What do you get when you mix a fledgling barista/barbecue salesperson/recent NAIT grad with a transplanted-from-Hamilton Geography major/SEO expert? The start of Kick Point, that’s what!
Jen and Dana met in 2011 when Dana hired Jen to do citation building for her clients and also for basically anything she didn’t want to do herself (e.g. picking up her dry cleaning). As Dana’s consultation business prospered, she decided it was time to officially name the company, and Jen continued working for her when the business became Kick Point.
Shortly after that, Jen stopped running Dana’s errands and insisted that in order for Kick Point to have a long and fruitful existence, she needed to be an equal partner. Was this an easy transition? Heck no!
There were many growing pains, lots of tough conversations, and tons of stubbornness
(on Dana’s part) (on Jen’s part) (on both parts). But there was always an eye to the future and a focus on strengthening Kick Point, while working on their relationship so that they would be able to be present and effective in their roles.
2012–2013 was spent in about 150 sq.ft. of basement territory in Unit B, a co-working space on 104 Street in Edmonton, Alberta. The lighting was poor and there were lots of fruit flies, but the company was great! We got to spend time with startups and freelancers who were in the same growth stage as we were, and we all got to survive a summer flood together. Cheap thrills!
Looking back, the time we spent at Unit B was a bit like our awkward junior high and middle school phases — we had an idea of who we wanted to be, but we weren’t always pulling it off with style and grace.
Kick Point was a five person team when we signed a five-year lease for a loft on 107th Street, near MacEwan University. We got our keys on a Wednesday, planned to move the following Monday, and were forced to move on Thursday, because Jen was ready and she was particularly demanding that day.
Dana spoke at MozCon for the second time in July of 2013, and that ended up being a polarizing shift in how we marketed ourselves and in the type of leads we started getting. We used to focus on three things: SEO, PPC, and Social Media — and we were great at each of these three things, but we rarely got to perform research or set the strategic direction for a project.
When a company is only engaged to perform tactics, there will always be a disconnect between goals, strategies, and outcomes.
We spent the latter part of 2013 and most of 2014 repositioning Kick Point as an agency instead of a team of implementers that an agency could call upon. This shift led to significant team member shifts, as we parted ways with a person who had been with Kick Point since its inception, and hired a new digital strategist and a design director.
Our number one priority heading into 2015 was to redesign our website and write new content. We also had more than a year’s worth of project experience where we led projects from research and goal-setting through to execution and reporting, so we responded to (and won) a few RFPs.
The first version of our current website launched in June of 2015 and we were disappointed that our inboxes didn’t immediately flood with lead requests. We reworked some copy and made a few other functionality changes, and then — AND THEN, someone finally tested the contact form.
It was broken.
It had been broken for five weeks by the time we tested it.
We have checklists for launching client websites that are meticulously detailed (and of course involve testing every link and every form), but we neglected our own website. So if you tried to contact us during that time and we ignored you, we humbly apologize.
The redesign and new copy resonated with the type of clients we work best with and by the end of 2015, we had the first half of 2016 organized with booked projects that we were excited about.
The team at Kick Point worked hard and enjoyed a successful 2016. Dana was asked to present at many conferences and was a panelist alongside the Creative Director of AirBnB and the Senior Account Executive of Top Tier Brand Development at Google on the value of brand strategy and innovation.
Meagan wrote a blog post about Social Media mistakes and fixes that was one of our leading traffic sources for the year and was featured in the Moz Top Ten newsletter.
Brittany went to her first MozCon and came back and got us working on reformatting the way we deliver client strategy documents.
We also wore matching t-shirts and canoed for 25 km down the North Saskatchewan River in June — and oh wow, the tan lines we rocked for the rest of summer!
As our client portfolio grew, so did the time Dana and Jen needed to spend managing those interactions, so they chose to first hire a project manager, and later on, an account manager as well. This did not work. It was a valuable method to test, but in the end, we ended up with two barriers that contributed greatly to a lack of efficiency internally and tarnished some client relationships as well.
Moving on from the AM/PM model was a huge turning point that took place in the summer of 2016, and was an important change for the company in general.
Our (then) seven person team went back to working as a cohesive unit, but with a clearer direction, and each of us with a direct focus on client service. In September, we hired a senior web developer to become our Development Director, so AJ, our previously solo-web dev now had a kindred spirit to work with and learn from.
We avoid silos by sitting together in an open space and talking about, well just about everything. When we start working with a new client, we have a meeting where everyone contributes, regardless of their ultimate involvement in the project. We all have very diverse backgrounds and experiences, and our clients deserve to have a piece of each of our brains working for them.
Kick Point is now three “departments” — but we continue to embrace a commitment to collaboration.
Finally, there’s the Strategy Team: Brittany, who is cold all the time and hates cilantro and Natalie, who joined Kick Point as an SEO Strategist (and Buffy the Vampire Slayer expert). Jen and Dana are on the Strat Team as well, and looking forward to a much stronger Fantasy Football showing this year than they had in 2016.
We also used to have Meagan, who was hovering between her desk in the office and her remote office at her home in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, but she has finished her time at Kick Point and is now roaming Central Alberta full-time. The office is much less punny now that she is gone.
There you have it! Not the briefest of histories, but we hope we’ve painted a picture of how we first came to be, and who we have become.