need to go out via email. A messaging app is faster, better and doesn’t clog your poor inbox.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Building a very strong, very large network has resulted in non-stop word-of-mouth business. It’s not enough to build that network, though. What’s the point if you’re not going to use it? I am active on LinkedIn, so I stay visible. I keep in touch with people by bumping into the them at events, setting up coffees and lunches and via my monthly newsletter. I am pretty loud and funny, so people remember me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Choosing one failure out of a million is tough, but I’d say one of my worst failures was not hiring properly. I had a lovely person on my team who was incredibly articulate and charming in person. As a writer, she sucked. It was like her body was overtaken by a robot as soon as it was time to put pen to paper. I had to let her go, obviously. Since then, I worked with a fabulous operations and hiring consultant who helped me create a rock-solid hiring process. Best investment I ever made.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Sorry – I don’t have one!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
When one of the women on my team was pregnant this past year, I surprised her with a unique baby shower gift. A friend makes six-foot rulers that allow parents to track their kids’ annual growth; each ruler is customized for the family. I love giving gifts, and this was a fun one to deliver! It’s very important for me to demonstrate how much I appreciate my team. I say thank you and sing their praises as much as I can. Without them, I wouldn’t have the privilege of leading this amazing agency.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Asana and Slack – see above!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. Danny is a very famous and successful restaurateur, and the book is as much about his career as it is about his philosophy. My biggest takeaway from the book is that you put your team first and your customers second. If your team is happy, they will treat your customers well, and in turn, you’ll have very happy customers.
What is your favorite quote?
Be true to yourself, and you will never die. – The Beastie Boys
• Use a task-management tool like Asana to keep your clients, projects, and team organized, on-task, and on-time.
• If you want to get stuff done, ignore email. The world won’t implode because you replied to someone five hours later.
• Stay in front of the network that you’ve spent so much time building. Figure out where they spend their time, and be visible there.
• Get a solid hiring process in place to ensure your team is composed of only the best and brightest.
• Make it a regular practice to thank your team for everything they do.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.