From our experience working with business owners and leadership teams, it’s common for them to get so buried in their management responsibilities and client delivery, that they have no mindshare left to think through their marketing strategy.
And if they’re able to prioritize the time, they may not know exactly how to develop a strategy, decide on a budget, and/or prioritize the tactics. Often times, CEOs ask other leaders in their network, investigate what their competitors are doing, or even learn about a popular tactic from reading Fortune, Inc., or their local business journal.
But, they are often left to wonder if they budgeted correctly, and prioritized around the right things.
If leaders really want to get serious about leveraging marketing to grow their business, they need to consider working with an agency who can lead them through the process. Marketing is a core business area that, much like Accounting and IT, takes expertise, which correlates to time and focus to learn, something leaders often don’t have. And it’s important to align with a team who takes the time to learn about your company’s business objectives, and unique challenges.
AN EXPERIENCE FROM ONE OF OUR CLIENTS
We recently spoke with Wade Yeaman, who is the Founder and CEO of one of our clients, Fluid IT Services, to learn more about how he approached marketing challenges through his 13 years in business: from the early stages of his company development through their recent aggressive growth initiatives.
Terri: How did you begin to market your company?
Wade: Early on it was difficult to pursue all the marketing initiatives I had in mind because we simply didn’t have the budget to support everything I wanted to do. I knew all the while that marketing would be essential to the long-term success and growth of our company. But I also knew that I needed to start simple while we we’re building our client base and reputation.
So in the early stages, I focused our reputation. We wanted to be known as a trustworthy and knowledgeable service provider, which I believed would help establish our credibility and brand values.
In terms of marketing items, I knew we needed some essential items like a logo, a basic website, car wraps, and materials to use in client meetings and at events. It was important to me to prioritize quality over quantity. So when we did produce something, we did it very well.
It was this intentional focus on brand values that allowed us to grow organically without compromising the quality of service in favor of rapid growth.
As the company steadily grew, we began considering some options that would enable the business to grow more rapidly, and therefore create more opportunity for our growing team, and a more robust product/service offering for our client base.
Terri: When you made the conscious decision to grow the firm more rapidly, how did this change your approach to your marketing strategy?
Wade: I realized that to accomplish the type of growth I had in mind, it would take a team of four to six people with different skillsets. I knew it wasn’t practical to hire this team and manage them in-house, so we decided to hire one marketing person who would act as our internal point person, and then we would have that person manage an outside marketing firm with all of the different necessary skills like design, copywriting, SEO, and website programming.
Terri: What were your expectations when you started working with our company (the outside firm)?
Wade: We didn’t really know what to expect when we started. We did want to partner with a company who could help us develop some expectations and educate us through the process.
Like any business would, we wanted fast results. We knew the results wouldn’t be instantaneous, but we learned that the results would also take longer than what we thought or hoped.
It takes trust to fund a program that doesn’t give you instant gratification, and a lot of people would want would be very tempted to switch strategies if they didn’t get instant results. If they didn’t have somebody guiding them, setting realistic expectations, and helping them see why certain things were being prioritized, it would be tough.
It really took some trust to stick with what we started. Now we see that switching would’ve been the wrong move. You have to have confidence in the people you involve, and give them enough leash to do what they know how to do, and not submarine the efforts with a quick reaction.
Terri: How will you continue to prioritize your marketing strategy?
Wade: We will continue to listen to people with experience in the field. Without marketing help you can focus on the wrong thing– the tip of the iceberg– and neglect everything that is out of sight.
Marketing is a lot like an iceberg in the ocean. The tip above the waterline is what most businesses see as things they should do [social media, SEO, email]. But in reality, the vast majority of what needs to be done is below the waterline. That’s where a good marketing team is needed to address what you don’t know and what you don’t see.
Terri: You also have a dedicated Sales person. How do you see your Sales and Marketing teams work together?
Wade: Most companies think of Sales & Marketing as one in the same, when in fact they couldn’t be more different. Sales is not marketing, and marketing is not sales.
But I do believe that to be successful, the Sales and Marketing teams should be joined at the hip, collaborating around goals, but operating independently of one another.
Founded in 2002 by Wade Yeaman, Fluid offers flexible and scalable IT solutions that empower small to mid-size businesses. From their two locations in Plano, Texas and Wilmington, North Carolina, “your technology superheros” deliver IT services and support packages, cloud/application hosting solutions, and unified communications platforms. To learn more about Fluid, visit their website at www.FluidITServices.com