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Nailing Your Business Card Game: Must-Have Elements for Maximum Impact

Nailing Your Business Card Game: Must-Have Elements for Maximum Impact

The following post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you when you click and purchase using these links. Thanks for supporting my business in this way.

Business cards. Can’t figure out what to put on ’em, can’t live without ’em.

Much like the frustration some of us have when we’re asked to submit a bio, the details you include on your business cards suffer the same stress. I’ve seen firsthand the impact a good one (and a really, really bad one if we’re being honest) can have for me and the impression I make when meeting with brands or networking with peers at events, conferences or on an airplane to a funeral (true story).

I wanted to take a minute to share some things I recommend you have on your business card as we venture into the 2023 conference season:


Seriously. Think about the number of people you meet at a conference or mid-size event. It’s a lot of people. And unless you’re a cyborg super robot, you probably have a tricky time placing a face to a name when you’re back home or at the office, settling in to send out follow up messages. Get a snapshot of your face that embodies the type of experience this new contact will have when they visit your outlets.


Believe it or not, people still enjoy talking on the phone. I know, I KNOW, RIGHT?! Now notice that I didn’t say “include your cell phone number”. You don’t have to do that. I promise. For a long time I carried two versions of my business card around with me; one with + one without the phone number. Inevitably they were doled out to people who needed my phone number but didn’t get it and vice versa. I personally use Google Voice number. You can forward the calls to your personal cell number to answer. There’s also a Google Voice app you can use to view voicemail transcripts and text messages (yep, they can text ya!). 


We don’t need your full mailing address, but it’s a smart idea to place your major metropolitan area or state, province, or country. This gives the new contact a gentle courtesy that an 8am call from the east coast to someone in LA is DEFINITELY going straight to voicemail to be answered after a cup, or two, of coffee.


A simple, clean design is always going work. Always. You want the most important info front and center. The last thing you want to do is put too much style on it, losing your name, outlet links, etc in the shuffle of funkadelia. I highly recommend a white background and black for a majority of the text you choose to include. Spunk it up with maybe your name or your title in a color that fits the color scheme they’ll experience when they visit your site or social platforms.

My favorite place on the planet to get high-quality biz cards is MOO. If you’ve never used them before, enjoy 25% off your first order of cards. They have loads of options on size, shape, finish + paper type. 

Now get out there and ROCK your cards!

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2023 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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Overindexed to Underwater: When Capacity Outweighs Capability and How to Regain Balance

Overindexed to Underwater: When Capability Outweighs Capacity and How to Regain Balance

Learnings from hitting the stop button in December & january

The end of the year is supposed to be a time of reflection, gratitude, and celebration. It is supposed to be a moment in time for me to look back at all that I accomplished. I welcomed the chance, as I always do, to participate in this exercise. What I didn’t expect were the circumstances or depth I would find myself in for two months. 

It was December 1st, the one year anniversary since launching House of Wise. I sat in my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn as we virtually celebrated with the rest of the team. There was much to celebrate. We achieved so much for a small team, in the midst of a global undoing, and young by anyone’s account of a company. After the birthday party, I found myself overcome with a sinking feeling as I made my way to the airport to head home. I chalked it up to standard issue travel stress, popped a gummy, and didn’t give it another thought.

Until it gave me another thought.

As I pulled into my driveway, an undeniable shift started. (That’s a lie. The shift started in early November, but I wouldn’t realize that for another couple of weeks.) I had a visceral reaction to what my mind, body, and soul could not make sense of. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling and it certainly wasn’t a clear feeling. It was simply a lot of feeling. All at once.

I text my founder the next day. I was completely burnt out. I needed time to rest, but I didn’t know what that looked like yet. Spoiler alert: one of the most powerful shifts for me has been defining a truly human-first culture at House of Wise with Amanda. That made what ended up being a two-month hiatus from work possible. I have no doubt about that.

Here are the top learnings when I started unwinding my internal jumble:

The Gratitude x Guilt collab no one asked for is real

I tend to make myself small because, by conventional perception, I have a great thing that others are struggling to find for themselves. “Why would I ever consider giving that up?” 

This will make more sense if we got real for a second. Where I’ve gotten to on this point is a byproduct of healing and growing from prior workplace traumas – gaslighting, pay disparity, executive ego. I need to share the triggers that shock my system into “fight or flight” mode and how the responses have progressed from always fight > exhausted/unhappy> always flight > firm & forthcoming.

I understand more clearly now that the risk is the same whether I “always flight” or stay put and ask for change. That said, choosing the latter presents two opportunities: 1) for me to advocate for my needs and interests and 2) giving other parties the chance to support that advocacy. Choice. It always comes down to choice – making them and offering them.

The truth here is that the way I spend the time I have each day should be fulfilling my needs. Some hobbies, jobs, or relationships will be a one-stop-shop for meeting all of my needs. My truth is that I need multiple sources and instead of feeling guilty or ashamed of that, I am embracing and exploring how that comes to life.

Capabilities will always outweigh capacity

You will always be able to do more. We’re not one-dimensional, we don’t fit into one box, we are multi-hyphenates. It is up to us to fiercely protect this balance. Being able to is not the same as being inspired to.

For example, I am excellent at programming conditional logic. However, I’d rather spend my time visualizing a human experience that would benefit from a process that was programmed with conditional logic. Both are my superpowers. The latter makes me want to strut a bit more in my cape and leotard is all.

Minor mentality difference, major emotional difference.

"I am the sole architect of the height from which I fall."

Understanding the blueprint of life

Trauma-informed patterns are natural self-protections. Healing from these experiences is ongoing work. By giving my career-related traumas space to make me uncomfortable, I am starting to unlock what has been my own limiting beliefs about my potential.

My pattern is to compensate now for the toxic devaluing dynamics of prior leaders by over-indexing and under-advocating for my skills and talents. Helping others is a core driver of mine, but moderation is my shortcoming. When I don’t champion for what I can contribute, I fall hard in frustration and blame, building resentment. The facts? I’m the one who disrespected myself the most.

I am the sole architect of the height from which I fall.

I have the power to renovate the floor plan of my patterns. I can knock out walls and create new hallways where I once was stuck walking through a bathroom to get to the kitchen table. In order to make these changes, I need to build up my toolkit. 

It becomes obvious when you hit the stop button to see that you don’t have what you need to knock down the walls or rip out the carpet. That you’ve been doing the landlord’s special and simply painting over the outlets and calling yourself updated. I don’t know if you’ve tried to plug something you need to use into a painted-over outlet in a rental, but it does not work. And if it does, it is not well and certainly not for long.

Going now and pausing often

I am wildly grateful for the full stop of December. and January. I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have a life circumstance that allowed me to not worry about meeting basic human needs while I introspected. What I did will not be an option for everyone.

Creating a new pace is critical. The binary cadence of life, especially in American culture, is dangerous. The narrative is either “hustle hard” or “rest easy”. I prefer a tender chugging along – to go at a manageable pace and not be pressured to slam on the brakes when it becomes too much. I hope for the very same recalibration for you.

It will take time, but time is our most valuable asset. Let’s do this together.

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How to build a budget for your small business

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps

How to build a budget for your small business in 6 steps

The following post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you become a Bench customer at no additional cost to you.

If a goal without a plan is just a wish, then a small business without a budget is just a side hustle.

Having a well-thought out budget is the key to reaching your short and long-term business goals. It gives you an opportunity to plan how you’ll spend your money in the future, and can help you spot issues with your finances straight away—and, ahem, not two days before your bills come due.

New to all this? Here’s a six-step plan for building a small business budget from Bench, your friendly expert bookkeeping advisors.

What is a small business budget?

Your small business budget is a monthly, quarterly, or annual projection of your business finances. 

It should outline all operating costs needed to run your business and give a clear overview of expected revenue and expenses. It tells you:

  • How much money you plan to spend to run your business
  • How much money you expect to generate from sales
  • How much money you hope to have left over after each month

That last one is important. One of the biggest benefits of having a realistic budget for your small business is the insight it provides for planning future investments. 

Summarizing your business financials also helps you recognize and eliminate wasteful or ineffective spending to streamline your business operations. 

Basically, it’s a way to plan for the future, rather than taking things day-by-day.

Step 1: Estimate your revenue

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Your estimated revenue is the amount you expect to make from the sale of goods or services you provide.

While it may be tempting to base your budget on what you dream of taking in, looking at your business’s past performance is a better strategy, trust us.

If your business is established: If you’ve been working on your business for a while, use your sales figures from the previous year’s books as well as any new sources of business income you plan on generating in the budget period to estimate future revenue. 

If you’re new to the market: If you’re in start-up mode and don’t have historical books, looking for industry averages can give you an idea of what your business could take in month to month. (You can always revisit and adjust later once you know what your business actually makes.)

At Bench, no matter where your initial forecasts come from, we recommend keeping clean, well-organized books as you go along. This is especially true if your business is seasonal or has an unpredictable sales cycle.

Step 2: Outline your fixed costs

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Fixed costs are small business expenses that don’t change over time. 

Think about the things you pay for no matter how much you make each month like rent, computer equipment, payroll, insurance, administration fees, or bookkeeping services (as long as you use a service with a flat monthly fee—like Bench).

Knowing the total amount of fixed costs per month will help you understand your non-negotiable monthly commitments and let you know how much extra money you have available for discretionary spending or new investments. 

This information might also help you calculate: 

  • What your business needs to earn to be profitable
  • The amount of cash you’ll need on hand
  • How much cash reserve you’ll need for leaner months

Step 3: Determine your variable costs

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps

Variable costs include the prices of raw materials, labor, and distribution related to the products or services you sell. 

These costs grow alongside your production volume. Think packaging, hourly wages, commission, or credit card transaction fees. So if it costs $12 to produce your patented air pods holder, when you double your production, you may also double your variable costs.

Knowing your variable costs allows you to:

  • Determine how much to charge for your product or service 
  • Calculate the break-even point of your product or service 
  • Find ways to cut down on costs and increase your profit margin

(See, your trusty budget helped you do all that!)

Step 4: Establish your cash flow

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Unlike revenue, your cash flow is the amount of money coming in and going out of your business. 

Have cash on hand: Paying your fixed and variable expenses without going into debt is the foundation of growing your business. Without it, you won’t be able to afford to pay for necessities and your business will suffer.

See the bigger picture: Comparing the total amount of incoming cash with outgoing expenses is an easy way to understand your overall profitability. From there, you can decide whether you need to trim, tweak, or expand your small business budget.

In order to get the information you need to accurately calculate your spending, we suggest (surprise, surprise) keeping good records that let you track your earning and spending over time.

Step 5: Figure out one-off expenses

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

You’ve sorted out fixed costs, variable costs, and cash flow. But there’s one more budgetary item to make your small business operation almost foolproof: the back-up fund. 

When your laptop dies suddenly or you need to hire someone to fix the staff kombucha bar, squirreling away a bit of cash for unexpected expenses can go a long way toward protecting your business.

Step 6: Keep your finances on track

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Most successful business owners know that a budget is only as good as the data it’s based on. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records takes work, but the insight you gain into your business is priceless.

As your business grows it might make sense to hand time-consuming tasks like bookkeeping over to the pros. From bookkeeping to banking, Bench makes budgeting a breeze.

Expert bookkeeping: Your Bench team will organize all business transactions, prepare financial statements, and keep your books up to date and squeaky clean.

Financial reporting: Your Bench income statement, balance sheet, and visual reports provide crystal-clear data on the health of your business, and let you see opportunities for growth.

Year-round tax support: Come tax time, your dedicated Bench team can take care of everything to make your tax filing simple and stress-free.

Put simply, it’s the all-in-one financial toolkit your business can count on.

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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Debunking the Myth that “Anyone” Can Manage Social Media

How to Be an Effective Social Media Manager for a Brand or Company

Debunking the Myth that “Anyone” can manage social media

Let’s talk about social media. 

More poignantly, let’s talk about deconstructing the antiquated perception that social media management in a professional capacity is “something the receptionist can do” (or the lazy, sexist trope of “the owner’s niece”). 

As with most things these days, I was inspired to have this conversation because of a TikTok rabbit hole. My FYP is filled to the brim with all sides of TikTok (iykyk), but the VA side of TikTok has been dominating the feed.

The “you don’t have to have any experience at all to make money as a social media manager” side of TikTok. 

I agree with this…to a point. But I also vehemently disagree with it for the rest of the points.

Yes. It’s true. Anyone can post on social media. Have you seen your uncle’s posts lately?!

No. It’s not true. Everyone cannot post on social media effectivelyEven people with personal brand careers on social media. (Yes. I said it.)

How to be an effective social media manager for a company or brand requires knowledge of so many overlooked components that someone with “no experience” will fail to grasp.

Effective social posts pass through a number of cross-functional lenses

  • Does this align with brand values and mission?
  • Does this align with established goals for product sales?
  • Does this align with fundraising efforts/messaging?
  • Does this align with and support growth KPIs?
  • Does this align with PR and partnership efforts?

The Brand Mouthpiece

It’s not inflammatory to claim that social media is the mouthpiece of the brand. It is. 

Social media establishes itself, and is most interpreted as, the “person” of the brand through the content that a social media manager publishes to the platform(s) of choice. It feels less cold and sterile for someone to slide into the DMs than it does to fill out a contact form or respond to a newsletter. Tell me I’m wrong. I’ll wait. 

Having built and managed integrated marketing efforts in both capacities (personal brand + brand-brands) for nearly fifteen years, I can tell you, for certain, without a wink, blink or hesitation, that customers are the most boldly responsive, outspoken and empowered on social media.

Here’s an unlikely example:

In an ecosystem I managed at a CPE provider for CPAs (that’s continued professional education for accountants…target demo….accountants), our MarCom distribution channels were primarily email and traditional snail mail (90%) with the introduction of a social media experience (10%). 

Guess which channel garnered the highest response rate? Social media. An industry whose average age is 44 was most receptive on Twitter and Instagram once those channels were introduced as options. This was a legacy company, in business for 25+ years when I joined the team, with very high customer retention. The new and especially returning customers found the brand accessible and approachable. Despite the extensive infrastructure we had in place to handle customer care, the DMs were the avenue of choice for a good number of customers to receive assistance in registering for online courses or multi-day resort conferences. This called for an intrinsic synchronicity between the customer care team and the marketing team to maintain continuity in messaging, support, and to avoid confusion. If the social media manager missed a DM, before responding, it was important to connect with the customer care manager to determine if that customer had been taken care of and vice versa. 

Which leads pretty nicely into the next point about effectiveness in managing social media: response time. 

The marketing channel that's "always on"

The beauty of social media is that everyone uses it in ways that best fit with their lifestyle and schedule. 

The beast of social media is that everyone uses it in ways that best fit with their lifestyle and schedule.

This can become a real challenge if you’re not prepared for it internally.

Let’s walk through a support scenario that happens more often than you think: 

A customer has made an error while placing their late night, weekend order. The customer expects the brand account to respond first. Their job is just “hanging out on social” right? Surprise! They’ll actually DM the brand account, wait a few minutes/an hour for a response. When they do not get one, they simultaneously DM the founder, publicly tweet and send individual emails to every email address they can find on the contact page of the website. They unknowingly (and sometimes willingly) start The Fire™️. 

The Fire™️ is the sense of urgency that makes everyone in the organization’s stomachs drop when it shouldn’t. Customers usually don’t know the ripple effect of this approach, but there are ways to fail-safe it internally. The key? Comms visibility and curiosity. In a 2017 report, it was determined that 72% of consumers expect the person contacting them to know who they are, what they’ve purchased and have insight on previous interactionsCheck where you keep track of  customer support notes and ask around to your team before diving in to save the day. We all know that if someone ordered the shirt in green instead of blue that they are not in a realm of danger that requires a first-responder grade reaction, right? 

It’s also important to establish a proper expectation with customers when it comes to communication. I advise clients often to understand what that looks like on an internal level so no one department or function is sabotaging the success of another. I also advise that once lightning fast, realtime, within seconds replies are established, it’s very hard to condition it to be anything else.

Quick, timely, and informed is always the goal but does not equate to THESECONDTHEMESSAGECOMESTHROUGHSOHELPMEGOD.

The Lasting PsychoSocial effect

Marketing, in every form, is rooted in psychology. To be truly effective at reaching customers or building communities or encouraging the purchase of products on social media, it’s imperative to understand people as people. Not as archetypes or personas, but as individual people with unique factors that contribute to how they experience content and what moves them to action. 

A major oversight I see often is the dismissal of the psychosocial effects of social media on people. It has intrinsically and significantly altered the ways in which we conduct ourselves, perceive information, respond to content, and interact with brands. Even ten years ago, you never had a “direct line” to engage with Nike. Now you do in the palm of your hand. There is a biological shift that has taken place in our brains that has reestablished a baseline understanding of what accessibility is to these previously untouchable, consumer monoliths. 

The reality is that I can see an adorable picture of my niece who lives in another state, double tap it, and leave an adoring comment, littered with emojis, scroll to the next and have the ability to do the exact same thing to a piece of content from my favorite brand. There’s no major separation happening here like we’ve seen in traditional media. You expect commercials while watching network television. You know that looking at a billboard along the highway means you’ll see which exit to take for the world’s largest ball of yarn. You get the Sunday paper knowing you’ll see the weekly ad for Target. Social media has blurred that line of expectation. It’s happening inline and alongside updates from the people you know and love. Which stands to prove that our subconscious, in regard to brands on (and off) social media, has a greater alignment to how personably we interact with our friends and family and the expectations and emotional responses we have to them than not.

Not a gig for the intern

And so, it’s important to differentiate that posting to social media is very different than managing social media.

Truly anyone can post something on social media.

As a brand, you should be intimately connected to what it means to incorporate your voice, product, or service onto a social platform. It has a powerful impact on your brand as a whole and the experience that customers and prospective customers have with your brand.

We are far, far, far past the age of forgiveness because “the intern running our social accounts didn’t know”. People are hip. They’re with it. Big brands have brought in highly skilled, talented, and ever-learning leaders to guide their social media strategies and content experiences. These good eggs have set the standard for the rest of us.

Having an exceptional social media experience isn’t reserved for brands at scale, but for small businesses, it certainly needs to be firmly rooted in a foundation of scalability.

Wear the Chipotle social suit as a startup and I promise you’ll grow into it.

How to Be an Effective Social Media Manager for Brands and Companies

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Pinterest Best Practices for Bloggers and Influencers

Pinterest Best Practices for Bloggers and Influencers
Pinterest Best Practices for Bloggers and Influencers

There are a myriad of ways to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog.

But do you know the ways to use Pinterest to your advantage while keeping best practices in mind?

Recent Pinterest Changes

Pinterest recently joined Tailwind, a pin optimization tool and verified Pinterest partner app, to discuss the recent changes they have been putting in place to help improve the pinning experience for users and publishers. Lucy Matthews, Programs Partner Manager at Pinterest, joined Tailwind CEO, Daniel Maloney, to share what bloggers and influencers can do on Pinterest today to increase distribution and traffic for your content. 

One of the most notable Pinterest best practices tips includes creating fresh, high-quality content.

What is "fresh, high-quality content" to pinterest?

According to the horse’s mouth, Pinterest qualifies fresh, high-quality content as a new image that has not been shared to Pinterest before. Easy enough, right?

This includes captivating images for new blog posts, pages, or product listings as well as breathing new visual life into your already existing content.

Why should I update my pins?

The goal of updating your existing pins and creating high-quality, pinnable images is to inspire Pinners to engage with, save, and click your Pins. 

If you’ve been on Pinterest for any extended period of time like myself, it will resonate with you that there is often user-fatigue when it comes to seeing the same Pin over and over and over again.

As a creator, I know it’s important for me to always have a focus on actively engaging my followers with new and previously high-performing content on Pinterest.

Users respond to new Pins and the robots in the algorithm love them, too. Make sure you’re ahead of the game by adapting these changes to your workflow sooner rather than later.

How can I make these updates on pinterest?

One word: Tailwind.

I’ve been a Tailwind user for years both as an influencer and an agency owner. I can confidently say that it has made a world of difference to be able to batch upload and schedule content, while being assured that Tailwind’s partnership with Pinterest directly ensures best practices are always baked into the app technology. 

Tailwind is not only a timesaver, it’s a mindsaver.

Does using Tailwind Hurt my Pinterest account?

Tailwind has not only worked with Pinterest to develop an app that simplifies and encourages the use of Pinterest to amplify your content, they have also developed SmartGuide, which helps to monitor your Pinning activity. 

Initially, SmartGuide alerts you if what you’re doing might reduce your overall reach or put your Pinterest account at unnecessary risk. Not only that, but in addition to the alerts that something may be amiss, SmartGuide also provides tips to help you maintain a healthy queue of scheduled Pins.

Over time, SmartGuide helps to keep you up-to-date with the latest best practices on Pinterest. You’ll always be in the Pinterest loop!

You can learn all the ins and outs of Tailwind’s SmartGuide and Spam SafeGuard features by clicking here.

Pinterest Best Practices for Bloggers and Influencers by Jessi Sanfilippo
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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC
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Strengths over Specialties

Strengths Over Specialties: How to Increase Client Retention
Strengths Over Specialties: How to increase your client retention

As a creative agency owner, I’ve been asked this exact question quite often: “What do you specialize in?”

Despite the grammatical incorrectness of ending the question with a preposition, I always answer with a question of my own: “Can you tell me what your business’ speciality?”

I used to respond with something along the lines of doing pretty much everything which resulted in a reaction along the lines of telling this prospect or new contact that I murdered their dearest loved one and they were my next target. An understandable response, but not the slightest bit of what I was trying to evoke.

I, naturally, quickly discovered that being apt to achieve and execute solutions for many of a client’s needs is not best translated when you claim your agency does “pretty much everything”. No matter the level of confidence or follow-up explanation, the trepidation is already the foundation and there’s not very far to go beyond the idea that the one thing I’m good at is saving my ass by talking my way out of something. A business approach that works, for a time, for some, but not my bag, baby.

Instead, I’ve switched it up to something more conversational and educational. The success of my creative agency is based on being able to accurately and concisely understand two major things about my client: 

What do they do well?
What are they unable to do?

Being armed with the reality of what they are unable to do, allows me the opportunity to share with them what I do, that will help them to stay focused on what they do well. Instead of asking a series of rapid-fire questions about needing video, social media management, remote administrative support, email marketing strategies, copywriting, digital ads, graphic design, or the handful of other things I am capable of, I’m able to narrow that down to explaining my capability for the most pressing, top of mind pain points they’re currently struggling with in their organization.

Once we solve those initial problems together, we move on to the next and I get the opportunity to step in to handle them or, my favorite of all things, refer them to someone in my network whom I trust and respect who will be able to instead

When your business model is productized

We all know the sales and advertising practice of productizing. In the event you do not, productizing is presenting a universal service in an audience targeted way. Making or developing a service into a product.

Let’s look at an example really quick. Say you offer social media management as a service to clients, but the whole of your clients are not industry specific. You would then speak directly to whomever you were looking to attract with design and copy that speaks directly to what they will be looking for like “Social Media Management for Boat Dealers” or, hopefully, something more snappy and catchy.

Now for me and mine, we are precisely this type of agency. Non-industry specific and strengths over specialities in our body of clientele. This makes things both exciting and challenging. Our business model is productization through and through. Everything that we can offer to someone who is interested in using our agency to elevate their in-house efforts is customized particularly to their industry.

I’ve found that it’s less of a challenge to be exceptionally knowledgable about the tasks and roles I will potentially be charged with than it is for me to spend my time narrowing my opportunities by learning decades worth of ins and outs for only one industry. I’m anomalously fortunate to have an aptitude as one who retains information at incredible rates. Yes, this means I’ll remember someone’s pet’s birthday after speaking with them for 45 seconds, but it also means that when it is necessary for me to create or execute a strategy for an industry I am unfamiliar with, I can learn what is needed for me to do my job and do it well. 

I urge you if you are considering or debating the idea of narrowing a marketing service agency down to only having single-industry clients to instead spend some time looking at your aptitude for learning about varied industries as the need or interest arises for you in your business. 

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that marketers are only capable of marketing well if they are singularly specialized. I unsubscribed from that school of thought after 10+ years of firsthand experience. Luckily for you, you don’t have to spend the next decade thinking that’s the only way to do it well. You’re welcome. 

Why strength > specialty?

That leads me to explaining why I focus on maintaining strength in my personal endeavors as well as my agency.

One of my main redeeming qualities, aside from my obviously charming sense of humor, is my versatility. I am a highly organized individual and business owner who knows that at the drop of a hat, gear-switching comes with the territory of doing important work in the world. It’s a great and motivating feeling to know that you are capable of being relied upon to step in or step up in situations outside of your “defined role”. I am a firm believer in the idea that asserting and offering yourself in areas of need that you know you have a strength is the most effective way to show that you’re able to execute said things. I love a good resume, portfolio, or performance report as much as the next guy. It’s the most analytical way to assess the past performance of some one or some thing. What though does that do for us in the moment? 

When a need is pressing? Or an idea is born and you’re in the very early stages of exploring that idea?

Well, not much.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily keep a rolodex of my network of peers’ resumes on my phone to quickly search and reference. Instead I rely on where I’ve experienced character strengths. Sometimes those strengths can be easily translated to the need at hand because they exist in a very parallel way. Other times, it’s so much more about what I’ve been exposed to that has had a strengthening effect.

In closing, I offer you this nugget to noodle…

Where do you see your career when you see beyond specialty?
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How Small & Mighty Beats Big & Maybe

How Small and Mighty Beats Big and Maybe
How Small & Mighty Beats Big & Maybe

I recently had the distinct honor of teaching a Show How Workshop at the annual Dad 2.0 Summit in San Antonio, Texas. 

Jessi Sanfilippo, Founder + CEO of Up Top Agency, speaks at Dad 2.0 Summit 2019 in San Antonio, TX

After a rousing, hours long call with Co-Founder, Doug French, a few weeks before the event, we landed on the topic of the power of micro- and nano-influencers and that their following does not have to dictate their earning ability when approaching or being approached to work with brands. 

I, myself, have had an 11-year career as a micro-influencer in the humor lifestyle and parenting vertical. I do not have globs and globs of followers, but those followers who I do have possess distinct characteristics: 

The importance of being able to command a livable rate when negotiating with a brand, lies in being able to accurately portray and report on the value of your following as it relates to the goals the brand has established for deploying an influencer campaign. This means you have to have a conversation with the brand or agency representing the brand to determine how your audience can be of value. 

Though the audio below is less than ideal (self-recording is a bit tough when there are many moving parts and room quickly filling up to SRO status), it is the full 45-minute, interactive workshop I provided to the attendees of this year’s Dad 2.0 Summit.

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How Long Will It Take?

How Long Will It Take? A Lesson in Bad PR
How long will it take?
A lesson in bad PR

Being a terrible listener makes you a terrible communicator.

When the nature of our business is to effectively communicate with one another, this paradigm is as ironic as it is detrimental.

I recently received a typically regular outreach from an independent PR “professional” for my humor site, SHUGGILIPPO, and the below exchange followed, with [commentary bolded]:

October 29, 2014 6:00am


Ms. Jessi Sanfilippo Blogger

Can we interest you in taking a look and possibly doing a feature story or a review of this delightful new award winning children’s holiday book by [AUTHOR REDACTED]?

Here is a rock and rolling story about [SUMMARY REDACTED].  This exquisitely illustrated book will have you and your kids totally enthralled and when you get to the last page, you will explode with laughter and delight.

If you would like to receive a review copy, please provide us with your best mailing address. We have very limited review hard copies left, but PDF file will still available or if you wish fast action and would like to save a few trees request that as your preference.


[For those unfamiliar, this is a standard issue format for outreach from a PR representative to a blogger/influencer. Awkward opening salutation and all.] 

 October 29, 2014 8:56pm

Hello [REP REDACTED]!                                     

This title looks wonderful! Depending on how quickly I could get a hardcover copy to include in my “Children’s Books” holiday gift guide video, I’d love to add it to the mix. [How long will it take?] The excerpts below are right up the alley of the tone of my site and audience. 

Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there. [How long will it take?]

Hope this finds you well and, as always, thank you for the outreach on sharing this great title with my audience! [Pleasant enough, right?]

Chat soon, 

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 29, 2014 9:22 pm

As stated below:

If you would like to receive a review copy, please provide us with your best mailing address. We have very limited review hard copies left, but PDF file will still available or if you wish fast action and would like to save a few trees request that as your preference. [Now let’s remember how I mentioned I was thinking of putting this book in a video. That proves less screen-friendly when the copy I’m using is a PDF file.]


October 29, 2014 9:45pm


I did read the part about the PDF copy available for more immediate review, however, since the nature of the title’s potential inclusion would be on camera in a holiday gift guide series I’ll be filming & publishing in the next 2-3 weeks, I wanted to see if you could offer any insight on the turnaround for physical copies. [So, how long will it take? In other words, I’m being considerate in not laying claim to one of the expressed limited physical copies if it won’t arrive in time to be including on-camera.]

If not, that’s okay. Was just thinking from what I could see in your release that this might be a fun one to include in the collection I already have for the episode. [Pay attention. I’m only asking to include this book in something that I am already doing.]

Thanks for your time on this, [REDACTED]! 

Chat soon,

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 29, 2014 10:11pm

Jessim, [Same day, different name.]

You are making this way harder than it needs to be. [Uh oh.]

If you wish to receive a hard copy, please just provide us with your street mail address. 


[Sent at 10:11pm. Everyone knows, nothing good comes from messaging after 10pm.]

October 29, 2014 10:14pm

I just downloaded your media kit. [Wait, what?] You charge for sponsored posts and advertising. [Yeah…and…]

If you are seeking to be paid, we can’t work with you at all. We don’t pay for media coverage. [Good to know.]


Let me know if you can do an objective review with no fee. [Yeah, I kind of thought that’s what we’ve been talking about.] If you can’t then please let me know. I’ll place you on our block list. [Well that escalated quickly.]


[Wait, wait. I didn’t get a chance to respond to the fir…]

October 29, 2014 10:19pm

Jesse, [Ah, a new misspelling.]

I studied your media kit. [Um…]

Sorry, we see the trend for people to run articles for a fee, [People occasionally being paid for what they do? Yeah. It’s an epidemic.] but we can’t even pass these offers back to the PR clients due to the financial conflict of interest issues that arise.  The fee requires disclosure under the FTC “Truth in Advertising” requirements. [Ya don’t say?] Our clients come to us for objective editorial coverage, freely given due to the value offered, and not advertising. 

I have written several commentaries about the recent trend for sponsored posts, particularly on blogs. If you want to read more about why this business model has serious drawbacks, click here: [URL REDACTED] [Very eye-opening since all industry trends indicate a significant shift toward sponsored digital content.] 

Google is also now penalizing all web sites including blog sites that accept payment for links and sponsored posts even with disclosure. [NO! Not the Google Police!] Here’s an excellent article for you from a sponsored post blogger who has written and explained this issue very well: [URL REDACTED] 

And here is a link to one of my blog posts about the Google changes [URL REDACTED]

Although my post was written concerning news releases, the Google changes are just applicable and as pertinent to sponsored posts. [Looks like I hit the jackpot with all this insider Google information.]

If you are willing to do a review based on your objective consideration of the product, then please provide us with your best mailing address. [I already said yes. Twice. How long will it take?]

Hope this helps.


Free eBook download [URL REDACTED] [Well this is new…]

[I wanted so badly to respond to this 8-minute, late night barrage of messages with my knee-jerk impression, but decided to collect myself in order to offer a more constructive reply.]

October 30, 2014 1:05am


It saddens me to hear that you have had such an unpleasant experience with bloggers and/or online influencers in the past, [Those money-hungry monsters who are sometimes paid.] that it has led to the assumptive, baseless succession of emails in reply to how timely a hard copy of a title for inclusion in an editorial based video would be. 

I have been publishing online in the editorial, advertorial, and advertising means for upwards of seven years. By and before FTC guidelines were as rigidly outlined and strictly enforced. [This is not my first rodeo.] However the guidelines in this particular scenario, and your attempt to condescendingly “educate” me on the adverse effects of publishing paid content on my site, are as bewildering as they are moot since there was never a financial expectation expressed on my part. [You only assumed this because you clicked on a link that I have in all of my emails.] I am no stranger to the editorial nature of generating exposure, for books in particular, as I have been doing so on my site for years now. At no point in my correspondence, again, simply asking you how many days/weeks it would be to receive a physical copy [How long will it take…] to feature in a video (a delivery medium, as you well know from your explicitly shared knowledge of the industry, is typically a premium paid distribution avenue), did I request or require a form of payment to do so. […to do it for free?]

While I appreciate the thorough attention you managed to apply to my default email signatures, as well as the content of my media kit, I’d have loved to see you apply that same level of attention to my repeated inquiry. I implore you to take a moment of your heightened attention to detail and cycle back to the two previous messages I sent your way. You’ll see that I was offering to provide exceptionally effective coverage on behalf of your client and their title in a medium that would have exceeded what is typically a dry and formulaic activation of your promotional efforts. At no requested fee. At all. Ever. 

As a result of this bizarre and unsettling string of correspondence, I am fortunately, or unfortunately for your client, no longer interested in providing coverage for this title. [Which is really a shame.] I would request that you proceed with adding my contact information to your “block list” as I, in an effort to avoid “making this harder than it needs to be”, will be adding yours to a block list of my own. [::presses play on the song “Shit List” by Garbage::]

P.S. I would highly recommend closing down your email when enjoying a few night caps. [I didn’t say I wouldn’t throw a knee-jerk comment in there at all.]

Jessi Sanfilippo


October 30, 2014 12:34 PM

Jessi, [Nailed it! Finally.]

It saddens me as well that we won’t be working together as well. [Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department]

You contacted [AUTHOR REDACTED]. That’s fine. [I sent a friendly head’s up to the author to loop her in on the exchange so it’s nice to hear that he approves of my doing so.]

I then reviewed all the email with you and decided that I might clarify my response to you a little better. [Obviously your client contacted you. That sounds like a good idea. Especially since we both know they’ve been BCC’d on this message.]

You indicated that you felt my assumptions were baseless, so I want you to know why I responded to your communications with me the way I did. Perhaps I am more than a little sensitive to bloggers but the sposored post phenomenon is driving people in the PR business a little crazy. [A little?] But I do want to relate to you specifically what you sent to me and why I responded the way I did. [Here we go again…] Perhaps you might conclude some changes in what you send to people are in fact justified. [I wouldn’t bet on it.]

The email was in fact a bit confusing to me. [“How long will it take?” is very confusing.] I will explain why. [Phew. I thought you may have changed your mind.]  

Your email below states that there was no words that implied there was to be a fee. [BINGO! How long will it take?]

I wish to point out that this was not as clear as you might believe it to be. Here is what you sent in response to the news release: [This shouldn’t be very surprising since I wrote it.]

Hello [REP]!

This title looks wonderful! Depending on how quickly I could get a hardcover copy to include in my “Children’s Books” holiday gift guide video, I’d love to add it to the mix. The excerpts below are right up the alley of the tone of my site and audience. 

Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there.

Hope this finds you well and, as always, thank you for the outreach on sharing this great title with my audience!

Chat soon,

Jessi Sanfilippo

Founder & Humorist at | Los Angeles | [PHONE REDACTED]

View & download the full media kit for SHUGGILIPPO here: [URL REDACTED]

First I went to your site, and your home page has no publishing content. It is all about you. [Since, in my also years-long experience with PR, a majority of the outreach is based on little to no due diligence in comprehensive list-building, all the site links in my emails directed you to my “about” page so you’d have the chance to learn more about my site and myself. So yeah. What you saw on my “home page” makes sense.]  I looked all through your site and it is not clear where you publish Where features or information about my client could be featured is not readily apparent. [At the time of this email, on the actual home page of my site, there were three posts in the series I’d been referencing in my messages that I wanted to feature your client’s product in. For free.]

Then your email simply states in pertinent part …. “Let me know the turnaround time on that and we can go from there.” [Right. How long will it take?]

This is followed by your signature with:

View & download the full media kit for SHUGGILIPPO here: [URL REDACTED]




You notice this copy is enlarged and bolded with all caps caps on your SHUGGILIPPO name.[Why yes. I did indeed notice you manipulated my signature to look like that.]

So of course, I then clicked on it and looked over all your options.   Your media kit very clearly states that you charge for video production and you also charge for content production. [Yes. My media kit does outline pricing, however our one-on-one dialogue never did.]  

Your media kit made no statements whatsoever that indicated you would review or feature books or products in any other manner. Everything had a price. [That is the intended purpose of a media kit though, and again, this was never part of the conversation.]

I hope you can see that having followed your links it is very easy to conclude that you charge for coverage. [You’re reaching across the globe on this one, buddy.]

Finally, I concluded that given the clients I have the and coverage we seek, you really don’t publish the type of content that will best serve my clients interests. [I love when it gets to the blind, yet very bold, insults.]

This is why I sent you the email. [Glad we cleared that up.]

I am a former attorney [Nowwwwwwwww this is all making more sense…] and have researched the topic very carefully for many years now. My email to you regarding sponsored post and pay for play has evolved over many years of experience and has been sent to hundreds of bloggers this past year. [Hopefully also unsolicited.]  I apologize if that upset you. [Well, I kept Kleenex in business for Q3 so that’s good.] This is an issue that plagues hundreds of bloggers. I am working closely with Cision to clarify the type of media they include in their database and they have agreed to designate media who provide real objective media coverage, vs. those who charge for their time and effort.  This will improve the working relationships in a very practical way in the industry. [Blah, blah, blah]

My bottom line is that it does not look like we are a match. [Sounds like a familiar conclusion.] I seek bona fide objective media coverage for my clients. [Exactly what I provide mine.]

You do what you are best at.  I wish you well and hope you achieve everything you want to in this life. [Are you also a former life coach?]



Everyone inherently knows that it’s a smart idea to develop good relationships in business. Especially when you are in the business of public relations. One of the most accessible tools we have to achieve that, is our skill with communication.

The simplest part of that skill is listening.

He just wasn’t listening.

All I was asking was “How long will it take?”

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC