Astek

Marketing

Chicago, IL
Astek
About

We are a full service boutique digital agency that covers everything from web design to social media and e-mail marketing. We're here to take off where your imagination leaves you. But the greatest ideas in the world won't get you anywhere without research, historical perspective, market analysis, and proper execution.

Can you tell us a little about Astek?

We recently had our ten year anniversary at Astek and over that ten years we’ve seen a lot of changes. We focus in web development whether it is WordPress or marketing sites as well as software development and applications. We generally work a lot with niche publishers. One thing that has been important to us is not just building a brand but also answering the question, “How do we get it to market?” We are at our best when we have a fully integrated plan that involves building and activating the marketing team through outlets such as social media and SEO.

What sets you apart from other digital agencies?

It is rare to have all of the digital representation under one roof of a company this small. There are only fifteen of us here at Astek bolstered by legions of amazing contractors and partners. Typically a company will just build a website or just do social media, whereas we have a holistic viewpoint. Educating ourselves is another huge part. We are constantly researching to stay ahead. We recently moved into a new office this year and we throw monthly events called “Think-n-Drink” to meet people. Each event we will pick a topic such as branding or photography, etc., and have an informal discussion on the subject. It helps to bring the team together in a fun way. The high touch approach is really what we do, rather than just offering cookie cutter solutions. When answering the questions “who are you? what’s your brand? what do you want to accomplish?”, we look at the tools available and put them in place to reach each of these goals.

Who are your typical clients?

We really have a passion for small businesses mainly because we are one. We always try to cater to small businesses, but also work with large corporations. The main three industries that we are involved in are publishing, real estate and non-profit.

What do you find most challenging about what you do?

Education and empowerment is a huge part of our culture and philosophy and can often be the biggest challenges. We often have to unravel certain misconceptions about the web. Everyone has certain notions that they have built in their minds and are looking for an easy button that may not exist.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The most rewarding part is when we’ve been working with someone and we see that light bulb go off and witness that “BOOM” moment when they get it. After that point we’re all working on the same level and the gears have aligned.

What are some tips and tricks that you’ve learned over the past ten years working at Astek?

Patience and perseverance. You need to remain flexible and open-minded. Change is not a problem, change is inevitable and it can be used your way if you embrace it. Agility is important and not just technical but also team agility. Over the last year we’ve been going through positive growing pains. People have shifted roles and exchanged hats and the reason it’s worked is because we have a strong culture, we’re flexible and we have an open-minded team.

How does Daylite help your business?

The first four years of the company I was more of an independent consultant and that was when I started using Daylite 3. I liked the potential that I saw with the software. As my company grew so could Daylite and I could add people to it. At this point we are currently using Daylite as a unified calendar and contact database. From my stand point I’m still involved in sales efforts so the opportunity management is one of the most critical features that I use. It’s great to be able to track everything and nice that it is integrated with our contact database. It took us almost a year to upgrade to Daylite 4, but it’s been a great experience so far.

What do you love about having a mobile app like Daylite on your iPhone?

I’ve been using the iPhone app since it came into existence so it’s hard to imagine life without it. I like that it is fully integrated and it’s more capable than out of the box apps like iCal. It’s Daylite in my pocket! I’ve done a lot of research on other Mac CRMs including web based CRMs. The desktop app is so much quicker, fluid and more reliable than a web based interface.

You’ve just experienced a growth spurt. What is the next step?

Right now we’re making sure that our plan of action applies to our reality rather than the original plan that was written. We’re shuffling around and distributing the labor. We’re working to ensure a strong foundation to build upon for another growth spurt. At this point we are focusing on hiring developers and designers and developing content creation and marketing programs. We’re in the process of creating, formalizing and expanding our own network of trusted writers and influences for our blogging programs and blogger outreach programs. They’ve always been a big part of the corporate culture. We bring our team together reguarily. Part of this has been putting together a video of our staff meeting once a week and we’re gearing up for an all-company retreat in Michigan. These videos are fun and kind of quirky and it’s an easy way to get everyone involved. We brainstorm and improvise them on the spot and shoot in one take.



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