Power Pairs Mentorship Program | Power Digital

Why We Launched This Program!

At Power Digital Marketing, our employees are the most important part of our business. If we have the best team and those people are driven and passionate about what the company is doing, we will be successful. We have found that for us, it is really as simple as that.

Like many companies who rely heavily on having great people, one of the most important components of our success is:

1) Recruiting and developing top talent

2) Retaining our team and giving them all the reasons to stay with us and none of the reasons to look elsewhere

As a company with a large Millennial employee base we have found that one of the keys to retaining talent is ensuring they are not stagnant in their personal growth and that they continue to evolve their professional skill sets. Fostering this takes effort but the millennials passion for growth is an amazing quality that needs to be catered to and when it is catered to can be the biggest asset to your organization.

Our Training Progression: Formal Training to Mentorship Pairings

In the past we have done many things to help our team grow and develop. Some of those initiatives include a formal Leadership Program in which we have a formal curriculum based off the Ken Blanchard book, the New One Minute Manager and meet weekly for organized leadership development training. We have also hired outside trainers and experts to come in and hold workshops and trainings with our team as well as held internal programs like our Power Digital Lunch & Learns and Workshops.

These types of programs are great but the challenge for many companies is they tend to require a major time commitment from the Executive Team or large sums of Capital Investment, both of these things can be hard for small businesses to justify and often gets neglected when CEO’s & CFO’s are looking at the balance sheet trying to determine where to cut costs. We know that cutting these programs is a major mistake and wanted to find a way to put a large emphasis on team development and training without having to break the bank every quarter with expenses and resources. That concept is what triggered me to think of the Power Pairs Mentorship program over the Holiday break at the end of December 2016.

With the Power Pairs Mentorship program we set out to create a new type of employee development program that required very little capital investment and minimal time commitment from the C-level leadership team.

The program turned out to be a HUGE success and something we feel many companies can really benefit from. That is why we want to share exactly what we did with you. As you will see below, that Mission was accomplished and this program ended up having a MAJOR impact on our company and team! Watching the “Power Paris Pitch Day” to conclude this program was by far one of the highlights of my career at Power Digital and an incredibly proud and fulfilling moment for every member of our team.

How We Structured The Mentorship Program

We decided on a loose structure when rolling this program out so that the mentors and mentees would have ownership of the program and individual curriculum.  We hoped that this would cause them to really put thought into how to maximize their time and make each mentorship groups program as customized and impactful as possible for those two specific team members.

This may not be the best route for all organizations but with the Power Digital culture being very entrepreneurial and encouraging to taking chances and ownership over our careers it proved to be a great structure that really was a difference maker from other similar programs I have seen.   

The Net Net of the Program Structure and Launch!

The program was rolled out and launched at our 2017 kick-off meeting.  It was about half way through the deck that we used to celebrate 2016 and kick off 2017 and before we even reached the section a few team members asked “what do we have in the way of learning and employee development” so it was something our team was already asking for and excited about.  

Here are the core guidelines:

  • Mentorship groups would meet every other week and it was suggested that they do so outside the office so they could focus on personal growth and not typical office distractions such as email or emergency interruptions - we have learned over time that this is critical for any exercises or programs like this and assures that the team members can really focus on growth and not day-to-day workflow or client fires that can  be hard to separate yourself from when in the office environment.

  • During the initial meeting Power Pairs would discuss how they feel they could best help each other to grow and the core areas they both felt most driven to grow in. This was meant to be a very consultative conversation where the mentor helps dive deep and really identify what the mentee is passionate to learn and grow in and how they can best help them.  Not only was this valuable for the mentee (finding out exactly what they wanted to learn and not what the Executive team or mentor assumed they wanted to learn) but it was a great exercise for the mentor to really hone their skills on how to be a great consultant and leader and get to the route of what drives their mentee.

  • Once topics were brainstormed and on the table the Mentor would develop a custom curriculum and program to help them both progress in these areas.  That curriculum was then outlined by the mentors and presented to the mentee in the next meeting and from there they were off to the races and begun to execute on this mission to get better.

  • We encouraged Power Pairings (both the mentors and mentees) to document the meetings and progression from week-to-week to keep a log of how they were progressing against their core growth goals and keep momentum between mentorship meetings.  For all activities in this program it was a two way street where we wanted the mentor to grow and learn just as much as the mentee.  That part was critical and really worked as the feedback from the mentors and what they learned was very powerful.

  • The final deliverables from the program would be at the end of the semester at the “Power Pairings Pitch Off” (for our program that was 3 months - Q1 2017) and they would present a Powerpoint deck on their process, learnings and findings which was also accompanied by a blog post that would act as a public facing document of what they had accomplished or learned.  Not only did this deck provide a great deal of value to our internal team as we got to learn from each other and other mentorship groups but the blog posts also provided a great marketing resource for us to share with other organizations, clients and the general business community.
  • There were 5 judges who graded the Power Pairings during the “mentorship pitch off” on a scale of 1 - 10 with 10 being a perfect score.  They graded 1- 10 on 4 core areas that included:
    • Commitment to the Program

    • Process and Curriculum Organization

    • Rapport and Connection Developed between Mentor & Mentee

    • Quality of 10 Minute Presentation and Supporting Blog Post (see below links to all blog posts, I think you will be very impressed)
  • The Winning Power Pair won a $1,000 BONUS and was recognized company wide! At Power Digital we have always found that it helps programs like this get traction when you create some level of competition and monetary incentive for the winners.  It helps create an environment where the teams drive each other to get better and put in maximum effort. It is a slippery slope though as too much competition can create management challenges so we would encourage you to really think about how to hit that right threshold so you get the value but do not get any negativity.

Pairing Up - 9 Teams of 2 Very Diverse Teammates

When we created the pairs for the nine teams we really wanted to focus on diversity and how we could connect teammates from different disciplines (in our case departments) and who had varying skill sets and unique talents.  Our goal was to pair the teams up so that the mentee benefited but the mentor also would grow and learn by teaching the mentee. It has been longtime proven and known that teaching someone a skill set takes an entire different level of understanding than just knowing it yourself. That becomes even more true when teaching someone who has very little in common with you.

We also wanted to use this mentor “partnership” to help team members that maybe were not as close of friends or knew each other that well and empower them to really get to know each other.  

This pairing  mentality worked better than expected and the pairs bonded in a way that was incredibly valuable to our business.  Here is a summary of the Power Pairs and core topics they focused their mentorship program on.  You will see some great diversity not only in the pairs and departments but in the topics they focused on.  There was a wide range of areas from analytics to emotional intelligence to marketing strategy and account management.

Team #1: Winning Team - $1,000 Payout! Power Players: Bill Wilkinson (Director of Technical SEO, Mentor) & Samantha Wormser (PR Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: Mastering Google Analytics
  • Summary: this pair was our winner and really knocked it out of the park. When we first paired teams up this one was a bit of a surprise in that we paired one of our PR all stars with our top technical person in the company.  The result was amazing as Bill taught Sam everything that a expert knows about Google Analytics and marketing analytics and Sam ended up gaining the Google Analytics Advanced Certificate with the 2nd highest score on the test that we have ever had in the company.
Check out the end all be all Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics IQ Test Study Guide, this is 100% the best resource for Google Analytics you will find online.  A huge asset to Power Digital and Internet Marketers as a whole!

Team #2 Power Players: Kate Lobel (Director of PR, Mentor) & Alexa Engelhart (Content Marketing Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: Building & Maintaining Effective Business Relationships
  • Summary: this was a great topic and one that our team and judges all felt very valuable.  Kate teamed up with Alexa to develop clear techniques to build great relationships with co-workers, manage upwards to your boss, develop rapport with clients and further understand how to help clients connect with their prospects through content and marketing.  They had a great curriculum including a journal that they both contributed to and used to track progress between meetings.
Check out their blog post which acts as your Guide to Building Effective Business Relationships and even included an interactive quiz that will help you determine which types of business relationships you excel at and which types that you need to improve upon!

Team #3 Power Players: Britney Schroeder (Director of Content Marketing, Mentor) & Makenna Johnson (PR Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: Mastering the World of Account Management
  • Summary: this pairing worked out amazing for Britney and Makenna.  For Makenna the timing could not have been better, she received her first account as an Account Manager just one week into the program.  Britney being one of the top Account Managers out there was the perfect Mentor to show her the ropes and really help her develop her skill set and build the foundation for a great career managing accounts.
Here is a summary of takeaways on Account Management, Client Communication and Aligning Sales and Marketing!  

Team #4 Power Players: Antonio Johnson (SEO Department Head, Mentor) & Priscilla Jeng (PPC Account Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: “Practice Makes Perfect: A Crash Course in Adaptive Learning and Application”  
  • Summary: this pairing was a very interesting curriculum with both Antonio and Priscilla coming from more scientific backgrounds they elected to go a more scientific way to their curriculum and learning. Much of the learnings and development came down to reading things on the fly and adjusting based on the situation and surroundings.
Check out Antonio and Priscilla’s blog post summarizing the program here!
You can also see the presentation outline the prepared and presented to the judges in the final here!

Team #5 Power Players: Austin Randall & Nicole Grodesky

  • Topic: Understanding Your Emotional Intelligence & Applying it to Business
  • Summary: this was an awesome topic that everyone can benefit from.  Austin and Nicole based their curriculum off a Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ”.  This is a great topic for all young business people to read and a great mentorship topic as EQ is a lost art and something that is make or break when it comes to working in teams, managing people and client relationships.  Austin and Nicole took a test at the start of the mentorship program back in January and again at the conclusion in late March and the progress was telling.  
Check out Austin and Nicole’s blog post on their journey during this process and how they really gained a great level of Emotional Intelligence that is already paying off for them!

Team #6 Hans Tveten & Austin Mahaffey

  • Topic: Developing The Skillset to Manage Complex Clients
  • Summary: when you are dealing with international clients that have complex businesses it can be a challenge for less experienced Account Managers.  Hans, one of our veteran and multi-national team members teamed up with Austin to help him develop the processes to flawlessly manage these accounts and provide a top of the line services.
Check back later to learn more about Hans’ and Austin’s mentorship journey!

Team #7 Power Players: Mike Opera (Director of Social Media, Mentor) & Sarah Stevens (SEO Account Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: Bringing Two Digital Marketing Channels Together: Paid Social & SEO
  • Summary: this mentorship pair put a big focus on how they could take their two different marketing channels of expertise and marry them together to get marketing results that may be currently missed or ignored. They worked to map out the customer journey between SEO and Social Media to fully understand where the best overlap was between channels and how they could better support each other.  They put together a plan and actually put it to test on one of our clients for FREE.  This was an awesome experience for our client who got free work and innovation on their campaign and a big win for Power Digital as our offering is more integrated than ever and we have figured out how to maximize the value of SEO with Social Advertising.
Check out Mike and Sarah’s blog post on bringing SEO and Paid Social together here!

Team #8 Power Players: Ryan Larkin (PPC Account Manager, Mentor) & Emily Reed (Senior Social Media Strategist, Mentee)

  • Topic: How to Get Better Results & Save Time Crunching Data with Excel
  • Summary: this pairing was another very strong one that allowed us to pair one of our most proven PPC strategists with one of our top Facebook Advertising pro’s.  Using advanced data visualization features of excel is a huge part of what the best PPC strategists due to optimize their campaigns and is an art that traditionally has not been as applicable to Facebook or Social Advertisers.  These learnings and lessons give our Social Advertising team a major advantage over typical advertisers.
Learn how to use Excel in a more impactful way right here in Emily and Ryan’s blog post!

Team #9 Power Players: Mike Iaco (Director of Business Development, Mentor) & Pat Kriedler (PPC Account Manager, Mentee)

  • Topic: Learning How to Sell B2B: A Formal Process, Goals & Results
  • Summary: Pat has for years expressed a real strong desire to learn more about the art of sales and how Power Digital conducts is sales and new business acquisition process.  With Mike being the head of Business Development for Power Digital it was the perfect time.  

Here is their blog post recapping their learnings!

Highlighting Some Major Wins!

The program was a major success as every group did a phenomenal job and really grew together. With that said some of the most notable wins included:

Interactive Guide on Power Digital Account Management Process: Makenna and Britney created an interactive Guide on the Power Digital Account Manager process that acts as the perfect resource for new team members joining the Power Digital team or younger team members working to become a Account Manager. It is a huge on-boarding and training asset that will last for years to come.

Proprietary New Analytics and Reporting Process Around Measuring PR Placements: this was a HUGE win for Power Digital. We have been looking for better ways to measure the impact of PR for the last two years and through this mentorship program Bill and Sam really solved it. This will help our clients make more money and more intelligently invest in PR but also likely make Power Digital an additional $25k - $50k this year!

Cross Channel Strategy and Understanding: this was a HUGE win from this program. In our industry the services and focal areas of the various departments can really differ. By teaming up mentors with mentees from different departments both individuals really grew and learned. Not only did they learn and better understand each others departments which was very valuable to them and Power Digital but they also build friendships and rapport across those departments to assure that our team is collaborative and continues to avoid “culture clicks” that can be very negative on an organization.

Landed a New Client: Mike and Pat our group that was focused on learning the Power Digital sales process actually generated a lead that has now closed as a Power Digital client with a revenue value of about $75k +/-. Not only did our team get way better but they made the company money in the process.

Wrapping Things Up on Q1 Power Pairs Mentorship Program

This program was a major success. For a cost of $1,000 we reaped the benefits outlined above. In addition to the small monetary investment the time investment from myself and the rest of the Executive Team was very minimal. All in, I probably invested about 5 hours of work into this program. Writing up this summary to share with all of you was the bulk of that time :)

If there is one thing that I have learned both as a millennial myself and managing millennials it is that we have a deep desire to get better and grow. If your organization is not scratching this itch you will not have success keeping your people and your team will not work hard for you. If you cater to this and get creative like we have on helping your people grow and get better it will pay off in a big way! I hope that this program gives you inspiration and a road map to launch similar programs in your organizations!

Best regards,

Grayson Lafrenz
Co-founder & CEO
Power Digital Marketing