Toolbox Studios Takeaways from 2020

Year In Review

Just like everyone else, March 2020 changed our work environment, processes, and strategies. Early on at Toolbox Studios, we focused on how to market, sell, and lead through the crisis—not become a victim of it.

Our positive mindset helped us do amazing work for our clients—including an 80% response rate at the height of lockdown (listen to webinar below). We worked smarter than ever before and learned a lot about our strengths and abilities. Our three biggest internal takeaways for success-in-2020 were communication, problem-solving, and agility.


It’s important to know that we really love sitting around our big conference table and working on our individual projects… together. It’s part of our culture and a throwback to our early days when we had our one-room office. Cece jokes, “Why have I given you offices if you’re all going to be in the conference room?”

We work very collaboratively, constantly bouncing ideas off each other, and triple-checking strategic plans, implementation, and deadlines. The sudden shift away from the big conference table and away from each other felt extremely quiet and very un-Toolbox-like.

Our #1 takeaway was finding a way to communicate and maintain our healthy collaborative spirit. Daily meetings became our lifeline to our work, our clients, and most importantly to each other. We even started a book club and are currently working through the most recent release of David Meerman Scott’s “New Rules of Marketing and PR”.

Problem Solving

How do you help a client reach their target audience if that target isn’t going to an office? What if that client doesn’t have a well-established digital presence? If COVID-19 taught us nothing else—in marketing terms—it was the critical need for digital capabilities.

We found creative solutions around direct mail and delivery obstacles. We optimized websites to improve ranking. We strategized Google Ad and paid social campaigns. We developed and implemented social media strategies, promos, contests, and giveaways.

Our #2 takeaway was to keep collaborating. Our clients had problems, and we overcame them through collaborative creative problem-solving.


All that hard work in Q42019, and Q12020 to develop marketing strategies for Q2, 3, 4 went out the window. Our clients had to pivot, and we had to help them stay relevant in the midst of cultural shifts in politics, social justice, and health safety issues.

We moved to an OGSM (Objectives, Goals, Strategies, and Measures) model to help our clients track the effectiveness of marketing plans. This gave us the immediate facts needed to make adjustments as necessary.

Our #3 takeaway was to stay agile, informed, and quick to act. It became our new mode of operation.

If You Are Looking for Help

Our CEO, Cece Smith led a webinar on “Opti-Channel Marketing” for executives in the Print Industry. Hosted by our strategic partner MindFire, Inc., it showcases one of our recent marketing strategies that garnered an 80% response rate. There’s also a great Q/A session at the end. We encourage you to give it a listen and give us a call. We are here to help.





Facebook Posts vs. Boosted Posts vs. Facebook Ads

facebook homepage

There are many ways to get your message out on Facebook—some paid, some non-paid. Like Google, Facebook is in a constant state of improving the way people see posts and ads. Our Digital Team keeps up with the myriad of changes.

Facebook Posts (also known as Organic Posts)

When you post something to Facebook, the people who see it are your followers or someone who specifically views your page. You don’t pay to post it. Any engagement that happens is based on the caliber of the post and how it resonates with your followers.

Organic posts are significant. They establish your brand, your voice, and your story. They also give pertinent information to your followers. It’s important to post on a consistent basis. Frequency is also a crucial factor—too often and you become noise, too little and you fade away. Every brand finds its own rhythm.

It’s also worth mentioning that you have to “read the room.” Sure, you’ll want to develop a good content strategy schedule, but also understand what is happening in the world. Listen to what people are talking about and determine if your brand can authentically add to that conversation.

Boosted Posts

A boosted Facebook post is a hybrid between an organic post and an ad. They start their life as an organic post, but then, with money, they are “boosted” to reach target users who aren’t necessarily your followers, including on Instagram. Facebook gives you the ability to set basic parameters for a larger reach. (This is also how items wind up in your Facebook feed that you don’t follow—you’ve been targeted in a boosted post.)

It’s extremely simple to boost a post, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can set your max budget for as little as $1. You also set the duration time that people will see your post. The main advantage is reaching more people beyond your followers.

The main disadvantage is that the targeting mechanism is clunky. There is no guarantee that you are reaching the right audience. So wider reach does not automatically mean more followers. Someone might see your post, they might even visit your page, but that doesn’t mean they are going to engage or follow you.

Boosted posts are also very limited in how you can manipulate them. You can’t A/B test to see which version performs better. You can’t turn your post on and off during desirable times during the day. And, like we said before, you can’t drill down to find your perfect target audience.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are created in Facebook’s Business Manager which offers a lot more options. You have the ability to choose from a variety of ad placements, using defined objectives, and advanced targeting tools. There are also formatting options that give you creative control over your messaging, descriptions, and call to action. You can even refine the messaging as you see how the ad is performing.

Facebook also offers a tracking device called a Facebook Pixel. It’s a line of code that is put on your website. After someone visits your website, your ads will appear on their Facebook feed. (It’s how those shoes you were looking at online are now all over your Facebook.) This is called remarketing and is an essential part of your marketing mix.

Facebook ads are designed to go beyond comments, shares, and follows. They can help you reach specific business goals, increase conversions, and drive sales.  Toolbox Studios has the expertise to utilize the Facebook Business Manager tools to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time.

If you are ready to take your social media to the next level, Toolbox Studios can help you plan an Ad Campaign that incorporates organic, boosted, and Facebook Ads for comprehensive coverage. We work with you to create messaging, graphics, budget, placement, and audience demographics to reach your business objectives.


We’ve Got This

toolbox team on zoom

As much as we would love a good “April Fool’s” joke right now, the reality of the last few weeks just makes us thankful to reach April! Our entire team is now working from home. We’re spending a lot of time on video calls (nobody wants to turn on the camera and this photo will probably never happen again). We’re rocking our Office 365 with Outlook, Calendar, Teams, Sharepoint—huge shout-out to our IT Provider SandTech Solutions for all the great training and peace-of-mind security. (If you are a small business owner, check them out—we created their brand and built their website.)  And we’re doing all the things our leaders are calling us to do: washing our hands, maintaining social distance, and taking precautions with our senior citizens.

We’re also working harder than ever.

Our team hasn’t missed a beat. We’re designing, writing, developing, and building websites. We’re creating brands through graphics, taglines, colors, fonts, and messaging. We’re helping our advertising clients do business — delivering qualified leads. We’re virtually meeting with new and prospective clients — and are encouraged by the positive “let’s move forward” attitude. We’ve all been thrust into this transformative situation, and those who adapt will thrive.

We are adapting, and we are thriving.

Toolbox Studios is in our 25th year. We’ve re-invented ourselves more than once. We’ve taken those deep breaths and made those hard decisions.

If you are re-thinking your business model, assessing your website, reviewing your brand and messaging, struggling to get critical information out to your customers, employees, and communities — we can assist you in making that pivot.  We’re here to help.

Stay safe,
Cece Smith, Owner

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