Wendy Margolin has worked in marketing and communications for 18 years. As owner and founder of Sparkr Marketing, her goal is to help small businesses tell their story so that they can reach their business goals. As a nonprofit’s communications director during the explosion of digital marketing, she had to figure out every strategy and tactic to tell a brand story. Knowing firsthand the rapid pace of change in digital marketing, Wendy helps organizations filter through the countless marketing tactics to find the right ones to reach their target market. Most importantly, she helps organizations stay true to their story. She has deep experience in writing, social media content and ads, branding and graphic design.
Where did the idea for Sparkr Marketing come from?
I worked as communications director for a non profit for 12 years and learned so much about the buyers’ journey and how to reach them where they are at. I had to figure so much of digital marketing out for myself because I was working in it as the industry was exploding. We had a limited budget, and I was left to do most of the work in house.
Knowing that other small businesses face a similar scenario, I was driven to go out on my own with the goal of helping more people. I want to offer organizations a system they can just plug into without wasting time and money on tactics that aren’t effective.
The name Sparkr has so much meaning for me. Some of my earliest memories of storytelling come from sitting around a campfire, both with my family and with at overnight summer camp. A fire brings people together and holds them there until the sparks go out. What happens around a fire is storytelling, bonding and the shaping of ideas. Our goal in digital marketing is to spark new ideas to tell a brand’s story consistently across online media. We do this in a three-step approach: Build, Spark, Blaze.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My team and I all work from home, so I have to remain very focused. I’m also a mom of four kids, including three that are teenagers and want my full attention when they are around. I start my day at 5AM so that I can have two hours to myself before everyone is up. I use a journal to focus on what I am grateful for, what I am planning to focus on for the day and 10 big goals I am trying to achieve. For the items I plan to focus on, I schedule those into my calendar as if they are a meeting, and then I turn off any distractions during that hour, like email or phone notifications. I bill my clients hourly, so I owe it to them to take that time very seriously and maximize my outcome. I take breaks throughout the day to get my kids off to school, work out or spend time with family at dinner, but no day is 9-5. I also outsource as much as I can around the house, thanks to some household help and grocery delivery services.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I have an idea, it’s very hard for me not to launch in and plan the whole thing from start to finish right away. I have a strong internal drive to get ideas out into the world as if they might be gone before I have a chance to catch them. This can be my weakness because it can distract me from times when I should be focused on other parts of my life, but it is also what makes me productive.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about the potential for Messenger bots in social media. This sounds really nerdy, but hey, I’m in digital marketing, and Messenger bots done right are reaching people where they are at. Results are much better than email. I work with businesses and nonprofits that exist to improve the lives of their audience, and any strategy I can use to help get their ideas out is my jam.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m hyper-focused. If I set a realistic goal to complete a task, then I do. I always deliver projects on time and put my best effort into the project.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t get worked up about your career path. Decide what the next best move in your life is, and put your best foot forward. Grab every good opportunity that comes your way and see where it will lead you. As a journalism and business major 20 years ago, I never could have imagined being where I am today because digital marketing didn’t exist!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The most important skill we can teach our children is to write. Writing opens doors in life and professionally.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As often as I can I create systems in my business with the goal that one day my team will grow exponentially, and I can get my sticky hands out of everyone’s business. If I set my business up for success, my future self will be grateful.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hired an outstanding virtual assistant right away. So many entrepreneurs hold back before hiring help, but good help can propel us forward.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on in my consulting work, I let one client take over most of my business. I knew it was against every entrepreneur rule in the book, but the offer was too tempting. The position had a lot of prestige, and I learned a tremendous amount. It also opened some doors for me later. When that position ended, though, it set me back a year, and I had to rebuild my client base. I don’t regret taking that opportunity (see my response to #6!), but I wouldn’t do it again in the future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I want some really techy person to develop something as easy as Venmo to pay medical bills. I have all my bills automated and stay away from as many administrative tasks as possible. I’m perpetually late on medical bills not because I don’t want to pay them, but because it’s such a hassle to set up a new bill. With six members of our family, medical bills add up!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Canva Pro. There’s a way to use the Canva free version, but the Pro version saves me a lot of time for social media graphics. I have full access to the Adobe Creative Suite, but I still spend a ton of time in Canva because it is so fast and easy to use.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Monday.com is my task management app, and I couldn’t work without it. My whole team is in it, and I refer back to it several times a day. We keep track of projects, tasks, ideas, social media calendars and billing in there. I even create files that I share with clients as viewers in there. I don’t know how people are still relying on just email and on calendars. A task management app, like Asana or Monday.com, saves me time from searching for a file or information, and I am less likely to forget something.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love Carmine Gallo’s books Talk Like Ted and The Storyteller’s Secret. Both are interesting books to anyone, but they are especially useful to someone who has to make sales pitches, speak or write.
What is your favorite quote?
If not now, when? It’s a quote from Ethics of Our Fathers, and it’s my mantra. None of us know how long we’re here, and it’s our responsibility to use our time to become our best selves and enable others to do the same. This quote keeps me motivated and focused on my future self, who doesn’t want to look back and regret a missed opportunity.
- Be intentional about a few items you need to get down in a day and then shut off all distractions like email notifications while you do it. Otherwise, you’ll spend the whole day being busy and getting nothing done.
• Check out Messenger Bots, like Many Chat, if your organization is finding that email opens are stagnant.
• Hire help early in your business, even if it’s only a few hours a week.
• Get yourself on a task management app early on in your business. It’s harder to implement later with a big team, and even just using it to organize your own tasks is a huge time saver. You’ll also be less likely to forget something important.