My clients are like my family. In over 30 years spent working the marketing and advertising for businesses big and small, I've uncovered some golden themes and tactics that work wonders, no matter the size of the budget. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than enjoying my client's success as the result of their marketing plan. In my years of experience doing marketing with top level organizations like Nokia, Southwest Airlines, the Dallas Cowboys, CENTURY 21 Judge Fite, and a number of nonprofits, I've uncovered some tough strategies that are super powerful and can easily be applied to smaller business with minimal time and budget. I love teaching others, from simplifying complex marketing strategies, to teaching couples to ballroom dance for their wedding!
1. How did you first know that you wanted to pursue a career in marketing?
Looking back, with 20/20 hindsight which we all wish we could have before we begin, I was thinking with a marketing brain when I was still in elementary school. I remember designing things; one that comes to mind is this amusement park which had a theme of fruits and vegetables. I've been an artist since I was that age, drawing and painting, so I would sketch out the whole park on paper, drawing the rides. A tomato would be a spinning cup-type ride, with the seeds being the cups you ride in. But I would go beyond that and be designing all of the other little pieces that would go into it, the parking lot, the logo, totally branding the entire thing on paper. I would even draw out what the customers look like--I was doing customer "avatars" before it became a big thing or I had even heard of them--and what the TV commercial would look like.
I didn’t know any of this was "marketing." I just knew I was having fun.
Moving into middle school or junior high, I continued taking art classes, in addition to having personal lessons from family members who were professional artists, and while I wanted to be an artist, I didn't want to be a starving artist--a business acumen was emerging even then.
In high school, I began taking journalism classes and became editor of the school newspaper and the school yearbook. I knew I didn't want to become a journalist, but it's when I first became interested in advertising from working on the ones in the newspaper and yearbook. I remember going to meet with the counselor to talk about college, explaining how what I wanted to do wasn't offered at any of the local community colleges, which was all I felt there would be any hope of affording, and knowing my parents wouldn't be able to help with bigger colleges anywhere else. His suggestion was I needed to decide what I wanted to do with my life that wouldn't require college at all, or something I could take at the local college. Even as a teenager I didn't think that was much help and felt it was just trying to squash my dreams. So I knew I may have to blaze my own trail, and that's exactly what I started doing. I like to tell my clients I made the mistakes so that they don't have to!
I didn’t realize that the field of marketing was exactly where I wanted to be until my second full-time job (the first one was in advertising), but once it all clicked together, I forged ahead by learning as much as I could from the best in the industry, and continuing my education and earning my degree (from a four-year university, not our local junior college). Continuing to learn and seek and develop best practices is a big part of my professional life today.
2. I noticed a variety of both "DIY" and "done-for-you" solutions offered on your website. Could you tell us a little more about your business and what you do?
Our services are broken down into three levels:
Do it yourself – this is for the entrepreneurs who want to do the marketing, graphic, or social media work themselves, have the time and desire, but may not have all of the technical skill. Our training programs help them learn the skills they need to know without having to make all of the mistakes that we learned from over the years.
Our newest addition to this level is our Business Startup Marketing Mastermind training program, which is a convenient hands-on platform which takes a small business owner step-by-step through a proven system to begin and boost their business marketing. Each lesson has specific how-to instructions and helps the business owner tie everything together without needing any prior knowledge of marketing. It's fed out in small bite-size pieces so that the program is convenient and not overwhelming.
Do it with help – this is for businesses that have someone on staff, maybe the owner or another employee, who can do the work (either they already know some of the technical skills or they've gone through our training) but need help with strategy and direction to implement it in the manner most strategic for their business to realize the greatest return on investment. This includes our marketing coaching programs, Marketing Bootcamp, business coaching, and the "Hire a CMO" program.
Have it done for you – this is for the business that wants to outsource some of their graphic design, social media, and other marketing pieces. The problem with finding your own freelancers is that you often have to go to multiple places to have the differing pieces accomplished, and this can result in a lack of brand consistency, which is very bad for a business. We have a whole team of freelancers on call so that you can have all of your needs met in one place, and provide an account manager who acts as your Marketing Director or Art Director to oversee it all and make sure your brand messaging and design is consistent.
3. For small business owners, how can they know when it might be a good time to work with a coach or consultant?
When an owner has the desire to grow their business to the next level, whatever that may be, yet is feeling the pain of already too much work and knowing they won't have time to invest to achieve that growth without something else dropping, it's a good indication that it's time to bring in some expertise.
In every business, and every area of every business, there's a tipping point where future growth is limited by current resources. Every small business owner understands exactly what I'm saying. A point at which, to take the business to the next level, it is either going to require more time than the owner can devote, or require more expertise than the owner currently has (or wants to have). Yet they haven't grown enough yet to justify additional salaries.
There are a lot of things a small business owner can do on their own in the vast realm that is marketing. There are SO many choices today in the area of marketing; it can be very hard to know which ones you need to pick and choose. If they have little experience in marketing, they may not be as easily able to determine which tactics could be most efficient for their business and provide the best return on investment – which can result in being inefficient with their finite time. No business owner has the luxury of things taking longer than they need to or not bringing the best results!
A coach or consultant can bring years of expertise with numerous business large and small, and help a business focus their marketing strategies and plans based upon what has been proven to work. It can allow the business the flexibility of not having to hire a permanent position before the business has grown large enough to justify that type of ongoing expense.
4. What are some of your favorite parts of your work?
There are so many stories I could share, but they really all boil down to developing people and businesses. I am proud when a business achieves a goal (and I'm a HUGE fan of a business envisioning and achieving a big, hairy, audacious goal--when it's right for the company--and even better when I'm the one helping achieve!).
I am proud when I coach an employee or company and they enhance their marketing efforts and achieve their goals. I am proud to see them proud of themselves.
Really for me it;s all about the win. The win for the company I'm working with. That's a win for me.
5. Is there anything in particular about marketing that you wish more people knew?
Not knowing what you don't know can make it harder on you. Yet it doesn't have to be hard at all; you need a simple plan and a simple strategy and to know how to tie it all together. The biggest concept that I share with all of my clients is don't keep switching up your strategy. Most strategies are longer-term and take time to fully develop; yet once they do, they quickly snowball and bring bigger results than you may have imagined. But you never may get to that point if you give up after a week to try something new.