First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Beth Trejo: 2020 has taught me to embrace patience and do more of what matters. I thrive in a busy environment with the constant hustle of people and the buzz of new ideas. Although I’m staying busy and ideas are always flowing, the way I’m connecting with others has made a significant shift. (To say the least!) A year ago, my schedule burst with strategy conversations over coffee, speaking engagements at conferences, and regular one on one meetings with our team and clients. Fast forward one year, and those coffees, conferences, and discussions have shifted to video calls. I feel very fortunate to continue to have the opportunity to make connections that fuel my passion for this industry. However, I’m anxiously awaiting a time when in-person meetings are back to the norm instead of the exception, even if we forego the traditional handshake for a fist or elbow bump.
The silver lining of a less traveled schedule has allowed me to spend more time with those who matter most, my family. It’s also allowed me to reflect on how grateful I am for my family’s health and the deeper connections we’ve made during this time.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Chatterkick.
Beth Trejo: The desire to help people and businesses make real connections has always driven my career. Whether I was working at the American Red Cross, helping to communicate and organizing relief efforts for natural disasters, or supporting businesses at the local Chamber of Commerce, I quickly learned that authentic relationships were the keys to success.
While at the Chamber, I began fielding questions about social media. Things like, ‘Is social media for a business really a thing?’ ‘Is it worth the time and effort?’ ‘How can social media help my business grow?’ It was clear to me that there was a need for someone to help businesses use social media as a tool to make meaningful connections.
Call it courageous or crazy, I think it’s somewhere in the middle, but in early 2012, just weeks after learning I was pregnant with my second child, I took the leap and started Chatterkick.
I did it because I felt there had to be a better way—a better way to form meaningful relationships online. A better way to build partnerships collaborate with customers, and better use the internet to fuel business growth.
It’s been nearly nine years since I made the entrepreneurship leap, and I haven’t looked back since. Since 2012, Chatterkick has helped hundreds of businesses share their stories, build their businesses, and make connections that matter.
So, maybe I was always an entrepreneur, disguised as a social butterfly who wants to make a difference.
How does Chatterkick innovate?
Beth Trejo: Social media doesn’t have an off switch. So when you work in this industry, change is part of life. You can either embrace or innovate with those changes or get left behind.
We innovate to meet businesses where they are at, whether that is trying to hire qualified team members or drive leads for their sales initiatives. Before March, many companies were focusing on generating leads with their social media efforts. But, when COVID hit, those goals immediately shifted to focus on customer service and improving customer experience. When our business partners pivot, we do the same.
In instances where brick and motor locations had to temporarily shut their doors, social media was the only way for businesses to remain connected with their customers and communities. We did not take the responsibility lightly. We worked with our clients to quickly adjust strategies and tactics to make a significant impact when it mattered most.
2020 has truly tested our innovation process. But I’m happy to say that the Chatterkick team has risen to the challenge with ideas, innovation, and empathy.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Beth Trejo: Social media platforms have taken center stage in many people’s businesses and personal lives since March. I think it’s hard for businesses to deny social media’s impact at this point in the game. However, the digital world is very noisy at this point. Trying to figure out how businesses can cut through that noise has definitely been a challenge we’re solving for our partners.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Beth Trejo: Yes. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve had several customers shift directions or pause, which forced us to look at our staffing of the company and where we wanted to go. With an uncertain runway in the site, we decided to keep the current team intact and weather this storm together. We shifted our focus on driving value to customers in as many places as possible–regardless of the financial impact. It goes back to what Chatterkick is at our core. It’s all about relationships–relationships with our team, clients, and our client’s customers.
That makes for a happy ending, and I’m so proud of my team, but that doesn’t make focusing on the long term any easier. Adding an extra layer of stress to running a business, is supporting my school-age children in navigating pandemic life, including remote learning at times. I don’t have an answer to that one; it’s just plain hard.
Looking back, I’m glad we made the choice we did, as our business opportunities have significantly increased in the last few months. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but based on our team and partners’ strength and resilience, I’m very optimistic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Chatterkick in the future?
Beth Trejo: I think stress can change and morph quickly. From good to bad, from adrenaline to paralysis. My approach is to try and separate the facts from the emotions and start chipping away at issues one step at a time. Isn’t there a saying like that? ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ 2020 has proven to be quite the elephant, and although some days I’ve had my fill, I’ll keep moving forward one step at a time.
In terms of protecting the company, we must align our business with the market’s needs. For example, we have strength in responding and moderating on behalf of our business partners. The ability to step in and handle this significant increase in message volume was critical when social media became a lifeline for so many businesses. Providing a service to help alleviate stress on our client’s behalf was not only doable; it is where we shine.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Beth Trejo: Our competition mostly lies with brand-side teams, looking to take more efforts “in house”. It’s our goal to be true partners, driving the business forward and working side by side with internal teams. We continue to develop our model of training, consulting, and execution so businesses can have flexibility on where social media makes the most impact on their organization.
Your final thoughts?
Beth Trejo: The powerful role that social media plays in our businesses is beyond just marketing, and I think that the covid19 crisis has proven that point. We need tools to communicate with our team members, disseminate information to our customers quickly and efficiently, and we need real-time data to make quick market adjustments and decisions. Social media can and does play a pivotal role in all of that, and Chatterkick is here for it.
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