For 6 years now, Hanapin Marketing has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. In May, Hanapin was proud to claim the #1 spot in the small business category (16 – 74 employees) and just last month was certified as a Great Place to Work® by Fortune. A number of articles have touted the great culture, benefits, and leadership that make Hanapin an unmatched employer for its size.

I am here to provide an insider perspective. I am convinced that Hanapin’s consistent performance in local and national Best Places to Work competitions is a function not just of pioneering policies and Hanafit “funtivities” but of its commitment to the Hanapin vision, defined over 14 years ago.

The Hanapin Marketing vision is three-pronged:

  1. Be a world-class PPC agency
  2. Deliver value that is 10x what we charge our clients
  3. Be an employer of choice in Indiana

I will argue that each of these three “prongs” contributes to Hanapin’s success and are the reason I persistently maintain it is THE Best Place to Work (and not just in Indiana, IMO).

Becoming a World-Class PPC Agency

The first element of Hanapin’s vision is to be a world-class PPC agency. Taken literally, this is fulfilled as we manage international clients, domestic clients with international audiences, and facilitate training of international audiences through the European arm of Hanapin’s annual PPC-only conference, Hero Conf, with a UK-based gathering held in London each fall. Hanapin also oversees the world’s leading PPC-specific blog (you’re reading it right now!), where employees regularly contribute their experiences and insights to readers around the globe.

These things, however, are only the visible effects of Hanapin’s presence in the global PPC industry. A huge driver of this outcome is the investment Hanapin makes in providing quality and ongoing training for all departments within its walls. Below is a sampling of the many training opportunities provided to Hanapin employees throughout their tenure:

  • 12-week comprehensive training and onboarding designed to prepare new hires to make meaningful contributions from Day 1, and which foster skills needed to grow in their current and future roles within the company.
  • Monthly half-day training sessions focused on staying up-to-date with new opportunities and mastering both fundamental and advanced PPC topics.
  • Weekly “consultative training” sessions wherein team members meet in small groups to discuss triumphs and challenges, brainstorm solutions, and role-play to build confidence and solicit feedback.
  • Optional training sessions to address Stress, Anxiety, Mindfulness and Sleep (SAMS), to ensure that employees’ work-life harmony remains stable and that each individual has the tools needed to be at their best every day.
  • Ongoing leadership training classes to prepare the next generation of people managers—and remind the current generation of best practices and policies for success.
  • Sponsored conference passes or outside Professional Development opportunities for employees to expand their network and develop new skills beyond the walls of Hanapin.

Hanapin does a great deal to invest in their employees, and it pays off in spades. A diverse group of individuals committed to lifelong learning, Hanapin employees value the opportunities to learn and grow, which fosters loyalty toward the company. It also serves to ensure that team members remain at the “top of their game” professionally, which benefits clients, prospects, and industry peers with whom they interact.

It is exactly this investment in ongoing training that enables Hanapin to remain a world-class PPC agency and to meet the high standard of excellence they’ve set for themselves in terms of client service.

Delivering Value That is 10x What We Charge Our Clients

The second prong of Hanapin’s vision denies team members the option of just “getting by” or “doing just enough” to keep clients happy. We are committed to providing our clients value that is above and beyond (10x!) what we charge for our services.

This comes in many forms, but most frequently in efforts to be a consultative partner to every client. While keeping our focus on PPC and the scope of work defined at hiring, we strive to understand and internalize our clients’ larger business goals and how PPC fits into and contributes to those aims. From there, we can connect the dots to show how various strategic or tactical approaches in PPC are able to move the needle (or have moved the needle) in other areas, telling the story behind the data.

Hanapin’s commitment to providing value makes for happy clients, but amazingly, is also an important ingredient in the recipe for happy employees. Because of this prong, team members hold themselves to a high standard, which pushes us as we aim to exceed it (did I mention we’re also a competitive group of folks?). And yet, because the competition is with expectations rather than other individuals, Hanapin employees are eager to collaborate. By phone, messenger, or video chat, in-house and remote team members frequently solicit advice and share recent learnings with each other to reduce wasted time and improve the effectiveness of account management decisions.

Now, I don’t intend to over-romanticize this by any means. No office environment is perfect and no one at a company this size will ever honestly say that every single colleague is their best friend (who can even handle that many best friends?!) but Hanapin has figured out some secret to bringing in the right folks.

Becoming an Employer of Choice in Indiana

When considering the third prong, to be an employer of choice in Indiana, Hanapin’s commitment to finding and keeping the right talent cannot go overlooked. An extensive preparatory and interview process precedes every hiring offer, and frequent feedback sessions—including weekly or bi-weekly 1:1 sessions with a supervisor, semi-annual performance reviews, annual stay interviews, and regular goal-pathing discussions—help identify the strengths, ambitions, and opportunities for improvement that each individual has. Building a team by sharing the good is another example of how leadership works to support current staff, beyond their direct report relationships.

Because Hanapin works hard to bring in and retain the best talent, leadership also values the feedback that team members provide. Anonymous poll questions through TinyPulse reveal gaps and opportunities that can be addressed before a pain point becomes a dumpster fire.

Outside of the leadership team, though, Hanapin is also exceptional in its ability to foster a sense of ownership among its employees. Each individual, from a new hire to an associate director, can see the impact of his or her work on the well-being of the company. The Hanapin values of Reliability, Integrity, Creativity, Hana-thusiasm, and Resourcefulness are lived and celebrated by every member of the team. These values are the reason that 100% of employees say they are proud to work at Hanapin, that people care about each other and are willing to give extra to get the job done.

Closing Thoughts

As we see, then, each prong of the Hanapin vision feeds into the next, creating a stable foundation which can sustain our continual growth. In the end, every organization truly is the sum of its parts. And in the world of digital marketing, the most important contributors to your success will always be your team, your processes, and your shared values. While something as seemingly mundane as a company vision might be easy to overlook, Hanapin has demonstrated that thoughtful adherence to a carefully crafted vision is, indeed, a recipe for success.


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