Tips on using your web presence to make the world a better place with Chris Yoko

  • You could use your web presence to do something, whether it's to be a little bit more charitable, a little bit more sustainable, a little bit more in favor of generating more opportunity for people throughout the entirety of their journey.
  • We work exclusively with organizations that have a passion or a purpose beyond mere profit.
  • Here's the real tangible impact of the work we did, that we would've never known if we hadn't thought about the kind of stress that this puts on people and how we remove that. That tends to be more meaningful for a lot of people.
  • Here's how we make an impact, and here's how we help people. Saying that tends to transform a lot of your messaging.
  • But if you're punching through [your target] and really aiming for the purpose that falls behind it, you're going to find your follow through is much stronger. You're going to find your outcomes are much better.
  • You can use that kind of language on your web site, and it might be really attractive and it might seem like a differentiator. But if it's not authentic and it's not true to who you are, none of that converts into an actual business opportunity.
  • So if you can make sure that from a standpoint of their role, they check the boxes they need to in terms of business results, and then you give them an emotional reason to also connect with that mission. You're only going to find more success.
  • I'm really excited about is the fact that we get to bring that level of personal alignment for our team into a greater arena of opportunities in terms of the clients that we work with.

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Doug: Well welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today I've got joining me Chris Yoko, who is the CEO of Yoko Co. Now I was introduced to Chris, and I took a look at his background and am quite excited. He's an expert in digital marketing and web design, but his company has a slightly different focus and ed that they spend time focusing on social responsibility and company culture. I think you're going to enjoy this podcast episode as you listen to Chris and how they made some changes in their business that had a significant impact to both the bottom line, so increased profits, less stress with clients, a better relationship with clients, and a more engaged and more enthusiastic team and staff. So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Chris Yoko to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today.

Doug: Well, hey, welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Chris, super happy to have you on the show.

Chris Yoko: Thanks for having me Doug, happy to be here.

Doug: So one of the things that I noticed right off the bat when I started looking at you and your company and what you're doing, were two things that really stuck out, and they were that you focus on company culture and social responsibility. And then it kind of went into the business topics below that, and one that's dear to my heart, digital marketing. So do you want to just share a little bit of your background and kind of your angle and perspective on what makes your company unique, and why you put those things kind of at the top of the list?

Chris Yoko: Yeah, for sure. So the way that we phrase the work that we do and the people that we work with is that we work exclusively with organizations that have a passion or a purpose beyond mere profit. And what we've found that I'm happy to tell more of the backstory, kind of how we got there, is if you're working toward a cause, you're much more likely to put more heart and soul and feel more attached to the work you're doing and generate a better outcome than if you're just doing it for a paycheck, or for a numerical revenue goal or something like that.

Chris Yoko: And I was raised with the belief that we should be building the world and leaving it a better place than we found it, and so if you can find a way to bring those things into alignment, and I found that they certainly are, you can find a way to generate better performance both financially. But at the end of the day, that's not the reason you do it. That's not the reason you get into it, I don't think, if you can make a living and make a positive impact, that's at the end of the day what I think more people want to look for in terms of their legacy. That's certainly why it's personal to me, and that's kind of why we take that approach.

Doug: Yeah, that's really cool. I mean, I've got a few of my friends that are in business, and they're making enough money to live comfortably and retire. But like you said, their burning passion is to be able to make larger amounts of money so they can give more money away and support more causes that they care about.

Chris Yoko: Yeah, it's kind of an interesting parallel, right? You have so many people that'll do, “Oh, I worked on this for 30 years so that then I could get into doing this thing and giving back,” or, “I did all of this work so that I could give x amount of money to a charity.” And you fail to think about the fact like, “Oh, you could make minor tweaks in your journey along the way, and do something, whether it's a little bit more charitable, a little bit more sustainably, a little bit more in favor of generating more opportunity for people throughout the entirety of their journey.” They don't have to be segmented portions of your life or at the handoff of anything like that. They can certainly coexist, and I think that that's something people are beginning to be a little bit more hip to or woke, as the phrase is now.

Doug: Yeah, I heard someone say that really these days, we can't really call it a work-life balance, that doesn't exist, that it's more of work-life integration. And as I shared with you before we started recording, I had gone through and I had completed kind of the survey on your web site to see where I fell, and clearly, I fell in the wellness area, because health is really important to me. But that's part of my life that's integrated, opposed like you said just [inaudible 00:03:53], “Hey, I'm going to work really hard, then I'm going to have a heart attack, and then I'm going to get healthy, and then I'm going to try to go back to work again.” It's like, “Hey, why not skip that blip in the middle and look after the thing that drives the economic engine that's you.”

Chris Yoko: Absolutely, yeah. Don't be so responsive to it. Don't wait for that red light to flash in front of you and have the heart attack, have the crisis. Find that balance initially, and then live in that zone, as opposed to oscillating back and forth and trying to find balance in each of these countering extremes.

Doug: So do you want to just walk us through a bit of how you bring that mindset to the companies that you help with their web site development in digital marketing and advertising?

Chris Yoko: Yeah, so as I said, we really try to use that as the foundation of 1) satisfying our clients, so figuring out who it is that's a good fit to work with us, and that tends to fall in one of two buckets. So it's people that understand the impact they want to have on the world. They know what their goals are, their metrics, their key performance indicators, and they need someone to help execute it. And we fall in alignment with them very well usually. And the other side is those that are a little bit more aspirational. They know they've got an organization that's special. They know they've got a potential to do more, to make a greater impact, to make more change. They're not sure how to measure it, they're not sure how to articulate it. And we'll help them kind of form and understand what that should be because it's personal and it's different for every organization.

Chris Yoko: And then how you pull those really important parts out as a part of their brand foundation and then build … We tend to focus on web presence because that is the one thing people will touch above and beyond anything else they do with any organization.

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Doug: So how do you measure that? I mean, we have, and pretty much all the time that we've been in business, been very active in the community. Like I said, locally, we've traveled long distances to help and do things. But how do you actually measure that in your organization? So if you're looking at it from a business perspective, how do you actually look and say, “Hey, that's making a difference, that's improving the community and culture in my company, that's helping me with my branding and recognition and having a deeper relationship with my clients, and how do I translate that into, at the end of the day, ROI?

Chris Yoko: Yeah, so I mean, it's one of those things that sometimes, it's hard to put a number on. But we find that if you use a macro lens, there's a way to kind of put together either something that is directly aligned with your revenue/profitability and then there are some things that are usually joined. So an example of one that's directly aligned would be, let's say you're a service organization, and for every client you have, you know you're making on average x, y, and z dollars.

Chris Yoko: But, you also understand that by helping this client, you're helping them … Let's say you're an accountant. You're helping them avoid a lot of the stress and hassle of a constantly changing tax program. If you have that eye on, “This is the difference I want to make on somebody,” it's not going to be another CPA where, “Okay, great, yes, technically I did your return and it went fine, but it was still kind of a hassle. It was still a stressful process.” If you go into it with the objective being, “I'm going to really make this a smooth process for this person.” And by eliminating that stress, they're going to be able to better show up in their family. They're going to be able to pay attention to more important aspects of their financial life. They're going to be able to do x, y, and z.

Chris Yoko: Then you start to realize, “Oh, okay, by every single person that we impact, that makes a real impact and that has a ripple effect that kind of expands from there,” and there's real simple, “Okay, great. For every client we're working with, we feel like that's one life impacted.” Boom. Pretty easy. Then you get into options that are kind of just joined at the hip with traditional business metrics, where you might have, “Hey, for every x amount of revenue we do, we're going to aim to reserve or conserve x amount of acres of the Amazon rainforest or these coral reefs.” Something like that. Those tend to be metrics that are joined, so you can show like, “Hey, as we grow, we continue to do good.”

Chris Yoko: And then there are some others where it's really more experientially based. And those ones tend to take a little bit more work. They tend to be a little bit more granular. But there are some ways to work within those organizations and when push comes to shove, it's not an impact number that gets audited. So it's really meant to help them understand, “Hey, this is the impact we have at a macro level.” And you can put together some options here. “Oh, this is how we show up for each individual family. This is how we show up for patients. This is how we show up for an extended family, for our users, for a bunch of different ways to kind of measure it and tie it in there. And then-

Doug: That's really cool. And I never thought, when you said for the accountant example, I was thinking of all the times I deal with accountants. It's not like, “Hooray, let's go visit the accountant today.” But like you said, by looking through a magnifying glass, I mean, you're really impacting people's lives. If you make it less stressful, they're more likely to want to spend more time. It's not going to be bad news. They're not going to be all stressed out as they're going through the paperwork. So that's a very light thing, but-

Chris Yoko: Even with that, one of the … I like that you went kind of the magnifying glass option there because that's the other side of the coin. You have this macro number, and it's nice to see, “Oh, we positively impacted the lives of x number of people,” and that's nice to see. But it doesn't connect with people personally. So there are some people that the big number is the one that's important to them.

Chris Yoko: But there are some others where, if you use the accountant example, one of our clients, they are actually an accounting firm. And they were saying a story about they've been dodging kind of taxes because it was really stressful for them. They hadn't paid for a couple of years. And they finally came to this firm, said, “We really need some help. We've been dodging this, we've been avoiding it. We're not sure where we're at financially,” boom boom boom. These guys swoop in, they help take care of it. As a result of it, so much stress was alleviated on it. They came back, and it was a husband and wife, but the man came back and he was like, “I think you not only helped us with the tax issue, which was great.” But he's like, “I guarantee you-you saved our marriage because it was getting to a point where it's just untenable. We were fighting. We were trying to hide the fact that we were fighting from our kids.”

Chris Yoko: So when you start to look at it at that real microlens and say, “Okay, great, we impacted 10,000 people,” or whatever the case it is. But here's the real tangible impact of the work we did, that we would've never known if we hadn't thought about the kind of stress that this puts on people and how we remove that and ask them about that in their personal lives. We would've never gotten that feedback, that that was the impact we had on somebody's life. And that tends to be more meaningful for a lot of people.

Doug: So how do you balance sharing that information with the greater audience through advertising and marketing without doing that specifically to exploit that?

Chris Yoko: So yeah, it's one of those, yeah, tricky components right? But I do find if you, and I think most industries have the opportunity to do this, where I think it's Sally Hogshead who's kind of coined the phrase that different is better than better. A lot of firms when I continue to compete I'm like, “Oh we're a little bit better than this other person,” or, “We're better than those people,” or, “We're incrementally better,” and it's just an arms race of who's better at any given time. Or you can switch that and you can be like, “We're different and here's what we focus on to do things differently for you.”

Chris Yoko: And with that lens, if it's a part of your brand structure, it's a part of your organization, it's a part of the way you simply operate is through that lens of, “Hey, here's how we make an impact, and here's how we help people.” That tends to transform a lot of your messaging. It tends to be to a certain extent kind of polarizing. So you'll attract the people that really dig that about you very much, and they'll be much more likely to self-qualify. They'll be more likely to be qualified. They'll be more likely to work well with you and be less troublesome clients.

Chris Yoko: But it's also going to repel some people. There are going to be some people that that's not what they're looking for, and if that's not you, you'll tend to see a benefit from those people being repelled too, as you're not going to have bad reviews, pain in the ass clients, whatever the case might be. You tend to avoid some of that. But if you're just kind of constantly chasing, like, “Oh, we need every single lead, and we need every bit of revenue,” you take the good with the bad. And for some people, that's what they want to do and that's fine. But for the folks that we work with, they tend to be okay with a bit of that polarization being worked into their marketing.

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Doug: Well, and I think it makes sense. I mean, that's where I think the worlds moved anyhow is gone into these niches and people finding their tribes and working with people you're comfortable with. And honestly, I mean, I have more fun hanging out with people where we have things in common. I mean, before we got on the air today, we talked a little bit about hockey. So we have a couple of things in common. So we've got the social responsibility side and we have an interest, both of us, in hockey. Now you play hockey. I just watch hockey. You wouldn't want to see me skate. You definitely wouldn't want to pass me the puck. So there's some commonality. So it would be more fun working with you opposed to people that had totally different views who thought, “Hey, don't do anything for the environment. Don't worry about society. Just worry about profit, profit, profit,” and not a good fit.

Chris Yoko: Yeah, absolutely, and I mean, there was a time where we used to work with a lot of clients that fell into both of those buckets, and we found, what do you know, the outcomes are better for the ones that we feel really well aligned with. We're having more fun working with them. They aren't the squeaky wheels, the ones that are, “Oh, it's all about profit, profit, profit. That's the only thing that matters.” There's no real respect for the people within our organization, let alone outside of our organization. It's just all about focusing on that one pure goal. You tend to get a lot of burnout. Whenever we started to make the turn to working exclusively with these kinds of organizations, we fired it was about 25% of our clients at that time, which felt really risky but we found within weeks, we had 40-50% more free time. So it was certainly the right move, but it's uncomfortable to make the jump.

Doug: Well, and lots of times, I talk to people and I say, “So what makes you unique?” Given there's an audience full of buyers that have a credit card in hand to buy your services, and you and five of your competitors are standing on the stage, why you?

Chris Yoko: Yeah, so the way we usually respond to those kinds of things are, 1) obviously the social component of what we do, if you are simply in it for profit, you're probably not our type of person. We understand that you have to have profit and revenue. It's like fuel in the gas tank, right? If we're going to get somewhere, we've got to be able to have the fuel to get there. So it's a critical component. And thankfully, we have the business system, the technical acumen to understand and deliver at those levels. But it's just like Bruce Lee used to say, “You punch through your target.” We consider it the same thing. We're punching through the target. Yes, maybe your target is this business goal, it's the amount of growth, it's this revenue number. But if you're punching through that and really aiming for the purpose that falls behind it, you're going to find your follow through is much stronger. You're going to find your outcomes are much better.

Doug: Yeah, I think that what you don't always realize, or I didn't realize initially, was how much excitement you draw from both your internal staff and then your suppliers and vendors that want to help you achieve those goals. I mean, we've had suppliers fly in from New York to support charity events that we're supporting, I'm up in Vancouver, just because they bought into what we're doing. So it makes that relationship a deeper relationship. So it's good for us, it's good for them, and it's good for the groups that we're supporting.

Chris Yoko: Absolutely, and you start to feel like a real camaraderie because you feel like you have something impactful to celebrate together, as opposed to yeah, it can be fun to hit growth milestones, and that's a cool thing, and can kind of go through the grind for a while. And whenever you hit one of those, it feels good if that's a bit of punctuation. If it's just the constant grind and it's never enough, it starts to burn people out. Whereas if you have things that you're working hard for that you can see the positive impact it has on a person, there is definitely some level of altruism inherent with all of us, and that's something that really makes people feel good, and I feel like you can, at least I know for myself, I can work harder longer knowing that it's something that's really impactful than it's for like, “Okay, are we going to hit our quota?”

Doug: And for the people like the example you shared in the accounting field, this gives them something that makes them stand out compared to the competitors so when they are standing there with their peers, they're not just saying the same old thing. There is something that they really have as a core value that sets them apart from their competitors.

Chris Yoko: Absolutely. And what I also kind of love about the way you can structure the messaging is, people can copy it. We actually have a client in the financial space that they're very focused on their client's experience, to an insane degree. They do some really cool stuff. But they're also very much envy of their industry. And so we have found a site that was basically a carbon copy of the site that we had developed with them, down to saying the same words with just different people's … staffers' names switched out and stuff like that. But we noticed the firm we're working with continues to be in one of the top 5% and a bunch of the best of lists, whereas this firm doesn't seem to be growing and in fact, based on where they're positioned in some of the industry lists, appear to be shrinking.

Chris Yoko: And a big part of that is due to the fact that you can use that kind of language on your web site, and it might be really attractive and it might seem like a differentiator. But if it's not authentic and it's not true to who you are, none of that converts into an actual business opportunity. So you can have all the fanciest language and all the nicest marketing and all that stuff, but people raised their hand based on that marketing because they think that's who you are. If it doesn't turn out that that's who you are, it's going to make people feel either 1) betrayed, or 2) like maybe they went barking up the wrong tree, feel a little weirded out. “Ah, that first interview call with them didn't feel like what I thought I was going to get when I watched their videos when I read their website when I engaged with them on social media. And then they go elsewhere. So it's really got to be one of those authentic things that you're aligned all the way from top to bottom.

Doug: Well, and I think the first place that would show up would probably be in the company culture, because you've got a web dev team and graphics people, and you're saying, “Hey, let's go copy what somebody else is doing exactly.” So you're saying, “Hey, let's cheat. Let's do some stuff that we're not allowed to do. But that's okay. We're going to tell everybody we're great. In the meantime, we're just ripping off other people's stuff and calling it our own.”

Chris Yoko: And how demeaning is somebody that's in that department, right, where you're like, “I have skills and you're just letting me basically trace somebody else's work?” That's got to be, that's, yeah.

Doug: Yeah, that's … Well, I worked for the company up here for a while and they were looking for a way to get involved in charity, and they basically owned an ad campaign that we put together. So we canceled all the Yellow Pages ads and all the stuff that didn't seem to make sense, and they moved their money into Children's Hospital. So it's a body shop called Kirmac Collision, and so they run an ad campaign, it's Kirmac Cares for Kids. And that's the only advertising they do. That's it.

Chris Yoko: Good deal.

Doug: We care for kids, this is what we do, and that's the only conversation. They don't say, “Hey, if you've had an accident, come see us. Hey, if you've had a windshield broken, come see us.” They talk about helping the Children's Hospital.

Chris Yoko: I love that. And yeah, I mean, I think it also pays a little bit of respect to the audience, where it's like, people aren't stupid. They-

Doug: They understand.

Chris Yoko: Can probably guess what it is you do. Oh, you're a collision center. Okay, what could you possibly do? You don't need to beat them over the head with it, and the fact that they get to hear a story and see some impact, I think that's ingenious.

Doug: So is there a story that stands out in your mind of a company that he helped walk through this kind of your process and came out the other side?

Chris Yoko: Yeah, so there's a couple. I think one of my favorite ones is actually one where we helped change the objective and level of impact. We were working with, it was an association that's in the automotive industry. And they'd reached out about, “Hey, we need some help with our entire web infrastructure, and here's the deal and here's who we are.” And before we take on any client, we do a little bit of research around, what's their mission? If they don't seem to have one, what do we think is their potential? What kind of impact do they have on the world? And these guys have their voice in the ear of this entire industry, in the world of automotive. And as we checked out their site, checked out their bylaws, they don't really say anything about the impact it happens to have on climate change and kind of that global level of impact around pollution. And we said … We didn't think we were going to get a chance to work with them. But we figured we threw it out because if they didn't want to do this, we wouldn't work with them.

Chris Yoko: But we said, “Hey, we noticed that, the way that we work with our clients is x, y, and z, and you guys haven't said anything despite the fact that your industry's using this that even a 1% drop in emissions or pollution generated by vehicles makes a pretty significant impact. And we'd be more than happy to work with you, but one of the contingencies would be, we want you to add to your annual conference a section on climate change and reducing the industry's negative impact on the climate. And we'd want you to add that to your about page, just to bring awareness to it, and simply by making it a part of the conversation, we feel like that's something that will have a big picture tangible effect as it ripples through the entirety of your membership. And if you do this, we'll also give you a 10% discount on the work we do together.” And fully expected them to be like, “Go pound sand so we can talk to hundreds of other agencies.”

Chris Yoko: But to their credit, they kind of came back and they said, “You know what? That's something we've been discussing internally and we're kind of embarrassed that there isn't any awareness of it now, and we appreciate the discount. It's something we should have done already,” and they agreed to do it. And now, especially as the prevalence of electric vehicles becomes more and more common, that becomes a more common topic and one of the things they solicited speakers for at their annual conference. So it was nice to be able to consider that they might have just gone off and worked with anybody else and there might have been no change. But now as a result of this, we're seeing fleets where there's more electric vehicle pickup and there's more awareness of the topic and the category simply through conversations they've been having since they're in basically everybody's ear across the nation.

Doug: That's amazing. I mean, that's a pretty bold move.

Chris Yoko: I think you can only make that kind of move whenever you're like, “You know what? If otherwise, we have nothing else to lose, so we can go for it big.” But if it was something where we were really worried about it, I don't know if I'd have been so brash. But I was really glad it worked out.

Doug: Well I mean, when I started my business and depending on how busy we are, there are times we take clients where I speak for myself, I've taken clients that I knew I shouldn't have taken. But it's like, it's, “Hey, you've got to pay the staff, you've got to pay the bills,” so you take the work that you need to take. And then you get to a point like you said where your business is chugging along, you're going, “I don't need to do that. I don't need to deal with those guys anymore. They're not my tribe. They're not my fit.”

Chris Yoko: Yeah, you can't make that point enough. Because whenever we made this change, it was with the help of a couple of members on our advisory board, and I was still super hesitant to let go of that 25% of our clients whenever we did it. Because, as you said, we've got payroll, we've got things we've got to be really cautious of in terms of overhead. And I really thought it was a mistake at the time. But looking back, it was, you kind of have to position yourself for who you want to be in the future. And back then, if you looked at our client roster, there were a handful of real gems and there was a bunch of sand and dirt in there as well.

Chris Yoko: And if I look back at the clients we work with now, I'm super proud of the impact we have with every single one of them. We haven't taken on one that I would say like, “Ah, maybe we don't put them on our side,” or, “Maybe we don't list the work that we do with them,” or, “Maybe we don't put our credits on the bottom of their site,” or anything like that. But that only happened because we started to position ourselves as, here's who we're going to be. And then you have to follow through with that. And eventually, it pays off. I mean, you will, well as you said, absolutely find your tribe. But it takes effort and you've got to really believe in it. But once you do, it feels like it's swimming downstream as opposed to up a waterfall.

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Doug: So would you say that the new clients you have now are more profitable than clients that you fired?

Chris Yoko: Oh, for sure. I mean, we do a lot of work based on a fixed fee, and even the work that we do where, for a lot of causes we'll discount and provide a pretty generous gift-in-kind donation, just to kind of discount the rate and make sure that we're able to put more money towards whatever that cause is or that impact might be. And even with those, we find that because the teams work really well together, there's not a lot of bickering, there's not a lot of back and forth, there's not a lot of problems. There's that alignment right from the get-go, and that leads to better outcomes. And of course, with the process and the structure, we have internally to help fuel that, it tends to work out really, really well. Whereas the ones that were-

Doug: I'm sorry, that question wasn't in my notes to you. I was just listening to you as you were sharing that, and I'm thinking, “I've talked to a number of people who have done what you guys have just done, and in every single case …” So I probably should've given you a heads up, but my expectation was that you were going to say, “Yes, we're making a lot more money and having a lot more fun.” And I just really wanted to let you share that with our audience, because lots of times people are so afraid to let go of a single client, because they're, “Hey, I'm going to lose that revenue. Where's it going to come from?”

Chris Yoko: Right. Yeah, it's like one of those things if I could go back in time, I would have said do it earlier. But it is one of those things that until you have that perspective, it's really hard to believe it's going to work out, and you're going to be like, “Oh great, I lost a bunch of my clients and now someone else is going to work with them, and I've got to go try to find new ones, and I'm just going to find the same stuff over and over again.” But if you're really intentional about it, it definitely changes.

Doug: So a couple of questions then. What was the response from your staff, and what was the response from the customers that you kept?

Chris Yoko: So the staff loved it. So whenever we initially rolled this out, and we do this usually every other year now, is we talk about what everyone's individual kind of impact or legacy, what do they want to do with their life. I really try to encourage people. I think it's helpful if everyone has that kind of their own manifesto of like, “Here's what I believe for my life,” and how does that overlap between all of us in our individual lives and the way that we show up and how does that look as an organization? And this process was the one that started that. So that first crew that we did that with, everyone basically said they wanted to accomplish the same things in their lives. A slightly different way of phrasing it, but we really felt really aligned. And whenever we said, “Okay, let's name our top five clients that fit these virtues and this goal and the top five that don't,” and we, I think all except one, had the exact same list. So we felt pretty good about doing it moving forward. It was pretty clear.

Chris Yoko: The clients that we kept, we didn't really tell them anything for the first couple of months. Just because of I … We should have, actually. That would have been great to kind of communicate like, “Hey, we're really excited and proud of the work we do with you.”

Doug: You made the cut. We're going to keep you.

Chris Yoko: Yeah, exactly. We should've done more there. That probably would have been a good way for them, “Hey, do you have more people like you that you'd want to send our way?”

Doug: Refer us, yeah.

Chris Yoko: But no, so we didn't really say anything for a couple of, I think it was about six to eight months before we started finally letting people know like, “Hey, this is kind of who we've decided we are, and it was based on some influence from you.” And got a lot of good conversation from the organizations we worked with. And that capacity, especially because a lot of them were a lot larger than us, even those that were in the professional services category, maybe had 100 of people at that time, whereas we had a handful. And, so being able to jump in and learn from them and be influenced certainly shaped who we became, and I think they appreciate … We still work with a lot of them, so I think they certainly appreciate that too.

Doug: So what do you say some of the pushback has been, or some of the [inaudible 00:26:22]. So you're sharing this, and I'm super encouraged because I think that what you guys are doing is just amazing. And I'd like to see more people move in obviously in that direction because I think that life's too short to get up and do something you don't like. So if you don't like what you're doing, change what you're doing. If you don't like who you're working with, then work with different people.

Chris Yoko: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

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Doug: But what's the pushback that you hear? People go, “Oh well, no, that won't work because,” or, “I can't do it because.” So what's some of the negative feedback that you hear when you share kind of your vision and how you're moving your company forward.

Chris Yoko: So it tends to fall in … At least, the most common pushback I hear kind of falls into two buckets. One is that people just say like, “Oh, well, but then if I have really strict standards, I won't have anybody that fits in that,” or, “It's such a small sliver of the pie.” And I think people tend to forget that other people also have aspirations and intentions. And we only get to see kind of what they put into action.

Chris Yoko: But as we talk with a lot of the organizations and we go through an initial qualification process, whenever we ask, “Okay, what kind of impact do you have? What kind of impact do you make? Why do you make the world a better place?” Some of them kind of hmm and haw. And then we talk about like, “Okay, well, if you were going to create a better world, or if you were going to change your organization to help build a better world, what does that begin to look like?” And suddenly these ideas start pouring forth. So there are ways to kind of find out if somebody isn't already in your bucket if they're the type of person that might become that kind of person, and can you help shape that. And by virtue of that fact, you help them then become a better person and a better source for good, and maybe they change other people. So there's a lot there. But a lot of people don't consider that initially, is that people can change and people can be molded. And they have an internal experience that we don't take into consideration.

Chris Yoko: The other side of it tends to be a little bit more on the crunchy hippie side of things, which is they're like, “Oh great, okay, yeah, we're not going to get to play with any seriously large organizations or a big money or anything like that because they care about x, y, and z, and it's profits, margins, growth, and that's all that they care about.” And if you're coming here talking about doing good and everything, they're going to tune you out and you're not going to have any opportunities.

Chris Yoko: And I've found if you exclude the revenue numbers and the business metrics, of course, they're not going to really feel like they can play ball with you. But if you talk about, “Hey, here's where we're at in terms of the business, and here's why that's so impactful,” and you can share a story? Everybody's still a human. They still have emotions. So if you can make sure that from a standpoint of their role, they check the boxes they need to in terms of business results, and then you give them an emotional reason to also connect with that mission? You're only going to find more success. But I think a lot of people think it's kind of an either-or thing.

Doug: Yeah, I tend to agree. I mean, years ago, I used to work in customer loyalty with a chip card that we were working with a couple of financial institutions, and we'd look at a bunch of research that was done out of the UK, and basically the research at that point had said that, given the choice, the consumers could go to two different stores and they both sold the same product, service, about the same price, that the consumer would go to the vendor that supported the local charities and community.

Chris Yoko: Yeah. Makes a ton of sense. And whenever you guys ran that program, how was that stuff communicated to them?

Doug: Yeah, I mean, you need to be, like you said, in front of them, but not to the point where people are going, “Oh, you're just doing that so you can get more business.” So I find that lots of times the people that are doing lots in the community are very quiet about it, and I'm thinking, “You have a responsibility, because your staff worked there and your staff want to be proud of what they do, and your suppliers want to be proud,” so there's a way to communicate it without saying, “Hey look at me. I just wrote a check for fill in the blank.” They don't need to know that, but what they do need to know is, they need to see you taking leadership and bringing your team and bringing your vendors and bringing your staff and showing up and, like you said, taking action, making a difference.

Chris Yoko: Absolutely. I tend to take with a grain of salt anybody who's really pumping their chests and saying, or thumping their chests and saying, “Oh, look at all the charitable things we're doing. We're here, we're here, we're there.” It's kind of like … What was it, it was the last Super Bowl or the one before where Anheuser Busch bought a $1.8 million commercial spot or something to talk about how they sent a whole bunch of water down to the victims of the earthquake. And then somebody let leak that it was $50,000 worth of water. And it was like, “Oh, real magnanimous of you. How nice.”

Doug: Wow. Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, and we definitely heard some of that feedback after the cathedral in Paris burnt down. It's like, “Hey, there are people that are starving,” and it's like yeah, but you know, the people who are giving are giving. That's what I thought of anyhow. The guys that I work with that are writing checks, whether it's to the cathedral or to Africa for water programs or to the local homeless shelter.

Chris Yoko: Yeah, and they don't tend to be people that need to be, “Hey, here I am.” There's I think a nice, respectful way to communicate that and let people know that it's something you value, and it's another thing to boast or scream about it so loudly that it becomes kind of flimsy or transparent.

Doug: So what are you most excited about in the next three to six months, maybe the next year in your business and what you guys are doing?

Chris Yoko: So in terms of the business, like I said, it was only recently that we reflected back and started looking at our clients and say, “Man, over the last few years, if you looked at our client roster and the types of causes and organizations we aligned ourselves with, it's really remarkably different.” And so now what I'm really excited about is the fact that we get to bring that level of personal alignment for our team into a greater arena of opportunities in terms of the clients that we work with. Because obviously, whenever you're … I mean, this is true for any organization, you can only be so big, you can only have so many people, and people can only have so many choices about the types of things that they work on.

Chris Yoko: But where possible, we try to make sure that team members … A good example is, we had a client that was focused on helping college students better succeed and graduate in four years as opposed to becoming super seniors or six-year seniors or anything like that or drop out. And we had another client that is very, very focused on basically supporting people with cancer, a great organization here in D.C. called Life With Cancer. And they provide therapy, exercise, a whole lot of programs for people affected by cancer. They provide information and facilitate conversations nationally.

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Chris Yoko: And as we talked internally, we said, “Hey, this is coming at a time when a couple of different projects have wrapped up, so people can choose what they're going to be working on a little bit more.” And one of our team members had two aunts, her mother, her grandmother, and two sisters all affected by breast cancer. And so for her to be able to work on something that had affected her family so personally and see how it was able to impact other people going through a journey she had seen her family go through and she had been a part of was really impactful. And on that other side, the person we had initially assigned to the breast cancer project had two brothers that had gone into college. One had done three years and then dropped out, and one was in his fifth year and was just having a lot of trouble. He had gone to four universities in those five years because he couldn't find a place that he felt was comfortable. So they ended up saying like, “Oh, why don't we switch, because we're so aligned with these causes.”

Chris Yoko: And as we've started to grow, we've had a little bit more opportunity to do that. And so that's something that's really exciting for me is whenever you can have an opportunity for, again, people to make a living working on stuff that they're really passionate and care about, I think that's a really terrific place to be.

Doug: Yeah, that's really cool. I mean, you've got to look past, like you said, where we're going to be spending a lot of hours at work, and so you might as well be working with people and working on things that you really care about.

Chris Yoko: Absolutely. And I've got, and maybe you too, but I mean, so many friends, especially in the entrepreneurial space, where a lot of your identity gets wrapped up in it. And it's easy to play by the scoreboard other people put out there, so you're just like, “Okay, it's all about getting on that revenue cycle or growing.” And I've talked to so many people that are in especially their later 50s, 60s, and 70s, that kind of look back and they're like, “I kind of wonder what it was all for.” Now in their last stretch of a couple of decades or years or whatever the case might be, try to flip around and have what they consider a more meaningful legacy. And I just feel like that was a really good chance for me to see the different paths I could've gone down and choose to do the one that, if something were to happen to me tomorrow, I'd feel really good about the impact I made and the legacy I left, and I don't have to feel like I'm racing a clock or anything towards the end of my life to turn around and do some good.

Doug: Yeah, that's really cool. I mean, that's another thing you often hear, I often hear anyhow, is, “Well, when I make it big, then I do.” It's like, no, no, you can, as you said, you can take some small steps every day. I mean, you don't have to wait until you've arrived, because there's no guarantee you're going to arrive.

Chris Yoko: Yeah. And when it's always shifting, right? We're entrepreneurs, I think you and I both like hockey, so we're probably naturally a little competitive, so it's like, “Great, I hit that number. I'm not going to stop there. I might go to the next number.” So arriving, it's a perpetual inevitability that you're constantly kind of … Your reach exceeds your grasp or vice versa. Whereas you're going to constantly be changing that milestone, so you never really give yourself the chance to relax or step back and look at it objectively about what kind of impact you're having as far as your life goes.

Doug: That's funny, you must've listened to my episode 100. I talked about how I suck at celebrating success. It's like, “Okay, done, check.” My wife's going, “What do you mean, check?” She goes, “You did … ” And I said, “Yeah.” She said, “So what are you going to do?” I said, “Oh, well I've got to do something else.” She goes like, “You're not going to take a breath, take a breather and celebrate?” It's like, “No.”

Chris Yoko: Yeah, that's-

Doug: Yeah, so I second that.

Chris Yoko: I'm right there with you man. We grew 40%, and it wasn't until one of our advisory board members said like, “Oh, so what did you guys to do to celebrate?” And I was like, “Oops. We haven't even really mentioned it. We just kind of kept on trucking.” But yeah, maybe it's a-

Doug: Yeah, that's hilarious.

Chris Yoko: Another kind of person that we need to have been kind of counterbalance in your life to make sure you celebrate that kind of things.

Doug: Yeah, I remember when I had moved out of my home office, and my wife said, “Hey, it's time for you to get a new office. I don't want any more staff in the house.” And I was just working head down, and one day the mail had come in, and my bookkeeper didn't get it. I opened the mail, and I realized I had a million dollars U.S. sitting in the bank. I went, “Holy crap. That's a really bad place for that money to be. It should be invested someplace.” And I was just doing what I was supposed to do, head down, working hard as you said, and not paying attention to that stuff. And did I celebrate? It's like, “No.” It's like, “Okay, finally, let's get to two. Get to two, hey, let's get to four. Let's just keep double down,” so.

Doug: What's some of the bad advice you hear? I mean, you're in the digital marketing space. I'm in the digital marketing space. We're out at events, we're speaking at conferences, you're meeting people all the time, and there's got to be a point in time where you're standing there and you just kind of overhear a conversation and it kind of makes you cringe. So what's some of the bad advice you hear in the digital space these days?

Chris Yoko: Oh God, there's so much of it. Our industry is rife with just terrible advice and really gullible people, unfortunately. But I think the … Well, one of the ones that I think frustrates me most is whenever people treat marketing like it's just painting or something on the outside of a building. So you'll see at these major conferences people speaking from the stage about, “Oh, here's how you use these appropriate words to program your audience, and here's how you use this kind of things to bait people in,” and so on and so forth. And yes there's a bit of psychology at play there, and if you do things right you can make some incremental improvements in terms of your results. But ultimately if it's not authentic and it's not you, and you don't follow through with it, it's all window dressing.

Chris Yoko: And so constantly, we have people that have come to us, “Oh, we were working with this consultant, we were working with this team, we were working with this agency, and they were supposed to help us set up this whole thing and they've spent six months, twelve months, two years, whatever the case might be, on this whole big campaign or branding initiative or whatever it was. And then they get basically absolutely nothing about it because it sounds really, really good, but they didn't make any of it align truly with the business or they didn't have a real understanding of the audience. And then they just go out there and say a whole bunch of things. And they feel good because they're doing a lot of stuff. We're seeing deliverables, and we're talking a whole lot, and things really seem to be happening. But it's just two ends of a wire that aren't plugged into anything. Nothing's going to happen.

Doug: Yep, been there done that. Yeah, talked a few people down off the ledge. I wouldn't advise you to do that. So a couple of questions and I'll let you get back to your day. Who's one guest I absolutely have to have on my podcast?

Chris Yoko: So I think one of my favorite people to listen to is actually a member of our advisory board, is a guy by the name of Joey Coleman. He wrote a book called Never Lose a Customer Again. He's really focused on the customer experience. So it's, “Hey, we do a lot of marketing and customer acquisition. What do you do to keep that customer once they come in the door?” We all know it's more cost-effective to keep those customers, but not a lot of people focus on that. Joey focuses on that. I think your audience would love it.

Doug: Cool, and do you know Jaime Jay? He's got a podcast called Culture Eats Strategy.

Chris Yoko: I have heard of it, I've not listened to it yet though.

Doug: Okay, well I'll introduce you to him because I think he'd be a great guest for him, because he's all about culture.

Chris Yoko: Oh, good deal. Yeah, I'm going to check that out as soon as we hop off.

Doug: Now Chris, where can people find you? So if they want to learn more about you and your company and what you're doing, what's the best place for people to track you down to learn more about you?

Chris Yoko: Sure. So I mean, pretty much any social platform, I'm just Chris Yoko. C-H-R-I-S Y-O-K-O. Same thing with the website, And then our team, the company is Yoko C-O, Y-O-K-O

Doug: Excellent. Hey, I had so much fun having this conversation. I just looked up, hey, time's ticking along, got to be respectful of your time. But thanks so much for sharing and just bringing kind of a new, fresh view, at least I think it's a fresh view, to our audience. You can do business, you can make money, but you can also look after people, look after the environment, and leave the world a better place.

Chris Yoko: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Doug. This has been a ton of fun.

Doug: Well there you go, listeners. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope it gave you some things to think about. I would suggest heading over to Chris's web site. He does have a survey you can take on there, so Chris, before I screw it up, do you want to tell us what the survey is called again, please?

Chris Yoko: Oh sure. So it just helps you figure out which of the virtues we consider heroic you're aligned with.

Doug: There you go. So you can head over to his website at We'll make sure we have this episode transcribed so if you're driving, you don't have to pull over and take notes. You can just wait until it's transcribed and click on the link and head over and check out Chris and his company. So thanks again for listening, and we look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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