Once every few decades there is a team: a team so enviable in its greatness that you can’t help but feel magic every time you glimpse at them. In the NBA, you might remember teams like the ’14-’15 Golden State Warriors, the ‘95-’96 Chicago Bulls, and the ‘85-’86 Boston Celtics. Breaking down why these teams are so great is something people rarely do, but only by breaking down the “why” are we able to recreate a magic team in any environment.
At 97th Floor, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve figured out and implemented the formula for the magic team in order to create one of the best digital marketing agencies in the nation. You might be wondering how I can even begin comparing an NBA championship team to a digital marketing agency, but they’re not that much different from each other. In fact, both take four key elements for their success: Talent, Training, Flexibility, and Fundamentals.
When drafting talent, great teams look for diversity and potential. The problem with drafting only all-star shooters is that you lack diverse specialists, meaning your offense may be the best in the league, but you’ll suffer in other areas of the game. Everyone remembers Michael Jordan on the Bulls, but not as many remember that Jordan wasn’t a champion without his defensive teammates, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, who remain to this day two of the best defensive players in NBA history.
At 97th Floor, we draft our players based not only on talent, but also on how they will interact with others, how they will grow, and how they will add to the team. We realize that we don’t know everything, so when we hire, we pick individuals that can teach the group something new and round the team out. We have an economics expert, a public relations guru, a business-training executive, and a political scientist, to name a few. We realize that diversity in our employee’s strengths and backgrounds is what can give us a leg up in securing the kinds of clients we do. Now when a local politician comes looking for digital marketing experts, we know who will help consult.
When Shaquille O’Neal joined the Orlando Magic in 1992, he was already a star, earning the largest rookie NBA contract in history up to that point. He was given leeway with helping recruit other teammates, and even swayed coaching strategy. Needless to say on the Magic he was treated differently and trained differently. The team was successful for a short period, even making it to the 1995 NBA Finals. Ultimately, however, the Orlando Magic crashed and burned after Shaq left the team for LA in 1996.
Although there were a lot of factors at play sabotaging that early Orlando team, one of the biggest factors was that it was “all about Shaq.” When just one player is given that much special treatment and influence, other players don’t feel like they can make a difference, and a team can fall apart.
At 97th Floor every employee is put through a rigorous training process. That means everyone learns the same skills, regardless of what level they are in the company. Because of the open communication-style we’ve employed, everyone can add to the discussion of how to improve things and make them better. Everyone is trained to be a star player at 97th Floor.
LeBron James is a small forward—meaning his main responsibilities are scoring points, defending, and rebounding. LeBron is different though. He has considerable passing responsibility, draws a foul like no one else, and can guard the biggest guy on the court, not typical strengths of a small forward. He also holds the record for the most assists by a forward in NBA history. All in all, LeBron James is a flexible player.
At 97th Floor, we like LeBron James’s style—and like LeBron, we are flexible, and ever-learning. That means we don’t just learn the basics of what a marketing agency should know: we define what an agency should be. We pride ourselves on attending and speaking at every marketing conference so we are not only clued into the conversation, but also have an active part in the future of the industry. (See our Director of Marketing Operations, Paxton Gray’s speech from SMX Milan). While other agencies may get good at SEO and social media, 97th Floor excels beyond that with reputation management, analytics, content marketing, design, writing, PPC, and R&D, adding more growth and learning to our repertoire every year. There is never an end to what we can learn and strengthen to better serve our clients.
Great teams have talent, excellent training, and flexibility, but many teams fall short when it comes to the fundamentals. The foul shot, for example, is a fundamental part of the game that makes or breaks many teams. Why? Because often, games are won by only a point or two. In a sport so unpredictable, we can always count on the fact that there will be a foul in every game, and a shot from the free throw line. With nobody guarding you and limited external factors to mess you up, this shot should be simple. The great teams realize this and use it to their advantage, winning on average two more games a season than other teams with less than an 80% free throw percentage. While it’s wonderful to have a flawless fade-away, the finesse of the between-the-legs dribble, or a superb slam-dunk, the biggest difference maker is a shot so basic, all you have to do is put in the work.
Once a month at 97th Floor, we have a company-wide meeting where we discuss the work we’re doing, how we can improve, and what we’d like to accomplish. At the end of each meeting we are reminded to focus on the work: the day-to-day fundamentals that make us great. We put in the work and our record shows it. Yes, we like to do big campaigns, and to show off our strengths with interactives, designs, and awards, but our team is great because we’re experts in the fundamentals. We know what’s effective in helping a client reach their goals, and we get them there.
In short, 97th Floor is a team of talented marketers, designers, writers, and leaders focused on achieving the best results for clients. Equipped with the 4 elements of success, namely talent, training, flexibility, and fundamentals, our workplace culture allows for growth and continued success in helping us see and meet the same long term goals of our clients. To become a part of our all-star team, or to learn more about the company, make sure to follow our blog and social accounts (Twitter, Google+, Facebook).