2019 Startup Internship Reflection: Spill Teem, Alyssa Raschke

Internship Location: Spill Teem 

September 18, 2019

In my first few weeks of the Spill Teem, I have been introduced to my long-term project that is to be completed over the course of the academic year. This project requires me to create and implement a digital marketing strategy for the Spill Teem. Due to the scale of this project, I am to tackle this long-term goal from a design-thinking perspective. I will go through the following phases throughout the course of the year: understand, explore, and materialize.

Currently, I am in the "understand" phase of my project. There are two parts to this stage of the design thinking process: to research and to define. In my research, my goal was to study the Spill Teem's products and services, the Spill Teem's current digital marketing strategy, and competitors in the design-thinking space.

In studying the Spill Teem's products and services, I had to become familiar with the design-thinking approach and how this can apply to organizations. In order to do so, I attended some workshops and talks that the Spill Teem offered over the course of the month. For instance, I attended a workshop for VDMO Architects on Implicit Bias. Joshua, the CEO and founder of the Spill Teem, conducted this workshop with Amanda. Amanda specializes in inclusion, diversity, and HR consulting. I also attended a talk that Joshua gave to Professor Bala's Social Entrepreneurship class at the University of Virginia. This talk encompassed the evolution of the Spill Teem, and gave a basic overview of design-thinking tools. To define this research, these experiences helped understand what I will be promoting in my digital marketing campaign.

I also researched the Spill Teem's current digital marketing strategy, and I did so by studying their activity and engagement on social media platforms. The Spill Teem is active on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram - and their posts are inconsistent. Ultimately, the Spill Teem needs to have a consistent and intentional digital marketing strategy in order to increase engagement. In addition, the Spill Teem should create a Facebook account in order to increase engagement over several platforms.

Another element of my research focused on studying the Spill Teem's competitors. Some of their competitor's are design-thinking firms such as Ideo, AG&Smart, SparkMill, and Stanford's design school. Overall, these firms have consistent and intentional content and social media posts. They focus on educating their followers on how their design-thinking services can apply to organizations. By following a similar digital marketing strategy, the Spill Teem can increase their client engagement.

October 7, 2019

After completing the understand phase of my project, I moved into the "explore" stage of the design-thinking process. The explore stage is split into two parts: ideate and prototype.

Therefore, the team members of the Spill Teem all met for an "ideate session." Our main goal was to narrow down our target audience to connect with through digital marketing. In order to goal so, Amanda and Joshua walked the team through all of the Spill Teem's current and former clients. While Amanda and Joshua was presenting each client, the team members would individually write what industry they would classify each client onto a sticky note. Once this process was completed, everyone organized the collective sticky notes into groupings of similar themes/classifications.

Once we had these groups of sticky notes into groups of similar themes (or industries), we then discussed what free assets the Spill Teem has to offer potential clients. Such assets include: the Spill Teem's newsletter, info-guide, video, website, and participation in local events. While considering these assets, we narrowed down the three potential industries that we would like to target utilizing digital marketing strategy: technology, professional/career development, and entrepreneurship. In our brainstorming session, we determined that these industries were relevant among a majority of our previous and current clients. In addition, we strategized on how we could get these audiences in front of our free assets while utilizing digital marketing techniques.

Now, I am going to go back to the "understand" phase to further research these three industries to see if they are a good fit for our target audience.

October 25, 2019

After researching these three industries, I discovered that it is still difficult a bit difficult for me to narrow down our target audience. Tech, professional/career development, and entrepreneurship are all umbrella terms - these fields can apply to a multitude of other industries as well. In speaking with Joshua, we discovered that we were both on the same page. We then shifted our focus, and the main message of our digital marketing strategy. The Spill Teem does not want to limit itself to just a select few industries, because design-thinking strategy and tools can be applied to any industry successfully. Design-thinking is successful because it is human-centered, and that is what we want to convey to our audience.

Now that I have narrowed down our target audience, and our main message, I am beginning to prepare for the "prototyping" phase of the design-thinking structure. The prototyping part of the "explore" phase is to experiment implementing the ideas that we developed during our ideating session. I am going to study the posts that the Spill Teem has been creating on social media, in order to capture the "essence" or the "magic" of the Spill Teem. The Spill Teem already has amazing branding and style, but it now needs to be implemented in a more consistent and intentional way. While studying the messaging of the Spill Teem, I am going to practice replicating this messaging/branding while creating mock posts and content. This Friday, the team is going to come together to do a "content dump" so that we can have content ready for consistent and intentional digital engagement.