Jacob Wayne Smith

Technologist for Hire

If you are an small business, nonprofit or agency with marketing technology needs, we should talk. I have over a decade of experience helping organizations tell their story and expand their reach.

The bulk of my job is listening first then being in conversation. If you want to know what it is like to work with me, here are some past collaborators.

Jacob is knowledgeable, insightful, and capable. He's a joy to work with because he inspires confidence. Dan Roloff, Publishing Manager, H. E. Butt Foundation
Jacob never failed to impress me with his ability to gather objectives, research solutions and execute well on his ideas. Michael Schafer, Principal and Creative Director, openbox9
Jacob's ability to identify with the audience's needs ensures that his presentations are well targeted and well timed. Tim, Masterworks
In a planet filled with opinions, I put alot of value in a person that cannot just come up with the strategy but knows how to deliver. Michael Schafer, Principal and Creative Director, openbox9
You f---ing rock.” Sara, NTEN
This is one of the best, most fun and useful things I've done lately Lynda, Gathering in the East
Both witty and profound Jake's a rare combination of talents giving human dimension to an increasingly technological world. Dan Roloff, Publishing Manager, H. E. Butt Foundation
Jake has an authentic style, blending humor and candor that make his presentations really pop! Charlie, Youth Ministry Certification School

I'd love to start a conversation with you about how we can work together to use technology to meet your organizations mission. Email me today at, jake@shoeinthedoor.com.

Latest posts from the blog

The Agitator tipped me off to an interesting free tool from Donor Voice.

This feedback widget allows you to place a customizable survey on your site. We built a similar tool at Masterworks, but with a different purpose.

The Donor Voice tool is designed to ask someone about their experience once it is complete. The Masterworks tool was designed to gather visitor intent.

Caveat emptor: there is no such thing as a free lunch, and you should expect a sales call from Donor Voice as the cost of using this free service. You are also giving them access to your satisfaction data, certainly helpful in the sales process.

The setup is short and you can be online in a matter of minutes. Partially it is so easy to setup because you don’t get to choose any of the questions that are part of the survey. The four questions the survey does ask are general enough to work for any organization:

This content is owned by Donor Voice so don’t steal the questions. Also don’t worry about the red and black background, those are the customizable parts of the survey.

The automated email was also fairly general, but was responsive to how I filled out the survey. You can only fill out the survey once per IP address, so I had to use a Web Proxy service to see the other responses.

If you fill out the survey with good marks, the response suggests that the constituent donates, without a link to do so.

I think the lack of choices here is a great thing. Constructing surveys is harder than most people think and the constraints mean that organizations won’t create something bogus.

I believe two simple improvements would make this tool even more effective. The first is to ask the donor if they donated today.

The second is to add one more field to the setup process: donation URL. The last line of the email when someone responds with good marks says:

Will you please consider donating today in support of our continuing efforts to…

If the text “please consider donating today” was linked, the email would make that donation a one-click action.

And with that, you can see why asking if the individual donated matters. If I had just given a gift, and it wasn’t acknowledged by this email, it would most likely diminish donor loyalty. The very thing the survey is trying to measure and increase. By asking if I have donated, the last line could be changed to something like:

Thank you so much for donating to support our efforts to…. Your continued support is vital to your success.

However, these small things don’t preclude me from recommending that nonprofits who accept donations on their website (and if you don’t let’s talk) experiment with this tool. One way to ease into it would be to show it not to every user on your site but it a subset of users.

If you are thinking about implementing this tool and need any technical help, just let me know

For the past six months I’ve been proud to be part of the Innovation Group at Masterworks. Today, my colleague Josh posted about the group.

As you might surmise I was working on the technology consulting part of incubation and continue to do so as a consultant.

I think the incubation model is helpful generally. Josh’s description of incubation is helpful:

The incubation lab has one focus: We take ideas, practices and approaches — whether completely new, or new or undeveloped to the non-profit space — and carefully cultivate them.

To me the key is that there is explicit acknowledgement that the idea is underdeveloped or new. So we had permission to fail. What we didn’t have was permission to stop trying. When you are working on something truly new, failure is the cover charge. It is inevitably going to happen, the question is what do you do with that failure.

Our inclination is to run as far away from failure as we can. If you are innovating you need to sit with that failure study it and then move on like it didn’t happen to try a new, failure informed approach.

I would encourage you personally and your organizations corporately to define safe spaces for experimentation. Give yourself one or two hours a week where doing something new is the goal, not success.

What do you plan to incubate?

Great article over at Smashing on Developer Training.

My favorite bit is about ranking your developers on specific skills. Making this public makes it effortless for project managers to know who to contact in particular situations.

I did the same thing at Masterworks, but only ranked 1-4, which for our purposes worked just fine. The granularity of 1-10 makes sense when you want to be a bit more specific about skills, but in most situations a smaller scale makes it easier to understand.

The other aspect of publicizing this list is the inherent, healthy competition it creates. Individuals need measuring sticks and this provides one. it also lets developers know which peer they can use for help on a particular project.

Finally, it creates a tripwire for assuring you are providing learning opportunities for developers. In my experience the best developers are self-taught, but you should be allowing the space to grow. By revisiting the rankings on a quarterly basis, in a conversation with developers, you can measure your training efforts.