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The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes

That's what we've been saying for two and a half years now, in response to a frequent line of questioning, or critique:

“Where can I find the JDI website?”
“Are you ever going to make a website?”
“Why are you guys being jerks about this whole website thing?”
“Dude. Get a god-dammed website already.”
“A website does not mean you’re a sellout, okay?”
“At this point it’s just getting embarrassing.”

Sure, we’ve thought about having one for a long time now, even before we opened our doors in June of 2009.

Yet we were never quite motivated enough to make it happen. For many, heading to the former landing page and seeing a stagnant logo with no content and no contact information said: “we don’t care” or, “we’re too busy”. Or maybe even “we don’t exist” or “we’re already dead”.

We didn’t mind the implicit messages, either...we were indeed just too busy to care. We didn’t mind whether we existed to anyone else or not, as along as our clients knew that they mattered more than anything.

What else were we saying, even rhetorically?

We’re just fine for clients, thank you. We’re not the kind of people who are going to shove a bunch of copy jargon in your face, anyway. If you want to talk, let’s talk. We don’t need, or want, a website intermediary. We’ll never have the time to update it anyway, so why bother? Take a look around at the websites of our peers. It’s not exactly inspiring, is it? We’d prefer to avoid the dog and pony show, thank you very much. The best marketers are never seen, anyway. Time spent patting ourselves on the back, or selling to a potential new client, is time that should have been spent on an existing one. And yes, we do have a client list, but we’re not going to publish it either, because we find that kind chest thumping at least a little gauche. And we’re a lot more than our bios, and we wouldn’t know how to write one anyway, so look a little deeper if you really care.

Of course that line of thinking was all a little juvenile, and naive.

And egotistical. We were (and in many ways still are) guilty of defining ourselves more by what we aren’t, than what we are, or intend to be. Building this website has been as much a coming-to-terms and an elaborate bluff-calling as it has been a creative act.

We have Corey Ward and BJ Heinley to thank for inspiring us to garden. That’s what this site ultimately is -- a few boundaries and and room to grow. It has no notion of an about page, or a client page, or a services page.

[garden pic]

Not having a website was never a strategic move, never done on purpose, never premeditated. But in many ways, and despite what it said about us (good and bad), it was the one of best decisions we ever made. I’ll explain.

We’ve been very fortunate to have incredible deal flow in that our new business pipeline is full of folks who found out about us via referral -- repeat clients, fellow entrepreneurs, angels and venture capitalists, valued partners, friends and family.

Not having a website has, first of all, been a great filter. I guarantee that we’ve missed out on some great work and great clients too, but less is always more, particularly in the early stages of a business like ours. Curation matters, theme matters, and synergy matters most.

It also turns out that not having a website has been a pretty decent marketing strategy in and of itself. Not trying too hard is effective.

When casually sought out, we weren’t easily accessible. You either left the funnel or tried a little harder. This was enormously helpful, particularly because we didn’t (and don’t) have a growth mandate, or the bandwidth to vet a lot of stuff anyway. Ignorance was bliss for both supply and demand. We didn’t let anyone pre-judge our size, capabilities, or ambition. You had to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Some of our clients even applauded the bravado, because it’s how they themselves felt about having a website -- that it was so much theater, and a path to certain critique from customers and investors alike. Luckily, we don’t sell anything on the Internet (not exactly), so we had the luxury others don’t. PR and marketing is deceptively brick-and-mortar.

PR and marketing is deceptively brick-and-mortar

Having grown and evolved over the past couple of years, we realized more and more that we didn’t necessarily need a website but that we wanted one. We wanted the challenge of building something that we all felt proud of, and we wanted the challenge of articulating for the first time, and to the rest of the world, what JDI is all about.

At our first company off-site, when pressed to describe our work, the best we could do was communicate visually -- we drew an umbrella, and an amoeba, and felt clever.

But we were avoiding the question, too. As the Agency-Formerly-Known-As...we were precious, and we were not beyond the literal -- we were just afraid to put any of it into words.

Midway through this story I always flashback to the afterparty for the National College Comedy Festival in Skidmore NY, when I was a senior at Haverford. Imagine a house full of comedians, and no audience.

Similarly, imagine a room full of PR people, trying to settle on a tagline and a few speaking points. Good times, good times.

We eventually decided on something quite good -- that what we do is identify and exploit market opportunities.

For _______.

The fill-in-the-blank piece, we thought, was variable -- clients, partners, ourselves.

But identify and exploit market opportunities -- that was aggressive, and accurate.

Hopefully a website can help us do it even better -- the market opportunity, in this case, being the one to create a better way to steward innovation, and bring great technologies to market.

Our goal is to provide a tangible archive of our own work -- its underlying standards, and our own efforts to innovate alongside our clients. As we always say, “show over tell” is the best sales pitch you can ever make.

We are thinking of this site, too, as a way to show some skin when it comes to our design capabilities, an off-label service that we definitely don’t talk about much, but should.

We built this site to give you, at any time, an authentic view of JDI -- long-term thoughts, and daily snapshots both -- what we’re making, reading, marketing, and even listening to.

With the big reveal comes a more intimate JDI, we hope -- one that is more open, more honest, more accessible, and more approachable.

Thanks for visiting, we sincerely appreciate it.

signature of Josh Jones Dilworth