Below is our recent interview with Matt Smith, President at Plan Left:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Plan Left LLC?
A: At a high level, we’re a Digital Partner who focuses on two core business areas: Product Development and Brand Development. Our day to day is focused on supporting our clients’ goals, growing their businesses, and making their jobs as frictionless as possible by excelling at what we get hired to do: creating digital experiences for our client’s audiences.
The company mission statement is: “We create the best user experiences for our products and brands by setting big goals with achievable outcomes, being solutions-focused creative problem solvers, and investing in our team.” I think the most important thing to know is that we mean that when we say it. We believe in focusing on mental health and having a healthy work environment, and we advocate for personal growth and promote a work/life balance. We firmly believe that when we take care of our team, give them time to take care of themselves, their passion for their work really emerges and takes center stage.
Q: Who is your ideal client and why?
A: We’ve honestly worked with every type of client possible throughout the years and enjoyed almost every minute of it. I’ll break this into two categories.
Most of our clients are busy marketing and product executives. This client typically has a clear vision for their brand and the future. They understand that marketing and technology is the only way to reach and then exceed their goals. We love working with people who are ready to sit down and hash out marketing and technology strategies, who both welcome and challenge our ideas. We love to collaborate and find the best answer to every problem.
Our second client persona is the smaller business executive or owner. To be clear: I recommend that businesses under $2MM in revenue be very careful about investing in marketing and advertising with agencies. A professional website is a must, but that can be created with DIY tools for a lot of organizations. But, when custom work or workflows are needed, when a client is ready to step up their marketing game, and they are around that (average) $2MM+ mark, we have a track for them. We’ve built out turnkey and entry-level budget options for ambitious local businesses and startups that want to invest in a real marketing partner early on. We love entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Both personas are very talented people that are being asked to wear a lot of hats. While they are smart enough and capable of working through these technical and marketing challenges, there are skills needed that are outside of their core set. To that end, we take the same philosophy and care that we put into ourselves and pour it into those client relationships. As their partner, we help shoulder the load and build a team around whatever their core skills are to support them, so that executives and leaders, and any in-house team they have, can focus on their own unique gifts and talents. We’ll cover the rest, and we’ll be the team they can count on.
Q: Can you tell us more about your services?
A: We’re end-to-end for both Brand/Marketing and Software/Product. Over the years, we’ve built very successful tools and frameworks to accelerate and focus brand and product development. I’ll touch on both sides of the company and a few of those key differentiators.
Starting on the product side, we can drop in at any point along the product development lifecycle as a supporting team. We often start with a need, even before the idea for the solution has been conceived. We use agile development practices and tools, scale MVPs, update legacy systems, build APIs, iterate product features, and maintain in-market applications.
One particularly interesting tool we have built is our Product Market Discovery and Research service. This research works to prove market demand, establish consumer familiarity and affinity markers, and discovers colloquial taxonomy (or the perhaps more importantly the lack thereof) for new products. It’s proven to be an invaluable tool for new product development. We also have a complement to this for in-market products in the form of our Audit and Research service.
Similarly, on the marketing side, we’re a turnkey partner at any point in the brand lifecycle. As a supporting team, we’ll sometimes start with an SEO audit, or a new website, or get dropped in to launch high-performance advertising campaigns for growing brands. We’ve worked with (yet) unnamed companies and refreshed the look and feel of 100-year enterprises. We have purpose-built tools to help define or refine brand, vision, and personas. Our process always involves research-backed storytelling, ROI-focused decision making, and constant iteration and improvement.
I think the most exciting tools on this side of the house are the calculators. We call them the OAC and the PAC. These are ROI projection tools that we’ve built. OAC stands for Organic Acquisition Calculator and as the name suggests, this tool predicts organic traffic from SEO. We use this as a guiding light to focus our strategy for both key performance indicators and actual implementation. It uses real data, proven tactics, and it has helped us grow many companies in a predictable and sustainable way.
The PAC is the Paid Acquisition Calculator. While the OAC focuses on building and cultivating the garden, the PAC establishes a persistent pipeline that starts today. Again, here, we use real data and proven tactics, and with this information we build a Customer Acquisition Cost. What’s great about this tool is that we can build accurate customer acquisition models using real data before we’ve spent a dime on the actual customer acquisition. Because we approach the model conservatively, we can build top-line acquisition cost and work to project future cost offset with increased brand equity. This process has been proven to work both pre-market and in-market.
Q: What can we expect from Plan Left in the next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: Oh, we have plans and we have dreams. Short order plans—massive growth. We fully expect to double our team before the end of 2024, sooner if we can. We want to provide incredible, growth-oriented solutions to as many organizations as possible, because we love to see the chain reaction that results. Their growth means more revenue, which means more financial stability for their employees and families, vendor and partner stability and growth, not to mention the benefit to the communities they are in.
Ultimately, that’s our higher purpose. By being the best at what we do, how many people’s lives could improve, even incrementally, by the growth we facilitate for our clients? We see this in our team and our partners; they’re home more with their loved ones, enjoying a more fulfilling life of travel and friendship, and thriving because we trust each other to do what we say we’re going to do and to be great at doing it.
So over the next 6 months, we plan on doing a lot more of that. Improving the lives and livelihoods of the people around us by being great at what we do, and helping them do the same for the people around them.
Q: What is the best thing about Plan Left that people might not know about?
A: I think we touched on all the great things about Plan Left throughout, so people know now. To call attention to them again: there’s our commitment to mental health and a work/life balance for our team members, our deep and lasting partnership with our clients, and our proprietary calculators and best practice methods to determine ROI before any of our clients spend a penny.
One thing we didn’t really cover is Plan Left sponsorship. We listen closely to our team members to see what challenges they’d like to tackle in their professional lives. Do they want to learn to code? Do they want to attend more conferences to stay current with strategies and techniques? Do they want to develop a new product? We listen and then we figure out how to help them make it happen. It’s great for the team’s morale; it’s great for Plan Left. And, of course, it’s great for all the lives they eventually touch with what they were given the chance to learn and develop.