Down, but Not Out. A story of taking on the digital realm.
Our story starts with a conversation.
In 2015, as one does in Calgary, I found myself working the oil and gas corporate ladder. No complaints there, my life seemed pretty normal to me. Much to my chagrin, not long after starting a new job, I was selected to be interviewed as part of an internal quality audit.
An audit? Really? OK bring it.
What the poor hapless auditor didn’t know was that I had just come from the world of defence contracting where process rigour is king. I knew for a fact my process knowledge was extremely advanced based on my experiences there. Regardless of how things were actually being done on my project, I had a fairly confident notion of how they should be done.
Turns out I was right. Also, it turns out the auditor was one Katelyn Bullock, whom I quickly discovered was a delightful well of knowledge about businesses, risk and engaging people, and a force of nature for getting things done. What started out as an audit, quickly developed into a friendship, and then ultimately into a series of key conversations that changed the course of my career.
Conversations about engagement, training and culture drove us to design and implement improvement programs and we quickly realized one important fact. We were really good at it. In fact, better than most of the people we knew. We loved it.
So thus it was that a conversation turned into a business partnership that has evolved into Enta Solutions. We help businesses scale and we do that in three ways; Digital Lead Generation, Employee Engagement and Business Optimization.
I’ve mentioned Employee Engagement and Business Optimization, but I have not yet told you the story of how our world went digital.
It’s a story that starts all too familiar to many. The pandemic lockdowns in March of 2020 obliterated our business overnight. Consultant contracts were the first to go and Katelyn and I quickly found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands.
In a cruel twist of fate, I had torn my Achilles tendon the week before the lockdown started, meaning that in less than a week I went from being a highly active sports enthusiast with a somewhat successful start-up to being unable to walk and having no business.
Being engineers we did what any sane person would do. We built a spreadsheet, and it was awesome.
It told us exactly how long we had until we were out of money and therefore our way to support our families was gone.
Step one was to cut our salaries nearly in half.
Step two was to rally and decide that if we couldn’t do business development in person, then we better get good at doing it digitally.
Thus began a foray into the digital realm. We took courses. We read. We researched. Luckily, we had engaged a consultant about 4 months before who had helped us already so we had a bit of a start.
Turns out this digital marketing game is fascinating. Being technically minded we took every piece of knowledge and started testing it.
We built a webinar. It failed miserably and nobody watched it.
But we learned a lot. In fact, we didn’t even realize how much until much later.
LinkedIn was where we lived. We learned auto messaging tools, content best practices and funnel strategies.
But most importantly we just started. This was of course, terrifying, but courage comes from desperation sometimes.
If I look back at some of my videos and content I cringe, but I’m also so proud just started. We “spaghetti towered” digital marketing (There’s a Ted Talks on the spaghetti tower social experiment I encourage you to check it out.)
The lockdown was in March, and by July our following was growing. By September we had clients and by October we hired our first employee.
The engagement we saw on LinkedIn allowed us to understand who was interested in what we had to say. For example, we had thought our ideal clients were engineers and oil and gas clients. They weren’t. That demographic ignored us completely. But low and behold another group loved what we had to say. Entrepreneurs.
Looking back, I can see the effect of this light bulb going off. Entrepreneurs are our ideal clients. These people are creative, driven, love to disrupt, want to give back and have succeeded by putting people first.
So thus, Enta Solutions entered the digital world in a big way.
Turns out this is a compelling story.
“Tell us more! What did you do?” were questions asked again and again in our prospecting meetings. Here was a market hungry to understand how to make this work! Scale-up businesses need social selling online to succeed which is why Enta now teaches the art, builds strategies, executes social media and all things in between.
In our experience, social media is the single greatest tool out there to lower your cost per lead in both time and money.
For us, what started out as an experiment in webinar and video, turned into a youtube channel, our own show on YYC Business, funnel building, Digital Marketing Design, a Network Amplifier Course and now re-targeting and AI to refine how and when we show up for online and for who. Not to mention venturing into other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok.
This has translated into a whole spectrum of new clients in this space including coffee roasters, glove manufacturers, custom furniture designers, oil and gas consulting, engineers and so forth.
Not to mention all our big success collaborators were through LinkedIn. This includes a software partnership with a Spanish company that empowers employee advocacy through social media!
One of our favourites, an engineering firm out of Toronto likes to comment “I hate unsolicited messaging online, but somehow you got me. I still don’t know how you did it!”
All that from a conversation.
So that is the story, and if I can leave you with one piece of advice it’s this. If you are thinking of getting into the digital space or trying to improve what you have already, then don’t dabble. Content and social media are part of an intricate system that starts within the people of your business. Start there, then build pieces around it until the whole world can see why you and your business are amazing.
Don’t settle for pretty pictures. Expect results by aligning your business and integrating the digital world into how you do business every day. Who knows, maybe along the way you’ll realize you are enjoying yourself!
At the end of the day, as I look back, we got knocked down. Hard. But we got back up and that struggle has been the best thing that ever happened to us.