WTF is a COO?

I majored in English because I love my questions to have multiple choice answers. As long as you can prove your hypothesis about a book, poem, story, play, or other written work with textual evidence, your answer is valid, even if it goes against conventional wisdom.

This is why I love being the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Crunchy Links. Generally, a COO is the second-in-command to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Whatever high-level responsibilities the CEO cannot perform, or wants to delegate, go to the COO. This is especially true in early-stage start-ups or small companies that cannot afford a full complement of C-Suite executives.

What does the title mean for me specifically? A bunch of responsibilities that seem unlinked but are vital to our operations. I get to rewrite my duties as the company grows, giving my career as a business owner multiple choice answers.

Here are the most significant responsibilities I currently have on my plate.

Outbound Marketing

My biggest responsibility is creating content that helps with our organic outbound marketing. We wouldn’t be much of a digital marketing agency if we didn’t practice what we preach. We’d also be fucking broke, cuz how would clients find us if we didn’t have excellent content that ranks well?

How do we do our outbound marketing? Let’s take a look under the hood.

Blog posts

When we started Crunchy Links, we knew content would be our biggest differentiator after our first year. As a new player in an abundantly crowded industry, word of mouth and referrals from happy clients were going to get us more work in the short-term. Creating a blog filled with helpful content that would rank well for key terms would take us to the next level in terms of getting clients. It’s a long term play, one that I’m in charge of…no pressure, right?

Landing page content

French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

Landing page content needs to sell your company, your expertise, your quality, and your services as quickly and clearly as possible. Brevity isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and you need brevity to write good landing page copy.

You also need a good eye for how to place additive information on your landing pages without making them bloated. Case in point, we are slowly adding FAQs to our service pages to quickly answer questions visitors might have that we don’t want to cover in our above-the-fold content.

It’s great to see your landing pages rise in the SERPs and start converting. Makes all the hours of agonizing over a single sentence worth it (at least that’s what I tell myself).

Social media

Yep, that’s me running our company’s social media channel. Well, occasionally, Jack tweets, but it’s mostly me at the helm. You’ll find that we rarely tweet about ourselves, as that isn’t the best use of our social media channels.

What’s a good use of our channels? Supporting the digital marketing community:

Amplifying Black people and Black stories:

And entertaining with some awesome memes:

Onboarding

This is a new responsibility for me: onboarding new clients. What does it entail?

  • Creating dedicated Slack channels for direct client communication
  • Building Asana boards so we can manage tasks and report progress to clients
  • Filling our Asana cards for all Content service clients, as I run that department
  • Joining onboarding calls to get additional information and approvals from clients

Public Relations

Yep, my bombastic ass is the public face of Crunchy Links.

Ta-dah!

Beyond what I do on social media, I also make appearances on podcasts, panel discussions, and provide quotes for expert round-ups or industry tips posts.

Podcast Appearances

Expert Posts

Panel DIscussions

Private Conscience of Crunchy Links

Running a company means having difficult conversations. It means looking at problems and solving them quickly.

That means someone has to be the asshole, even if it means being an asshole to themselves.

I made mention earlier in the post that I run our content department. That’s coming to an end soon because we’re onboarding a Director of Content. I’ve loved running Crunchy Link’s content service, and I’m damn proud of what I’ve built.

I also recognize I’ve taken us as far as possible, and we need someone to take us farther. Someone who can put together a service that sells itself. Someone who wants to join sales calls and come up with SaaS products to help beef up our service.

That ain’t me. Not anymore.

It would be easy to succumb to ego and hold onto a position that I’m no longer benefiting. Or, I can identify the problem (me) and solve it quickly.

I’m willing to be the asshole that brings up hard conversations, even if it means I’m going to fire myself from something. The best thing you can do for your company is designate a private conscience. When times get hard, you’ll need this person more than ever.

Crunchy Cares

The money we make shouldn’t just be about enriching ourselves and paying our employees. We have a moral responsibility to help, and we’re lucky to be in a place where we can do so financially.

That’s why we started Crunchy Cares.

Each quarter in 2019 and 2020, we picked one charity, donated a portion of our profit, and wrote about each organization on our website. In 2021, we’ll contribute to at least two charities each quarter, one domestic and one international.

Here are a couple of the charities/organizations we’ve donated to:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Operation Underground Railroad

Full Cart

Equal Justice Initiative

The Greater Chicago Food Depository

Minnesota Freedom Fund

So, WTF is a COO? Well, anything you need it to be. It’s like silly putty: you mold it into what you see in your imagination.

I’ve never worked harder in my life. And I’ve never had more fun in a role.