Inspired by Stacy Sarno,
Office Manager Extraordinaire
We’ve got a lot of expert marketers out there, and there are a handful of rockstar Office Managers (*cough cough* Stacy Sarno) in the world. They both have very different roles, or so it seems.…
Our truly outstanding Office Manager, Stacy Sarno, and I realized a very interesting crossover between our roles.
But before we dive in… here’s the backstory behind this conversation. If you haven’t been Keeping Up with the DBE Team, Stacy plans all our memorable, team-building events. These events include everything from jeopardy to paddle boating to a tower-building extravaganza. Her naturally generous spirit makes her the perfect match for planning delightfully thoughtful events. Through experience, she’s found the right balance of activities for our team that add a layer of excitement to our workweek.
If you’re a marketer, this probably strikes a chord of familiarity. How different is planning a team event from launching a marketing campaign? We both modify our plans based on results, evolving on previous observations.
Steps to Successful Team-Building Events (with Marketer Translation)
Brainstorming, of course, is a first step. Taking notes seems to be Stacy’s key to this part of the process. When someone mentions a fun idea, she jots it down. Our CEO, Niki Fielding, mentioned doing something with Plah-Doh in the winter. Six months later, there’s a set of Play-Doh sitting on every team member’s doorsteps.
Taking notes also comes more discreetly such as noticing a shared trait. Our team is playfully competitive, so “Candy Name Jeopardy” was a homerun for the team.
“Variety is very important. It’s fun to do the same thing, but it’s important to switch things up to keep people interested and excited.” … as Stacy has seen from her team-building planning. Once you have a few events under your belt, you can gauge how the team liked them.
Also, plan for any hurdles in advance. Will travel be an issue? How does hosting a game over Zoom affect the rules? It’s good to think about logistics beforehand.
Marketer’s perspective: This is the research phase. Who is the audience? What are they interested in? Does your platform support the types of audience you want to target? You need to know your audience in order to tailor campaigns around them. Team events should be molded to your team just like a campaign is formed to suit your audience.
2. Narrow Down the Ideas
Run ideas by your team, pick 2-3 ideas for events to discuss with anyone who needs to approve what you’re planning. Once you have authorization, send a poll asking team members to rate the potential activities if more choices need to be made. Then, pick the activities that meet the best blend of criteria.
Marketer’s perspective: This is similar to the recommendations you give a client. It’s obvious you can’t do everything, so you have to pinpoint what is best for your audience. Ideas in a campaign are malleable, and most of the time, there are options to consider and choices to be made. Surveys and A/B tests are techniques marketers use to gather info and data to make smart choices.
The idea has been chosen and the time has come to plan. Stacy’s got a slew of tips on getting the most out of the planning phase:
- “Put together an itinerary with all of the info the team/participants will need. The more info the better.”
- When planning our team outing to Asbury Park, Stacy scheduled the day to suit the team as a whole.
- You have to think about where everyone is coming from (physically) and while taking everything from the time of year to weather (if you’re meeting in-person) into account..
- “Send reminders to the participants/team.”
- Don’t want anyone to forget about the event!
- “Always confirm reservations with vendors. You never want to show up and find out they lost your reservation.”
- If you’re thinking about gifts for team members, try to keep up with a theme! “Since we were going to the Jersey shore, why not give a beach bag and towels for the team to use for future trips to the beach?”
- “Ask for suggestions. I was not very familiar with Asbury Park so I asked local vendors for recommendations.”
Marketer’s perspective: Perspective is required when thinking about campaign launches. There have been so many campaigns that have gone terribly wrong because the marketers weren’t aware or sensitive of people’s worldly, physical, cultural, etc. perspective. Remember when Coke changed its recipe? How about Harley-Davidson perfume? 🤦♀️ (If you’re interested in more brand duds, check out this book from Matt Haig.) So, let’s conclude research is key to making the best campaigns and team building events a success!
Relax and enjoy. You’ve done good. ⛱☺
⭐ Bonus Ideas for Your Remote Team ⭐
If you don’t know, DBE is a 100% remote company. Luckily, most of our team lives within the tri-state area. Stacy has put together a variety of in-person and remote team activities. Here’s a uniquely fun list of our favorite activities over time:
- “Zoomraderie” – (Term coined by Niki:) Almost every week for over a year, our team uses a platform (Teamflow or Orbital) that allows us to appear in a virtual space as different avatars. There is a theme for the week like, “Favorite Food” or “Favorite Cartoon Character”. Everyone shows up as their favorite at a specified time. Then, we take turns guessing who is who. There always are a couple of good surprises as you get to know your team members. If you want to see some of our core team’s favorites, check out our snazzy “Meet DBE!” page.
- Play-Doh – Each team member received their own set of Play-Doh to build whatever creation they wanted over a video call. We rewarded each other with superlatives like “Most Cheerful Creation” and “Best Depiction of Underwater Life”.
- Jenga-Like Blocks Extravaganza – Each team member got a set of Jenga-like blocks. The team played over a video call to see whose tower was the last standing.
- Cookie Decorating – Each team member received a cookie decorating set to decorate over a video call. We rewarded each other with superlatives like “Best DBE Spirit” and “Best Use of Kitchen Ingredients”.
- Family Feud, Jeopardy, & Trivia Games – The internet contains loads of themed games. Set a moderator, then divide the group into teams for a little competitive fun! These are great with seasons/holidays.
In-Person (if you’re close enough)
- Company Day Out – Stacy planned a fun-filled day in Asbury Park, NJ with pedal cycles, pedal boats, restaurant hopping, and arcades! Pick a fun, central location and plan a day with local tourist activities.
- Traditional Company Lunch – Sometimes it doesn’t have to be a huge hullabaloo to be fun. It could be a simple lunch to catch up with your team.
The Wrap Up
Overall, we find that the office manager in charge of team building and the marketer running campaigns share a similar devotion: people. People are the reason for the time and effort. Whether it’s making their lives easier or better with a product or making work more lighthearted and fun!
Not one size fits all, but our team building activities happen to fit and strengthen us as a team. We believe business (or the world in general) is a little brighter when people are placed at the forefront. 🌞