2020, The Year of the Roller Coaster

Well, what can I say about 2020, other than this year has been one wild ride on a crazy roller coaster (queue RHCP “Love Roller Coaster”)? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and then it was the best of times, again (queue Styx “The Best of Times”).

Our 2020 started out like gangbusters. We were on a rocket ride (queue KISS “Rocket Ride”) for the first 10 weeks, signing 2 contracts per week. Then the pandemic hit, with the shelter in place orders starting on March 16th. The next 10 weeks, we didn’t sign a single contract. Someone/ something basically drained the rocket fuel right out of our rocket ride, and the free fall started.

And for our clients, I have described the pandemic as a see saw. Some of our clients were hit hard by the pandemic (i.e., the end of the see saw hitting the ground with a thud) while other clients had their best years ever (the other end of the see saw shooting into the air). We had a client’s CEO on Jim Kramer (that Wall Street guy on that TV show “Mad Money”) state that their company just “had the greatest sales week in the company’s history.” We here at Yalo felt both ends of that see saw in our clients. The impacts on our Q2 were like many others, a significant downturn in our billings.

So, what did the Tribe do? The Tribe did what the Tribe has always done. We woke up on March 16th, went to work on behalf of our clients like it was just any other day. We didn’t even have an internal meeting to discuss how we were going to do things differently due to this pandemic. That’s because we have always worked in a distributed model. Working from home, not in an office, not in-person with our colleagues is just everyday practice for us. We had the teamwork, the trust, the communication, and all the technology in place to carry on with zero disruption in our ability to serve our clients with the same high quality and efficiency as they are accustomed to from our Tribe. So, the Tribe put our heads down, charged ahead, and supported our clients through some of their darkest days, helping them to pivot, stay agile, and communicate with their audience, swiftly and successfully. I believe through these trying times, that our relationships with our clients have grown even stronger.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We took our share of lumps in Q2. Projects not started. Canceled projects. Projects put on hold. We were down 40% in billings (QoQ). But in addition to our continued support of our clients, internally we did 3 key things.

  1. Our BD team went aggressively into the market to find new brands that we could help, reaching out to 5000+ new targets per month. Through this effort, we met with nearly 200 new prospects in Q2 alone, putting our brand in front of new potential clients.
  2. We created new service offerings to help our clients. We rolled out a new Virtual Event as a Service, created a new Design System Manager (DSM) solution via a partnership with InVision, offered UX/UI strategy via a partnership with FullStory, and built a Social Media Sentiment analytics program using the VADER engine (developed at Georgia Tech). This has grown the Yalo arsenal of capabilities that we can offer to our clients, helping them in more ways, and creating more projects for the Tribe.
  3. Lastly, we really amped up our own brand presence with a shiny, new website and stepped up our communication game via social and email. Our brand presence has been in full gear ever since the summer. On LinkedIn, our organic impressions increased by 6000%, on Facebook by 3500% (YoY). Our number of LinkedIn followers doubled. Our website traffic hit a new gear, achieving a 100% increase in sessions AND in new users and a 70% increase in pageviews (YoY). Our email program (which goes out to 40,000 subscribers) is averaging 12% in open rates and 45% in CTR. We have put a tremendous amount of new eyeballs on our brand in 2020, and we are confident that this will pay dividends in 2021.

The Tribe’s sweat and hard work paid off in the second half of 2020. In Q3, we grew our billings by +42% (QoQ) and signed our largest deal of the year. In Q4, we grew our billings again by +55% (QoQ), and we had our largest billings month and quarter in our agency’s history, by a country mile. By the end of 2020, we will have a +25% increase in billings and a +24% increase in contracts signed. Oh, and we signed our 100th client in Q4.

I couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve built here at Yalo, the culture we foster, and the grit+attitude that our Tribe brings to the dance every day for our clients, for our teammates, and for themselves/ourselves. We eagerly look forward to 2021 with hurricane force tailwinds at our back, propelling us forward into the new year. We will continue to be aggressive, looking for new relationships, new clients, new projects, new partners, and new solutions. It’s time to “Rock the Casbah” in 2021. Are you with us?