What an incredible year!
To be honest, I am not even sure where to start. Am I doing this right? Christina & I are currently 35,000 feet in the air, traveling to Las Vegas for CES with one of our new(er) clients, ION360. 12 months ago, I would not have imagined this is where our team would be. 2017 was packed full of emotion, good, bad and everything in-between.
The beginning of the year started like this: January, we lost a six figure Creative Management Services account with a long-term client; February I lost my father (who I was extremely close with) fairly unexpectedly; and then along comes March and we received our largest promotional product order to date, from the client that ended the 6 figure contract with us in January. We also started cooking dinner once a month at New Horizons in downtown Seattle, which is an incredible non-profit dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk youth. And that was just Q1 2017!
Valuable Lesson: Everything happens for a (good) reason. The contract that we lost in January was not because of anything we did, but because that client was shifting the way that they ran their marketing team. Shortly thereafter, they came back to us with our largest promotional product order EVER. And now, 12 months later, they have done more business with us than they did when they were under contract, AND we are back in negotiations with them to resume Creative Management Services.
The momentum continued nicely into Q2 2017. We crafted a bunch of proposals, some accepted, some rejected. We gained several new clients. We launched websites for Cordova Electric Company, Wall Street Capital Partners and Western Display Fireworks. One slow day in June, a guy emailed us looking for help with some printing for his upcoming wedding. We gave him our typical white-glove treatment (we really do go above and beyond most companies in my humble opinion). He was so impressed by our customer service that he reached out a few days later and asked, “Are you interested in B2B work?” I explained that is actually what we focus on, and that I just wanted to help him out as I had recently gotten married and understand what he was going through. Turns out this gentleman is the Head of Marketing for HIDDEN (due to an NDA, I cannot divulge his company, but you have likely received a package from them recently) and he knows my wife (from before her last name was Brumann, so he hadn’t put it together yet.) We share a lot of mutual friends and even a de facto (is this the right word) mentor! Sooo… The point of this story is that we ended up doing business together, and his company not only contracted us for a very large and high profile print job, but he also used us for the design work of the print assets. The project took about 4 months, it went really well and we anticipate doing more work with them soon.
Valuable Lesson: You never know who you are talking to. I could have easily ignored the small job that the gentleman sent over for his wedding, but I didn’t. That is not what we do at GB Pro. We do our best to take care of every single person that calls or emails us, regardless of job size. If we don’t think we are the best team for the job, we are not afraid to help them find a better alternative. We refer business all the time, and in turn, we receive a ton of referrals. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the moral of the story is TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE.
Q3 saw the train keep rolling. When we started chatting with ION360 about being their creative agency, we were excited about the opportunity (though we weren’t sure where it was going to end up.) We landed a new client, Sitka Packaging (Sitka creates high-end marijuana products and they hired us to print all of their packaging.) We created a 6 part video series for Jason Gosser, one of the most successful Mortgage Loan Officers in the country (If you need a mortgage, I would highly recommend taking to Jason and his team!) We sponsored and attended Liberty Road Foundations 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament and Dinner Auction – and we took FIRST PLACE! In addition to winning it all, we also sponsored a hole, handled all of the printing, donated some cool divot tools, and printed the official tournament golf balls. The best part is we had an absolute blast supporting this amazing non-profit! Q3 wasn’t without challenge though; the summer is always slow for us. We spent a few months pitching a large-scale print project to Microsoft that didn’t pan out. We spent a month pitching Creative Management Services to a big developer in the Maple Valley area to not even get a response saying “Thanks, but we went another direction.” We had a client stiff us for 5 figures. We dug in, stuck to the script, and look at us now!
Valuable Lesson: Stay the course. If you are consistent and persistent things will always work in your favor. It’s okay to grind a little harder in slow times. See, a lot of companies let off the gas when everything is going great – they relax their efforts to bring in more clients. By relaxing, you are setting your company up “down months.” If you stay the course, keep your foot on the gas, your slower months won’t have a big impact on your company.
Q4 was insane! It was our biggest quarter to date. We landed some new contracts and established several new relationships that are flourishing, opening doors left and right. We began our Creative Management Services contract with ION360, did events with Jake Paul, David Ortiz, The Pope and many more. We helped design a bunch of cool apparel for a new client, Clark Construction. We did some big political direct mail campaigns and wrapped up that big print job for the client that I can’t mention. We did some work for Red Bull, as well as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. We worked a bunch with our favorite Social Media agency, Project Bionic. Produced some awesome The North Face jackets for our friends at Tacoma RV – go see them if you’re in the market for a travel trailer, ask for Mike. Knocked out some shirts for our friends at Flyers Restaurant and Brewery for their 12 year anniversary – yes, you should absolutely go visit them. Made a bunch of swag for our favorite winery, Longship Cellars in the Tri-Cities – try and get your hands on some Ginger Man Syrah, you’ll thank me later. It was just an insane quarter of growth, late nights, teamwork, happy hours and FUN!
Valuable Lesson: Do what you love and love what you do. I feel like this gets regurgitated a lot on social media. You know what I am talking about, the high-impact videos preaching entrepreneurship – it comes across super cheesy a lot of times, but its not – it’s 100% true. If you love something, figure out how to get paid for it. Grind your ass off, hire awesome people, network all the time, strive to learn more each day – the rest will fall into place. It’s hard work, but if you are having fun you won’t even realize that it’s hard.
I’m still not certain I am doing this right. I’m also not sure that I care, though. I’m just so stoked on how 2017 went for GB Pro, and even more excited for what’s to come in 2018 and beyond. We have 4 team members now, we are getting ready to add another. So if you are a designer, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your portfolio.
Wrapping it up, I will summarize the year like this; we worked with big clients like Ford and brand new companies like Aspire Athletics. We donated, volunteered and gave back as much as we could, and promise to do even more this year. We learned a lot, we grew a lot, we laughed a lot and we worked a lot. Something something something about doing it right, perhaps. And we had really, really good fucking time!
Nothing But Love,
Greg & Christina Brumann + GB Pro