We’ve written about the humble beginnings of C7D nearly 2 years ago. We believe it’s time for an update! In this blog, we’re taking an unconventional approach to what’s been up with Creative 7 Designs by getting into the head of Joseph “Head Honcho” Kibler, the man behind the business. *Cue the dream sequence music* it still all began in June 2002…
J: We want to bring a unique, personalized approach to design. We take the time to know each client as an individual, company, or organization so we can understand the heartbeat of what they do then translate that into creative design. And that’s noted in the logo and branding, website, and marketing.
K: Would you say COVID-19 and current limited world conditions have changed your thinking as a business owner and, if so, in what way?
J: We’ve all been affected by this pandemic in different ways and it’s very, very hard on business in different ways, too. We’ve had to ascertain how we can a) serve our clients better under these circumstances b) connect with clients who are struggling and learn what we can do for them c) or learn if there’s anything we can do differently to bridge the gap between the client’s services or products and customers.
K: In the previous blog, you mentioned that you only worked on evenings and weekends until 2004. How would you alter everyone’s work schedule if you could?
J: For everyone, right now, it’s about stress mitigation and being flexible. As a business owner, managing stress is important. I want everyone to take time to rest. Recent circumstances have been stressful for everyone, but we haven’t really had to necessarily find “new” ways to work; we’ve had to work in different environments, yes, but the key challenge is keeping that communication flowing whether schedules or environments are shifted or not.
K: So there are some challenges you’re currently balancing. With that, what’s the biggest challenge you have with your specific role right now and how are you going to overcome it?
J: I think the biggest challenge right now for the business is definitely sales. Many clients are more cost-conscious than they were 4 months ago. We’re already reasonable with our rates, but I’ve noticed that, from a sales aspect, I’m having to push a lot harder to actually closeout opportunities. I think many of our clients are struggling with the same thing—knowing the costs of doing business but also realizing that everyone is cutting costs. How do we still provide services and get new jobs? I also miss being able to have face-to-face meetings because it helps with the close rates on jobs. We’re able to have more face-to-face conversations, but the limitations over the months have still been a challenge.
K: Aside from COVID-19, what’s the biggest surprise C7D has had in the last few months, and why?
J: Many clients were cutting back on their marketing for various reasons, but we had a couple who saw this as an opportunity and increased their marketing, so that was a surprise *whispers* and I don’t get surprised easily. Also, (and I mean this in a the best way possible) I was surprised to see how well the team persisted through the quarantine. I had natural doubts because everyone’s working from home in their PJs, and we had a couple of new folks, but I feel everyone did exceptionally well and continues to do so. It was more of a delight than a surprise that workflow persisted. For most people, creating that discipline to work from home is a learned skill. There have been bumps and challenges along the way that are expected given the situation, but it was a delight that everyone held their piece of the team together.
K: Describe the current C7D process behind building successful client relationships.
J: It ties straight into the first question you asked at the beginning of this interview. Understanding the client is what separates us from so many companies in our space. That’s what attracts clients to us—they realize we really take each client seriously and want to understand their “why” and what they do.
K: In the previous blog, you also mentioned how the company now has monthly marketing clients and does a variety of services. If you were a client, what service do you think you’d be most interested in utilizing?
J: I wanted to avoid saying all of our services are good but, yes, all of our services are good. I would say more so working with our team, though. Not really a service, but that point does attract people to work with us. Client interactions with our team are nice, professional, timely, and productive. And I think that’s a big buy-in for people who decide to go rather than our competitors.
K: And since the world of design, web, and marketing is an ever-changing landscape, how do you combat challenges associated with an ever-changing landscape?
J: Continuously encouraging the team to learn and be at the top of their game. Staying educated, following trends, and paying attention to future trends are all important. One of the keys to our success is that we’re not always pulling the same ideas out of the same hats. We recognize that there are new hats to pull ideas from and implement.
K: Now, for future C7D endeavors: What advice would you give someone wanting to start a business similar to yours?
J: Don’t. I’m just kidding! Well, it takes a lot of personal discipline and structure—you get up in the morning, you go to work, and when you don’t have work, you’re looking for work. When you’re running a company, you wear many hats trying to prioritize what’s important, so personal discipline is vital.
K: If I could remove all barriers and constraints, what project would you do, and would you want to be known only by that project?
J: I would like to push out the MyUnlimitedWP website brand, C7D’s sister company. It’s a great product—a fix for business owners to get their website updated.
K: Let’s close this out! What is one common myth about your profession or field (creative agencies) that you want to debunk? Or are they all true?
J: *Laughs hysterically* The copy-and-paste perception that clients tend to have. Nothing that we do here as a creative agency is as easy as copy-and-paste, and very rarely is a website revision as easy as copy-and-paste. Another myth—yes, we like to treat our clients as individuals, but we have multiple clients we also need to serve. Basically, you’re not the only client (and I mean that in the most respectful way). We have schedules, production timelines, and we’re here to help, but we also have schedules outside of work. For example, we’re closed on the weekends, so the chances of us getting back to you on a Saturday isn’t realistic.
K: Lastly, Where can our supporters connect with C7D online?